Sore Or Sick: You Decide

Sore Or Sick: You Decide

I live sore.

Honestly, I would think something was wrong if I wasn’t. It would be like waking up with green hair or suddenly speaking a language I didn’t understand.

I wouldn’t say I’m addicted to being sore — that would be kinda weird — but there’s something about knowing you’re using the gifts you’ve been given that helps you sleep at night. It isn’t pride or arrogance or anything malicious, just a sense of satisfaction that can only be achieved through effort.

It’s awkward explaining it though. Sometimes people just stare and ask, “why do you do that to yourself?”

It’s a smart question, with an answer that’s easier to understand when you consider the alternative. And here’s a hint, the alternative to sore isn’t pain-free, it’s sickness. You just might not know it yet.

Take any one of the millions of humans who are insulin resistant (a disorder often caused by overeating sugar and not working out enough). Sure, their legs aren’t angry from yesterday’s workout, but they’re only a few carbohydrates short of being a Type II diabetic. And it only gets worse from there.

A tendency to over-medicate plays a role also. Let’s say someone has been dealing with a bad back for decades. Instead of exercising to repair imbalances, correcting movements and asymmetries, and just generally spending time sore, they turn to drugs to relieve the agony. Fine. Cool. Great. But what happens when drugs stop working? What happens when the sickness spreads?

I’ll tell you what happens; nursing homes pop up like coffee shops — that’s what happens. Insurance companies create insane policies. And kids are forced to take care of their parents in a way like never before. And for what? Because temporary discomfort was somehow worse than chronic illness?

If you’ve just started exercising, you’re going to be sore. Your arms will feel like a million pounds some days. Your legs will feel like they’ve been tenderized. And there are even times when sitting on the toilet is impossible, and you’ll wonder why you do this to yourself. And when that happens, imagine the alternative. You either live sore or sick. You decide.

There's A Difference Between Training And Testing

There's A Difference Between Training And Testing

It's rejuvenating.

It's refreshing.

It's incredibly challenging and entirely worth it.

It's today's workout, and we'll do anything to protect it.

Where else can we let go? Disappear into activity and let instinct take over? Where else, with all that life has to throw at us, can we be free?

But what happens when that workout isn't cooperating? What happens when we show up ready to tear the head off a lion and end up leaving with our tail between our legs? What happens when we settle into a workout we've down before, and the end result is actually worse?

Many of us beat ourselves up. We take what's usually the best part of our day, and ruin it with self-loathing and doubt. We question why we do this whole CrossFit thing at all. But we never ask ourselves; was I supposed to be better today?

"What kind of stupid question is that," you say. "Instafitness and the Facebook gurus and all the stoic books I read say every day is better than yesterday. And this is CrossFit, and I'm type A, and blah, blah, blah." That's all well and good, and we should all strive for improvement, but here's the thing; better isn't measured in a day. Better is what happens when the process adds up over time, and we're left with something greater than before.

Think of it like this; when you're climbing a mountain, you don't always go up. There are times when you have to move laterally or even retreat for the chance to summit. Do those times of less than vertical ascension mean you're not making progress? Of course not.

Before you get to down on yourself, look at the data; how did you sleep before your workout, how did you eat, what was yesterday's training, or two days ago, or when was the last time you took a rest day? These are all valuable questions with huge ramifications, all of which point towards one of two particular outcomes; was I training, or was I testing?

Training means we're performing a series of tasks that encourage the body to adapt and build strength, speed, coordination, and all that. But during the process, training takes its toll, making repeating certain workouts anything but better. It doesn't mean we can't break records during this time — it's great if we do -- it just means we shouldn't go into a training workout with a testing mindset.

Testing, on the other hand, means we've peaked. We've tapered training, we've slept great, ate well, and we're even in the right state of mind to take an honest account of our progress. We ran a 5k three months ago, and we're running another one today. And we're paced to beat our best by nearly a minute.

Both are valuable. Both are completely different.

If today I ask you to perform a few dozen heavy back squats, then tomorrow I invite you to run a mile, I'm not asking you to run the fastest mile you ever have. I may be asking you to run your best mile with weak legs. One is excellent training, one is testing.

Improvement isn't always measured in fewer minutes and more miles. Once we learn to accept that, we stop punishing ourselves and begin to enjoy the training days even more. Days that cobble together to form the process. The process that makes us better than yesterday.

Rhema Does Ragnar November 8-9

Rhema Does Ragnar November 8-9

CrossFit Rhema is getting another team together for The Chattanooga to Nashville Reebok Ragnar, November 8-9, 2019. 

And you're invited!

"Runners make their way to the finish line in downtown Nashville, with incredible views of the city skyline as they run along the water at Cumberland River Greenway, finishing at Riverfront Park and into our awesome finish line party. Beaming with accomplishment, (and dazed from lack of sleep), teams will celebrate and bask in the glory of completing their unforgettable adventure."

We're estimating the total cost per athlete — including entry, van rental, lodging, and gas — to be about $350.

To sweeten the deal, our in-house running phenom, Kelly Darnell, will provide programming to get ready for Gameday.

If you're interested, fill this out. You can also learn more here. This IS a team sign up, however, not an individual. We’ll gather teams and then register together.

Athlete Of The Month: Crystal

Athlete Of The Month: Crystal

Some people today wear busy like a tattoo.

A badge of honor that everyone can see, describing who they are as a person:

"I'm busy. I'm important. I'm special."

Others, however, aren't so much "look at me, I'm busy," as "I haven't got time for your shenanigans. There's work to be done. Real work."

That's Crystal.

With a stroller and several little ones in tow, Crystal sprints into the gym several mornings a week, and somehow, with a list of chores a mile long, she gets fitter.

It doesn't end with the workout either. After recently changing the way she eats, Crystal has lost more than ten pounds. She's also PR'd many of her Olympic lifts, and registered for the Rumble.

All silently. All without announcement. All because it's the right thing to do, and one of the best examples for her family.

Crystal is a motivator, urging others to take the same steps she has. She knows what it's like to feel fit, and she wants it for everyone she meets. Because that's the kind of information people need to hear. Not how important someone is or how packed their calendar, but how to feel the best you've ever felt. That's the kind of gifts great people give. The kind that changes lives.

For all that and more, we congratulate Crystal, August's athlete of the month. Keep it up, Crystal!

Commit To The Journey

Commit To The Journey

American explorer, Colin Brady, is the first man to trek Antartica unsupported.

It took him 54 days to walk the 932 miles from start to finish, all while dragging a heavy sled full of gear; a lifeboat full of food and one tent, that if he lost, would've certainly ended his journey. And maybe his life.

Brady couldn't sweat for fear of frostbite, and if he took a day off, there was a chance he'd run out of food. When the weather didn't cooperate — which was most of the time — he traveled blind and tripped over snowdrifts often. And when it got worse, Brady kept going. 

"Despite how hard it is to step outside of your comfort zone," Brady said after his trip, "the magic of life and growth happens when you point your compass toward the limitless horizon of your dreams and commit to the journey."

Before he set out to conquer what many believed was impossible, Brady and crew planned for every contingency imaginable. And while victory loves preparation, there's no replacement for an undying commitment.

Take a moment and write down where you're headed. Put it on your bathroom mirror like it's a tall, blond Russian. Then work backward, make your plan, and head in that direction. Every. Single. Day. There are simply no rest days when your life is on the line, and success is the only option.

"Many days will be challenging, and the negative voice in your head will recommend quitting, but as you keep moving forward, one day the sun will shine and illuminate your path, and you'll be eternally grateful for taking that courageous first step into the unknown." - Colin Brady

Always Keep Moving

Always Keep Moving

Have you ever went to a movie starring one of your favorite actors, only to be disappointed because it was awful (cough, cough, Green Lantern)?

Well, that's pretty much fitness. At least at first anyway.

We go in with all this motivation, thinking it's going to be a summer blockbuster. Then perception meets reality, and we can't walk up the stairs the next day.

What gives? How can fitness feel bad? How can so many "experts" be wrong? How can finally doing what I've always been told is the best thing for me, feel like the worst?

These are great questions. Questions we need to ask, with answers that might surprise you. Mysteries that may have puzzled you in the past, or may continue to do so to this day.

