Two Hours Outside a Week Will Bring Your Health to a New Peak


Get out of the house, kids!

 

Go play outside!

 

We don’t know a single mother who hasn’t barked those words at her kids at one point in time. And while getting the kids out of the house so she could enjoy five minutes of peace and quiet might have been your mother’s prime directive, we like to think mothers have good instincts, so it’s possible her intuition told her getting outside would make you healthier. Mother’s instinct was correct: Science says so!

 

A new study published in the Journal Scientific Reports (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-44097-3) says a two-hour dose of nature each week boosts not just mental health, but physical health too. OK, the truth is this isn’t the first study to tell us this, but it IS the first study to tell us how much time we need to spend at the park, in the backyard or at the beach each week in order to reap the health benefits. The answer: A minimum of two hours.

 

To discover their findings, the researchers interviewed 20,000 people from England about their weekly activity levels. They were specifically curious as to how much of this time was spent outside.

 

Of those who said they rarely spent time in nature, close to 50 percent of them also said they weren’t happy with their lives, and a quarter of them were considered to have poor physical health. Meanwhile, of those who said they spent at least two hours outside per week, only 14 percent of were of poor health, and considerably fewer (20 percent fewer) said they weren’t happy with their lives. These numbers were fairly consistent even when considering different demographics of people: rural versus urban, wealthy versus urban, and old versus young.

 

Does where you are outdoors matter?

 While the latter study didn’t consider where you were outside—in a remote forest versus going for a walk on along the Vegas strip—previous research that looked into Japanese forest bathing suggests that being in a quieter place in nature helps reduce stress more than spending time outside in a more urban environment.

 

And for those of you who spend too much time in the gym to even want to consider doing more exercise just for the sake of getting outside, that same research suggests you don’t even need to be exercising to get the health benefits: You can literally just be sitting passively in non-urban natural environments taking in your surroundings (and the sun tanners score a point!).

 

5 other researched health benefits of spending time outside include:

 

1. Reduces inflammation: This study looked at students who spend time outside: (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22840583). This study looked at its effects on the elderly (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22948092)

 

2. Decreases anxiety and depression: There is a lot of research that suggests this. Here’s one study:(https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov./pubmed/20337470)

 

3. Lowers blood pressure:This might be linked to stress levels being lower after spending time outside: (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2793346/)

 

4. Boosts you immune system:This 2010 study says just that: (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2793341/)

 

5. Improves creativity: If you have a job that requires being creative, consider spending time outside first. This study says it increases creativity (measured by a creative problem-solving task test) by 50 percent: (https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0051474).

 

The gym’s great. We love it when you come here. But we also want you to get outside!

Athlete of the MonthJune

Becks Tyers-Smith

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How long have you been doing CrossFit?

I started doing the fundamentals with Brett in May 2017 and began classes after the summer.

 

What made you decide to give 7 Mile Strength & Fitness a try?

Pete!! He loves CrossFit and for a long time (3 years!!) he has wanted me to do it too!! The 10am class fit with my schedule so I decided to give it a try!!

 

What was the hardest part when you started out and how did you overcome that?

I was scared about the barbell element of CrossFit. When doing the fundamentals it felt like there was so much to remember for each of the movements and I lacked confidence in doing them. The fundamentals with Brett enabled me to gain some confidence, but when I started classes I had the feeling that I wanted to avoid classes with lots of barbell movements.
However, the turning point for me was when I was encouraged to face my fear and I decided to do Barbell Club. Doing my first Barbell Club was totally out of my comfort zone and I got nervous every session! However, it was the best thing I could have done because now I actually want to do more barbell work!! The repetition of the complex barbell movements was fantastic for me and it gave me confidence that I needed. Brett and Chris were outstanding and helped me so much to achieve what I have in Barbell Club. Thank you both very much!!

 

We recently had a discussion about your bone fusion in your back and how coming to CrossFit has helped alleviate some of the pain you’ve experienced. Tell us a little bit about when you found out about it and how exercise has been better for you.

I found out I had Ankylosing Spondylitis in 2004, which for me causes inflammation in my sacroiliac joint and spine. I have always been active which has helped with the flare ups but, only since doing CrossFit I can say I have had no flare ups and I no longer take medication for it which is amazing!!!

 

Your husband Pete is also a member – we loved seeing him cheer you on in the first Fitness Test earlier this month btw. We’re curious, who would do 50 burpees faster, you or him ;)

Hahahahahahaha!! Hands down Pete! You could have chosen something I might be able to beat him at!!!

 

You participated in the CrossFit Open in February this year. The next Open is 5 months away. Are you going to participate again and if so, what are your goals? Anything in particular you’ve been working on?

Yes for sure I am going to participate in the next Open! It would be awesome if I could nail my toes to bar before then! I have been working on them in PTs but I need to make time to work on them outside of PTs to achieve this I think. I would also like to be able to do double unders by then too, so again I need to put in the work outside of class time!

 

Name something you’re most proud of in the gym.

Probably my squat snatch/overhead squat. During my fundamentals I couldn’t even squat with a pvc pipe above my head!!

 

Did you play any sports growing up?

Yes, I swam for a club, represented my county Leicestershire at netball, and I played tennis for a club.

 

Anything people at 7 Mile Strength & Fitness don’t know about you?

Ummm… I did the 2 mile North Sound Open Water swim in Virgin Gorda, BVI in 2014.

 

Anything crazy on your bucket list? (bungee jumping, sky diving?)

I have always wanted to do a sky dive….. but I would also really like to ski/snowboard again regularly and go on safari.

 

What is your favorite WOD and why?

I don’t really have one, but I like WODs that have a mixture of gymnastic movements and barbells, and I do like rowing!

 

What is your least favorite WOD and why?

I am not overly keen on wall balls, so I guess Karen would be my least favourite WOD at the moment!

 

What has been your biggest surprise about doing CrossFit?

How much I have grown to love CrossFit!! I didn’t think I could love another sport as much as I love tennis!! But I do! There is so much to learn and room for improvement, so I don’t ever get bored!!

 

Would you recommend 7 Mile Strength & Fitness to others and if so, why?

Hands down 100% ! The coaches are outstanding, so knowledgeable and encouraging. The staff and people are really friendly and I have made some friends for life!!

 

Thanks Becks, we are proud to have you as our June 7 Miler.

 

New Sunscreen Study: Damned if You Do, Damned if You Don’t!


The sun is out, the guns are most certainly out, and we’re left wondering whether sunscreen is our best approach to stay safe in the heat. A new study published in JAMA (Journal of American Medical Association) suggests that various ingredients in popular sunscreens actually get absorbed by the body, rather than just sitting on the skin as we often assumed was the case and enter our bloodstream. Check out the full study here: (https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2733085?guestAccessKey=e1ad4492-fe70-4f53-970d-d63bfa1cdccd&utm_source=For_The_Media&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=ftm_links&utm_content=tfl&utm_term=05062019).

 

Though the consequences of this absorption aren’t totally clear, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found the levels in the study were higher than what is considered safe—as much as 40 times as high as the threshold amount, according to the JAMA study! Some of the major culprits included the following ingredients in various sunscreens: avobenzone, oxybenzone, octocrylene and ecamsule.I don’t know about you, but common sense tells me I don’t want those chemicals swimming around anywhere near my blood.

 

But then there’s the flip side of no sunscreen: Skin Cancer! The chemicals in sunscreen are there to help guard against skin cancer, which is on the rise throughout various parts of the world. In fact, between 2009 and 2019, the number of new melanoma cases diagnosed have increased by 54 percent each year. In 2019, it is estimated that 7,230 people will die from skin cancer!

 

So we are left wondering,  what’s it going to be? Chemicals in your blood, which for all we know cause cancer, or a higher risk of skin cancer?

One solution is perhaps to buy a mineral sunscreen. Often they still have chemicals, but not the chemicals in question from the recent JAMA study and others. Check this out: The Environmental Working Group (EWG) actually releases an annual sunscreen guide with a ton of valuable information for selecting a safer sunscreen: https://www.thefashionspot.com/beauty/792143-safest-sunscreens-2018/#/slide/10

 

 

Some of the ‘better sunscreens’ include:

  • All Good Sunstick, Unscented, SPF 30
  • Aromatica Calendula Non-Nano UV Protection, SPF 30
  • Attitude 100% Mineral Sunscreen, Fragrance Free, SPF 30
  • Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection Lotion Sunscreen, Sensitive Skin, SPF 50
  • Badger Sunscreen Cream, Unscented, SPF 30
  • Goddess Garden Organics Everyday Natural Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30
  • Just Skin Food Natural & Organic Sunscreen, SPF 30
  • Kabana Organic Skincare Green Screen Sunscreen, Neutral, SPF 31
  • Poofy Organics The Sunscreen Stick, SPF 30
  • Sunology Mineral Sunscreen, Body, SPF 50
  • Sunology Natural Sunscreen, Face, SPF 50
  • Thinksport Sunscreen, SPF 50+
  • Waxhead Sun Defense Sunscreen Stick, SPF 30
  • Zeb’s Organics Sunscreen, SPF 20 & 30

 

 

Or, there’s always the option to make your own sunscreen with natural SPF with the following ingredients:

Homemade Sunscreen

  • 1/2 cup almond or olive oil
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (which naturally contains SPF)
  • 1/4 cup beeswax
  • 2 Tbsp. Zinc oxide
  • 1 Tsp. Red raspberry seed oil
  • 1 Tsp. Carrot seed oil
  • 2 Tbsp. shea butter (also has a natural SPF)
  • A few drops of essential oils (vanilla, mint, orange…your choice)

To make: Combine everything except the zinc oxide in a glass. Fill a medium saucepan with a couple inches of water and put on medium heat. Put a lid on the jar and place it in the saucepan until you’re able to stir it all together. Add the zinc oxide and stir well.

Voila! Natural sunscreen where you don’t have to worry what’s entering your bloodstream unwanted! 

Do You Find Yourself Overeating on the Regular?


Do you find yourself overeating on the regular? Your hunger and fullness cues are probably out of whack. Eat when you’re hungry. Stop when you’re full. It shouldn’t be so difficult, should it? Oh, but it is. Often times it’s because we lose the ability to know when we’re full, or we confuse various sensations with what we think is hunger.

 

On a basic level, we generally all understand what hunger cues are: Sometimes they start with us having trouble concentrating, and maybe we feel a bit tired and our stomachs start to grumble. If we don’t get food soon, our irritability likely increases to the point of becoming angry (or HANGRY). This soon escalates into feeling weak and shaky. Some of us maybe even end up with a headache. If if gets to this point, when we finally get our hands on food, we’re often so ravenous we binge on way more food than our bodies need.

 

Fullness cues, on the other hand, are a bit harder for us to detect. Part of the reason for this is that it takes 20 minutes after eating for our hypothalamus in our brain to receive the signal that we’re full and should stop eating. At this point, it’s often too late: We have continued to eat for 20 minutes!

 

 

Two of the biggest keys in stopping our habit of overeating, therefore, are:

1) Don’t let yourself get to the point of being ravenous.

This one is pretty simple: Be more organized with your food prep, so you have access to food before the point of HANGER and binging.

2) Become more aware of your body’s hunger and fullness cues

This one involves being more mindful when you’re eating—being in the moment—to truly pay attention to what your body is telling you.

 

 

Two fullness cues we often ignore include:

Cue #1: Ever find yourself taking more bites of your food, yet you’re no longer really even enjoying the food? If you get to this point, you’re probably full.

Cue #2: Your stomach actually starts to feel uncomfortable, almost to the point of pressure. Again, you’re full!

 

 

On the other hand, sometimes we think we’re hungry when we’re not. Here are four tips to get you moving in the direction of mindful eating and respecting your hunger and fullness cues:

 

Slow Down

The basic idea is you should be chewing your food as many as 30 chews per bite. This will help you not only digest your food and absorb it more effectively, but it’s also a deliberate way to get you slow down your eating. This buys you some time for your hypothalamus to tell your body you’re full before you have already overeaten. Another deliberate tip to slow down is to put your utensils down between bites.

 

 

 Drink Water Regularly Throughout the Day

Not only does water satiate you, sometimes we confuse the sluggishness we feel from being thirsty and dehydrated with being hungry. So drink first and then reassess how hungry you really are.

 

 

Learn to Recognize “Mind Hunger”

Sometimes we think we’re hungry because it’s noon and it’s lunch time and it’s when we normally eat, so we almost force feed ourselves because it’s time to eat. Your hunger can change day-to-day based on sleep and activity levels and various other things, so don’t assume you always need the same amount of food at the same time of day each day.

 

 

Try a Silent Dinner

This obviously isn’t practical if you’re eating with others, but if you eat any meals alone, try doing it in silence, without your devices or any others distractions, to really pay attention to your thoughts as you’re eating. Pay attention to what’s going on in your body and to how to food tastes. You never know what you might learn when you’re truly in the moment.

 

 

These tips aren’t meant to guilt trip anyone. We have all overeaten before, and we will all overeat again at some point, and there’s no point in beating ourselves up about it (our stomachs probably already feel bad enough). But the more in tune with our bodies we can become through mindful eating, and the more we learn to recognize when we’re hungry and when we’re full, the less likely we’ll be to overeat, and we’ll be much happier and healthier for it.

Why the One-Sized Fits All Approach to Nutrition Doesn’t Work!


Eight glasses of water a day.

Six servings of vegetables.

Make sure you get the recommended daily intake of calcium.

 

We tend to like to think general nutrition prescriptions have value. Why else would our governments put out food guides for us to follow (of which most people pay no attention to anyway, other than to serve as a source of guilt because they realize they’re not following the guide very well)?

 

It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, though, does it? It’s pretty obvious that various foods—for example bread and dairy—affect us all differently: Some of us pack on pounds and get congested if we touch a piece of pizza, while others can eat a block of cheese on an entire loaf of bread and carry on as if nothing happened.

 

Despite our obvious differences, both in body compositions and in the way our bodies handle different diets, there are a ton of people out there who are adamant they know the best diet—for everyone! On the soap box, they yell:

I lost 50 lb. on the Ketogenic diet! Everyone should try Keto!

Plant-based changed my life. Meat is evil and will give you cancer. Switch to plant-based!

What about we get off our soap boxes for a bit and do some self-experimenting to see what’s right for our own unique selves?

 

 

This is exactly what they did in the recent Personalized Nutrition Project for Prediabetes (http://www.diabetesincontrol.com/using-personalized-nutrition-in-prediabetes-to-reduce-future-complications/) study. This cohort study observed glucose levels in 800 people in response to 46,800 meals consumed. The results: Identical meals led to different blood sugar levels in different people.

