Thursday, 28 June 2018

Zak's Sleep Tips

Zaks Sleep Tips 

— Vince Lombardi
The modern elite athlete knows that physical conditioning and good nutrition are critical in reaching peak athletic performance; however, sleep, while often overlooked, plays an equally important role. In recent years, it’s become clear that the quality and quantity of sleep obtained by elite athletes can be the edge between winning and losing on game-day.
Why is sleep so important 

Growth hormone (sometimes known as HGH) is released while we are in deep sleep, is an important part of the body’s endocrine system. It is essential for muscle repair, muscle building, bone growth and promoting the oxidation of fats. 

This is critical for performance 

Cortisol, also known as the stress hormone is regulated in deep sleep. Cortisol levels directly impact the body’s ability to digest glucose. Since endurance is based on our body’s ability to metabolize and synthesize glucose for later use, quality of sleep becomes even more important for athletes

So pretty much if you're working your ass off in the gym but not putting in the time to sleep and recover you are not doing yourself any favors.  

Aside from the recovery, lack of sleep will also lower mental performance, reaction time & motivation all of which are vital for being a top performer. 

For example, Lebron James gets 12 hours sleep per night, that's how much emphasis he puts on it. 

So here are my tips for getting the ultimate sleep. Particularly if you're someone who struggles to string together more than 6hrs… ZZZZZzzzzz

1. Start a journal 

 If its your thoughts that are keeping you up at night, you may need to clear your mind. 
Ideally, about an hour before bed, sit down and journal, what went well today? What can you do better tomorrow? What are the tasks that you have to complete/not forget about? Write it all down, once you have done that let them go out of your mind and remind yourself that there is nothing you can do about those tasks until tomorrow.

You can also keep the journal by your bed so if you tend to wake up in the middle of the night with things that you need to remember you can quickly write it down and not stress about trying to remember it the next day.

2.  Stay away from technology for 60mins before bed. 

 Stop answering txts, FB messages, emails etc one hour before you want to go to sleep. Use this time to read and prepare for bed and start relaxing. 

3.  Remove your phone from your room. 

If you use it as your alarm get your hands on a “old school alarm” that way you will have no distractions in the room. Not only is your phone a distraction but the lights can play havoc with your ability to sleep.

4. Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual. 

A relaxing, routine activity right before bedtime conducted away from bright lights helps separate your sleep time from activities that can cause excitement, stress or anxiety which can make it more difficult to fall asleep, get sound and deep sleep or remain asleep.

Something like ROMWOD is very helpful for this I find, or alternatively some form of meditation 

5. Sex 

Sex can actually make it easier to fall asleep. This is mostly because of the hormones that are released during. Sex boosts oxytocin (a hormone that makes you feel connected to your partner) and lowers cortisol (a stress-related hormone). Plus, having an orgasm releases a hormone called prolactin, which makes you feel relaxed and sleepy. All of that leads up to a nice, drowsy state that’s perfect for cuddling up and falling asleep. 

6.  Rain noise

Some people find that rain noise is soothing and helps them sleep, you can download lots of free apps to help with this.

7.  Avoid caffeine in the afternoon  

If you're struggling to sleep avoid anything that may energise you, once you start having better sleeps you will have less need for caffeine. 

8. Don't drink too much liquid before bed

You may get to sleep and then need to wake up to go to the toilet that will disrupt your sleep patterns 

9.  Blackout curtains 

 Blackout curtains help keep your room super dark which promotes a deeper more restful sleep. Another alternative is a blackout eye mask.

10.  See the Doc

If you’re still having trouble after all of these then don't be afraid to go see a doctor or talk to a sleep specialist

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Renegade Athlete Gemma Root Nutrition Ep1

Today Zak caught up with Renegade Performance athlete Gemma Root.

Over the next few months, we are going to dial in her nutrition as we know its an area we can make up a lot of ground.

Before we work with any athlete, we need to get a better understanding of where they are. Even though Gemma is an elite level athlete, a lot of her nutrition habits are not elite.

Sometimes just following a diet/meal plan or template is not the best plan for someone.

Our goal is to teach her elite habits and give her confidence around food, and she will be accountable to us which even high-level athletes need sometimes.

Follow us over the coming months to see what we do and how we do it.

Watch our catch up here or listen to it on Soundcloud:


Tuesday, 6 March 2018

What is Grit? Do you have it? How do you get it?

