Just another nutrition challenge
By: Eric Basek
This past summer I was attending the CrossFit Games on behalf of the Yellow Ribbon Fund. One of my volunteer projects is to promote fitness as a tool for recovery among injured or ill veterans. While at the event, I began the walk around vendor village attempting to establish some professional relationships for our charity. Not long into my walk I saw the Lurong Living tent. I introduced myself and mentioned I was familiar with the Deer Antler supplement they sell because of Brendan Ferreira. Brendan was blown up by a suicide bomber. He is an arm amputee, is filled with shrapnel, has damage to his legs, vision and hearing. Brendan swears by this supplement….and if it helps alleviate some joint pain for him…maybe it’d work for me. Before I knew it, Adam (the owner) had convinced me to sign-up for this year’s Lurong Living Nutrition Challenge. I didn’t even see it coming……
(Brendan Ferreira at this year’s Operation Menage-A-WOD)
As the challenge date got closer, I decided to look at the website. Was I really going to do this or did I just appease him? Another nutrition challenge? I’ve been “in fitness” for 22 years. I know everything right? Couldn’t possibly be something new or different.
After looking at the website, the meal plan and recipes, I realized it would require something I have never done before. Absolute dedication to a prescribed meal plan for 42 days. I was told what to shop for, what to eat and why I was eating it. I was given a recipe book for replacements to meals in the plan I might not like or have allergies to. I was even guided on calculating my BMR and tracking the appropriate calorie level I should be consuming every day. Of all the diets I have tried (Atkins, South Beach, The Zone, Low Fat, No Fat, Low Carb, No Carb, Carb Back Loading, EAS, and on and on and on), I can’t recall a single time I committed for 7 straight weeks…or even 4 straight weeks.
What the hell. I gave it a shot. Here’s what I learned:
- It is SIGNIFICANTLY easier to stick to a plan when every step of it is written down. To include meal prep, shopping and what to do (or when to eat) left-overs.
- I normally eat (and this goes for most of us I am guessing) WAY MORE than I think I eat. Simply put, “It Adds Up!”.
- During this 7 weeks, I worked out less than I had in the previous entire year! I was taking it easy for the fall, waiting to hit a heavy strength building cycle for the winter. If I had to guess, I’d say I worked out at half the intensity I normally do. During this time, I lost…wait for it…. 10 pounds! I worked out LESS and lost MORE…way more!! In fact, I was gaining weight all summer and not happy with it. Couldn’t I just CrossFit and eat whatever I wanted?
- No! You cannot CrossFit (or Krav Maga, or Zumba or whatever) and eat what you want. It doesn’t work that way (at least not for most of us).
- Meal prep can be fun. I found myself spending more time in the kitchen, helping my wife, than I ever had. It was, believe it or not, quality time to chat and work on our meals together.
- Have a plan, stick to it and results will follow! I’ve said it before regarding fitness but here I am saying it about nutrition. It’s not rocket science. We know that too many calories = more weight. Sugar is bad for you. Saturated Fats are bad for you (mostly). We know that snacks add up. It’s not that difficult to understand, it’s just easier to cheat, especially if you are depressed, tired, drunk, hung-over, bored or busy. And my guess…we fall into one of those categories all the time!
- Try this challenge next time around. Just give it a shot. You’ll find it easier to put in the effort when people are at your side trying the same thing
- Have a plan. Write down your meals. Plan your shopping list. Stick to it.
- Don’t try and be perfect. Be willing to cheat – but cheat infrequently and when you do, control portions. 1 slice of pie at Thanksgiving, not 1 slice of each pie at the table!
- Track your calories. This is a bit of a pain but if you do it for a month, you’ll have a great understanding of how many calories are in your meals. Knowledge is Power! Download the free (or paid version) of My Fitness Pal. It’s worth it!
The statement that abs are made in the kitchen and not in the gym is a profoundly true observation. I’ve been working out, pursuing fitness for over 20 years now. I was a fat kid. I still have a sweat tooth and struggle with diet. This has been the best nutritional and educational experience I have ever had! I Highly recommend it for everyone. I’m not gonna lie…it feels GOOOOODDD!!!!