But first, let's get something out of the way: you're not the problem, so you can quit that mess right now. For that matter, neither is your coach. And more than likely, you didn't do too much or choose the wrong training program or permanently break yourself. Nothing near that serious. And certainly nothing to panic about. In fact, it's much simpler than that.

If you've been resting for decades, moving is going to be just about the most uncomfortable thing you can do. But That doesn't mean it's the wrong thing. It's just different.

The discomfort will dissolve, and you'll eventually feel better than you ever have, but it takes time. And before that, you might hit a few bumps along the way. Not mountains or even large hills; just bumps.

If this sounds crazy, stick with me, it's actually pretty freeing. You see, when most out us start a new fitness routine (or add to a method that's going well), be it walking, or jogging, or Yoga, or CrossFit, we think any discomfort is a sign we're doing something wrong. But the majority of the time, it's the exact opposite.

Here's another way to think about any change in your routine, be it physical, mental, or both: When we first learn to walk, we fall all the time. But we keep trying. Is falling unhealthy? Is learning to walk the wrong thing to do? What if we stopped the first time we fell? Imagine a world of adults who could walk, but crawl instead for fear of stumbling?

Your lower back might ache. At times, fixing your hair might feel like the hardest thing you've ever done. And you might even feel like someone ran over your legs with a steamroller. And that's fine. We've all been there. The trick is not letting the bumps steal your destination. Take it slow, maybe even change routes, but keep moving. Always keep moving.

3 Ways To Find Your Fitness Sweet Spot

3 Ways To Find Your Fitness Sweet Spot

There's a scene in the TV series "The Big Bang Theory" where Sheldon goes to the movies, sits down, and yells. He then gets up, finds another seat, and yells again. Everyone stares. No one knows what to expect. And it goes on like this.

"He's finding the acoustic sweet spot," Leonard says, explaining the perpetually odd behavior of his roommate. And while that may sound funny, or sad, or creepy, or otherworldly annoying, it's what many of us do with fitness.

There's nothing wrong with experimenting like this, of course, because once you find your fitness sweet spot -- just like the acoustic sweet spot -- you'll feel better than you ever have -- and the movie will instantly thrill more. It's just that finding it often takes longer than we like it to. And sometimes people stare.

Whereas I may feel my best training 90-minutes a day, five days a week, you might think that's a warm-up. Or a death sentence. So how do you know where to start? And how do you know when you're not doing enough? Or when you're doing too much?

Are you eager or distant

If you're not excited to train, chances are you're not in your fitness sweet spot.

Now don't confuse apathy with loathing the WOD; that's different. You can still totally be keen to train and hate that horrible Assault bike. But if you're really dreading the idea of any activity, chances are you're doing too much. Or too much of the wrong kind.

Are you sore or hurt

Sore is a sign you're alive. Enjoy it.

Hurt, however, is a whole other story. Hurt means you're knocking on injuries door and you're about to step over the threshold. Hurt means you have hot knees -- about to become nuclear knees -- and instead of scaling, you keep pushing. Unlike sore, hurt is a warning.

Instead of crossing that line, error on the side of caution. When your knees feel sketchy, swap running for rowing, or use an empty bar, or God Forbid, spend an hour stretching.

Are you intense or dull

Far too many fitness enthusiasts mistake volume for intensity, and then they wonder why they don't see results. Simply put; intensity exactly equals results.

It's not about doing more work, and it has never been. It's about doing the most intense work possible for your current level of fitness, then sitting back and reaping the rewards.

If you've consistently added time -- even extra days -- to your workout routine, try backing off the volume and boosting the intensity. If you feel great, performance increases, and your mind clears, then you'll forever know that the secret to getting what you want out of your workout, is precisely related to how much effort you put into it.

Finding your fitness sweet spot takes time. But once you do, it gushes into other areas of your life like a volcano. Relationships improve. Work is more satisfying. Creativity skyrockets. And everyone will stare. Let them. They're just jealous you found the best seat in the house.

Awesome Jar

Awesome Jar

I have an achieving problem.

I find something I like. I set goals. Then I achieve them. Most of them, anyway.

