CFDV Amplify! Nutrition Fall Challenge Winner: Andrew Dougherty

What was the deciding factor in your decision to participate in the Amplify! 28-day Nutrition Challenge?


The deciding factor would be my inability to lose weight. I couldn’t drop pounds like when I was younger.

What were some of the habits you changed during the challenge?

Everything changed with my eating habit! It turns out I knew nothing about nutrition. Small meals every 3 hours makes it easy.

How did changing those habits affect your performance in the gym during the challenge?

Performance in the gym through habit change is a just a bonus. The bigger picture is quality of life.

What is the biggest take-away from working on your nutrition for those 28 days?

Biggest take away - knowledge and a desire to learn more about nutrition.

You are now doing ongoing nutrition counseling with a customized meal plan to help you reach your goals. What are some of those goals?

My first priority is weight loss. After that it will be management and strength gain. I'm looking forward to bulking (don't think that is right word?). Considering how effective it has been losing, I’m excited about gains.

Transformation Tuesday - Abbey Rosenfeld

Is it really a ‘transformation’ if you were already in great shape? It sure is! At DelVal, we want to help meet our client’s goal, no matter how fine those goals are or how far they want to take their fitness. This week’s Transformation Tuesday is all about Abbey and her constant drive towards Elite Fitness.

By most standards, you were already in great shape. What made you want to pursue Nutrition this time around?

I participated in Jacki’s Amplify! Challenge two times before and noticed a big difference after each one. Of course, after the first time, cutting out alcohol was huge for me (and EXTREMELY difficult - the liquor store was my old happy place). However, I distinctly remember feeling so great due to not being hung over and having so much more energy at home and at the gym. I saw improvements in conditioning workouts but not necessarily for my strength movements. The second challenge was more dialing the nutrition back because I am only human and sometimes life just gets in the way. I continued to eat the way that the challenge suggested following the six week rules.

Then, this time around, I will be honest, the marketing got me with the idea of something new. I wanted to see results again. I was chasing that initial high. I wanted to rest less during metcons and actually wanted to start getting stronger. Lifting heavy weights, as many of you know, is not my thing. That said, I’m really starting to like it.

Jacki recommended that you eat more carbohydrate than you were used to. How did you approach this advice? How did it work?

I said “What you talkin ‘bout Willis?!” You just told me to only eat one starch a day and only around a workout. And this meant a good starch, like a banana or sweet potato. And now, after looking at the meal plan this time around, you want me to eat a starch/carb with every meal, and they’re things like oatmeal and rice cakes and protein pancakes? I was super critical and worried that I would gain weight. While I was on the ‘performance plan’ to gain muscle and strength, it was a very fine line for me because I felt as though I worked so hard to lose and tighten. I met with both Jacki and Rob a few times and they told me to trust the process. Of course, they were right. After the first week, I lost 4 pounds. I stuck with it. See, if you didn’t already know, I’m a rule follower and just a bit competitive. So there was no quit in me. I completed the challenge and got the desired results. Even now after the challenge I still follow the meal plan and tweaked my eating patterns. While it takes more food prep and planning, I am not as hungry as I was before. The starches/carbs are fueling my body with more energy and enabling me to put more into lifting and getting stronger. CFDV is now my happy place!

Did you see any performance drop-offs with regards to the challenge? How about for strength?

Drop-offs? Not really. At times when I felt like I didn’t eat right or ate too much right before a workout I felt as though I was slower or more winded. It really makes a difference. Without sounding too cheesy, what you put in is what you get out. This is really true across the board! As for strength, I feel stronger now than I ever have. I’m lifting more weight than I ever have. I’ve learned with this new Amplify! how to tailor my diet even more with the re-introduction of the proper starches and protein and the timing of when to eat them. I am taking Recovery after workouts, fish oil on a regular basis, and drinking 80 ounces of water per day. That said, it is all about consistency and finding what works for you. Seeing other people in the gym kill it is a great motivator for me to continue to push harder - a good form of competition.

Any advice to others looking to sort out their nutrition?

Do it! There will never be a good time. Just make a commitment and go for it! Keep a log and write down everything that you eat and drink. It sounds silly but it works. Get someone to hold you accountable and a buddy to do it with. I am so grateful to have Jacki in my corner to hold me accountable and Carl as not only my nutrition buddy but my partner for life. If you are looking to sort out your nutrition, I would strongly suggest setting up a meeting with Jacki. She’s the best! #donttelljacki ;)

The Goat WOD

Within the past four weeks, we’ve run the ‘Goat WOD’ as one of our daily workouts, twice. The format for this session is simple: Pick two ‘Goats’ (movements you struggle with or don’t have yet) and alternate them across a 20-minute clock. The intent is to refine or gain new skill in an area that needs work, so that when you return to the gym, you’re able to do more (or to be more efficient).

You won’t find this kind of workout at other gyms. That’s because most fitness programs are set up around the concept of EXERCISE, which is physical activity done for it’s own sake. At CFDV, we don’t ‘exercise’ (well, maybe during Bootcamp we do!).. We TRAIN, which is physical activity performed for the purpose of satisfying a long-term goal.

If your long-term goal is to develop a broad base of physical capabilities, then you need to work your Goats. You need to acquire the skills that allow workouts to become challenging, and to take meaning.

A quick example of this in practice is the difference between two athletes doing the benchmark workout ‘Fran’. The athlete performing full kipping pull-ups is the one that’s on the floor at the end of the session! The athlete who did ring rows worked hard, but the effort delivered is simply no match for the kips. To be clear - I’m not trying to shame anyone here.. But unless the athlete with the ring rows is ACTIVELY SEEKING kipping pull-ups (and eventually gains them), then the long-term results will be a fraction of what they could be.

Take a look at the pyramid to the right. This is Greg Glassman’s ‘Theoretical Development of an Athlete’ and it serves as a great model for your road map in CrossFit.

First, work on your nutrition. Provide yourself with quality fuel, reduce your chances of chronic disease and get your body composition in line with your genetic blueprint (i.e. lose the extra pounds).

Second, develop your lungs. Gain or improve the ability to run, row and bike. Develop your metabolic engine so you can do work, for a sustained period.

Third, develop body control. Start with the basics: squats, pushups and chins. Progress to box jumps, pistols, handstands and then to levers and muscle-ups. Have confidence moving your body.

Fourth, get strong. Develop and improve your deadlift, squat and press. Clean and jerk your bodyweight. Work unilaterally and bilaterally, across a wide range of equipment.

Finally, put it all together in your ‘sport’. Yours might be basketball, soccer or hockey. Or maybe it’s CrossFit or lifting competitions. Or, it could be that your sport is keeping up with your kids in the backyard or taking long walks with your dog. Regardless of the goal, the approach (i.e. CrossFit) will improve or enhance your execution of any physical activity.

Back to the Goat WOD.. This is your opportunity to work on the things that make this pyramid wider and taller. How much quicker will you achieve your goal if you have better conditioning? Maybe you can use running, or burpees, or rowing during the Goat WOD, as one of the two movements..? How about gymnastics? Practice kipping, or toes-to-bar, or air squats. Need strength? Throw in a heavy clean or squat. The choice is yours!! When choosing movements, think strategically about your current abilities and how they line up with the long-term goal. Attacking the weaknesses will deliver a greater return than if you chose to reinforce your strengths. And work with your coach. They see you all the time and can help you decide on what to prioritize. You joined our gym because you wanted great coaching - take advantage of it!

Kelly Tobin (longtime Early Bird CFDV athlete) said this about CrossFit: ‘CrossFit is a lot more fun when you’re good at it’. I think this quote directly underscores why the Goat WOD is a staple in our gym. The workout makes you improve what you suck at. And it’s ok, because we all suck at something!

Transformation Tuesday - Kathy Molloy

All of our transformation stories are special, because each one is unique and intensely personal. There are many paths to success, but all involve self-discovery, hard work and consistency.

Kathy Molloy has been a member at CrossFit DelVal for over four years (and before that for several years at another high-intensity gym). Recently, she had a ‘moment-of-truth’ where she realized that she had allowed several key lifestyle habits to back slide. Kathy decided to join our Amplify! Nutrition Fall Reboot challenge and improve her eating habits, for four weeks.

