The Strong MD | Season 2 Episode 2

CrossFit Power: Nissa Cohen’s Tips for Fitness & Wellness

Unleash your inner athlete with Nissa Cohen, the co-owner and coach at CrossFit Kinesis, as she joins Dr. Jaime Seeman on The Strong MD podcast. Nissa’s infectious enthusiasm for empowering individuals through CrossFit shines as she shares her own transformative fitness journey and the philosophy behind her coaching. In this episode, we dive into the power of strength training, the importance of nutrition, and the beauty of building a community that champions wellness at every age. Whether you’re a seasoned gym-goer or contemplating your first step towards a healthier lifestyle, Nissa’s insights will inspire you to embrace the challenge, prioritize your well-being, and rediscover the joy of movement. Tune in to learn how even the busiest professionals can integrate effective workouts into their schedules and why muscle mass truly is the fountain of youth. It’s time to step up to the barbell and explore the boundless potential of your body with The Strong MD podcast.

Published on
July 08, 2024

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Unleashing Fitness Potential: CrossFit Journeys with Nissa Cohen

Dr. Jaime Seeman interviews CrossFit coach Nissa Cohen on strong MD podcast

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Welcome to The Strong MD podcast. I’m your host, Dr. Jaime Seeman. On today’s episode, I’m sitting down with Nissa Cohen, co owner, general manager and coach at CrossFit Kinesis in Omaha, Nebraska. As a health and fitness professional in the greater Omaha area, Nissa is passionate about helping others regain their wellness and realize the capabilities of their fitness through CrossFit. Whether it’s guiding clients through grueling workouts or instilling confidence in their own abilities, Nissa is a true champion of wellness. Today, we’re going to explore the transformative impact of CrossFit, discuss the keys to unlocking your fitness potential, and delve into Nissa’s own journey of growth and empowerment. Get ready to be inspired, motivated and energized as we embark on this incredible conversation. So grab your water bottle, lace up the sneakers, and let’s dive into the world of strength, resilience and limitless possibilities. This is The Strong MD podcast. Enjoy today’s episode. Nissa, welcome to The Strong MD podcast.

Nissa Cohen: Thank you.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Good to have you here. Good to have you here.

Tell us about your fitness journey in life and what you do now

Okay, so tell our listeners, I’m very interested to know because I don’t actually know this answer, but tell us about your fitness journey in life and kind of tell people what you do now.

Nissa Cohen: Yeah. So I was an athlete all growing up. I was a competitive gymnast for most of my life. went to college and, had gotten burned out with competitive gymnastics in high school. went to college and was like, man, I need to find something to do. greek life was not a thing where I went to school. So I was like, how am I going to make friends? And, so I tried cheerleading, which, ah, and if you know my personality, like, I’m not really not a cheerleader.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: there’s some carryover.

Nissa Cohen: I was like, I can tumble. I’ll let people throw me in the air. Let’s see what happened.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Yeah.

Nissa Cohen: so then we were working with, the diving coach on tumbling, and he was like, wait a minute, you were a competitive gymnast? Do you want to be a diver? And I was like, yes, I do. Let’s do it. So I was a diver in college for two years, stopped, after my sophomore year and still stayed active. And I feel like just being in my late teens, early twenty s, I didn’t have to work that hard to stay fit. but then after I graduated from undergrad, I started a graduate assistantship with, so my bachelor’s degree is in athletic training, master’s degree in exercise science. So I started a graduate assistantship as an athletic trainer. And with that was first one in the building, last one to leave, and traveling all the time, on buses all the time, eating out all the time, and just not really the opportunity for me to focus on my fitness. And then also not having a coach telling me, you got to be in the weight room at this time, you have practice at this time, having the resources of people preparing food in the dining hall and stuff for m me and stuff like that. and so I gained a significant amount of weight, in grad school, and then in my first early professional years out of grad school, and I actually was born and raised in Michigan, decided that I wanted to move to the mountains. So found a job out in Montana, and it was actually me getting my new driver’s license picture for my Montana license. I looked at it and I was like, the reality, oh, gosh, something’s got to change. so that kind of started me on my fitness journey. And, I read, like, a really tiny blurb about CrossFit. It was either a men’s health or a Sports illustrated magazine. And it was like, hey, it combines weightlifting and gymnastics. And it was literally like one paragraph. I was like, I got to check this out. So that got me started. I was doing Crossfit in the college weight room. I was an athletic trainer.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Is this before there was like, crossfit gyms? Is this like real early in CrossFit world or.

Nissa Cohen: There were gyms out there? So it would have been 2000, man. I have to think back now, 2009 maybe, when I kind of started in the weight room. just so happened that the head athletic trainer at the college I took the job at also was getting into CrossFit, too. So we were kind of playing around with stuff on our own. and just small changes from there, like, stopped drinking soda and I stopped having sugary cereal for breakfast and got honey bunches of oats instead. And then just incrementally started making small changes, getting more consistent in the weight room, and snowballed from there. So now I am a gym owner here in Omaha. I own kinesis fitness with my business partner, Kyle Casper Bauer. We are home to a CrossFit affiliate. So the core of what we do is large group CrossFit classes, but we also offer, personal training, small group training, youth training, nutrition coaching. So just kind of running the gamut, on.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: And you guys have produced some really awesome crossfit athletes that, compete.

Nissa Cohen: My business partner actually is a very successful crossfit athlete. he is the only crossfit athlete to stand on the podium as an elite individual competitor on a team and then as a master’s athlete as well.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: That’s incredible. That’s incredible. For somebody listening that has no idea what CrossFit is. Can you give us the rundown of CrossFit?

