Its now been 3 whole weeks since Reign entered this world and its honestly so crazy to remember a time when she wasn’t part of our family. Given our public following and the fact that so many people seemed so interested and had so many questions about my pregnancy and then about my birth – I wanted to put together something to explain how our perfect daughter entered this world. Then, I didn’t want to. I felt that in telling our story – people might compare or try and draw similarities (good or bad) from their experiences and that is not at all my intention in detailing her birth story. Quite the opposite.
I finally decided to do this because if I write this all down, in detail, as its fresh in my mind – I will always have it. I can share it with Reign later on, I can always go back to those few moments before I met her, the moments I waited SO LONG for. I can relive over and over again in detail what my body went through and the effort, faith, and determination it took to get her earthside with us.
If you are reading this – please read it as a story that is totally separate of anything you have experienced or are going to experience. Just as every pregnancy is unique, every baby is unique, and every mother and family is unique – so is every birth story.
Here is ours.
SETTING THE STAGE
I want to give you just a quick recap to set the stage, and add some drama to the whole thing. I had a really “easy” and low risk pregnancy. Everything was as it should be. I stayed active, and was confident my body would know what to do when it was time. After all, I WAS CREATED FOR THIS. I talked to my doctor about wanting to deliver with as little intervention as possible. I wanted to be able to move around freely in labor and I had no intention of getting an epidural or having them use instruments unless anything was medically nessecary. I wanted my body to be able to do as much as it could on its own – uninterrupted. She was on board and suggested I work with a doula who could help me with some pain management techniques when the time came as well as helping to kickstart labor when it came time. I took her advice and we prepared for Reign’s birth as a team of 4 – my OBGYN, my doula, my husband, and myself. I had my last doctors appointment on my due date (Friday, Sept 13th). At that appointment, my doctor checked my progress and said she was pretty confident we would not see a baby that weekend. She scheduled an induction for the following Friday (the 41 week mark). I was pretty bummed with this and I remember being near tears in the shower that night over it (LOL hormones). I wanted so badly for our baby to come when she was ready and when my body was ready. I was even plotting how I was going to beg the doc for more time if Thursday night came and I was still pregnant. However, in all of that, I just kept praying. I kept praying that whatever God had planned to bring our baby into this world I was going to accept and trust that he would protect us and we would both be healthy in the end. That had been my prayer since the day of conception and it was crazy to me that 9 months later on my very due date, I was saying the same prayer. It wouldn’t be the last time.
Between that appointment and Reign’s arrival I made it my sole mission to focus all my efforts on helping my body progress as much as it could. I felt that if I got to induction day, I wanted to know I did everything I possibly could have to go into labor naturally. I went to the gym and exercised (some stair master, elliptical, walking, and squats). I took hot baths with calry sage oil, and slept with some diffused into my pillowcase. I continued to drink Red Raspberry Leaf Tea and eat pineapples. I used a breast pump for nipple stimulation. I bounced on an exercise ball every chance I got. I am not sure if any of these methods helped – but they sure didn’t hurt. I was giving it my all.
EARLY LABOR (Sunday, Sept. 15th)
We had people over Saturday night. I felt really crappy all day – something was different and I had NO appetite. I didn’t want to jinx it though and I just kept thinking “its just in your head, you’ve felt this way all week”. I went to bed early and said the same prayer I said every night since the 39 week mark haha “Please God, wake me up in labor”. Sure enough my prayers were answered that night (however, I was still afraid to jinx it). At 1:00 am I woke up to really intense back pain – I checked my watch out of habit and then all of a sudden, as quick as it came, it disappeared. I decided to check my watch again, just in case – it was 2 minutes later. I fell back asleep, only to wake up to another surge of back pain about 20 minutes later. Again, I checked my watch and then checked again when it stopped. Again, 2 minutes. After this happened about 3x, almost exactly 20 minutes apart I remember thinking “THIS IS IT!” and then another voice in my head said “your back hurts silly, labor comes from your abdomen – you’re just having back pain, probably from sleeping so uncomfortably”. So, I kind of shrugged it off even though this lasted until about 5:00 am. After that one, I didn’t wake up until around 7:00 am. My husband was playing golf early that Sunday and I woke up to him getting ready. I didn’t say anything to him, again not wanting to jinx it. I figured I would let him go play golf and tell him later if it was the real thing. I mean, I hadn’t felt anything from 5-7am anyway, so it probably was nothing. I got up and went about my morning routine. I did some computer work from the exercise ball and texted my good friend Jenny (who happens to be a doctor) as well as my doula, and sister in law (who is a mom of 4) for their thoughts. They all agreed it sounded like something was happening and encouraged I move around a bit.
At around 9:00am I went out on a walk with my dog, Biggie Smalls. We walked the same 1.5 mile course we had been walking for weeks now. We did it at a pace that was almost 10 minutes slower than normal (which I didn’t realize until after I gave birth and looked back on the Fitbit data!). About half way into the walk, the back pain I felt the night before came back. This time, it was around 12-15 minute intervals, still lasting about 2:00. This is when I started tracking it on my app. Jenny had mentioned something about “back labor” and so I figured this is how it was going to be for me – I would simply feel contractions in my back instead of my abdomen (maaaannnn I had NO IDEA what I was in for with this!). By the time I was approaching my driveway at the end of the walk, I was wincing in pain – it felt like someone was starting to hammer on my tailbone and I knew all I wanted to do was take a hot shower and try to lay down.
Before getting in the shower, I noticed some discharge I knew meant baby was on its way. However, I still wasn’t sure HOW SOON that would mean, I just was pretty confident it was the real thing at this point. I laid down and tried to take a nap, thinking I was likely in for a pretty long night ahead and then weeks and months of little sleep when Reign came. It seemed like the best idea in the moment, however the back pain was getting worse and worse, and closer and closer together (now about 8:00 apart consistently) so falling asleep never happened. I finally texted my husband at this point (probably around 1-2pm) and said something like “Hey, pretty sure well see a baby here within the next day”. He responded something like “okay, should I come home now?” and I assured him he didn’t have to rush, he was fine to finish playing and head home – but when you get here, its going to get real.
LABORING AT HOME (Sunday, Sept 15th)
I spent the rest of the day walking around my house doing last minute things. Making sure the dishwasher was loaded and running, doing laundry, answering as many client check ins as I could, sweeping our house, loving on our dogs, making sure I had everything in my hospital bag, getting my paperwork together. At one point, Brenton asked me something like “Are you walking around non-stop to try and break your water or something?!”. “Not at all” was my answer – “my back just hurts way too bad to sit or lay down”. The ONLY position that felt comfortable, the position I would be in until about 2am that night was walking, swaying, or standing leaned over on a counter or bed or chair. Being upright on my feet was my best bet and sitting or lying down was almost out of the question already.
At about 5pm Brenton and I had the REAL conversation “Okay, so when are we going to go in?”. We decided I would stay home as long as I could tolerate it (we live a mile from the hospital). He finished watching the Sunday night football game, showered, packed, and got us some dinner. We fed and took care of the dogs for the night, packed the car, loaded the car seat, and were ready to go. I barely got down half the sandwich he got for me and really only did so because I honestly didn’t know when my next meal would be. At this point, my back contractions were about 3 minutes apart and were still lasting about 90 seconds. I was in a good amount of pain and was honestly worried if we waited much longer the – although short – drive to the hospital was going to be way more painful than it needed to be. So, instead of going to bed Sunday night, we left for the hospital shortly after 9pm. The drive to the hospital was one of the most surreal and exciting drives of my life. Its like the thing you have been wondering about for MONTHS now is only hours away. I said more prayers, promised it was all in God’s hands, and got excited for everything that was about to happen. I could not believe we were finally going to meet her.
ARRIVAL AT THE HOSPITAL (Sunday, Sept. 15th)
We get to the hospital, they check us in and put me in a small holding room. While we are waiting, I tell Brenton “with how close these are and how painful they are already, I wouldnt be surprised if I am already at a 6-7”. LOL.
The doctor working checks me and says “Ehh about a 3, but I can feel her head right there”. She THEN tells me “We are going to give you an hour to progress and if we don’t see much progress we will send you home and you can come back when you are closer”. At this point I CANNOT sit down and its painful to even lie down for her to check me. She leaves and I tell Brenton there is no chance I am going back home tonight. Minutes later, my OBGYN walks in the door! She said she was on call that night and saw we checked in. (I cannot say enough good things about Dr. Jessica Standeford – she was amazing from start to finish.) She sees the state of pain I am in and that I can’t sit down. I explain everything, how long this has been going, how its progressed, etc. She agrees there is no need for me to go back home and would talk to them and explain. She comes back a bit later with the news that “they agreed, but you have to walk the halls for an hour before going up to your room” – she also came in with the ultrasound machine as protocol to check baby and make sure she wasn’t breech. As soon as the wand touched the top of my pelvis – we saw my daughter’s cute little nose facing up! The doctor looks at me and says “THIS is why your back hurts so much – she’s what we call ‘Sunny Side Up’ and her skull is rubbing along your tailbone as shes coming down”. “AWESOME” I thought, “Reign isn’t going to make this easy”. My doctor then looks me in the eye and says “I know the epidural isnt in your plan and we have you in a low intervention room, but know that if you feel you need it, all you have to do is ask.” She said it so reassuring and positive in a way that didn’t make me feel like she thought I COULDN’T get through this without it. Instead it actually gave me more confidence that no matter what happens tonight – this was all going to be okay.
LABOR (Sunday, Sept. 15th)
I did as I was asked and walked the halls for an hour. The entire time my doula and I were trying to rotate Reign so that she turned facing my back (an anterior lie) to relieve the back labor. I had done this numerous times throughout late pregnancy when I could feel her back to back (a posterior lie) with me. However, NOTHING seemed to work likely due to the fact that she was already wedged in the birth canal or at least close and turning her through movement at this point was almost impossible.
This is where it got pretty bad. My team and I worked together to manage pain as best we could in the hallways. I just remember walking and stopping every few steps – leaning against the wall and focusing on my breath. At one point, I had to stop and puke in the janitors cart because the back pain was so intense. Still, I would just focus on making it through one contraction at a time. I had prepared for some pain and discomfort and just kept focusing on breath work and trusting my body. Eventually, I told them “okay I am done walking around like this, I need to get to my room”.
We finally got upstairs into a room and I was SO EXCITED to get into the jacuzzi. The low intervention room had a nice large tub with jacuzzi jets and I had been thinking about this for the past hour and how it would help. I thought for sure getting in there with the jets on my back would be of some relief and I couldn’t wait to try it. Joke was on me though, as even in the tub I couldn’t sit down without making the pain much worse. I opted for this wide squat stance leaning over the side of the tub. It helped for just a bit. Brenton put some worship music on and honestly conversations that I had while in the tub are the last real conversations I remember having with anyone in the room until after 2am. Things started to build while I was in there and eventually I needed to get out and stand, leaning over something again, as that was still my most bearable position.
From the time I got out of the tub until about 2am is a blur – I have no idea how long it actually was. I remember leaning over the side of the bed as things escalated. Brenton was rubbing my back as the contraction came for some counter pressure. But when the contraction would leave, I would still be left with excruciating back pain until the next one came again. I remember a few things during this time: I remember repeating over and over again that I just NEEDED A REST, I remember my legs shaking from standing for so long at this point, and I remember praying over and over that this wouldn’t last for much longer. I then remember nearly crying through two contractions in a row despite all of my effort to stay calm and breath through the pain. I remember looking down at the heart rate recorded on my watch and seeing numbers between 150-160 bpm – my thoughts immediately shifted from dealing with my pain to realizing what my body was actually going through and remembering my daughter was inside, trying to make her exit. I think that’s when it all came to me – this was not a workout I had to be tough in, this was not a score on a leader board I was fighting for, this wasn’t a championship game I needed to grind in – I WAS HELPING ANOTHER HUMAN INTO THE WORLD.
Instantly, my first motherly protective instinct kicked in and I knew that if I “toughed this out” for much longer – my baby would run the risk of being in distress and it would likely mean an emergency to get her out. Maybe that wouldn’t of happened – but in the moment, I wasn’t going to run that risk to prove anything. This wasn’t about me. On the third contraction that nearly brought me to tears – I finally looked at the nurse in charge and said “GIVE ME AN EPIDURAL”, without hesitation she started making moves to make that happen.
I then looked at Brenton saying “I want the epidural” affirmatively, almost looking for acceptance from him. I remember feeling guilty over it. Guilty that I somehow failed my husband and my child for asking for the drug. Guilty that I didn’t stick to my plan, or do what I said I was going to do in not using interventions. Before that guilt could last any longer, my husband – just being himself – said something along the lines of “okay, that’s your call!” with the very assuring attitude of “I trust you.” Instantly the needless guilt disappeared. I asked the nurse if she could check me one more time. I thought to myself “Okay – if I am at an 8 or higher I will just make it through without the drug, it won’t be much longer”. She checked and I was still only 6cm dilated! (Contractions with back labor come closer together and more intense so it sort of gives the illusion you are further along in labor than you actually are.) I confirmed with her that I wanted the epidural and before I knew it the anesthesiologist was in to administer it.
This is probably the point of labor I was most proud of and thankful for my husband. Without him, I am not so sure the epidural would have been possible. Remember, it is incredibly painful for me to even sit down at this point. So, needing to sit still for long enough to get large needles in a specific place in my spine was for sure not easy. They raised the table up getting my feet were off the ground so I wouldn’t instinctively try to get up. Brenton stood in front of me as I squeezed him SO HARD as each contraction came. He was scrubbed up so really all I could see of his face was his bright blue eyes which were HUGE at this point. I just remember staring into them and squeezing as I prayed through each contraction. I’m sure it was pretty quick but I promise it felt like the longest minutes of labor. However, within seconds of them completing the procedure, it was instant relief throughout my body.
The mood in the room changed 100%. I could finally hold a conversation and think about something else besides my back pain. They laid me down comfortably, dimmed the lights, sat my husband next to me and around 2:00 am, Brenton and I finally got some rest. We both fell asleep (FINALLY some rest!) and woke around 4:00 am to the nurse who came in to check progress. As she was getting setup, my mind was racing. I was so worried I may have stalled labor with the epidural and that I wouldn’t have progressed. Turns out, just the opposite happened and she told me I was now at an 8. In that moment I knew I had made the right call for my family and I knew God was laughing like “Dang, I TOLD YOU I GOT YOU!” Another hour later, shortly after 5:00 am, my OBGYN came in and checked me again. She said “You’re about a 9.5 right now. How about we break your water and have this baby?!” Brenton and I both looked at each like like – okay, HERE WE GO.
DELIVERY (Monday, Sept 16th)
After my water was broken, it was time to start pushing. It was now right around 5:30am on Monday morning. I think this was the part of it all that I was MOST unprepared for. Pushing was way harder than I thought! I knew first time moms usually push for longer (especially with an epidural). However I guess I really didn’t know all that actually entailed. About 10-15 minutes into pushing, our good friend and resident doctor Karissa Merritt (now Connolly) entered the L&D room and took the hands on lead delivering Reign as my OBGYN sat behind her and guided her. I trust Karissa SO MUCH and it was such a sense of security having her hands on my daughters head helping her enter this world. Because my contractions were long, I was able to get 4 pushes per contraction (instead of the usual 3). They set up a mirror for me (I highly recommend this!) to be able to watch Reign making her way out. It helped me focus my pushing efforts in the right area and also served as encouragement as I could see the progress she was making with each push.
I pushed for what felt like FOREVER. I would spend my time between contractions breathing, regaining strength, and zoning in on Reign’s heart rate that I could hear on the monitor. At one point, I knew I had been pushing for over an hour and that my baby had been mushed in the birth canal for that long. There were so many nurses and doctors in the L&D room talking, but all I could hear was her heart rate as I prayed it would stay strong and consistent. The last thing I wanted after all of that, was her heart rate to drop and they have to emergency her out. With my husband at my head and shoulders helping me push – FINALLY after almost 2 hours of doing so, at 7:07am on September 16th, Reign Marie joined us weighing 7lb 12oz and measuring 20.5 inches long. My husband, the Patriots fan from Nebraska, will tell you about how she was first conceived in Boston and how she was then born to Tom Brady highlights as ESPN was on in the background and that it was all perfectly meant to be. I will just tell you of a sweet little baby that brought her brand new mama to tears – even after a painful and drama filled labor and delivery failed to do so. Yep, I cried when she was laid on me.
I cried because all the things I had worried about happening leading up to and through delivery – I didn’t have to worry about anymore. I cried because every prayer I had through the entire process had been strategically answered one by one. I cried because I knew all the places this could have gone wrong and didn’t. I cried because my husband got to finally meet and feel his daughter after I carried her for 9 months. I cried because my baby’s screams were SO LOUD I knew she was so stinkin’ strong and just as relieved as I was for it all to be over. It was total relief the second I saw her, and I honestly was on such a high from it. I was so proud of myself for making decisions along the way to get her here safely. I knew more than ever that God has a strong hand on my family and we are loved and protected.
This is OUR story and one that I will cherish forever. I was encouraged by some moms to make sure I recorded it while it was fresh in my mind and man I am SO GLAD I did. If you are pregnant, or a new mom, seriously think about documenting your birth story. As I said before, each one is incredibly unique and special.
Reign’s mama, Nicole.
Let’s talk Thanksgiving Day! Too often, I hear how much anxiety a day like Thanksgiving brings to my clients. A holiday that is basically centered around how much food we can stuff into our face in one sitting terrifies many people who are on a weight loss, or health and fitness journey. I put together a quick list of my favorite strategies to help you relax and enjoy the day!
1) Be Active During The Day.
Avoid sitting around for extended periods of time. Come up with ideas ahead of time as to how to be active and get your family involved! Maybe it’s playing with younger cousins, helping in the kitchen, taking a walk with a grandparent or another family member you want to catch up with, or serving at a homeless shelter for lunch. It may even be as simple and fun as a game of charades, Twister, or Wii Sports! But, find a way to NOT be sedentary all day.
2) Pregame With Plenty of Water.
If you are hydrated properly and consistently drinking water the day before and day of Thanksgiving, you will be a lot less likely to overeat. Fill up some of that empty room in your stomach with a constant supply of water and watch as your ability to stuff yourself goes down. Proper hydration will also offset some of the excess sugar and salt that may be ingested and will make you feel better the next morning.
3) Don’t Deprive Yourself.
Do not fall into the trap of not eating all day and waiting until Thanksgiving dinner to stuff your face. When you are overly hungry, it is much easier to overeat at a meal because your “fullness” cues are slightly delayed. A better strategy? Eat your normal breakfast and lunch, and treat dinner as “just another meal” (filled with your favorites of course!)
4) The “One Plate” (plus one) Method.
I always recommend this strategy for any kind of potluck, gathering, buffet style meal. It especially applies to Thanksgiving which is almost always a buffet style meal of only the best stuff on earth! Fill a plate. Fill it with your favorites, your less than macro friendly, best meal of the year, only get it that one time of year when I see Aunt Sue, favorites. But after that one plate, you are then allowed ONE more scoop of your BEST pick from the meal. This is plenty of food. I promise you. Refer to #5.
5) Enjoy The Company.
I understand Thanksgiving is often all about the food, but have something planned as a light discussion topic for dinner. Focus your energy on the company – catching up, remember whens, learning more about a loved ones current life. Invest in the people around you and really listen and engage with them. Coming up with these topics on the spot doesn’t always work well. Start thinking about what you want to learn, ask, and conversate about ahead of time. Saving these topics for dinner will shift your focus to the REAL joy of Thanksgiving while keeping you from solely focusing on the plate in front of you.
6) Eat Dessert.
No catch here. Just enjoy it! Pick your favorite dessert from the options available and have that. Thanksgiving, the holidays, and family time, are just as much about enjoying things that make you happy, and lets be honest – Grandma’s pie makes us happy! By having dessert, ONE dessert, and moving on, we are eating responsibly and enjoying the moment.
7) Get Back On Track The Next Day.
Don’t let Thanksgiving open up the door to “eat mindlessly until Christmas, hashtag holiday season”. There are 32 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Get back into your routine for another month, and then follow these simple guidelines once again!
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When I started competing in the sport of weightlifting in 2013, my biggest weakness was the catch of my snatch. I could clean and jerk and I could power snatch pretty naturally, but anytime I had to catch in a full overhead squat there was a high probability I was not going to be able to hold the bar strong enough to finish the lift. For almost a year, I could snatch more than I could overhead squat from a rack – that is not an exaggeration! This did not just happen in weightlifting. When competing in CrossFit, anytime a workout came out with overhead squats I knew it was going to be a hard workout for me because of the poor position I had overhead. In fact, the most difficult and “scariest” workout I have ever done in competition was at the 2015 Regionals with pull-ups and overhead squats at 125#. It was just a very large weakness at that time.
Looking back, I know the biggest issues were the instability of the smaller muscles in my shoulder as well as a lack of proper understanding on how to actually push up and into the bar – I would simply try to “hold” or “catch” the bar overhead instead of actively pressing on it with a locked down shoulder girdle. One of my biggest regrets in weightlifting is not spending more time on correcting this right off the bat. I struggled with inconsistency in the snatch for the first half of my competitive weightlifting career for this very reason. Working on it, and fixing it sooner, would have resulted in a lot less frustration in the snatch.
Fortunately, in the past 5 years I have had many people come into my life that have helped me improve this overhead position, my overhead squat, and as a result my snatch. I now, come into contact with others all the time that have a similar issue I once had and I really wanted to put together some information to help. Typically, I hear “I have bad mobility” as an excuse/reason for a poor catch and I am here to tell you that 90% of the time “bad mobility” is not the cause of the poor catch position – it is simply lack of understanding of how to utilize and stabilize the muscles of your shoulder girdle, and lack of repetition of the movement. Simply snatching more will not improve a poor catch position – you actually have to drill the catch position and overhead stabilization specifically!
Here are the top three drills that I believe improved my overhead position in the snatch:
1. 10-10-10 Tempo OHS
Yes, this is exactly what it sounds like and 100% as miserable and demanding as it sounds. Take an empty bar and perform a 10 second decent, then sit in the bottom for 10 seconds, and begin a 10 second ascent. Be sure to have a clock somewhere in view as counting to 10 in your head usually results in about 6-7 seconds! Be sure to stay active into the barbell the entire time. This drill gives you IMMEDIATE feedback of instability and weakness in those stabilizer muscles as well as keeps you under a barbell for an entire 30 seconds. This was one of the hardest drills I have ever been asked to do, and my go-to for helping others improve their overhead position as I feel it made that much of an impact on mine. I would incorporate these into my warmups in sets of about 5-8 with about 1:00-2:00 rest in between reps. Stay very light here!
2. Snatch Drop With Pause in the Bottom
I like this drill as a progression from the Tempo OHS and something that I still use as a snatch warm up before each session. The barbell should start on your back to perform a standard snatch drop – however, when you hit bottom stay there for 3-5 seconds pushing actively into the bar with a locked down shoulder girdle and stabilizing. The idea is to now dynamically move into the same bottom position we found and held in the 10Tempo drill. There should be no movement in the bottom and you will know you are improving at this exercise when you can hit the bottom and stabilize through the entire pause with no movement or fidgeting. As you get better with this drill, begin to add weight!