The results were immediate and noticeable: Kathy lost 11 lbs (14 on the gym scale!) and 4.5 points on the BMI scale. All in FOUR WEEKS. This, folks, is tremendous progress.

I sat down with Kathy and asked her a few questions about her journey:

What have you done differently over the past month?

Over the summer I felt I was going through the motions but with no intensity at the gym plus eating and drinking whatever I wanted. When I decided to get my head into it I made small changes at first, cleaned up my eating for a couple of weeks. Then I started Amplify with Jacki and decided to go ‘full on’ for 28 days and see if I could see a visible difference. I ate clealyn and added extra workouts with the "big kids" after the 630am class. Within a week I was feeling a difference!

How did you get ‘re-motivated’ to work on nutrition?

When I got back from Nashville in August I was horrified when I stepped on the scale, and that was it! And honestly I didn’t need to step on the scale, I was constantly feeling bloated.

Any tips and tricks you learned that others might find useful?

I have found, for me, I need to keep certain things in my diet or I feel "deprived" and then I have an easier time quitting. A small amount of milk in my morning tea, a diet coke a couple of times a week if I really wanted one (down from 7-8/day so that’s not bad). I moved the couple of “junk food” items I have to my pantry in my basement so I have to make a concerted effort to “cheat”.

Congratulations, Kathy! I hope your story is inspiring to all of our athletes, especially those experienced folks who are ‘going through the motions’. It’s never too late to clean up your nutrition!

Heavy-Light-Medium for Strength Gains

Our Barbell Club coaches are often asked to program custom strength workouts for our athletes, as many people need to get stronger for CrossFit. Many of these athletes are no longer ‘novices’ in the traditional sense, so we have to get creative. Heavy-Light-Medium is a training methodology that you can use to get additional strength gains for a considerable amount of time!

First, let’s define what a ‘novice’ trainee is and how he or she should approach training. A novice trainee is defined by their ability to recover and adapt between each session. So, if that trainee squats on Monday, he or she can recover and add more weight to the bar on Wednesday, and again on Friday. This is a GREAT time in an athletes training cycle, because they PR each and every session! But like all good things, novices gains will eventually slow and the trainee will need to ‘graduate’ to something more nuanced.

For novice barbell trainees, we recommend a linear progression (LP) program like Starting Strength, which uses progressively heavier weights each session to drive results. An example of this program in action (squats only) would look something like this:

Monday - Back Squat three sets of five reps @ 150lbs
Wednesday - Back Squat three sets of five reps @ 155lbs
Friday - Back Squat three sets of five reps @ 160lbs

We repeat this pattern until the trainee can’t continue adding weight to the bar. It’s really simple, but it won’t work forever, as the stress of the workout cannot be recovered from in time for the next session. And this style of linear progression is very mentally and emotionally challenging, trying to get psyched up to go heavy EVERY session. Linear progression programs like this only last for about 2-3 months before a switch is required.

This is where Heavy-Light-Medium comes in. HLM allows us to arrange stress across a full week, instead of session-to-session. This allows the trainee to deliver enough stress to push progress, and allows enough time between hard workouts so as to adequately recover.

Here’s an example of HLM, again for squats:

Monday - Back Squat FIVE sets of five reps @ 150lbs
Wednesday - Back Squat TWO sets of five reps @ 135lbs
Friday - Back Squat FOUR sets of THREE reps @ 165lbs

Compare the total number of sets for this example: LP uses nine while HLM uses eleven. And while Monday is REALLY hard, Wednesday is less volume and less weight (a light day). Friday, while overall the heaviest weight of the week, is a ‘medium’ stressor because we’re only asking the athlete to do triples, instead of fives. Another nice thing about Friday is that the athlete gets a chance to push the relative intensity on the bar with a heavier squat. The total WEEKLY stress is still high enough to drive progress, but the only crazy day is Monday.

Another way to program HLM involves the use of movement varieties on the light or medium days, as a way to tease out different (i.e. lower) levels of stress. Consider the overall stress of a front squat or a pause squat.. Those movement varieties force the athlete to use less weight, because of less muscle mass involved (front squat) or via the removal of the bounce (pause squat). An athlete could simply program those movements in place of the big scary back squat and instantly have a lower stress day.

