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Transformation Tuesday: Suzette Monteiro!

Transformation Tuesday: Suzette Monteiro!

We wanted to give a big shoutout to Suzette Monteiro for all of her hard work and dedication over the past 2 years since joining us at Pennant. Suzette just celebrated her 40th birthday on Sunday and has been been on a steady, consistent journey to becoming her best self.
Suzette has had a long, gradual journey to where she is today. When she started with us in January 2017, she was 162 pounds and her body fat was 37%. She started working with Coach Nicole in April and she was 152 pounds with a body fat of 27%. Suzette completed her most recent 3-month program with Coach Nicole and is now down to 126 pounds and her body fat is 15%!
Suzette’s gradual consistent progress is a true testament to consistency and dedication. It shows that things worth having take time but, if you put in the work and trust the process, amazing things can happen!
Below we have included some pictures from Suzette’s journey. Awesome work, Suzette!

Summer 2013

August 2016

April 2018

152 pounds with a body fat of 27%

Suzette’s 40th Birthday, October 2018

October 2018

126 pounds with a body fat of 15%
Nutrition Highlight: Sarah Whiteman

Nutrition Highlight: Sarah Whiteman

“Ok, so my 14 week cut ends today. This was one of the hardest things to do, amidst the ACOA depression I had this winter I had let my diet and exercise slide and had lost a lot of strength and put on a lot of fat. Like, a lot. Highest percentage in two years. I had a lot of meltdowns and panic attacks thru this process before slowly rebuilding to a place where I am worth the work and all I have to do is eat all my food and trust the process. I am worth the cost of healthy, fresh food. I am worth the time it takes to prepare and weigh out all my meals. I am worth the time and effort it takes to go to the gym often enough to feel radiant in health. It is valuable for my children to see me investing in my health and longevity in such a deep way. While weight loss wasn’t one of my goals, it did happen and I definitely feel faster for it.
Unashamedly, here are my stats:
Starting weight: 165
Today’s weight: 157
Starting PBF: 29.1
Ending PBF: 23.2 (lowest in 2yrs)
Starting BFM: 47.9lbs
Ending BFM: 36.4lbs
Starting SMM: 65.3lbs
Ending SMM: 67.7lbs
Dropped over a full point on the BMI, gained 50kcal on my basal metabolic rate, gained a pound of bone density, and kept the overall weight loss to 8lbs while losing 11.5lbs fat. Very pleased with my results as I go into a few months of maintenance to give my body a break before I work again after the holidays to shift those percentages even more. If you’re curious at all about this process or in joining the Pennant CrossFit nutrition group message Nicole Torres. ☺️💪🏼🏋”~~ Sarah Whiteman
Great work Sarah!!!






Maintenance & Why It Is Important

Maintenance & Why It Is Important:

By now, most of you are well-versed in what it means to cut weight. Some of you are even lucky enough to have experienced the wondrous world of massing! However, regardless of whichever diet phase you are currently in, at some point you will be faced with what many believe to be the scariest and most challenging phase of all: maintenance.

To ensure that we are giving our bodies and our minds a break after any type of dieting “stress” brought on by deviating from caloric homeostasis (i.e. being in a caloric deficit or a caloric surplus), it is imperative to enter a period of caloric balance where we are trying to neither lose or gain any more weight. Mentally, this can be the toughest type of way to eat. We are generally so programmed to look for changes on the scale that it is a mentally tough pill to swallow when the goal is to maintain your current weight. However, it is essential to maintain weight after about 12 weeks of either cutting or massing to make sure that our hormones and minds have the opportunity to take a figurative deep breath and relax.

During maintenance, the idea is that you are living more of a normal life and no longer letting your world revolve around your food intake. This can manifest in various forms including having a cheat meal or 3 alcoholic drinks once a week, not weighing and measuring every single meal, and fitting in foods that are not typically “allowed” on the template or during a diet. Because of this phase of mental and physical relaxation, it is even more important to take your cutting or massing phase seriously and strictly adhere to your diet since there will be a time to relax at the end through maintenance. Yes, as hard as it is to believe, those donuts will be waiting for you on the other side of a diet.

