No matter how many times we try to convince ourselves of the opposite, you simply can’t out work bad nutrition. Nutrition is the foundation of health and wellness, and ignoring what you eat simply won’t help you get where you want to go with your fitness! At the start of our CrossFit journey, many of us saw a lot of progress in skill, strength, and body composition. CrossFit is a brand new, highly effective program and a novel stimulus to our bodies! After a while, though, our bodies catch up to this new stimulus and our results can often plateau.
Dialing in our nutrition is often the next step to help us achieve that next level: our first pull-up, a new PR, or a faster mile time. Paying close attention to what you eat will help you reap benefits that include increased muscle mass, more energy, decreased body fat, a better night’s sleep, feeling more confident, clear and glowing skin, and more!
When it comes to dialing in your nutrition, there are a ton of opinions out there. Whole30? Paleo? Vegan? Keto? Should I use the microwave? What vegetables should I buy organic? What’s the difference between grass-fed and grass-finished beef? The waters are muddied even further by the sneaky weight loss products that promise you will lose 10 pounds in 10 days if you eat this bar and drink that shake while jumping up and down 20 times and singing “twinkle, twinkle, little star”.
The only way to fully experience the life-long health and wellness that our program at Emerald City CrossFit offers is to eat a balanced diet composed of real food. We not only want you to feel and look great now, but also when you’re 90! We are in this for the long-haul.
Greg Glassman, the founder of CrossFit sums up good nutrition as follows, “Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and no sugar.”
Is it really that simple? Yes….and no. Below are 5 ways you can simply get started on cleaning up your nutrition and achieving the Glassman standard of nutrition.
1. Start slow and easy.
When beginning on a health and wellness journey, many people dive right in without thinking about the kind of commitment they are getting into. This is exactly where the term yo-yo dieting comes from—after too much beer and pizza on a Friday night you decide that on Sunday you are starting a Whole30. So on Saturday you throw everything in our pantry and fridge away except for that week old chicken breast, wilting spinach, and some eggs from… well you don’t really know! You wake up on Sunday starving, because you were trying to “work-off” Friday night’s party so you didn’t eat much on Saturday while also going on a 5 mile run. There’s nothing in the fridge, so you decide that you’ll start your Whole30 after breakfast and jump in the car to grab a donut and coffee. Now your body is even more deprived of nutrition, and the cycle just goes on and on, until it’s Friday night again and you give up because doing a Whole30 is just too hard.
Instead of jumping in face first, work on developing good habits over time with careful planning and preparation. Even better, start with the easiest thing to let go of. Instead of having a bowl of ice cream every night, you’re just going to have some on the weekends. That goes well, so the next week you aren’t going to take any of your favorite foods away, but instead challenge yourself to eat a vegetable with every meal. But HOLD ON, you hate chopping veggies. So grab the already chopped bag. More expensive? A little. But easy and therefore easier for you to adhere to. After all, slow and steady always wins the race!
2. Add before you subtract.
Before you throw out all the wine, cheese, and chocolate, think about what you can add into your diet first. Before having your soda on pizza night, add in a glass of water first. Before going back for seconds, add in a small salad and play with the dog, then assess whether you are actually still hungry. Add in a few snacks of lean protein and healthy fat throughout the day (think sliced turkey and some almonds) so you aren’t starving when you get home. Add in more sleep so that you aren’t reaching for coffee and sugar all day long.
When focusing on adding healthy habits you will start to see and feel the benefits. Then it is a lot easier to take away some of the negative habits because you are already seeing and, even better, feeling results.
3. Mary Kondo your entire kitchen, fridge, pantry, and junk food drawer.
Trying to food prep in a cluttered kitchen where it takes you five tries to find the right Tupperware lid, or where you have to dig through the back of your cabinet to find the cutting board is just plain annoying. Making your kitchen organized, clean and easy to access is a great way to start enjoy cooking more and make meal prep quick and easy. Throw out the old Tupperware and buy a new set that is all the same size and has matching lids. Keep a cutting board and knife out all the time so that cutting up fresh veggies is just a little bit easier. Throw out that chocolate your Aunt Mildred gave you for Christmas, and stop buying the Rice Krispie treats for your kids (because you know you just eat most of them). Leave a small (cute) pan out on the stove so it’s easy to sauté some veggies. No, you don’t need five different ice cream scoops.
When your kitchen is clean, clutter free, and easy to access, and your only choice is a healthy choice, you are much more likely to achieve your nutrition goals.
4. Find a replacement.
Love a glass of wine with some chips & guacamole after a long day at work? Same. But instead of those chips, swap it out for some carrots. Crave a bowl of ice cream while you’re watching the latest episode of Game of Thrones? Try a piece (or two) of Sea Salt Dark Chocolate instead. Always reach for a second beer after dinner? Brush your teeth and enjoy a good book in bed instead. When we replace something with a slightly better option, we can help alleviate the growing pains.
Unless you are a CrossFit Games athlete or gunning for a six-pack this summer, there is room to enjoy life. We often get stuck in the “all or nothing” mentality, that leads us to yo-yoing and never achieving our goals. If you are going out with friends on Saturday night and planning to have a drink and dessert, lead up to that like you would any other day and then enjoy the treat! Food is not a transaction—you don’t need to (and shouldn’t) starve yourself all day so you can eat whatever you want that night. Have good nutrition throughout the day, enjoy the night, and then get back to it on Sunday. Sticking with your nutrition goals 80% of the time and enjoying life the other 20% helps keep us on track for the long haul.
I’ll say it now and I will say it again, slow and steady wins the race when it comes to nutrition! Be kind to yourself. Don’t beat yourself up if you make a mistake (or mistakes!). Healthy eating is a long-term investment. Nourish your body with fuel to help you live a long, energized, and vibrant life. Eat well to fuel your workouts and enjoy the things in life that you love the most!
If you have questions, be sure to ask a Coach or join us for our next Thrive Challenge coming this fall!