 

 

This study suggests that general dietary recommendations may have inadequate usefulness,” said the study’s authors, who suggest these differences might be linked at least partially to microbiota composition and function (basically meaning our gut health). Thus, as much as we like to think of nutrition as a science that can give us black and white answers, it’s also most certainly a bit of an art, and might take some trial and error to figure out what’s best for you.

 

 

In light of this, here are five diet-related principles—ones where the verdict is clearly still out (i.e. there is no generally agreed-upon consensus)—you can experiment with to see what might work for you:

 

1. Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day?

 There’s a lot of debate about whether breakfast within an hour of waking up is really necessary. Some think it was just a clever marketing ploy started by the cereal companies to get you pounding your Shreddies or Special K in the a.m.

 

Only one way to find out: Try a month where you have your first meal at noon. See how you feel and what happens to your body. Check out more here if you’re interested in digging deeper into the breakfast debate: (https://www.precisionnutrition.com/skipping-breakfast-and-obesity)

 

2. Intermittent Fasting

 Another contentious issue, some people swear intermittent fasting helps them not only lose weight, but also feel better and more energetic. For an always balanced Precision Nutrition approach, check this out for more about intermittent fasting: (https://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-intermittent-fasting)

 

 

3. 30-day Elimination

 Are you sensitive or gluten? To dairy? Eggs? Try eliminating different foods from your diet for a month as an experiment. Go back to the food after a month and see what happens. Read more here: (https://www.precisionnutrition.com/elimination-diet)

 

4. More meals a day? Less, smaller meals?

 It’s the three larger meals versus six small meals debate! Try both and decide for yourself. And check this out for more: (https://furthermore.equinox.com/articles/2018/02/6-meals-day)

 

 

5. Post-meal carbohydrates?

 Do you really need carbohydrates within 30 minutes of working out? Some say you do, some say you don’t: (https://www.precisionnutrition.com/about-post-workout-nutrition)

 

Here’s the thing: Your best guide is what your body is telling you. If you’re super hungry the moment you wake up, maybe you do need breakfast first thing. If you get a stomach ache from eating cheese, maybe stop eating it. The point is you are a unique individual, not a template who should follow a good guide your government made for you. Don’t be afraid to take matters into your own hands to figure yourself and your body out. Or hire a coach who can steer you in the right direction.

Athlete of the MonthMay

Mercy Watler

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How long have you been doing CrossFit?

I’ve been doing CrossFit from 2014.

 

What made you decide to give 7 Mile Strength & Fitness a try?

I heard from my co-worker, Zak Kepner, and he told me how awesome the gym was and I saw his dedication.

 

What was the hardest part when you started out and how did you overcome that?

The hardest part was my eating habits.  I learned so much from the 7 Mile Team.  The WOD was always exhausting but I learned to eat better and I started seeing results.

 

You are on your feet a lot at work.  For some people they may consider that their exercise for the day – not you though :)  You come in to work out at 530am, and then go to work!  That is some serious commitment and dedication.  What keeps you motivated to come in before a long day at work?

I want to feel happy and positive energy at my work place.  I know I have to be in good health – this is my most important motivation as I have family waiting for me at home every evening.

 

What’s your favourite thing to do in Cayman?

I love running by the beach.

 

Anything from home (Honduras) you really miss, besides family?

The rivers and forest.

 

Name something you are most proud of in the gym.

Definitely the best coaches and family spirit.

 

Did you play any sports growing up?

Gymnastics.

 

Anything people at 7 Mile Strength & Fitness don’t know about you?

Oh my….!  I’m maybe a little sensitive.

 

Anything crazy on your bucket list? (bungee jumping, sky diving?)

Sky diving for sure as I’m afraid of heights.

 

What is your favourite WOD and why?

Squats.  I feel my legs are my strongest part of my body.

 

What is your least favourite WOD and why?

My least favourite I must say are snatches.

 

What has been your biggest surprise about doing CrossFit?

The biggest surprise is I am able to do things like push myself to my limits.  And I have no fear to do something again if I did not succeed.

 

Would you recommend 7 Mile Strength & Fitness to others and if so, why?

I have to some already!  And I will keep recommending it because of the great coaches with great knowledge to help you.

Thank you 7 Mile family for being awesome.  I’m proud to say ‘I AM 7MILE’.  Love you guys :)

 

Congratulations – we are so proud of you, Mercy!

Meal Prep 101


6 Steps to becoming a master at the meal prep, and two meal prep ideas to get you started! Whether or not people are truly as “busy” as we advertise, we all seem to like to talk about how busy and crazy our lives are. For some of us, it might actually be true.

Often times, the result of our business is that our intention to cook a healthy meal for dinner gets thrown out the window for something quick and easy, or our intended day of meal prepping just doesn’t happen.

If this is you and you want to turn a new leaf and actually honor your commitment to yourself to meal planning and meal prepping, here at 6 steps to becoming a master meal prep-er!

