Monthly Archives: November 2011
Nov 30th, 2011

Upcoming Events in December


Joseph dragging a weighted tire

Here’s a quick post on some events that are coming up.  As we get closer to each event, we’ll follow up with a post with more details.  This is just to get these things on your radar.

CFO Holiday Party

As I wrote in last night’s post, the holiday party is coming up.  It will take place at the Hiller Highlands Country Club, the same venue as last year, and will be happening on Thursday, December 8, beginning around 6pm.  And this year we’ll be gathering for more than just some holiday cheer (see last night’s post for details).

CrossFit Total

Every year toward the end of the year, we give all of you a chance to test your strength gains over the past year by running you through the CrossFit Total, which is your chance to find your 1-rep max in the back squat, shoulder press, and deadlift, in that order.  There are some specific rules in terms of the order of the lifts and the number of attempts you get.  Click on the link for the full-blown explanation, or just wait for a follow-up post on the thing.  Whatever you do, don’t miss out on this opportunity.  It’s a great time and everyone who does it loves it.

The CrossFit Total, or CFT for short, will be happening on Sunday, December 11, beginning at 2pm.


We always say goodbye to the past year with Murph, which was one of the first hero workouts of CrossFit.  It’s a doozy, and you’ll never forget your first Murph experience.  Read up on the format of the workout here:

Because of the length of the workout, we’ll be running special 90-minute classes.  This will all go down on Saturday, December 31, beginning at 8am.

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Nov 29th, 2011

CFO Holiday Party for Brad


Brad at the 2009 CFO holiday party

Those of you who know Brad are aware that he was in an extremely serious motorcycle accident and is in critical care currently.  If you’re newer to CFO, you may not know Brad, so here’s the deal:  Brad is a long-time member and supporter of CFO.  In fact, if you’ve ever seen the now-famous Jameson tent that we take to CF competitions, it is because of Brad that we have that tent.  In addition, Brad is a member of the club where we’ve held, and will be holding again this year, the CFO holiday party.

I don’t have too many details on Brad’s current condition, and out of respect for Brad’s wife, Reinette, and the rest of Brad’s family, I don’t want to publish anything on the blog beyond what I’ve already written.

As you can imagine, Brad’s hospital stay, as well as the long road to recovery in front of him, is going to add up in terms of dollars and cents.  With that in mind, Reinette has set up a PayPal account for anyone who wants to help out.

Giving on PayPal is easy.  Just go to the site, select "Send Money" (it’s one of the links toward the top of the page) and then enter Reinette’s email address:

In addition, we’ll be auctioning off a number of items at the holiday party (artwork, some fancy chairs, personal training sessions, etc.), so there are lots of ways to give and help Brad out.

And for those of you who know Brad, the best way to communicate with him is by sending him a card.  He’s not ready for visitors yet; he needs all of his energy to go toward recovery.

Let’s send Brad well wishes through the blogosphere as well.

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Nov 27th, 2011

How to Survive a Paleo Challenge

My paleo-approved turkey dinner

It’s arrived! We’re finally entering the final week of our fall Paleo challenge. For those of you who’ve made it this far, you deserve a huge pat on the back! Six weeks of no sugar, grains, or dairy–and let’s not forget limited alcohol–is no small feat. Nice work!

We had a record 30 people sign up for this fall’s Challenge with only 8 of those participating receiving a DNF for slipping up at some point during the 6 weeks.  That’s a 73% retention rate! That’s pretty impressive considering the longer duration and especially the timing of this challenge. Who passes up sugar on Halloween and Thanksgiving?

I made an effort to talk to some of the folks who dropped out of the Paleo Challenge to hear what went wrong. Most of their responses were pretty typical; poor planning, PMS, stress. The usual. These are all issues we are confronted with on a regular basis, okay maybe not the PMS. With everything that life throws at us, it’s easy for us to go off track. So, with that in mind, let’s look at helpful strategies for overcoming some of the obstacles. 

