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Fuel Your Body Appropriately: Stop the Madness! by Coach Crystal McCullough,

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Fuel Your Body Appropriately: Stop the Madness!

What kind of relationship do you have with food? Is it healthy or unhealthy?

by Coach Crystal McCullough (Instagram: @crystalmac_72 )

My family and I just got back from an amazing week in Nashville with great friends. We went to the CrossFit Central Regional and witnessed some very fit adults compete all weekend and do some very fit things. The top 5 athletes (men, women, and team) punched their ticket to the next level, The CrossFit Games in Madison, WI. It was very motivating and fueled my fire to continue to train hard for my own goals. This last week was not all fun and games, however, as I sat in the hospital room with my very sick father on Tuesday and Wednesday, who is awaiting a major heart surgery. He was supposed to have surgery this admission, but unfortunately, his blood sugar is way too high and they couldn’t safely do the surgery and provide a positive prognosis for his outcome. So, now, he has to go back home and get his blood sugar under control before he can have the surgery that will ultimately save his life.

These athletes and my father are on opposite sides of the spectrum. The athletes are trying to be as fit as possible, while my father is trying to maintain some quality of life. What they have in common is nutrition plays a huge role in their goals. In the United States, we have access to more food in a day than people in other countries might see in a month, even a year. We walk into a gas station and candy bars are staring us in the face, sodas are on the end aisle, and Little Debbies scream our name. There is a fast food restaurant on every street corner and a rainbow colored Frappuccino the size of a small dog. Social gatherings and family get-togethers are centered around food! With all of this access, no wonder we are facing an obesity epidemic in this country. And there IS an epidemic.

The National Council on Aging reports that upwards of 92% of all older adults are suffering from one chronic illness and around 77% have at least two. Heart disease and type II diabetes (both of which are often preventable) at the top of the list of chronic illnesses that are responsible for up to two-thirds of deaths in older adults each year. More shockingly, according to the American Heart Association, childhood obesity has tripled since the 1960s, where, now 1 in 3 children and adolescents are considered obese. It has become the top health concern among medical professionals. This is crazy!! We are doing our children a disservice!! What do you think will be the quality of life for our already obese children when they reach senior status? Stop the madness!!

I will use the analogy of a car. Petroleum is the fuel that we use to run our cars. In order to keep our cars in top working condition, they require quality fuel and maintenance. They also have to be driven regularly in order to keep them running. Now, think about that. Food is our fuel. We need quality food, maintenance, and regular exercise in order to stay in top working condition.

Am I saying don’t enjoy food? NO, that isn’t what I am saying at all. What I AM saying is, on a regular daily basis, put food in your mouth that will support your goals and promote health and well-being. This will look different for everyone. What the CrossFit athlete can and needs to eat to perform at the top of their sport will look much different than what my father needs to eat in order maintain quality of life.

So, how do we reverse the already deteriorating future of our obese youth as well as give quality of life back to our older adults? Here are some ideas I have that might help:

1. Realize where you are on the spectrum – what I mean by this is, if you are an athlete, you are fueling your body for performance. You can eat quality foods most of the time and indulge every once in a while with no issue. If you are suffering from a chronic illness, those indulgences can be detrimental. You won’t have the same luxuries as the athlete.
2. Be an example – as a parent, our children mimic us. Drew just recently posted a picture on Instagram of Rock weighing his strawberry. They are watching and we can teach them so much. Providing our children with quality food is step 1. Teaching them about quality food and how to prepare it is step 2. Showing them how to exercise self-control when we do indulge is step 3. They will carry what we teach them into their adult life.
3. Exercise self-control – when we do indulge, maybe get the Like It size at Coldstone rather than the Gotta Have it. Put it in a cup rather than a cone. Eat two slices of pizza rather than a whole one by yourself. This list can go on.
4. Exercise! – obviously athletes will exercise. It is part of their sport. I’m talking to my kids and my average adults. Get moving!!!

The only way we are going to turn this around and become a more fit society as a whole is to target our kids. They are the future and if we don’t teach them how to be healthy and the importance of wellness and exercise, we are doomed as a society. We can create such bright futures for them!! Let’s GO!!

