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7 Signs You’re Not Eating Enough

By William Imbo for boxlifemagazine.com

Our diets play a huge role in our general health and athletic performance. All too often, poor nutrition is the weak link that is constantly inhibiting an athlete’s progress. When they look to correct it by following CrossFit’s guidelines on nutrition (“base your diet on garden vegetables, especially greens, lean meats, nuts and seeds, little starch, and no sugar”), there’s usually an immediate change. However, even those athletes who eat healthy, whole foods still fall victim to another nutritional roadblock: not eating enough. While eating poorly is always the primary issue that needs correcting, not eating enough can cause athletes to lose muscle mass, lack energy and place them in a state of high stress, as this article explains.

Bad mood/High Stress
We all experience stress in some form or another throughout the day—a tough CrossFit WOD is a perfect example of intentionally placing the body under physical stress. However, these workouts are acute stressors. The stress we experience outside of the gym on a daily basis (through work, city living, commuting, relationships, etc.) can become chronic in nature, which means that our bodies will be releasing a high amount of stress hormones—like cortisol—which has a negative impact on our health (high levels of cortisol is linked to heart disease, obesity, depression and high blood pressure).

But did you know that feeling irritable and stressed is also a sign that you’re not eating enough? In fact, complex carbohydrates (those high in fiber that we typically get from vegetables) are essential to the body’s production of serotonin, a chemical in the brain that elevates mood, suppresses appetite, and has a calming effect.

Loss of muscle mass
Speaking of stress, the stress hormones our bodies naturally release are catabolic—which means that they increase muscle and tissue breakdown. Now, when this happens in response to an acute stressor (such as your typical CrossFit workout), it’s a natural process that paves the way for anabolism. In English, during an intense workout our muscle fibers undergo microscopic tears from physical stress (i.e. lifting weights) and the release of stress hormones. But once the workout is over and the acute stressor has subsided, our body starts the process of ‘repairing’ the damage to our tissue and fibers by making them stronger (muscle anabolism). This is how we get stronger, faster and fitter.

However, if we are experiencing chronic stress (which can be caused by not eating enough), our stress hormones are constantly elevated, meaning that we start to experience muscle catabolism even when we’re not working out. This means that if you’re consistently under-eating, you could start to experience a loss of muscle mass. This will only be compounded if you’re not eating enough AND you’re working out. Why? Because your body needs carbohydrates and fats to use as energy in a workout. But if the body doesn’t have an adequate source of those nutrients, it will look to get the energy elsewhere—either from the existing fat stores in your body, or by burning your muscle mass for energy. So if you’re starting to experience unusual weight loss and/or visible muscle mass loss, up the consumption of your daily food intake (but once again, make sure to be eating the right kind of foods).

Not achieving desired fat loss
Contrary to popular belief, sometimes eating more (not less) will help you lose weight. Remember, if you’re not supplying the body with fuel from proper nutrition, it will hold on to your stored fat and start burning muscle tissue for energy. In addition, a loss in muscle mass volume will slow down your metabolism—this is because the more muscle you have, the more fat you burn at rest. And remember our good friend cortisol (the stress hormone)? Well, increased stress caused by a lack of eating enough leads to a rise in cortisol levels, which increases the storage of visceral fat cells in areas like your stomach. Essentially, not eating enough can have the exact opposite effect of what you’re trying to achieve!

Poor recovery post-workout
As you know, the average CrossFit workout is performed at high intensity, and places a lot of physical (and mental) stress on the body. Our energy systems become depleted, our muscle fibers and tissues get damaged, so we need to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to help our bodies recover post-workout. Doing lots of mobility work and getting proper sleep is essential, but perhaps the most important factor to recovering well is eating properly. If you find that you feel weak, sluggish and sore days after a workout (and it’s not the typical soreness you get from a brutal WOD), you need to be eating more food. You can’t expect your body to function at a high level from day to day if you’re giving it a limited amount of fuel. In order to help your muscles repair and grow, in order to have enough energy to move heavy weight and row long distances, you have to be eating plenty of food. As such, don’t neglect getting some protein and carbs into your system immediately after a workout. The 20-30 minute after you finish a workout is a key period in which the protein in your muscles are still being broken down by the body. This is important because muscle growth depends on protein synthesis being greater than the breakdown of muscle protein. The faster protein can be absorbed and metabolized by the body, the more your muscles will develop as a result. Drink a whey protein shake, or have some nuts, eggs or a chicken breast ready to go as soon as you finish the WOD to help your body recover quickly.