  1. Be clear. Not sure why you’re doing the Paleo Challenge? Chances are you won’t last long. You’re more likely to succeed when you are clear and specific about your goals. Ask yourself why you want to change your diet and what you hope to gain from these changes, then write it down.  When you begin to feel like you’re running out of steam, revisit your list of compelling reasons. 
  2. Build a strong support system. Let your friends and family in on your diet endeavors; your loved ones can be your strongest allies. They can provide positive encouragement, accountability and remind you of your goals as a way to help keep you on track, and who knows, you may even inspire them to clean up their own diet. This is one of the reasons why we encourage you to partner up with someone else who’s participating in the challenge.
  3. Find healthy comforts. They don’t call them "comfort foods" for nothing. When the going gets tough we reach for (insert your food here). We’ve all sought comfort in alcohol and/or junk food at some time or another. I distinctly remember my college roommate knocking on my door with a box of tissues and a pint of chocolate ice cream every time I went through a break-up. Food can provide some relief but it’s very short-lived and we usually feel worse, not better, after the sugar high has worn off. These are often hard habits to break but it’s well worth the effort. Start by identifying your triggers. What is it that sends you to the nearest donut shop? A bad day at work, stress, boredom, PMS? Food journals can help with this step. Once you’re aware of those triggers, find other ways to cope. Make a list of 5 other non-food things to do instead. One of my patients who’s trying to quit smoking likes to watch a funny movie or wash his car.
  4. Plan ahead. If you’re going to a social gathering or a party and you’re not sure what kind of food will be served, ask if you can bring a dish. This will guarantee that there will be something there that you can eat. Or, if that’s too much trouble, eat before you go.  You’ll probably find it much easier to turn down the sweets and other goodies when you have a full stomach and you’re thinking clearly. Lord knows, we often make pretty poor food choices when we’re starving and healthy food is scarce.

Okay, that’s enough from me. I want to hear from the rest of you. There are 22 of you Paleo rockstars that have succcessfully made it to the very end. Share what’s worked for you in the comments.

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Nov 27th, 2011

Even More Ways to Stretch Your Calves…

I found a few more stretches for your calves that I thought would be helpful.  I am spending a lot of time on the calves because they are one of the most important muscles to keep stretched out if you want to run, squat, press weight overhead and generally feel good in your body.  You can do all of these stretches, or just a few.  Hold each one for 1-2 minutes on each side.

2011-11-26 at 11-07-34.jpg

Sit with one leg straight and the other leg bent.  Hold the bottom of the foot on the bent leg and pull your foot toward your body, keeping the heel on the ground.  If you have generally tight muscles, you may feel this one in your low back, too.  This stretches your soleus (the long flat muscle of the calf I talked about two weeks ago).

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Sit with one leg straight and the other leg bent.  Bring the heel of the bent leg close to your bottom.  Pull your foot toward your body as you also keep the heel pressed into the floor.  This one stretches the Achilles tendon.

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Lie on the ground facing the ceiling.  Put a strap around one foot.  Lift this leg off of the ground with the knee locked (leg as straight as possible).  Pull your toes toward your nose.  You will not be able to lift the leg very high if you are actually keeping it straight.  If the knee is not locked, you will be stretching the hamstring more than the calf (which is great, too!).

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Nov 26th, 2011

472 Pounds Overhead

While it is tough to compete with a woman pepper spraying her fellow shoppers in the hopes of securing a coveted Xbox on Black Friday, I have something very impressive for your consideration. Earlier this month, an Iranian named Behdad Salimi snatched 214 kilograms (472 pounds) at the 2011 World Championships in Paris. This represents a new world record for the snatch, at least since the weight classes were reconfigured in the 1990s. The previous world record of 213 kg was held by another Iranian named Hossein Rezazadeh, who happens to be coaching Salimi. Rezazadeh is something of a legend himself and talking about him would easily fill another article.