3. Power Snatch (don’t stand!) + Overhead Squat
This is my favorite drill for people who have an issue puling into a full squat when the barbell gets heavy. It is also a great way to prevent the “starfish” that often happens with people as they try and compensate for lack of comfort in the overhead squat catch by throwing their feet wide to get lower. Start light here and complete a technically sound power snatch. Hold that catch position (DO NOT STAND) for about a second. Then, without moving your feet perform an overhead squat. If you find your foot position needs to change, or it is not comfortable when you try to overhead squat – you need to address your foot mechanics. Ideally, this drill should get you comfortable with holding a high overhead squat (the catch of the power snatch) and then finishing it by finding depth. The more you can drill this into your mechanics, the more comfortable you will be will pulling under the barbell in the full overhead squat position! Start light with this one and as you improve work up to a maximal weight (for this drill). In a perfect world, you would get to a point where the bar is too heavy to catch power anymore and you accidentally snatch into a full squat!
Try these out and let me know if they are working for you and if you have seen improvement!
As always, if you have any questions email me at: email@example.com or visit my website at Honor Your Nutrition
If you follow me on social media, the past few weeks you have probably noticed me reference a Nutrition Challenge at some point. You probably have also noticed there is a lot more pictures of clean food on my plate and a lot less pictures of the treats that I love so much. I’ve promised a blog and some more information about it a few times – so here is me delivering!
My husband Brenton and I eat well for the most part – as I preach so often, we track our intake 80% of the time, and fill that intake with clean, nutrient dense food 80% of the time. We are busy, prioritize fitness, and enjoy structure and eating well. However, we are also human and enjoy the occasional date night, nights out with friends, glass of alcohol, and sporadic trips to Andy’s (the best frozen custard, EVER.)
I have eaten Paleo for 2 years straight, cut weight numerous times, as well as done different month long “parameter” diets such as the Daniel Fast in the past. However, Brenton has done none of the above. He had never put parameters on his nutrition for a certain period of time. He is also the man that likes about 2 types of fruit (we may have not stretched it to 5), and chokes down vegetables just because I tell him he should. So, you can imagine my surprise when he came to me and said he wanted to “eat clean” for a certain period of time. He asked me to put together some guidelines and said he would execute what I thought that should look like. I told him I would lay out a plan that we would do for just under 30 days (from July 5th until he leaves for the CF Games on August 1st).
When creating the plan I took some things into consideration:
- We would still be very active between training, coaching, and working and I needed to make sure we stayed properly fueled in the process.
- Brenton has a history of injuries, many that leave him with some serious inflammation day to day and I believe it gets irritated even more by certain aspects of his diet
- Without a community doing it along side us, I knew it would be pretty challenging to stay the course
I took my knowledge of various ways of eating and developed these guidelines for our challenge which we have nicknamed “The Brenton-Get-Jacked Challenge”
- dairy (excluding eggs)
- processed food
- fried food
- added or artifical sugar
We made a few exceptions to this as we kept in plain oats and potatoes of any kind to keep carb intake where it needed to be. We also kept in whey protein supplements, and dextrose for intra-workout fuel. We would still be tracking and weighing our food as much as we could in order to make sure we didn’t have too much of a drop off in caloric intake.
Once we came up with this plan, we invited everyone we knew to join it on it with us. It was pretty awesome how many friends jumped on board and are doing this along with us now! We created a WhatsApp group and have been sharing recipes, questions, struggles, and progress pictures! Having the support of friends around you during something like this makes it a heck of a lot easier.
I coach nutrition daily. If you are one of my clients or have ever worked with me before you know this is not the way I coach, or my initial recommendation. Actually, I am very well known for coaching FLEXIBILITY with nutrition and encouraging that treats, sweets, and not so nutrient dense food here and there are actually good and encouraged for longevity, as it keeps you “sane” and satisfies those real life scenarios and social situations that we all enjoy so much. However, I do think it is really important to do a bit of “annual cleaning” and some kind of “challenge” like this one month out of the year – last August was the Daniel Fast for me. When deciding on a route – do your research! Do not do anything drastic like trying to eliminate one entire macronutrient group and be sure to keep an overall BALANCED nutrition no matter what your parameters are!
I encourage this method with most of my clients at some point and I think it is really important for a few reasons. First, it challenges you to a dose of mental toughness and shows you the discipline you are truly capable of when you commit to something. Second, it teaches you ALOT. It teaches you to read ingredients (you learn how many items sugar is actually added to), it teaches you how to get creative and how to think outside the box to build meals, it teaches you some new food you might like that you may have never tried before. When you are left to eat fruit and veggies in abundance, you often try new things to keep variety! And most importantly, it teaches you how to clean up your order at restaurants and make substitutions or better choices in social situations.
Health is also an obvious answer to “why”. So much of the food we eat on a day to day basis is damaging to our bodies, and doing a full nutritional clean up like this once a year can give our bodies a much needed rest and reset.
ONE WEEK IN:
The first week was very likely the hardest part (as it always is with a major adjustment like this). First, I had to make sure the house was stocked with everything we could have and that all the “elimination foods” were out of the house or just replaced with other items. We were eating a ton of rice and bread, so a lot of that needed to go and I needed to get creative with what we would have instead. The hardest part for both Brenton and I for sure was the sugar withdrawal that comes the first 3 days. It is actually pretty scary how awful your body feels coming “off” added or artificial sugar. We were both suffering from headaches, irritability, fatigue, and just overall yucky feeling – almost as if we had the flu. By day 4 however, that passed and we finally felt back to ourselves and feeling even better.
Physically, my performance has felt great and I feel like my aerobic capacity has increased which I know is a direct result of eliminating sugar. Inflammation has also decreased (as Brenton feels it has for him as well). I often suffer from an uncomfortable stomach and that has also seemed to subside eating this way.
Aesthetically we have noticed a big difference as well. I feel less inflamed visually and less puffy which I think was a result of water retention from the excess sugar I was intaking. We have both lost a bit of weight, but nothing significant as I do not want to wither away simply because I have changed up my nutrition parameters. Below are some Week 1 progress photos that we all have shared so you guys can see exactly what I am talking about!
I will write another piece toward the end of this challenge with final updated pictures!
If you have any questions, are looking for nutrition coaching, or want to get started on something like this and need more advice – send me over an email or visit my website at:
**Most of our daily meals are made easier by Trifecta Nutrition. We trust Trifecta for quality and care of our food 100%. If you have not checked them out, click HERE to take a closer look.
Dietary fat is one of the three macronutrients that make up our diet. It is an essential part of our nutrition, but can be pretty complex to understand. There are so many subgroups of “fat”, that we, as a society, have formed these stigmas or preconceived notions on what is “good” and what is “bad”.
I am sure you have heard that fat makes you fat, that eating too much fat increases cholesterol, and that the key to a low calorie diet is eliminating all dietary fat. While there is some underlying (very underlying) truth to these statements, when taken to the extreme they are without question – incorrect.
On the other hand, I am sure you have been fed some information explaining how eating an incredibly high fat but low carbohydrate diet is the key to losing fat and “becoming lean”. You were excited to hear this, and ran to the grocery store throwing every fatty meat, cheese, egg, avocados, oil and nut you could find in the store in your cart feeling like you finally cracked the nutrition code!
But, then you started asking more questions, doing more research, and you learned there was a bit more to it. You were told all fats weren’t created equal, that there was “good” and “bad”. Now, things got a bit more confusing when it came to fat. What about the different TYPES of fat?! Saturated/unsaturated? Monounsaturated? Polyunsaturated? Omegas?? What are those? How does cholesterol play into the whole thing? You were more confused than ever.
I understand how all of this information can be confusing, and trust me – there really is no simple explanation. However, I am writing this in hopes to clarify and simplify some facts about FAT and allow you a bit more understanding one piece at a time. There is a ton of information that would take up more than this single, short blog piece – but we will focus on one aspect of fat.
This piece will be focused on Omega Fatty Acids and how they come into play in our nutrition.
What does dietary fat do for us?
*note: the below benefits are from ALL fat – both saturated and unsaturated,
including Omega 3’s and 6’s so we would not want a diet that is absent of one particular type
– provides us with the most energy of any macro nutrient (9 calories per gram)
– primary energy source for babies and kids under 14 years old
– secondary energy source for adults
– helps make steroid hormones (sex hormones, courticosteroid hormones)
– forms cell membranes, primarily those of the brain and nervous system
– helps transport fat soluble vitamins (Vitamin A, D, E, K)
– provides us with TWO fatty acids we cannot make on our own: OMEGA 3 and OMEGA 6
We will discuss that last one a bit further.
OMEGA 3 FATTY ACIDS
Where can I find Omega 3’s
– marine life (I.e. salmon, sardines, mackerel, cod, algae)
– seeds (chia, flax, hemp)
– Brussel sprouts
– egg yolks from Omega-3 enriched hens (fed the above seeds)
– wild rice
There are three types of Omega 3’s:
1. Alphalinolenic (ALA)
2. Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)
3. Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA)
ALA is a popular Omega 3 source amongst plant based eaters as its is mainly found in seeds such as chia, flax, and hemp, as well as walnuts. But, the latter two, DHA and EPA, are the fatty acids we are most concerned with in Omega 3 supplementation, as they are the most beneficial to our body. They are found primarily in marine sources like fish and algae. It is important to get direct forms of these two, as we are unable to covert ALA into DHA or EPA in our bodies.
Why are 3’s so important?
– dilate blood vessels
– prevent blood coagulation (clotting)
– lower inflammation
– decrease pain
– dilate airways
– keep cell membranes more fluid causing: improved brain function, increased insulin sensitivity, and improved joint health
– aid in fat transport
OMEGA 6 FATTY ACIDS
Where can I find Omega 6’s?
– most oils
– fried foods, snacks baked in oil (chips)
– most nuts (excluding walnuts)
– dairy (cheese, milk, butter)
– cookies, candy, pastries, muffins
– dark poultry, pork, beef
There are three types of Omega 3’s:
1. Linoleic Acid ( (LA)
2. Gamma-linolenic Acid (GLA)
3. Alpha-linolenic Acid (AA)
Why are 6’s so important?
– constricting blood vessels
– clotting blood
– increasing inflammation
– increasing pain
– constricting airways
Essentially, 6’s do the exact opposite of 3’s. These may seem like negative effects for the body, however we do need these processes to occur to be able to come back from injuries and recover from daily training sessions and workouts.
What does this all mean?
We need both Omega 6’s and 3’s – but in proper balance. It may be surprising that the proper balance does actually mean getting more 6’s than 3’s. However, in the current American diet, the ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 is about 10:1 and can even be unbalanced up to about 20:1. This ratio is so off because we are so often consuming an abundance of refined oils and processed foods in the modern world. Years ago, our ancestors had a more exemplary and much healthier ratio of about 2:1 and only up to about 8:1 on the higher end.
There are some simple steps you can take to ensure that you are able to get your 6 and 3 ratio back in proper balance:
1. Eat less industrial oils and processed foods (less corn and soybean oil).
2. Eat a more varied spectrum of plant and animal foods (fatty fish, wild game).
3. Consider supplementation (fish oil, or vegan algae oil).
The main approach we should have toward fat, as with nutrition as a whole, is balance. We should never look to eliminate, or negatively view one specific macronutrient (I.e. “sugar is worse than fat”). Nor, should we view the macronutrient subgroups that way (I.e “I am going to eat NO Omega 6’s because they are bad!). We want to incorporate a balanced ratio of macronutrients and their sub groups into our diet. When it comes to fat, eating a wide variety of natural, minimally processed sources, as well as supplementing with a reliable Omega 3 product, we can ensure we are getting proper quantities of dietary fat daily.
Personally I use Driven Nutrition for all of my supplement needs. Omega’s are no different. I trust their products and I know their Omega Drive formula has the highest quantity of DHA and EPA. You can get your own Driven Nutrition Omega Drive by clicking on this link!
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There are two types of people in the world – those that LOVE to grocery shop (me!) and those that DREAD it (most people). If you are part of the latter group, I have put together some strategies to make your life a bit easier. When embarking out on your grocery journey, it is important to find a store that is a “one-stop shop”. If you are going to multiple stores to do your grocery shopping, it is very likely you are going to get distracted, pick up one too many “snacks” that don’t need to be in your pantry, and likely overspend as well.
Have A Plan.
Walk into the grocery store confident and ready to get what you need. Grocery shopping (like most shopping) should be premeditated and purposeful. This will help prevent you from impulse buying junk food, or food that will later lead to over snacking back at the house. The best way to create a fail-proof plan is to make a list and then plan an attack route once inside the store. This strategy will keep you focused on the task at hand, and will serve for a much quicker and painless grocery trip.
Make A List, Check It Twice.
Take a lesson out of the big guy’s playbook here and be sure to make a list before leaving the house, then check it over. Write your list down… ON PAPER. Making the list on your phone and constantly referring back to it while in the store will often lead to distractions while there. I like to go as far as making a list by macronutrient category (I like organization). So, my list usually starts with fruits and vegetables, followed by meats/protein, followed by carbohydrate options, then added fats that I need, and finally finishing with boxed/canned pantry items, condiments, and snacks. Doing this will ensure that you have all of your bases covered. If you are planning on making a special dish this week, double check that you have included all of its ingredients. Organizing your list this way will help ensure you have plenty of options for the upcoming week’s meal prep and snack grabs, while also keeping you from getting distracted while actually in the store.
PRO-TIP: If you are shopping in a superstore (like Wal-Mart) that has other household items as well, those go at the END of your list. Get all of your food shopping out of the way before moving on to non-food items. This will prevent confusion and allow you to focus better while picking up groceries.
Have A Snack, Bring A Drink.
If you are an impulse grocery shopper (see something delicious on the shelf and grab it because you want to try it) this trick will help you. NEVER, I will repeat, NEVER go grocery shopping on an empty stomach. Bad choices will be made, I promise. Make sure you have a meal or snack before leaving the house in order to stay focused on the task at hand. That task is grocery shopping for the week ahead, not your current empty stomach. In addition to that, it is smart to bring a bottle of water, some hot tea, or even your favorite coffee drink along with you. This will keep your taste buds and stomach occupied while you get in and get out of your grocery trip successfully.
Every grocery store is set up differently, so it is likely that you will get into your own routine based on your particular store of choice. However, most stores follow a similar flow. Start right in the front of the entrance in produce. Go through your list and collect the fruits and veggies that you have listed. Potatoes and avocados are included here, as well as additives/spices like onions and garlic. Next is usually the bakery section where you can pick up some English muffins, bread, or wraps. Following behind that is almost always the deli and meat/fish sections where you can get the items of that category that you included on your protein list. After that, head to the dairy section to pick up eggs, egg whites, yogurt, and any other dairy item you may have written down. Your list should be 85-90% checked off by now, all we have left are the finishing touches. Attack the frozen food section next. Some of my staple convenience items are found here such as frozen veggies for emergencies, or frozen fruit for smoothies. Finally, it is time to go down the isles. Here is where your plan and your list helps. It is easy to get distracted in the isles and end up camping out in the cookie or chips aisle. Don’t do that. Instead, go through the items you have left on your list and find them one by one in the isles (oatmeal, rice, granola bars, cereal, ketchup, canned items, frozen yogurt, etc) – get them in your cart and get out! Once this is complete, move on to household/non-food items if needed.
Repeat The Same Route.
If this worked well for you, repeat it. Every, single, time you are in the grocery store repeat this process. When you find a plan, a list, and a store route that was successful and painless, just continue to use it. We are creatures of habit and often find the most success and stability in routine. Grocery shopping is no different. Purposeful and goal driven grocery shopping is the best way to ensure you get in and get out painlessly while still stocking up on all the week’s essentials.
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Do you hear the words “Meal Prep” and instantly cringe at the thought of all the time and effort that needs to be put into that task? Let’s be honest, those Instagram pictures of Tupperware perfectly lined up on the counter with every meal for the week specifically weighed out are beautiful, but a bit hard to execute without wasting a whole day! Well, I am here to offer some assistance and help you prep for the week ahead in a very efficient and realistic way.
Personally, I dislike the confines of a meal prep system where you put everything in specific containers for each meal and store them in your fridge. I don’t like being tied to a meal like that, and I love variety and flexibility. Also, I prepare food for both my husband (190-195# active male) as well as myself (145-150# active female), so our meals are very different in size and we enjoy different things on a daily basis.
I found a prep system that works for me, and I am excited to share it with you as I feel it is simpler, more efficient, and easier to execute on a consistent basis than the “make everything and split it into beautiful even portions and eat the same meal every day for a week” approach.
Here we go!
Setup for Success!
BASIC SHOPPING LIST –
– two different proteins (one lean like chicken/turkey/shrimp, one fattier like steak/pork/salmon)
– two veggie options (one green, one non-green/of color)
– two starch options (rice, potatoes, quinoa, etc)
– two fruit options
– avocado, nut butter, nuts/seeds
– olive or coconut oil
HOW MUCH DO I NEED?! –
To decide how much of each item you would need, take the amount of protein you eat per meal and multiply it by 10 or 12 (2 meals per day for 5 or 6 days of the week). That is how much protein you would need to cook. If you are cooking for two people, you would obviously take that into account as well. For example, if you eat 4oz of protein at each meal, you would need a little over 2lbs (16oz) of protein – so about a pound of lean and a pound of fattier.
Vegetables are all dependent on how much you like to eat at each meal. The recommended serving size of vegetable is about 3oz (or 85g). So again, you would multiply that by 10-12 meals for the week. That would be about 30-36oz of vegetable between both your green and non-green options.
Starch is the option that would vary most, as this all depends on your daily carbohydrate intake. In my house, we go through a ridiculous number of carbohydrates. I eat around 250g per day while my boyfriend eats about 300g per day, so carbs are plentiful around here! I prefer potatoes as my lunch/dinner carb source while he could eat white rice until it is coming out of his ears. So, I find it easiest to buy the biggest box of Instant White Rice and a sack of sweet potatoes. Sometimes we don’t get through all of this in a week, but starches store very well and last longer than the above items.
My rule of thumb for fruit is one piece of fruit per day per person. If you are worried about your fruit going bad, choose options that would last well throughout the week like bananas, oranges, and apples.
My secret weapon of meal prep is 1) a good knife, 2) two cookie sheets, 3) aluminum foil. Get all of your groceries out, roll your sleeves up, and get ready to attack – this is going to be fast! Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Now Lets Cook!
My “go-to’s” are usually Brussels sprouts and bell peppers so I will refer to those two. But remember, you can use whatever is your favorite! I encourage you to rotate your veggies weekly and try new ones whenever possible. Let’s begin by cleaning and cutting your veggies how you would like them. I like to half my Brussels sprouts and cut my peppers into strips. Once this is done, I cover the cookie sheet with foil (you’ll thank me later for this one), spray it with olive oil, and sprawl the veggies out there. I then spray the veggies with the olive oil and season them with salt, pepper, and a garlic/onion powder blend (you can season however you would like!). Set these cookie sheets aside until your oven is at 450. Once it is, cook your veggies for 20 minutes, and then turn the oven to broil for the last 5 minutes to brown them just a bit!
**If you get frozen veggies (just make sure there is no other ingredient added to them), this same method of cooking will also work, just add 10 minutes to cooking time**
Cooking rice and potatoes is very different, yet both very simple. Let’s start with the rice. While your veggies are cooking, prepare the water. Once boiled, pour in the rice and let sit until soft. If you have an Instant Pot (this is my favorite way to do it!) or rice cooker, it would even cut down on rice cooking time and you don’t have to watch it at all!
When cooking potatoes, you have options. My favorite method is cubing sweet potatoes, spraying them with olive oil and throwing them in my Air Fryer for about 15 minutes! If you do not own one of those (get one!) you can easily throw them on another cookie sheet and stick that in the oven as well – they will cook for 20-25 minutes in the oven with the last 5 minutes on broil.
**PRO TIP: season sweet potatoes with paprika AND cinnamon for the most amazing flavor**
While your veggies are in the oven and your starch is in the works, get to your protein! Decide which method you want to use. My favorite method is an outdoor grill or a grill pan on the stove top. I don’t love protein oven baked, however, some people do. That is always an option as well. I would rather use my oven space for roasting vegetables and potatoes!
I recommend cutting protein up into cubes or strips. I like to do this for two reasons, 1) it makes cooking a lot quicker as smaller pieces of meat and fish will cook through faster, and 2) it gives you more options and variety when building meals later on! Once cut, you can season them however you would like and then they are ready for cooking. This is the piece of meal prep that will take the most attendance, so be sure everything else is in the works and under control before you start cooking your protein.
**PRO TIP: The crock-pot is also a great way to cook protein if you are able to start it ahead of time. You can put raw protein in the crock-pot with some great spices and leave it for a few hours. When you come back you will have a large amount of juicy, seasoned protein ready to eat!**
As you can tell, your entire meal prep time should take less than an hour if done right! Get as many things cooking and working at once and it will be quick and painless. This meal prep method usually takes me one hour from grocery bag to store in the fridge and I love it!
Invest in Tupperware that is big enough to store your prepped food in bulk. Six large containers are ideal (two for protein, two for veg, two for starch). This will keep things neat in your fridge and will allow building a meal to be really simple! I prefer this method over breaking up the food into specific meals as it allows for more variety in meals throughout the week and prevents you from becoming bored!
BUILDING MEALS –
Because all the hard work has been done already, you now have the building blocks to meals all ready to go in your fridge. Whether you need to pack a lunch for work, or are just coming home from a long day and don’t want to spend time cooking – you are ready! Simply take out your scale, pull out the components you want to use for your meal and measure out your portion appropriately! I love this kind of meal prep because although the components may be the same, I can create different dishes very quickly. Grab some tortillas and make tacos. Put your meat and veggies over potatoes and make poutine. You could even load some of the components upon a flatbread and make a quick pizza!
WHERE IS THE FAT? –
So far, we have covered protein and carbohydrates, but have not spoken much about fat. The good news is fat is not something that we really need to “prep”. Fat is the tag along macro that is found as add on’s and toppings. Obviously, there will be some fat found in the protein source you choose. Avocados and nut butters are a great enhancement to any meal. Cheese or ranch dressing are some other fatty add on’s that can make any basic meal delicious, as well as oils and dressings which can also help you achieve some added fat in your meal.
**PRO TIP: I LOVE to put some nut butter on my sweet potatoes, I surely recommend giving that a try. **
The above prep covers your “main meals”. But, it is a good idea to think ahead about snacks so that you are set with some great grab and go options. I like to keep fruit, RX Bars, Think Jerky, 100 Calorie Popcorn bags, Yasso Frozen Yogurt Bars, and Oh Yeah One protein bars stocked in my house. If I have some extra time after my meal prep, I also like to measure out raisins and fruit into little baggies. Another great snack I have found is really easy to build ahead of time is cottage cheese with some strawberry or peach jam (I use the smallest size Tupperware for this and will make 3-4 at a time.
There are so many ways to meal prep. The key is to find the most successful one. REMEMBER, the most successful one will be the method in which you can find time to execute on a consistent basis. I have spent some time sharing with you the most successful method of meal prep for me, I hope it will work for you as well!
*PRO TIP: To eliminate almost ALL of the meal prep, there are services out there to help you. However, the ONLY service I use and trust is Trifecta Nutrition. Their “a la carte” menu provides so many different options of protein, (bison, elk, cod, shrimp, salmon, etc) vegetables, and starch that it is easy to build quality meals very quickly. If any kind of meal prep doesn’t work for you, click through to their website and check it out for yourself – their “Clean Meals” are my full meals of choice!
For more coaching tips and to learn more about the nutritional coaching services I offer, head over to my website at www.HonorYourNutrition.com!
One of the most frequent questions I find myself answering when coaching my nutrition clients is “How do I make this work when I travel?” or “In this situation I find myself running around and need to grab something quick, where should I go?. Although I always recommend cooking your own fresh food as much as possible, I am human, and I understand life gets busy and these situations are all too common. One of the biggest pros of following a Flexible Nutrition program is that when life gets in the way and food prep isn’t an option, we know what to do!