You’ll realize when you follow these steps that meal prepping really doesn’t have to be time-consuming at all. If you’re efficient, you can easily churn our five prepped meals by just spending an extra hour in the kitchen per week.

 

 

Step 1. Keep it Realistic and Do-able

If you’re new to meal prepping, don’t bite off more than you can chew. We’ve had clients tell us they’re going to make 12 elaborate dinners and lunches with all these obscure ingredients every Sunday. That might be a bit aggressive!

Maybe just start with devoting two hours each week to make five lunches for that week. And keep it simple: Start with just one meat and a veg. Get used to the routine of meal prepping first before you get all elaborate. Being too fancy and ambitious will just end up being too time-consuming and might cause your well-intended motivation to dwindle.

 

 

Step 2. Get a Slow Cooker (or two!)

A slow cooker is your best friend when it comes to meal prep as it does 95 percent of the work for you 🙂

Let’s say as you’re making dinner on Saturday night: While you’re cooking, take the time to pop a couple pork shoulders with some spices in the slow cooker. It only takes a few minutes to prep, but then when your meal prep Sunday rolls around, all you have to do is cook some vegetables and pull your pork. Literally within 30 to 45 minutes, you could have 10 lunches prepared and packaged and ready to freeze.

 

 

Step 3. Take an Inventory of Your Fridge Beforehand

Though it’s great to have an exact idea and execute it, it’s also efficient to use what you already have on hand, as it saves you money, and you’ll reduce food waste in the process. It might also help you mix and match, for example, vegetables. This way, your meals for the week won’t necessarily be the exact same each day.

 

 

Step 4. Get all of the Tupperware

Invest in good quality Tupperware with solid lids that aren’t going to fall off. If they’re all the same then you never have to search and search for the lid that fits the container you put your food in (missing Tupperware lids are kind of like the sock that disappears in the dryer: A mystery).

But seriously, get 12-20 Tupperware containers of the same brand and size and you’re set for life. Or at least for a couple years.

 

 

Step 5. Use Leftovers to Your Advantage

Another time-saving tip is to use leftovers in your plan. If, for example, you know you’re making a ham for dinner, use the leftover ham in a soup you’re planning on meal prepping for next week’s lunches.

 

 

Step 6. Cook Once, Eat Twice…. or Three Times.

Like the measure twice, cut once rule, if you’re bothering to cook, cook extra on purpose. Meal prep doesn’t always have to mean batch cooking 7 to 10 meals every Sunday. It can also mean making just one or two extra meals for later.

So if you know you’re not going to have to skip this Sunday meal prep day, but are cooking a meal on Friday night, at least make enough for a couple extra meals that you can package up and freeze or refrigerate right away.

Ok, here are two meal prep ideas to get you thinking in the right direction:

 

1)Pulled Pork with Mashed Yams and Spinach

 

Step 1: Throw a pork shoulder or two (depending on how much you want) in the slow cooker. Add a little bit of water and some seasoning. Think salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika, garlic powder, chili powder and oregano, but really the options are endless. Cook for 6 to 8 hours. Then pull the pork.

 

Step 2: Cook 3 to 5 yams (in the oven or on the stove), depending on the size and how much you want to make. Put them in the food processor and puree (or mash the old fashioned way with a potato masher). Add a little butter or ghee and some cream or coconut milk, and some salt and pepper.

 

Step 3. Cook a few bundles of spinach—or just place raw spinach at the bottom of each container. When you warm it up later before you eat, the spinach will cook in no time.

 

Step 4: Add some pork and yams in each container on top of the cooked or raw spinach. Seal them and freeze them, or keep them in the fridge if you’re planning on eating them in the next three days or so.

Optional: Douse each meal with hot sauce if you’re into that!

 

 

2) Beef Brisket and Pork Chili

 

Step 1: Slow cook a beef brisket for 6 to 8 hours (it’s best to do this overnight so it’s ready to go when you’re ready to make the chili).

 

Step 2: Get a giant pot!

 

Step 3: Saute two or three chopped onions and plenty of chopped garlic in butter.

 

Step 4: When they’re soft, add chili powder, paprika, dry parsley, oregano, basil, salt and pepper to taste (you can always add more later, but start with a couple teaspoons of each).

 

Step 5: Add chopped vegetables of your choice. Maybe red pepper, green peppers, carrots and mushrooms. Other great options include kale and celery. Throw in whatever leftover vegetable you have in your fridge, in fact.

 

Step 6: Chop some tomatoes (or use canned tomatoes): Approximately 3 cans or 10 to 12 tomatoes, depending on how much you want tomatoes to dominate the chili.

 

Step 7: Add cup or so of water or chicken broth to thin out the chili, if need be.

 

Step 8: In a separate pan, cook the ground pork (2 to 3 lb.) until cooked through.

 

Step 9: Add 3 to 4 cups of beans (either raw or canned). Any beans will suffice, but usually you can use a blend of kidney beans, black beans and pinto beans.

