Stepping my Fruit and Veggie Game Up

Being a gym owner many people think I must be some kind of hardcore health fanatic. While I greatly value health and fitness, I am anything but perfect when it comes to eating (or my fitness for that matter!). I have a wicked sweet tooth, enjoy all kinds of adult beverages, and am partial to salt and vinegar chips. For the most part, I can keep these to a moderate enough level that my indulgences aren’t especially detrimental to feeling pretty good. When I do go a bit overboard, my body is quick to let me know and I feel sluggish and unmotivated.

For about the past week I have been crushing fruits and veggies. It’s common knowledge that you should be regularly eating a variety of fruits and veggies, but it seems like very few people actually do. I’m not going to go into all the benefits, but if you want more info check out the articles linked below.  While I have always eaten some fruit and veggies, I have definitely lacked in the variety department and consumption has not been a priority. After seeing several posts about eating 10 shades a day on a blog I follow (OPEX Fitness), I decided it was time to step my game up. So far it’s been way easier than I thought it would be. Liz has been on board as well so each evening we check in and tell each other what we ate that day.

In the past I’ve done the Whole 30 or various paleo challenges and they have helped me dial in my eating and feel really good. But they have all had a specific timeline, and when I finished I would eventually revert back to old habits that included not having much of a plan or consistency with my nutrition. I learned a lot by doing these challenges, but this time around I wanted to see if I could create a long-term habit rather than more of a temporary reset. I liked that instead of having to eliminate a bunch of foods I could simply focus on adding something nutritious.

This was my lunch yesterday. It was fantastic!


My daily game plan to get 10 shades in:

  • Morning Smoothie (6 shades): 1 scoop of Driven Whey, a handful of Antioxidant Blend Frozen Berries (from Costco, it has 5 types of berries), a handful of spinach, and water. This takes me about 1 minute to make and is delicious.
  • Late Breakfast/early lunch (4-5 shades): 2 eggs, bacon, piece of toast, mixed green lettuce mix, carrots, purple cabbage. Sometimes I will sub bell peppers for carrots or cabbage or add tomatos or avocado to the mix.
  • Dinner (2-5 shades): Usually some type of meat or fish with a couple veggies on the side: Roasted potato or sweet potato, broccoli, brussel sprouts, bell peppers etc. If I don’t have the smoothie in the morning I will add some more veggies at dinner.

So far I haven’t had any issues getting 10 in and plan on continuing indefinitely. I have found there are a couple keys to my success:

1) Buy enough fruits and veggies. Pretty simple but if they aren’t readily available what are the chances you will eat them?

2) Get a large variety in one meal. With a smoothie or a salad you can easily add a bunch in one go. Likewise if you are roasting or sauteing. Just chop more up than you might normally and throw them in.

3) Don’t be overly concerned with serving size. I’m not going to try to game the system by eating one baby carrot and counting it but I’m also not weighing and measuring everything either.

Here are a couple articles on why it’s important to get your fruits and veggies in.

If you don’t like vegetables here is a great article explaining why and giving you a method to make them more enjoyable or tolerable depending on your outlook.

I’ve got a few more nutrition habits I will be implementing in the months to come but want to make sure I have this one fully dialed in first. If you are reading this and ready to give it a go yourself shoot me an email and let me know ( I’m always more motivated when I’ve got some buddies around.:)

8 things I’ve learned after participating in 8 CrossFit Opens

1) I’m not going to the CrossFit Games.  I know it’s shocking. Early on though I thought I might be able to. The first couple years not a lot of people were participating in the Open so it didn’t seem that far off. I told myself if I can get better at x, y and z, I will have a shot. While I did get better at x, y and z, I only got further and further away as more people and higher level athletes started participating. For me to have a chance I would have to add about 100lbs to every lift and improve my conditioning by a huge amount. No matter how much I train this is not going to happen, so my focus for the Open is to have fun myself and make sure everyone at the gym has a great time too. So unless I go as a spectator I will not be going to the Games.

2) Be well fed and rested. In the first Open workout last year I was planning on doing the workout at about 3:30pm and had timed my meals accordingly. A few things got in my way and I didn’t end up going until the last heat of the night at around 8pm. I hadn’t eaten since about noon, so this was a very bad idea. About two minutes into what turned into a 19 minute workout I felt really weak and terrible. Lesson learned. For the rest of last year’s Open workouts and all of this year’s I made sure my eating was timed right. If something had thrown it off, I likely would have pulled the plug and done the workout at a different time.