Nissa Cohen: Yes. So, CrossFit is constantly varied functional movements executed at relative high intensity. So your idea of high intensity is going to be different than mine? Is going to be different than Betty, who is an actual 78 year old member at my gym. Wow. and so our goal is to make you as well rounded as possible. So ten fitness abilities, ten components to fitness, and we’re trying to make you as well rounded at all of them. So everything from endurance to power, speed, agility, muscular, endurance versus cardior respiratory, endurance, balance, coordination, all of that.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Amazing. So it’s not for people that were former college athletes. It really is for everybody from haven’t stepped in a gym to exactly elite level.

Nissa Cohen: Yes. So our youngest member is four years old. We have kids classes, and our oldest member is betty, who’s 78.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: 78.

Nissa Cohen: my favorite 3 hours of the week is coaching our RTP program. So that, stands for return to play. So I get to kind of take my background in sports medicine and training, athletic training and recovering from injuries and people that haven’t been moving. And it’s mostly targeted towards 55 and up. But, like, our women who are postpartum coming back from having a baby, will come to that class, for a little bit because it’s a little slower pace, a little lower intensity. But our goal, again, is to just make everybody as functional as possible. I tell them all the time, my job is to keep you guys out of the nursing home.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: I love that. I mean, your story kind of resonates with me because I was a former college athlete, go to medical school, and now I’m suddenly sitting for long periods of time. You’re right. Like, no trainer telling me what to do. Now I have to pick my own food, even despite a nutrition degree, was not making the best choices, but trying to portion control. Literally. I tell this story all the time about studying. I was, like, counting out goldfish crackers, but really started to struggle with my weight and maintaining my weight because I wasn’t weightlifting anymore. but I think you hit on this postpartum thing, and I want to talk about that before we dive into medicine and what people can do.

You had a healthy pregnancy and delivered a healthy baby boy

can you tell us a little bit about your journey of becoming a mom? Because I know there’s people out there listening where that is a common time in their life where they kind of lose themselves, lose touch with their physical capabilities and how do they get back to that? Can you give us a little insight?

Nissa Cohen: Yeah. my husband and I were fortunate. I got pregnant very easily, and had a pretty healthy pregnancy. Very healthy pregnancy. M stayed active all the way through. You actually delivered our son.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Let me share the story.

Nissa Cohen: In a hailstorm. I think your car got totaled. But I did murph the day before.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: That’s incredible.

Nissa Cohen: Delivered my son. and when I say that, it’s not to be like, look at how tough I am, look at how badass I am. Can I say that? I walked a mile. I did 20 rounds of five rack rows, ten elevated push ups and 15 air squats. Did 20 rounds of that, and then walked another mile. That goes back to the kind of that relative intensity thing. how I would do Murph today is much different than how I did it then. but delivery went all right, I guess. healthy baby boy. And the hardest part for me coming back was actually the postpartum part because I was like, okay, this baby’s out of me. I’m good. Let’s do this.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Let’s go back.

Nissa Cohen: And then I tried just doing an air squat. I was like, oh, my gosh. I feel like my core is not connected to my arms and legs. I don’t know what’s going on. so that was harder for me to deal with than actually. Yeah. I knew I was going to have to dial back when I was pregnant. Obvious. But I was like, man, this is not what I thought it was going to be coming back. And it was just kind of the same. I had instilled such good habits before that I kept good nutrition habits all the way through my pregnancy, and so it just kept rolling. And, you’re not sleeping well. But making sure I had a goal to breastfeed as long as I could. And we met it just over two years. And a big part of that is making sure you’re fueling yourself appropriately. I feel like a lot of women are like, I need to bounce back. And so they’re probably under fueling, and maybe that’s contributing to why they’re not having success breastfeeding and all of that.

How did you incorporate your baby into mom life at your gym

I feel like I’m going on tangents and squirrels, but you said there’s.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: A four year old in your gym. Were you able to bring your baby to the gym? How did you incorporate that into mom life? Because I think that’s hard for some people.

Nissa Cohen: So thankful that our gym is such a family friendly atmosphere. we encourage parents to bring their kids along. We offer complimentary, supervision in the kids room that we have during four of our classes a day. and there’s always just kids there watching their parents do healthy things and do hard things and challenge themselves and, that’s one of my favorite parts about our community at the gym. And, yeah, my son has grown up in the gym.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: That’s so awesome.

Nissa Cohen: Yeah. he is not scared. He loves to, like, he’ll jump in on workouts and stuff like that. But it’s a fun place for him because he has friends that are gym friends and he has school friends, so he gets to go there and play. He gets a twelve month out of the year spot to ride his bike around. he’ll jump in on workouts. I cover our Sunday, which is just like open gym, and get a lot of admin stuff down there. And he’s always asking my husband, Eric, dad, can we go to the gym? I want to work out, so they’ll come in and we’ll do something. but it’s also just like his social interaction is so cool because he’s not growing up, he knows that everybody there is safe and he’s not scared to go start a conversation with an adult.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: We all just become a product of our environment and I think sometimes people think, you got to find the childcare and go do this. But I think it’s so cool that you’re incorporating it just as part of his life and his upbringing and modeling those behaviors of seeing what your body is capable of. I get asked all the time from moms, like, what age is an appropriate age to start doing these things? And oh, my gosh, it’s about form and teaching them how to move in space and they’re not squatting 500 pounds. but that’s just incredible that you’re able to incorporate him into this lifestyle.

Nissa Cohen: When he was a newborn, I always joke that he took his best naps, like when loud music was playing and barbells were dropping. And probably because he listened to it when he was in my stomach. and then just from there, he would hang out in a carrier with me if he needed to be there during the day.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: That’s amazing. I love that.

How do you carve out time to focus on your physical fitness

Okay, so going back to my journey, going to medical school, here I am. No one’s telling me what to do. So for people listening, our listeners are med students and residents, and some of them are doctors, and some of them might be 78 year old doctors that are ready to get back into it. So talk to us about, for people that have a really packed schedule and they’re very busy, how does one make an effective workout? How do you figure out how to carve out the time to really focus on your physical fitness? Because this is one of the biggest barriers, I think, for most people in getting back into it, or maybe getting into it for the first time.

