Why Hydration is Critical – Especially Right Now!

It’s been hot. Like really, really hot. And it’s got me thinking about hydration a lot more. The “eight 8-ounce glasses”recommendation gets thrown around a lot, but how accurate is it really? And why has it become the default? Every day your body sheds some water through respiration (good ol’ breathing), sweat, urine, and other really important metabolic activities. So if you don’t consume enough water, you start to experience symptoms such as headaches, tiredness, and difficulty concentrating. At that point you’re dehydrated. Being chronically dehydrated can disrupt normal body functions and contribute to several issues like constipation and kidney stones—ain’t nobody got time for that.

I’m sure you’ve heard that water makes up about two-thirds of your body and about 70% of the weight in your muscles comes from water. But also consider this: fat cells are devoid of water, and for both lean men and women water makes up an even greater percentage of their totally body weight. Water is important for the regulation of body temperature. If you did MURPH, you might have learned like I did that body temperature makes a big fat difference in performance. Dehydration is a nasty issue for a lot of reasons but when it lessens your ability to regulate your temperature, it negatively affects your ability to work to your full potential and has serious health consequences. Drink plenty of water before and after your workouts to ensure you’re able to put forth full effort! But how much do you need to be drinking? Those eight cups a day would mean 64 ounces…about 2 liters a day. More specific recommendations have come about recently, and I think they are an upgrade. Experts say that healthy grown people between the ages of 31 and 70, living in climates like ours, should follow this:

Men: 125 ounces (3.7 liters) of water per day from all dietary sources, which include drinking water, tea, coffee, flavored waters, and food. (Yep, food can be hydrating! Mainly fruits and veggies.)
Women: 91 ounces (2.7 liters) of water per day from all dietary sources.

I have a 32oz water bottle and I feel best when I get at least 2 of those on top of some coffee and LaCroix. Everyone is different,of course, and this is where individualization comes in. Some studies show that low intake of water doesn’t always equal dehydration. The biggest judge of dehydration is urine output. The more fluids you drink the more you pee. And the more lightly colored you can keep your urine the better you’ll be.

Remember, when temperatures soar like they are currently, you’ll need more water then ever! And if you’re feeling moody, drink water! We know it is tied to our ability to regulate our mood. Just writing this has made me thirsty.

Eat to Lose Weight

“Metabolic damage” and “starvation mode” are probably terms you’ve heard before. They are often used when referring to the physiological changes that take place when someone is eating too little calories for too long. This lack of calories can be from limiting calories or upping exercise without accommodating with more food intake. Our bodies are fantastic at adapting; when we add an extra day of training into our schedule, we might be sore for a week or two but we adapt. Soon it feels like we were always Crossfitting 4 days a week instead of 3. When we take calories out of our diets, we might lose weight for a few weeks but then our bodies adapt and we plateau. Soon our bodies stop changing and it’s like we never ate more.

What exactly is happening here and why? More importantly, what can we do about it?

“Dieting” (for most of us) means “a lot less food and a lot more cardio”. We may acknowledge that strength training is important, and we might get that our hormones’ roles and functions are affected by our food. But most of us ignore that and decide if cutting calories by a little is good, then cutting by a lot must be better and faster! Right? Wrong. It’s damaging to your metabolism. Your metabolism is the orchestration of hormones and processes, including the process of releasing stored fat and burning that fat or re-storing it. It is a process we all want control over.

When it comes to this process we want regulation over, calories matter and so do hormones like insulin. How you reduce calories and at what rate matters to your hormones. I think of a rubber band analogy. To get a result (weight loss) you must put just enough stress (stress = calorie reduction) on it to get movement without it snapping back. Just enough. Not enough stress on your metabolism and you end up staying stuck. Too much stress, and like the rubber band things spring back. We do the same process in strength training! To get stronger we get under just enough weight/tension with just enough speed to challenge our bodies. Not so much that we fail, but enough that we are uncomfortable.