Now, my “Nutrition On The Road” is a whole different piece entirely, but I thought it would be helpful to compile a list of “chain” eateries that are “macro friendly”. My intentions of doing this is to be of some assistance when you are looking for a quick option on the go while staying within your daily macro nutrient goals. We live in a society where businesses are driven based on the “convenience” factor – because that is what the general public wants. But, now more than ever businesses are also realizing that health is a major issue and little by little the majority of institutions are trying to make strides to accommodate the growing “health conscious” populations. This takes a bit of effort on your part though. You must do your homework and learn about the places you eat at and the different options they offer.
I am hoping this piece turns into a series of pieces where I can continue to provide you with this kind of information for all different chain eateries. In this first one, I tried to give you a simple variety for all kinds of different foods. I stayed away from “regional” chains and focused more on those that are found in all parts of the country. The following 10 eateries are some of the more common options out there and there are plenty of food choices at all of these places that carry some sort of nutritional value and can be useful when trying to stay within a nutrition plan on the go.
For each institution listed, I have included their most recent nutrition facts or a nutrition calculator for their menu. I have also included a meal option that is relatively “macro friendly” meaning it carries a caloric and macronutrient content that is reasonable and suitable for most “medium sized” humans to intake in a single meal.
I am hoping to bring awareness that it is OUR responsibility, as grown adults, to understand what we are ordering and eating day to day. The majority of chain restaurants out there have their nutrition facts easily available with a simple Google search of “ *CHAIN NAME* Nutrition”. Before you place an order at one of these places, take a few minutes to educate yourself on what you are about to eat – or feed your family! To take it even one step further, you may sometimes find that the institution you have searched for does not actually list their nutrition facts. That should not be a problem, and you should not avoid that restaurant because of it. Instead, take a place of similar kind and use their nutrition facts – odds are the nutrition information will be close enough to not completely ruin your nutrition parameters for the day!
Okay, so you are going to hate me for starting the piece off like this, but I had to. Unless you have an ABUNDANCE of fat to use, you’re probably going to want to steer clear of Five Guys. They are famous for cooking all of their foods in peanut oil, which obviously makes their already fatty foods (burgers and fries), even higher in fat. If I had to make a suggestion here, it would be a “Bunless Little Hamburger and Little Fries”. That is probably their most reasonable meal choice and it runs at a macro cost of 24p/72c/40f. My biggest issue with 5 Guys is that they don’t really offer any better alternatives. There is no salad or veggie on the menu as a side, and even their “sandwiches” are very high in fat. Don’t get me wrong, I use to frequent that place, especially after “hard exercise times”. Until one day, I tried to actually make room for it… and realized there were much smarter choices I could be making!
Ice cream is one of those foods that gets a bad rap when, from a macro nutrient point of view is not that bad in moderation. Those last two words are key as often, ice cream is one of those foods that we overeat. I like Baskin Robbins because their ice cream is a bit more reasonable when it comes to fat than say, Ben and Jerrys or Cold Stone. If you go into Baskin Robbins and ask for a Small (2.5 oz) with one topping such as sprinkles or oreo cookie crumbles, you are looking at a macro count of about 15-25g of carbs and 5-10g of fat. Even a Large (4 oz) isn’t incredibly awful at a count of about 28-35g carbs and 14-20g of fat. Each specific flavor has their own macro nutrient profile but you can surely find one that fits your ice cream craving, as long as you agree to consume it in moderation!
BWW can be a pretty stressful place if you are weighing and measuring intake. I am here to help! It does not have to be stressful and there are some hidden gems on the menu that will help you through your experience there. Now, keep in mind that you wont be able to pig out on wings and fries like you may have experienced in the past. But if you are taking your nutrition seriously, you likely already understand that. My go to when I am in BWW are the Grilled Chicken Buffalitos – they are grilled chicken tacos that run 19p/18c/10f. This leaves room for a sauce of my choice to put on them, as well as a side order of Buffalo Chips or French Fries that will be around 40c/15f. Anther option could be something like a large grilled chicken salad (no dressing) and an order of SNACK size Teriyaki Traditional Wings (43p/12c/19f).
As a north east girl, Chick Fil A was only available during those exciting road trips down to the southern states during road games (that didn’t fall on Sunday’s of course). So, it always holds a special place of excitement in my heart as it was a treat. Even though I had been in Virginia for two years, Texas, and now Missouri where it is readily available – it is still a place I need to stop in every once in a while out of pure joy. Chick Fil A has recently made some strides to include healthier options into their menu. I like this. Of course, there are always HORRIBLE choices you could make here. But there are some decent ones as well. A Grilled Chicken Sandwich (pictured below) sits at 30p/40c/5f, while a 12-piece Grilled Nuggets sits at 34p/6c/5f. If you are okay with having a wrap while eating here, their Grilled Chicken Cool Wrap sits at 36p/30c/13f. Those numbers really aren’t bad, however the side items is usually where the trouble can start. You can make better choices in sides by opting for the Hearty Breast of Chicken Soup (12p/18c/3f – Medium size), or their new Superfood Side (4p/23c/8f – Large size). Try and avoid breakfast at Chick Fil A, almost every option is a “macro waste”!
Chili’s is actually a favorite “on the go” of mine and a place where, if you know how to navigate the menu correctly, can give you a pretty big meal for your “macro buck”. There are actually a bunch of options I could list here, but I will go with my traditional go to. When you first sit down here, they will bring out complimentary chips and salsa. Although the temptation is real, it would be wise to not touch these as chips are some of the most macro-wasting food out there. We all know how awful human self control is when it comes to something like chips, and tortilla chips are literally just a waste of fats and carbs. Instead, I always order either a side salad (4p/10c/3f) or a cup of Southwest Chicken soup (4p/10c/5f) to start while the rest of the table is munching on chips. For my meal, my usual here is a “Make it a Combo” option which allows you to choose two proteins and a side of your choice. I like to go with the Margarita Grilled Chicken and Seared Shrimp (44p/10c/7f) with a side of either Steamed Broccoli (3p/8c/0f), Asparagus & Tomatoes (4p/12c/1.5f), or their Citrus Chile Rice (3p/27c/1.5f) if I need more carbs. There are plenty of other choices on their menu that can make solid meals – just do a bit of research before!
Chipotle is one that people ALWAYS ask me about. It is kind of silly to me, because it is probably the most convenient place to “track macros” at. If you click on the link above, you will see that you literally just click on what you have chosen to put into your burrito or bowl, and boom, it adds all the components up and gives you the complete nutrition facts. I think it will be a bit eye opening as to what is actually in the different components of your meal – I know that after discovering their nutrition calculator, my order has changed a bit from what it use to be. I always get questions about how accurate I think this actually is, meaning “how do I know they’re putting that exact amount of rice in my bowl”. The answer is that we really don’t, but the calculation will be close enough to trust that you are not incredibly off on your numbers. Remember that when eating food you haven’t prepared yourself there is always a level of estimation and that is okay! Needless to say, Chipotle is for sure a “favorite spot” for me, and one I always seek out.
I love breakfast food. If I had to eat nothing but breakfast for the rest of my life I actually would not be mad, at all. Any kind of breakfast works for me… dishes I make myself, eating breakfast out at a diner, even chain restaurants are fine with me for breakfast. To be perfectly honest, I would much rather a local, mom and pop diner any day over Denny’s – but when that isn’t possible, this will do. Their food is actually not loaded with fat as most of their counterparts are (like IHOP) and their menu choices are very simple. You have some options here, which allows for a lot of flexibility depending on your personal macro intake. One option is to take a look at their “build your own grand slam” section and piece together a breakfast that works well with you. If that takes too much work, they have a menu section called “Fit Fare” which I usually choose from. It is pre- assembled breakfasts at reasonable macro costs – like their “Fit Slam” (24p/54c/10f), or their “Fit Fare Omelette” (32p/59c/16f). While doing research for this piece, I came across their “Fit Fare Banana Pecan Pancake Breakfast” which runs at 29p/134c/13f. Seems outrageous, buuuuut would make an amazing post workout meal on a refeed day (or regular day for all of you large male humans)!
When I put it out there about writing this piece and asked what people would like me to include, I had a great deal of “pizza” responses. I feel you guys. I, myself, have a pizza problem. That problem is the fact that I either want NO pizza, or an ENTIRE pizza to myself. I refer to it as “pizza for one” (see below). Most times, this takes strategic macro planning and blocking out enough of my daily intake to be able to include a pizza for one. But, if I feel the urge, I make it happen. My go to at Domino’s is usually a 10’ Gluten Free Crust topped with Light Cheese, Grilled Chicken, Spinach, Red Peppers, and Onions (pictured below). This comes at a macro cost of 24p/90c/30f for the ENTIRE PIE, #pizzaforone ! From looking at that you could imagine what the rest of my day looks like. Lots of chicken, egg whites, and veggies. However, on days I am craving pizza – it is worth the sacrifice. Now, obviously I referred to Domino’s because it gives a calculator that I love. You can add whatever toppings you want, cheese level, size, ect. When you are out at a gourmet pizza place, or a non-chain place (that is amazingly delicious), I still recommend using this calculator. It will allow you to estimate as closely as possible. Remember that the calculator gives you readings BY THE SLICE. So, if you are like me and #pizzaforone or bust, you would have to multiply its results by 6 (or 8 for larger pies) to get macros for the whole pie.
I always get really excited when I have the opportunity to go to Outback. It is my favorite chain steakhouse and a place that is really easy to order a filling and delicious macro friendly dish. As a company they are pretty health conscious, and their website is a reflection of that. Their site even has an “under 600 calories” tab which will focus your attention to the quality choices right away. You can easily start your meal off with a side salad (5p/12c/6f) or a cup of Chicken Tortilla Soup (9p/13c/9f). As far as steaks, their Outback Center Cut Sirloin 6oz. (38c/7f) or their Victoria’s Filet Mignon (40p/9f) would be my reccomendations. If you are not a steak eater and would rather white meat, their Grilled Chicken on the Barbie (5oz) with Seasonal Mixed Vegetables (35p/28c/13f) is a quality option. On their nutrition listings for side dishes, they include all of the toppings (such as butter and brown sugar on the sweet potato) so I usually just order a sweet potato with no toppings and log it as 200g (typical size of a potato). They do offer other vegetable sides that are a great choice as well.
It seems incredibly necessary that I open this paragraph by making one thing clear before you continue to read on. I am not going to spend time in this description discussing “macro friendly coffee drinks” – I get that question all the time, and it is ALWAYS a face palm moment for me. Coffee is made to be consumed one way – BLACK… black and strong (thats still one way). I refuse to acknowledge all of these foo foo drinks that everyone takes up time ordering at Starbucks. Drinks that are all basically desserts or coffee flavored milk. If your coffee has “too many calories”, you are not drinking coffee, you are drinking dessert. PLEASE, stop asking me for “macro-friendly” coffee suggestions. Drink COFFEE, plain, black, and strong. If you NEED to add something to it, a drop of half and half should do the trick. Now, to the food. Starbucks has MY FAVORITE on the go item which is their Turkey Bacon Breakfast Sandwich (13p/28c/6f). I am also a huge fan of their Roasted Turkey Sandwhich (45p/48c/12f) for lunch. My favorite “treats” from them are the Cookie Dough Cake Pop (23c/9f) or the Petite Vanilla Scone (18c/4.5f).
Friday’s is one of those very common “I am traveling and I want something quick and reliable” out of your element places. Although the temptation is high in here to just throw your hands up and think you don’t have a good option around – that is not the case. Their Turkey Burger (31p/48c/22f) is a decent option and you even have the choice of “making it green” which would mean without the bun. They do have some fancy Naan bread sandwhiches in both Shrimp and Mahi Mahi that are 32p/55c/15f. Interestingly enough, their Bruschetta Chicken Pasta (half order) comes out to 21p/47c.25f an is PLENTY of food for a meal with a side salad! The side dishes is where you would most likely run into an issue as both their french fries and sweet potato fries carry a count of 50c/20f. I recommend always going with a side salad instead.
To view my website and the other services I offer, visit www.HonorYourNutrition.com or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org !
I thought I would put together this weekly overview to show you all how I manage my day food-wise. This is a pretty typical week for me right now. For some perspective – I am currently 4 weeks out of the USAW National Championships. As of now, I am weightlifting primarily where my sessions usually last about two hours. Four to five days a week, I will incorporate some kind of conditioning piece in there with an aerobic focus (20-30 minute workouts at 150-160 bpm heart rate). I get up at 4:20 am a few times a week to coach the 5:00 am and 6:00 am classes and I have learned how to adjust my schedule accordingly so I am not incredibly hungry on those days. I do have the luxury of going home at some point almost everyday to make lunch, and pack meals with me for the rest of the day – as I currently am on a plan where I work to have a meal every 3 hours. What you will not see in my log is my daily supplement intake. I use TEN Performance supplements and take RECOVERY and PME every morning as well as HCE and BCAA’s in my daily water, with RPM before bed at night. In addition to that, I take a multivitamin as well as a probiotic daily. I aim for 1 gallon of water per day, and 8 full hours of sleep at night.
Currently, my caloric intake is fairly low (for me) at only around 1900 kCal per day with an untracked meal during the week that typically brings my calories up to about 2800-3000 on that day. This time last year I was training for Crossfit Regionals, and then eventually the Crossfit Games, and my caloric intake was up to about 2600 kCal per day. I do work well off an intuitive eating method, and if I am more or less hungry on some days I will eat accordingly. I have no scenario coming up where I would need to cut weight or make weight. I am lifting in the 69kg lifter at Nationals and naturally walk between 66kg-68kg so I am eating for performance and maintenance right now. I am keeping my foods as clean as possible in order to enhance recovery, reduce inflammation, and get the most out of my training these last few weeks before Nationals. After nationals, I will do this again and it is very likely you will see a bit more ice cream, cookies, and less quality foods incorporated into my week. But for now, its full focus ahead to being the best me on that platform in a few weeks!
My basic intentions of writing this piece is to allow you to understand that although our nutrition often has a specific plan, life happens. It is okay to work your plan around a different daily schedule, or to incorporate an untracked meal during the week. I also wanted to give some insight into what my foods look like daily. I eat a ton of Trifecta Nutrition protein, as it is quick and easy. I try to work in a variety of fruits and veggies. I do not eliminate gluten, nor dairy, but I try to limit them as much as possible. I am a creature of habit – and often repeat meals day to day simply because I like them.
MONDAY – April 17th
Monday is always one of my busier days of the week. I am up at 4:25 am to coach. Before leaving the house, I make a bulletproof latte in my Magic Bullet using MCT oil, protein powder, and coffee (you will see this as an almost daily routine in my food log). I coach until 7:00 am, and then start warming up to train around 7:30 am. In addition to being up early, it is a higher volume training day – lots of lifts and heavy! My session usually goes until about 10:00 am where I head home to eat breakfast (Meal 2), work on emails from nutrition clients, and get any daily errands done that I need to. I ate Meal 3 at home, just before leaving for a chiro visit, then headed to the gym to get a conditioning workout in with the 3:30 pm class. I had Meal 4 on the gym floor, right before coaching Barbell Club from 5:00-7:00pm, then headed home for dinner (Meal 5). After cleaning up, taking a shower, and answering some emails, I was off to bed (early because I coach at 5:00 am again tomorrow!) with my pre-bed snack of popcorn and some tea.
Food Log by the Numbers:
MEAL 1: 14p/20c/10f
MEAL 2: 29p/47c/15f
MEAL 3: 33p/46c/6f
MEAL 4: 18p/30c/5f
MEAL 5: 30p/19c/12f
SNACK 6: 4p/23c/2f
TOTALS: 139 Protein, 206 Carbs, 57 Fat (32g Fiber, 48g Sugar) 1893 Calories
TUESDAY – April 18th
Tuesday is a lighter day in terms of responsibilities and training. I did coach 5:00 and 6:00 am classes, but then headed back home to lay down, relax, and watch SportsCenter before getting up to have Meal 2 and answer some emails. Tuesday is a lighter day when it comes to training volume, and I do not coach in the evening – so I knew I would train later on. My day was pretty much just chores, errands, and emails until I headed to workout at around 4:00 pm. I ate Meal 3 at home, and whipped up Meal 4 (which was an AMAZING homemade acai bowl – MY FAVORITE!) right before walking out the door. When I was done training, I had a text waiting from my amazing boyfriend that he wanted to take me out to a movie. Our favorite theatre is one that serves dinner to you in incredible recliners while you watch the movie (seriously the best thing ever invented). So, my Meal 5 was a restaurant meal. Majority of their menu is fried food, burgers and pizza. I knew I wanted to stay on track with my numbers so I ordered a simple grilled chicken salad with dressing on the side – a safe bet almost anywhere! When we got home, I had a pre-bed snack of some Halo Top!
Food Log by the Numbers:
MEAL 1: 16p/23c/7f
MEAL 2: 25p/35c/13f
MEAL 3: 33p/59c/14f
MEAL 4: 21p/46c/9f
MEAL 5: 28p/18c/7f
SNACK 6: 12p/30c/6f
TOTALS: 135 Protein, 211 Carbs, 56 Fat (34g Fiber, 86g Sugar) 1888 Calories
WEDNESDAY – April 19th
I got to sleep in today, so I was able to catch up on some much needed recovery hours! I got up around 9:00 am which means I technically skipped Meal 1 and my day started with Meal 2 at around 10:00 am. It is totally fine when this happens as I end up just having larger meals throughout the day and usually means a bit bigger of a pre-bed snack (I am very okay with that!). My workout happened from about 11:00-1:00pm where I then headed home for Meal 3 at around 2:00 pm and some client emails until I had to head back to the gym to coach at 5:00 pm. On my way to coach, I had Meal 4 and then had dinner (Meal 5) when I got home. My pre-bed snack, Meal 6 was an amazing one (as promised) and included an Enlightened Ice Cream Bar and a serving of Reese’s Puffs cereal! I LOVE CEREAL!!!
Food Log by the Numbers:
MEAL 1: SLEEP!
MEAL 2: 27p/39c/18f
MEAL 3: 34p/65c/17f
MEAL 4: 32p/50c/6f
MEAL 5: 28p/13c/16f
SNACK 6: 11p/40c/7f
TOTALS: 132 Protein, 207 Carbs, 64 Fat (33g Fiber, 105g Sugar) 1932 Calories
THURSDAY – April 20th
Today started at 4:25 am where I headed in to coach 5:00 am, 6:00 am, 9:00 am, and Noon class. I didn’t make my protein latte this morning as I was out of coffee (incredibly tragic), so instead I stopped for coffee on the way to the gym and added two tubs of creamer to it. I did a 30 minute recovery workout after the 6:00 pm class but waited until normal feeding time to have Meal 2 as I wasn’t very hungry yet. I had Meal 2 after I coached at 10:00 am which consisted of a protein bar on the way to my weekly chiro appointment. After coaching noon class, I headed home for lunch (Meal 3) around 1:30-2:00 pm, and then worked on emails and nutrition programming for a few hours. After a few hours of solid work, I worked up an appetite and was counting down the minutes until my planned meal time of 4:30 where I had Meal 4. I worked on dinner for Brenton (a Beefy Mac & Cheese!) and I was pretty hungry in the process. I checked my food log and realized I had quite a bit of food left and really only one meal to go. So, I went had a snack around 6:30 pm. When he got home we had dinner – Meal 5 – around 8:00 pm. Pre-bed snack was my favorite popcorn while watching the LeBron be a man.
Food Log by the Numbers:
MEAL 1: 0p/3f/10c
MEAL 2: 21p/17c/9f
MEAL 3: 31p/53c/20f
MEAL 4: 42p/62c/7f/
MEAL 5: 32p/22c/5f
SNACK 6: 4p/23c/2f
TOTALS: 139 Protein, 212 Carbs, 55 Fat (30g Fiber, 54g Sugar) 1899 Calories
FRIDAY – April 21st
Friday is my favorite training day because it is HEAVY SINGLE FRIDAY! This training session is also one of my longer ones as I take my time. I planned on meeting my training partner at a nearby gym that has kilo plates at 9:00 am to start our session. So I got up around 7:30 am and had breakfast, or Meal 1 around 8:00 am. I planned on just bumping my normal meal times back an hour – however, my training session went longer than expected as we got started later, so I ended up not eating Meal 2 until about 12:30 pm (usually 10:00 am). Because of this, I technically skipped what is usually my first lunch. Not a big deal at all, my schedule was just different today! After eating at home, I worked on some client programs, ran some errands, and headed to the gym to coach the 3:30 class. While they were hitting their workout, I had Meal 4 – which was a quick snack of a protein bar and Fitaid at about 4:00pm. I then worked out with the 4:30 pm class, coached my lifters a bit, and headed home for dinner or Meal 5. Often, my boyfriend and I eat out on a Friday night, however we will likely be out to eat tomorrow for a meal or two as we have a full day planned, so I was fine with dinner at home tonight. Pre-bed snack was one of my favorites – Halo Top mixed with cottage cheese!
Food Log by the Numbers:
MEAL 1: 25p/31c/16f
MEAL 2: 35p/57c/14f
MEAL 3: N/A
MEAL 4: 22p/34c/7f
MEAL 5: 28p/38c/15f
SNACK 6: 19p/48c/9f
TOTALS: 132 Protein, 210 Carbs, 60 Fat (37g Fiber, 68g Sugar) 1908 Calories
SATURDAY – April 22nd
Today I was up early (for a weekend) as I was headed to train and hangout in Joplin, MO – about an our away from home – at Midwestern Built’s new gym. They are one of my awesome sponsors, and the brand that supplies my Honor Your Gifts apparel line. My boyfriend and I were shooting to be there for 11:00 am, so I got up and made breakfast – Meal 2 – by 10:00 am. Almost always, Meal 1 is skipped on weekends as I sleep right though it! By about 1:00 pm, I was mid squat sets with about an hour of exercise ahead and no lunch in sight. I grabbed an RX Bar and got back to squatting – it served as Meal 3 and was good enough to hold me over until lunch! I was hanging out with a handful of athletes training for Crossfit Regionals, so naturally I got tempted into some high intensity workouts with them. I hit two different conditioning pieces, something I haven’t done since putting weightlifting first this season. I felt great, but knew it was more volume than I was use to and I was going to be HUNGRRRYYY later (and sore tomorrow!). Lunch, or Meal 4, happened between 3:30 and 4:00 pm as soon as we were done training. It was Chipotle and an ice cold TravelAID, provided by the awesome MWB staff. I easily tracked it using the Chipotle Nutrition Calculator. We headed to the hotel to shower and rest a bit until the big cookout we had planned. We stopped at the grocery store and picked up some snacks to hold us over until then. I grabbed 6oz of blackberries and a non-fat yogurt as a small snack. We headed to the cookout around 6:00 pm and sat down for an AMAZING dinner around 7:30. I used this meal as my untracked meal of the week. I try and do this once per week both for mental sanity and to keep metabolism strong. It works well for me, and I find it helps to keep me on track the rest of the week. I didn’t go overboard (okay, maybe a little when the desserts came out), but I surely ate more than the macros I had left for the day. I stopped when I was full (or VERY full, oops) and felt just fine. The homemade desserts were SO worth it after the long day of training.
Food Log by the Numbers:
MEAL 1: SLEEP!
MEAL 2: 26p/37c/13f
MEAL 3: 12p/23c/8f
MEAL 4: 36p/47c/11f
MEAL 5: UNTRACKED MEAL
TOTALS: UNKNOWN, probably around 2800-3000 Calories
SUNDAY – April 23rd
Sunday mornings are slow and calm, and I love that. I don’t usually get my day started until I start getting ready for church which usually happens at 10:45 am. When I got up and started getting ready, I had my bulletproof latte. I didn’t have my first real meal – Meal 3 – until I got home around 12:30 pm. I went food shopping for the week (where I had a snack when I got in!), finished up new client programs, did some errands around the house and then had Meal 4 at around 4:00 pm. I then headed out with my boyfriend as we did his food shopping for the week, and went to a few other stores. When we got back to his house, I helped him cook meals for the week and then we both sat down to dinner – Meal 5 – at around 8:00 pm. Pre-bed snack was pretty much immediately after that, as I tasted my homemade Peanut Butter Energy Balls that I made for the first time tonight as per Brenton’s request. THEY DID NOT DISAPPOINT!
Food Log by the Numbers:
MEAL 1: SLEEP!
MEAL 2: 5p/5c/6f
MEAL 3: 25p/64c/17f
MEAL 4: 37p/37c/13f
MEAL 5: 32p/23c/9f
TOTALS: 119 Protein, 185 Carbs, 60 Fat (35g Fiber, 65g Sugar) 1756 Calories *my carbs (and overall intake) were a bit lower today which I don’t totally mind as it was a complete rest day, and the day following my high intake (untracked meal).
This is my quick yet purposeful edition of “Mythbusters”. I felt this was important to address this flexible style of eating often comes with a lot of criticism and negative connotation. As of recent, there are so many athletes, coaches, and everyday people following this idea of “IIFYM” or “Flexible Dieting”. If you are one of my clients or athletes, you know that as a company, Honor Your Nutrition NEVER refers to our coaching style as “IIFYM” (if it fits your macros) nor do we use the word “dieting”. In my personal opinion, IIFYM refers to the idea that it is okay to eat junk food, little to no greens and vegetables, as well as processed food in copious amounts as long as it “fits your numbers”. This is something I strongly disagree with as a coach of nutrition and proper fueling practices. I also try and avoid the word dieting at all costs. The word “diet” often carries a negative connotation. It is something that many people view as a restrictive idea, a struggle, and a sacrifice. I want my clients and athletes to be comfortable with their system of nutrition and fueling and I want them to be able to make educated, responsible choices while still achieving balance in their lives and not feeling incredibly restricted.
My intentions in this short piece are to address the 5 most common myths that I often hear about Flexible Nutrition. To ensure you that true coaching of Flexible Nutrition does not include an “IIFYM” approach, and to hopefully encourage someone who has shied away from this method of nutrition to give it a try!
1. Flexible Nutrition is so innovative and brand new!
Although we all like to think that when we discover something was when it came to fruition, that is often not true. Flexible Nutrition is a system of monitoring amounts of macronutrient (protein, carbohydrates, & fats) intake for an individual – specific to their lifestyle, age, activity level, and goals. THIS IS NOTHING NEW! It has been around for years in the bodybuilding world (and the world in general – Weight Watchers is a very successful plan that follows FN ideology!), and then slowly made its way over to performance sports like powerlifting and weightlifting. In the past year, the buzz word “macros” in reference to Flexible Nutrition, has nearly taken over the CrossFit/functional fitness world. However, the Zone diet was actually designed along the lines of a similar concept and was meant to be executed in a similar fashion. I find it amusing when I hear individuals talk about Flexible Nutrition or “counting macros” like it is this incredible new discovery. Yes, it has gained a good deal of momentum and popularity in our fitness circle recently – and I am really happy about that because I think it is a system that can be properly utilized by everyone. However, it is important to understand that this concept is nothing new! It has been around since the beginning of nutrition education and is the very basis on which most successful nutrition plans work.
2. It is too time-consuming for me to weigh and measure food.
Often, I hear from people that they want to learn more about Flexible Nutrition but don’t want to worry about weighing and measuring food because it is too time-consuming and too much of an intricate. I get it. The concept of having to track, count, weigh, and measure may seem like it takes up extra time and energy if you are not familiar with it. However, if you 1) already prep your meals, 2) carry around your phone, and 3) are serious about your nutrition as a means to properly fuel your body and help you reach your goals – then it really is not that time-consuming. The things in life that you prioritize and make time for will be the things you will be successful at. It is a matter of deciding if this is important enough to you. It takes little extra energy to place a plate on a scale before loading it up, or to read a nutrition label on those “protein bars” you eat every day! Not every single gram of everything needs to be weighed and measured. But, with this system of tracking intake comes an awareness that is invaluable. You don’t have to be perfect, but the general education that comes from starting to understand how much of each macronutrient goes into your body daily can allow you to make some serious changes in your nutrition and your training. Like the old saying goes – if it is important to you, you will find a way, if not you will find an excuse!
3. Flexible Nutrition only works for high-level athletes or “genetically gifted” individuals.
This myth is often one that I hear whenever I post a picture consuming something that is a “treat”, or a “20% food”. (At HYN, we refer to 20% food as treats that we incorporate into our nutrition plan 20% of the time, ensuring that the other 80% are micronutrient dense foods.) I can’t even count the number of times I have heard “you can only eat *insert 20% food here* because you are an athlete/young/have good genetics”. This could not be further from the truth. As has been stated, the pictures most people see (of my ice cream bowls or amazing pizza-for-one nights) are 20% of what my daily diet looks like (#5 will elaborate even more on that). But, like I always explain, #ChickenPicturesAreBoring – no one gets amused by seeing nightly pictures of my incredibly exciting chicken breasts and asparagus, so those plates get posted less often. On that note, this system really does work for everyone. That is the essence of this style of nutrition – it is FLEXIBLE. It can be tweaked and molded for anyone, of any age, with any history, and any training schedule or future goals. I have had successful clients in all different demographics, and success looks and feels different to everyone. No, I do not make “treats” off limits to anyone, nor do I ever give a list of “restricted foods”. Instead, I teach my clients and athletes the correct amounts of each macronutrient they should be consuming and why – according to their personal situation. I view it as my responsibility as a coach to educate them on how to occasionally fit fun foods or special cravings into their life without feeling guilty about it or derailing their goals. We should all learn to enjoy life and food while not losing sight of our ultimate goals and aspirations… that is being flexible!
4. All “macro counters” eat the same way.
To group “macro counters” in one huge category is like using the word “human” to describe someone. Following a Flexible Nutrition plan simply means that you are tracking intake and trying to meet a specific number of protein, carbohydrates, and fats per day. It does not, in any way, describe what your diet is actually consisting of. Some of my clients are paleo, some are vegetarians, some vegans. I have clients that eat like an 8-year-old on an unsupervised grocery trip (yes, I work hard on helping them change that), and I have clients that consume less than 40g of sugar daily. I have a handful of clients with dietary limitations for health reasons and others for limitations due to personal reasons. I have diabetics, pregnant women, and celiac clients among many others. Flexible Nutrition is not a cookie-cutter system. You cannot simply tell someone “I follow Flexible Nutrition” and have them understand what your daily nutrition is made up of. That is the underlying beauty of this system. It can truly be molded to work for anyone and can be embraced by people who all have different beliefs and needs when it comes to what they put in their bodies! No-one should be ostracized for what or how they eat and I love coaching this system that is all-inclusive and gives people a common platform to jump off from!
5. Flexible Nutrition encourages a diet filled with low-quality foods.
I know this was the myth you were all waiting for. Save the best for last right?! I know, I know, I confused the WHOLE world when I wrote an article entitled “How Donuts Gave Me Abs…” and everyone is up in arms that Krissy Cagney is running a nutrition based company called “Doughnuts & Deadlifts” – because that promotes a poor message when it comes to nutrition, right?! Well… not really. If anyone has spent more than a minute paying attention to look past the blog titles or company names – and actually spoke to me, or her, about the topic – it would be understood. Flexible Nutrition is not a system based on “how many donuts, Oreos, and cake can I eat in a day”. It is a system that very clearly outlines the appropriate intake needed by a person. It then allows them to eat responsibly and fill that intake however they would like. No food is off limits, but quality food is the priority. That statement cannot be argued. It is the same 80/20 rule that so many of us are already familiar with. I do not encourage that an individual fills their daily intake with low-quality food, but I also know it is not always necessary to completely remove it from your intake. By putting a “bad” label on foods, or using the term “cheat” when referring to nutrition, we are implying that a person is doing something wrong by consuming a certain food. That is referred to as “food shaming” which is a very real and serious issue that can lead to guilt, unhappiness, and poor relationships with food. Some individuals have struggled with this their entire lives, and others develop it later on in their life after trying to be restrictive for a certain period of time. Being able to live life and enjoy it’s great pleasures responsibly – like doughnuts, pizza, Oreos, and ice cream – is a lovely ability to have. We are able to keep our goals in line, while also being human and feeling a sense of “flexibility” in our nutrition habits.
If you are interested in reading more on the topic of Flexible Nutrition, are looking for a set of personalized macronutrient numbers, or some in-depth nutrition coaching, you can head over to my website at HONOR YOUR NUTRITION. For recipe ideas and tips follow @honoryournutrition and @ncapurso22 on Instagram.
One of the most common questions I get from my nutrition clients is about supplementation in addition to nutrition. It always comes up as a question because I rarely volunteer the idea on my own. I believe that a proper approach to nutrition prioritizes overall caloric intake, then macronutrient balance, then micronurrient and vitamin balance, followed by nutrient timing, and FINALLY supplements (see chart below). As I often explain at my seminars – “it is like watching your house burn down and worrying about what cable channels you have access to”. If we don’t prioritze the basics of nutrition, no supplement in the world will help us.
After explaining that, I then explain that I do take a line of supplements, and I do believe in them (otherwise I would not be taking nor promoting them). I use an array of products that TEN Performance has developed. This company is pretty unique and their products are developed by doctors through a top notch process that is different from many other companies. My daily bundle includes: Hydrocell Enhancer (HCE), Bound B Vitamin Complex (BBC), Velvet Deer Antler Extract (AGF), Regenabolic PM Nightime (RPM), and Pro Metabolic Enhancer (PME). All of these supplements come in liquid form and are either taken sublingual, or can be added in your water. I also use their grass fed whey protein (from cows not treated with hormones) if I am short of my protein goal for the day, as well as their BCAA which are unflavored and as pure as you can get.
My intentions with this “A Closer Look at Supplements” series is to highlight each of these products a bit in order to help my clients and blog followers understand a bit more about my personal supplement regiment. Hopefully, these efforts will allow you to decide which products could benefit you personally – as everyone’s needs and wants are slightly different.
VOLUME I: Pro Metabolic Enhancer “PME”
When/How?! – I take PME immediately upon waking, usually while making a pot of coffee. I take one serving, sublingual (2/3 of a dropper of liquid under my tongue) and let it sit there and absorb for two full minutes before swallowing. I try not to eat or drink anything for 10 minutes after taking it.
TEN Performance has created an amazing product in their Pro Metabolic Enhancer (PME). As a nutrition coach and consultant, many of the issues I see with my clients come from a metabolism that is damaged, or off track. That damage is not often severe and simply needs a kick start and a bit of resetting to get back on track. A properly balanced and timed diet, along with TEN’s PME supplement can help remedy this metabolic issue in a fairly short period of time.
PME is a formula of concentrated lipotropics. Lioptropics are best known for their work as liver decongestants where they promote the breakdown of stored fats in the liver. In the modern American way of life, stored fats in the liver are a common issue that can lead to sluggishness and weight gain. By breaking them down, we are making the stored fat cells more mobile and able to be used as energy by your body. Aside from the very important lipotropics, PME is filled with a very high potency B vitamin complex (B6 and B12) which is known to naturally boost metabolism and energy levels. I find that this helps my clients to push through workouts on days where they would have been exhausted and decided to skip a training day.
The very crucial combination of these lipotropics, B vitamins, and Guarana extract (natural energy source that allows the body to recognize being “full” sooner) provides a thermogenic effect to your body, increasing BMR (basal metabolic rate) and your body’s capability to burn fat. It also will enhance energy levels and endurance by allowing your body to produce higher amounts of oxygen in your blood. All of this, in turn, will help burn fat and improve lean muscle retention.
I use this product daily, and love to recommend it to my clients because the benefits are too great to keep it a secret! Almost everyone I come in contact with can benefit from the effects of PME – especially my female clients. Along with a daily well balanced diet, proper timing of meals, and a consistent training program, using PME will be an amazing addition to your life in order to help you reach your goals!
If you are interested in PME or any of TEN Performance’s other products, head over and pay them a visit HERE ! Be sure to use “capurso10” at checkout for a sweet discount!
For more nutrition assistance or to get started on a personalized Honor Your Nutrition program CLICK HERE!
If you have been following my journey for a bit, whether for exercise, nutrition, or any other reason – you know that I am now a Crossfit Regional Champion. You may also know that this took me quite a few years, quite a few states, and quite a few failures before it was able to be accomplished. I was unable to do this alone. In mid November, I found my way to Spring, Texas to join a hard-working, no-nonsense group of individuals at Crossfit Overtake, who have grown into some of my best friends. On Sunday, as we all huddled together, heads touching, arms interlocked, we cried together, like babies, on the finish mat of the final event. The overwhelming feeling of knowing we had dominated the weekend, won, and were headed to the Crossfit Games was unreal. I was about as thankful for seven people as I ever had been in my life.
To say this means a lot to me is an understatement. That may all seem really cliche. However, almost no one knows where I was mentally a year ago. After regionals in 2015 (I competed in the Atlantic region as an individual), I pretty much wanted nothing to do with competitive exercise. I was tired of training alone daily. Most days I just walked through the motions, hating training, being constantly miserable that I felt trapped in a sport that I no longer loved. I knew something needed to change as more days than not I found myself leaving a training session unfinished – in tears. This was not how it was suppose to be. I have always loved sports, competing, and fitness in general. But, I have always loved team sports. The camaraderie, the accountability, the “its not just about you” basis of all team sports is what keeps me motivated, hungry, and inspired daily. I talked about this a bit only with some of my closest friends – Marco Coppola being one of them. His flat out response was “Well, move to Texas as soon as possible.”. We didn’t speak about the Games initially, but we both knew the possibility if I made the move. With the support of many people in my life – I was able to do it 3 months later. Crossfit Overtake was my new home.
Training here was very, very different from what I was use to. I was training with Marco and Alex daily, and things no longer revolved around only me and my training. It was a bit of an awakening at first, however I grew to love it really quick. It made “practice” and “the grind” fun again. On the weekends, the whole team would train together, and Saturdays easily became my favorite training day (in the past they had been my least favorite!) Everyday wasn’t easy. In the past 7 months I have caught an attitude, been upset, frustrated, anxious, concerned, and every other form of crazy female athlete expression – however I knew I had a team with me. A team that was relying on me to do what I do and contribute my gifts to our ultimate goal when the time came. I started to realize there was very little time for anything that wasn’t working toward our goal. Training became enjoyable and exciting again. As the days passed in Texas I became more and more comfortable with our system and the way we, #TeamDensity, do things. By February, I couldn’t even remember training any other way and I was having the time of my life for the first time ever in Crossfit. I found where I belonged. I found seven people and a system who made me love what I was doing again.
When I think back to this story and how I ended up on top of the podium at Crossfit Regionals, it is truly amazing. Sometimes you really do need to take a leap of faith, trust the right people, get uncomfortable, buy into a system every single day, work hard, and be dedicated to one goal. Every time I look down at my medal (which I had plenty of time to do because I wore it for about two days straight), I see the girl who a year ago wanted out from competition. I see the big move. I see all the help and support and love I got from my parents. I see the hard work and constant effort from all of us. I see all the trust and belief I have in my coach and my team. I see the seven people who have been by my side the last 7 months. The seven amazing people who have grinded, suffered, worked, sweat, laughed, and cried (even at the expense of 100 burpees) by my side day in and day out. In case you aren’t familiar with them yet, allow me to introduce my teammates.
Alex is our sparkplug. She is Marco’s niece, has been with #TeamDensity since its inception, and knows CrossFit no other way. Although only 21, she is a veteran to Team CF, making her third appearance at regionals this year. You know EXACTLY what you will get from her in each workout, and that factor of consistency is invaluable on a team. Alex recovered from a knee injury last year that still leaves her in pain, swollen, and uncomfortable more days than not. However, this is never used as an excuse, hindrance, or explanation as to why something went wrong. I train with Alex daily, as we have similar schedules. I have never had a consistent female training partner before like this and I am so thankful for her everyday. We race hard in training, and it is often a constant back and forth thing because we both have very opposite strengths and weaknesses. On days I get lazy, or don’t give full effort, Alex hands me my a**. Because of this, those days have started to happen less and less. Alex brought back my love for the daily grind, she put the fun back in the sport even on the most grueling days, and she doesn’t let me get complacent. She is young, she is our energy, she is our sparkplug. You are going to want to keep an eye on her.
Carson in July.
This time of year is special for our community. We all get the oppurtunity to test our fitness on a worldwide level. For every person this means something different – some of us are competitors, some of us are coming back from injury, some first time participants, and some simply want to prove they have put in a year of hard work and are better than they were last year. Wherever you stand on that spectrum, this time of year should mean a lot to you.
There is no doubt it can get hectic and stressful. You have been in class all year, studying material, taking practice tests…. but when it “counts”, it counts! That whole concept can be nerve wracking. As the sport grows, there are more and more “strategy videos” and “tips for success” popping up all over the place during this time of year. As a nutrition coach year round, I thought it would be a fun idea to chime in with some Open Nutrition Strategy each week in hopes to clear up that space in your brain in order to use it on more important aspects of life in March – like perfect lockouts, getting below parallel, and making sure your heels are over that evil piece of tape on the wall.
After the workouts are released on Thursday evening, I will go home and issue a brief update on how I recommend fueling for that week’s particular workout. I will get it posted sometime between the end of the release show and the time I go to bed – which hopefully isn’t too late. In addition to helping you, this will be fun for me, because 1) it will take my mind off of the workout for about as long as it takes me to write the piece, and 2) it will help to hold myself and my team accountable in making sure we are properly fueled each week as well. I will simply add to this blog piece and reissue the link every week (you can also bookmark it if you’re a smarty pants!).
Hopefully, the points I make and recommendations I issue are not that much different than your typical training day nutrition. As my coach and team captain explained yesterday — goals aren’t just attained. You will not be able to just set a goal and then turn around and make it happen. Daily habits performed over periods of time allow goals to be attained. If your nutrition has been completely off leading up to now, it is very probable that your training has been suffering and your biggest goals may be difficult to attain in the next few weeks. There is simply nothing I can recommend to change that. However, if you have been practicing good habits with your nutrition leading up to now, my recommendations should be easy to adjust to and should contribute significantly to you achieving your goals.
Let’s take the stress out of the next couple of weeks. It is a test that we all knew was coming and have all prepared for. Here is to realistic expectations, performing great reps, staying honorable, moving fast, being consistent, having fun. In the end, it is still only exercise.
16.5 Nutrition Strategy
Well, who was expecting that?……. Before I go into nutrition things, I am going to tell a little story about this workout and I – because we have some history in these streets. In 2014, I went to regionals as an individual for the first time. This was still the regular region format (so top 40 qualified from the open). I sat in about 20-25th place for 4 weeks… then 14.5 came. I did it, almost threw up, couldn’t even get through the thrusters unbroken, finished, saw my time, and realized I was going to need to do it again if I wanted to go to regionals – GREAT. Something about being 90% limbs, having incredibly weak legs at the time, and always wanting to sprint out of the gate… didn’t agree much with this workout. My coach had somewhere to be on Monday afternoon, so we decided to do it early, around 8:00 am. I showed up, confident I would improve and went at it. SAME. EXACT. TIME. Realizing I wasn’t about to waste the past 4 weeks effort, I headed into work and sat in a staff meeting with a piece of paper and a pen and wrote down a very specific time map I could follow to insure that I finished under 12:00. I called my training partner at the time, had her meet me at the gym around 2:00 pm and went at it AGAIN – a third time, and twice in the same day! I followed my new plan as much as possible, and finished in 12:26. Over a minute faster than that morning, and the Saturday attempt, and good enough to allow me to finish 42nd in the region and get a regional invite.
SO GO GET EM KIDS! Hope that didn’t scare you!
Okay, now lets get on the topic of nutrition. As far as time domain, this is obviously different for everyone – however we do know the majority of people will be between 10-15 minutes. My recommendation on this one is going to be mostly about balance and timing. It is going to be a similar plan of attack as last week, as we are going to need both an adequate amount of carbs and fat to turn to during this exercise bout.
The day before: Let’s refeed here. You can lower protein slightly, but lets keep fat intake normal (unless you are eating +100g, then decrease by 10g.). Similar to last week, go with a 50-100% increase in carbohydrates depending on the size of human you are (bigger the human, bigger the increase). I cannot explain this enough – on a refeed day before a workout/competition, carb sources should be as clean as possible! We will have plenty to worry about, and enough stress on your body already – we don’t need 100 trips to the bathroom because of an unhappy gut. Suggested carb sources include foods such as fruit, potatoes, rice, quinoa, and granola. Your body will respond well and wake up rested and refueled! Water is always important, but on refeed days it is even more crucial because of your excess intake. Make sure your hydration is a priority.
If you workout in the morning: My morning group is the group that works out after only one meal. I recommend a breakfast of about 25% protein, 45% carbs, 30% fats. – the same as we did last week. Eating about 1.5-2 hours before is optimal however everyone is different with how they feel after eating. This is a workout that can cause Pukey to come around pretty easily, so know your body. However, I wouldn’t ever recommend eating any further away than 2 hours. You are going to want immediate fuel sources available. I will still recommend sipping on juice or sports drinks, as well as lots of water, between wake up and workout. That carb pre-load strategy that we have come to love is still in effect – about 10-20 mins before tip off, I recommend getting some “quick carbs” in your system (about 30-80g depending on size) in the form of liquid or fruit!
If you workout in the afternoon: You are in this group if you are going to be eating two meals before doing the most fun workout ever created by Castro. A breakfast about the same size as the morning exercisers will do, with a small change in breakdown: 25% protein, 40% carbs, 35% fats. We want a higher fat meal earlier because we will taper off to higher carbs as the workout gets closer. Some of you larger athletes – both male and female – will need a snack between breakfast and your second meal. I recommend a similar snack as last week (something like a sweet potato topped with Nutella – YES that is a real thing). Your lunch, or second meal, should then be higher in carb and lower in fat than your breakfast, and should look more like 25% protein, 45-50% carbs, 25-30% fats. The main strategy here, as was last week, is to not go into this workout hungry. If we execute a refeed correctly the day before, and follow these guidelines on the day of, all should be going smoothly. Constant hydration should be a priority. Remember both a juice/sports drink as well as plenty of water is most beneficial. As always, carb pre-load strategy, about 20-30 mins before GO, get some “quick carbs” in your system (about 30-80g depending on size) in the form of liquid or fruit.
If you workout in the evening: Oh here we are, the last “Friday Night Lights” of the season! At Crossfit Overtake, #TeamDensity usually does the workout in the last few heats, capped off by our men’s trio, and then we all head to Fuddruckers for dinner. I heard a post 16.5 pizza rumor this week though! So I am really looking forward to that. Okay, back to nutrition that will actually fuel your workout….. This FNL group will follow the same plan as the afternoon-ers with the addition of a smaller meal about an hour to an hour and a half before “GO”. Remember that fats should come on hard in the morning and taper throughout the day. Carbohydrates will follow an opposite pattern. Lower percentage of carbs in the morning and it will increase as we get closer to the evening. The smaller meal closest to your workout should hold a ratio of 25% protein, 50% carb, 25% fat. This should be eaten about 1-1.5 hours before you are going live. Leading up to now, you have made sure to stay comfortably fed and hydrated. Keep a fresh source of glycogen available at all times by sipping on juice or sports drink from mid-afternoon until workout time. Of course the same plan here as we have had the entire time so far – the carb pre-load strategy! About 20-30 mins before GO, get some “quick carbs” in your system (about 30-80g depending on size) in the form of liquid or fruit.