Not achieving desired muscle gain
Muscle hypertrophy, or muscle cell enlargement, is defined as an increase in muscle mass and cross-sectional area. This occurs from an increase to the size (not length) of individual muscle fibers. There are plenty of factors that affect the process of hypertrophy, including the type of exercise performed, the frequency of exercise, intensity, volume, rest, progressive overload, and of course diet. Now, through doing CrossFit, I’m sure you’ve experienced some amount of visible increase to the size, definition and strength of your muscles. But many athletes could (and should) be seeing far greater changes in those areas. More often than not, the issue is a lack of nutrition to support increased muscle growth. If you want to build muscle, you need to lift heavy weights. If you want to be able to lift weights that progressively get heavier, you need to be eating more so that your muscles have the strength and energy to move that weight.

Constantly hungry
This one’s quite simple. If you’re always hungry and looking to snack, you’re probably not eating enough. However, many people often complain that no matter how often they eat, they still feel hungry. But upon closer inspection of their diet, the reason why becomes clear. Their diets are usually high in simple carbohydrates (fruits and processed foods) and low in good fats and protein. All simple carbs are sugars, and they are a quick source of energy because the body can rapidly digest them. However, many processed foods have added sugar in them (as opposed to fruit, which contains natural sugar), and eating too much of these can lead to a litany of health problems (including insulin resistance, heart disease and cancer). And because they are so rapidly digested, you never feel that full after eating them—which causes you to want to eat more brownies/potato chips/bread, etc., thereby putting your health at risk.

The nutrients you should be eating are complex carbohydrates (green and starchy vegetables), lean protein (grass-fed meat, fish) and good fats (unsaturated fats—fatty fish, avocados, nuts and seeds, olive oil). Because it takes the body a long time to digest these foods, you’ll have a slower-burning source of fuel that will keep you energized and full for longer periods, nullifying your cravings throughout the day. In addition, your brain will operate at a higher capacity and your digestion will be notably enhanced. So, when you feel the need to eat—then pick a food item from the list above and have at it.

Lack of energy/Constant fatigue
If you’re tired before you even start warming up for class, then that’s as clear a sign as any that you need to reevaluate when you’re eating, what you’re eating and how much you’re eating. Skipping meals is not an option, and having to rely on some dried fruit to give you an energy boost before a workout isn’t going to cut it either. You’re simply not giving your body enough fuel to use as energy to be able to function at a high level—both inside the gym and out. So how do you rectify the issue? Needless to say it’s too simple to just ‘eat more’. Obviously that’s the crux of the issue, but we can dig a little deeper. Consider upping the frequency—but not necessarily the portion size—of your meals throughout the day. If we over-indulge in our meals, then your brain tells your body to slow down to digest the food. But the more food you put in, the harder your digestive system has to work, causing you to feel lethargic, drowsy and ‘stuffed’.  To increase the amount of food you eat without stuffing your face in a few monster meals, look to eat 5-6 smaller meals throughout the day, spaced evenly apart. Doing so will help to regulate your blood glucose levels, not to mention providing you a gradual energy release rather than one big high followed by a corresponding low (i.e. constant fatigue).

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Hello my friends!  Last week was the five year Anniversary of my first CrossFit workout.  It’s amazing to me that five years, and 700+ WOD’s, later, I’m still loving it (except all the stuff I hate :-)).

I’m truly amazed at a lot of what’s happened over the past five years.  I’m fitter than I have ever been.  Working out is a staple in my life.  I can do things I would never have even imagined trying before I found CrossFit.  And I have a sense of pride that through the travel, the injuries, the fails, I have never even considered quitting.  I am a better person because of CrossFit.