Initially, when there is the wrong kind of stress (or just too much stress overall) on the metabolism, the body simply adapts by turning down the metabolic rate. You see this time and time again when you start a new diet and get results for a like a week…then zip. Nothing. You’ve checked and MyFitnessPal says you’re coming in under recommended calorie intake. But with this turn down of your metabolism (that can happen very quickly) you simply aren’t burning as much as you think you are.

When you cut calories or try to burn more off at the gym, that triggers lower leptin levels and ups those cortisol levels. That brings on cravings for the carbs and sometimes fatty/starchy foods. This makes it super hard to stick to your plan. What this looks like for a lot of us is “clean eating” Monday to Friday and then losing it on the weekend.

What can we do? We need to find the right amount of stress to put on our metabolism to get results but not push it so far it snaps back at us. Start by training smarter, not harder. Follow the programming and don’t go rouge in pursuit of weight loss. Making changes takes time, and the more aggressive the shifts, the more aggressive the possible damage.

Try some strategies, like RP Strength, that slowly and intentionally put stress on your metabolic system for a limited period. Many of us don’t intuitively know how to program for strength gains or how to strike that tension and not snap our rubber band. That’s why we loved CrossFit…someone does it for us. The same is sometimes true with our food intake habits. We don’t intuitively know without a lot of patience and practice how to pull on our metabolic rubber band and not have it smack us in the face. Commit to a long-term program (90 days or more) and be patient and intentional. Learn about your body and its needs, ask questions, rehab your metabolism, and exit starvation mode.

Nutrition tips With Jessie

What diet of “lifestyle” change have you tried? I’ve done a handful. Some have served me well and some not so much. Like the time I did a “cleanse” (btw – I have perfectly good kidneys for that) that required me to only eat about 6 bananas a day for several days.

For the longest time, low-fat, high carb diets were all the rage! Cereal companies and smoothie stores rejoiced. Things abruptly switched gears when Atkins diet stormed on the scene. People were abandoning bagels for eggs and cheese. We demonized carbs and let high fat foods take our affections. I mean, who wouldn’t?

Paleo soon followed, and now saturated fat was not only okay but encouraged! Hooray! But no dairy, grains, beans, or legumes…along with anything else a caveman couldn’t source. Now, the tide has changed yet again, and the IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) approach is here. A quick scroll through Instagram will show many IIFYM fans posting pictures of foods that fly directly in the face of what we all believed “dieting” meant, along with some impressive fat-loss progress pictures. I once gave IIFYM a try. The promise of pop-tarts and a six pack was too tempting.

As we move through life things change, and our activity levels and lifestyle fluctuate so we alter our food intake to compensate. When trying to figure out how to formulate a nutrition plan and the amount of food that is best for you, you’ll need ask yourself a few things:

  • How does it make you feel? Analyze your energy levels, digestion, hunger, satiety, and cravings.
  • If your goals are aesthetic, how does it make you look? Are you tight, bloated, flat, retaining water, gaining fat, losing fat, etc.
  • How does it make you perform? Whether you lift at the gym or participate in a sport, your nutrition should have you well fueled and performing to the best of your ability.

My ideal nutrition setup is a combination of all the approaches mentioned above. The overwhelming majority of my foods should come from whole, nutrient-dense sources, but I have room for birthday cake in my world. Calories and macronutrients do matter when it comes to dialing things in even tighter. However, figuring out which foods make me feel good and perform well is important. I believe that carbohydrates should fluctuate a bit depending on that day’s activity level and fat loss goals.

Many of you have heard me talk about my nutrition approach being RP Strength. I like RP because it takes all the above concepts and puts them in a spreadsheet and makes it simple. When I ask myself the questions listed above, my experience with RP has been what I’m practicing when I get the best answers. If you’ve tried all the approaches but need to dial things in, stay tuned. We’ve got your back!

Jessie will be hosting a Nutrition Workshop at CFSTC. She will be talking specifically about the RP diet but will be able to answer any questions you may have about other diets you may have tried or heard about.
The workshop is open to the public.
$5 at the door for CFSTC members
Follow this link to register
Nutrition Workshop

Nutrition Tips with Jessie

So maybe your last diet (“lifestyle change”) didn’t go well. You decided to be stricter in your efforts and committed to another one … but that one didn’t pan out, either. Now you’re trying again with different rules, but you’re feeling frustrated and disappointed.

