I promised you it was coming, so here it is. It's time to talk nutrition. I know it is an uncomfortable subject for a lot of folks but I would be doing you a great disservice if I neglected it. It is integral to everything we are trying to do. If you want to be healthier, stronger, fitter, better...it starts in the kitchen. Many of us love CrossFit because the intensity and movements get us fitter than we have ever been before. The community and variety of workouts keeping us coming back for more. We get stronger. Our confidence grows. We like the changes in body composition. Unfortunately, exercise can only get you part of the way to health. Without addressing what you are putting into your pie hole, you will almost certainly fall short in your health and fitness goals. There is no such thing as out-exercising poor nutritional habits. I wish it worked that way, but it just doesn't. Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, depression, high blood pressure, auto-immune disorders, Alzheimers and so many others have links back to nutrition. Seriously people, nutrition is absolutely critical to your health and the vast majority of Americans are getting it really, really wrong. We have created a culture where it is acceptable to over-indulge in foods that are literally making us sick while the food and beverage industry cheers us on.
All that being said, food is a funny thing. While the primary purpose is to fuel our bodies, we consume it for so many more reasons than we even recognize or understand. If it were just about fuel, nutrition would be as simple as balancing an equation and we all know that it just isn't. Yet the idea of "giving up" our favorite things in the name of health for even a period of time throws many into a panic or even anger at the mere suggestion. I am not a dietician or a therapist, but I do recognize the impacts that our nutritional choices have on our physical, mental, and psychological well-being. It is a complicated and multi-faceted issue, but one that is well worth doing the hard work to understand and improve. I also recognize that there are widely ranging (perhaps even diametrically opposed) opinions on the correct nutritional approach. I am not going to jump into that debate here, but I think we can all agree that there is no place for sugar, highly processed foods, or excessive carbohydrates in our diets. Most of us have room for improvement in these areas of common ground without getting too deep in the weeds of nutritional philosophy.
So what am I suggesting? I am asking you to take 8 weeks to focus on improving your nutrition (among other things). It is not an all or nothing challenge and I'm not asking you to go cold-turkey on all things that you love. I am only asking you to give attention to and create awareness around what you are eating. Let this great community support you in improving your nutrition in the same way we help each other with accountability to workouts. In the context of the Whole Life Challenge, there are three levels from which you can choose. They are not perfect and I do not agree 100% with all the foods that are included/excluded on specific levels. Again, these are details and not a good reason to opt out. We can customize them any way we want as long as we construct a plan and stick to it. Here is their description:
"You have the option of choosing from three levels of play. We don’t ask for perfection, just improvement from where you currently are. So with that in mind, you can play:
Kick Start—A great place to start if you’re new to the health and fitness game and need to make the most important tweaks to get yourself started in the right direction. Cuts out what your mom might call “junk.” This level will definitely be a challenge that culminates in amazing results.
Lifestyle—A good choice if you are looking for a long-term lifestyle nutrition program. Maintaining it to a “T” post-Challenge might be difficult, but it represents something much more adaptable to a long-term program than the Performance Level.
Performance—The strictest level of the WLC. If you already have good eating habits that you just want to fine tune, have athletic or performance related goals, or have a pressing health issue or inflammatory condition that you’d like to address, choose this level."
I will have information out on the desk on Friday for the Whole Life Challenge. You can find all the information and register at www.wholelifechallenge.com. Early registration ends on August 31st so save yourself some cash and sign up now. Also, don't forget to sign up for the CrossFit Catacombs team when you register.
I promised not to twist arms and I won't. What I will do is ask you to reflect on what you have to lose by participating. Think about where you could be in 2 months with focused effort on nutrition, stress management, and self care. Even small changes can make such a huge difference over time.