Intra-workout nutrition: Nothing here y’all. Unless you count sweat, snot, possible puke and or blood as intra-workout fuel, you are not going to have much time to stop for anything here. If someone out there does this workout with a Camelbak filled of juice strapped to them, PLEASE video it and tag @honoryournutrition in it. Maybe I can convince Ashton to do this…….. In any case, this is even more of a reason to stay properly hydrated and fueled the day before and day of the workout. You will not have a good time if you find yourself wishing you were better hydrated halfway through this piece.
Go to work here guys. It is the last week of all of this madness and the last workout to lay it on the line. No matter how the previous 4 weeks have gone for you, put your head down and keep moving. It won’t feel better ’till its over!
Thank you all for tuning in every week and following along. The Open is always a crazy ride and I hope I was able to do my part in providing some assistance for you!
If you enjoyed this help each week and felt it made a difference in your performance, you can explore options as to how I can further help you. I have a few different services that I offer, as well as some informational guides in PDF form. All of this can be found by clicking here: HONOR YOUR NUTRITION ! Head over and check it out.
16.4 Nutrition Strategy
A chipper! Every CrossFitter loves a good chipper. This should be a fun one, but it is going to hurt. It is almost a guarentee that some of you love one of these movements and hate another. Everyone is going to have a different plan of attack and that will be awesome to hear about and watch! I was interested to learn that we were exercising for 13 minutes this week, as I expected something more along the lines of 10 minutes. This nutrition strategy is going to fall more in line with week 1, as it will be of a long (ish) aerobic piece for most athletes. Depending on personal workout strategy, some of you may actually keep it fairly anaerobic and still be able to do pretty well. This will not effect fueling much differently though, and I will mention some small pointers that will help everyone – no matter the energy system your body turns to during week 4 of #stormdeCastro.
The day before: Yes, lets refeed! We are going to follow our basic refeed rules, however I do want to keep a bit more fat in the daily intake than we would on a traditional refeed day. Let’s go with a 50-100% increase in carbohydrates, keep protein the same, and lets keep fat the same – unless you are consuming over 100g of fat daily. If that is the case, lets decrease it by 10g. This should be the group that is on the higher end of the carb increase as well. Remember, it is imperative that on this day we keep with clean carb sources as much as possible. You do not want to feel bloated, heavy, or upset your stomach in doing this refeed. Suggested carb sources include foods such as fruit, potatoes, rice, quinoa, and granola. Your body will respond well and wake up rested and refueled for the workout. Water is always important, but on refeed days it is even more crucial. Make sure your hydration is a priority.
If you workout in the morning: Morning group is the group that works out after their first meal. I recommend a breakfast of about 25% protein, 45% carbs, 30% fats. It would be smart to eat about two hours to an hour and a half before this workout. You want some immediate fuel sources available, however eating a full meal too close to this one will be a bad idea. I will still recommend sipping on juice or sports drinks, as well as lots of water, between wake up and workout. Keeping with our carb pre-load theme from the previous weeks – about 10-20 mins before tip off, I recommend getting some “quick carbs” in your system (about 30-80g depending on size) in the form of liquid or fruit!
If you workout in the afternoon: This group is the group that is going to be eating two meals before exercise racing. A breakfast about the same size as the morning exercisers will do, however the breakdown should look more like 25% protein, 40% carbs, 35% fats. Some of the larger humans out there will need a snack between breakfast and your second meal. For those athletes, I recommend a similar snack as last week (something like an apple and 1/2 Tbsp of almond butter). Your lunch, or second meal should then be a bit higher in carb and lower in fat than your breakfast and should look more like 25% protein, 45% carbs, 30% fats. The main strategy here, as was last week, is to not be hungry going into this workout. It would be responsible to continuously fuel your body from the minute you wake up. Constant hydration both with some kind of juice/sports drink as well as plenty of water is also key. As always, carb pre-load strategy, about 20-30 mins before GO, get some “quick carbs” in your system (about 30-80g depending on size) in the form of liquid or fruit.
If you workout in the evening: My “Friday Night Lights” crew! I am in this group with you, and I have to admit it took me three weeks to really get comfortable. Daily, I train around 11am… fairly soon after having breakfast. It was a huge adjustment for me to figure out how my body would best handle nutrition all day when I was asked to be at optimal performance at 6:30pm – something so far off my normal routine. Some personal trial and error always makes for great learning. I am sure by now you all have learned what your best practices are and hopefully all of my tips have helped guide you. This group will follow the same plan as the afternoon-ers with the addition of a smaller meal about an hour to an hour and a half before “GO”. That smaller meal should hold a ratio of 25% protein, 50% carb, 25% fat. We want to make sure we are comfortably fed all day and are not hungry at any point. Stay hydrated and keep a fresh reserve of glycogen available at all times (sip juice or sports drink) throughout the day. Of course the same plan here as we have had the entire time so far. The carb pre-load strategy! About 20-30 mins before GO, get some “quick carbs” in your system (about 30-80g depending on size) in the form of liquid or fruit.
Intra-workout nutrition: Last week I told you there was no time for this, and all of you that performed 16.3 understood what I meant. Anytime during those 7 minutes that you weren’t working cost you significantly. This week is going to be a bit different. There is going to be time for some intra carbs, and I recommend they be in liquid form. For my higher level athletes that plan on making it through an entire round, or fairly close, I would say the time for this is right after the row. We saw the Sara and Katrin get off the row right under 8 minutes. That is about the time I suggest taking in these carbs. It works out in the flow of the workout as well, as it is almost a guarentee that the majority of athletes will all be coming off the wall during HSPU and will have to stand there for some period of time to rest. Have a bottle handy with some carbs! For those of you who are just hoping to get TO the HSPU, I suggest having your refuel station available mid wall ball, or on the transition from wall ball to row. In any case, this should be a quick, easily accessible refuel that happens while rest in happening. You should not be breaking your workout for the purpose of refueling.
I try and stay indifferent about the workouts until it is time for me to perform them, so I don’t want to say I like or dislike this workout. It is classic CrossFit though, and when we get to CrossFit it is always fun. Thats why we are here! Keep those midlines tight, embrace weaknesses, and demolish strengths. Let’s prove those abs are not just for show!
16.3 Nutrition Strategy
Week 3 and we FINALLY get something short and sweet! Also, for a third week in a row we see a movement that has never been in the open before. This is fun, and really pretty simple on the nutrition side. Your time to shine is only a quick 7 minutes this week so we need to make sure we are fueled and ready to go. Athletically, we can compare this to a mile test. That is how I will recommending fueling as well. It will be similar to last weeks talk about making sure carbohydrates are plentiful, as your muscles will want to tap into every available bit of glycogen to keep blood sugar levels stable and keep you moving. To do well in this workout, you will need to use every bit of energy that can be yield from your glycolytic system – however, we don’t want to get there too fast. The ideal situation would be staying in an aerobic state, until the end when you are ready to “burn it down”. As we learned from week one, aerobic exercise runs predominantly off energy yield from fats – below I will explain how to have a good balance of both!
The day before: Definitely a refeed day here yall! Stick with clean carb sources as much as possible. You do not want to feel bloated or heavy, or upset your stomach in doing this refeed. Suggested carb sources include foods such as fruit, potatoes, rice, quinoa, and granola. As we learned last week, refeeding takes a normal day’s worth of carbs and increase by 50-100% depending on the size of human you are. Different coaches have different opinions on protein intake on refeed days. Some like to keep protein the same, others like to decrease it anywhere from 10-25g. For the sake of strength, recovery, and the Open season, I would recommend keeping protein the same as usual. Water is always important, but on refeed days it is even more crucial. Make sure your hydration is a priority.
If you workout in the morning: Morning group is the group that works out after their first meal. I recommend a breakfast of about 25% protein, 50% carbs, 25% fats. You aren’t going to want to eat anything very heavy too soon before this one, so I would reccomend this breakfast about 2 hours before. If you go any further away than that, your immediate fuel sources will be dwindling. I do recommend sipping on juice or gatorade, as well as lots of water between wake up and workout. As has become a theme for previous weeks now – about 10-20 mins before tip off, I recommend getting some “quick carbs” in your system (about 30-80g depending on size) in the form of liquid or fruit!
If you workout in the afternoon: You belong in this group if you are going to be eating two meals before doing the workout. A breakfast about the same size as the morning exercisers will do, however the breakdown should look more like 30% protein, 40% carbs, 30% fats. Some of my larger humans will need a snack between here and your next meal. For those, I recommend a similar snack as last week (something like a sweet potato with 1/2 Tbsp of Peanut butter). Your second meal should then be significantly higher in carb and lower in fat than your breakfast and should look more like 25% protein, 50% carbs, 25% fats. The idea is to not be hungry going into this workout. Make sure you are continuously fueling your body – both with some kind of juice/sports drink as well as plenty of water. As always, same pre-workout carb strategy as above, about 20-30 mins before GO, get some “quick carbs” in your system (about 30-80g depending on size) in the form of liquid or fruit.
If you workout in the evening: This is the group who has time for 3 meals before they workout. This is the group that seems to be most common, as most gyms are following this “Friday Night Lights” format. Lets follow the afternoon-ers plan with the addition of a smaller meal about an hour to an hour and a half before “GO”. That smaller meal should hold a ratio of 25% protein, 55% carb, 20% fat. Key concept this week is – stay fully fueled at all times. You will need that reserve of glycogen to tap into some gametime. Of course the same plan here as we have had the entire time so far. Our pre-workout carb strategy that we have for every group so far is… about 20-30 mins before GO, get some “quick carbs” in your system (about 30-80g depending on size) in the form of liquid or fruit.
Intra-workout nutrition: I think this goes without saying, but there will be NO time to fuel during this 7 minutes. Some of you may have a hard time finding time to breathe! Get fueled, hydrated, and ready to go well in advance and exercise your little hearts out for 7 minutes straight.
This will be a very different feeling than the past two weeks, and gives us the chance to have fun with some new movements. Be smooth, be calm, don’t stop moving!
16.2 Nutrition Strategy
The second week of the open, and the possibility of a second week of 20 minutes of exercise! Touche Dave. But, for the majority of humans, it will not last that long. This workout is interesting metabolically. You will be asked to go the distance but as those weights get heavier they will require some quick outbursts of max intensity. This points all arrows at CARBS! Carbohydrates are going to be the big rockstar this weekend as our bodies are going to need plenty of glycogen stores to tap into in order for us to be able to explode at max effort… after we have already been swinging on bars and jumping up and down for all the minutes. For the minority, this workout will go long enough to eventually tap into that Kreb’s Cycle. The majority will be fighting to survive through Glycolysis, a system fueled through blood glucose (SUGAR!) and muscle glycogen…. glucose’s stored form. This does not mean ignore fat intake completely, but we need to understand that we MUST NOT be short on carbs this weekend.
If you are confused in ANY way where carbohydrates are actually found, do some research. Cookies, cakes, donuts, pizza – those are not “carbs”. They are high caloric foods which are high in both carbs AND fats. Carbohydrates that are low in fats are the kind of foods I am referring to in this piece.
Because this blog is progressive, I am going to work with the idea that the same audience is reading week to week. If something is repetitive from a previous week, I am not going to restate it. I will explain that it is repetitive and have you refer back to a previous week.
The day before: This would be a great day to refeed. When we refeed, we take a normal day’s worth of carbs and increase by 50-100% depending on the size of human. In addition to the carb increase, we will lower fat anywhere from 10-15g. Different coaches have different opinions on protein intake on refeed days. Some like to keep protein the same, others like to decrease it anywhere from 10-25g. For the sake of strength, recovery, and the Open season, I would recommend keeping protein the same as usual. As I mentioned last week, this is not a time to be short on calories. Pay attention to your eating habits the day before your workout as it will carry over and directly effect how you feel. As always -clean, nutrient dense, carbohydrate sources should be the priority. Carbohydrate sources high in sugars should be consumed in moderation. Drink plenty of water, as hydration is always cruical.
If you workout in the morning: Remember, this is the group that works out after their first meal. I am going to adjust the recommended breakfast intake to about 30% protein, 45-50% carbs, 20-25% fats. For those of you who expect to get through 12 minutes with the barbell being relatively light still, I recommend using the higher fat ratio. For those of you who know the 3rd barbell is going to require close to maximal attempts, use the lower fat ratio. As we discussed last week – about 20-30 mins before tip off, I recommend getting some “quick carbs” in your system (about 30-80g depending on size) in the form of liquid or fruit (I got some gummy bear feedback from some of you last week! LOVED IT!).
If you workout in the afternoon: My afternoon group are those of you who will be working out late enough to have to eat two meals before you swing, jump, and barbell. A breakfast about the same size as the morning exercisers will do, however the breakdown should look more like 35% protein, 35% carbs, 30% fats. Some of my larger humans will need a snack between here and your next meal. For those, I recommend something like a sweet potato with 1/2 Tbsp of Peanut butter. Your second meal should then be higher in carb and lower in fat than your breakfast and should look more like 30% protein, 45-50% carbs, 20-25% fats (same explanation on choosing which way to go as above). Of course, same pre-workout carb strategy as above, about 20-30 mins before GO, get some “quick carbs” in your system (about 30-80g depending on size) in the form of liquid or fruit.
If you workout in the evening: Lets follow the afternoon exerciser plan with the addition of a smaller meal about an hour to an hour and a half before gametime. That meal should hold a ratio of 25% protein, 50% carb, 25% fat ratio, but be a bit smaller in size than your first two meals. Like I mentioned last week, the most important thing for the evening exercise group is that you are not hungry all day. If you are going in hungry, your energy levels are going to take a hit when it comes time to go hard. My personal strategy when I workout in the evening is to push my first meal, or breakfast, back about an hour or so later than I would normally eat. This doesn’t work for everyone, however I find it allows me to eat the majority of my food closer to the end of the day when I will be using it most. Yes, you guessed it! We will be applying the same pre-workout carb strategy that we have for every group the past two week (and probably will for the duration of this strategy piece). About 20-30 mins before GO, get some “quick carbs” in your system (about 30-80g depending on size) in the form of liquid or fruit.
Intra-workout nutrition: Last week I didn’t recommend anything here because there was just no time to be wasted. That was a workout where any stop in movement cost you on the leaderboard. This week is a bit different. For a handful of you, make or break reps will come after standing around for a bit between heavy cleans. My suggestion is to keep something close by that is easy to access and is high in simple sugar. My best suggestion here is juice, gatorade, or some kind of small sugary candy like gummy bears or jelly beans (however I don’t love the idea of wasting time chewing between reps). Sugar in liquid form will be your best bet and will do wonders for maximal output under fatigue.
This workout will be a lot of fun, and will be very different for every athlete. Because of this, nutrition for every athlete will be somewhat different as well. I have vaguely covered when and why you should use certain strategies depending on the type of athlete you are. Do your best to apply these strategies to your personal understanding of yourself as an athlete and how your body functions in relationship to certain nutrition strategies. Lift all the heavy bars out there, and drink some apple juice along the way!
16.1 Nutrition Strategy
As soon as I sat at my computer to start this, I was reminded how much of a nerd I am and how much I wanted to go off on a tangent about a ton of exercise science madness about energy systems and the proper fueling for each system and purpose behind it. Although interesting (to me), this is not the place for that each week as I would like this to be fairly short, to the point – and APPLICABLE. Not just a ramble of science.
As you all have figured out by now, 16.1 is an aerobic workout. This means first and foremost it is a workout requiring optimal oxygen uptake. So, BREATHE! Because of the aerobic nature of this workout, your body is going to be running in the Oxidative Energy System (also known as the Kreb’s Cycle) for the majority of the time. The other two energy systems (ATP-PC system and Glycolysis) that are primary utilized in short burst, high intensity workouts require carbohydrates as their main fuel source. When we exercise, a shift from those two systems into the Kreb’s Cycle can happen anywhere from 3-8 minutes in (depending on threshold of the individual). It is important to understand that as activity becomes longer in duration (like 16.1) and we spend more time in the Kreb’s Cycle, our bodies will shift from the use of carbohydrates as the main fuel source, to the use of fats. If fats are not easily accessible for use, our bodies will have a hard time efficently fueling past the aerobic threshold and performance will suffer. This is not a time where I would recommend a refeed (high carb, low fat) day before or on game day. This is a workout that is going to require a great balance of both carbohydrates and fats as energy.
So, what does this mean for an athlete about to take on 16.1?
The day before: The main thing here is going to be making sure you get ample calories in the day before you take on 16.1. Now is not a time to under eat! If you are currently following macro numbers, I suggest increasing your carbs by 25-60g for the day, and fats by about 8-12g (this will vary by size of athlete). Although an increase in fats and carbs may look like an invitation for a few more donuts and cupcakes, hold off from that until after. It would be wise to stay with clean, whole, nutrient dense food sources leading up to this workout. There is a lot to be said for the acute, negative effects of processed foods on performance. If I had to recommend a dinner for 16.1 eve, it would be a nice 4-8oz lean cut steak (varying on the size of human you are) with a side of 100-300g of potato (same variance) and a fancy spinach salad (eat your iron!). Hydration is going to be HUGE here as it always is – work toward that gallon!
If you workout in the morning: By “morning” I am referring to those working out after only their first meal. I recommend having breakfast about 2.5 hours before you are set to “3..2..1..GO”. Be a responsible athlete and get up with enough time to accommodate this and get your day going correctly. Your breakfast should be about 30% protein, 40% carbs, 30% fats. This will give you a relatively bigger meal and a solid source of fuel for your body to tap into. About 20-30 mins before tip off, I recommend getting some “quick carbs” in your system (about 30-80g depending on size) in the form of liquid or fruit.
If you workout in the afternoon: I will refer to afternoon as late enough to have to eat two meals before #StormDeCastro. In this case, I recommend a breakfast of about the same size as the morning exercisers, however I would recommend a slightly different breakdown. Because this group has a bit more time before GO, it would make sense to have a breakfast with a breakdown of about 35% protein, 30% carbs, 35% fats. Depending on how late in the “afternoon” you are going, you may need a snack between here and second meal. If that is the case, I recommend a bar with a similar macro breakdown to that of an RX Bar (12p/23c/9f). Your second meal should look more like 30% protein, 45% carbs, 25% fats – as you have already had a higher fat meal earlier. Same pre workout carb strategy as above, about 20-30 mins before GO, get some “quick carbs” in your system (about 30-80g depending on size) in the form of liquid or fruit.
If you workout in the evening: Here I reccomend following a similar plan to the afternoon exercisers, while adding another smaller meal about an hour and a half before GO. That meal should carry a pretty standard 30% protein, 40% carb, 30% fat ratio, but be a bit smaller in size than your first two meals. The most important concept in this group is to understand that it is crucial we do not go into this workout hungry. Twenty minutes is a long time and your body is going to need reserve fuel sources to tap into – especially fats. If you are going in hungry, your energy levels are going to take a hit. Everyone is different, and as an athlete you should understand what portions will be most beneficial to you in this situation. As with the first two groups, use the pre workout carb strategy – about 20-30 mins before GO, get some “quick carbs” in your system (about 30-80g depending on size) in the form of liquid or fruit.
As for “intra-workout” nutrition, I really do not recommend it here, even with the long duration. This is a 20 minute piece where you should go in and do nothing but lunge, burpee, and pullup until the clock beeps. Fuel properly beforehand and you will not have to stop to take a sip from your shaker bottle. That being said, if you are someone who is prone to getting lightheaded or feeling weak during workouts (email me if this is the case, because it should not happen) then I would suggest having a shaker nearby with some juice in it for easy access to a quick carb source.
Through this whole series, it is important to remember that nutrition is a very individualized process. What works for some people may not work for others. Some people generally respond better to carbohydrates, and some to fats – there are many factors that contribute to that. Now is really not the time to try something completely different from your normal routine. Finding the best gameday nutrition practices for you will be an ongoing process. These strategy tips should simply be some education on what your body is going through during the workout and get you thinking how to properly fuel yourself to perform at your best. Have fun out there y’all! See you next week!
Sometimes when you look at a nutrition program, it can seem to be a daunting task to tackle as a whole. I hear many reasons as to why people are finding it hard to commit to a particular program. Often, macro calculation, nutrient timing, carb and fat blocks, etc., can be difficult concepts to grasp all at once. Following a flexible nutrition program and figuring out this huge game of “food Tetris” doesn’t have to be so overwhelming. As your coach and supporter I am here to help! I have come up with some handy tips to try and help you out… particularly in those beginning stages.
- Cows & Chickens Can Be Friends!
When you buy ground beef, try to opt for 93/7 beef (93% lean/7% fat). However, even the leanest beef still tends to carry more fat content than a quality brand of ground chicken. It is hard for me to tell my clients to cook only with ground chicken, because it can be so dry and flavorless! This is why I recommend “half and half” creations, where we mix lean beef and chicken in the same dish or recipe! Try and keep it even. For example, if making “half and half burgers”, take 16oz of 93/7 beef and 16oz of ground chicken, mix them together, season them, then separate them into eight 4oz patties that you can easily grill up on a bar-b-que, or simply pan sear right in your kitchen! This brings the fat content down per serving while still allowing you to enjoy a nice juicy burger!
- Fat Free Cream Cheese For The Win!
Fat free and low fat dairy products can sometimes be a saving grace. Lets talk about cream cheese, a product made with skim milk which eliminates the fat carried by its “regular” counterpart. You can use fat free cream cheese in places you never would have imagined to make anything a bit creamier! My favorite spot to add some cream cheese is in potatoes. Whether you prefer sweet potatoes, or white potatoes, adding in some fat free cream cheese after they have been mashed and warmed up is a great way to make them a bit smoother and creamier (just like grandma’s)! For extra zing and flavor, add in some cinnamon or pumpkin spice (it’s the season right?)…your taste buds will thank you later!
- Don’t Complicate Your Veggies!
We can all agree that vegetables are much better served fresh, rather than frozen. But, stop making cooking so complicated! Vegetables cook relatively fast in the oven (anywhere from 10-25 minutes at 325 degrees). They also stay just fine in the fridge for about 4-6 days at a time – plenty of time for you to eat your way through them. So, lets be efficient – cook a large amount (as much as you can fit on 2-3 baking sheets) of them at the same time. Take a baking sheet out, line it with foil, clean and cut the veggies, spray with some cooking spray, season, insert into the oven and put the timer on. In minutes you will have fresh, cooked veggies that will last you the whole week. If you are a fan of the “charred” veggie – switch the oven to broil for the last few minutes!
- Carb’s Favorite Activity is Exercise!
Rule of thumb here is to try and keep 70-75% of you daily carb allotment around your exercise time. If you are a morning exerciser, you should begin consuming carbs with breakfast and taper off throughout the day. If you are an evening exerciser, your mornings should consist of mainly protein and fats – while waiting to incorporate carbs in more volume toward the end of your day. Lets also not forget that consuming carbs before bed time is actually beneficial to rest and recovery of damaged (growing and strengthening) muscle tissues. If you find yourself at the end of the day with some carbs left in the bank – don’t be afraid to use them on something fun!
- If You Mess Up, You’re Just Like the Rest of Us!