The snatch is a weightlifting movement whose name engenders many a chuckle. Despite the name, it is one of the most technically challenging lifts that can be done with a barbell. Just about everyone with some exposure to CrossFit has attempted the snatch as well as the deadlift. Think for a moment about a 472 pound deadlift. "Light" would generally not be one of the descriptors used. Salimi pulled that weight off the ground and accelerated the bar high enough to catch it with fully extended arms in a deep squat. That feat represents the outer edge of human performance and it is amazing to watch. 

For those keeping track at home, the heaviest snatch ever successfully completed in competition was 216 kg (476 lb) by Bulgaria’s Antonio Krastev in 1987. However, as mentioned above, the world records were wiped clean prior to the 1996 Olympics (perhaps someone has the exact date for that) and the weight classes changed. As of now, Salimi has the world record for the snatch and perhaps we will see him surpass Krastev. Enjoy the leftovers from Thanksgiving. May the feasting fuel new PRs.

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Category: Fitness
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Nov 24th, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Thu 11/24: Closed (Piedmont Turkey Trot @ 8:30am)
Fri 11/25: Weekend Schedule (8am, 9am, 10am)
Sat 11/26: Weekend Schedule (8am, 9am, 10am)
Sun 11/27: Weekend Schedule (8am, 9am, 10am)


You guys are the best!

Besides the obvious reason (food!), Thanksgiving is a favorite holiday for so many because it is a reminder to focus on the positive – to remember all for which we are grateful and put aside our complaints and grievances for at least one day.

I am incredibly blessed to work and train at CFO for many obvious reasons, but the best thing by far is all of you.  CFO is blessed to have clients who are smart and savvy, strong and brave, gracious and generous, tenacious and hard-working, funny and engaging and just enough crazy to make every day a fabulous adventure.  Thank you to all of you for everything you bring to the gym every day.

Have a wonderful day with friends, family and food!

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Nov 23rd, 2011

Turkey Trot and Thanksgiving Schedule Reminders


Some of the CFO crew running through some drills at Piedmont High

A couple of reminders for you heading into the Thanksgiving break…

CFO Holiday Schedule

We’re running a limited schedule at the end of the week. Here’s the schedule for the rest of the week:

Wed: Normal Schedule (6am, 9am, 12pm, 5pm, 6pm, 7pm)
Thu: Closed
Fri: Weekend Schedule (8am, 9am, 10am)
Sat: Weekend Schedule (8am, 9am, 10am)
Sun: Weekend Schedule (8am, 9am, 10am)


Piedmont 5k Turkey Trot

After the initial post, a number of you stepped up and committed to the Thanksgiving day Turkey Trot happening in the Piedmont hills.  Awesome!

For those of you reading this for the first time, here are the details:

The race starts at 8:30 am on Thursday, November 24th at the Piedmont High School.  You must pre-register for the race ($25 for adults, $15 for kids) and you get a t-shirt.  A lot of families run this with dogs, strollers, etc.  It truly is a good time as opposed to an uber-serious race, however there are ribbons and prizes awarded for top finishers in a number of categories.

As an added bonus, Justin will be running the race in his firefighter gear.  If he can do it in full gear, you have no excuse.  Plus, it’s a great opportunity for those of you who’ve gone through Aaron C’s clinic to work on your newfound technique.  The more of you there, the merrier.  Start your Thanksgiving off on a high note!

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Nov 22nd, 2011

Get Those Muscle-Ups and Handstand Push-Ups!


Carl Paoli, of Naka Athletics, SF CrossFit, and Gymnastics WOD

We’re extremely excited to announce that we’ll be hosting Carl Paoli, gymnastics and CrossFit coach extraordinaire, for a 4-hour seminar on Saturday, January 7th, from 2pm to 6pm.  The cost of the clinic is $125.  This is open to the general public, and space is limited.

Carl is all over the CrossFit Journal with all kinds of videos on everything from basic body positioning to muscle-up and handstand development to backflips.  

The focus of this seminar will be on developing the strength and positioning needed to develop (or improve) muscle-ups and handstand push-ups, but will also be an opportunity for you to pick Carl’s brain regarding other bodyweight movements, progressions, and gymnastic elements.