While you may simply be trying to find a way of eating that aligns with your goals and your life, jumping from one set of rules to another (again) is a misguided approach that usually won’t lead to the desired outcome.

The term “diet” implies that there’s a temporary timeline associated with that particular approach. It’s okay to have temporary performance, fat loss, health, or any other goals that require you to change your nutrition, and there’s a time and place when the best approach is to adhere to some stricter guidelines to help you achieve goals. If you’re looking for a sustainable way of eating that steadily enhances your physique over the long haul, a billion attempts to find the next best diet that promises to make you lean and fit aren’t going to be the most effective approach.

We’re impatient as Crossfiters and we like things to be fast and efficient. Instead of examining whether something is truly helpful, sustainable or not, we throw out the entire approach and claim that it “didn’t work” or that we “failed”…all the while already eyeing the next diet or “lifestyle change”. Without careful evaluation of your current nutrition, what’s helpful about a diet or what’s not, and what your individual needs are, it’s hard to know if a particular approach is right for you.

If you’re finding yourself in this kind of cycle, let me give you some starting points to assess what’s going on. Thinking about your current life, your goals, and the diet you’re following, ask yourself these questions:

  1. What are my nutritional needs (accounting for factors like activity and stress level)?
  2. What strategies from this diet are actually helpful?
  3. What about this diet is completely making me nuts?

Because most diets don’t set you up for long-term success, jumping from diet to diet tends to create habits of failure. This is disastrous for your mindset and quickly drains willpower. If our gym only ever programmed 200lb cleans, I’d fail every time I walked in the door and I’d quickly give up and deem myself unworthy and weak. Instead we focus on building a solid foundation, using deliberate and consistent movements at a weight that is smart and sustainable. Diet should be no different. We should focus on eating enough, eating smart (whole) foods, and consistently and sustainably fueling our bodies. Then we tweak based on our goals.

Here are some big things to focus on that help build that foundation:

  • eating a palm-sized serving of protein at each main meal
  • filling one-third to one-half of your plate with veggies at each meal
  • eating a thumb-sized portion of dietary fat at each meal
  • eating the type and amount of carbohydrates that leave you feeling energized and satisfied
  • drinking enough water throughout the day

Focusing on these big things consistently over time will help you understand YOUR actual nutritional needs. It will also provide you a baseline understanding of what works for you. If you’re constantly changing everything about your nutrition, how will you ever know what works for you? I suggest committing to a minimum of 12 weeks without switching up the plan. Take an opportunity to slowly improve your foundation before moving into another diet. This allows you to successfully strengthen one habit at a time and builds your confidence in your ability to make healthy choices. When you’re ready to tinker with your solid base and go after some goals, reach out for help! We love to talk about this stuff.

How Under Eating Affects Your Training And fat Lose Goals


Many of us intermediate or beginner Crossfitters don’t have a great perspective of what “enough” food really is—especially when trying to lose weight. The idea of sacrificing food can actually hinder fat loss, strength gain, energy levels, and overall health. With so many fad diets and eating trends flying around countless athletes are misled into eating far less food than they actually need to support high-intensity training. And while we might understand that inadequate food intake can negatively impact our performance in the gym, we simply aren’t used to eating enough food.

While a slight caloric deficit should cause steady weight loss (think 300-500 calories a day), much larger deficits elicit changes in your metabolism to keep your body in an energy balance and maintain homeostasis. The body—this dynamic, adaptable machine—wants to be safe and secure. Our bodies are always looking for stability, right?  With survival as number 1, it is constantly regulating what’s going on in response to our environment. In other words, in order to conserve energy and direct calories to necessary functions for being alive, your body resorts to burning fewer calories, even as you’re training regularly. This means you will hold onto body fat despite eating limited calories and training like a mad man. People who chronically under eat are the ones who complain about not being able to lose that last “10lbs” or feeling fluffier despite seeing the scale move down a few notches.

When resources (calories) are scarce, the body prioritizes essential functions (like breathing, controlling its temperature, and heartrate) over things like rebuilding muscle tissue. Inadequate food intake makes it nearly impossible to increase muscle strength or add gainz. The lack of energy from under eating can drastically reduce your training power. When you’re under-fueled, it may feel like you’re training intensely, but your power output is actually much lower. If you can’t maximize your power when lifting, you won’t be able to achieve the necessary stimulus to promote muscle growth and rebuilding. What a bummer, right? Under eating can also lead to under sleeping which isn’t fabulous for recovery, either. I like to tell my kids at 9pm, “your body does its growing while your sleeping” and it applies to me and my muscle gains.

If you suspect you might not be eating enough to support your activities and goals, don’t despair! Once you start eating enough and bringing attention to eating enough, you’ll see rapid improvements!

Figuring out exactly how much food you should be eating is tricky, many factors come into play. While it might be impossible to determine exactly how many calories you need, you can estimate. There are easy on-line calculators that will give you a good starting point. I suggest Logging your food as precisely as possible. Weigh and measure! Unless you’ve had TONS of practice, eyeballing isn’t a great beginner method. use an app like MyFitnessPal. Then keep a journal for a few weeks recording your mood, energy level and weight. If you need to start significantly bumping up your intake, try adding 100-200 calorie increments every week or so in order to minimize weight gain or digestive issues.  Calorie adjustments usually take some experimentation, but correcting undereating almost always results in significant improvements in health, energy, and performance. And once you’re feeling better, you can use a more intuitive eating style to continue making progress. It’s awesome to see the health improvements that come from a simple increase in calories when someone has been chronically undereating! Remember! Eating too little is just as dangerous as eating too much, don’t fear the carb, and reach out for guidance if you need it.

-Coach Jessie

Healthy Breakfast Sausage

Breakfast Sausage Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 12 Patties or 24 Mini-Sausage Meatballs

Say goodbye to unhealthy pre-packaged breakfast sausage by making your own with this easy breakfast sausage recipe.


  • 1 lb. Ground Pork
  • 1 tsp. Celtic Sea Salt
  • 1 tsp. Sage
  • 1 tsp. Thyme
  • 1 tsp. Paprika
  • 1 tsp. Black Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. Nutmeg


  1. Measure and mix spices.
  2. Add spices to ground pork.
  3. With hands, mix spices and pork together.
  4. For mini-sausage balls, roll into 24 balls and place each one in mini-muffin tin.
  5. Bake at 350°F for 20-23 minutes or until no longer pink in the center.
  6. For sausage patties, form into 12 equal size patties.
  7. Pan fry in cast iron skillet, on medium-high heat, 3-4 minutes per side or until no longer pink in the center.
  8. Enjoy!

Breakfast-Quick and Easy

Eating a diet full of foods that promote lean muscle and performance can be a daunting task for the newbie but recipes like this are the epitome of convenience! These make a great grab and go breakfast or a quick mid day snack.

Easy Egg Cups

12 Eggs
12 Slices of Canadian Bacon

Preheat oven to 350F.

Line a 12 count muffin tin with a slice of canadian bacon. Crack an egg on top . Salt and pepper to taste. Add veggies if you like.

Bake for 18-20 mins.


7 Great Reasons to Avoid Sugar

We’ve been saying “sugar is the devil” for a while now and it has been generally accepted that sugar intake should be limited. The current recommendation is no more than 6 teaspoons a day. While that is mighty generous, most Americans consume for more. Aside from being in the obvious sweet foods, sugar goes by many different names and hides in unlikely spaces.


Sugar provides pure calories and is completely lacking other essential nutrients, such as fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Sugary drinks and foods generally don’t fare much better, and they take up room in your diet that could otherwise be filled with more nutritious foods.



And liquid forms are the worst offenders—soft drinks aren’t exactly filling. You generally still want to eat, despite the huge hit of sugar you’ve just injected into your gut. Think about it this way: how quickly can you drink a can of soda? To get the equivalent 9 teaspoons of sugar in a 12 fl oz can of soda, you’d need to eat 7 cups of raspberries. Yep, 7 fiber-rich, filling cups!
Soda is the devils nectar!


Your brain is hardwired to love sugar, its favorite form of energy. It’s a matter of survival: When you eat food, dopamine is released in the brain, which makes you feel happy. But certain foods, like sugar, make dopamine levels soar. In a similar way to how the brain reacts to cocaine, sugar can be addictive—the more you eat, the more you need to satisfy that “high.”


Fast, easily digested carbs cause powerful spikes in your blood sugar levels, sending you on a wild rollercoaster ride of energy highs and lows throughout the day. The highs can give you a quick energy burst, but they also put pressure on your pancreas to produce more insulin in an effort to lower your blood sugar. The lows that follow can make you feel ravenous (hangry, even!), frantically searching for another sugar rush.


Too much sugar, and high glycemic index foods, results in substances called AGEs being produced in your blood. These potent pro-oxidant chemicals (the opposite of a healthy antioxidant) cause inflammation, and left for too long, chronic inflammation can lead to diabetes and heart disease.


There’s no denying the facts—consuming too many calories leads to weight gain. It’s far too easy to tip your energy input over the edge with high sugar drinks and snacks. You already know being overweight or obese can be a fast-track ticket to a whole host of scary health problems, including cancer. Eating too much fructose, in particular, which is converted into fat and stored in the liver, can lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease—a condition healthy weight people can develop, particularly if you drink too much soda.


Constantly flooding your blood with sugar, even if you’re not overweight, is never a good thing. Your pancreas has to work extra hard to keep your blood sugar levels within a healthy range, your blood pressure increases, and your blood fats go up, too. If these things are constantly happening, you can develop metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions which can lead to diabetes and heart disease.

Thankfully, it’s not all doom and gloom. Lowering your sugar intake is easy if you know what to look for on food labels.  Sadly the food industry is doing what it can to hide sugar. Currently there are 55 names for sugar.

Barley malt Dehydrated cane juice Golden sugar Molasses
Barbados sugar Demerara sugar Golden syrup Muscovado
Beet sugar Dextran Grape sugar Panocha
Brown sugar Dextrose High fructose corn syrup Powdered sugar
Buttered syrup Diastatic malt Honey Raw sugar
Cane juice Diatase Icing sugar Refiner’s syrup
Cane sugar Ethyl maltol Invert sugar Rice syrup
Caramel Free flowing brown sugars Lactose Sorbitol
Corn syrup Fructose Malt Sorghum syrup
Corn syrup solids Fruit juice Maltodextrin Sucrose
Confectioner’s sugar Fruit juice concentrate Maltose Sugar (granulated)
Carob syrup Galactose Malt syrup Treacle
Castor sugar Glucose Mannitol Turbinado sugar
Date sugar Glucose solids Maple syrup Yellow sugar

Operation Fitness Project

Operation Fit by CrossFit St. Charles is a movement to help you lose body fat, gain strength, boost happiness, increase confidence, and feel better overall. Whether you are looking for the perfect fitness family, a challenge to your routine, or just starting your fitness journey, this challenge is for you…AND YOU CAN EARN YOUR MONEY BACK.

Operation Fitness, starting January 22- March 3, is a 6 week Challenge consisting  of :

Beginner friendly classes at CrossFit St. Charles

Nutrition guidance from our highly educated and certified staff

Community support from one of the strongest CrossFit families there is!

All For Only $266 AND you will have the opportunity to EARN YOUR MONEY BACK.