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Crystal McCullough (Instagram: @crystalmac_72 )

41-year old Army wife and Mom to a genetic 13-year-old freak. Basketball player turned runner turned CrossFitter turned powerlifter. Crystal has podiumed over the years at 5k and 10k road races and local CrossFit competitions. She is currently a 72k USAPL National Level powerlifter.  Her best competition lifts are 145k squat, 77.5k bench, and 170k deadlift. She is an RN with a Masters degree in Nursing Education, a CrossFit affiliate owner, and a Mash Elite Performance coach. She has several years of coaching experience in the CrossFit community and is a life long learner of the art and science of the vast strength and conditioning world. She is currently studying for her CSCS.

Battle on the Border 2017 – Meet Recap

First and foremost, I want to thank Travis Mash!! He has given me a program that has made me stronger than I ever have been and I continue to keep getting stronger! And I’m 40 (soon to be 41)!! Keep that in mind as you read this 🙂 I also want to thank him for coming down and coaching me! It was such a good day! I also want to thank Krystal Reynolds and her kiddos for always being so supportive and coming out to support me! Thanks to everyone who took time to wish me luck as well!

Wow! Just wow! It is such a surreal feeling when you exceed your own expectations.

I haven’t been on a platform since October when I competed at the USAPL Raw Nationals in Atlanta. I had set a goal for myself to total 800+ on that day. I missed that goal by a measly eight pounds. I competed at 69.1k in the 72k weight class. My best lifts on that day were 130k/286# PR Squat, 75k/165# Bench, and 155k/341# Deadlift. My total was 360k/792#. My Wilkes Score was 361.37 . I was a little disappointed in my performance (even with a meet total PR) because I knew I was better on the bench and the deadlift. In the end, it doesn’t matter what you think you should have done. It only matters what you did. The disappointment lasted only seconds before I was determined to simply continue to get stronger and consistent!

Fast forward six months to Saturday’s meet. I knew I could hit that 800+ goal with relative ease as long as I did my part and hit the numbers Travis told me to. I had that silly toothache for a couple of weeks before the meet and ended up having a root canal the Tuesday prior, so I could only pray it wouldn’t give me trouble.

My weigh in went better than Nationals and I finally filled out the 72k weight class with an official weight of 71.62k. My donut tradition continued post weigh in 🙂 I think I actually managed to eat five from weigh-in until I started warming up.

The meet ran three platforms: lightweight, middleweight, and heavyweight. My weight class fell in the third flight on the lightweight platform. For the most part, the meet ran smoothly once it got started and the judging was accurate and fair.


I had hit a little above my openers the beginning of the week, so I was confident in hitting my first attempt no problem. This last couple of training cycles, we’ve really focused on my squats. Volume has been high and we lowered the height of the barbell to be more low bar (still not as low as most powerlifters). It is crazy still that I opened up 5k/11# higher than my third attempt PR just 6 months prior! I also broke my own North Carolina Masters 1a State Record with my first attempt.

First attempt: 135k/297#

Second attempt: 140k/308#

Squat attempt 3: 145k/319# (this matches my training PR)

Bench Press

This is my most inconsistent of the three lifts, but continuing to try to perfect my technique and work on consistency. And, of course always get stronger! I broke the North Carolina Masters 1a State Record with my second attempt!

Attempt 1: 72.5#/159.5

Attempt 2: 77.5k/171# (meet PR)

Attempt 3: 80k/176# (FAIL)


To be honest, I am most proud of this lift. It used to be inconsistent for me. One day I would hit a number for three and then turn around and it be beyond hard for a single. I also used to have a terrible sticking point below the knee and a very slow start off the ground. It has improved so much! I also broke the North Carolina Masters 1a State Record with my second attempt!

Attempt 1: 150k/330#

Attempt 2: 160k/352#

Attempt 3: 170k/374# LIFETIME PR

Total for the day was 392.5k/864# which is a 32.5k/72# MEET PR in 6 months! This also crushed my own North Carolina Masters 1a State Record for total! My Wilkes Score also increased to 384.45!! This Wilkes Score also had my just shy of breaking into the top 10 of all time for this meet. I took 1st place in my weight class as well as Masters 1a overall.

It’s going to be a long off season to continue to get stronger and break that 900# barrier at USAPL Raw Nationals in October! Looking forward to whatever Travis throws at me next! Let’s GO!!

