Thursday, May 29, 2014

Check Your Inferiority Complex At The Door, Please

Erin, you ignorant slut.
(I promised a friend that would be my opener.)

But in half-seriousness (because fuck all y'all for taking yourselves too seriously), social media has been abuzz of late with some severely anti-CrossFit articles, one most notably from Erin Simmons, who was picked up by HuffPo - the world's most reputable news source. The CrossFit community raged, with rebuttal post after rebuttal post, building the negative momentum. Then Mashable jumped on board, with an entertaining vignette of CrossFit fails.

I'm not going to waste words defending CrossFit, the community has taken care of that ad nauseam - Google it if you must. I'd simply like to request that everyone get over themselves. In the gym, an actual mantra of the overwhelming majority of CrossFitters is to "check your ego at the door." This simple philosophy actually helps prevent the image of piles of injured people crumbling into puddles of their own vomit that naysayers are tickled to paint for you. I'll say that some CrossFitters could stand to take this mentality into discourse and be more open to constructive, objective feedback about the new, still developing sport (That means "get over yourself" applies to you, too).

Speaking of getting over one's self, on a first read of Simmons blog (and of most similar visceral anti-CrossFit posts), my gut reaction was that she needed to "check her ego." After all, she opens with an anecdote about how she gazelled with her perfect machine of a body into a gym, pulled herself into a muscle-up and spent the next 20 minutes pointing and laughing at the other people attempting to do the same (that's how I imagine it, anyway).

Having thought on it some more, reading comments from her likeminded following, I've come to realize that they don't need to check their egos. They need to check their inferiority complexes. The ingroup/outgroup mentality that CrossFit  fosters earns it the reputation of family and cult, respectively. As the contra-culture becomes more mainstream (because it's not actually a cult and is welcoming to anyone), the fear of the unknown is drumming up in traditional athletes.

Are Simmons and those interested in health and fitness right to question the risks and rewards of and form opinions about a new sport? Absolutely. But writing off all participants as inexperienced, brainwashed bafoons begging for rhabdo represents something entirely different. It represents current or washed-up athletes terrified of an emerging, accessible sport producing tens of thousands of athletes who threaten their confidence in their own fitness. It's our human nature to fear what we don't know. Plain and simple.

So to Erin Simmons and many others out there who have written mostly identical attacks on CrossFit. I invite you to check your inferiority complex (and ego) at the door. You don't have to drink the Kool-Aid, but if you're going to keep writing the same uninformed crap, consider drinking a big glass of "shut-the-hell-up."

Monday, May 12, 2014

Bitches On The Knot Be Like...

Tra-la-la you're in happy wedding planning bliss. And like any reasonable person dumping hilarious sums of money into a wedding, you want to make sure you've got your bases covered. So naturally, you do what any good modern bride would do when you have questions and consult some forums. You find The Knot, as it usually rises to the top of your Google search, and that's when it happens. BAM. You just got bitch-slapped by bridezillas.

Let's say, for instance, you're in the early planning stages trying to find out the best way to have a large wedding party within a casual wedding setting:

Great. Now that these woman have established that you're a whore.  Let's move on, maybe with a more vanilla topic. You found this cool idea on Pinterest - what do they think?! 

Yeesh. OK - Point taken on Pinterest as the root of all evil, designed to lure brides down a path of improper etiquette, wedding train wrecks and certain death. But you could really use some advice about which honeymoon registry to choose. Maybe such a specific, harmless topic will illicit some actually constructive responses.

But don't worry guys, she's trying not to judge. She just thinks you're objectively lazy, entitled and tactless.

ENOUGH, ladies. Can't a gal get some solidarity? Maybe you should say something. Yes, let's suggest they could be more polite:

Woof. Who are these wretched excuses for human beings anyway? Well, based on the description of their community, many of them may not even be engaged yet. That's right, the psychotics planning their wedding with no partner in the picture. And suddenly the world becomes a little clearer. My advice to anyone seeking wedding advice is: It's your wedding, do whatever the Hell you want. And whatever you do, stay away from The Knot forums. Because bitches on The Knot be CRAZY.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Stages of Dieting Grief

During some downtime recently, basking in the post-consumption euphoria of a particularly amazing Chipotle burrito whilst also fighting the powerful urge to indulge in a double chocolate chip cookie dessert, I found myself pondering my relationship with food.

I had a revelation: My emotional process for dieting mirrors the psychological process for grieving. If I look back on my Whole Life Challenge experience or any other attempts to diet, for that matter, the phases are evident. As an example, let's take my thought process for said cookie that is lingering in my line of site for the entire time I am composing this post:


"I don't need to be on a diet. I'm not that fat and I workout a significant amount. Maybe I should just get the cookie. Look at it. It's scrumptious. Mmm. Cookie."


"Damn everything. Damn myself for pining for the cookie even though I'm not hungry. Damn society for making me feel like I need to diet. Damn Starbucks for stocking it. Damn Nestle Tollhouse for making the first chocolate chip cookie that was the domino to ruin so many lives."


"I mean, Chipotle was a realistically healthy dinner – I got the salad and used no dressing, cheese or sour cream. And really, although a large potion at once, it seemed like a very reasonable volume of food in the context of my intake for the day. I could probably afford the cookie...But wait, I'm getting drinks later and this cookie will cause me to forfeit a beer or two."


"This sucks. I really want that cookie and beer later. Why does it have to be one or the other? I'm going to miss out on all of it's chocolatey goodness. If only I had a little better self control, I wouldn't have eaten like crap all weekend and would be able to eat this cookie. And if I had much better self control I wouldn't have this debate with myself in the first place. And I wouldn't be such a fatty. I'm worthless. A fat, worthless, self-control lacking slob."


This stage is usually not afforded to me, and I proceed to eat all of the aforementioned feelings. When I do arrive at acceptance, it's begrudgingly: "Well, I guess I need to make the healthy decision (so I can drink beer later)."

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

CrossFit Gives No Fucks


I care a great deal about my CrossFit family and they care a great deal about me. Our coaches and athletes know each other by name, occupation, ability level and personal goals. It has changed my life permanently for the better. This post is not about that. This post is about CrossFit HQ. And how they give no fucks.

First, some background. CrossFit headquarters (HQ) owns the CrossFit brand and the CrossFit games and that's about it. Affiliates pay a very low cost registration fee and their coaches initially attend a weekend-long certification session. Once that happens, it's hands off, and affiliates more or less run autonomously. This low cost of entry for affiliates and increase in popularity among consumers has caused CrossFit as a sport to explode – A rapid growth spurt, if you will, leaving us with what I've often observed as an angsty adolescent in identity crisis. It doesn't know what is wants to be when it grows up. And it's not ready.

This scenario mostly plays out, loudly and clearly, when the community relies on it to act like the mature organization it's not, and the apathetic aftermath plays out in laughable, or sometimes deplorable communications. I submit to you 3 (of many) examples:

1) CrossFit for Hope

Outrage and disgust abounded when the organization tried to coordinate a new fundraising effort across all of its affiliates. They declared CrossFit for Hope would be an affiliate-wide event where participants all over the globe could perform the same workout on the same day and raise funds for St. Jude's Research hospital.

So what went wrong? Everyone can get behind helping sick kids, right? A promo poster of a slutty nurse pulling a wagon of grotesquely caricatured dying children, that's what:

The masses erupted. By the time I entertained blogging my own reaction, dozens existed accusing HQ of a gross misstep.

As a communicator, the appropriate PR strategy here would be to course correct - Acknowledge and amend. Their PR strategy looked more like this:

No, really, they basically told everyone to shove it:

2) The Reebok Hissy Fit

What happens when an inexperienced CrossFit HQ marketing team pairs with a once-popular athletic apparel company (and likely their very steeped, experienced agency) trying to freshen its outdated brand? CrossFit's brand gets owned. Literally. Clearly CrossFit HQ didn't understand the subtle nuances in the brand and logo architecture that Reebok initially created for the Reebok CrossFit Games. And then their Reebok CrossFit clothing line. Maybe you didn't either. But any experienced marketer could see that Reebok managed to make their brand the Masterbrand of CrossFit. It was really genius of Reebok, actually. Not to mention effective.

When CrossFit HQ finally figured this out, it was way too late. And I get the impression that their marketing people took a break from passing notes in study hall long enough to launch a social media attack.

After the social sphere discovered the hissy fit and called out HQ's social media people. What did they do? Gave no fucks:

“We have since hashed things out with Reebok and it worked out great. If you were late to the party and just want to know what everyone else is talking about, sorry. There is no reason to explain what you missed because it has been resolved and we are happy with the result.”

                                  -- Russell Berger, CFHQ

3) T&A

Last but certainly not least, let's not ignore the rampant, gratuitous sexism that often takes place on HQ's Facebook page and, of course, how little they care about it. The photos that CrossFit selects and the comments they allow to be posted in their community are a disgrace to their female athletes. For example:

Many have written about these disparaging practices of CrossFit HQ. Particularly following a provocative shot of athlete Talayna Fortunato climbing a rope in the 2013 Reebok CrossFit Games, the communities fired back. In response to the concern raised by their communities, CrossFit HQ responded exactly as expected – With great apathy. At best, they remain unchanging, neutral and unapologetic. At worst they are defensive and antagonistic.