By Zak Nothling Renegade Performance and Nutrition Coach 

Grit is defined as "perseverance and passion for long-term goals."

Grit is the overcoming of obstacles and challenges that block our way to accomplishment

Grit is the driving force behind achievement.

Someone who has grit may not be the most physically talented or have the same ability, but they can outperform anyone who lacks grit.

How do you develop grit? 

There are a few tactics.  Today we will talk about one:

Practice. Starting small and getting better.

When it comes to improving your nutrition skills, we don't go from not eating any vegetables at all to two handfuls of veggies every meal and n processed foods.

We start off small and build up; we practice adding one hand full to one meal per day then we go for two meals then more. 

We may stuff up and miss one day, we end up at McDonalds, but that's ok. We acknowledge that we messed up and we keep trying and keep practicing.

Grit is us not giving up because we didn't get it perfect first time.

In the gym it could be practice with your Snatch.

When you start it may just be the bar, everyone around you is lifting 2-3-4 or more plates. 

You start adding more weight as the weeks pass you get stronger and your technique improves. But after six weeks you cant lift any heavier, you've reached a roadblock. You fail the first time, so you try again, you fail again, so you try again. You know deep down inside that you can do it, you show Grit. You take a couple of steps back in weight, work on your technique for a while, you come back in a few weeks and try again. You make the lift. 

This is Grit.

Every time you fail you need to think of it merely as a practice attempt. 

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

How many meals should you eat for weight loss?

By Zak Nothling - Renegade Nutrition Coach

First of all, let me clarify that the above picture is just an example of various meal sizes it's not suggesting how many calories you should eat in a day.

  • Some people say you need six meals per day for fat loss.
  • Some people say a big breakfast, medium lunch, and a small dinner.
  • Some people say fast all day and have one big meal at night.
  • + 10000000 other ways that you will have been told to eat.

So what is the correct way to eat for weight loss? 

Any of them! What is most important is calories in vs. calories out.

Before we go any further let me explain what a calorie is: 

In the simplest terms possible, when people talk about calories in food, they are referring to a unit of measurement — but it doesn't measure weight or length. A calorie is a unit of energy. When you hear something contains 100 calories, it's a way of describing how much energy your body could get from eating or drinking it.

If you eat more calories than your body burns off, you will gain weight. If you eat less than your body burns off, you will lose weight and if you eat the same amount as you burn you will stay the same weight. 

So what that means is there is no correct amount of meals to eat, what we are looking at is your total intake over the whole day and making sure you are burning a little bit more than what you take in.

If you want to eat ten small meals throughout the day, do that

If you want to stick with a traditional 3 meals per day; breakfast, lunch and dinner because that fits your schedule better do that. 

If you want to fast all day and eat one big meal go for that.

As long as your burning off more than you eat you will lose weight.

Calories are king when it comes to weight loss.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

CrossFIt Open Performance Anxiety

By Zak Nothling, Renegade Performance Coach 

Performance anxiety in the bedroom, and in the gym.

Today I'm going to focus on performance anxiety in the gym.

We are one day out of the CrossFit Open. There is a mixed bag of feelings during this time of year around the gym. 

I have seen people get so worked up pre-open workout that they ruin the whole experience for themselves.

 Why do we get performance anxiety?

Some fears arise from previous experiences; something may have gone wrong in a workout or even long before, like during sport growing up or in high school PE class. 

Feelings like this can stick with us, and we may get anxiety from anything that resembles the situation. 

Often we don't want to be seen as the worst or last, which can be a very powerful deterrent. 

You may feel there is an expectation of you based on the "status" you hold at the gym. You may be the guy/girl that is always top of the leaderboard in the daily workout, or you're a coach and think that athletes won't respect you if you're not crushing every workout.  

A major one could be an expectation you've put on yourself. E.g., I want to finish top 500 in the open. 

I think for some of us it's due to our egos. I think we are so worried about what people are going to think about us, and how we did in a particular workout, that it affects our enjoyment and experience. 

How do we solve this problem?

The truth is we don't have to for the most part, as a CrossFit gym is the complete opposite. It's an environment where the last person gets the biggest applause. Even at the highest level, at the CrossFit games, when someone is struggling there is a room of athletes trying to help them finish the event. This isn't high school where kids are immature and will ridicule you for not being able to do something. If this is the case at your gym, cancel your membership and find a new one today. 