More than any of those things, I am truly blessed to have found a “gym family.”  It all starts with Local – you guys, the coaches, and all the folks I suffer with and love more for it.  You all gave me the confidence to drop into gyms all over the world, and now my CrossFit family stretches across the globe.  You two (Chad & Kelly) have become very important in the lives of the Roth’s, and I cannot tell you how much I love being Uncle Rothy to Evelyn.

So thank you for creating a gym that has become my home, and for filling it with people that are my family.  Please know what you guys do makes a difference.  I am living proof.

With much Love –


PS – did today’s WOD (by myself) to celebrate.  Running AND Double Under’s – wonderful!

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The Power of Community by Coach Chad

Check out that photo above. That’s 23 people who attended our Ignition Bootcamp Bring-A-Friend Day. Crazy right?!?!

See here’s how the evolution works. The first day of Ignition, no one speaks. You don’t know each other. Is that person staring at me? Maybe they think I’m out of shape…

After the first week, you decide you kind of like these people. They’re in this fight just like you. They want to be healthier and stronger. Maybe you start to bond over that fact?

After the second week is where it really gets interesting. Now you’re brothers and sisters in it together. Each workout is a test of mental toughness that leaves you feeling empowered.

After a couple more weeks then you start roping your friends into it. This is awesome and you need to be a part of it too! Let’s experience this together. Hopefully it will change your life the way it’s changing mine.

And then there’s graduation. After thirteen completed Ignition classes, we have a 100% improvement rate. ONE HUNDRED PERCENT. That’s pretty good odds. You should probably take that bet.

Class 015 starts next month. So what are you waiting for? Here’s the link!

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Chad A, Cecilia, Laura M, Bradley and Courtney get some dumbbell lovin’!


CFL FAQ by Coach Chad

Recently I filled out a quick interview with the UNC Business School. While I was doing that, I thought you guys and girls might be interested in some of the answers. Here ya go!

1. I don’t know much about CrossFit myself other than what I read on your website. Can you tell me a little more about the CrossFit program? CrossFit in a nutshell is constantly varied functional movements performed at high intensity. That means that we do things you see in everyday life. We do them in many different combinations. And we do them as fast as possible. It’s usually performed in a group format with a professionally trained coach. Pretty exciting stuff.

2. How did you get connected with the people at the CrossFit program? I found CrossFit through the CFHQ website at crossfit.com. I used their program to train myself and my clients for a couple of years before becoming certified and getting CrossFit Local growing.

3. How did your EXSS degree at UNC help with founding CrossFit Local? The EXSS degree definitely gave me a leg up when it came to knowing how to most-effectively train and understanding why the program works so well. You can pretty quickly tell which CrossFit coaches have a background in EXSS. The book knowledge combined with years of training experience creates a pretty deadly combo.

4. Tell me a little about the business structure of CrossFit Local. Was the business aspect a difficult transition for you when starting CrossFit Local? CrossFit Local is an affiliate of CFHQ. We have certain guidelines to follow from them but otherwise we’re pretty free to run things as we see fit. We have certainly struggled like any small business. We’ve seeked out the advice of mentors in the CrossFit field who have helped us transition from a hobby to an actual business. Once you have to put food on the table, things start to get a little more serious!

5. If you had to give you advice to a student interested in the fitness industry, what would it be? It’s okay to not know what you want to be when you grow up. Keep following your passion and eventually you will find a way to make a career out of it. Hard work and determination are the only tools you need.

6. Do you have any internship, shadowing or possible employment openings in the future? We accept interns over the Summer. Last year that translated into a part-time position for our current associate Jeremy. In order to be eligible for a coaching position, athletes must first be a member for 4+ months. After that, they can apply to one of our Instructor Training Programs which lasts for 3 months. After completion of that program, we send our potential coaches to CFHQ to become certified.

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Branson P was proud to lead the first annual Compress and Shock CPR and AED training at CrossFit Local Saturday morning. We had a great turnout and great feedback from the participants. This is such a great tool to help save lives, teach effective bystander CPR, and eliminate any fear of using an AED during a cardiac arrest. Many thanks all who participated and special thanks to Dr Sid Smith from UNC Cardiology for stopping by!


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Keep Calm and Lift On

“You make that look so easy.” Aw, thanks.

“Wow, how can you lift so much?” Um, I just practice a lot.

“I don’t think I’ll ever be able to lift like you do.” It takes time.

These are some of the comments I get and answers I give when discussing my lifts with people. The truth is, I was built for olympic lifting. I’m 5’0” and weigh 130# and have always been a quadzilla. :)

Let’s be clear though, just because I have the body “type” to support olympic lifting does not mean that I just picked up a barbell one day and started lifting my bodyweight. I felt like each of you did when you first started. “Which one’s the clean? Are my hands wide or narrow for the snatch? Do I catch this one on my shoulders or overhead?”

I have spent hundreds of hours working on my lifts. I have done snatch complexes, clean pulls, snatch pulls, snatches off the blocks, behind the neck jerks, triples, EMOMs, heavy singles and so many other drills. I have worked alone, with Chad (mostly), lifting experts and with a Junior American record holder in olympic lifting. So did this come overnight? Absolutely not. I love the barbell and love spending time with her. Several summers ago, I spent 12 weeks doing an olympic lifting cycle and that’s when I really started to refine my technique and see results. I’m doing one now to prep for my first oly meet next month!!

The barbell and I have a complex relationship. I have been frustrated and confused by the barbell many times. Missing a PR when I knew I could do it was one of the only times I’ve cried in CrossFit. On the contrary, some of my happiest and most exciting moments have been when I have successfully completed a lift.

I want you to see results and love the barbell like I do and experience some of these exciting moments for yourself! I have spent some time developing two programs where I will work with you one-on-one on your olympic lifts. Because I’m only one person and these are so time-intensive, I can only accept 4 people. One spot was claimed before this was officially released, so if you’re interested contact me ASAP! I have room for 3 more!!!

Now for the details:

Don’t Fear the Barbell Program

  • Designed for a newer athlete who sort of understands the movements but wants to feel comfortable with them and refine technique
  • Must have been a member for 2+ months
  • Will learn the difference between the clean, snatch and jerk and understand positions 1, 2 and 3.
  • Will establish your current 1 rep max snatch and clean and jerk.
  • 4 weeks
  • Includes training plan programmed for you
  • Unlimited open gym access during open gym hours
  • 1 or 2 half hour personal training sessions per week with me including video analysis of your lifts.

Training plan only: $40
Training plan + Open Gym Access: $90 ($140 value)
All of the above with 1 session per week: $200 ($300 value)
All of the above with 2 sessions per week: $380 ($460 value)

Keep Calm and Lift On Program

  • Designed for the more seasoned athlete who wants to break through a plateau and reach new PRs
  • Must have been a member for 6+ months
  • Must know the difference between the clean, snatch and jerk and understand positions 1, 2 and 3.
  • Must know your current 1 rep max snatch and clean and jerk.
  • 8 weeks
  • Includes training plan programmed with your numbers
  • Unlimited open gym access during open gym hours
  • 1 or 2 half hour personal training session per week with me including video analysis of your lifts.

Training plan only: $40
Training plan + Open Gym Access: $140 ($240 value)
All of the above with 1 session per week: $400 ($560 value)
All of the above with 2 sessions per week: $760 ($880 value)

Interested? Email me back to get signed up. Those last 3 spots won’t last long…

Coach Kelly

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Invictus Athletes’ Camp at CrossFit Kalmar in Sweden

“Well, It Depends…”
Written by Hunter Britt for crossfitinvictus.com

When you listen to CJ Martin answer questions or explain reasons for certain things, you often hear him say, “Well, it depends”. At this point the person asking him the question is usually a little bummed because everyone wants to hear one answer that is the 100% perfect – the correct way to do whatever they are inquiring about. I love the “it depends” answer that CJ responds with.