3) Constantly watching the leaderboard is a terrible waste of time. Checking your ranking every couple hours after you submit your score and researching your “leaderboard rivals” can be entertaining but in the end usually just makes you feel worse about yourself. I used to do this every week and by the end of the Open I would be more worried about what score I got relative to others rather than going for it and having fun. If you gave your best effort you should feel really good about that and avoid deriving value about yourself from how anyone else performs.

4) Watching strategy videos is generally a waste of time. All the strategy videos out there are geared towards athletes essentially trying to make Regionals. None of these strategies apply to me because I’m not capable of doing what they say for the entire workout. Here is my simple strategy for every workout: Get a good warm-up, organize your equipment nicely and don’t go too fast at the start.

5) Use the correct weights. Personally I’ve never had an issue here but we had this happen a few times this year. Even a couple coaches made this mistake, ahem… Katie, Andie:) I will definitely triple check what weights I’m using so I don’t have to redo any workouts.

6) Judging is really fun. In the past I haven’t judged that much because I was focused on organizing the heats, running the clock, and making sure everyone had all their equipment set up. This year Jessie stepped up taking on those tasks. This freed me up to be a judge and it was awesome. I had a ton of fun helping people stay focused, giving some coaching tips, and pushing them to keep moving all the way to the end of the workout.

7) I’m terrible at handstand push-ups. I can do some good ones but burn out really quickly and it turns into me staring at the wall for long periods of time during the workout. The recipe to getting better at them isn’t more handstand push-ups in workouts. Practicing them while not under fatigue and gradually build up the volume of reps I do, is a much better strategy. This goes for any movement or skill development. If you struggle with double unders it is really hard to get better at them during a workout with a bunch of burpees and kettlebell swings. Carving out some time to practice without worrying about the clock or having a heart rate through the roof is a much smarter approach.

8) Lower your expectations (or don’t have any). There is a psychology formula: happiness = reality/expectations. So if you set an expectation of a certain score and in reality you don’t reach it your happiness will decrease. The opposite is also true, if your reality exceeds your expectations you will increase your happiness. Say person A thinks they can get a certain number of rounds but fall short and are upset afterward. Person B is a bit scared of the weight in the workout and thinks they won’t do very well but is able to get several more reps than they thought possible and is ecstatic. Did person A not work as hard and be disappointed? I would bet Person A just set their expectations too high. I used to calculate out how fast I thought I could go each round and what final score I could get. At some stage during the workout I would realize that wasn’t going to happen and start to feel disappointed even during the workout. Not a recipe for feeling good about myself. Now I try to keep my expectations to a minimum and focus on performing my best in the moment.  And that has led, you guessed it, to greater happiness after each workout and overall about the Open.


If you participated in the Open this year or years past I would love to hear what lessons you’ve learned! Let us know in the comments!



Are you ready for the Holidays??


It always feels like the end of the year is a mad rush. Between working, Christmas shopping, holiday parties, and organizing travel arrangements or hosting family, everything seems to be happening at once. At this time of year it is pretty easy to let things slide fitness wise. Fill out the form below to get our Holiday Readiness Quiz. See how you stack up and get some excellent ideas on how to navigate this holiday season and keep your health and fitness on track.

What the Heck is Heart Rate Variability??


There are so many things that you could track in the health and wellness industry. What’s the new superfood? What’s the best way to get abs fast? The best diets, and exercises to stay young, lean and fit. But how do you know when something is actually worth reading about? To be honest, I don’t know the answer to that. It definitely has a lot to do with what you’re interested in. For example, do you like to know about nutrition? Then you should read about the latest superfood and make up your own mind. All that being said, I’m sure all of us are interested in keeping ourselves in shape, otherwise you wouldn’t enjoy working out at 5VCF. While many of you may not be super interested in tracking anything to do with your workouts, there are certain things you can do to maximize your results in the gym, that don’t require food or workout logs. This post is going to highlight one thing in particular, clue the title of this post gave it away 🙂

I’m talking about heart rate variability (HRV). This is a test that is done to see how variable or changeable your heart rate and rhythm is. Why is this important? Well, the research shows that the more variable your heart is, the more adaptable you are to stress. When we are adaptable to stress we are less likely to break down and get sick or hurt ourselves doing something inane. Athletes are using this technology as a way to monitor whether they are over training. When their HRV decreases, it means that their body is becoming overwhelmed and needs rest and recovery. The cool thing is that it isn’t limited to and for elite level athletes. It’s something you and I can test. There are apps out there that you can use, coupled with a heart rate monitor that will test this for you. Talk about hacking your health. This goes far beyond listening to your body’s cues, you have tangible evidence of when your body needs a break. Pretty cool, huh?

