After I had my first kid, I was about 30 pounds over my pre-pregnancy weight. Through a combination of running and Watch Watchers I lost about 20 of those 30 pounds. I ate a lot of fruit and vegetables and I remember the pounds coming off fairly easily. Things were different after my second pregnancy. When I became pregnant the second time I was still well above my pre-first pregnancy weight. So I had a bit more weight to try to lose after delivering my son. I returned to the Weight Watchers program, but with two kids at home, I found it more difficult to get in the exercise. Things were hard. I didn’t really lose much weight and felt like I had hit a wall. Between taking care of two little ones and the amount of work needed to keep my career going, I kind of shrugged my shoulders and accepted the extra weight….but it bothered me; especially whenever I saw a picture of myself and especially when I thought about my family history of cancer and heart disease.
Nutrition went on the back burner for a while. I certainly didn’t eat horribly, but I ate my fair share of burgers with fries, refined carbs and croissants with my afternoon coffees and oh yes, I love my beer too; not to mention whatever food was left-over on my children’s plates. For me step 1 of getting my nutrition cleaned up was actually joining CrossFit. Only once I started CrossFit training regularly did I start thinking more intently about my nutrition. I wanted to excel at what I was doing in the box and so I fully bought into the adage of “If your body is going to be a high octane engine, only give it the best fuel”. For me, the Paleo diet and cutting sugar consumption really resonated. I fully believed in cutting sugar from my diet because of my years in the lab studying insulin resistance and obesity. As for the Paleo diet, well it seemed like the best athletes including those in my box, adhered to at least a Paleo like diet (https://thepaleodiet.com/). I tried Paleo briefly, but I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t cut bread, pasta and cereals from my diet. Then a friend recommended the Renaissance Periodization program aka RP (https://renaissanceperiodization.com/ ). This program is grounded in consuming a protein rich diet paired with vegetables and whole grain carbohydrate consumption timed around your workouts. What and how much you consume are dependent upon timing and workout intensity. I had success with RP, losing about 10 pounds and I felt strong in the box and was satisfied as people would tell me I looked “thinner in the face.” Although I was having success on RP I was still consuming a fair amount of NOT whole grain carbs, sweets and sugars. Having a bowl of cereal before bed was like a life-long habit which I just couldn’t seem to drop, but what I really needed to drop was a few more lbs. in order to get myself out of the “overweight” category.
Then something amazing and fortunate happened. I was lucky enough to get a ticket through my affiliate for the 2018 CrossFit Games in Madison, WI. The games were a blast! It was absolutely insane to watch the best Individual, Masters and Teen athletes compete in person. However, what I found most amazing were the daily interactions I had with “every day CrossFitters” e.g. people just like me. I saw, talked and interacted with people with crazy schedules, exhausted parents, grandparents, people who had already lost 100+ lbs. and we all had one thing in common; we were trying to better ourselves through fitness and nutrition. This experience changed me. In the evenings I went back to my hotel and began eating lean meats, vegetables, some fruit, nuts, seeds, little starch and no sugar. In the mornings and the evenings, I stayed in my hotel room and practiced hollow holds, I did push-ups and air squats. I discovered I was in the perfect environment to begin living the CrossFit nutrition ethos. Today, my Nutrition Odyssey continues as I am trying to drop a significant portion of remaining body fat without compromising strength or muscle mass. Thus far here are the 3 things I have discovered through my own Nutrition Odyssey: 1) Be persistent. Big changes are the culmination of lots of small changes developed over time so stick with it! 2) Don’t give up. Life happens and so do weddings, birthday parties and drinks after work. There will 100% be times you “fall of the wagon” but the next day is a new chance to get back on. 3) You are worth it. Cleaning up your nutrition is a serious investment but take time to meal prep, find gym friends who are doing the same program, and improving your health at this level is worth it! You will be a better you for doing it and in the long run, that will translate to all that you do.
Interested in more? Check out the following nutrition lectures by Greg Glassman: