Achieving Your Goals With Food

There comes a point in every athlete’s life where they have to make a decision to take their “sport” to the next level. One of the most common, and difficult, ways to do that is by changing your diet.

You have to stick to a strict meal plan. That could mean bringing your own food when you hangout with your friends. You will have to balance and time your meals to let your body use that food as fuel and to help you recover. Slowly your body will begin to change – but you’ll notice your strength won’t be decreasing.

By setting yourself up with a proper training program and nutrition plan you’ll find that you can get leaner and stronger. Or more defined and stronger.

No matter your goals, loosing weight or gaining muscle, you have to remember to take it one day at a time. If you slip-up and eat something you shouldn’t – don’t beat yourself up. Get back on track and be a better person than you were the day before.

If you’re ready to take your nutrition to the next level and meet your weight loss (or gain) goals CrossFit Knoxville can lead you in the right direction. Attend our monthly nutrition seminars for simple tips and tricks to get started.

We’ll see you on the other side of the bar.

Week in Preview – Oct. 10, 2016

It’s that time of the month again – time for Friday Night Lights! October FNL will be held at West this Friday starting at 6:45pm. Teams will be same-gender partner in the Sport, Rx, Scaled, Masters and Masters Scaled divisions. Let a coach know ASAP if you’d like to participate, and plan to stay after for drinks and shenanigans! (location TBD)

Anyone’s legs sore from last week? Yes? You did it right then. Why so many squats you ask? Simply put, the squat has the single highest “return on investment” of any movement. Improve your squat and everything else comes up with it. We’re talking better mobility & joint health, increased metabolism, more muscle tone, PLUS the increased strength will allow you to go longer and harder during conditioning pieces.

If you find you’re particularly sore from last week, try increasing your water intake (Pro-tip: add a pinch of sea salt for electrolytes, and drink a glass IMMEDIATELY upon waking up in the morning – have it ready on your bedside table). Spend a little more time after class stretching, smashing and foam rolling, and ask a coach for ideas on how to hit those sore spots. Remember, as always, movement is the best medicine.

On to this week’s training:

Monday: Overhead (Press, Push Press, Push Jerk) + Running – This will look familiar, but we’ve increased the run distance for better shoulder recovery in between rounds (you’re welcome). Scale weight to go fast and unbroken. The key here is UNBROKEN – don’t worry as much about hitting the Rx button today. Pick the correct weight for you and dominate it!

Tuesday: Paused Squats + Conditioning – don’t skip squat day! (See above) – Make sure to stick around after class and do some foam rolling on those quads

Wednesday: Tabata – fast, explosive movements all around; bring your inner linebacker with you! No Rx weights today, just movements. Lean will aim for higher reps with lighter weight, while Strong will try to move heavy weights quickly at low rep counts.

Thursday: Snatch Skill & Strength – this is a day to get better! We’ll spend a lot of time drilling movements and positioning with the snatch and the overhead squat, and gradually adding weight over a 20:00 EMOM. Lean has the option of getting the heart rate up a bit, while Strong’s only focus is the barbell.

RED Friday: We’ll honor Corporal Cameron Stewart Baird, VC MG today with “The Ensign” – Similar to “The Chief” from a few weeks ago, but with a slightly evil twist.

See you on the other side of the bar.

Strugglers of the Mental Game

Keeping it all together

Keeping it all Together

Fellow Strugglers,

I have been particularly busy lately and am always amazed at how easy it is to lose focus of the most important things in life.   Staying centralized and focused on the things you can actually control becomes increasingly hard when you allow the day to day garbage to pile up and create unnecessary stress and confusion.  My favorite prayer “Lord grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference” comes up often and honestly it’s a life saver for me now and many times in the past.  A moment of clarity is all we need to regain focus.

At CFK we are focused on more than the physical aspects of fitness, there are many avenues and we want you to succeed in all aspects.  Mental, Physical, Relationships; doesn’t matter, they all count.  Here’s an interesting blog post from one of our vendors, Pure Pharma about several facets of a healthy mind and some great info.  Check it out and I hope you like it!  The Importance of a Healthy Mind .

See you on the other side of the bar,

Coach Johnny

Week in Preview

Check out our blog each Monday for a little preview of what you can expect – and why we’re doing it!


Coming off a week of fun and fundraising, let’s get back to training this week. Monday is going to be a crusher to start the week off. Tuesday will test your anaerobic threshold, we’ll get our Squats in Wednesday, our pumpon Thursday, and top off the week with a killer RED Friday WOD!

Last week was a tough week of workouts, that’s for sure. Because of this, we did notice too many rest days, especially following Wednesday’s WOD for a Rescue. Remember the goal is at least 4 days, preferably 5, but every day should not be an all-out effort. Once or twice a week, just come and take a nice and easy approach to the wod or scale it way back.  Movement is ALWAYS the best recovery.

See you on the other side of the bar!

“Cindy gets eaten by a Bear”

Lean – Interval training
Strong – Sprints

Back Squat (1RM) + Accessory

Upper body Push/Pull
(Bench Press + Pull-ups, Burpee + Row)

RED Friday:
5 Rounds: Running, Wall Balls, HSPU, Deadlifts


Sweating Through Sickness

A real-life guide to working out with cancer, as a caregiver, or anyone dealing with chronic illness


I’ve been a competitive runner for more than 20 years.  Running and exercise are my passions and the things I do to relieve stress and find joy, but what happens when your body takes a detour and your fitness routine hits a dead end?  You take the “alternate route.”

Many of you know my story so I won’t bore you with many details, but I’m a cancer survivor and I spent months and months in and out of the hospital, in another state, living in a hotel, while I fought.  Fought like hell, with everything I had and while that might sound inspiring, believe me, at times it got ugly.  Physically and emotionally, my life felt like it wasn’t my own and the number one factor in that change – my inability to run and workout.  You see, running was my therapy.  It was honestly like a friend.  I’d suffered loss and even dealt with my diagnosis during runs and now, that part of my life was being put on hold.  BUT notice those two words: on hold.

At first, I managed that void pretty well, but then the weeks of being alone in that Durham hotel, starting taking a toll.  Though I had found a Crossfit gym in Durham and was able to do some things, I wanted and needed to run, but all I had the strength to do was walk.  So, I’d walk.  My dog and I would go up and down this amazing greenway route through the Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill area.  It was called the American Tobacco Trail and it was a God-send.  It was something small for me, but it was a start.  It gave me an emotional break and I was able to see some hope.  I felt better at treatments but I really looked forward to taking my little dog for our walks.  Then it happened — one day I decided to try… and run.  And I ran.  It was like someone gave me back a literal piece of my soul.  It was so slow, but to me it felt like I was flying.  1 mile.  I ran 1 mile.  I never thought as an ultramarathoner I’d be happy with 1 mile, but on that day, it felt amazing.  Eventually I regained my strength and honestly found my stride in a pretty short amount of time.  So today I have some advice for those of you who might be struggling through sickness, playing the role of caregiver or even having a difficult time finding the motivation to stick to a plan:

1.)    GIVE YOURSELF GRACE:  Especially if you’re struggling with an illness.  Life is so hard already and when your body doesn’t cooperate, it can often feel like it’s just too much.  Give yourself some grace.  Your body needs to rest and repair and sometimes that means missing out on the things you used to do.  It’s ok.  Those things will all be waiting for you when you’re rested and ready to re-enter the world.

2.)    GIVE YOURSELF SPACE:  When you’re battling a disease, you can often feel less than your best and many times your self confidence goes down the drain.  You don’t want the world to see you “at your finest” so you avoid exercise and working out altogether.  Rather than miss what used to be a reward for your body, find some great workouts you can do in your hospital, hotel room or the comforts of your home.  You don’t have to hit your favorite 5:30 class to work up a sweat, and trust me, they’ll still be there when you’re ready to return.

3.)    DO SET A SMALL GOAL: I ran a 5k with a group of friends, during my treatment and the goal was to get to the finish.  It was such a different role for me, but it still gave me a chance to be competitive and remember what it felt like to be back in a race.

4.)    MAKE FITNESS A PART OF YOUR ROUTINE…EVEN IF IT’S A FLEXIBLE ONE:  Just make the commitment to yourself every day.  Get up and do something active if you possibly can.  BUT my number one caveat here is to be flexible for whatever your illness hurls your way.  Set a goal, and know it may change, but having that as part of your daily routine will give you something to remind yourself that you..are still.. you.

5.)    GET PLENTY OF SLEEP: It’s the one thing I still don’t get enough of, but makes the biggest difference in how we feel.  When you’re fighting illness or you’re taking care of someone who is, sleep is the best medicine.  That’s not just a cliché’, that’s a fact.  Adding exercise to any treatment protocol is just going to add extra stress to your body.  But we want it and we need it, we just need sleep even more.

Life doesn’t care what your plans are and most of us are never really prepared for hearing the words, “you’re sick.”  But, if it happens, remember to be patient, find a focused fitness path, and be kind to yourself.  Come to think of it, those are words we should really embrace every day.


Coach Mary

Programming Fun


tiredHow demanding is your job? Are you up on your feet all day logging miles or stuck behind a desk trying to solve the world’s problems? Are you exhausted at the end of the day and if so, how do you change this?  Keep reading, we may have an answer for you.

Change your mindset toward your gym time and your workouts in general.  Don’t show up exhausted and ready to hit the bed, change your attitude. (How many times has your mother told you that?)

Before you get out of the car, take a few deep breaths and focus on something positive.  Put a smile on your face and get ready to have some fun!

Focus on the fact that you are no longer at work or dealing with an issue, but instead about to add health/performance/self improvement and it’s now “You” time.

Make sure to fuel accordingly.  If you are in a caloric deficit your neuro transmitters could be low, affecting your mood.  Fueling with processed foods and sugars can have your hormones out of balance putting you in shut down mode.  Get some lean protein and a few complex carbs in you about an hour before.  Not a huge meal but something to give you energy.

Be Mindful!  Every time you walk through those doors at CFK remind yourself why you’re there. Remind yourself to have fun. Heck, isn’t that half the reason you do this in the first place?

By focusing on your attitude and consistently showing up things will change. When you have fun, you’ll be more consistent, when you’re more consistent, you’ll get more results.  More results brings even more fun, you get the picture…

CrossFit and the rest of our programs, are designed to improve your life.   If you’re not having fun you’re missing out on the best part of our programing and results may suffer.  The more fun you have, the better your results will be, it’s a proven fact!

See you on the other side of the barbell!

Don’t Stand In My Way

This blog is for all the people who are trying to stand in the way of my fitness.

I understand that I didn’t get out of shape overnight – but that each day I eat correctly is one step closer to being lean and healthy.

When I say I don’t want to try the cupcakes it is not a personal attack on you or your baking skills – I am trying to make a change in my life.

When I can’t eat the chicken teriyaki because it has soy sauce on it – I’m not being weird I just know what gluten does to my body and I’m making a conscious choice not to let that happen to me.

I’m not judging you for not making the same choices as me – I’m simply trying to make a change for me.

Stop telling me I look sick because I lost 30 lbs – I had 45 to spare and probably will still lose a few more.

My face looks different because I used to carry fat in my face – just like I used to carry fat around my waist and thighs.

Would you tell a world class sprinter or professional athlete that they look sick because you can see striations in their muscles or because they leaned out to get ready for the season?

Well my season is everyday.

I’m preparing for life and anything it may throw at me – playing sports, chasing the kids around the park or getting myself out of danger should it present itself.

I can do this because I am stronger, lighter and faster than the situation in front of me – please don’t try to guilt me away from this.

Let me show you.  I would love to take you to a workout, cook you a paleo meal, show you what books to read, what websites to visit, where to shop, what to buy or anything I can possibly do to help you make those same changes in your life.

I am willing to do this for two reasons:
1.  I care about you and want you to know you can make a change.
2.  I know the more people in my sphere that have the same goal, the easier it will be for me to eat healthy, train hard a few days a week and make good decisions.

Don’t hate on me, let me help you.  If nothing else, at least learn where I’m coming from and don’t let your insecurities project on your opinion of me and what I’m doing.

Do these words speak to you? Then you’re in the right place. CrossFit Knoxville will help you live out these statements daily – and with confidence. We have dedicated coaches to guide you through every step of bettering your life: nutrition, training, recovery and everything in between. Stop by a location today and take the first step to creating the best you.

We’ll see you on the other side of the bar.

my season is every day

Quality Over Quantity

If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a Johnny Davis lecture, you know the definition to the word virtuosity. After all, CrossFit Knoxville was founded on that definition.

That may seem a bit backwards given the nature of most CrossFit WODs: fastest time, most rounds, heaviest weights, etc. With that mindset you might think the object of CrossFit is quantity over quality – but that’s not the mindset of CFK coaches.

The coaches at CrossFit Knoxville want to train athletes to obtain the highest power output, but our purpose is to do it in a way that creates a greater athletic adaptation – not just for the sake of going really fast.

Virtuosity is a word we need to all learn and understand at CFK (or just in general). As defined by Greg Glassman, virtuosity means “to perform the common uncommonly well”.  It is a synonym of excellence and is the outward expression of integrity.  To take a simple movement like the deadlift and attempt a flawless rep, striving for perfection while never achieving it, is an application of virtuosity.

Virtuosity is a measurement of quality and is rarely used in sport (with the exception of gymnastics) because sport is more concerned with power, who has the most points at the end, regardless of how they get them.  We find in CrossFit, however, that by training our virtuosity, quality of movement, we reap the most benefit of power, quantity of movement, in the end.

At CFK we have a defined order of importance for our athletes:

1. Technique – How is your posture? Do you have full range of motion? These questions are asked, evaluated and changes are made before we move on.
2. Intensity – Can you move quickly with your technique in tact? No, let’s slow down and readdress technique. Yes, great! Let’s move on.
3. Weight – When an athlete is capable of moving quickly with flawless technique weight can be added for maximum output.

Does CrossFit Knoxville’s training philosophy speak to you? Do you have a million more questions (hey, we’ve all been there)? Stop by either of our locations and speak with a qualified CFK coach and try out 3 classes for free!

We’ll see you on the other side of the bar.

Carb Flu

Are you transitioning to a Paleo diet and not feeling the way you thought all this hard work would make you feel? Maybe you’re experiencing the low-carb flu.

Obviously, the low-carb food isn’t a contagious disease but named after one because it feels just as lousy. The biology behind the low-carb flu is fairly simple: you switch from burning mainly carbohydrates (sugar) for fuel to burning mainly fat and your body needs some time to adapt.

Carbohydrates are a much quicker-acting course of energy (this is why you get a sugar rush from eating too much candy), so suddenly switching to a lower-carb diet essentially puts your body into carb withdrawal. It’s used to getting that hit of easily digestible instant energy multiple times a day, and when you oblige it, it can get very cranky.

In the long term, this metabolic switch is very useful, because it weans you off the need for constant energy boosts from carbohydrates. People with predominantly sugar-burning metabolisms often experience a series of blood sugar highs and crashes (with accompanying periods of high and low energy) throughout the day; a fat-burning metabolism is much more stable and allows you to skip or delay a meal (or two, or three) without feeling ready to start the next World War. In the short term, though, your body often has a rocky adjustment period for a few weeks.

Low-carb flu symptoms frequently include headaches, brain fog, constant exhaustion and a general feeling of being run-down and weak – just like the regular flu. Some people also report intense mood swings and other more individual symptoms; everybody’s body is different, so the withdrawal will vary depending on how your particular metabolism reacts to it. This can be even worse for people who have intestinal bacterial overgrowth problems. A low-carb diet is ultimately very beneficial for SIBO or other bacterial overgrowth, because it starves the harmful bacteria of their favorite form of nourishment, but in the short term it can be extremely unpleasant as the bacteria die off.

The way to handle the initial adjustment period of a lower-carb diet is just to tough it out. Like any other kind of withdrawal, the low-carb flu doesn’t last forever. If you can hold out for a few weeks, you’ll start to notice your body getting used to using fat as a fuel source, and the “flu” symptoms will disappear.

Good luck on your new journey! If you have any questions about the Paleo diet – or just improving your overall nutrition – stop by a CFK location and let a coach get you on the right track.

We’ll see you on the other side of the bar.

I Am Not A Natural

I am not a Natural.
I am not a Phenom.
I am not Gifted.
I don’t possess an above average athletic ability.

I work hard. I understand that some positions or movements are not going to come easy. I understand that my training is not a sprint but a marathon. My Intensity is high and I expect great things from myself but my day doesn’t hinge on whether I PR or I have a bad workout.

If I don’t succeed I simply step back and assess the situation.
– Did I miss because of flexibility?
– Did I miss because of a lack of strength?
– Did I miss because I haven’t been sleeping well?
– Did I miss because my mind is elsewhere because “real life” throws rough stuff at me sometimes right before I’m supposed to focus on a workout.

No matter what the answer, I keep coming back over and over. Most of the time with a vengeance to make up for last time.

I have had bad weeks. I have even had a stretch of tough workouts lasting multiple weeks while nursing an injury. It doesn’t matter.

I show up because my bad workouts are way better than sitting on the couch.

I’m getting better everyday by working hard. It may not always be more than last time, but it will be all I can give.

I am not a natural. But the harder I work the closer I come to looking like one.

Are you ready to work hard? To take on a challenge? To push yourself each and every day? Then CrossFit Knoxville is the place for you. Stop by either of our Knoxville locations and try 3 CrossFit class for free.

We’ll see you on the other side of the bar.