So, to recap:

It's time for CrossFit HQ to understand that, where the brand is concerned, contrarian doesn't have to equal offensive or careless, and a little tact is never a bad thing. Simply put, it's time to grow up. And perhaps it's time to rethink their "Do Not Cross CrossFit" social media practices. It's time to give a fuck.

UPDATE: On June 4, 2014, HQ posted a video parodying Jesus as a "Cross"Fitter. Get it? Damn they're clever. Personally, I'm not offended. But their threepeat Fittest Man alive, Rich Fronig, who owns CrossFit Faith and is (annoyingly) vocal about his spiritual drive and commitment? He may think differently.

I presume they will go on without any regard for the implications to their brand until they badly lose a lawsuit. Otherwise their business model seems to allow CrossFitters, who identify most closely with their own, independently owned and operated gyms, to distance themselves from the atrocity of HQ. Good thing, because those CrossFitters input is falling on deaf ears.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Only 7 Wedding Planning Tips That Matter

So you just got engaged? Congratulations. Now take a seat. Some friends have requested that I write a wedding planning post to impart my new knowledge to future brides-to-be. Probably because my wedding was almost fully planned within two months of being engaged with zero drama.

So first thing's first...

1. Chill out

No really, chill the hell out. All 1,267 of your Facebook friends know how excited you are and that you've probably been dreaming of this moment for a long time. They have acknowledged it with a solid 48-72 hours of nonstop social media engagement and, frankly, are ready to move on. Even members of your family or bridal party, believe it or not, haven't penciled 24/7 wedding planning with you for the next 12 months into their calendars.

So realize you do have time to plan (assuming you've given yourself a standard 8-16 month engagement), craft a vision and be flexible in order to...

2. Keep your eye on the prize

What's your vision for your wedding? Is it to have small, intimate celebration of your new marriage? Is it to throw a giant party for your friends and family? Have it? Good. Now put that vision in the context of your budget and tell me how those particular exotic orchids you're demanding fit into it. For us, we decided that no one was going to leave our celebration and say "great party, but they forgot the chair covers." So we saved that expense and put it towards late night Lou Malnatis pizza, which was cheaper than chair covers and fit better with our vision.

This becomes much easier when you accept that fact that...

3. "The one" doesn't exist

Take a deep breath, you may not like this. There is no such thing as "the one" of anything. I promise, there is not the perfect flower that's going to make your wedding. There is not a single venue that you just have to have under all circumstances. And, contrary to what TLC will have you believe (yes, I'm going to say it) there is not just one wedding dress in the entire world that will look stunning on you walking down the aisle. "The one" only applies to the person you've chosen to marry. And at the end of the wedding, you will be married and have celebrated with those important to you, which is all that matters.

So, like I said, chill out and...

4. Be objective and flexible

Where does all of the money you're throwing into a wedding go? To creative people who are providing a service. From the caterer, to the florist, to planners, to DJs, their job is to understand your vision and deliver on it within budget. Plain and simple. By hiring them, you have put trust in their ability to deliver. So for goodness sake, let them. Instead of many specific requests, use adjectives that describe the tone you're trying to set like vintage, modern, fresh, classic, colorful. If you can force yourself to be flexible within your vision, you will avoid much stress and be able to plan more quickly.

This doesn't mean you can't have any specific requests. But make sure you know the implications on your bottom line and at least listen to recommendations from your vendors - They do this for a living. But at the end of the day...

5. It's your goddamn wedding

The best advice I received personally is that "Everyone will have an opinion, and they'll all suck." Yes, that's a little dramatic, but it's easy to forget that generally the only opinion that matters is your own. Everyone on The Knot thinks that honeymoon registries are tacky and viciously attacks those considering them in forums? (Seriously, those bitches are mean). Your Facebook "friend" thinks electronic RSVPs will reduce your event to that of a "backyard BBQ" (hmph.) People think your wedding party is too large or too small? Screw 'em. When they get married, they can do it however they want. This is your time and it should be however you want it.

But beware, bridezilla, because even though it is your goddamn wedding...

6. It's not actually all about you

I mean this specifically for the portion of planning that affects your wedding party. Don't cram their schedules so full that they can't enjoy your wedding experience. Let your bridesmaids provide input on the dress selections and give them options to discuss. For my bridesmaids, we went with my second favorite option, because it was their clear favorite and both ultimately fit with my vision. Be flexible and considerate.

But no matter how flexible you are during planning, it's extremely likely that...

