The Birds and the Bees

Let’s talk about your raging hormones.

Why is the CrossFit prescription so damn effective?


People speak ill of CrossFit for any number of reasons. Some things I’ve heard:


“It’s too hard.”

“The weights are too light.”

“The weights are too heavy.”

“It’s stupid.”

“Oh my God they do kipping pull-ups.”

“They wear high socks sometimes.”

The list goes on and on and on.


CrossFit is now in its 14th year. With over 9,000 affiliates worldwide it has completely taken the industry of fitness by storm. CrossFit Breaux Bridge was the third CrossFit gym in the entire area including Lafayette and its outskirts. There are now like 11. Its popularity is only increasing and it’s effectiveness in its mission undeniable.

I’m going to take this opportunity to explain, as simply as possible, one key component of CrossFit that is generally missing from other programs, but is secretly behind all of it’s wild success.


Neuroendocrine Adaptation


Neuroendocrine is a term simultaneously referring to your neural system (CNS- central nervous system) and your hormones.  We are going to talk about your hormones. They are linked, but different, see below:


“How’d that monkey get so strong?”      That’s CNS. Basically, most monkeys don’t understand “can’t.”


“How’d that juice monkey at the globo-gym get so strong?”    That’s hormones. Basically, most juice monkeys don’t understand things like “hard work,” “genetic limitations,” “hepatic damage,” “algebra,” or “anything written on or above a third-grade level.”


Now, what’s this mean for CrossFitters? CrossFit exercises and methods are selected based on certain criteria. One of those criteria is the neuroendocrine effect. High intensity, full body (compound) exercises have a highly desirable neuroendocrine effect. Those isolated bodybuilding movements from the globo-gym machines? Not so much. Those 60-minute aerobics sessions? No ma’am. Walking? Essentially ZERO. But what does this mean?


“Just about every physiological process occurring under the hood can be attributed to one hormone or another. Hormones are like software programs, directing our bodily processes, modulating our reactions to foods, and guiding energy metabolism and balance. We don’t consciously control our hormonal responses – that is, we don’t think to ourselves, “Hmm, let’s get some testosterone flowing,” or “Insulin: release!” But we can heavily influence our hormonal responses through the things we do, the stress we undergo, the foods we eat, the weights we lift, and the sleep we get.”


Read more:


CrossFit, done correctly (intensely), “reprograms” your body to be strong, lean, healthy, and fit.  This means that while you are away from the box, your body is still hard at work trying to adapt to that new programming. While you are sleeping, while you are at work, while you are driving, a CrossFitter’s body is working hard to get fitter. Without this, away from the gym, most people’s bodies are getting fatter once they stop “exercising.” You may burn 500 calories jogging for an hour, but that powerade you drank after already undid most of the work you accomplished, and once you’re done jogging, you’re body is done as well. This is not true for CF’ers. Our bodies are hard at work long after we have exited the confines of the CFBB complex. By CrossFitting, eating Paleo, and sleeping well, you are increasing your bodies natural production of the “fitness” hormones and putting your body at work for you


Now briefly, and perhaps surprisingly, Paleo works THE SAME WAY. If we eat the way we were designed to eat, amazingly, our bodies start working the way they were designed to work. This means hormones regulate, and we burn rather than store body fat! We build rather than lose muscle mass! Our bones get strong instead of falling apart!


We could go really deep into this but I wanted to give you a brief understanding.  Plus nobody reads long stuff anymore.


If you have questions, ask a coach!



What Fuels You?

A friend of mine recently moved out of state.  An avid “crossfitter” and “paleo(r)” he told me that when he got to his new home, he found himself out of rhythm.  The weather was different, environment was different, day in day out life was different.  In going through the adjustment, it became easier and easier to put off heading to the box and eating clean and eventually it only became a hint of what he knew he should be doing to take care of himself.  His body began to nag him.  What I loved about this conversation was how honest he was with himself …. and consequently with me.  He said: “Overall, I just feel awful.  It’s my fault.  I know it.  I did this to myself.”  I admire that.


Being honest is realizing that whatever I do to myself ….. ‘I do to myself.’  It really doesn’t matter if anyone sees or knows.  It really doesn’t matter if I’m on a paleo plan and have too many treat days, choosing to pay the burpee penalty. Or if I justify ‘binging’ by calling it a treat day (one is healthy the other extremely unhealthy;) Burpees or not, at the end of the day, I still didn’t eat clean.  I did it to myself and I know.


It’s not the big things in life that I’m dishonest with myself about, it’s more the little things …. justifying, rationalizing, blaming, circumventing the truth, exaggerating …. it’s all dishonesty.  Last week I waited an hour and 45 minutes at the doctor’s office.  I was frustrated.  I stopped at the grocery, but had forgotten my list at home; I had a slight mom worry about one of my children; and I needed to make a phone call that was going to make me terribly uncomfortable.  I was stressed.  I needed a Snickers.  Fortunately, before I caved, I thought …. “Really?”  “You NEED a Snickers?”  And working on being as honest with myself as my friend, I realized that I ‘wanted’ a Snickers.  I didn’t ‘need’ a Snickers. What I really ‘needed’ was to be okay with being uncomfortable for a while and instead of eating a Snickers, I needed to work on being patient.


It got me thinking about the different words we use to lure ourselves into dishonesty…. our justifying and rationalizing.  Words like I “deserve,” or I “need.”  They placate; they appease.  I “deserve” cake and ice cream because it’s my birthday.  My mouth doesn’t know it’s my birthday.  If you’re trying to lose weight, it’s important that you take into account how much you’ve invested in developing a healthy lifestyle.  If you’ve gotten off of sugar and processed foods, etc., eating veggies and meat and you’re making progress, then saying you ‘deserve’ cake and ice cream is like saying you ‘deserve’ to eat rat poison because it’s your birthday.  Sugar kills.  Let’s be honest.  Many of us are truly addicted to sugar.


And that truth, makes it ‘off limits’ for us.  One piece of cake will just not be enough.  One will be two, and two will be three.  And if it’s still around tomorrow, we’ll fight that battle again. What you really ‘deserve’ if you’ve worked that hard, is to enjoy the satisfaction that accompanies accomplishment. Remind yourself that you are awesome and that you are worth feeling good about yourself.  Stand tall.  Go to a movie.  Hang out with friends.  Find something to laugh about.

It’s also true when it comes to performance.  It’s okay if you’re not where you want to be in the box, as long as you are honest about why.  Are you too new at this?  Do you have to get stronger?  Are you not working hard on it right now because life is pretty hectic?  Or even, you don’t eat clean and you know that has a huge bearing on your performance but you’re just not into it right now? At least that’s honest.  But to get frustrated with the outcome of your performance … and say that you’re doing your best in the other important areas of your life (sleeping, eating, drinking, mobilizing, etc.) when you know that you really aren’t ….. that’s dishonest and the real reason that you did it to yourself.  All of the excuses, rationalizations and justifications in the world can’t make dishonesty, honest.

SInce being honest is realizing that whatever you do to yourself … “you do to yourself,” my friend decided he was tired of feeling awful.  By being man enough to admit to himself that he was to blame for the choices he was making …. then he also knew that he was the one with the power to make necessary choices to feel good again; back in the box, back eating clean.

That’s the beauty of honesty.  It keeps the things that are within your control in the forefront and gives you the power to make the necessary changes ….. regardless of the season, regardless of the celebration, regardless of the people you spend time wtih.  Being honest is powerful.  It’s free.  And it’s available to everyone.  Own it.  Because it’s in the “getting honest” that things change.