This 4-hour clinic is most definitely suitable for any skill level, and is especially relevant if you’re working toward getting a muscle-up or handstand push-up (or any of their derivatives, like pull-ups, kipping pull-ups, and push-ups of all kinds).

Here’s an excerpt from Carl’s website on the seminar:

This seminar is appropriate for athletes, coaches, and fitness enthusiasts at any skill level. You’ll learn how to safely perform, coach and correct basic gymnastic movements in order to enhance your performance and reach your personal goals.

I can personally vouch for Carl’s expertise in coaching these movements and I highly recommend that if you have an opportunity to go, that you attend this clinic.  Enough said.

For a full description of the seminar, and to register for it, go here:

And if you have any questions about the seminar, don’t hesitate to send us an email

CFO Holiday Schedule

We’re running a limited schedule at the end of the week.  Here’s the schedule for the rest of the week:

Tue:  Normal Schedule (6am, 7am, 12pm, 5pm, 6pm, 7pm)
Wed:  Normal Schedule (6am, 9am, 12pm, 5pm, 6pm, 7pm)
Thu:  Closed
Fri:  Weekend Schedule (8am, 9am, 10am)
Sat:  Weekend Schedule (8am, 9am, 10am)
Sun:  Weekend Schedule (8am, 9am, 10am)

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Nov 21st, 2011

Thanksgiving Paleo Dinner Recipes & Blogs


Leka and JoeP at last year’s holiday party

With Thanksgiving just around the corner and half the gym committed to eating a Paleo-friendly feast this year, I thought it would be helpful to point you to some sites where you can find an array of grain-free, sugar-free, and dairy-free recipes.  I even found a recipe for grain-free bread stuffing!  Here’s a list of some of my favorite Paleo cooking websites and blogs:

Savory Recipes:

  • Sarah Fragoso, mother of three and author of the Everyday Paleo Cookbook’s site: 
  • Robb Wolf, one of the original advocates of the Paleo Diet and author of The Paleo Solution’s Thanksgiving Day Edition. Here he lays out an entire dinner menu, including dessert.
  • Fellow South Bay CrossFiter’s website This website features instructional videos for those of you who prefer to follow along at home.   
  • is a website where everyday folk like you and me and freely post recipes. The website was created by James Gregory and Kristin Jekielek; both have been enjoying a Paleo lifestyle for years.

For Baked Goods & Sweets:

  • This site belongs to CrossFit super couple, Brandon and Megan Keatley from South Carolina. Megan is a former pastry chef and it shows! I’ll be making her Paleo bread stuffing this Thanksgiving.
  • Elana started her blog in 1993 after she and her son were diagnosed with Celiac disease and were forced to go on a gluten-free diet. She has a background in ayurvedic cooking and has authored The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook.
  • I first met Chef Rachel in 2008 at an event to promote her book, The Ice Dream Cookbook: Dairy-Free Ice Cream Alternatives with Gluten-Free Cookies, Compotes and Sauces. In addition to all of the delicious dessert recipes, her website is also a great source of valuable nutrition information. 

 What’s on the menu this Thanksgiving?

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Nov 20th, 2011

Jillian Michaels Does Crossfit

I’ll admit I saw this video posted on the Crossfit Sweatshop website.  It is interesting how much Crossfit has seeped into the fitness world (and also how ugly it looks when performed badly–did you check out the gentleman’s SDHP?).  

Non-crossfit people seem very impressed with Jillian Michaels and The Biggest Loser (I have never seen this program) and I often hear how tough she is.  I see Ms. Michaels’ performance in this mini-wod two ways: to her credit, she does well with these exercises with very little explanation or practice, yet she is supposedly a hard core trainer and she has trouble push pressing 55 lbs..   

The intensity demanded by a Crossfit workout is hard, even for highly conditioned athletes.  I still remember the weird hoarse feeling I got in my throat after my first few workouts.

Do you remember your first wod?  Please post experiences to comments.  

So if you don’t want to talk about that, what about this: how important is it to you that your coach be super strong or in great Crossfit shape? Does it inspire you to know that your coach is hitting it hard in the gym?

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