Let’s talk about what “it depends” means. When you tell someone that “it depends”, it means that the answer to the question is going to vary from person to person. Each person’s lifestyle, body type, attitude, etc. are going to be determining factors. Whether we are talking about the best diet to eat throughout the week, the proper way to do a deadlift, or even how to teach an athlete how to do a muscle-up, there are a number of things that need to be taken into account that can change the answer.

A diet is going to be dependent upon many things: body composition, goals, lifestyle, and how a person digests and handles certain foods. A deadlift has a proper set up… to an extent. We can understand that there is a safe way to brace the body for a lift and that it should be done in about the same way for everyone; but I am sorry to inform you, if everyone had the exact same setup as the strongest person in the world, there is a good chance it is not going to be  the most optimal position for you, as an individual, to lift from. For the strongest person in the world, it is clearly working; but you are different in terms of which muscle groups are more developed on your body versus theirs, how flexible you are, and how your limbs compare to each other.

The muscle-up can be taught a million different ways. As a coach, we need to figure out which way is going to work best for which athletes and decide which cues are necessary.

If you struggle with the “it depends” answer, below are steps to find out what will work best for you in an “it depends” situation:

Step 1- Try Everything

You must try all of the available options. Make a list, or at least a mental list, of all of the ideas that are in contention for the best choice and then try them all. When trying them, take your time to study what you are doing, how you are feeling and understand what exactly is going on.

Step 2- Compare and Contrast

Take all of the movements, foods, ideas, or whatever it is you are testing and compare what you liked and disliked about each of the options. For example, maybe in one of the diets you were trying you had a lot of energy, but started gaining weight and you didn’t want to gain weight. Figure out what is giving you energy and what is causing you to gain weight. Is there a way to just get rid of the weight gaining problem and keep the energy?

Step 3- Make a Decision

You have decided that deadlifting feels better when you place your feet a little bit wider apart than directly under your hips because you are less flexible than the average person – that’s fantastic! Make decisions based off what works best for you and and what feels good. Once you make a decision, do your best to understand why it is that this works for you.

Step 4- Keep Your Eyes Open

Never stop looking for new ideas or ways to improve. There will always be new ideas thrown around so be careful to not ignore the new thoughts because you already have a way that works for you. Be willing to try something new and maybe you will surprise yourself and get results that are even better.

In summation, there are countless ways to get a fruit from the top of a tree. If you’re Tarzan you can climb it, but if you’re a lumberjack you can cut it down. Do not do yourself a disservice by doing what is commonly accepted and rarely questioned. Study and decide what makes the most sense for you personally.

Photo Credit: Anna Aberg

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The Reward of Patience by Coach Kelly

As part of my nurse practitioner job, a few months each year I help staff a table where I do free blood pressure checks. Normally I get about 20 people who are interested but recently I only had 4! Four?? Where were all the people?

Across from me gathering cookies and rice krispy treats! These baked goods were provided by the American Heart Association in order to get people to sign up for a walk for heart health. Anyone else see the irony there? I did.

Then, a lady who staffs the gym on site tells me they have coupons for free snow cones. Yikes! I affectionately dubbed these delectable treats “diabetes in a cup.” She said she didn’t want one, after that.

Is it wrong to have a cookie? No. To offer free snow cones in the name of health? Maybe. Offer wine after a WOD? Hope not! We’ve done that one. ?

What I discovered is that when given the choice to do something responsible (in this case, check blood pressure) or do something fun and immediately gratifying (like get a cookie) it’s just human nature to choose the immediate, sugary reward.

I gave this some thought in relation to exercise. Why do we keep coming in to do these grueling workouts when it’s 100º outside and we only have a couple fans to move the hot air around? That’s not immediately gratifying. Why in the world do people get up before 5 AM to fit this in before they start their day?

I think it’s because of the fun we have when we see our friends here, when we get to ring the PR bell and when we get to proudly announce our time or number of reps to the coach at the end of the WOD.

I don’t know anywhere else you can get that experience. So what finally lured you into CrossFit?

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Happy Cinco de Mayo!