Nobody is perfect. If you fall off track or aren’t successful following your plan one day, it is okay. Life will go on! A common theme I hear is people explaining that they knew they had already missed their daily macros and decided to have a “free for all day” and eat/drink everything in sight until their stomach hurt. We need to understand that a messed up day of macro calculating doesn’t need to turn into a scene from 300 with food. One meal, or even day, will not be the end of the world. As a competitive athlete, or an aspiring athlete, we need to eat responsibly – even when we fall off plan a bit. That is totally normal and will happen sometimes when life gets in the way. Do not let it carry on, get right back on track the next day with your numbers. There is no need to “undercut” or under consume to “make up for it”. Just do it right today.
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Ricklynn recently released a great Q&A piece and answered an inquiry on the subject, so I know the questions and concerns are out there! I decided it was necessary to shed light and address this subject because daily I get inquiries from many adolescents reaching out and looking for nutrition advice. Most of them come to me because they are aspiring weightlifters, crossfitters, or other type of competitive athletes. Even at their young age, they are taking training seriously and understand that proper nutrition is an integral part of this training. I feel they should be rewarded for understanding this, and it is my responsibility as a nutrition coach to help them in the best way possible – not ignore them because the subject of food, physical appearance, and a teenage girl is scary and borderline disastrous. That being said, if you are a coach or mentor to a teenager or even pre-teen, or a fellow nutrition coach who has the opportunity to work with youngsters, I hope this piece is helpful and insightful! Let me end this intro by reiterating that I am not an expert on this topic, not even close. I am not a psychologist, I have not studied eating disorders in-depth, nor handling intricate nutrition counseling to the youth; this is not me preaching on how to end the very common issue of youth/teen body image, and a poor relationship with food. This is simply my recommendation, as an experienced nutrition coach, on how to handle the topic instead of simply ignoring it.
1) Let The Children Come To You!
This should be a no brainer but I often hear so many parents or coaches tell me that they have a child who “needs nutrition coaching”. The funny thing about this is that very rarely do I get an email or are told from an adult, that they have another adult that needs nutrition coaching. It seems that because we – as adults – know that we have authority over youngsters, we can tell them when they need nutrition advice and help. Although technically correct, this is a setup for a disaster and we should avoid it. However, that being said, when a young person comes to you expressing interest in the subject – help them! If you feel uncomfortable or unable to do so, refer them to someone who can. I get excited when I get emails from young athletes asking me to work with them because I know they get it. As exercise and sport coaches, we get excited when young talent walks in the gym with amazing work ethic. This is how I feel as a nutrition coach when a young person reaches out for guidance. Let them come to you, and if they do, show them the way! My initial response is always to send them some literature to read and report back to me with questions as well as 5 main ideas that they think are most important from what they read. This is essentially “homework” – something this age group is all too familiar with, and gets them really understanding that this will be an educational process more than anything. If they do not respond back, I know that they reached out for the wrong reasons, or simply could not be bothered anymore.
2) Pre-Teen/Teenager – Difference in Approach?
When I refer to a pre-teen, I will be talking about someone who is pre-pubescent. They are still growing quickly and need adequate fuel. They really should not have a “goal weight” (unless there is a severe case and they are being medically handled – in which case they probably shouldn’t be seeking your help anyway) and their nutrition should be based around performance and making adequate choices. I am currently working with a few pre-teens (age 12) and I have developed a system that I find works for me in dealing with them. I allow them to use the Flexible Nutrition approach, but instead of having them track the amount of fats, carbs, and protein they are consuming, and putting a limit on each – I simply teach them proper balance and what macronutrients are used for what purposes when fueling their training. We work in percentages only (the complete opposite of what I do with adults). Working in percentages allows me to not cap their intake. They eat when they are hungry and eat as much food daily as their growing body desires, however, they aim to stay within the correct proportions I have outlined for them. This encourages balance, the overall essence of flexible nutrition, yet doesn’t have them scared of intake or fearful that “more food is bad”. Just like I do with my adults, during their seasons or very taxing training days, I may incorporate a refeed where I adjust their percentages for that specific day (usually increasing carb and fat intake). This reiterates the idea that food is a source of fuel and should be primarily associated with providing us energy, not changing our body’s appearance. So, do I even have them log their food? Of course. Logging is the only way for them to keep track when dealing with proportions. No, I do not have them weigh and measure and no I do not make as big a deal out of logging as I do with my adults. Instead, I teach them how to estimate and “eyeball” portions, and how to properly read a nutrition label for serving sizes and “servings per package”. I direct their attention to the pie chart section of My Fitness Pal and they are taught to keep the percentages and pie chart in line with my recommendations as much as possible. In a nutshell, it is as simple as that really. Do not limit, but teach balance.Teenagers differ than pre-teens quite a bit with how I handle them. Lets all rack our brains for a minute and think back to the basic anatomy we learned in high school. Not all teenagers are created equal and not all develop on the same schedule – mentally and physically. Because of this, some teenagers will have to be treated more like the younger population I just spoke about, and some can be treated more like an adult. This will obviously depend on the age – as a thirteen year old and a seventeen year old are, without a doubt, very different animals. It will also depend on the gender of the individual as we know that most males continue to grow even past their teenage years while females stop growing much sooner. It is your job as a coach to get to know your athlete or client and understand how to approach working with them. As a coach, I generally deal with two different types of teenagers.
- Teens trying to take a healthier approach to nutrition while working toward changing body composition. (don’t need to worry about actual number on the scale)
- Teens who compete in weightlifting (or another weight class sport) and because of that deal with weigh-ins and having to maintain a training weight throughout their season.
The first group, if I feel they are ready (more on the adult side of the spectrum) I will provide them with numbers and teach them how to execute Flexible Nutrition the way I normally would. I avoid having them constantly get on the scale or checking body fat percentage and a lot of our assessment communication is about performance, recovery, and how they feel. Again, this is gearing the focus to the idea that food is fuel and getting a proper handle on nutrition, as a way to enhance their performance, should be the main priority of what we are doing. They came to you because they clearly value the importance of this topic, so coach them that way. Education is above all. We know the process of Flexible Nutrition works so results will take care of themselves if we properly educate and help them execute.
With the second group of teens (the competitive weightlifters or other) I really do not have a choice about asking them to track and measure their food as well as asking them to get on the scale and keep track of their weight on a pretty regular basis. My tone with them changes here. This is part of their sport, and as a result we must coach them on how to attack and handle it, just like we teach them how to handle going out on the platform and lifting weight. There is no way around the subject and we must teach them that being able to make weight is a very important part of the sport they chose to pursue. Learning to do it in the most safe and comfortable way possible is why they are working with you as a coach. Personally, when I handle these young athletes, there are certain strategies that I use that I have found to be a great plan of attack.
- Get a starting weight from them, set their numbers and give them homework of just hitting those numbers for a certain number of days (4-7 depending on time frame).
- Give them a set day to weigh in the morning and report back, you do not want to hear about weight from them any time before that.
- Continue this process as they move toward goal weight and make adjustments to numbers as needed. Keep this process very objective – their sport says they must make a certain weight to compete, that is the only reason for this goal, period. We do not talk about appearance, abs, legs, arms, or any other physical aspect of what their body is doing.
- Reverse diet immediately after each meet to allow your young athlete to be able to eat as many calories as possible moving forward. (This will help with the next time they have to make weight and will allow them to eat more food on their cut.)
With both of these age groups, I spend a lot of time simply helping them understand the role that each macronutrient group plays in fueling their activity. I don’t preach strict macronutrient timing to my youngsters, or even to my adults (honestly, I feel it overcomplicates nutrition more than it helps anything). However, with the youth population, I want them to understand and learn how their body functions in response to consuming the three different macronutrients in order to make positive, educated decisions about food for the duration of their lives.
Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6
3) Parental Permission and Education
Although I included this as the final point, this is the part of coaching and helping the underage population that is most important and precedes everything. Before I ever start working or communicating with a youngster about food and nutrition I always make sure I have their parent or guardian’s permission and support. Mainly, this is for obvious social reasons. But as a coach I know the only way for them to be as successful as they can be is for their caretakers to understand the process and support what they are doing. I always offer to teach Flexible Nutrition to their parents or guardians at no additional cost because I feel it is that important for them to have a support system at home who understands what they are doing. Helping to foster an environment where your young client feels encouraged and confident is one of the biggest parts of correctly coaching them. I like to stay in contact with their parents or guardians as much as possible while working with them. That caretaker usually knows your young client better than anyone else and can give you feedback about how they see the impact your work is having.The bottom line in this whole touchy subject of teaching nutrition to a young, vulnerable, developing population is to make it objectively based and to simply lay out principles. Nutrition, and food in general, is one of the most enjoyable parts of life. It is a social activity, something to do with friends and family, and we must be able to teach a system to the next generation that allows them to enjoy those social events focused around food and not fear them – even if they have strict goals like being a competitive athlete or making weight for the purposes of their chosen sport. As with all things when dealing with youth (and teenagers especially), the more we constantly harp on something or make it a big deal, they will grow to regret it and start to rebel or have negative, opposite actions toward the subject. The more simple and natural we can present a topic, the better! Oddly enough… adults are not very different.
First off, I want to say how blown away I am from the response and feedback I have gotten from my last post “How Donuts Gave Me Abs…”. When I wrote it, my intentions were to open eyes and show people that we, as a fitness community, have become closed minded with how we approach food. We have almost become cult-like (its funny, isn’t that what the “haters” tell us too?!) The truth is that most of us don’t actually know any better. We look at top level athletes in amazing shape and think they are walking around eating nothing but plain, grilled chicken and tilapia and mounds of broccoli and have no life when it comes to food. We hear our coaches talk about “clean eating” and “whole 30” and “grain and gluten-free” and know no other way, so we cling to the idea and become depressed and think it is something we have done wrong when it doesn’t work for us. We hold steadfast to this nutrition idea because we want so badly to succeed. We think the sluggish, “stuck in the mud” (you don’t know how many emails I received with that description!) feeling during workouts must be something wrong with us, not with the way we are fueling our body. We are doing what they tell us!
My point in writing this follow-up is for a few reasons:
1) A Thank You. The feedback I received has been overwhelming – 40-50 emails or facebook messages a day, for the past two months. It gets to be a little much at times, but to be honest, I love it. I feel blessed and I get choked up a lot when I think about it. God blessed me with athletic abilities and some weird form of social media notoriety because of it. Somehow, I was able to be in the position where I could reach so many people with a simple blog piece. The support and kind words have not been overlooked, AT ALL. I have read every single email all the way through that has been sent to me, and it is still unreal that I have had this impact on people as well as just the sheer number of people I have managed to reach. I have found a new daily inspiration in all of you and I cannot thank you enough for all the support. Humans are a codependent species – this has proved that to me in such a vivid way it is unbelievable.
2) All the gushy stuff being said – I feel bad when I can’t get through all the emails in a timely manner and for this, I both apologize and have decided to do an FAQ as an initial reference point. I go through so many emails with the same questions or concerns over and over. Funny thing is, when people ask me questions or make statements, I often get the impression that they think they are a weird person for it, or very different from everyone else in a bad way like there is something wrong with them. I laugh because a lot of people are facing the same issues or having the same questions and I feel like we should all hug and have a group therapy session – so yes, I am writing a group therapy FAQ piece. ☺
3) Lastly, this has grown into a business for me. As any person who is involved in a business knows, not every person needs the same type of services. Options are always a must. At the end of this post, I will include a link to options as to how we can work together if that is something you are looking for. The options will vary in price and service offered. But I think it will be an easier way for me to reach and inform a larger number of people!
1. How can I find more information on Flexible Dieting?
How do I determine my own macros?
How did you determine your macros?
What macro calculator did you use?
Okay – the answer to all of these questions is one in the same. The best way I can get you the most detailed information at the cheapest cost is to direct you to Krissy Mae’s PDF file “FD 2.0” – use code “OUTLAW” when purchasing (https://gumroad.com/kmaecags). In here, she offers a system of calculation that I love and trust. It was what I used as a reference when I first started working with my coach… you can purchase it through there and learn a little bit more about this approach on eating for performance. It is the calculator I use when working with my clients as well and I feel it gives you the best suggestion for setting your numbers.
2. I went on IIFYM.com and found these numbers, they seem crazy, should I use them?!
Most numbers that I have seen people show me from IIFYM.com have made no sense to me. Before you think I am knocking the website let me say that I have played around with it quite a bit and it is not the websites fault. Most people are not accurate with their activity level, body weight, body fat, or some other variable that severely throws off the calculations. In most cases, people who exercise (especially CrossFitter for some reason) think they are burning this absurd amount of calories and need to eat sooooo much food because of it. Most times, that is not the case. Sorry guys, you are not Michael Phelps. Also, there are a ton of questions and options the IIFYM website asks for – if you are new at the whole macro counting thing, it is hard for you to recognize what option makes the most sense for you to follow. My answer is don’t use the website unless you have experience with counting macros in the past with a coach. Find yourself a coach (or read the PDF from response 1) and educate yourself a bit before revisiting the website.
3. What app do you use to record your food each day?
I use My Fitness Pal to record my food daily. It was the one I was originally introduced to and the one I am most familiar and comfortable with. I have had reports back from clients about other apps that they love. I think this one relies on personal preference. It doesn’t matter what app you use to record, simply that you pick one, become very familiar with it, and use it!
4. I am not as active as you, will this still work for me?
Yes it will! Activity level is simply factored into your numbers when a coach creates them. So, depending on your activity level, your numbers will be tweaked and adjusted. This still means that you will get to have any kind of food you like as long as it fits into your numbers. What this means is where someone who is extremely active may be able to fit a doughnut into their diet daily because their numbers would allow for it, you may need to make it a special, occasional treat where you save up some of your numbers one day in order to make it fit. In any case, yes, flexible dieting will work for you also!
5. The numbers you gave me leave me with SO MANY carbs! How do you expect me to eat them all?
What are other good sources of carbs? It is really hard to fill my numbers up with vegetables!
Learn to love and accept carbs, people! I know paleo, whole30, and whatever else blah blah blah you have been brainwashed by has told you that every carb (besides sweet potatoes and spaghetti squash of course!) is the devil and that all humans are gluten intolerant and will drop dead the second a grain or a morsel of sugar touches their lips – but I am here, as your carb angel, to tell you that is not true. If you are fairly active, and your numbers are correctly set, chances are it is going to be very hard for you to fill up all your carbs using only broccoli, peppers, and sweet potatoes. Begin to get comfortable with the idea that grains aren’t the devil. Foods like oatmeal, bread, cereals, rice cakes, rice, potatoes, fruits, ice creams, yogurts, cookies, and of course doughnuts will not 1) make you drop dead and 2) make you a bad exerciser. Of course, everything in moderation (which is why you are counting macros in the first place) so don’t use all your allotted carbs on the pint of ice cream, but you most definitely should experience it’s joys now and then! I promise Rich eats ice cream.
6. I am hitting my daily macro goal, but the calories are not matching up, what am I doing wrong?
Nothing, MFP is wrong. Just keep hitting your macro goals. This usually happens if an item gets originally inputted wrong and the macros/calories don’t add up. Often times, product labels round up if something is not a whole number so the calories can be off (sometimes up to about 10 cals!). One little trickster in this issue is fiber. Fiber is one of those things that only “counts” depending on who you ask because it is technically a “non-impact” source of calories – yet, it is still a carb. Alcohol is the other trickster. I am sure you have heard alcohol is “empty calories” meaning it often will be recorded in the app as calories without a macro content, which will throw off your matching. Just hit your macro goals daily and disregard what the calories tell you – while avoiding alcohol as much as possible.
7. I can’t seem to hit my protein without going over on my fat. What am I doing wrong?
So this is one that is a lot more common than I would have expected. Often, I find the problem is rooted in one main area. People switching from a “paleo-ish” mindset are used to having so many fats in their diets because of the lack of availability of carbs as an energy source. Things like avocados, nuts, nut oils/ butters/milks, coconut oil/milk/cream are staples in their diets, mainly because that’s what paleo tells us. Because of this, a lot of fat is used up in these areas. Then, paleo tell us eggs bacon and “grass fed” beef is good – so we all eat 4 (or more) eggs and a pound of bacon for breakfast each day. This leaves little room for fats that often accompany proteins throughout the rest of the day– leaving people in a great macro conundrum! HELP! My answer is to first, take unnecessary fats out of your diet. Also, switch your protein sources to options that carry little fats (for example: a breakfast containing 2 eggs + 6 Tbsp of egg whites instead of having 4 eggs). Foods such as lean meats (white meat chicken and turkey), egg whites, fat-free yogurts, cheeses, and other dairies will help this issue.
8. Do I count my vegetables as carbs?
Yes, of course. All foods must be counted. All foods are made up of one of the three macronutrient categories in some type of proportion. “Vegetables” isn’t a macronutrient, silly.
9. Should I balance my macros evenly at each meal?
Nope. There is no need to go through all this trouble. If you are asking this question you have most likely done some version of zone dieting in the past and it has made you super aware of balancing macros at each meal. Is it a bad thing? Of course not. In fact, most days I find myself doing it accidentally because a balanced meal is usually the most delicious and satisfying. However, it is not necessary or mandatory. Eat as you please daily, just make sure to hit your numbers by midnight!
10. What kind of supplements do you take?
When I hear “supplements”, I interpret it to mean “anything that I intake that is not a food or beverage”. So, here is my long list of “supplements”: 1) a multivitamin, 2) probiotic capsules (I have an awful stomach and it gets unruly easily), 3) Lurong Living when I am unusually sore, 4) Jaktrx (www.jaktrx.com) protein powder added to my cooking and baking or if I am in a rush and need quick protein on the go. So no, I do not take any “pre WOD!”, any “super awesome amazing jet fuel powder”, or drink 2-3 protein shakes a day. I eat my food and I do my best to eat a diet balanced in all sorts of variations of vitamins and micronutrients to keep me feeling good.
11. How do I calculate and record food when going out to eat or with foods that have no nutrition information provided?
This is a very common question. Not sure why I am waiting until #11 to answer it, but here it is. When going out to eat. my best advice is to order as basic as possible off the menu and estimate it into your MFP app by searching the food and then using similar options from the database. For ease purposes, a protein cooked a simple way with minimal sauces, a vegetable that is steamed or grilled, and a non-fried carb source such as rice, potato, plantains, or yucca (yes, that was for you Clyde). The more “normal” and “basic” you keep it the easier it will be to record. I always get this question with doughnuts. The latest craze of doughnuts and cupcakes has brought us an amazing surplus of “designer doughnut/cupcake shops”. When I go to such shops, I usually pick a comparable option in MFP like an entry from Dunkin’ Donuts. Will I be exact? No. But I will definitely be close enough to where it won’t completely throw my macros off for the day.
12. I made [insert delicious homemade meal here] but don’t know how to record it in my app ☹, what now?!
Luckily, the brilliant creator of MFP made a handy little “recipes” tab that you can get to on the screen you use when you “+” a food. It will be at the top right. When you click on this, it will ask you to name your creation and then will ask you for the number of servings. You will then have to input all of the ingredients you used and the amount you used (for the entire recipe). The food will then be saved in the Recipes database on your app. When you chose it to add to your daily food log, it will divide it by the number of servings you said were in the dish. Easy peasy!
13. Do I care about sodium and cholesterol for my daily goals?
Essentially, no. I don’t mean they are not important. I mean, unless you have a diagnosed medical issue affected by one of them, or are eating highly processed and fast foods for the majority of your nutrient consumption, they are likely of no danger to you. Stick to freshly prepared and high-quality foods for the majority of your meals, and drink plenty of water daily and I promise you won’t have an issue with sodium nor cholesterol.
14. What about fiber? What about sugar?
These are two separate questions, but I combined them because they go hand in hand. Both are part of the carbohydrate macro category and both are discussed frequently when it comes to nutrition. Let’s start with fiber. Fiber is a highly talked about subcategory in macro counting. It is a carb and counts as a carb. I get asked a lot about subtracting fiber from overall carbs, NO CHEATERS, it is a carb! ☺ As far as daily recommendations go, the rule of thumb is that females need about 20g a day and males about 30g to be on the safe side. Fiber helps with slowing digestion (keeping you full) and decreasing cholesterol in the blood. The best forms of fiber come from fruit and vegetables so be sure to keep those in your diet as much as possible! On the other hand, we have sugar, often, if something contains lots of sugar it contains lower percentages of fiber. I get asked all the time if sugar matters in counting macros. I always answer “no, but try to keep your sugars stacked around your workouts in order to fuel your best”. Understand that a balance between natural sugars (like fruit) and processed sugars (like cookies) are essential – in other words like your grandmother taught you with money – don’t use all your carbs in one place!
15. I’ve hit my numbers all week, can I have a doughnut tomorrow? It fits my numbers!
Flexible Dieting isn’t a system of rewarding behaviors. We don’t have “cheat days”. Cheating implies you are doing something wrong. When we are eating we should never be in the mental state that we are doing a devious thing. Krissy Mae says it in a perfect way, “there are no bad foods, just bad portions”. So, no, you cannot have a doughnut because you hit your numbers all week. You can have a doughnut because you can make it fit into your macros today.
16. How close do I have to be to my macro goals every day?
Ideally, you want to hit them exactly. This won’t happen that often, at least not in the beginning. However, the first time you do this, you will feel like you just won the Super Bowl. You will most likely screenshot it, send it to all your other macro nerd buddies, as well as post it on Instagram in one of those fancy picture collages along with some of your pretty meals from the day to show off. (No! I’ve never done that! I just see all the other weird people do that………….. ) Ok, for real – I always tell my clients that they should be within 3g +/- of every macro every day. There are enough foods out there for you to get this accurate if you are diligently paying attention to your numbers and what you are eating, this should not be that difficult once you are a few days in. If you are constantly running into an issue you may want to seek the help of a coach or someone with experience counting macros.
17. I was completely off with my numbers today, now I feel like a total failure and am totally guilty. Also, am I going to wake up 10lbs heavier tomorrow?!
Okay – this is an exaggeration of a question but I get dramatic variations of this often. No, you are fine. Just get back on your numbers tomorrow. Flexible dieting is a method of “biohacking” where we set your body to know and understand how to process the food that we provide for it. Because of this, your body becomes able to deal with an incredibly off day and bounce right back to normal functioning and processing. These “off” days that happen actually affect us more mentally than physically. However, do not get into a habit of this. Keep these wacky days to a minimum and you will have the best success. The one mistake I hear all the time is “I had a really off day yesterday so I just ate chicken and broccoli all day today”. Well, guess what, now you just had two really off days in a row. DON’T DO THAT! Just get back to your normal numbers the next day. Do not try and “make up for” the day before.
18. Can you provide me with some recipes or food ideas?
Sure thing! Most times I make things up on the fly or make meals based on what I feel like I am craving at that day and time. When I make something (that I feel) is noteworthy, I post it on my Instagram food blog [@honoryournutrition]. If YOU create something (that you think) is noteworthy, post it on your Instagram and tag me and I will repost it to share with the rest of the community!
19. I want abs, how many doughnuts do I need to eat for that?
I want my lifts to increase, how many Oreo’s will it take for that to happen?