Nissa Cohen: Yeah, we see it from people from all walks of life. and one of the first things I tell them to do is, if you struggle with personal accountability, find somebody, hire somebody to help you develop that habit and that accountability so that you can stay consistent. I think a lot of people try to just dive right into, like, let’s flip everything on its head, zero to 100. Yes. Real quick. And then it works until it doesn’t. And they’re like, I can’t maintain this. So, starting small, is it as cliche as parking at the back of the parking lot? not choosing the doctor’s parking lots right up front in the parking garage. movement snacks, I call them. I tell our gym members all the time, take movement snacks during the day.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: If you have, give us an example of what that is. Somebody’s hearing snacks.

Nissa Cohen: It does not mean walk to the break room and grab a donut. it means set a timer on your phone or on your watch that goes off every minute, and it’s your cue that you’re going to get up and do two rounds of five push ups against your desk and ten air squats. And you do that every hour. you convince yourself that I’m going to walk to the driveway or the mailbox every day. Okay, now that’s normal. I’m going to walk to the end of the block and come back every day. Okay, now that’s part of my routine. I’m going to walk around the block and just gradually, incrementally adding stuff in. and then the other thing is, if you do want to get into a structured workout plan, number one, find something you enjoy. If you’re going to dread going to it every time, how long is it going to stick?

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Right?

Nissa Cohen: So, yes, I own a gym that does mostly crossfit. But if you don’t enjoy crossfit and you like doing peloton workouts and you’re going to do them five days a week, do your peloton workouts. You know what I mean? Find something that you enjoy and then, put it in your calendar just like any other appointment. I own a gym, and I have it in my calendar that I’m doing, participating, jumping into our noon class on Monday.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: When your workout is.

Nissa Cohen: Yes, it’s there, and it’s a non negotiable for me. Just like, my alarm clock has to be a non negotiable.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Yeah, I love that.

Nissa Cohen: Ah.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: I think that sometimes I see it as a mom. We put everybody else’s priorities ahead of ours, and that just seems like the easiest thing to cross off the schedule for me. I wake up every day at 435 o’clock in the morning. I go then, because that’s really my only protected time during the day. And my mantra is like, pay yourself first. Because I feel like once I’ve done that for myself, it kind of sets the pace of the day. Okay, my workout is in now. Whatever happens, I can deal with it.

Nissa Cohen: Yeah. I tell our members all the time, they’ll be done with their workout. They’re breathing hard, just got done. They’re like, oh, my gosh, that was so hard. And I just remind them, if this is the hardest thing you have to do today, life’s pretty good. So by challenging yourself physically, it builds so much more mental resilience for us. And I think it helps us able to better handle things that come at us. Disruptions to the schedule, or kid is sick and you got to leave and go pick him up and stuff like that. You’re better able to handle the stress and anxiety of that because you’re used to putting yourself in stressful situations.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Yeah. I mean, I could think of so many parallels between a, hard workout and things that we do in medicine. And I’ve made so many parallels, too, between being an athlete, showing up to the competition, the game day. It’s like walking into the operating room. It’s like, okay, I’ve prepared for this. Check the boxes. Performing under stress. I think there’s so many parallels between the job and it may not be of a doctor. Maybe somebody is a, lawyer walking into the courtroom, or maybe you’re a CEO or a business owner, or there’s just so many parallels between fitness and exercise and sports and how we perform in our daily lives. I heard this quote very recently, and I just love it so much. Somebody was like, I don’t exercise to be better at exercise. I exercise to be better at life. And I love that you are encouraging people to find a workout that they enjoy. But I think sometimes challenging ourselves in maybe things that we don’t like, it’s like overcoming that hardness and the fear of it, I think there’s still so much to be gained. And that’s one thing that I’ve really loved about fitness in my own life, is, come on, who really enjoys waking up really early and going, and you’re out of breath and you’re sweaty? Some people really love that adrenaline and dopamine they get from that. But I think sometimes there’s just so much to be gained, and I’ve tried things that I haven’t done. Sometimes it’s fun to try something new. And even though I’m horrible, like, I used to go to these yoga and pilates classes and feel like a fish out of water. And even to this day, I’m like, that’s not, like, my favorite thing to go do. But sometimes I think it’s good to challenge yourself in ways that you just have never done before.

Nissa Cohen: So that means you’re coming to try a class.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Okay, you guys, she has been trying to get me to a class for, like, years. I will honor my word.

In Crossfit, our hierarchy of development starts with nutrition as a base

okay, so you had mentioned about postpartum, and you’d kind of mentioned nutrition. is that a component of what you do in your crossfit gym? Obviously, workouts are fantastic, but let’s dive into nutrition a little bit, because I think that’s an area where people are also very much floundering when they’re really busy.

Nissa Cohen: yes. I mean, if we look at the hierarchy of athletic development. So we look at a pyramid. You got to build the base of the pyramid before you can get to the top. Right. And so, in Crossfit, our hierarchy of development starts with nutrition as a base. So nutrition is the foundation. After that, we go to metabolic conditioning, which is, heart and lungs being able to do what they need to do. And then after that, we go to gymnastics. So your ability to move your body in space, control it. and then after that, we go to weightlifting, and then we go to sport.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Interesting.

Nissa Cohen: Yeah. So it is the base. we offer nutrition one on one nutrition coaching at our gym. every new member that comes in part of their onboarding process is a nutrition seminar that’s included kind of, in their onboarding process. we’re constantly before or after class, giving nutrition tips and tricks and stuff like that. but first and foremost, I would say, if somebody’s looking for where to start with nutrition, it’s got to be prioritizing their protein.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Yeah, I was just about to say, give us the 101 of nutrition. Yeah, I mean, doctors are not good at this I’ve seen what’s in the lounge. I’ve seen what’s in the cafeteria. I’ve seen what they eat. you would think that people in medicine would, right, like, diet. And lifestyle is the number one treatment for most ailments. But give us, like, the nutrition 101, about how to structure a diet, really just to be healthy. But also kind of the nuance of fueling for fitness, too, because it’s a little bit different.

