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WHO ARE THE 2016 SOUTH REGIONAL CHAMPS?

#TEAMDENSITY

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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.

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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.

 

Alexis (Alex) Burgan

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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.

Lindsay Schultzer
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Lindsey is our wild card. She came to the gym around the same time I did, totally coincidental. I remember getting the text from Marco that said “I found our third girl”. In true Marco fashion, he was very nonchalant about it, and continued “She has a better pull than you already. What are you going to do when she out snatches you?” I knew what he was getting at and I loved it.  Someone else was going to be around that wasn’t going to allow Alex or I to become complacent. Besides that comment, Marco never explained to me how good Lindsey actually was, or that she had been at regionals the year before with another team. Lindsey is our oldest team member at 30 years old, and we call her Granny because of it (that and the fact that she has been battling a back injury for months now).  With those extra years comes some pretty cool athletic achievements. She played softball (shortstop and centerfield) at the University of Tennessee from 2004-2007, making the NCAA tournament 4x, and the World Series 3x times, then going on to be part of the USA Softball program. She has a team sport mindset and understands knowing your role and doing your job. Lindsey is a well balanced athlete that I have learned a lot from. She has strengths where Alex and I lack and she is ready to smash her role in each workout. The best thing about Lindsey is she is a winner, I learned that regional weekend. She wants to win, and is willing to do what she is asked of (even if that means death by syncho burpees with Marco) in order to win. She is our wild card, you’re never really sure where she will pop up in a workout to do some serious damage.
Dalin Kennard
Dalin is our alternate.  Although she didn’t step foot on the floor last weekend, she is very much a huge part of our girls side and just as much of a contributor to our success as anyone.  She has been through all of our daily training, team meetings, long days, and everything else we have been through.  Dalin is the type of person you love having around.  She is always smiling, a constant sense of light-hearted humor, and the person that always seems to make everyone feel important and valued.  She may not be as strong as Lindsay, Alex, or I, but her heart is about as big as it could get and she fights and claws everyday in training.  She is scrappy, competitive, and wants to be the best she can be.  Seeing that is inspiring and pushes me as a teammate.  There has been multiple situations where I was struggling in a workout during training, or feeling bad for myself, only to look over and see Dalin with this incredible look of determination on her face as she was attacking the workout head on.  In those moments, I am so thankful for her.  She reminds me and the rest of us, that hard work and confidence is going to take you places simple athleticism or strength isn’t able to.  Although she never ended up on a finish mat with us, Dalin is just as much a part of this win as the rest of us.
Ashton Jones
Ashton is our scrapper.  He will fill whatever void is in front of us. He doesn’t have a direct speciality, however we can throw him into any movement that pops up and have him grind for us. With no glaring weaknesses, he is an extremely valuable factor in the equation.  Ashton suffered an unfortunate injury in the first week of the open, and since then has dedicated so much time to rehabbing it back in order to be on the floor for us this past weekend.  Off the floor, Ashton brings that same role of scrapper to the table, filling whatever role is needed.  He can be the voice of reason, or the voice of “get over yourself”, depending on the situation.  He is going to die before he stops working for his squad, so he expects the same from everyone else.  It is easy to step up to the plate and do your job when you have a teammate like that.  Ashton is a personality, a comic relief, and a walking documentation (rarely seen without a selfie stick) of #TeamDensity.  If there are reps that need to be done, he is going to go to work for us (even if Marco talks smack the whole time) without a question. He is scrappy, he is hard working, he is a great teammate.
Blake Aulds