These kinds of questions always make me chuckle at my computer. I know you guys don’t actually think my abs formed as a direct result from the doughnuts, nor my snatch PR as a direct result of the Oreo’s – but, maybe I was a bit misleading with my title. ☺ Before I started flexible dieting, I had abs, and they were visible (go back to my before pictures from my original piece) they were just under a layer of puff so to speak. My point in naming the article in the manner that I did was 1) to catch attention (as is always the point of a title) and 2) to drill into people’s brains that sugar is not the total enemy and you can eat “normal” foods in correct proportions while still working toward a lean body mass – it is actually science! My snatch PR was a direct result of months and months of daily technique work and as all you athletes know, the Olympic lifts are a constant work in progress and a constant number chase. The point of me including that in the title was to allow it to hit home that flexible dieting is not just something that will make you look good, but it is also something that will allow your hours in the gym to be fueled properly. You will gain energy and the ability to recover properly, which will, in turn, make your sessions more and more productive in the gym, which then and only then, will result in rewarding strength gains and personal bests. So, maybe my original piece should have been renamed “How Donuts Played A Role In The Road To A Lean Body Mass By Resetting My Metabolism & Also Fueled the Many Hours In The Gym Holding Heavy Barbells Overhead Which Developed My Abs and Allowed Me to Snatch 80kg.” But, what normal person has an attention span to read that title?!
20. I want personalized help from you! What do you offer?
Here are the current programs I have available as well as pricing options (**UPDATED AS OF MARCH 2015).
a) SMS – Simple Macro Set (or reset) plus “Starter Guide”: This is the most basic, and least personal service I offer. I get some information from you and give you macro numbers that I recommend you follow based on the goals that we discuss. When you come to me for this, I expect that you know and understand flexible dieting (do your research, most recommended is Krissy’s FD 2.0, use code “gainz”) so that when I send you on your way with numbers you are not completely lost and confused. I recommend this service for people who understand the body, nutrition, flexible dieting, but just want to make sure their numbers are correct and in accordance with what they are trying to accomplish. I will send you on your way with one page “Stater Guide” that will cover some basic issues or questions that I find people run into when they are first starting off. In the event, you would need a reset once your body weight, body fat, or goals significantly change you can come back and I will give you a new set of numbers in accordance with your new data.
Service cost: $40 per set or reset plus “Starter Guide”
b) ID4 – In-Depth 4 Weeks: This is where I provide a month of constant access to me in regards to your nutrition needs. I will set your numbers, recommend timing, collect progress pictures, explain the process, and teach you every step of the way how to go about being successful while flexible dieting. I would recommend this for competitive athletes and weightlifters as it basically allows you to work with me as your nutrition coach daily, in order to accomplish what you need to such as drop a weight class, make weight on meet day, or learn how to maintain/build strength and mass during a training season. You will have unlimited access to me via email, but I ask that you give 36 hours for a response.
Service cost: $80 per 4 weeks with no contract
c) GRID SHAPE NUTRITION: This is a pay up front 12-week program that is extremely exclusive and limited in the spots I accept/fill. A new cycle begins on the first of every month. It is a complete program, my priority clients, and those that are serious about having a coach and making a life change whether it is preparing them for a sport, or just getting their life back on track. The waiting list is open for the next month’s cycle and can be found at gridshapetraining.com.
d) Seminars: I tour the country (and other countries) doing nutrition workshops. These workshops will be a full day, in depth coverage of Flexible Dieting and how to properly balance your diet for whatever your goals may be. My intentions are to leave no stone unturned. If you are interested in hosting a workshop at your gym or in your area, you can email email@example.com.
We need to start thinking about nutrition in the same way we think about exercise. It is a scientific process, and there needs to be formulas and processes behind everything. Science works. Similarly, like with exercise, it is often very hard to be your own coach – no matter how much knowledge you have on the topic. I have a degree in Exercise Science and coach athletes all day in the gym, yet I have a coach of my own who tells me what to do and programs for me. My nutrition is no different. Although I am a coach in that discipline as well, I have a nutrition coach of my own and I need to give her full credit and respect where it is due. Ricklynn Long has taught me a large percentage of what I know and has been amazing since the day I started working with her. She offers similar programs as I do when it comes to counseling.
My Contact Information:
Honor Your Nutrition (on Facebook)
personal IG: @ncapurso22
food related IG: @honoryournutrition
I have been meaning to write this post for a while now and just simply haven’t gotten around to it. Lately, I have been getting a ton of inquiries about how/what I eat and how I was able to transform my body and performance because of it. If you have been following me for more than about two or three months, you have noticed the changes that my body has gone through – at least physically. Maybe you have, or maybe you haven’t noticed, but those physical changes are directly correlated with changes in my performance as well. While being more than 10lbs. lighter since switching eating plans I have made some serious gains in the gym.
Since regionals, I have revamped my diet and the way I look at food. until then, I guess you could say I was the classic CrossFitter – I would eat “clean” (or paleo) for 6 days out of the week and on one day I would eat whatever I wanted, which was usually anything in sight. This is what I understood to be how an athlete was supposed to eat – simply because Paleo is the be all end all in the CrossFit community and I thought that was what I had to be doing. What I didn’t realize was how little carbohydrates I was eating (really only sweet potatoes and fruit) and how much fat (avocados, nuts) I was eating. This is almost inevitable on a Paleo diet because it leaves you with a limited amount of carbohydrate dense foods and a ton of foods that are filled with fat. This works for some people, and I am not knocking it. I just found that personally, my body did not respond well physically, nor feel great eating this way. Before I go any further, let me explain that I was 100% pro-paleo when I was first introduced to it. I found it made me feel cleaner, healthier, and I had a new-found respect for keeping nutrient-dense foods in my diet. I lost a ton of weight when I first started eating that way. In fact, when people walk into the gym and are overweight I still point them in the Paleo direction because I feel it is a great way to begin to understand food and the importance of consuming a diet that is based around protein and vegetable consumption. However, as I started exercising more vigorously, doing two-a-day sessions, and incorporating high volume into my training program – I became hungrier. I was still trying so hard to follow this Paleo way of eating that I was consuming an incredible amount of food to do so. In addition to a large number of protein I was consuming each day; an avocado or two in a day, handfuls of nuts, tons of bacon and eggs, all the fruit and sweet potatoes I could get my hands on was a typical day of eating. Still, I never felt like I had a great amount of energy and physically – although I was getting stronger and more muscular, I was somewhat soft and fluffy.
I stumbled upon my current diet accidentally. At the gymnastics meet disguised as the 2014 Crossfit Regionals, I weighed in at 155lbs AFTER the weekend was over. I was in no way “fat”, but knowing what I know now, and feeling how I feel – that was about 10-12lbs too heavy for me to be exercising at – especially in a gymnastics meet. A part of me kind of knew that, but I rationalized it with myself as I was putting on muscle and getting stronger and that was just the weight I was going to be as a result of it. I’m not one to be caught up on a number on the scale so it really didn’t phase me. After Crossfit regionals, I was getting ready to compete in weightlifting nationals. I had plans to compete as a 69kg (152lb) lifter because 63kg was out of the question. Then, I get a text from my lovely coach one day that said: “How mad would you be if I asked you to cut to 63 for nationals?”. Partially because I am so conditioned to listen to him, and partially because it sounded like a challenge to me I told him I would try my best but I could not make any promises.
To be honest, I thought it would be impossible and I was just going to be a good sport and try it out. I refused to starve myself and be miserable but I would try and find the best way to do it. I contacted a close friend, Ricklynn Long who I knew followed some food plan called Flexible Dieting and asked if she thought it was possible for me to cut about 15lbs in two months while maintaining my strength. She assured me that it would take a lot of diligence but we could make it happen. She introduced me to Flexible Dieting (IF IT FITS MY MACROS) and how it works and outlined a week by week plan for me. Within the first week, I dropped 5lbs as well as PR’d my jerk from the blocks and my 3-position clean. I felt like I had more energy in my workouts and throughout the day in general – I was convinced it would work. With her constant help and a lot of diligence from me, I weighed in under 63kg (138lbs) at nationals in July while still managing to keep my lifting numbers and strength numbers the same. Since then, we have adjusted my diet back to where I am comfortable maintaining a body weight of about 140-144lbs while eating more food in a day than I ever have before. This is possible because when your macronutrients are proportioned correctly, your metabolism skyrockets and you become a body that “burns hot” allowing you to eat a whole lot while still maintaining body composition. I am leaner and stronger than ever, I feel lighter and more in control of my body in gymnastics movements, all of my lifting numbers have gone up, and my energy levels have increased significantly.
For those of you who aren’t exactly sure what Flexible Dieting is, I will give you a quick rundown. Basically, it is a system where you create a food map of macronutrients (protein, carbs, fat) for your daily consumption of energy based on your needs. “Your needs” could be anything from a weight cut, to a weight gain, or simply weight maintenance where you just want to become leaner. You can fill those grams of macros with whatever foods you wish as long as you hit the numbers determined by your food map. This allows a bit more freedom in your diet which is good for numerous reasons. It doesn’t make any food “off limits” or “bad”. This, in turn, gets rid of the guilt that comes along with eating something that is “forbidden”. For me, it allowed me to incorporate much more variety into my diet which I feel is very important. In the past, following Paleo, I felt like I was eating the same things day in and day out. Also, because it allows you to eat literally anything you are craving as long as it is done within the parameters of your daily macro allotment, it alleviates the “binge day” or “cheat day” that is so often found on the Paleo diet. You know, the one day where you spend your entire day eating every single food that you weren’t allowed to have on your diet all week. Usually, people will consume 3-4x the calories they do on a normal basis during these days. This takes your body about 3-5 days to recover from and can leave you feeling pretty bad physically.
What this all means is that I regularly eat foods like sugary cereals, donuts, ice cream (which I’m actually having as I type), cheese, and anything else I am feeling like for that matter. However, I am very diligent about weighing and measuring the foods – making sure I eat them in their correct quantities to fit my macros. If you know me, you know that my food scale is never far. I keep it on my kitchen counter, I travel with it when I’m being a gypsy – I weigh and measure almost everything. This is how I was able to cut weight safely and happily while still eating a bowl of cereal in the morning if I felt like it, or having some ice cream at night before I went to bed. Don’t get me wrong though – just because the diet ALLOWS for these things does not mean that is the bulk of what I eat. Most of my meals consist of lean meats, vegetables, and solid carbohydrate sources such as potatoes or rice. I am very aware of nutrient-dense foods and always choose those over my treats. However, it is nice to know I am able to incorporate those treats into my diet when I want. As far as energy goes, because I now have an allotment of grams of carbohydrates, I am able to fuel my workouts and strategically place my carbs around workout time to keep my energy levels high when I need it most. Most days I will bring a carb snack to the gym to have during my mid-workout session. This snack is usually something like strawberries or bananas with fat-free whipped cream, cookie crisp cereal, applesauce, or a Golden Grahams s’mores bar. When I am working out I find that fast acting, simple carbs, like that work best to keep my energy level up and keep me feeling good. I also try to save some of those “fast acting” carbs for right before bed. This might sound crazy, but it stems from the concept of carb-backloading – muscles respond well overnight to this rush of carbs and it actually causes you to wake up feeling energized, hungry, and looking pretty lean.
All in all, my reason for writing this is to debunk the ideas that 1) carbs, grains, and sugar are the total enemy, 2) to be a lean, high performance athlete you need to eat super “clean” and boring 3) Paleo is the nutrition gift to Crossfit. If you want to be a successful, high level athlete, there is no doubt that diet plays an essential role. There is no one-plan-fits-all way that will allow success amongst all. This is simply the one that I have found to work best for me.
Decide what your goals are. Create a plan. Execute that plan. Learn your body and be able to understand what it is asking for. Don’t deny it of things that it wants. Approach food with excitement because it is going to put energy into your workouts. And, most importantly, do not be afraid of donuts, when eaten correctly, they will result in pretty, symmetrical abs, and more pounds on your snatch! 🙂
If you have hung around this long to read what I’ve had to say here is a quick overview of the pros and cons (in my eyes) about Flexible Dieting.
Pro’s & Con’s of Flexible Dieting
-No food is off limits (OREOS!!!)
-You have an exact outline of how much of each food type you should be eating
-Your energy levels will increase
-You have full control over your goals
-You are using science to allow your body to make changes
-You must be diligent about weighing, measuring, and recording all of your food consumption
-You need to understand that lean protein sources and vegetables should be the priority
-It can be tempting for people (especially on a cut) to chose not so nutrient dense foods over better ones
-Self control will be tested as you are faced with situations such as taking TWO Oreo’s out of the sleeve and putting the rest away
-People will always have something negative to say (I’ve found the best way to deal with this is to just show them your abs)
If you have any questions, or would like help with following this plan on your own you can find me coaching at Black Iron Nutrition: www.blackiron nutrition.com or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org – I would be happy to help!
These past five months have been a huge exercise blur for me. Starting with the CrossFit Open and going all the way through USAW Nationals has been a crazy ride. The amount of energy – both physically and mentally – and attention invested into preparing for these kind of events is almost impossible to comprehend if you have not experienced it yourself. The level of competition in the Open, at Regionals, and then at weightlifting Nationals is so incredibly high that it is imperative to specifically train for every event. I feel like I was completely prepared for each stage I competed on over these past five months and I walk around proud that I was able to qualify and compete at all of these events. The funny thing is, being an athlete and going through the day to day training, you almost don’t realize exactly what you are putting your body and mind through. It becomes so natural and routine for you that you don’t see that, maybe, just maybe, you need to chill for just a bit haha. Five weeks of the open, followed immediately by the intense training overload and seriousness for regional prep (the oh shit I need to get really gymnasty in 4 weeks), followed immediately by the training overload and weight cut for weightlifting Nationals (the oh shit I need to lose 10lbs, and catch up to all the weightlifters after not really weightlifting for a whole month) can take a toll on any athlete. The physical and mental pressure that comes along with all that is nothing to overlook (as I always seem to do). Of course, at all stages I felt like I could and should have performed better, but I think this was a huge period of education for myself as a new competitor in this game.
I forgot to mention that in the midst of all of that intensity I decided to try and pursue the budding Grid League. I attended a combine in Boston a few weeks before regionals, then attended the finalist combine after regionals, and then was fortunate enough to be drafted as a pro athlete where I raced in a preseason tournament the weekend before weightlifting Nationals. It wasn’t the easiest trying to split my attention in all of these directions, yet I was able to survive doing so. When Nationals was over and I was on my way home, I have to admit there was a sense of relief and the feeling that I could breathe again. I am excited to begin my journey with my teammates, coaches, and staff of the Miami Surge and put all my focus in that direction for the next few months. This week marked my first week training as a pro athlete. I didn’t think it would feel any different than usual. However, I think the team aspect has added something different into my workout attitude and how I approach each training day. I have two weeks before Surge training camp – about 12 training days. Although I will be training on my own until then, the obligation of working hard for the sake of my teammates has given my workouts a new meaning and purpose. I have people that are depending on me to help them out of the grid and I can’t let them down. I am excited, focused, and motivated by them and have had a ton of fun with the race focused workouts I have been doing this week. I haven’t programmed for myself since I’ve been in this sport, and with my everything-exercise coach Rudy Nielsen away working with athletes at the CrossFit Games, I decided this would be a cool time to put some of my own programming together. My Miami Surge coach, Steven Bowser had sent some race prep templates out with awesome ideas of how to specifically prep for our season’s matches. So I took inspiration from all of my coaches and created some daily work that has left me with a smile on my face everyday. People are constantly asking me how my training program will change as I prepare to play in the Grid League so I decided to include my daily workouts from the week so you could see for yourself:
BBG: 1RM 3-pos Snatch (hip, hang, floor) – hold onto bar
STRENGTH: EMOM for 5min: 4 Thrusters (from rack) at 145#
RACE WORK: 2x through of:
ME G2OH 105#
12 OHS 105#
15 Burpee Box Overs 24″
BBG: 1RM 3-pos Clean (hip, hang, floor) – hold onto bar
Every :15 for 5 mins, Cleans at:
RACE WORK: 3x through of:
4 Snatches 115#
4 BJ 24″
3 Snatches 135#
3 BJ 30″
1) 3 rep max Power Snatch
2) 2xMax UB snatches at 85% of#1
4 Jerks off the rack – 165#
Race work: 3 rounds of:
3 sprints (60′ down and back)
ME Bar Muscle Ups
It doesn’t look much different from what a “normal” daily program would look like for me. However, I have been trying to incorporate a lot of barbell cycling work with what I like to call “let me be an athlete” movements in as many combinations as I can think of. Working with these short explosive time domains have been a ton of fun for me. They remind me of my off-season workouts on the turf that we use to do for summer conditioning while I was in college. I may have been the only crazy one on my team that loved these workouts. They were fast, they were explosive, they took everything out of you, and they burned! The most important underlying factor though was that all of your teammates were around you pushing through for a common goal. I was never an individual athlete before I found competitive exercise, and that factor has been non-exsistant for the most part in my training. Until now. That factor of team purpose has reemerged and has been so motivating. This week has given me a new breath of fresh air as I begin to work toward something new with some awesome people!
I’m sitting in the airport on my way down to the sunshine state. It feels like the first time in a while where I’ve been able to just sit and reflect enough to actually put my words together in a post. I’m headed down there for the NPGL draft that will take place tomorrow morning in Miami. This is exciting for me. I have been in talks with some teams and it seems as if the chance for me to finally call myself a professional athlete may actually come to form. It’s significant to me because since I can remember that’s actually all I ever saw myself doing. Of course the picture in my head was me on a hardwood floor, baggy shorts, high tops, a tightly tied headband in my hair, shooting the lights out in front of a screaming crowd – not exactly participating in an exercise race. After college I was presented with the choice to go on to play ball as a professional overseas, or hang up my jersey and become a “normal person” for the first time in my life. I’m not totally sure if I was burnt out at that point from so many years of playing, if I was just tired of dealing with my always aching knee, or if I was just curious what “normalcy” actually was. Maybe I was just being immature and defiant and almost wanted to prove my point that I was going to do my own thing and take a different path than expected. Whatever the case was, I hung my kicks up and stopped playing. It took me a few years and a few unfortunate experiences to grow a bit and realize I was silly for passing up a chance like that. Being considered professional in an athletic setting is reserved for the few and far between and something that should be honored. I am and always will be an athlete. The way athletics has been presented to me since I was 8 years old was in a 100% professional manner, it was fun but it was serious work – that was just the expectation. I always loved every second of that. I feel like God or some higher power had my back on this one and somehow convinced me to honor my gifts enough to be noticed and considered for the NPGL draft – a chance to finally call myself a professional. By tomorrow at noon I will know for sure whether that is the case. If it does turn out that way I will likely be spending the month of August with my team at training camp before we jump right into the season. Right now, all I know is that I am beyond excited and very blessed that I was able to have a second chance at something I’ve worked over 15 years of my life toward.
Although this seems like a huge event that is about to take place, I would be lying if I said that it has been my main focus. I return back home from Florida on Saturday with just enough time to unpack, have a few days, and then repack (which I hate by the way) and head out west to Salt Lake City, Utah for USA Weightlifting Nationals. “Nats” is where almost all of my athletic focus has been for the past few weeks. Weightlifting is something I enjoy a ton as a supplement to exercising and moving fast. I’m not sure I would ever be able to be strictly a weightlifting athlete. I enjoy running around and doing all kinds of weird things for time. I love the feeling of being completely destroyed and floored by a workout that only took 10 minutes. I love the break that fast, grueling, exercising for time gives my brain. It’s hard, it’s uncomfortable and I take pride in my ability to be able to endure it over and over. That stuff is just missing from strictly weightlifting. However, on the flip side – there is a part of weightlifting I love. I love the pressure that comes with it. The “hit or miss” nature of the sport provides an aspect similar to being a relied-upon 3-point shooter that I haven’t been able to find anywhere else. I do like that it also seems to provide a bit of a break in random exercise-for-time training which allows my body to recover a bit and train with a single purpose in mind.
The main question I always get when talking about weightlifting meets is if I get nervous. I would be lying if I puffed my chest out and said I’m never nervous and being up on the platform doesn’t bother me at all. The truth is yes, of course I get some kind of nervous before. I think anyone who told you otherwise would be lying. But there is always a calm that comes over me right before I get out there coming from my confidence in how I have been training and the skills I’ve been able to refine. The calm almost allows my physical body to take over and do what it has done a million times, it seems to leave my mind behind – at least the part of my mind that would get in the way. I think that’s the beauty of weightlifting and sport in general. The outside world and everything else around you seems to be non-existent when the moment to perform comes. Nerves are part of any performance and that’s exactly what sport is. Growing up, one of my favorite phrases to exchange with my teammates before we got on the court was “Lights Are On, It’s Time To Perform”. That’s what I’m looking forward to most in Utah. My coaching staff has myself and the rest of my teammates (who are REALLY freaking good if you don’t already know) fully prepared for the heat and pressure we will face out there. All that’s left to do now is perform.
*You can find this post and other posts by my peers and I at:
This post is about a week or more overdue. But for the past week I’ve had to just decompress, try and slow down and relax, and change gears a little bit. While I did a lot of reflecting on my regional weekend – maybe too much at times – I just couldn’t bring myself to gather all my thoughts on one page in any continuous, sensible manner until now. Before I go into more detail I just need to say how appreciative and thankful I am to have found this competitive, pressured, limit pushing community that is also probably one of the most loving, healthy, and strength providing communities that exists out there. Every time I am at any kind of competitive exercising event I leave with this overwhelming sense of community and the power it holds. I am truly blessed to be able to take part in that and grateful everyday to be able to honor and respect the physical gifts I have been given. The amount of supporting calls, texts, and social media messages I received made me realize the army I have behind me and was really inspiring and humbling. I met a countless number of strangers who stopped me in my tracks that weekend to congratulate me or tell me I was doing great or that they loved watching me perform. That kind of stuff makes all the days of hard work and rough hours worth it. I am here to be an inspiration to others and have a ton of fun along the way!
When the workouts were announced for the 2014 Regionals, I cannot say I was thrilled. The workouts as a whole carried a very high skill level, particularly in the gymnastics area, and also were heavily reliant on upper body/shoulder stability and strength. In both of those areas lie tremendous weaknesses of mine and they are constant works in progress for me. However, I honestly cannot say I was mad or disappointed. My immediate thoughts were something like “challenge accepted”. In reality, I didn’t expect regionals would be easy no matter what the workouts were. We are in a sport where we are agreeingly at the mercy of the “unknown and unknowable” – the more out of the ordinary the better. As an athlete, I know that a lot of the satisfaction lies in the journey and progress made in prep for competition. Eventual success on a big stage like regionals is always the goal, but development and growth along the way cannot be overlooked.
In the four weeks (from the time the workouts were released until my weekend of competition) leading up to the event, I really got to focus on my shoulder stability and strength, and solid positioning in two of my weakest areas – the bottom of an overhead squat and on my hands upside down. Early on this was frustrating. Every day of training was incredibly HARD for me, my arms and shoulders were constantly sore and achy and I felt like I was trying to tackle a giant (I assume trying to tackle a giant is immeasurably frustrating). However, each week I got better and stronger in those positions and positions relating to them. Now, let me make something clear for all my keyboard warriors. The program I follow 100% incorporates every single movement that came out in the regional events this year. In fact, my program probably incorporates all of them about once a week, sometimes more. But, we play a sport where about 200 different movements are up for grabs when competition workouts are designed. It does not provide room for focusing on a handful of very specific movements every single day for four weeks. Regional prep did. A traditional training program simply wouldn’t overload the shoulders and elbows in that much volume – but prepping for this year’s event left no choice in that volume loading and turned out to be a valuable few weeks of training. In the past four weeks, I have become such a better, stronger athlete it literally has blown my mind. I was forced to face, practice, and strengthen the glaring weakness I had; where in the past I was always able to tip toe my way over them by making up for it in other areas. I have told numerous people the following when talking with them about how I felt after the weekend. I am so thankful that these were the workouts and movements I was asked to tackle in an arena in front of thousands of people for my rookie regional experience. It gave me a new understanding of the sport and what it takes to be successful at it. It gave me a list of things that I cannot ignore nor discount the importance of, no matter how much I want to. It lit something in me, maybe put a chip on my shoulder, maybe humbled me. Raw and talented only gets you so far. Attention to detail and technical skills are 100% needed and necessary in this sport and are even more important if you are an athlete that has not been doing those skills for 20+ years.