Oh, by the way: this is very similar to the way that we program for our CrossFit athletes. In CrossFit, the palette of movements and implements is bigger, but it’s basically the same principle - constantly vary sets, reps, loading and density while increasing the stress gradually. The interplay between training volume (i.e. sets and reps) and intensity (i.e. weight on the bar) is often the critical factor that allows for continued progress. Athletes need BOTH, and management of these variables becomes more nuanced as training age progresses.

Want to play around with HLM? Andy Baker has written a lot of good info on this topic. Need more help? Talk to a Barbell Club Coach (Amy, Justin or Rob) and we’ll give you a hand.

Transformation Tuesday: Jaclyn Jagodinski

We have a lot of expectant Mothers who’ve trained through their pregnancies here at DelVal. And most of the time, they bounce back from childbirth QUICKLY. This week’s Transformation Tuesday is no different, regaining her pre-pregnancy fitness in just a few short months. Congratulations to Jaclyn Jagodinski!

How long ago was your son born? 

Jason is just over 10 months old! Time goes by really quickly, I feel like just yesterday I was romping around the gym with a big ole belly!

When did you begin training after he was born? 

It took me about two months to come back to CrossFit. I joined LA Fitness after the first six weeks because truthfully, I was so nervous to come back to CFDV. I felt weak, slow and super intimated even though the 6:30am crew were hounding me to come back! Once I came back the support was amazing - no one judged me. I’ll be honest though, it was really hard. I felt stronger at 30 weeks pregnant than I did at six months postpartum and that was a hard thing to grasp but I just had to keep training!

What did you focus on when you re-entered the gym? 

I was determined to get my kipping pull-ups back! When I started, like many, I couldn’t do any and worked my as* off to get them! Around week 23 of my pregnancy, they disappeared and I thought I would never be strong enough to do that again….ever… and it was heartbreaking. I came back to the gym and started over with ring rows and before I knew it, I was back up over the bar…I cried with joy!

Have you done anything differently with your nutrition? 

Of course! I tried to stay very healthy during my pregnancy, I don’t think I even had ice cream! But, my genetics got the best of me and let’s just say I gained more than the recommended 25-35lbs. I grew up very overweight and have struggled for a long time, it wasn’t until after college that I really started to value and understand nutrition, not just the fad diet side of it. I had to work my butt off to get back in shape and spent a LOT of time envious of my friends who slipped back into skinny jeans after they left the hospital.

After I was about five months postpartum I did the Amplify! Program and Jacki really helped me refocus.  I was still nursing and she was super sensitive to that but still pushed me to fuel my body. I think I lost about 8 pounds on the program but during my entire postpartum journey I have lost over 50lbs. Only 6lbs of it was my baby!…HAHA

How do you balance your family, job and training? 

Okay, so this is where it gets REAL. This part of it is SO HARD if anyone tells you it is easy they are lying! I am the head of marketing at a software company in Wayne and my wonderful husband is a police officer, so his shift work and my work/travel schedule really suck. I had to start going to 5:15 am class and wow is that early and when you have to wake up all night to feed a baby, you’re basically dead. I did this because I wanted to stick to my goals.

I try to get to CFDV at least 4 days a week and if I can’t make any of the classes because my husband is working 14 hours I make sure to do something at home. The 6:30 am crew surprised me with a jogging stroller during my pregnancy so I spent a lot of time jogging down toward the gym and just rocking that Broomile [our mile run course] with my baby. Just this week I ran the Broomile in 8:25 and was shocked and so proud… I guess it’s a little easier without a stroller!

Do you have any advice for expectant mothers about training & fitness? 

Yes, I do.  No matter what, just make it happen. CFDV is where is spend my “me time”. I show up when my baby and my husband sleep and I do this because I want to! Being happy and healthy for your family is so important but being happy and healthy for yourself is priceless.

Also, this “balance” stuff is really hard. Show yourself grace whenever you can…new Mom or not!

Any other comments or thoughts? 

Thank you!