First, I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for welcoming me to Trinity with open arms! The past few months have been an exciting new experience for me as both an athlete and a coach-in-training, and to those of you whom I haven’t gotten the opportunity to meet in person yet (that’s mostly you crazy 05:30 AMers!) I look forward to finally being able to put a face to the name on the whiteboard.
Rumor has it that there is a fall nutrition challenge in the works, and it would be great to have as close to 100% member participation as possible. The challenge will be for 30 days, and involve eliminating added sugar, dairy and alcohol. For anyone who is new to CrossFit and/or hesitant to join the challenge, this post is for you. Proper nutrition is the foundation for a healthy lifestyle. No matter how many days a week you show up to the gym, how many extra burpees you do, or miles you run, you can’t negate the giant bear claw that you had for breakfast, or beers that you had last night. CrossFit tells us “Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar”. Sounds simple enough, right?
Yeah, but …
My work schedule, my class schedule, I’m traveling, I have an event coming up, I have a family commitment, the kids are back in school. There is never going to be an absolutely perfect time in everyone’s schedule to dial in your nutrition; stuff happens, life happens. But, creating excuses not to do it is only giving yourself permission to fail. Keep in mind your goals for overall health and fitness and make your motivation stronger than your excuses. So, how does one overcome all of the challenges when it comes to staying on track with nutrition? Here are some tips and tricks:
Plan Ahead - if you know that you have a crazy week approaching, plan your meals ahead of time. If you’re blessed like I am with a spouse who loves to cook and meal prep, or you enjoy it yourself, this part is a breeze. If not, give Kettlebell Kitchen a try, or if you’re adventurous in the kitchen, try out some new recipes. Try to always have on hand some frozen veggies in your kitchen (riced cauliflower is my personal favorite) in case you’re in a last minute bind to throw together a meal. Bring your meals to work/school so that you’re not having to order out or grab a fast food meal.
Read all food labels - this includes seasonings, dressing, sauces, and beverages. Sugar has a nasty way of hiding in our food, in various forms, and isn’t always easy to spot. Anything that ends in “ose” is sugar, but even those natural sweeteners contain sugar. Things that you also want to avoid are agave, coconut sugar, date sugar, maple syrup, molasses and stevia. (Honey is allowed!)
Hydrate - make sure that you’re drinking enough water. Many people find themselves eating when in fact they’re thirsty. The rule of thumb that I go by when it comes to your water intake is half of your body weight in ounces is the minimum amount of water you should drink daily. For example, someone who weighs 150 pounds should be drinking 75 ounces of water a day. Prior to every meal, drink at least 12 ounces of water … this will not only make sure that you stay hydrated throughout the day, but will help satiate your appetite. Carry a refillable water bottle with you at all times, and track your intake.
Make smarter menu choices - there are going to be times when we have to dine out, but this doesn’t mean that you have to completely blow your nutrition plan. If you know what restaurant you’re going to, check out their menu ahead of time, opt for grilled items over fried, and ask to substitute double veggies for the starch. Remember if you order a salad, oil and vinegar is the way to go to avoid any unwanted sugar.
Just say no to booze - I love a nice glass of wine with dinner, or a mixed drink when I’m out with friends, so this was difficult for me for a long time. Flavored seltzer’s are great, but make sure that you read the ingredients as some of them do contain sweeteners. I’m a big fan of plain old club soda with either lemon or lime in it, or muddled fruit. If you’re at a party, keep a glass of seltzer in your hand so that the drink refill king doesn’t sneak up on you.
Bonus tip - finding substitutes for those sugary starches. I mentioned before that I love keeping frozen riced cauliflower on hand, as it’s very versatile and a great substitute for rice. Fresh zucchini can be spiralized and makes great noodles, and spaghetti squash can also be used instead of pasta. Give them a try!
If anyone was on the fence before, I hope that I have now gently persuaded you that this challenge is manageable, no matter what the circumstances. If you’re a challenge veteran, I encourage you to up your game and try something like eliminating gluten or, dare I say caffeine?? (No, I take that last one back!)
If you’re STILL not convinced that this is doable, here is proof that a little planning goes a long way, especially at the beach where my usual salt and vinegar chips are being replaced by cucumber slices and celery sticks.
See you all at the gym!!