I use this technology in my Chiropractic office because of the objective data it gives. The research also shows that a Chiropractic adjustment improves your HRV, making you more adaptable to your daily stressors. Before you go out and purchase your own system, I’m going to bring it to you! On Tuesday Nov 7th, I’ll be at the gym from 3:30pm onwards, and you’ll be able to test your HRV. Ideally, this will be before you workout. It takes about 3 mins for the actual scan and then we will go over the results, so let’s say a total of 6 mins. Not long in the scheme of things but it could completely change how you approach the upcoming workout. From today onwards there will be a sign-up sheet outside Ian’s office, so we can maximize your time. If you usually workout in the morning feel free to come by just to get scanned as see what your HRV is up to!

Dr. Liz Marshall – Chiropractor

Member Success Story – John Heaney

A big shout out to member John Heaney! John has been attending 5 Valleys for 2 years now and has seen steady improvements in his strength and fitness. He has been very consistent with his workouts during that time and recently decided it was time to step up his nutrition game as well.

Through his work he has a regular wellness check-up and his cholesterol levels were high enough that they were recommending he start taking statins to lower those levels. Not wanting to take medication the rest of his life John decided to hold off and see what he could do on his own.

Taking part in a 6 week Challenge at the gym John made some adjustments and was diligent with his nutrition. The results of his hard work speak for themselves. John dropped 17lbs!!, lost 3 inches around his waist, improved on his before and after fitness test, and at his most recent wellness check-up his cholesterol levels were back down in the normal range! He did all this while continuing to hit new strength PRs!

He didn’t stress out, count every single calorie, and only eat chicken and broccoli the whole time either. What he did do was:
-Cut out diet sodas
-Made a point to eat vegetables every day
-Lowered his carb intake by eating more protein and fat and getting his carbs from quality vegetable sources
-Allowed himself an indulgent “cheat” meal once per week so he didn’t like he was depriving himself

We all know combing solid nutrition with exercise plays a huge roll in feeling good, looking good and performing your best. It starts with identifying some habits that are holding you back and creating new habits that help you move forward.

Keep up the awesome work John!!

You Don’t Know, What You Don’t Know

Ever realized that you didn’t know something, that you didn’t even have knowledge of a certain fact, until you learnt it wasn’t even in your wheelhouse of knowledge? Yep, that was me the other week when I spent 4 days in Venice Beach, CA for a seminar. It got me thinking about the fear and hesitation we see in new clients coming into the gym. The unknown freaks them out. For those that take the step into the alien world that is a CrossFit gym, they realize that there isn’t anything to actually fear, just a whole lot of learning.

Stepping out of your comfort zone is where growth happens as an athlete, but more importantly, as a human. The learning curve in the gym probably pales into significance when compared to other areas of your life. But it can serve as a stepping stone to being more brave and to take on new challenges. We need to work the bravery muscle, strengthen it, and train it so when the time comes to really go for what we want, there is no option but to do it.

What have you been meaning to try in the gym, but haven’t quite worked up the courage to do yet? Maybe it’s kicking up into a handstand. Or really dropping under the bar when snatching. Whatever it is, on the other side of fear, is a sense of accomplishment. Whether you achieved what you set out to do, the very act of pushing through the unknown and uncertainty is an accomplishment. This upcoming week, I encourage you to try something new. You never know, you might just surprise yourself.

Dr. Liz Marshall – Chiropractor

Member Highlight – Sara


Massive shout out to member Sara Markuson who took 2nd place in the MT Women’s Triathlon in Helena! A competitive triathlete when she came to 5 Valleys she had been forced to reduce her normal training due to some ongoing IT band problems. She has been working hard at the gym while being smart about her triathlon training so as not to overdo it. It looks like it is paying off!

Here is what she had to say:

“While you guys were crushing it at your hosted comp, I was competing in Helena. I just wanted to let you know that I believe the overall fitness I’ve gained from CrossFit assisted me in taking 2nd place overall at the MT Women’s Triathlon in Helena over the weekend. As you know, the issues I’ve had with my IT bands has limited my ability to train at the level of intensity I usually would. I wasn’t sure how my race would go because of the reduction in my regular training. I executed a solid race, and attribute much of my success this weekend to the strength gains I’ve made in the gym. You have a stellar team of coaches and I have learned an immense amount from my time at 5 Valleys.”

Way to go Sara!!!

We love hearing stories from members about how their training at 5 Valleys helps them outside the gym. If you are out there using your fitness let us know so we can share your story and inspire others to go get after it! Just email me at

Is Posture Actually All That?