Training Log – Taper Week and the Work is Done

I am now 24 hours out from my meet. Lots of excitement, nerves, and so ready to get on that platform. I’ve put in a lot of work since Nationals to increase my total, so looking forward to it showing tomorrow!

This final week has been great! Hit my openers on Monday and Tuesday followed by some lighter squat and bench work on Wednesday and Thursday. Turns out I did need a root canal, which I had on Tuesday afternoon. My mouth was quite sore on Wednesday, but it is extremely manageable with Motrin 🙂 My biggest concern from the dental work was being able to hold my weight. Sitting at 71.5k and holding steady.

Monday Day 1 

Squat Opener 2 x 1 – we decided to open at 135k/297#. Without fractional plates, I decided to jump up to 300# for my two singles. They felt great!

Deadlift Opener 1 x 1 – we decided to open at 150k/330#. Felt light and easy!! So pumped!!

Tuesday Day 2 

Bench Press Opener 2 x 1 – we’ve talked about 72.5k/159# and 75k/165#, so I decided to do one at each. Made sure the pause was substantial and mimicked the cues from the judge in my head.

Accessory Work: 

  • Chest supported Bat Wing Rows 3 x 5 with 25# DBs

Wednesday Day 3

High Bar Back Squat 2 x 1 with 85% (250#) – Felt great considering less than 24 hours post root canal and minimal warm up!

Accessory Work:

  • 4″ deficit Suitcase Deadlifts 3 x 5 each side RPE 7 with 115#
  • Sled drag forward and sled drag backward 1 x 60 seconds with e-sled and 45# plate

Thursday Day 4

Bench Press 3 x 1 with 75% (135#) – these felt great and I paused an extended amount of time to work on the explosive drive off of my chest.

Accessory Work:

  • Legs elevated horizontal body weight rows 3 x submaximal – 11/11/10
  • Lying DB external rotations 3 x 10 with 10# DB

The work has been put in and so excited to showcase it on the platform tomorrow at the Battle on the Border in Fort Mill, SC!!




Training Log – Finishing out Week 13 STRONG!!

I’m not going to lie. This toothache has been the thorn in my side for a week now. It is so aggravating and, at times, down right debilitating. However, I refuse to let it keep me from reaching my goals. I did find out that I need a root canal (so the dentist says), so I plan on having it done the beginning of the week, so I will be good to go for my meet. Please pray for me that all goes as planned!! I plan on showing up and showing out next Saturday 🙂

Thursday Day 4

This is my shorter day. I get to work on accelerating through the entire portion of my bench using bands, which are pretty cool. I trained in a different place this week, so bands were a little different and I truly believe there was more band tension than last week.

Bench Press (alternate grip) with resistance bands

  • 35% + bands (65#) – 2 x 3
  • 45% + bands (80#) – 2 x 3
  • 55% + bands (95#) – 2 x 2
  • 3 x 1 working up – 105# + bands, 115# + bands, 125# + bands

Accessory Work:

  • Dumbbell Front Raises 3 x 10 with 15# DBs
  • Feet Elevated Bodyweight Horizontal Ring Rows 3 x submaximal (10/10/10)
  • Lying DB External Rotation 3 x 10 each side with 15#

Friday Day 5

Love our weekends at the Mash Compound!! Wanted to make sure I got up there for my last heavy weekend! It didn’t disappoint. The atmosphere was on fire!!

Mash Method Squats

  • 95% (138k) x 1 rest 2 minutes 85% (123k) x 3
  • 142k/312.4# x 1 rest 2 minutes 128k x 3
  • 147k x 1 (FAIL) rest 2 minutes 130k x 3 (racked it after the 2nd rep)

Deadlifts Max Effort from 2″ blocks 1 rm – worked my way up to 375# which is a PR for sure from the ground or from that height!!

It was crazy busy in the gym, so I packed up and waited to do the extra accessory work on my Day 6.

Saturday Day 6 

Mash Method Bench Press

  • 95% (167.2#) x 1 rest 2 minutes 150# x 3
  • 172.2# x 1 rest 2 minutes 155# x 3
  • 180# PR x 1 rest 2 minutes 162.2# x 3

I am telling you!! That is the best my bench has felt this cycle!!!!

Accessory Work:

  • Band Pushdowns 3 x 10
  • Seated DB Rows w/35# 3 x 10
  • Elevated BB Hip Thrusts w/band at knees 3 x 10 with 130#
  • Side Plank with Band Row 3 x 25 seconds each side

This was a great way to end my last full week of training before my meet!! One week to go with a taper!!!