 

Step 10: Add the meat —the beef brisket and the ground pork—to the giant pot of chili.

 

Step 11: Let simmer on low heat for a couple hours until all the flavors have a chance to develop. Make sure you taste the chili as you go and add more spices and salt and pepper as needed.

 

Good luck. Keep it simple. And once meal prepping becomes a habit, you won’t even think about it!

 

 

 

 

 

Athlete of the MonthApril

Tasha Ebanks-Garcia

Years Doing CrossFit: 1

Learn more about Tasha Ebanks-Garcia

How long have you been doing CrossFit?

I started CrossFit classes in September 2018 after doing Fundamentals with Coach Chris Spigner.

What made you decide to give 7 Mile Strength & Fitness a try?

In December 2016 I decided that 2017 would not be another failed attempt at getting healthy for the New Year. I can’t remember how I heard about it, but the 7 Mile Strength & Fitness Couch-2-5K training caught my attention. The idea of running sounded exciting in my head. I thought, “Wow, can you imagine being able to run a 5K”. Two Couch 2 5K’s and one Marathon training program later, Coach Scotty and Coach Jesse had me running my first half marathon. I made the transition from run training to CrossFit after a knee injury in early 2018.

What was the hardest part when you started out and how did you overcome that?

The hardest part when I started CrossFit was overcoming the intimidation of the WOD. When I read the board half the stuff on there were movements/exercises that looked super hard or I just couldn’t do. I wasn’t strong, I wasn’t particularly fast. Flexibility was probably the only thing I had going for me.

For the first couple of months I only went to classes that my Coach (Chris Spigner) taught. He knew me and was able to scale the workouts for me, making them manageable (still super hard, but manageable). After a while I got brave and started going to classes taught by other coaches and found a really supportive team of coaches that got to know me and helped me to scale the workouts. Getting to know my body, accepting where I was in the moment and scaling workouts was how I overcame the fear of the WOD.

You just finished your first ever CrossFit Games Open!! Congratulations on an amazing job over the 5 weeks! Tell us a little bit about your experience. Which workout did you like? Which one was your least favorite? Will you participate again in October? What would you tell anyone who’s on the fence about doing the Open?

19.2 was my favourite of the Open workouts. When I started CrossFit I couldn’t do more than 10 single-unders unbroken. For some reason I found skipping rope hard and uncomfortable. In 19.2 I was able to get through the single-under sets with just one break which felt awesome to me. In 19.2 my hands got good and tore up doing the hanging knee raises (nothing says CrossFit like callused hands!). Add to that the squat cleans, a movement that makes you feel powerful when you do it, and you have a really great WOD.

I don’t know that I have a least favourite workout. They were all equally painful, both mentally and physically. With all of them I hated each movement at the start, but by the time I finished the workout I found that I was better at each movement than when I started and actually started to like the movements. Movements that I thought I wasn’t good at (I’m talking to you wall balls!) I got better at, and movements that I didn’t like I learned to appreciate (I’m talking to you jumping pull ups!).

I’m all over October. I’ve already started to strategize about what I need to do differently in my nutrition and my training to be stronger for October. I have a PT coming up and I’ll be looking to my Coach to help me plan for being stronger, both mentally and physically, for October.

If you’re sitting on the fence about the Open I would ask, “What’s holding you back?” Sure it’s scary. Every morning before the workout started my stomach was in knots. Sure it’s painful. In the middle of each workout I thought to myself, “I could curl up into a ball on the floor and just refuse to do another movement”. But then you get to the end, after having giving it everything you have, and you sit in awe at what you just did. My best WODs ever, were in the Open. The unintentional grunting noises coming out of my mouth during the Open was the anthem call of my effort. The pride on my husband and kid’s faces as they watched me do my first Open was the icing on the cake. The Open was my Mt. Everest, and I can tell you the view from the top is amazing!

You posted awhile back about your on-going knee issues you had when training for the marathon. How has coming in to do strength training helped you? What’s made the biggest difference, in your opinion, in getting better?

I ended up in CrossFit after getting a knee injury (guess I ran farther than my body wanted to go!). I got to a point where one mile in my knee hurt so bad I had to hobble home. The doctors couldn’t find anything medically wrong with me other than inflammation in my knee. Rest and anti-inflammatory medication was prescribed. You can’t imagine the disappointment. For years I searched for some form of exercise that I enjoyed. While I wasn’t a fast runner I really enjoyed the thrill of the long distance and thought that this was my sport.

However, I do need to share with you that if you saw me in the home stretch of a long run I looked like an old lady hunched over dragging her body behind her, and the running pack that I wore on my back added to the whole Quasimodo look I was sporting (the pics look seriously funny). Coming to CrossFit was a way to get the strength that I needed to run the distance. As my CrossFit Coach pointed out, carrying 150 pounds for an hour or two is a lot of work for the body.