Challenge Includes:

  • 3 workouts a week, 18 total classes (Choose from ANY of our CrossFit classes on our schedule…see link) https://www.crossfitstcharles.com/schedule/ (CrossFit and Strongman Classes only)
  • Challenge starts January 22- March 3
  • Kick off event Saturday January 20th 9-11a
  • Pre & Post group body assessments with our Staff.
  • Nutrition Guidance and Challenge from Precision Nutrition Certified Coach Ben
  • Additional tools to help you keep track of your goals.
  • Community support from coaches, other challengers and CrossFit St.Charles members.
  • Celebration WOD and assessment 3/3 (10:00am – 11:30am)

This challenge will kick off with a 2 hour group assessment and intro session on Saturday January 20th from 9:00am – 11:00am to get you acclimated and prepared for the 6 weeks ahead. We will go over common movements we will use and do a pre challenge assessment workout, class structure, instruct the nutrition portion of the challenge and answer any questions you may have.

Sign up for more information
or Call us

Start seeing results and achieve your goals with us in 2018!

Leading Diets Demystified

Demystifying 4 Leading Approaches to Nutrition

Eating a diet that promotes health, lean muscle, weight loss and optimal performance can be elusive to many. There is so much information available that it can be terribly overwhelming. What works and is sustainable for some may not be the best option for others. While there is science to support different approaches to what is healthy, each person’s response and requirements are different, individualized nutrition is decidedly an art.

In preparation for Coach Ben’s nutrtion talk on Saturday, we’ll wade through some of the info.

A comparison will help demystify a few of the most popular diets in the fitness community

It is important to remember that these diets are not fads that are meant to be followed for 6 weeks and then return to old habits. Eating for health and performance is an approach to the way we must think about food and how it affects us. The human body is a machine that needs fuel to survive. Nutrition should be taken seriously.

You will not fully achieve real fitness goals without taking care of your nutrition

You will find that these diets are quite similar to each other with differences in goals and how restrictive they are.

  1.     CLEAN EATING –This is the only program that allows for grains. This is not a wheat “free-for-all” There are guidelines
  • Eat lots of plants
  • Whole and natural meats
  • Whole grains
  • Read labels and know what the ingredients are. If you cannot pronounce it, you should not eat it.
  • Learn to love healthy fats avocado, egg yolks, coconut and olive oils
  • Avoid processed, packaged foods,
  • Dairy- Full fat is recommended. The lower the fat for more processed it is.
  • Read more about Clean Eating.
  1.     GLUTEN FREE

Gluten is basically food glue that helps foods maintain their shape. Wheat has many different names, semolina, spelt, farina, farro, graham to name few.

A gluten free diet is a must for someone diagnosed with Celiac disease but we are finding that some people have gluten intolerances. For some, by avoiding gluten the blood sugar has less highs and lows and people generally feel better.

  • Avoid Grains- Wheat, Barley, Rye, Triticale and sometimes Oats
  • It seems pretty easy and straight forward but you’d be shocked at how much gluten is in foods that should have no grains in them at all. Intensive label checking must be done. Check out this list from the Celiac Disease Foundation
  • Protein takes priority
  • Limit carbohydrate intake
  • Eat healthy fats including butter, animal fats, coconut oil and olive oil
  • Unlimited produce
  • HIgh fat dairy, fruit  and nut butters in moderation
  • Occasional red wine and dark chocolate
  • Avoid sugar, processed and junk foods
  • Avoid all grains including wheat grains and oats
  • Avoid Vegetable oils and margarines
  • Read more about the Primal BluePrint at Mark’s Daily Apple


  1. PALEO
    Similar to the Primal Blueprint but more restrictive. The Paleo diet takes the best of everything and dumps the rest. It is a great option for people who have food allergies, Celiac disease and autoimmune diseases. In my opinion Paleo is the healthiest approach to food and nutrition but can also be the hardest to sustain.
  • Eat Fruits and vegetables
  • Lean meats
  • Seafood
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Fats
  • Avoid grains
  • Dairy
  • Processed food and sugars
  • Legumes
  • Starches
  • Alcohol
  • Read more about Pale from my favorite source Robb Wolf

Finding the best option for you is about doing research, getting started and being consistent. By simply cutting out sugars and processed foods you will make great strides in improving your health.

Anything you do is worth the effort!