Most people know the importance of posture. As kids we are told to stand up straight and to sit up in our chairs, and finally as adults we set up our workstations to be in the most ergonomic position to sit still for up to 8+ hours per day (obviously depending on our jobs). I also think that while most know that posture is important they may underestimate just how important it is to nearly every system in our body. As an athlete, your posture can make or break your success in the gym. Check out how below!

Your posture is the best external representation of how your nervous system is functioning. You live in your body 24/7, there are no lunch breaks, timeouts or holidays. It may sound obvious but poor posture in the gym can be the cause of injury and nobody likes or wants to be injured! Rounded shoulders, forward head posture and a tucked tailbone all indicate simultaneously muscles that are working too hard and other muscles that are switched off and not firing. This leads to compensation in other muscles that are not designed to take certain loads and subsequent injury. You always hear the coaches emphasizing good form, but great technique starts outside the gym. The key to this is great posture because it means our bones are aligned, your muscles, ligaments and tendons are working efficiently and they are as balanced as possible.

That dreaded poor posture not only wreaks havoc on increasing the risk of injury but it could actually be hindering your progress. Unfortunately, as we become more reliant and addicted to technology, we live our life in a forward head position with rounded shoulders. This body position is so prevalent that it has a name ‘text neck’. But how can it hinder your progress in the gym, I hear you ask? Well as your body adapts to this new way of living it impacts the way your internal organs function, especially your diaphragm. This muscle is pretty important when it comes to breathing. I don’t know about you but I do some pretty heavy breathing (gulping of air!) during a workout. If your diaphragm is unable to work to full capacity, you don’t take in enough oxygen, which then impacts the muscles as they become deprived and finally this leads to a smaller adaptation of the body for improved fitness. There are a whole host of other repercussions that occur when the diaphragm is hindered, but it would make for an essay rather than a blog post so I will refrain, but one of them is pelvic floor issues (you know the ones that nobody really likes to talk about).This ‘text neck’ posture can also effect other internal functions such as digestion, elimination, energy levels and mood.

So I would say that how you hold yourself has been taken to a whole new level of importance. As a Chiropractor I work with improving posture on a daily basis. Next week I will be available in the gym to check out your posture and discuss any other concerns you may have about your health. On Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday I will be there from 4:45pm to 6:45pm. You can have your posture photos taken and emailed to you and if needed we can create a plan to overcome any postural abnormalities you are having. This is free to all – including friends or family members that don’t workout at 5VCF. I hope you take advantage of me and I will see you next week!

Dr. Liz Marshall – Chiropractor

Could You Run 1 Mile Per Day?

Some of you may know but I spent every day last year running one mile per day. I can’t remember my motivation for setting this ginormous goal, but I did it. I have a couple of things that I learnt that I wanted to share with you, but before I do that let me give you some background. I’m not a runner. I have forced myself to run at times in my life but getting out the door and starting a run has always been the hardest part. Generally, once I get going I like being outside and moving, but I never liked that part so much that it would negate the negativity I felt about actually leaving the house. I have also run a couple of half marathons, so I obviously don’t have a burning hatred for running that many do. Running is just not something that I would pick as my exercise of choice.

That being said, last winter I decided to run one mile per day. I had no goals surrounding it other than to complete the run every day. And I did. Looking back it’s hard to imagine that I didn’t skip a day somewhere, but I am positive that for 366 days (it was a leap year last year) I ran at least one solitary mile. I ran in snow storms, rain, sunshine, on a treadmill, late at night and early in the morning. No matter what my circumstance that day whether I was traveling or had a full day of commitments I got my mile in. This was the first thing that I learned. Committing to yourself and your health practices doesn’t take much. This goal took up on average 10 minutes per day. Everyone has 10 minutes per day to spend on themselves. I don’t care if you have kids, travel for work, or work night shift. Making a healthier version of yourself is always possible. One mile recently stands out. I hadn’t planned my day very well and I got home from work after 7:30pm in the winter, so it was pitch black, oh and it was also about -6℉. I was tired and hungry, but I knew I had to run, so I did. Was it pleasant? Nope, not one bit. Was I glad that I went? Yep. I felt the day melt away and a sense of accomplishment. It was a pretty great way to end the day.