It’s that time of year me amigos. Time to celebrate Mexican heritage and their victory over those crazy French. Assuming you’re like most Americans, this is cause for one thing: MARGARITAS. In order to help you impress your friends (and not totally destroy yourself for tomorrow), here are my top three margarita recipes right now:

Norcal Margarita – For me, this one started it all. Credit goes to Robb Wolf.


2. A Mid-Winter Marg
– This is my personal favorite right now. There’s just something about that grapefruit and chile salt combo. Credit goes to Shake: A New Perspective on Cocktails.

1 & 1/2 shots of tequila
3/4 shot Cointreau
3/4 shot fresh lime juice
3/4 shot fresh grapefruit juice
1 slice of fresh lime (to garnish)
1/2 Chile powder and 1/2 sea salt for rim

3. The Spicy Mezcalita
– Come to the dark side! This will be the best choice if you’re into something spicy, smoky and not too sweet. The mezcal is the star here and really sets the mood. Credit again goes to Shake: A New Perspective on Cocktails.

1 shot tequila
1/2 shot mezcal
3/4 shot Cointreau
3/4 shot fresh lime juice
1 slice of fresh jalapeno (plus 1 slice to garnish)
1 slice of fresh lime (to garnish)

So there you have it: Coach Chad’s guide to winning Cinco de Mayo. Now go impress your friends!


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Meal Prep Monday

I often get asked just how much food Mr.BarBelle and I eat in one week. The short answer to that is, a lot. I honestly could make Meal Prep Monday a series when thinking about how big of a deal food is in our home. Here a quick overview of the staples that we go through in an average week.


  • 2-3 gallons of milk
  • 5-6 different types of veggies
  • 8-10 lbs of meat including chicken, lean ground beef, turkey meat, and pork
  • SFH Pure Protein
  • Fruit including, bananas, apples, oranges, and usually one or two others that are in season
  • Cheese
  • 1-2 boxes of english muffins or loafs of bread
  • 1.5 lbs of Boars head deli meat
  • 2-3 boxes of pasta
  • 8-10 cups of rice (brown and white)
  • Ben and Jerry’s Fro Yo/ Menchies Take Home Containers

Moral of this post, we eat a lot of meat.

Those are just the staples that I know we HAVE to have in the house on any given week. (If you are curious how I’ve lost 15lbs eating these things and drinking Dunkin Iced Coffee check out when I dished all about macro counting) We do the majority of our cooking on Sundays so we have healthy options all week, and we really try to pack our lunches the night before, making one less thing to do in the mornings. (Read as it means I get to go to Dunkin Doughnuts in the morning)Cooking in bulk is definitely something I had to get used to when I moved in with Mr.BarBelle but it saves me so much time and effort later in the week. (Read as it means I get to go get Dunkin Doughnuts in the morning) I also get bored with food dishes very quickly so having the fridge stocked with food that’s already prepped means I’m less likely to spend more money at the grocery store mid-week.


Notice the giant lunchbox, huge bags of rice and Menchies FroYo!

There are a few life hacks that exist in our home to aid in the large amount of cooking we do. These include:

  • The Crock Pot– Especially now that fall is approaching I’ll use this to make alot of stews and soups. Mr.BarBelle’s all time favorite in the crock pot is pulled pork or pulled chicken!
  • The George Foreman– We get a new one at least once a year if not more frequently. My family has conceded to it being their standard gift for Mr.BarBelle and we always get the one that cooks for 8-10. My life.
  • Tiger Rice Cooker– When I met Mr.BarBelle he only knew life existed using rice that was cooked in a bag. Me and my Asian heritage changed all this. We don’t get anything other than a Tiger because they seriously make the most amazing and moist rice.


One day I have resigned myself to the concept that we could become a family that purchases half of a cow and fills their freezer in the garage with it. Part of me is terrified to create miniature Mr.BarBelles because if they even eat 1/3 of what he does, we will need a much larger bank account. Food is a huge part of our life but good meal prep and good tricks make it fun and ultimately mean I have a better relationship with it.

Do you meal prep? What are some of your life hacks to make cooking easier?