The amount of time that someone spends on maintenance completely varies from person to person and is entirely dependent on someone’s goals and how well an individual’s body responds to a diet. However, a good rule of thumb is that maintenance should be AT LEAST half of the time someone is dieting. For some people who respond very well to dieting and do not easily get mentally or physically fatigued from dieting, they will be able to handle a shorter maintenance phase. Conversely, for those whose bodies respond poorly to dieting will require a longer period of mental and physical relaxation, i.e. maintenance. The last thing to consider in regards to how long maintenance should be is what a person’s goals are. For someone whose only goal was to lose 12 pounds and she was able to do that during her first and only cut, she will be able to maintain for the rest of her life if she wishes, or until her body-weight goals change. On the other hand, someone who has the goal of losing a significant amount of weight and is not able to do that on her first cut is more likely to have a shorter maintenance in order to start another cut.

During a cut or a mass, calories were slowly either taken away or added in order to allow for sustainable weight loss or gain, respectively. During maintenance, the same will be true but in reverse. If someone is coming off of a cut, calories will slowly be added back in every few weeks to get back to caloric homeostasis. If someone is cutting off of a mass, calories will either stay the same or be very slightly cut to get back to caloric homeostasis. The addition or subtraction of calories is based on how well someone is maintaining their body weight. Remember that because your body weight will have changed after a diet, you will have a new caloric homeostasis. In other words, it will not take as many calories to maintain your new weight if you are 15# lighter than before you started cutting. Therefore, the goal is not to get back to your previous caloric homeostasis but rather your new one.

If someone chose to forego maintenance and continue either in a caloric deficit or a caloric surplus, they are running the risk of burning the candle at both figurative ends. Their hormones will start to become improperly balanced which can cause metabolic damage that will deter any diet success in the future. Additionally, and arguably most importantly, they will mostly likely become mentally burnt out, which can lead to binge eating and mental anguish; in essence, creating or reinforcing an unhealthy relationship with food. Endless bouts of continuous cutting is merely a set-up for failure as no one can be “perfect” on a permanent caloric deficit, which is why we see many people who are “good” during the week and completely splurge on the weekends. They have not gone through a fixed period of mental or physical relaxation (maintenance) so they try to do this on the weekends all the while thinking that they are not doing themselves any harm. Meanwhile, from a macro perspective we can see that they are stuck on the hamster wheel or losing the same 3 pounds during the week that they are gaining back on the weekends. When a clear maintenance phase is built into a nutrition program, binge eating is less likely and healthy eating habits start to manifest themselves. The emotional side of eating suddenly becomes less significant when we consider that nutrition cycles should be treated just as we would treat training cycles in the gym.

Finally, it is important to note that body weight will most likely not stay exactly the same as it was when a diet was finished. Anyone can expect to gain somewhere between 2-5 pounds (depending on total body weigh) on maintenance due to excess food and water weight. It is important to remember that when you are at the end of a diet, your body is relatively depleted and therefore very susceptible to water weight gain. The good part is that as soon as you go back into a diet, this excess weight will be the first to quickly go.

Although maintenance can be difficult to navigate and intimidating for some, it is an essential part of the cyclical process of nutrition. It is a reset that will allow for dieting success in the future and, most importantly, it allows you to enjoy life as a normal human being!

The Intra-Workout Shake

The intra-workout shake

Most people who lift weights or workout regularly are very familiar with having a protein shake immediately upon finishing a workout. At Pennant CrossFit in particular, it is very common to see athletes sipping on their shakes as soon as the WOD is over. Most people tend to think that this post-workout drink is the best way to get an extra edge if every other aspect of their food is on point. However, there is something that can be done while exercising that can aid in exercise performance, allow you to exercise for longer periods of time without increased fatigue, and boost muscle recovery. Here is where the intra-workout shake comes into play.