In addition to building strength, my CrossFit Coach has been working with me on the mechanics of running (I am a heel striker). While learning how to run, and undoing what my body has been doing for 45 years, has been absolutely frustrating it has also been tremendously helpful. Slowly my body is adapting to the changes that I am trying to make in terms of the mechanics of running and as a result I am getting faster. While I still can’t run the distance I would like to (3-4miles is my point of pain) when I do run I feel stronger and my form is 100 times better (Goodbye Quasimodo!).

Any other goals on your list for this year?

My plan was to start training to run my next half marathon at the end of the year. But I am so conflicted because I have developed this unexpected love for CrossFit and the next Open is in October. I am torn between two loves and right now the embrace of CrossFit feels really good.

Name something you’re most proud of in the gym.

I asked my son what he thinks the answer to this question is and he said, “deadlifts”. Apparently, I get very animated when I talk about my progress in deadlifts. I can lift my body weight which I think is totally cool.

Did you play any sports growing up?

Growing up I was the kid in PE who kept sneaking to the back of the line so they didn’t have to play sports. I had a fear of failure and convinced myself that if I didn’t do well I would be totally embarrassed. The only sport that I did take part in was netball. Given my height in high school I could play goal keeper quite successfully by just standing and raising my hand over the shooter. Since the goal keeper can only move in one third of the court I didn’t have to move much. Basically, I just stood in the circle and raised my hand.

Anything people at 7 Mile Strength & Fitness don’t know about you?

There is…in 1995 I was crowned Miss Cayman. I got to represent the Cayman Islands at Miss Universe in Las Vegas and Miss World in South Africa.

Anything crazy on your bucket list? (bungee jumping, sky diving?)

Most people may not considerate it crazy, but as a ninth generation Caymanian who swore at one point in her life that Cayman would be her home till God took her to heaven, the crazy thing on my bucket list is making my home in a foreign country. My husband (who is from the Philippines) and I are exploring the option of moving to the Philippines one day (possibly sooner than later).

What is your favorite WOD and why?

Anything that involves a bar with weights. As a woman, there is something seriously empowering about manhandling a bar with weights on it.

What is your least favorite WOD and why?

This may sound strange, but anything with running in it. I loathe short distances. Ask me to run a 10K, but please don’t ask me to run 400m.

What has been your biggest surprise about doing CrossFit?

I was most surprised by how encouraging and motivating the sport is and the fact there wherever you are in your CrossFit journey you can be good at CrossFit. I feel confident in saying I am good at CrossFit even though I scale workouts, I cap out, I can’t figure out how to do an EMOM and have that built in break, I am not the fastest or strongest, my height means that squats seem to take forever because of the distance I have to travel…I could go on.

I guess what I am trying to say is that it’s the kind of sport that you can be good at even when there is room for growth. And in CrossFit there is always room for growth which means that you go from one milestone, one celebration, one PR to another. There isn’t one defining moment when you have arrived. In whatever moment you are standing in you have arrived. I can remember going from doing negative pushups on a box to doing 10 box pushups in a row and feeling on top of the world. Can you imagine the feeling I will have when I can do pushups on the ground! In CrossFit you go from growth to growth, celebrating each achievement and using that positive energy to take you to the next level.

Would you recommend 7 Mile Strength & Fitness to others and if so, why?

Absolutely! You can get a good workout and you can find good coaching at any good gym. What 7 Mile Strength & Fitness has that you don’t find everywhere is a great community. For me going to 7 Mile Strength & Fitness is more than just going to the gym. It’s that place where I am encouraged and supported. It’s that place where I go when I feel down and need to escape the world. There’s something transformational about walking in there, its part WOD, part community, part amazing coaching. There are a number of times that I have gone into 7 Mile Strength & Fitness feeling crappy. Never once have I left feeling crappy.

Congratulations, Tash!  We are proud of you and your accomplishments!

 

Is Foam Rolling Actually Useful?


 We often see sore-looking athletes walk into the gym and the first thing they do is grab a foam roller and grimace as they knead out their sore muscles. Then again after the workout, it’s straight to the foam roller. Most people’s thought process behind this self-administered, myofascial release (SMR) technique is that it will help them be less sore the next day—that it will prevent DOMs.

 

Foam rolling your quads after 150 wall balls will probably next to nothing when it comes to the muscle soreness that will overtake your body the next day. This, however, doesn’t mean foam rollers don’t have their place in our lives: They just aren’t doing what you think they’re doing. Foam rolling works a bit like a massage and is good for flushing your lymphatic system out so your muscles relax and calm down, but in terms of mitigating soreness created from damaging your muscles temporarily in a workout, foam rolling won’t really help. Foam rolling is like Lipton chicken noodle soup when you’re at home sick: It’s not going to cure your cold or flu, but it provides comfort to your body.

 

 

Another Myth: The IT Bands

Many people, especially those who spend a lot of time running, have notoriously tight IT bands. Sometimes knee pain is the result. Because the IT band—the tendon that runs down the length of the outer thigh from the top of the pelvis to the shin bone—is difficult to stretch the way we stretch the muscles in our bodies, foam rolling has often been seen as a good alternative.