It’s funny how as adults we forget that what we repeatedly do we become better at. My running significantly improved. By significantly improved I mean that I got faster… way faster. Let me give you some context. I played Division 1 collegiate sports. My senior year before the season started we had to do a mile time trial. I can’t remember exactly what my time was but it was well over 8 minutes. I was a tennis player so obviously I wasn’t in training to run fast mile times, but it would be safe to assume that breaking an 8 minute pace should be a piece of cake. When I started running last year, I probably started out at an 11 minute pace, it was icy and cold and all I was trying to do was get the thing done. After about 3 months my pace improved to around 9 minutes, then 8 minutes. I could comfortably run an 8 minute mile with no warm-up and barely be out of breath. Then in July I decided to test my mile time. I ran a 6:19! Without any conscious training on my behalf I had improved my time by a crazy amount.

This lesson can be translated to anything we do in our life. If we set our mind to learning something new or committing to our health and really sticking to the plan, what can we achieve? The possibilities are endless. Too often, we give up when things get too hard or we set goals that we don’t go all in on and then wonder why we don’t achieve them. What if a baby that was learning to walk gave up after the first or second time they fell down? Creating change especially for ourselves is hard, but it is oh so worth it. In the end the biggest lesson I learnt was that consistent action towards any given task will give you results that you never thought possible. Also that 366 miles is the equivalent of running from Missoula to Boise, ID.

Dr. Liz Marshall – Chiropractor

Why A Plateau Could Be The Best Thing Yet

I am sure you have all heard of the dreaded plateau in regards to your fitness goals. In my mind it’s important to realize that although nobody wants to be stuck in a plateau it can actually be a good thing. A plateau happens when your body has conformed to the stimulus and there is no adaptation (or very little) left for growth. While I am going to talk about this in relation to your strength and conditioning in the gym, bear in mind that it can happen in any part of your life – relationships, careers/businesses, and spiritual growth.

We have all been (or are currently) at the start of our CrossFit journey and everyday in the gym brings about a new PR. It’s exciting and leaves you wanting more! No matter if you have previously in the gym, starting CrossFit with a consistent effort will start to yield gains in both strength and fitness on what seems to be an exponential level. You feel unstoppable and invincible. If you started with a few (or many) pounds to lose, weight starts to melt off and you’re feeling incredible. Then without any warning… you hit a wall, a plateau that stalls your progress. It can be very defeating and cause a lack of motivation to keep working hard towards your goals. This is completely counterintuitive but many people at this stage let the defeatist attitude and decrease motivation win, and their consistency wanes or they stop completely. What does this leave us with? Regression and a feeling of frustration.

Woah, nothing about that is a good thing. Lucky there is always another side to the story and here is why a plateau could be the best thing yet. When you stop progressing it is a wake up call to you (and your coach) that something needs to be changed. When you first started CrossFit, it was new not only to your mind but your body. The stimulus was completely different to what you had been doing whether that was running, lifting traditionally, or nothing. This plateau you are in means that your body is working as it should. We are always striving for homeostasis otherwise known as balance. Homeostasis isn’t where gains are made. It’s when we are out of balance, stretching outside our comfort zone, that we see the greatest changes. If your goal is to lose weight then being consistently in a hypocaloric state will help you get there. If your goal is to increase cardiovascular fitness then pushing into a feeling of uncomfortableness will help get you there. Whatever your goal, achievement will occur at the outer edges of our comfort zones.

If you’re plateauing in a gym where you have no control over the programming what can you do? Well first of all be clear on your goal. Do you want to gain strength or increase fitness? Are you looking to lose weight or gain muscle? If your goals a predominantly strength based increasing your weights is the obvious answer. But, you can also increase the weight used for the conditioning portion. You may have to check your ego at the door, because you will be going slower than usual. The inverse can be used if an increase in fitness is the goal, lighter weight means you can move faster and subsequently get your heart rate higher for a more sustained period of time. Secondly, we can look at your nutrition. Is the food you are consuming supporting these goals? And lastly is the training frequency congruent with everything else going on in your life? It’s really hard to get the most out of your body when you’re not sleeping, work stress is overwhelming and you’re fighting with your significant other. Sometimes the best thing to do, is to do less. This may sound counterintuitive but high intensity exercise is stressful on the body, and when it’s being added onto uncontrolled high stress situations it will do more harm than good.

Plateau’s can be a good thing. They bring awareness for change, whether that be ramping up or down in weights, speed, intensity or frequency. If you feel like you’re stuck in a plateau and need help, don’t hesitate to ask for it. I’m pretty sure all the coaches have been there at some point and can get you out of the rut that you’re currently in. Because the alternative will definitely not get you to any of your goals.

”When you hit a plateau you have to be willing to get a little bit worse before you get massively better.” ~Tony Robbins

Dr. Liz Marshall – Chiropractor