Nissa Cohen: eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Sounds easy, right?

Nissa Cohen: I know. no. Prioritizing protein is so important for so many reasons. number one, it’s going to help you build strong muscles. And we know that the more muscle you have, the better, the more longevity you have in your life. The longer you can hold on to your muscle mass, the longer you’re probably going to live, barring some sort of traumatic event. and people are vastly, vastly undereating protein. we just kind of blanket statement. We say, ladies, aim for at least 100 grams of protein per day. If you want to get a little bit more into it, then we’ll go. If you’re going more for performance and stuff like that, going more for, like, a minimum of 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight or goal body weight. and then from there, fill the rest of it in until you’re full with real whole food, fruits and veggies and nuts and things that grow from the earth or grow on the earth, or live on the earth. and so that’s just kind of my bare bones basics, is aiming personally right now. I have tracked and weighed and measured everything and tracked my macros, and I’m going to eat this many grams of protein and this many grams of carbs and this many grams of fat. And my body composition was amazing. And I was training for, the state Olympic weightlifting meet. I wanted to set some records in a new weight class, and, my wedding was coming up. They all just kind of coincided, and so I was very lean. My, body composition was pretty on point. But then once I had cam, I was like, I don’t think it’s that important to me to weigh and measure everything, but by taking that time to do that and learn, what does it look like to eat 100 grams of protein in a day? Now I know what that looks like. Hm. And I eat 100 grams of protein in the day.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: so you feel like for a short period of time, it may be advantageous for people to actually count and track so that they can figure out what it looks like, what they’re actually consuming. Because I think we’re not always good at eyeballing that. I see patients all the time that come in and they’re like, oh, yeah, I’m eating pretty healthy. And then I’m like, okay, what’d you eat in the last 24 hours? Tell me what your diet is usually like. And I’m looking at it like, this is not even close to what you should be doing.

Nissa Cohen: Coffee for breakfast. I’m like, okay, was that coffee or was that a mocha frappa late?

Dr. Jaime Seeman: How much cream and sugar? Or people say like, oh, yeah, I just have like one cup of coffee and I’m like, is it like this big or is it like this big? That’s a general statement. So, 100 grams of protein a day, would that be for men and women, or is that, men?

Nissa Cohen: You’re going to want to bring it up at least 150 probably easy. way to kind of bare bones think about it without maybe getting a scale out is if ladies take, you and I are different sizes. We have different size palms, right? So ladies aiming for like four to six palm sized servings of protein a day, and then men, six to eight palm sized servings of protein. And I know especially women out there are hearing me say that, and they’re like, you want me to.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: That’s all.

Nissa Cohen: How much meat? Yes, I do want you to eat that much protein a day.

Your protein intake is related to your feeling of satiety

and one of my favorite things that just makes so much logical sense to me, is learning more about the protein leveraging hypothesis. I’m sure you know what it is. This idea that, your protein intake is related to your feeling of satiety. So we have hormones that create our feeling of whether we’re full or we’re hungry. And if we don’t meet our body’s protein requirements for the day, we’re never going to have that hormonal response that’s going to allow us to feel full. And so we’re going to continue to eat.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: People are looking for the next food.

Nissa Cohen: And the next until, we hit that protein threshold or it’s time to go to bed for the night. bringing that awareness to my clients has made a lot of difference for a lot of them. It really is that important.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: It is a huge thing. when I’ve count and tracked in my life, it’s amazing the satiety that you really do honestly feel. And I think once people feel what that feels like, they’re like, oh, I mean, it’s almost like this light switch that comes on. I love. There was a study that they did where they took two groups of people and they had one group consume 300 more calories than the other group, but it was all from protein. So you actually had a group that was consuming more calories than the other group, and that group actually lost more body fat over the period of the study than the group that was eating less calories. And I think it’s so beaten into our heads, just like, calories in, calories out, calories in, calories out. But this protein leverage hypothesis is so true that, I almost don’t think of it as like an energy calorie. It’s like amino acids and protein are structural. They physically build our bodies. And what I see people do all the time, even in medicine, is it’s like snack small meals and they just never meet that threshold. And then they can’t figure out why they’re constantly hungry, why they’re feeling kind of squishy and everybody wants it, but it does take a lot of work.

Your goal is to get at least five palm size servings of protein a day

So give us some tips and tricks in your life. Let’s say your goal is between, 100 and 150 grams of protein or whatever. How do you make sure that you get that in, in a day, in real world life?

Nissa Cohen: I literally think about it still to this day in the palm size serving. So my goal is to get at least five palm size servings of protein a day.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: is that five or six meals? How many times a day are you eating that?

Nissa Cohen: I think that needs to be individualized. we’re talking to doctors and stuff and a lot of them. Maybe you have super busy clinic hours, you’ve got things backed up. Backed up, backed up. so for somebody with that type of, challenge, I would probably recommend like, batch prepping protein, actually.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Like preparing a large amount on whatever night of the week it is.

Nissa Cohen: Yes, preparing a large amount, portioning it out so that it’s small enough that you can, when you have those short breaks, just grab it and eat it. I eat a lot of cold steak. Just same thing going from coaching classes and clients and stuff like that. but it’s got to be tailored individually. Some people do better. My family as a whole, we’ve never done a whole lot of batch cooking. The way that works for us is we cook enough at dinner each night to have for the next day. So rather than cooking a whole bunch on Sunday or whatever and having it there, we just cook enough the night before and use it for the.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Next, for the next day.

Nissa Cohen: I think you got to figure out where the challenges and obstacles live for each individual and tailor it around that.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Do you think it’s good for people to vary their protein sources? Like, I’ve had women who have come in, they’re like, yeah, I just like to eat chicken. I mean, is it good to vary those protein sources?