But there’s plenty of evidence now that foam rolling your IT only exacerbates the problem, especially if the pain you’re feeling actually stems from your glutes not firing properly. Read more about why foam rolling your IT bands isn’t as useful as you thought it was in this Breaking Muscle article: (https://breakingmuscle.com/fitness/your-it-band-is-not-the-enemy-but-maybe-your-foam-roller-isWhen is a good time to foam roll then?

 

1. To Increase Range of Motion (temporarily)

 It’s shoulder press day and your shoulders and pecks are feeling tight. Foam rolling your lats before you lift, or between sets, can help relax your shoulder blades so you can get into a better, anatomically safer overhead position. But foam rolling before heavy squats might not be a good idea, because it relaxes your muscles and you want to build as much tension in your body as you can when you squat.

 

 

2. To Reduce Pain (temporarily)

 Foam rolling—or a more acute acupressure type of rolling with an acupressure ball or a lacrosse ball—can help alleviate pain from an injury (temporarily). For example, if you slip a rib in your back and the muscles are tight all around it, foam rolling can provide some temporarily relief. It won’t, however, fix the injury long-term. If you have chronic pain or an injury, foam rolling before bed can provide the relief you need in the moment to get a good night’s rest.

 

The message: Foam rolling is good for helping you in today’s workout in some cases, but it’s not going reduce DOMs and it’s not a solution to an injury.

The Carbonated Water CRAZE is in Full Effect: Is it Healthy?


Perrier and Club Soda used to dominate the carbonated water market. But in recent years—probably because we are now more convinced than ever that sugar is evil—new brands of carbonated water have slowly been taking over the shelves, one bubble at a time. LaCroix, Voss and more recently Bubly (thanks to the Super Bowl commercial), have become a few of the more and more recognizable brands. Not to mention, everyone and his dog has a SodaStreams, and serve-yourself carbonated water taps are becoming par for the course at coffee shops and restaurants.

But have you ever wondered if all the carbonation you’re consuming is bad for your health? On a basic level, all carbonated water is water that has been infused with carbon dioxide gas under pressure.  Some brands have added sodium (and other minerals), like most Club Soda brands, but many don’t. Carbon dioxide and water together produce carbonic acid, which stimulates the nerve receptors in your mouth and triggers that prickly sensation many of us seem to enjoy.

 

Is The Acidity Bad For Me?

One of the concerns some have is that carbonated water is acidic. Its pH level is between 3 and 4, meaning it is slightly acidic. But rest assured, this doesn’t make your body more acidic, because your kidneys and lungs get rid of the carbon dioxide and help keep your blood slightly alkaline regardless of what you eat or drink.

 

What About My Teeth?

Something else some of us have wondered is whether carbonated water is bad for our teeth—does the acid erode our enamel? This 2001 study (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11556958) doesn’t think so. It concluded: “Mineral waters appear to offer a safe alternative to more erosive acidic beverages and their complex mineral ion compositions may positively influence any dissolution processes at the tooth surface.”

 Other studies have shown carbonated drinks do have a negative effect on enamel, however, it’s the sugar, rather than the carbonation, that is likely doing the damage. In fact, Gatorade, which isn’t carbonated, has been shown to be worse for the teeth than Diet Coke.

 

 

Does It Hydrate Me As Well As Tap Water?

 Though there isn’t huge amount of research on the topic, the answer appears to be yes. And dieticians and nutritionists tend to agree: Sparkling water is just regular water infused with carbon dioxide, so yes it hydrates you as well as tap water, experts agree.

 

 

Is It Bad For My Calcium Levels?

 This fear seemed to have started because of some research showed that older women who drink various types of sodas have lower bone mineral density. Again, though, this likely came down to the sugar in soda, not the carbonation, so best we can tell is this is but a myth! So if it’s not bad for you, then we might as well ask the question, ‘Is good for you?’ There is some evidence carbonated and sparkling waters might have some health benefits, specifically on digestion, relieving constipation and helping you feel satiated.

 

Some people have a hard time swallowing still water, especially older adults. There’s some evidence that carbonated water is easier to swallow (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26607248). 

Second, this 2007 study (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16995969) found that drinking ice-cold carbonated water helped people with a persistent need to clear their throats reduce those symptoms. 

As for constipation, though this study (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21551998) only included 40 elderly participants, it found that 58 percent of them felt constipation relief when they switched from tap to sparkling water.  

Meanwhile, other research has suggested sparkling water can help improve various symptoms of indigestion, like stomach pain and gallbladder emptying. When these symptoms are relieved, constipation decreases. Finally, we think we have all experienced that carbonated water helps us feel full, at least more than tap water. It appears carbonated water might also stay in your stomach longer than still water, helping keep you feeling full longer and making you less included to eat too much.

 

Bottom line: If you’re digging your SodaStream or are getting into the cans of Bubly on the regular—especially if it’s getting you to drink an appropriate amount of water and you find it easier to swallow—keep on guzzling!