CrossFit Your NutritionJanuary 27, 2012
Stuck in a Food Rut?
You love CrossFit. You love the workouts, the way you feel after the metcon, you love the barbells, the people, the atmosphere, and the PR. CrossFit has given you the confidence to make you realize that you are capable of more than you thought – both in AND out of the gym. But it’s only one piece of the puzzle. Nutrition is a key component of your health, fitness, energy levels, disease prevention, and longevity.
As you’ve read in our Nutrition Guide (if you are a member), we advocate eating only whole, real foods. These include all meats, vegetable and good sources of fat, along with some fruit and nuts. This removes all grains, sugar, legumes, and dairy from your diet.
When people make this change, they instantly see results. They usually start off great, sticking nearly 100% to the guidelines. Over time, perhaps once weight loss is no longer happening, or once the last 30 challenge is well in the past, old habits begin to creep in, and a healthy diet of 90% real foods quickly drops down to about 70%, without notice.
Why is it so easy to go to the gym, but so hard for some of us to eat well? Maybe it’s because the gym is fun, but for some people, cooking or eating this way…isn’t. Well, what if your involvement with nutrition were more like your involvement with the gym? What if you took your favorite parts of CrossFit and implemented them into your diet?
Change it up
One of the reasons that CrossFit is so fun is that it changes every day. Very rarely to you repeat a workout. If you can count your last 20 days of food on one hand, perhaps you might need to crack open ye old Paleo Cookbook and check out some more real food recipes to add it to your repertoire. (Our current favorite is Paleo Comfort Foods. Everyday Paleo is also great and beginner friendly. We’ve heard rave reviews about Make it Paleo.)
Make something new. Make something nostalgic. Make something using a vegetable you’ve never heard of before. Make something ethnic. Create a dish that’s all your own.
Make it Functional
The things you learn in CrossFit are so helpful to you because they carry over into ‘real life’. You are learning movements that make sense to you, and that have relevance in your life. When you bend down to pick something up, or reach overhead to put something away, you are (hopefully) using the techniques that you learned at the gym to most effectively get the job done.
Same goes for nutrition. You need to make nutritional choices that make sense for YOUR life. Rather than stress over the things you can’t control (my kid won’t eat greens, I don’t have access to a microwave at work, I work overnight shifts near fast food joints), come up with ways to make good food choices that fit your lifestyle. There’s no need to be a Paleo Gourmet if you are low on money or time. Do whatever makes the most sense for you, and it’ll be easy to stick to it!
Warming up might not be the most ‘intense’ or fun part of CrossFit, but it’s the part of class that trains our bodies to move properly when there is weight or speed involved. During the warmup, we repeat the basic movements over and over again, hoping to get them one step closer to perfection.
If you find that you have some dysfunction in your diet, but you can’t pinpoint what it is, go back to the basics to find out. Start off every day with a basic omelette (eggs +meat), then choose a few ‘go-to’ easy real food recipes for lunch and dinner. Do this for a week straight, eating nothing but the basics. At the end of the week, evaluate how this differed from what you were eating during the prior weeks. Had you added in a BUNCH of non-food ingredients? Had your ‘cheat’ snacks become ‘cheat meals’ or ‘cheat days’?
Warm up to find errors, and then fix them as soon as possible!
We are all busy. No one has any extra time. Except that we do. We manage to make time for the things that count. Family time, job time, gym/fun time – these things happen every day because we plan them. We could wake up every morning with 10 reasons to skip the gym – but we plan ahead, set our alarms early, or leave work on time to make sure we get our butts to the gym. Because it’s important. And you plan ahead for important things.
Good food choices don’t just appear in front of us. In fact, bad food choices are all around us, all of the time. We have to plan to get good food into our bodies. So get a pencil, a paper, and a fresh Firefox tab and start searching — search for new recipes, restaurants in your area that serve meats/veggies, sources of grassfed meat in your area, a local CSA. Then visit Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and Wegmans for this week’s food. Buy a TON of vegetables and start cooking. Store them in the fridge and serve them with meats and fish throughout the week. Each night before you go to bed, put a beef roast, whole chicken, chicken thighs, pork shoulder, or meat-of-your-choice in a crockpot on low for 12 hours. When you wake up, store it in the fridge – it’s instant lunch/dinner in a snap!
As you go along, things will become second nature, and there will be almost no real planning involved. Just living.
Track Progress and Keep Score
CrossFit has an element to it that almost no other fitness class has – we keep score. We keep score to see how did well in the workout, and also to see individuals’ progress over time. CrossFit causes change in people’s bodies because we are always striving toward improvements, not just ‘maintenance’.
Without becoming neurotic (I repeat…without becoming neurotic) about your food, keeping track of your meals might help unlock some clues about your diet and how/why you are or aren’t making progress. Keeping a food log for a week or two ( and emailing it to email@example.com so that we can review it and give you feedback) will certainly be a quick way to shed some light onto how to make a change for the better.
Involve Other People
CrossFit is generally more effective than any ‘intense’ workout video that leaves you wiped out at the end. Why? Because of the motivation created by groups of people around you, cheering you on as you attempt to lift the heaviest weight you’ve ever lifted. In many cases, especially with the women at our gym, unrealistic limits have been removed due in part to the fact that they are standing next to someone who looks like them, used to be weaker than them, and is now lifting more. “Well, if she can do it, I might be able to as well.” I’ve seen countless instances of people lifting more weight because of who they were lifting with at their bar.
Nutrition, and any life changing shift, is infinitely easier when you surround yourself with a support group – a collective of people who are there to help you along, and to share their own stories along the way. Our last nutrition challenge was so successful because of the community that it inspired. Each weekly blog post had over 50 comments from those involved, in addition to all of the Facebook chatter, personal blog writing, in-gym conversations, emails, cooking demo’s, potluck parties, etc.
If you are looking to clean up your diet, don’t do it alone. Involve your family, friends or co-workers. If you are bored with your own recipes, get a group of people together to cook bulk portions (depending on how many people are in the group) of 1 dish each, and then create a Food Swap. Make a date/time to meet up and swap food and you’ll end up with a bunch of different meals for the week – all packed up and ready to go!
The next time you find yourself in a food rut, see if you can’t CrossFit your way out
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