Next Meet: April 8

Weight: 72.4k



Training Log – First Half of Week 13

Needless to say, I am a little dismayed because of a toothache or TMJ or something that has found it’s way into my mouth. I went to the dentist on Monday and they took x-rays and sent me out the door with a referral to a endodontist saying they would evaluate me. I’ve been training this week and nursing my mouth in hopes that whatever is wrong, I can wait until after my meet on the 8th of April to get it fixed. I go to the specialist tomorrow, so will have a definitive answer (I hope) by then. Either way, I WILL be competing on April 8 and I WILL be qualifying for Nationals again 🙂

On to the training log portion of this post….

Monday 3/27 Day 1

Back Squats 

  • 93% 2 x 1 (295#)

  • 95% 1 x 1 (305#)

  • 78% 1 x 3 pause speed squats (250#)


  • 90% 1 x 2 (320#)
  • 93% 1 x 1 (330#)
  • Work up if feel good – PR at 370#!!!!!

Accessory Work:

  • GHD 3 x 5 with 25# plate

Tuesday 3/28 Day 2

Front Squat 1rm w/7 second pause RPE7 – worked up to 213# and didn’t even get a stinking video :/ It wasn’t a PR anyway. LOL

Slingshot Bench Press 1 rm – managed a PR at 205#!!!

Competition Grip (no ss) Bench Press

  • 88% 1 x 3 (155#)
  • 93% 1 x 2 (165#)
  • 95% 1 x 1 (170#)

  • 85% for Max Reps – 150# x 5 reps!!

Accessory Work:

  • Close Grip Floor Press 3rm then -15% for 4×3 (last 3+) – Managed to hit 145# and dropped to 125# and hit 10 reps on last set
  • Chest Supported Bat Wing Rows paused 2 seconds at top w/15# dbs
  • Staggered Carries 3 x 40 yards with 26# OH and 44# farmer

Wednesday 3/29 Day 3

High Bar Back Squat 3rm RPE9 – worked my way up to 265# for 3

and then dropped 10% to 240# for 2×3

Accessory Work:

  • Suitcase Deadlifts from 4″ deficit RPE 7-8 3 x 5 with 115#
  • Sled drags forward and backward 2 x 60 seconds w/ e-sled and 45# plate

Minus the toothache, I feel amazing going into this last stretch of training before my meet!! Excited to get on the platform!

Next Meet: April 8

Wt: 71.9k

Training Log – Closing Out Week 12 with Mash Method

This week has been great for the most part. A little muscular soreness and definite overall fatigue, but hitting my numbers. I am 2 weeks out from my meet!! Looking forward to getting on that platform and crushing my total from Nationals!

Friday Day 5

**Note – I did not feel great. Stress and work overload had me with little food in my system and not training until 6 pm. If you know me, you know this is REALLY late for me to be training. I had no idea what to expect or if I would even get close to any of the percentages I was expected to hit. I surprised myself!!

Mash Method Back Squats

  • Set 1 (should have been 95%, but started at 90%) 285# x 1 rest 2 minutes (80%) 255# x 4
  • Set 2 295# x 1 rest 2 minutes 265# x 4
  • Set 3 305# (which is 95%) x 1 rest 2 minutes 275# x 4

Deadlifts from 4″ deficit 1rm then -15% for 3 – worked my way up to 355# and then dropped down to 300# for 3 (no belt)

Accessory Work:

  • Hips Elevated BB Hip Thrusts with band at knees – 3×10 w/135#
  • Side Plank with Banded Row 3×25 seconds each side

Saturday Day 6

Mash Method Bench Press

  • Set 1 (95%) 165# x 1 rest 2 minutes 140# x 4
  • Set 2 172.2# x 1 rest 2 minutes 150# x 4
  • Set 3 177.2# PR x 1 rest 2 minutes 155# PR x 4

So pumped to hit this 2 weeks out from my meet!!!

Accessory Work:

  • Banded Pushdowns 3×10
  • Seated Rows 3×10 w/35# DBs

Ended the week on a great note!!! One more heavy week then a taper before my meet!!! Let’s GO!

Next Meet: April 8

Weight: 72.3k

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