The intra-workout shake contains a combination of protein and carbohydrates and should be ingested during your workouts. The exact amount of protein and carbohydrates are dependent upon an individual’s lean body mass, body composition goals, workout volume, and daily consumption of carbohydrates and proteins. Drinking a shake during your workout, especially if it is a particularly hard and long workout, will provide your muscles with a continued stream of food. This results in more energy during your workout and the ability to output a higher work capacity than may be possible without the constant supply of energy in the form of this shake. Additionally, ingesting protein and carbohydrates during a workout may even prevent muscle damage from taking place at all. Many people are well aware of the importance of eating protein and carbohydrates post workout in order to aid in muscle damage repair and replenish glycogen stores that have become depleted from exercise. However, few are aware of the great benefits that can be enjoyed by giving your body these macronutrients during your workout. It is important to note that protein and carbohydrates should still also be eaten post-workout and the intra-workout shake is not a substitute for the post-workout meal.

The most difficult part about having an intra-workout shake during a CrossFit WOD, particularly if it is very short as we know most WODs are, is when to actually drink it. It is best to try to sip your drink as much as possible especially during the warm up when you can take sips more easily. You can always start sipping your shake a few minutes before the class begins. If the WOD consists of strength only, sip your shake in between sets, trying to finish it by the time you’ve completed your last set. If it is a typical WOD under 10 minutes, I would recommend trying to finish 1/4 to 1/3 of the shake during the warm-up and then finishing the remainder of your shake once the workout finishes. If the WOD is something longer that you need to pace, let’s say something 20 minutes or longer such as a hero workout, you can take sips of your shake during the workout as long as your stomach tolerates the liquid. Part of the process is figuring out how well your body handles eating while working out. As endurance athletes would surely attest to, it might take your body a few weeks to adjust to eating/drinking while you are working out, but the benefits are absolutely worth it. Once our workout finishes, remember to consume your post-workout meal that should contain your highest amount of carbohydrates for the day as well as a good amount of protein with little to no fat.

Now that you know what the intra-shake should contain and how to consume it during your workouts, try to incorporate it into your routine! Remember that it might take your body some time to adjust to the intra-shake but pay close attention to how your body feels after you start adding this into your workout routine.

Bird SP et al. (2006). Effects of liquid carbohydrate/essential amino acid ingestion on acute hormonal response during a single bout of resistance exercise in untrained men. Nutrition 22(4): 367-375

Ivy J. (2004). Regulation of muscle glycogen repletion, muscle protein synthesis and repair following exercise.JISSN. 3:131-138

Schoenfeld, B.J., et al., The effect of protein timing on muscle strength and hypertrophy: a meta-analysis. J Int Soc Sports Nutr, 2013. 10(1): p. 53.
Atherton, P.J. and K. Smith, Muscle protein synthesis in response to nutrition and exercise. The Journal of Physiology, 2012. 590(5): p. 1049-1057. http://jp.physoc.org/content/590/5/1049.abstract

Fahey, T.D., et al., The effects of intermittent liquid meal feeding on selected hormones and substrates during intense weight training. Int J Sport Nutr, 1993. 3(1): p. 67-75.
Biolo, G., et al., An abundant supply of amino acids enhances the metabolic effect of exercise on muscle protein. Am J Physiol, 1997. 273(1 Pt 1): p. E122 – 9.

What really matters when it comes to nutrition success?

When it comes to losing weight, different people tend to focus on different things in order to achieve success with their weight loss. Some people start exercising for longer every day, while others start buying organic produce. People often feel as though they are shooting in the dark when it comes to weight loss and are not sure where to start. Especially with the abundance of confusing media today screaming to consumers that they need to eat low fat, or low carb, or no carb at all in order to lose weight, it can feel extremely overwhelming when starting any diet. However, the solution to losing weight is actually quite simple: it is all about an idea known as caloric balancing.