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Blake is our secret weapon. This is pretty funny to me because Blake has been around the sport, and competing in the sport longer than any of us. He is by far our best crossfitter.  At first glance, he doesn’t look like much. Relatively normal stature of an athlete, about 5’10”, 185, a dude that you would look at and say “okay, that guy is fit”. Until you see Blake move… and NEVER stop… you don’t understand how “fit” he actually is. His movements are nearly flawless, and he makes even the most disgusting workouts look effortless. He stays calm, poised, and controlled, and never appears to be stressed while exercising. This is pretty much his day to day demeanor as well, which brings great balance to the squad. The dedication to our common goal that comes from this guy is so real. With a grueling full time desk job, Blake often doesn’t get to the gym to start his training until 8:30pm or later, doing ALL of our daily programming after working 10+ hour workdays.  I laugh when people tell me they’re not a competitive crossfitter because they have a “real job”. I know Blake, so your excuses are invalid.  I was paired with him for two workouts during regional weekend.  Having him by my side made me incredibly calm and confident and it made me want to move perfect in each rep, like he always does.  That’s what he does for us, he makes the rest of us better by not wavering from pace, form, or control. You are going to have to have a great workout to beat Blake head to head – he raises the bar for all of us. Our secret weapon, the silent killer, the kind of movement that makes you go “wait, who is that?”. You won’t see him coming until you’ve already lost.
Marco Coppola
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Marco is our captain. You may know him as the first loser (2nd place to Mr. Froning) of the most recent Crossfit Liftoff.  I have been on the Miami Surge with him for the past two seasons, as well as shared a coach and training system (Outlaw) with him from ’12-’15.  When I decided to buy into this, I knew I had to be all in and put my trust in him.  He promised me nothing would be easy, but reaching the ultimate goal would make everything worth it.  I have never had someone in my life stick to their word more truly.  In all honesty, it’s Marco’s way or the highway.  There are really no votes, group coaching, or “don’t hurt someone’s feelings” actions or words with him.  This isn’t always an easy concept to grasp (especially for a spicy NY kid like me) but, he makes it easier to deal with because of the passion and dedication that pours out of him.  We understand Marco is relentless in everything he does – including building a team and a training system that would allow us to show up at the South Regional, under the radar, and dominate the weekend – so we trust him.  On the floor, it is no secret that he is one of the best weightlifters in the sport and one of the strongest guys out there.  Of course having this among us is a huge advantage, however the bigger advantage comes from that fact that for a big kid, he refuses to have weaknesses that big kids usually do.  He doesn’t accept mediocrity from himself, or from any of us. “Trying is just being okay with failing.”  He leads by example. He talks (A LOT, no, like a lot), but he sure as anything WALKS as well.
Brad Espinosa
Bradly was our alternate this year.  Like Dalin, he was an alternate only because the rule of Crossfit is that only 3 of each gender can be on the floor.  In the first week of the open, our men’s side suffered a pretty significant injury that left Ashton out of commission.  We didn’t know when the injury was going to heal and knew our next male in line needed to step up and be ready to go if called.  Brad went through all of our training with us, showed up every day, worked as hard as the rest of us, and never once complained about “being the 4th”.  When we knew who our three guys were going to be at regionals, nothing changed from his work ethic and dedication – the mark of a great teammate.  To be a great teammate, you need to be a great person.  Just so you understand the type of person Brad is – his employer was willing to help out his trip to regionals so much by offering a donation as well as an awesome van that we all made the trip in!  In order for someone to do something that generous for you, they clearly know the quality of human you are.  At regional weekend, Bradly served as our coach.  He was “in charge” of us.  He kept our credentials together, made sure we were warmed up on time, kept an eye out for standard changes, and filled us in on specifics happening out on the floor in prior heats.  Whenever any of us needed something, or had a question, Brad was there.  Little things like that contribute greatly to success.  It does not go unnoticed.
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In the past few days since our win, people have been congratulating me left and right.  After they say how proud and excited they are for me and the team, they often say something along the lines of “I didn’t expect that!” or “I didn’t know you guys were that good!”, or “Wow! Your team came out of nowhere”.  I have just been smiling and nodding in response, politely agreeing with them.  However, I don’t agree.  I expected that.  I knew we were that good.  We didn’t come out of nowhere.  We came right out of Spring, Texas and stepped out on the floor in Dallas and did EXACTLY what we do daily in every lifting session, strength superset, and conditioning piece we perform.  We kept our mouths shut, we put our heads down, we worked, we executed, we stayed focused, we wanted it.  I apologize that we surprised everyone who was unfamiliar with us, but I know we caught your attention now.  Winning creates all sorts of hype.  THE HYPE IS REAL.  We are not done.