7. Something will go wrong

When this happens, simply apply the previous six principles. There is no problem you won't be able to tackle if you exercise calmness, flexibility and courtesy, and remember the only thing that matters is celebrating with those you care about. At my cousin's wedding, someone forgot to set out the place cards, which we later learned really stressed out the newlyweds. But none of the guests caught the mishap, assumed it was open seating, and seated themselves for a lovely reception.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Morning Workouts

This is me working out in the morning.

5:30 AM - Alarm clock - "This is terrible make it stop"

6:30 AM - Commence workout - "Let's get this over with"

7:00 AM - Mid-workout - "OK, OK, not so bad"

7:30 AM - End workout - "This is great - I have the whole rest of they day ahead of me, will be at work early, can do whatever I want tonight"

8:30 AM - Arrive at work - "I'm invincible and better than anyone who has not worked out yet"

8:45 AM - Indulge in large breakfast(s) - "Got my reps in. I can eat as much as I want, bitches"

9:30 AM - Chugging coffee - "Oh, God I'm exhausted"

2:00 PM - Still chugging coffee, nodding off at desk - "Kill me"

Monday, January 27, 2014

Paleo Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed peppers aren't rocket science, but I've never attempted them before. I took a dish I cook often and simply used it as the stuffing to make it easy on myself, but really, you can stuff them with anything.

The results were delicious, but I'm not convinced it's worth the extra cook time to stuff the pepper. My ravenous, gluttonous self typically wouldn't have the patience to execute this on a day that I'm not barricaded inside my apartment for protection from the sad, frozen tundra that is Chicago. Nevertheless, I had the time to try it, so here it went:

  • 2 lbs of ground beef, grass fed, if you're going to be all snobby about it (like I was)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 jalapeƱos, only 1 seeded
  • 1 large tomato
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, diced into .5 cubes
  • 1 T minced garlic
  • 4 large green peppers, halve lengthwise and seeded
  • Coconut oil
  • Sea salt
  • Seasoning salt
  • Black pepper 

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In one large saucepan over medium heat, combine 1 T coconut oil, ground beef, onion, jalapeƱo, seasoning salt and pepper to taste (I probably used 1 T seasoning and 1/2 T pepper). Stir as beef browns.
  • When beef is almost finished browning, add the diced tomato and cook an additional 3-5 min. 
  • Drain pan when finished.
  • Meanwhile in second large saucepan over medium heat combine 2 T coconut oil, sweet potatoes, garlic and sea salt and pepper to taste. Stir occassionally until potatoes are tender.
  • In a large bowl or into one of the saucepans, if large enough, combine contents of both pans and stir well. **(see note at bottom for alternative)
  • Place pepper halves in large microwave safe dish with approximately 1 cup of water. Cover and microwave on high for 3-5 minutes.
  • Arranged pepper halves on cookie sheet and spoon stuffing mixture into each until brimming.
  • Bake for 30-40 min.
  • Allow to cool and serve with salsa, guacamole or your condiment of choice.
**Note: The "stuffing" by itself without the peppers makes a tastey, fairly quick dish that we've eaten many a night coming back from working out and ready to eat like we'd never eat again. For a twist, you can also add a can of tomato sauce into the final mixture and simmer covered for 10 min.

Berka Crocker

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Open Letter to Ventra

Having been in a community manager role for a Fortune 50 insurer for a few years, I've seen some really angry people. The "Hurricane Katrina, annihilated my home and all my worldly possessions and you refuse to pay my claims" kind of angry. Trust me - That's really angry. In managing these communities, I told myself I wouldn't be the person who "likes" an organization's Facebook page simply to complain and troll. Then along came Ventra. You have been "liked." And this is for you.

Cubic Transportation Systems, the CTA's contractor for Ventra, boasts the line "Intelligent Travel Made Real." What a lofty selling proposition from our good friends in San Diego. What's "real" in San Diego?
What is real is that you really need to address all of these issues and more. Really quickly.
Meanwhile, in Ventraland, I liked the Facebook page to find the angriest people I've ever seen. Louder, believe it or not, than "lost all worldly possessions" angry. Irate paying customers voice their service issues or, in many cases, outright rage on deaf ears (eyes?). Ventra used to occasionally respond, but they've since given up, posting happy updates and refusing to acknowledge the pervasive issues:

There is also an app and several Facebook pages and Twitter accounts dedicated to the Ventra failure. And let's not forget the many, many halloween costumes last fall. Do you know what it takes for skanky ladies traipsing around Wrigleyville to dress up in a cardboard box with stiletto heals instead of slutty Little Miss Muppet? Blind anger. That's what.

That is not me. I was a slutty American Gladiator,
who had happily not yet transferred to Ventra.