This image is an original graphic but the information contained in it is taken from a company called Renaissance Periodization. I really like showing the key factors in this way as it clearly demonstrates what is most important to the success of any diet. It shows different factors in relation to one another that play a role in any diet’s success, including a maintenance, cut or mass. Someone is in a maintenance phase if they are trying to maintain their current weight, cutting if they are trying to decrease their current weight (or body fat), and massing if they are trying to gain lean body mass. The factors that influence the success of any of these phases include supplements, food composition, nutrient timing, macronutrients, and caloric balance. Obviously, there are other factors that may play a role but these are the main ones we will focus on. As you can see, supplements and food composition only contribute 5% each to the success of a diet. Supplements are considered the usual suspects such as creatine, fish oil, and vitamins. Many times, people flock to supplements when on any weight loss regime to look for anything that may help aid in weight loss, but clearly this will not make any major impact on their success. Food composition defines what the foods we are eating are actually comprised of. For example, a food can be a carb, protein, fat, or a combination of those three. Additionally, it can contain a variety of minerals, vitamins, and varying amounts of fiber. Food composition also speaks to the quality of the food that we are eating. In other words, food composition describes both the macronutrients as well as the micronutrients that make up the food we are eating. Nutrient timing constitutes 10% of a successful diet. Nutrient timing is the basic idea of scheduling when you are eating certain macronutrients. For example, are you eating most of your carbs based around your workouts, at random times throughout the day, or evenly spread throughout the day? Timing your macronutrient intake seems to be a major focus for many people as of late, but it does not contribute to the majority of what can make a diet successful. So far, we have only looked at 20% of what influences any diet’s success. Specific macronutrients of what we are eating in any given day constitute 30% of what makes any diet successful.
Caloric Balancing
The base of any diet’s success and what makes up 50% of the pyramid is caloric balancing and what our net calories look like at the end of every day. Clearly, even if we are perfect in every other piece of our nutrition, if we are not hitting our caloric equation properly, all of our work will have been for nothing. Many times, people want to jump right into the nitty gritty of what they are doing with their nutrition, meticulously timing their food, taking supplements, and buying only organic foods, without first focusing on the most important factor of making sure they are taking in and expending a certain amount of calories. Although calorie counting can be scary for some and lead to a negative relationship with food, it is an absolute necessity to look first and foremost at the caloric equation before assessing other parts of your nutrition. Imagine trying to put a roof on your new house before even laying a foundation! It simply would not work. You can be doing everything else correctly when it comes to your nutrition but if you are not properly balancing your calories, it will all be for nothing. So, let’s start by building our foundation and taking a deeper look at the caloric equation and what it actually means.
The idea behind caloric balancing is that our body is either in a state of caloric surplus, caloric deficit or caloric balance. If our body stays in a prolonged caloric surplus, we will gain weight. If we stay in a caloric deficit, we will most likely lose weight, at least for a period of time. However, if our body is in a caloric balance, we will maintain the weight that we are currently at. There is no gray area or in between here. At the end of every day, you are in one of these three states with no exceptions.
Basal Metabolic Rate
The amount of calories out (or the amount of calories “burnt”) is made of two numbers. The first number comes from your BMR or basal metabolic rate. This number varies based off of your age, level of lean body mass, amount of body fat, gender, and other genetic hereditary factors. Your activity level is not a direct influencer of your BMR, however it can indirectly change your BMR because as you are more active, you are more likely to have more lean body mass which is a direct influencer of BMR. Your BMR represents the number of calories that it takes for your body at complete rest to perform its every day functions that keeps you alive as a human being, such as pumping blood through the heart and throughout the body and breathing.
Additional Energy Expenditure
The other number that adds up to create total calories out is your additional energy expenditure. This number is entirely based on your activity level and varies greatly among individuals. An office worker who is entirely sedentary is going to expend far less additional energy than that of someone who works construction for 10 hours a day. It is important to note that this number is not merely the amount of calories that are expended from working out, although working out certainly does factor into the additional energy expenditure total. The number also includes things like brushing your teeth, walking to and from your car, and even cooking dinner. It includes anything and everything outside of your body being at complete and total rest. So, your total number of calories out, or calories burnt, is made up of your BMR as well as any additional energy expended. This is typically a misconception as most people only think of their calories burnt as those derived from exercise. Because of this equation, however, it should become more clear as to why someone does not need to exercise so much as to burn well over 2,000 calories a day in order to lose weight. I’ll explain more about this later on when we talk about creating a caloric deficit and what that actually looks like.