If the anxiety comes from being in a position of power, like being a coach, and you're worried an athlete you coach is going to do better than you, then you should stop coaching. Hang up the Nanos and knee sleeves, as you're obviously in the wrong position. Every time you get to coach, you get the opportunity to make someone better. Your goal should be to make them the best they can be, to help them see and reach their potential. 

If it's your ego that's putting the pressure on you, you've got to remember that you're the only one that is aware of this. What do you think is going to happen if you don't get a good score? Are other people going to talk behind your back and laugh at you? First of all, let me remind you that you're probably not that important - sorry if this is a shock to you. People live busy lives, the last thing they care about is your result in 18.1.

If you've put a placing expectation on yourself, how did you come to this goal? These expectations are usually arbitrary. You most likely pulled that number out of thin air. If you didn't, and it's a number that is an improvement on last year then, in my opinion, this is largely an uncomparable statistic. Every year the field not only grows, but it changes, so basing your success or failure on this is setting yourself up for an unhappy ending. I would recommend changing all your goals to process-driven goals. 

You have no reason to be anxious, butterflys before a workout are ok they will keep you on your toes. spot the differance and understand the root of where yours is coming from. 

Friday, 16 February 2018


By Zak Nothling, Renegade Nutrition Coach  

“Patience, persistence, and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.” - Napoleon Hill

I want to drill this fact in. Weight loss is a slow process. Actually, let me rephrase that. Sustainable weight loss is a slow process. 

All the diets you see out there can get you results quickly. But in the process of that, you are setting yourself up for failure in the future but learning bad habits about food. 

I know some of you want to change all of your habits in one go. Please don’t. 

Let's do a little bit of an exercise. I want you to think about how long ago you were last in the shape that you were happy with, for some of us it may have been 12 months ago, for some of us it may never be, and that's fine.  

Now let's say it was 12 months ago that you were last happy with your body image. 12 months of being in a calorie surplus for the majority of the time. 365 days of consuming too many calories compared to what you were burning off. 12 months (most likely longer) of poor nutrition habits. 

Is it fair to now expect 12 months of work to be undone in a few weeks or months? I don't think it is. This doesn't mean that it will take 12 months or years for you to get back in shape. 

All I'm asking is that you be rational and take this one day at a time, then one week at a time, then one month at a time. 

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Nutrition Tips for the CrossFit Open

By Zak Nothing - Renegade Nutrition Coach 

We are about a week away from the CrossFit Open. Now if you're only just starting to think about your preparation and nutrition for it you may have left it a little bit late to qualify for regionals this year.

In saying that there are a few fundamental nutrition practices to help you perform your best. 

These done right can make a big difference to not only how you perform but how you back up for the next day of training and the rest of the week.

For us mere mortals that will most likely not be qualifying for regionals we should only be doing the open workouts once (in my opinion), in that one attempt, we need to set ourselves up mentally and physically to give it everything. "One and done."

Use these three easy to apply tactics to improve your performance:

1. Eat more carbs the day before 

By eating more carbs the day before (in technical terms) increases your levels of stored muscle glycogen.

In simple terms will improve your ability to be able to do more reps in a workout. (What we are all trying to achieve.)

Depending on how many carbs you usually eat we would recommend adding an additional serving over the day - Around one to two cupped hands worth. If you weigh and measure your food, we would recommend about 1.5x what you have on an average day.

Now keep in mind what your overall goal is, if weight loss is your priority then this will be counterproductive to your goal, and you may only want to only up your carbs a tiny bit.

2. Be careful of salt

If you have increased your carbs a lot, you are likely to retain a bit more water or feel bloated especially if they have been salty. Retaining water means that you will be heavier which isn't ideal for workouts that are high in gymnastics volume. So choose your carb intake carefully, Rice, Potatoes, and Kumra (sweet potato) are my recommendations  

3. Limit fats close to workout times 

We recommend staying away from the fats just before workouts, Fats are slower digesting, and therefore too many of them can leave you feeling sluggish. A bit of PB won't slow you down too much we are just trying to avoid the heavier meals that will sit in your stomach.

We still want fats in your diet just not right before you workout.  

Nutrition is such a big part of performing well in CrossFit that is often overlooked, implement these three basic tactices to improve your performance in this years open!

Feel free to reach out if you have any questions.