Carson in July.

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The 2016 Open: Nutrition Strategy Guide

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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.

#honoryournutrition #HONORYOURGIFTS

16.5 Nutrition Strategy

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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!

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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

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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.

 

 

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RMP FITNESS – Photo credit: Corey Jenkins

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 

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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.

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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!

5 Quick Tips To Make Your Nutrition Program Successful

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.

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  1. 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!

  1. 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!

  1. 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!

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  1. 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!

  1. 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.

Remember, registration for the first round of GridShape ends October 21st, so CLICK HERE to head over and sign up to secure your spot!

APPROACHING ADOLESCENT NUTRITION : EDUCATE & EMPOWER 

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Juliette Chang-Fane, Outlaw Barbell 15yo, 58kg lifter —  60kg Snatch at Junior Nationals

Working with pre-teens and teenagers, especially females, is something most nutrition coaches tend to shy away from. This is especially true with the type of coaching I do, where I encourage counting, weighing, and measuring of foods. The umbrella fear is that we will “create a monster” so to speak, of a young girl (or boy) obsessed with the specific quantities of food he or she is putting in their body and constantly assessing how their body is physically changing due to food consumption. I do not need to speak any further on the topic, we all know where I am going and we understand the dangers of approaching this topic in a population that is so vulnerable. However, do we really think just ignoring the topic of nutrition altogether in adolescents is really the answer? It isn’t, and although difficult and fragile, the more we ignore something because of the discomfort it presents, the less we are actually solving.

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.

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Juliette Chang-Fane, also the 13th fittest teen in her age group in the 2015 Crossfit Open

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.

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Ruth Talbot, Outlaw Barbell 17yo 63kg — 44kg Snatch at her first meet ever. So much more to come from Ruth and I am excited to work with her going forward!

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.

  1. 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)
  2. 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.

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Juliette Chang-Fane, Outlaw Barbell, 15yo 58kg — 75kg Clean and Jerk at Junior Nationals

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.

A FOLLOW UP AND ‘FAQ’ ON DONUTS & ABS

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Photo credit: @photobyjurassic

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. ☺

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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!

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FAQ:
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.

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Photo credit: @photobyjurassic

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.

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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.

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Photo Credit: @photobyjurassic

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?

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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 nicole.capurso@gmail.com.

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Photo Credit: @photobyjurassic

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:

www.honoryournutrition.com

Honor Your Nutrition (on Facebook)

nicole.capurso@gmail.com

personal IG: @ncapurso22

food related IG: @honoryournutrition

HOW DONUTS GAVE ME ABS, & AN 80KG SNATCH

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Probably one of my favorite pictures of myself. When everyone else sees this they see abs. I see a culmination of all I work hard for and dedicate myself to – PERFORMANCE and the betterment of.

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.

This was me at regionals - you can see what I am talking about as far as physical body difference

This was me at regionals – you can see what I am talking about as far as physical body difference between then and now.

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January 2014 at ECC where I did fairly well but was missing something. I was eating 80/20 paleo at this time.

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.

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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.

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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.

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This was during a scrimmage at training camp with my Miami Surge teammates “King/Captain” Coppola and Ricky “Boy Wonder” Redus

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.

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Me prepping for a meet this past week – I am now able to comfortably maintain my body composition and it has optimized my performance. I PR’d my best meet total by 10kg hitting 73/98kg at 63kg bw

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.

IMG_5006Decide 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.

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Lulu & I flexing our way through our workout. This was after we consumed some of the most amazing rotisserie chicken and vegetables followed by some Dunkin Donut’s munchkins!

Pro’s & Con’s of Flexible Dieting

PROS:

-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

-Abs.

CONS:

-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 visit my personal website at www.honoryournutrition.com or email me at nicole.capurso@gmail.com I would be happy to help!

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BREATHE; STRETCH; SHAKE – LET IT GO.

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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:

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Monday:

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:

Run 40′
ME C2B
Run 40′
-rest :30s-
Run 60′
ME G2OH 105#
Run 60′
–rest 2min–
Run 10′
12 OHS 105#
25 TTB
Run 10′
-rest 60s-
Run 40′
4 MU
15 Burpee Box Overs 24″
Run 40′

Tuesday:

BBG: 1RM 3-pos Clean (hip, hang, floor) – hold onto bar

STRENGTH:
Every :15 for 5 mins, Cleans at:
160#
175#
190#
Rest

RACE WORK: 3x through of:

Run 30′
4 Snatches 115#
Rest 15s
4 BJ 24″
Rest 15s
3 Snatches 135#
Rest 15s
3 BJ 30″
Run 60′
Rest 1:30

Wednesday:

BBG:
1) 3 rep max Power Snatch
2) 2xMax UB snatches at 85% of#1

Strength:
EMOM 5min:
4 Jerks off the rack – 165#

Race work: 3 rounds of:
90 DU
ME HSPU
Rest 1min
3 sprints (60′ down and back)
ME Bar Muscle Ups
rest 2min

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!

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