Nissa Cohen: Yeah, we want to have variety in everything because it’s not just about the macronutrient contents of our food. So it’s not just about the protein, the carbs, the fat. We also need to be concerned with the micronutrients, m iron content, vitamin content, all of those things that are going to tell our hormones what to do and tell our cells which ones to turn on and off and which, channels are pulling what into the cells and stuff like that. So, by having a variety of protein sources, it’s like giving yourself an insurance policy to make sure that you’re filling those buckets up.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: So, let’s make an example of somebody. They haven’t batch prepped any protein. They’re on the go now. They’re in the hospital cafeteria. How do you eat on the go in a situation? Maybe it’s a restaurant or a fast food place. How does somebody find the healthiest thing they can in that situation?

Nissa Cohen: Oh, man.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: She’s like, I don’t know. I don’t eat fast food, you guys.

Nissa Cohen: Yeah. And I feel like I have so much routine. It’s so routine to me that, gosh, that’s a tough one. I just know, like, taking the time to learn, it takes a little time to learn what a protein is and what are good protein sources. can you quickly grab, like, a single serve cottage cheese, low fat cottage cheese, low fat Greek yogurt? is there meat sticks? We do a lot. I’m just trying to think of, like.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Yeah, protein, I think, is one of those things that’s hard to find when you go into the world of processed and prepared foods. It’s like, carbs and fat are easy, but protein is hard. And, one thing I’ve learned is most hospital cafeterias will have, like, a grill. So, maybe they have a burger and a chicken sandwich on the menu. You can ask for it. Like, maybe you want the bun or don’t want the bun or whatever, but cottage, cheese, I love that greek yogurt. You can find those things, but I always feel like it’s something where it is almost like a little bit of a wild goose chase, because you have.

Nissa Cohen: To get a little creative sometimes, or.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: My husband loves hard boiled eggs. That’s something he does to really kind of up that fat and protein. But I feel like protein is one of those things that you just have to prepare or just know that you’re going to have to search around a little bit.

Nissa Cohen: And I’ll often ask for, like, double meat on things. If I order a salad, can I have two servings of chicken on it, or can I do a serving of chicken and a serving of steak on it?

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Absolutely.

Nissa Cohen: because the servings they’re giving you are generally not. They might be two to 3oz. If you’re lucky, you might get 4oz.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: yeah. When we go to, like, Chipotle, I’m always like, I’ll take a steak bowl, and then I wait till they put the first scoop of steak in there, and then I’m like, I actually want double meat.

Nissa Cohen: Can I get a little more?

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Because I feel like they judge the first scoop because they know a second scoop is coming. okay.

One of the hardest things with behavior change is maintaining motivation

One of the hardest things, I think, with behavior change, lifestyle modification, is just like, maintaining motivation for that. I feel like it’s like the golden ticket. You work with a lot of people that start at different fitness levels. Talk to us a little bit about just the mindset behind kind of working out and eating healthy, because it’s not easy.

Nissa Cohen: I always say, don’t rely on motivation. Motivation is a feeling. It’s not always there, and it comes down to discipline and consistency. just like when you were in medical school, you knew you needed to put in the hours to study. Saturday, it was a non negotiable. So, just developing those habits, that this is the way you talk to yourself. I am a person who exercises five days a week, and even when you don’t, and especially when you don’t feel like it is exactly when you need to do it, because, the only way you’re going to develop a habit is to make yourself do it even when you don’t feel like doing it.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Yeah, and I’ve seen things, too, that, they’ve even talked about that when you don’t want to do it, and then you do something like, there’s even restructuring of the brain in certain parts of the brain, and it’s just like, the more you overcome that, I don’t want to do this feeling. Not that it necessarily gets easier, but it’s almost like strengthening your bicep. It’s like the more you lift it, the stronger it gets, and it’s still hard every time. But I feel like just that threshold to overcome becomes when people start at cross, the kinesis, let’s say. Do you see a point in time where they are like, oh, my God, I don’t want to be here. Oh, my God, I want to quit when it finally clicks?

Nissa Cohen: Yes. and it takes some effort on our staff’s part, too. Being kind of a micro gym boutique type gym, we notice when people aren’t there and we reach out kind of like big box globo gyms. Their business model relies on you paying, you’re going to pay and never show up. Our business model relies on you paying and showing up, and then also having just the community aspect of it, too. If we, as coaches, aren’t reaching out to them, there’s somebody that they’re used to seeing in class all the time that is like, hey, I haven’t seen you in a week. Where are you? and so having a community built around, you can help with that consistency as well. I guess. Where were we going? What was the original question?

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Well, we were just talking about that consistency and motivation and how people really stick with it. And I think that’s one thing that CrossFit does really well, is just the community, the camaraderie, because even personally, I really struggle working out by myself. During the pandemic, we made this awesome home gym because we weren’t sure that we were going to be able to go where we needed to work out. And I, even to this day, struggle to go down there by myself and get an effective workout. I mean, I can make myself do it, but it’s so much better with other people, and they tend to push me. I’ll try a weight that I probably wouldn’t have tried by myself. And just the social aspect of being around other people. And I know in medicine, I like it because my job is stressful and I get to come to the gym where we’re not talking about medicine and we’re not talking about work. For you, it is work.

Nissa Cohen: I love it, though. for us, we were fortunate during the pandemic to not have to ever completely close our doors. we had to significantly cut the number of people we could have in class at any given time, which then made us just offer more classes during the day. We did offer some virtual classes as well, but we had so many members come up to Kyle and I and say, thank, like, thank you for being.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Because all some people had.

Nissa Cohen: Yeah. They were like, this is all we have we go here and we go to pick up our groceries. They’re like, this is keeping us sane right now. so having that camaraderie in that community is so important, and I feel like it’s lacking just overall in society today. So being able to bring that to people is so awesome too.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Well, I think technology, too. honestly, it connects us in some ways and it really disconnects us in a lot of ways. We get this false sense of connection through our phones and through computers. And sometimes I just think it’s so good to just be with people. Even if it’s not like your best workout, just being around people, there’s a piece of your health that needs that human connection. So, if somebody, maybe they’re not going to a structured place, a crossfit program where people are prescribing to them what to do. But if somebody wants to get into doing weightlifting, let’s say, how many days a week does that look like? How long do they need to, is there any advice you can give somebody that wants to start doing that?

Nissa Cohen: I mean, I think the standard recommendation is three times a week for 30 minutes or something like that. but if you have been doing zero and you’re not sure how you’re going to fit three days for 30 minutes in, how about one day for ten minutes? How about once? That’s fine. Just like we talked about, walking to the drop.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Maybe add another session.

Nissa Cohen: Exactly.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Do it for 20 minutes.

Nissa Cohen: Exactly. kind of having a mantra of something is better than nothing. So even if you are working out at home, you’ve got a home gym or something. you can get a ton done strength training wise with a single kettlebell or a single set of dumbbells at home, that’s a challenging weight for you. And having this notion, like getting rid of the notion that everything needs to be perfect, you’ve got to have all the equipment, you’ve got to have time just for yourself. And if you don’t get all of it done, then it didn’t even count or was a failure. it’s okay for your workouts to be messy. It’s okay for, you had this time carved out. You’re going to go to the gym, okay, now a child is sick, or now you’re on call and you got called in when you, were planning to work out. Okay, can you carve out ten minutes? Five minutes? Do five minutes of burpees, because something is better than nothing. And as long as we are, if you’re trying to build the consistency and the discipline and the habits. Doing even a little five minute thing during a day where it could have been really easy to say, everything’s blown up, and I don’t have time for this. is going to go a long way for helping you to build that.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Consistent habit without a better than nothing workout.

Nissa Cohen: Yes, exactly. And you know what? I have more than those than I like to admit nowadays.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Yeah. I mean, it just happens. But, like, things I’ve done before, I might be stuck in the hospital, a woman’s laboring. I got to be at the hospital. I can’t leave. I’ll go find a stairwell and just do flights of stairs, walk down, walk up flights of stairs. Maybe I can run a few, trying to decide how sweaty I can be.

Give us, like, what would Nissa do if you have 20 minutes

okay, so let’s say somebody is stuck in a call room, hotel, room, whatever it is, they have no equipment at all. they have 20 minutes that they want to get a workout in. Give us, like, what would Nissa do if you have 20 minutes? It’s body weight, body work only because you don’t have any equipment. Maybe you have, like, a chair or something like that. But how would you write that up or structure something?

Nissa Cohen: So, in general, you can break movements up into four general areas. So you can have, like, an upper body push, an upper body pull. You can have a squat, and you can have a hinge. So, like, hinging at your hips. And so when I’m designing a workout like that, I’ll pick one movement from each of those. So if I don’t have any equipment, then probably my upper body push is going to be push ups or burpees. and those push ups don’t need to be on the floor. They can be against the sink, counter.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: They could be a wall or against.

Nissa Cohen: The wall, against the dresser. So you’re elevated up. the challenging one I find when you don’t have a lot of equipment is the upper body pull. I’ve even done things, and during the pandemic, when we were having people do virtual classes at home, the things that they came up with to be able to do a pulling motion was awesome. We had people that were like, literally, I’m thinking back, there was one time where there, was like, a toddler in overalls, and the lady, the mom grabbed the straps on the back of the overalls and grabbed ankle and was, like, doing bent over rows with her. With a small child, they would fill up a duffel bag with books and were, doing kneeling rows with books.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: I’m trying to imagine, like, I don’t know, put a towel around. You got to figure out what you can’t break.

Nissa Cohen: We were telling people at home, like, tie a knot in the end of a bedsheet, throw it over the door and shut the door on it, and then you can do like, inverted rows that way and be creative. Yeah. Air squats, lunges, squat jumps, those are all going to be squat things.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Would you do, like, three sets? How many repetitions would you do?

Nissa Cohen: It depends on how much time I have. It’s easiest, I think, for me, if I have 20 minutes, to just set a timer for 20 minutes and say, okay, I’m going to do ten reps of these four exercises, as many rounds as I can get through. Ten to 15 reps, as many rounds as I can get through in 20 minutes.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Is it good to do things like, on a clock, on a timer?

Nissa Cohen: Depends on what your goals are. So if you’re going to be constantly moving for 20 minutes, if you.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Don’T stop moving, yeah.

Nissa Cohen: If you don’t stop moving, that’s going to be more cardiovascular endurance, but also muscular endurance. Right. In order to have some strength adaptations, we have to, one, be working at a resistance that’s challenging enough for us to feel like we’re approaching failure, but then two, we also have to have enough time to recover between those bouts to be able to maintain that higher resistance level. So in a body weight type workout, man, it’s going to depend on where you’re at in your fitness level. If a body weight exercise or a body weight workout is going to be challenging enough to elicit some strength adaptations, it might just be that day is a day where you’re trying to develop your aerobic capacity and your muscular endurance. but that’s being said, somebody who’s new to it. Yes. Body weight movements, if that is intensity wise, resistance wise, challenging for you, then, yeah, we can definitely get some strength improvements with that.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: so some people are like, I just lift weights and then I have people who are like, I’m a runner, I just run, I don’t do that. Crossfit, obviously, described as weights, running, gymnastics movements, all of these things. If somebody’s just first starting, is it better to start with cardio, start with weights? Do you just incorporate them both at the same time?

Nissa Cohen: if you got to pick one. Strength train. Strength thing. Strength train, muscle mass is literally the fountain of youth.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: I love that.

Nissa Cohen: The more muscle mass we have, we’re going to live longer. Yeah. So prioritize that, and then, after that, prioritize, not necessarily cardio, as in, like, I’m going to get on the treadmill and jog for 30 minutes, but increasing just your overall movement throughout the day, how many steps you’re getting throughout the day. those would be kind of my order of operations. And then after that is when I.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Would kind of worry about, yeah, ah, you’re talking about longevity, which I think is that would resonate with most medical people.

CrossFit does a lot of high intensity type things. Can you explain the advantages of doing work like that

I have seen a lot recently about sprinting, and I know that CrossFit does a lot of more high intensity type things. Can you explain to people the advantages of doing work like that versus long, steady state cardio? Because that’s what I feel like. The running groups, I mean, they love it, they get the high from it, but from just an overall health aspect. Why does CrossFit do it that way?

Nissa Cohen: so one, to be efficient. We’re talking about busy, lives, busy schedules. yeah, being efficient. but then number two, long, steady state cardio, where we’re just kind of, we’re going long duration, same speed, can actually be more stressful on the body in terms of hormonal responses to stress and cortisol and that type of stuff. whereas sprinting, strength training, shorter duration, higher intensity bouts are going to increase more of, your building hormones. So your testosterone, your human growth hormone, your estrogen, to help. And those are your longevity hormones.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Absolutely.

Nissa Cohen: I would rather build those up versus build cortisol up personally.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: And you can go out in a parking lot and do sprints. You can go out in, the grass outside the hospital or your home or the park with your kids. And I remember, I, think it was after my second daughter was born. I was like, I need to get back in shape. And I had taken years off from weightlifting. I was a two time lifter of the year in college. I mean, I loved weights, but I just felt like my moms didn’t lift weights. And I signed up for a half marathon and I trained for the first one. The second one I actually did untrained, but it got to a point where I was like, why don’t have 2 hours to do this run? But I just thought that’s how I was going to get back into shape. Ran two half marathons. My body was just the same, if not worse than it was before. So I can attest that running will probably not give you the body that most women are really trying to achieve. And I agree with you, it’s so much more time efficient lifting weights, sprinting, incorporating both. if you’re trying to build muscle, is it good to incorporate some sort of sprint or hit work within the workout or is it good to do it at the end of the workout or before the weightlifting session? Do you have any advice there?

Nissa Cohen: Yes, Anne, all of the above? All of the above, yeah. I constantly varied functional movements executed at relative high intensity. How many different ways can we put together a workout? And let’s just, it’s not about confusing the body or anything like that. It’s just, how many different things can we expose it to so that it knows how to create positive adaptations, to the stresses that it’s getting.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Yeah. And I love that. Yeah. It’s like the brain is constantly having to adapt.

Nissa Cohen: Yeah.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Crossfit does an amazing job at that. They really do. how long is a crossfit workout?

Nissa Cohen: So our classes are 1 hour long. some days your workout might be two minutes long. Some days your workout might be 30 minutes long. some days we might start with a strength lifting component, like purely like we’re going to do five sets of five back squat and then we’ll finish with a shorter metabolic conditioning, ten to twelve minute, duration thing after that. but they’re all 1 hour long, all coach led. So we’re going to take you through a warm up, remind you, review technique and mechanics on everything that you’re going to be doing that day, and then everybody will start the workout. The workout that’s written on the board is not the workout that everybody’s doing. Right. So we can modify, adjust scale, any movement away, we can progress it up, we can regress it down based on your ability level. So if the workout is asking some of the higher level athletes in the gym to do 80, 90 pull ups within the workout, but you can’t even do one pull up, that’s okay, we got you. You’re going to do ring rows or rack rows or you’re going to do jumping pull ups. And with the intent that those are developing the strength and capability to be able to one day do those pull ups as it’s written.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Yeah.

Nissa Cohen: you want to think about the shorter the workout, the more sprinty the workout is, the longer the warm up needs to be. So you come in and you don’t have to know those things. There’s a professional coach there. Telling you what to do, come in, turn your brain off, and we got you. it’s similar to, I’m not a doctor, I don’t know how to do surgery. I’m not going to try to take my own appendix out. I feel like so many people are like, gosh, I should just know how to do this. I should know how to work out. I should know how to eat right. But the truth is not everybody does. And there are experts out there that have been trained to teach you how to do those things. And I think a lot of people are scared to take advantage of those or feel like that’s something I should know how to do.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Right.

Nissa Cohen: I take my taxes to an accountant because he knows how to do that.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Exactly. You have to know your limitations, that’s for sure. One, thing I hate doing, stretching. Do we need to stretch mobility. How does one incorporate that?

Nissa Cohen: Some stretching, I think is important.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Told you. I hate yoga and pilates.

Nissa Cohen: Some stretching is important, but I don’t think it’s as important as some people will let you think. we’ll do some post workout static. Long, longer static holds, after a workout at our gym. but most of the stuff we’re doing before is dynamic type stretching. So you’re moving while you’re stretching. You’re moving through the range of motions that you’re going to be using in the actual movements that we’re doing in the workout. and it’s not just about lengthening the muscles, it’s about activating them, prepping them to be used, and exert force.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: I love that.

Besides working out and eating right, are there other things that you do in life

okay, so besides working out and eating right, are there other things that you do in your life? Do you do like, sauna, cold, plunging breath work, meditation, or have you dabbled in any of that? That’s like the new, it’s like the new hot thing.

Nissa Cohen: I know it is biohacks. I know it is. No, not much. Yeah, sure. The basic, yeah, I make sure I get enough sleep. to be honest, I drink less water than they say is recommended. I drink to thirst. And we’ll add some electrolytes in.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Yeah, I was just about to ask. I am not doing electrolytes or supplements.

Nissa Cohen: I do, five days of the week. Maybe I’ll do an element packet of electrolytes. I do a post workout whey protein and then I do a women’s multi. If I’m feeling like I’m going to get sick, I might load a whole bunch of vitamin d three into me and stuff like that. but I do prioritize getting outside, getting fresh air. we just moved to an acreage, so it’s probably not as big of a deal, but I used to wonder what my neighbors were thinking because I would go out and just walk around in our yard barefoot. The front yard.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: We have dogs again.

