If you’re like me at all, you may start to think about how you look or maybe how you will look on the beach. You look in the mirror after you take a shower and instead of “the 6 pack” you see Sinterklaas Sweets, Oud en Nieuw Borrel treats and maybe one too many extra servings of “insert your favourite dessert here”. At the very least this feeling can be annoying but for some of us it can be the start of a vicious downward spiral ending in me on the living room floor feeling sorry for myself staring at the bottom of yet another empty Ben & Jerry’s container in the Mother of all Pity Party’s.
When I was younger, let’s just say I liked cake #fatkid. Just before I turned 16, I decided that I was tired of being embarrassed with how I looked and to do something about it. I decided that I would wake up every morning and run 5km through the park following a par course where I would perform different exercises. At the time, I thought if I exercised enough everything would be okay. I would get the body a wanted with the big muscles and chiseled abs if only I just kept training. The only thing I didn’t know at the time was that I was missing a fundamental piece of the puzzle; nutrition.
I didn’t really delve much deeper into nutrition until I attended my CrossFit L1 Trainer Course in 2008; that was when I began to understand how important it was. Way back in 2002 Coach Greg Glassman wrote the article “What is Fitness?” and in that article he proposed the theoretical hierarchy of the development of an athlete. At the pinnacle of an athletes’ development they spend time refining their specialty; before that they need capacity in the ability to control external objects; before that they need to be able to control their body in space; before that they need to develop their metabolic conditioning; and at the bottom of this groundbreaking theory is nutrition.
Nutrition is key
Nutrition, food, everything you put in your face, will have a direct effect on everything you do. Your performance in the gym, how you look in the mirror, how you feel and how long you live are all influenced by your diet. What I had failed to realise was that if I really wanted to “look the part” training alone was never going to get me there. At the same time, the focus CrossFit has on Measurable, Observable and Repeatable results, resulted in a paradigm shift from within myself. Instead of focusing on six pack abs, the guns and chesticles, I was now focusing on my Fran time, how many rounds of Cindy I could get and how heavy my deadlift was. I let my performance guide me and I began to see nutrition as yet another variable which would literally fuel my performance. By thinking of food as yet another variable to achieve my goals, I was able to see and feel just how much of an impact it had on me. I still enjoyed eating, maybe even more than ever because now I understood that every bite was bringing me closer to my goals!
After committing to proper nutrition not only did I see significant increases in performance but there was a huge change in the mirror. I was starting to look the way I always wanted to look. I began to realise that it wasn’t about how much I was training or just what I was eating but a commitment to both nutrition and training that was necessary to achieve my goals. Most people come to me and ask, “which exercise do I need to do to get a six-pack?” or “how often do I need to train to lose the last 5kgs?” This is very similar to the the way that I used to look at it, and what most people need to understand is that to be successful in loosing weight/bodyfat, you need to focus on both nutrition and exercise. What can be fairly daunting for most people is the “how?”
Mastering a skill
If you google anything about nutrition, you will literally find thousands of diets all promising weight loss and you know what? They probably all work! If people did not lose weight on a particular diet, it would no longer exist, but the real problem, what the real question you have to ask yourself is, is it sustainable? Can you eat this way for the rest of your life, supporting all your performance goals and giving you the aesthetic results you seek? This is typically where most diets fall short because most of the time people are looking for a quick fix. They are thinking they need to lose weight fast to look good on vacation, for an event or they feel guilty after the holdiays. The problem with his mindset is that they are all focusing on temporary solutions and not focused on the long term.
The real solution will generally have more to do with making small changes resulting in lasting effects. One of my favourite quotes in training is having goals “on the distant horizon with a low trajectory to get there”. Nutrition is no different. How long does it take to get that sub 5 minute Fran time? Sub 4? Sub 3? What about a bodyweight Snatch? For some reason it seems easier for people understand that it takes time to learn and eventually master a new skill. But the same person isn’t satisfied with anything less than a 6 pack in 30 days! Well, you could get a six-pack in 30 days after starving yourself but that is similar to saying that someone who jumped out of an airplane without a parachute is really fast! Unfortunately, both pretty much end the same. We want you to achieve your results and maintain them.
What is my recommendation? How would or do I do it? I start simple, with the basics. It is no different than what you are already doing in the gym. Every day, at the start of every WOD, we start with basics. Every day with every meal, I start with the basics. Before I even start with what I want to eat, I need to know why I’m eating. It seems silly but I want to know if I’m eating just because I want something tasty or am I really hungry? I’m I eating because I just worked out or did someone tell me it is “time to eat”? I even think about how I eat. I actually think about what I’m doing while I’m eating; am I wolfing down the food like I’m the youngest brother at a table of 8? Am I eating mindlessly while watching TV or scrolling through Instagram? These are just a couple very small changes you could make that would have a huge impact in the long run and I haven’t said anything at all about what to eat!!!
Ultimately, it comes down to making a commitment to nutrition much like you have already done with training. Showing up to the box investing your time, energy and money to improve your fitness should be matched with just as much commitment to nutrition. There are no “six minute abs” and it shouldn’t be a “summer six-pack” but a lifetime commitment to achieving your performance and aesthetic goals through achievement year round. There are no shortcuts and it won’t always be easy but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. If you put in the work, you’ll see the results.
Still in love with cake
One last thing, don’t think for a minute that I don’t get out there and enjoy life a bit. I love to eat and I am extremely lucky in being able to try culinary delicacies from all over the world regularly. Don’t think that I don’t indulge in the occasional dessert or delicious meal but always in moderation. I also know that if I’m on track 80% of the time, I’ll see 80% of the results! Oh and by the way, if you try and grab my Ben & Jerry’s from me, you’ll pull back a bloody stump ;-)