And once I do, I move right on to the next thing. The next challenge. The next obstacle. The next goal to overcome. But I never celebrate.

No matter what I've done, or how far I've come, I never take a second just to be happy. To revel in victory before the next big thing.

That's why I have an Awesome Jar. So I don't forget. So I'm forced, every now and then, to stop achieving and just be.

I got the idea from best-selling author, Tim Ferriss. In one of his podcasts, he said he never slowed down. That life had become one big, joyless achievement. And so; Awesome Jar.

It's simple. Buy a large glass jar. Every time you experience a little win or a massive victory, write it on a slip of paper and throw it in the jar. Once a week, take out your jar and read all you've done. Reflect. That way, once you get wherever it is you're going, you can enjoy it.

The Big Five Checklist

The Big Five Checklist

There is no perfect in CrossFit. There's better than yesterday. Way better than last year. And the best I've ever felt.

That's it.

To know there's no way to be perfect should be calming. But sometimes it's not. Sometimes we feel so behind we don't know where to begin. It's not just ONE thing to get better at, it's ALL the things. And all at once.

First, don't worry. Just about everyone feels that way. Second, stop beating yourself up about what you can't do and start celebrating what you can. And third, before you practice snatches, pull-ups, toes-to-bar, and doubles all at once, take a look at the Big Five Checklist below. If simple adjustments with life-changing applications can be made anywhere, it's here.


Cut the electronics at least thirty minutes before bed. Meditate, read, take a cold shower — do whatever you have to get in bed and get the right amount of sleep for you.


The simplest way to eat well is to prepare early. Select two days a week (Sunday and Wednesday) as cooking days, and get ahead of the game. Or order from our friends at Fittest Kitchen. Either way, never get caught hungry.


It's far better to workout an hour each day than three hours every third day. Yet many of us cram missed sessions and motivation into one. When asked how he avoids writer's block and never feels stuck Hemingway said, "The best way is always to stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next."

The same applies to fitness. When the day is going great, take a break and come back eager for tomorrow.


Your body is a Formula One race car. But even the fastest car on the road makes pit-stops.

Instead of focusing on how much more you can sweat that the other guy, take a little me time. Grab a foam roller, go see the pit crew upstairs, arrive 10-minutes early and just move.


One of the simplest methods to improve physical well-being is to unplug mentally. That can be reading or drawing or meditating or more.

"Meditation is the only intentional, systematic human activity which at the bottom is about not trying to improve yourself or get anywhere else, but simply to realize where you already are," Jon Kabat-Zinn said in Wherever You Go, There You Are.

Whatever it is you do to truly unplug, do it often.

The Most Important Lesson About Food

The Most Important Lesson About Food

Jess was out of options.

She'd tried everything.

Except for CrossFit.

A bustling businesswoman with a history of failed workouts, Jess was as suspicious as they come; cartoonishly large, emerald eyes calculating her surroundings like a dog at the vet, and a posture that shouted more than she meant it to.

After a few back and forths, Jess committed. A month later, after struggling with gymnastics and falling in love with the barbell, she started seeing changes. But it wasn't easy.

Up top, Jess was ripped. But down low she was smooth. And she hated it. So much so that, when she finally saw what a few good workouts could do, she gave the whole diet thing a go.

We started by giving Jess a consistent eating plan. A set of meals she could choose to eat, and specific guidelines on when to eat them. And it worked.

Until it didn't.

Faster than anyone I've seen, Jess adapted to her meal plan, halting her progress like rush hour in LA. So what did we do? We changed it every two weeks, and the momentum kept right on going.

Today, Jess still follows the same rules, or she gets fat where she doesn't want to. That's just the way it is for her. And that's the point.

Until I met Jess all those years ago, I would've told you no one needed to switch plans that often. And before Rich Froning, I would've said no one could look or perform well while drinking a gallon of milk and eating a jar of Jif every day. But here we are.

The point isn't to get twisted-up about all the different ways to find diet success, it's to experiment and see what works for you. And I can guarantee you, whatever works for you, won't be what works for your friend, or the girl with the perfect booty, or the guy with awesome abs. It sounds cliche, but it's true; when it comes to food, everyone's different.