Nissa Cohen: Yeah, it would be the front yard because we have dogs and I don’t want to step in. Dog do. but yeah, it would be 20 degrees out and I’m out walking around in the grass in my bare feet. But as far as sauna, ICE bath, cold shower. No. I’ve been reading some stuff recently too, especially women. A lot of us live in just a perpetually stressed out state. So, do we need to do those things to add more stress?

Dr. Jaime Seeman: I think they’re more next level. I think once people really have the foundational things, they might be majoring in the minors. Yeah, exactly.

It is important to have some post workout carbohydrates, especially if you’ve been working

You mentioned you will do a post workout protein shake. When we talk about those protein requirements, something people ask me all the time. What do you think about protein shakes or protein bars?

Nissa Cohen: I think it depends on the protein shake and the protein bar.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: So there’s garbage ones and maybe better ones.

Nissa Cohen: Yes.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: okay, so what should somebody look for if they want to add some whey?

Nissa Cohen: Yeah. Minimal ingredients. I try to have less than five ingredients in anything that I’m eating, but, looking for a protein that is whey protein or, beef protein, but it doesn’t have a bunch of other stuff you can’t pronounce added in. they need to be sweetened with. Personally need to be sweetened with stevia, or monk fruit. Just because I choose not to put sucralose or any other artificial sweeteners in my body. And, I try to limit added sugars too. It is important to have some post workout carbohydrates, especially if you’ve been working at high intensity. so the protein that I use has some apple pectin added in as well, which is kind of like a slower burning carbohydrate.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Yeah.

Nissa Cohen: but yeah, you want to have minimal ingredients and look for things that don’t have artificial colors and flavors and crazy, just go with like chocolate or vanilla. Don’t go with the birthday cake, with the sprinkle. yeah, basic is better, I would say. be careful on protein bars. A lot of them are marketed as protein bars, but then you look at them and it’s like, oh, it’s got, 20% of its calories are from protein, 20% are, from fat.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: And it’s like they’re trying to make it.

Nissa Cohen: A lot of them are just glorified candy bars, basically.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: I agree. And I think the caveat, too, with the protein supplements that I tell people is like a whey is rapidly digested, which is great post workout, but it’s not going to give you satiety that a, big old piece of steak or chicken or salmon or something is going to give you. And so, if you’re getting hungry quickly after that, it may be time for an actual meal. An actual meal.

Nissa Cohen: Not only having actual meat is going to stay in your stomach longer, so it’s going to help you feel fuller. But then there’s, the amount of energy that it takes to actually digest a piece of meat versus digest,

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Burning through a steak.

Nissa Cohen: Exactly. so a calorie is not. Calorie is not. I can’t.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: I totally agree with that.

CrossFit health is helping to educate physicians about what CrossFit is

okay, so tell, and CrossFit health, I’ve gone and spoke for them. They’re doing such amazing things. But tell us kind of what you know about what Crossfit health is doing, because, there might be doctors listening who don’t know about Crossfit health and maybe want to get involved. And, I know it’s a growing part of the crossfit world.

Nissa Cohen: Yeah. So they’re building a network of physicians that, prescribe to the crossfit methodology of nutrition and exercise. and I think it goes a long way in educating physicians in what crossfit is. I think a lot of, in my experience, a lot of physicians think that CrossFit is the Crossfit games.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Right.

Nissa Cohen: And that’s like thinking that a small.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Tiny part of it. Yeah.

Nissa Cohen: That is the .1% of CrossFitters in the world. It’s like thinking that the only people that drive are NASCAR drivers.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: Right.

Nissa Cohen: Yeah.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: that’s a great analogy.

Nissa Cohen: Our mission of our gym is to optimize fitness to prevent and reverse chronic disease, sickness and inflammation. so that’s the Crossfit kinesis mission and the kinesis fitness mission. And I, think just common misconceptions are that everybody is in there just throwing weight around, probably loading a barbell more than they should, swinging around on bars with shoulders that aren’t strong enough to handle that. And so the CrossFit health initiative is helping to kind of combat that.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: just the misconceptions of. Yeah, I mean, I imagine a day where we have a clinic and a gym in the same building or right next to each, you know, like a vision that they have, which I fully support. I think that there’s so many chronic diseases that could be helped if we could put people in a space where they have good information and they have the social support and the community. And that’s exactly what CrossFit is. And so I applaud them. What they’re doing at CrossFit health, I think it’s so incredible.

Something I hear a lot about CrossFit is you’re just going to get injured

something I hear a lot about CrossFit is though, you’re just going to get injured. I mean, you own a gym, you see people in everyday life. How often do people sustain injuries that are more than just know, pulling a muscle here and there? Because we do that in the regular gym, too.

Nissa Cohen: If you look at the research, the injury rates per exposure for CrossFit are on par with, weightlifting, pretty, standard. The injuries per incidence of running is much higher. Just recreational running. And you have a coach, and that goes a long way in having somebody there to help prevent you from being injured. There’s somebody watching you as you’re doing it.

Dr. Jaime Seeman: I’ve seen people do some directions, weird stuff in the gym.

Nissa Cohen: M there’s experts there telling you, how you could improve and how you could do things better. I would say that. I’m not saying they don’t happen. When we do see injuries, in our gym, it’s typically you’re only in the gym 1 hour a day, there’s 23 other hours. And it’s like, what are you doing in those other 23 hours? Are you sleeping enough? Are you drinking alcohol most days of the week? Ah, are you fueling your body appropriately that it’s able to recover from high intensity workouts day after day? Right. Have, you taken the time to develop the strength and range of motion before you try to start doing some of those kind of crazy dynamic kipping pull ups where people are flying around on the bars? and a good gym is going to take members through progressions to build the strength before we add on, like the.