The total number of calories in is very simply the amount of calories that come from what we are ingesting through food and drink. These calories can be broken down into three macronutrient categories, namely: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Both carbs and proteins consist of 4 calories per gram, whereas fats are the most calorically dense macronutrient with there being 9 calories per gram. This is why fatty foods tend to keep us fuller for longer and take more time to digest. It is important to keep these numbers in mind when eating our food, even if you are eating something with food labels, as those are not always correct. The FDA uses what’s called “rounding rules” to basically use a number that is “close” to (within 10%) of the actual number of calories but might look “prettier” on the label itself. In my experience, a lot of the times the number of calories given is lower than those actually present in the food being consumed.
Caloric Surplus Example
Here is an example of the caloric equation. Be aware that these number are absolutely never this perfect and it is extremely difficult to hit a perfect caloric balance. For calories out, we have 2,000 total with a BMR of 1,500 calories and an additional energy expenditure of 500 calories. Then, we have calories in being at 2,000 total, with 900 coming from fats ingested, 500 coming from protein ingested, and 600 coming from carbs ingesting. Let’s pause for a second and look at that carbohydrates number. Doing basic math, we can figure out that number of calories for carbs puts our carb intake at 150g. For many who are used to low carb diets, this number probably seems very high to you. However, it is only worth 600 calories to our equation. Fats on the other hand, while being a lower number is grams, is 1.5 times higher in calories. Next, we are going to put this equation into practice by showing the caloric equation in a caloric surplus.
In this example, we are creating a caloric surplus as the calories in are greater than the calories out leaving us with more calories consumed than burnt. Over time, not overnight, staying in a caloric surplus will cause a person to gain weight. If someone on a resistance training program with a very low level of lean body mass (<10% body fat for men and <20% fat for women) is eating this way, they can successfully put on lean muscle mass (aka gains) by staying in a caloric surplus that is relative to their body weight and body fat percentage. It is important to note that it is nearly impossible to gain only lean body mass while putting on weight and some fat gain can be expected. However, it should be far outweighed by the lean muscle mass that is gained. If someone who is not lean (>10% body fat for men and >20% for women) and is not doing resistance training is eating this way, they are sure to put on fat. Next, we are going to look at being in a caloric deficit.
Caloric Deficit Example
Here we are in a caloric deficit of 250cal. We are expending 2,000 calories total but only consuming 1,750 calories leaving us 250 calories in the hole. Pay attention here to the fact that we have not miraculously started burning an extra amount of calories in the way of working out in order to create this deficit- that is the misconception about losing weight that I spoke about earlier. There is clearly no reason you have to start working out 4 hours a day or running miles upon miles to start losing weight. Regardless of whomever is in this deficit, be her either a person with a high body fat percentage or a low one, she is going to lose weight. The key to smart weight loss, however, is two-fold: one, we need to make sure we’re eating enough to continue to feed our lean body (aka muscle) mass. Second, we need to make sure we don’t stay in a caloric deficit for too long so as to start causing hormonal issues. Historically, people tend to stay in caloric deficits, or “diets”, for very long periods of time and wonder why their weight has not moved in months. Most likely, their metabolism has slowed as this is the body’s way of protecting itself. In turn, they are not losing any weight. Someone who has been in a prolonged period of caloric deficit should first enter a maintenance phase with an increase number of calories so as to maintain their new weight and repair any metabolic or hormonal damage that has been done to their body before they embark on a new diet.
So, there we have it. The caloric equation and properly balancing your calories in versus your calories out is a fool-proof way of being successful with any diet you embark on as it is impossible to defy the law of thermodynamics! Hopefully this is a great jumping off point for you on your next phase of nutrition and has shed some light on what is takes to be successful. The great news is that every option in our newly revamped nutritional program at Pennant CrossFit starts first and foremost by concentrating on the caloric equation. We are constantly referring back to it and making adjusts and tweaks to make sure that the caloric equation is always helping our clients achieve their goals. Therefore, if you need help with maximizing your nutrition, we are ready to help!