Originally, my intentions of this post were to go through each workout and break it down for you guys about how I approached it mentally, how I felt through it, and how I felt after it. But honestly, I feel like that is the special bond between my sport and I and something that was really hard for me to write on. In addition to that, I’m the type of athlete that replays games, or workouts in this case, over and over in my head nit picking at each detail – both good and bad. So, if I would have went ahead and broke down each workout for you, you would probably never read another blog of mine again. I will say this. The weekend left me hungry and drooling for more. I think I walked away with my performance truly depicting who I am this year, with the exception of one workout. I also know it is going to serve as an awesome baseline to look back at as I continue to improve and grow in this sport. I feel proud and accomplished of what I did in 2014, but very unsatisfied and unfinished. Before I look ahead into what is next up on my plate I have to say my specific thank yous. As I mentioned before, the constant support I get from everyone daily is one of the greatest parts of what I do and what makes me want to keep perusing the dream. First and in bold MY PARENTS, my entire family, Cow Harbor Crossfit, The Outlaw Way, 3sixty Athletics, Move Fast Lift Heavy, AfroBrutality, Power Supply, CheriBundi, Lurong Living, JaktRX, Clean Snatch Soap, and Alison for always making sure I have the freshest things possible on my feet. The people behind these brands are amazing and I am grateful to work with them.
Currently, training has switched back to more of a normal form where I have been following Outlaw Connectivity as a warmup as well as The Outlaw Way main site as my template. I am headed to Vegas on June 14th for the NPFL Finalist Combine. Every athlete at this combine is eligible for the NPFL Draft happening July 10th in Miami. Currently, there are 8 teams in the league – LA, NY, DC, Boston, Philly, San Fran, Phoenix, Miami. They have all signed their initial picks already and will be looking to fill their rosters out with the athletes at the draft. If you haven’t heard of the NPFL yet, go ahead and check out the website and youtube channel. It is going to be a fast, exciting league to watch! While in prep for Vegas, I am also simultaneously prepping for the 2014 USA Weightlifting Nationals which will take place in Salt Lake City, Utah in July. I qualified for nationals with the same totals I recorded that allowed me to compete in the American Open. There is a lot of technique work that will be involved in the next few weeks of training in prep for this. I love competing in weightlifting as a compliment to exercise and I had an amazing time at the American Open – so I am really looking forward to nationals! These have been two fun, new focuses post regionals and I am refreshed and refocused!
*You can find this post and other posts by my peers and I at:
Since the Open ended, I – along with the many others across the world who qualified to move on – have been in full blown Regional prep mode. This year, Regional prep is 100% different than the one I went through last year. For starters, I am healthier. Last year I had my appendix removed during the last week of the Open which caused my Regional prep to be a constant struggle of trying to recover from the surgery while trying to maintain my physical abilities. (Disclaimer: I don’t recommend this. I ended up destroying my immune system with the lack of recovery time I allowed myself and actually came down with shingles the day before I left for regionals. Competing hard for three days with shingles is not very fun.) This year is also different because I know I will not have teammates out on the floor with me through the workouts. In comparison to the workload you have to do as a member of a team at Regionals, going to compete as an individual is significantly more demanding on the body. This is something I have embraced as my “progress” in the sport over the past year. I know for a fact that last year there was no way I would have been able to handle the amount of volume required to compete as an individual. The last difference and probably the biggest one is my shift in attitude as I work toward Regionals. Last year I had the attitude of just being along for the ride and having a fun weekend with my team. This year I want to do some damage, stomp on some people’s heads, and make some noise. Being able to look back and compare last year’s non-nonchalant and almost unappreciative Regional prep period to the grind I am in now has been one of the coolest parts of my training the past few weeks. The daily practice grind is grueling. The volume is high, the weights are heavy, the workouts are hard. I feel like I get my butt handed to me everyday, yet somehow survive. I know however, that is the mark of a great program and a great coach, and one that has success on gameday. If you don’t believe me just read the god-amongst-men (Coach K) say it himself. Some days I walk into the gym feeling like a million bucks, and some days I walk in and want to just curl up in a ball and lay there. I can feel every muscle in my body daily and no amount of stretching is ever enough. I am hungry about 80% of my waking hours, no matter how much food I try and eat. Sleep is beyond sacred. These past few weeks I have been constantly reminded what “mid-season” feels like.
I know it’s a common theme in my posts to make constant references to my basketball days or the general flow of a basketball season. However, that is really where any and all of my experience lies in the sports world. It was my life for 15 of the 23 years I have lived through – it is unavoidable. While Regional prepping, I have picked up on some glaring similarities between myself as a basketball player and myself as a competitive exerciser. Some of these have scared me and some have made me happy – either way they are undeniably there.
Inconsistency comes with immaturity.
In high school, and also in college, I was fortunate to be “thrown into the fire” from the moment I stepped onto campus. In both cases I was physically strong enough, skilled, and athletic enough to hang with the girls three and four years more experienced than me. However, I learned quickly that what I was missing was the maturity and the consistency in the sport that they carried. They had more poise and confidence in their play, they understood the ins and outs of the game, the long demanding season, and the ups and downs that come with it much better than I did. I simply was not there yet – as much as I thought I was. That lack of experience always results in inconsistency. There are just as many bad days as there are good days. But, it actually goes further than “good” and “bad” days. There are days of god-awful, waste of time performances mixed in with mind-blowing, out-of-nowhere great performances. If you ask any great coach, in almost any sport, they will tell you that inconsistency is the mark of immaturity. I’ve felt this the past few weeks. Luckily, unlike my high school and even college days, I am aware of it and I am doing my best to stay leveled and focused on being as consistent as I possibly can be. My college coach use to tell me that good and bad days were acceptable and almost inevitable – but they could not be drastic, they could not be detrimental, and they could never be good or bad mental days. Your mind must stay in it, engaged, confident, and focused on the bigger picture and the goal lying ahead. The next four weeks that is one of my top priorities – limit the bad training days, and stay as consistent as possible day in and day out.
“Lights Are On” syndrome.
This is one that I thought was non existent in my exercise days but I have noticed it resurface in these intense weeks of training. It is not something I am 100% proud of, but it is most definitely there and needs to be addressed. Flat out – I don’t love practice. I would much rather be in front of a crowd, lights and sounds blaring, pressure on, in an all eyes on me type situation. Unfortunately, without hard, rigorous practice, you don’t ever have the privilege of competing in that situation. This was nearly my downfall during the Open because of the nonchalant attitude I approach too many training days with. I became so accustomed to this that is was hard to snap out of it for 4 of the 5 Open workouts I did in my own gym as if it was any other training day. I know from my own coaching experiences, this is one of the most frustrating things to deal with in an athlete. In fact, it was brought to my attention by my current coach about two weeks ago. We had never spoke about any of this. I had just finished a weekend competing on a team at a local competition. He told me that he was reminded how good I was and could be after watching me all weekend. He explained that watching me “practice” everyday had put doubts and questions in his mind that left when he watched me on game day. Maybe some athletes would like to hear that? But I knew that wasn’t a good thing. I’ve had enough experience in competitive sports to know that you can’t just show up on game day – it doesn’t work that way. That conversation with him woke me up. I have to make a conscious effort to mentally prep myself before entering the gym and remind myself that every day for the next four weeks needs to be gameday. This is imperative so that when gameday actually comes, I will be confident I prepared myself as best I could.
I am grateful for the part of my personality that is fearless when it comes to competition. During my basketball days, I always wanted to “play up” or play with the boys who were usually faster and stronger. Since I can remember, if I see someone better than me, stronger than me, or more skilled than me my immediate thought is “let me take her”. I always thought I could score on whoever would try and guard me. In fact, the better the defender they were hyped to be, the more points I planned on giving them that night. I noticed I carry the same attitude over to exercise – maybe it is simply because the NYC basketball courts raised me, maybe it’s just a permanent chip on my shoulder, or maybe it’s the constant need to prove myself. It’s never a disrespect of any sort. Don’t get me wrong, I 100% know and respect my competitors and what they are capable of. I just always want to go up against them, preferably on the biggest stage possible. Credentials, stats, and hype just don’t have the ability to get in my brain and mess with me. Every time I stop and relax for a second and actually think about Regionals, this fearless hunger to compete with the best surfaces. There is no nervousness to be found but instead just an almost anxious need to get out there and have my performance stacked up among my competitors. I think this is what makes sports so fun and exciting for me and what drives we to keep working daily.
Before I compete at Regionals I will head up to Boston, MA on May 2nd to participate in the National Pro Fitness League combine. The NPFL is a brand new league where athletes will compete in exercise racing (don’t laugh, I’m being serious). I’m excited for this combine because you can pick the various lifts, gymnastics, and specific workouts that you want to showcase. Completely opposite of The CrossFit Games, this league rewards the specialist – which is pretty cool. I do not know what will come of this combine for me but I am excited to be attending with some great athletes and am looking forward to showing off some of my abilities. If I get chosen to move on to Sunday’s activities there, I will be put on a team and we will basically “run pickup games”. Yes – exercise racing pickup games. (How did this end up being my life?! I promise I use to play a real sport.) All jokes aside though, competing on a team in the sport of exercise is a ton of fun. I am really looking forward to next weekend. Three weeks after that I will have my individual regional debut (May 23-25) at the Patriot Center of George Mason University. My career record at the Patriot Center (GMU was in our conference) is 3-1 while shooting 45% from 3 point range (9-20), 35% from the floor (12-34) and 100% from the FT line (6-6). I always loved playing in that arena and I cannot wait to get back there. I will be throwing around barbells this time instead of my roundball. It should be an awesome time.
To help support my Regional weekend you can purchase my uniquely designed shirt from Move Fast Lift Heavy by clicking here. There are men’s tees and women’s tanks available on pre-sale. I hope you are able to make it out to watch that weekend and my hope is that I will see a sea of Capurso shirts somewhere in the stands 🙂 ! All of your support and efforts to help me achieve what I work so hard everyday for is greatly appreciated. Nothing goes unnoticed.
*You can find this post and other posts by my peers and I at:
The past five weeks seem to have flew by. The kickoff of the annual CrossFit Games season, “The Open”, has officially come to a close. The hype has subsided (for the most part) and the day after the Open seems to be like the New Years Day of the crossfit world. Everyone is blowing up social media for resolutions about next year and what they will improve upon or change. For some however, the road is not over. I was one of those fortunate individuals who survived the past five weeks and qualified for Regionals in May, representing the Mid Atlantic region, pending a video approval by HQ. This was my first full year training as a competitor with my eyes set as competing as in individual in May. At times, I felt right in my element, and during others I definitely felt the heat of being an inexperienced rookie.
One of my favorite books is “When The Game Was Ours” by Larry Bird and Erving “Magic” Johnson. There is some great stories and lines by both athletes in this book, but the one that always stood out in my head was a story Magic tells. He explains that his whole life people would tell him things along the lines of “there’s always someone out there working just as hard as you”. He says that he never actually believed it. He knew he worked as hard as he could each and every day and there was no way someone was outdoing him. Then he met Bird, played against him, and understood. He said he then knew who everyone was talking about when they said statements like that. Every week as I was refreshing the leaderboard over and over, this story would cross my mind. The leaderboard is proof of the hundreds and thousands of people that are out there every day working just as hard, if not harder than you. The day you feel you can take your foot off the gas pedal, or dial down the relentlessness, is the day a girl somewhere else gets better than you… and eventually passes you on the leaderboard when you go head to head. Among many other things, the Open gave me new life and a new hunger. I am happy and proud of the progress I have made in the sport this year, but nowhere near satisfied. I’m growing and learning every day and that is encouraging to keep pushing on. I am beyond grateful for my loyal fans and supporters, my teammates all over the country talking me through each week, and my dedicated coach who believes in all of us. I’m looking forward to competing in the Patriot Center another time, and I will be there a better me than I am today.
14.4 Recap (since I never gave one last week)
When this workout was announced I was actually pretty excited. I knew it was going to be a tough one (of course), however it involved almost every movement that I really like. Obviously, I knew the muscle ups would be the game changer in the workout and good scores would be totally dependent on the athletes ability to successfully complete their muscle ups under complete shoulder fatigue. This would mean that good form and poise on the rings would be needed. I completed the row, toes to bar, and wall balls with very little shoulder fatigue and almost no respiratory fatigue. During the cleans, I could feel my shoulders starting to fill up but I knew I had to keep moving through it to get on the rings. I went all singles on the rings and was able to complete 8 reps. This was about 4-5 reps below what my goal was on this workout. However, the reality was, that was really all I was able to score. My muscle ups, although much improved from where they started, still need a significant amount of work – which they will get in these next two months. I ended up placing 45th in the region on workout 14.4 with a score of 188 reps. That held me steady at 20th in the region going into week 5.
The following story is one that I am in no way proud of. I think it is dumb. I would never brag about this, or want anyone else to do this. However, it may have ended up saving my chances of going to regionals this season, and it is me in all my realness – which I never like to hide. When 14.5 was announced, of course I was not thrilled, however I didn’t think – not for one second – that it was going to be one of the most stressful and gut checking workouts that I am yet to face in my young little exercise career. It seemed hard, but they all do. I was actually excited for it because it was the end of the open, we were getting closer and closer to regionals and I had my eyes focused there. Saturday morning I didn’t feel 100% myself, I actually felt pretty sick. I was very close to telling my coach I actually didn’t want to do the workout that day but decided against that and figured I would gut it out. I’ve practiced and played numerous times, in some pretty big games, where I was sick or didn’t feel myself – sometimes you just have to go. Well… 14.5 kicked my butt. I finished just under 13 minutes – a time I knew would be detrimentally low in the region. The most upsetting part about all of this for me, was that I knew I was going to have to do that awful piece of hell again. Even worse was that usually when I finish a workout and think back, I can clearly analyze when and where I could make up time. After this, I honestly could not. I really just didn’t know. My idea was to move more steadily and continue moving through the whole piece. Monday morning came, I was pumped, ready to kill it. 3..2..1..Go. 13 minutes later – 2 burpees to go. Time was no better, coach had to leave to head out of town. I went home, sat with myself for about two hours calculating splits, figuring how many seconds I should be using per rep, deciding what time exactly I should start each round. I made myself an entire map. I headed back to the gym, loaded the bar, set a camera up, grabbed my training partner to judge and tackled it again. Yes, for the second time in about 3 hours. My pacing map worked, at least a bit, THANK GOD. I was able to take 30 seconds off my time. This still didn’t leave me with a great time – 12:26. This was 180th in the region. Going into week 5 I had 186 points TOTAL, in week 5 I accumulated as many points as I had in weeks 1-4 put together. This knocked me all the way down to 43rd in the region. It kept me safe for regionals, but the third time performing 14.5 may have saved my regional birth. At that point it was 100% necessary.
6 Things I’ve learned from the 2014 CrossFit Open:
1) Every workout sucks. Expect it, face it head on, tackle it with everything you can.
2) Never think “I’ll have another shot”. I made that mistake a few times this year and it, in my opinion, is the worst attitude to have. One and done needs to be the motto. Your first attempt at the workout is almost always your best punch. If circumstances happen to arise (like in week 5 for me) where it is completely necessary than so be it. But you CANNOT go in thinking you have another shot.
3) Every week, rep, and second counts. I realize that in all of it’s seriousness now. If I had not performed how I was able to perform for weeks 1-4, I wouldn’t be going to regionals. With all that hard work, I almost missed my opportunity because of ONE workout. This is a sport of inches and seconds. Each and every one matters incredibly.
4) Learn to turn the page. (Coach K loves me right now) We are all competitors and always believe we can do better. Most likely we can, however it is important to understand that we are working through the Open to survive and advance. After week 1 coach told me that if I was going to be obsessed with beating everyone on the leaderboard who I thought I could beat, it was going to be a long 5 weeks for me. This was something I had to constantly fight. Put up a decent score, move on, and get back to training.
5) Be proud. The score you post every week is you. You have been working hard to show it off, you planned for it, your body hurts because of it – honor it. No matter where it falls on the board IT IS YOU. If you aren’t happy with it, put the chip on your shoulder and get back in the gym to fix it. But always be proud of the effort you put forward.
6) IT IS JUST EXERCISE!!! Every week I would tell one of my good friends my score before everyone else. He would usually do the same with his. Depending on the week one of us was usually freaking out, or not so happy with how they did. Until we reminded each other that this is just exercise, it is something we started because it was fun and we like fitness. Just like with anything else in sport, or in life – the minute it isn’t fun anymore it is adding no positive value to your life. Keep the fun in the game. Let’s be honest, exercise racing is pretttttty silly.
*You can find this post and other posts by my peers and I at:
As of now, we are on the down side of the Open. Three weeks down and only two more to go. My “leaderboarding” was no better this week, annoyingly I actually find it fun now. I’m not sure that will ever change. Anyway, being three weeks in and the majority of the open over I have noticed something among the athletes. By week three, the leaderboard seems to even out. This year especially, where the first three workouts were so incredibly different and catered to three very different athlete types, by the end of week three the athletes atop the leaderboards are undeniably the most all around and consistent. It always amazes me how well crossfit seems to work itself out like that as we see the familiar names closer and closer to the top each week and ultimately sitting at the top by the end of week 5. What I have noticed though, is that week 3 – midway through this five week event – seems to be the make or break week. This is the time when the athletes see the light at the end of the “open tunnel” and they understand that they will only be able to leaderboard shuffle two more times before real live regional cuts are made.
Make or break week affects everyone in some way. Some athletes are sitting comfortably at the top after three tests and know they just need to finish in a consistent manner. Some have used these three weeks to “play leapfrog” as they hop tons of spots each week in pursuit of that “front page” of the leaderboard. Others feel they have underachieved and have not met their expectations and they begin to get discouraged with only two more tests left. And still others have been quietly consistent each week and know they must continue that in order to make it to the next level. I talked about surviving and advancing last week and that idea still applies. However, I really feel that week three is when athletes are made or broken, physically and mentally. Here they are either made hungrier and more willing then ever to perform their best and lay it all out there, or they are broken by mental and physical disappointment and are finding it hard to see the light. Of course, I encourage every athlete reading this to let week three MAKE you. Let it make you hungry, inspired, pissed off, willing to fight hard. After week 1, I explained to necessity of trusting in the system and I think as important as it is in week 1, it is even more crucial now in the dead center of the “hell weeks”. By trusting in our system and our abilities we can find the need and want to finish this thing with the same excitement and drive we started it with. Let week three make you a warrior.
When this workout was announced, I reacted like I do every time a workout is announced. I try not to get too high or too low on it because I know neither is good for me as an athlete. I can tell you I was more satisfied with the movement combination than I was last week. I would have been very excited about the introduction of box jumps into this open, however after looking at the workout closely I realized the box jumps had very little to do with producing a good score. Deadlifts aren’t a movement I get excited about, yet when done at high rep and fairly heavy load they are actually one of my stronger points. What I was pretty excited about was the fact that we were handed a ladder (workout with increasing weights of a movement). I knew this would work in my favor because it would give me an advantage on the workout as I could handle the loads nicely. I spent the weekend in New York working at The Outlaw Way camp at Crossfit Lindy with my coach and some of my teammates. During camp, coach discussed “strategy” and the best ways to attack this workout. Specifically, we assessed and tested (using a timer and heart rate monitor) the different methods of “box jumps”. We ultimately decided on the step up, drop down method as that seemed to be just as fast as rebounding box jumps yet kept heart rate a lot lower. We also spent a good amount of time talking about how to limit transition time while loading the bar. This helped tremendously and was a big factor in the success of my workout as well as my teammates and many of the campers. For me, I felt like I was cruising through this workout until the 205# bar. When I got there, it began to hurt and I could no longer move as fast as I wanted to. However, I knew I was able to just hang on and push through it until those 8 minutes were up. I completed 167 reps in those eight minutes – clearing the 205# bar and getting 7 box jumps before time ran out. That score was good enough for 21st in the region. This helped my overall standing, pushing me up to 20th in the Mid Atlantic region.
*You can find this post and other posts by my peers and I at:
We are 10 days into March. March is my favorite month out of the year, it always has been. (Yes… ahead of my birthday month – October, and ahead of Jesus’ birthday month as well.) The weather is getting warmer – kind of, but most importantly… it’s college basketball playoff season. In my opinion, no other sporting event compares. Teams you have never heard of come out of the woodwork with spectacular plays and wins and the strong favorites all year start to really showcase why they have been sitting at the top for the regular season. Survive and advance is the motto for every basketball player across the country in March. Ironically, now that I am no longer a basketball player but an exerciser for time, March is still a very important month in my season. For us, March is a qualifying month. It is our first opportunity to display and compare our abilities against our competitors. It is in fact, a “survive and advance” situation, as every week presents a new challenge. If you don’t survive the open, you don’t advance.
At this point, I’m almost already sick of the whole leaderboard thing. The app was the worst thing invented, and my brain that loves numbers and equations has a field day with all the equation opportunities that the leaderboard so stressfully provides for 3.5 days out of the week. To be honest, its really not just my leaderboard and where I stand – I’m constantly watching almost every region and every person I know in every region. I felt like Monday ended and Thursday happened right away. There were not enough relaxing days in between there for me. I need more. I have a coach that kind of knows the sport a little.. I guess, and he warned me two days into the Open to stay away from the leaderboard. I promise I am really trying, but it is just so hard for me. Maybe I’m just a rookie and really don’t know better. Maybe my number crunching gift takes over… but I really have to learn how to control it. I need to be better in that aspect. I also need to be better in understanding that all I simply have to do is survive and advance. I am in hopes that writing this post will make it sink in a little more, and maybe help other athletes out there gain a similar mindset. I don’t need to win every single workout, or beat everyone I know I am capable of beating every single week. I just need to put my butt on the line, do what I can, and survive. Then I have to move on – next week, next workout. Another opportunity to crush something. That, for sure, is something that is going to come with experience in this sport.
I can’t lie, when this workout was released Thursday night, I was not thrilled. I knew it consisted of two movements that did not play into my strengths when combined. However, I immediately put that out of my mind because at that point I didn’t have a choice. It was like drawing a really tough team in the first round of the tournament. You can sit there and think about how tough the game is, or you can come up with a plan on how to win. The positive aspect of this workout for me was the built-in work to rest component. A lot of my training consists of work to rest ratios so I knew that I would be able to capitalize on that. Coincidentally, this workout followed the fun March theme of “survive and advance”, which put a fun spin on it for me. All you had to do was survive for 3 minutes, then you could advance to the next 3. Second week of March, survive and advance, clearly Castro is a basketball fan. Going into the workout, I knew I would break up the pullups up in small sets from the beginning and go unbroken on the overhead squats the entire time. I settled on the butterfly chest to bar in small sets and went in with confidence. However, I came out only 9 minutes later – ONE REP SHORT of advancing. I was not satisfied, I knew I could not be and I knew I would have to redo the workout to have a chance at surviving the open. After talking with coach, and revamping strategy, we came up with a plan that some of my other teammates had success at an I was able to attack the workout again this morning. Thankfully I survived, at least another 3 minutes longer this time which significantly increased my score to 179. That wasn’t my goal, but it would be decent on the leaderboard – good enough for 93rd in the region. This dropped my regional standing a few spots, so I am now sitting in 38th in the Mid Atlantic region. I survived a rough one, and focused on next week… I am advancing. We will talk again in 7 days.
*You can find this post and other posts by my peers and I at: