Month: August 2011

It’s only been two days since starting the Eat Less Crap Challenge and I already notice the difference. My energy level is through the roof.

A typical day for me is waking up at 5:30 a.m. heading to the gym to coach, back home to get ready for work (this includes preparing meals for the day if it wasn’t done the night before), working eight hours at Pure Essence Salon (and this is a physical day on my feet the whole time) then back to the gym for coaching and my own training. When I get home, it’s time to clean up, prepare for the following day, and still find time to hang out with my boyfriend. No matter what, I always get through it. However, some days are simply exhausting.

The last two days, I’ve finished the day with energy to spare. I have felt balanced and happy all day. Could this be the clean eating balancing my insulin levels and regulating my hormones? Quite possibly.

Fat plays a critical role in regulating your hormones. Everything is affected: your energy, your moods and, very importantly, your performance. Think twice before reaching for anything labeled “low fat.” If they’ve taken the fat out, chances are it’s been replaced with something unnatural and not useable by your body to make it taste better.

Your body can use the fat!

As Ryan W., one of our strongest and most well-read members said this weekend, “The low-fat diet is one of the worst things to ever happen to humanity.”

With the Eat Less Crap Challenge starting officially today, I can’t wait to see what small and large diet changes do for our members and the other people who’ve jumped in on the challenge. It’s great to see that the challenge goes beyond the walls of the gym and includes people we’ve never met. Welcome!

I’ve been absolutely inspired by the commitments everyone has made, and we’ll be writing them on the board tomorrow. From there, it’s an entire month of making good choices and seeing what happens to our community.

I couldn’t be more excited. Like I said, I have energy to spare!

With a continuously running clock, do 1 pull-up and 1 handstand push-up (or push-up) the first minute, 2 pull-ups and 2 handstand push-ups (or 2 push-ups) the second minute, etc., continuing as long as you are able. When you cannot complete the required number of reps for either exercise, continue only with the other as long as you are able.

When you tap out, your coach will give you extra work to do to help you get further next time. Examples: 3 sets of 8 triceps press-downs, 3 x 10-12 body rows, etc.

Tabata mountain climbers

I started the Eat Less Crap challenge a few days early for no real reason, and today I cooked my own meal because Crystal abandoned me and went to work.

I’m kidding, of course. Crystal does the bulk of the cooking and grocery shopping, and I’m pretty lucky that she does. I hate both cooking and shopping.

But because I was abandoned and left to my own devices, I was tested. I decided on eggs and turkey bacon and a bunch of almonds and celery. I cook that meal pretty often, so I opened the cupboard for some olive oil, which had been replaced with coconut oil.

“Hmm,” I thought. “What the eff is this stuff?”

Then I shrugged and used it and didn’t notice any difference in the meal, wich is good, because apparently coconut oil is better for me.

Then I found myself reaching into the fridge for ketchup, which I love. It was gone, banished to the basement to keep company with crackers, pasta, Star Wars action figures and probably seven dead cell phones.

I ate the eggs and didn’t really miss the ketchup.

The lesson I learned here is that changing your diet is about replacing bad habits with good ones. Break the pattern, make a change and start a brand new pattern—a good one.

Before you know it, good choices aren’t choices. They’re habits. And habits are easy to maintain.

Almond Power Bars (From Maximized Living Nutrition Plans)

2 cups raw almonds

½ cup flaxseed meal

½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut

2 scoops flavoured whey protein powder

½ cup raw almond butter

½ tsp. kosher salt (we used sea salt)

½ cup coconut oil

8 drops liquid Stevia or ¾ tsp. Stevia powder to taste

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract (no sugar – check the label)

Instructions: Place almonds, flax meal, shredded coconut, whey powder, almond butter and salt in a food processor. Pulse briefly, about 10 seconds. In a small saucepan, melt coconut oil over very low heat.

Remove coconut oil from stove. Stir Stevia and vanilla into oil. Add coconut oil mixture to food processor and pulse until ingredients form a coarse paste. Press mixture into and 8×8 glass baking dish. Chill in fridge for one hour until mixture hardens.

Remove from fridge and eat.

Makes 8-10 slices.

As promised, here’s how you can be a part of the CrossFit 204 Eat Less Crap challenge.

Below, you’ll find four different levels of commitment. All are equal, and despite the numbering system, there is no hierarchy. If you struggle with your diet and give up pop for a month, we consider that just as valuable as completely eliminating sugar and processed food. Every change matters, no matter how small. In fact, the first small changes might be the most important of all.

If you want to join in, post your commitment in the comments section below, whether you come to the gym or not. We’ll also write the commitments on a whiteboard at CrossFit 204, and we’ll hold each other accountable, because we’re building a fit community.

As one word of advice, be specific when choosing your goals. Pick something concrete. “I will eat five more servings of vegetables a day” is way more effective than “I will eat better.” Be concise!

With out further ado, here’s the deal:

Level 1: The Thing That Sucks Most

Level 1 is like the triage desk at the hospital: what’s the worst thing happening right now, and how do we fix it?

If you look at your diet and can see something glaringly out of place for a person who’s working out and concerned about fitness, it’s time to deep-six that thing.

Probable culprits include potato chips, candy, pop, ice cream, white bread, alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, doughnuts, milkshakes, fried foods, fast food, Lucky Charms breakfast cereal, all-you-can-eat buffets and so on.

These are the things that are truly and obviously out of place, the things you know are bad but haven’t gotten rid of.

At Level 1, we’re asking you to give one bad thing up for a month. Giving up The Thing That Sucks Most can be tremendously empowering and will help you learn that change is possible.

If you want to bring now-forbidden food items into the gym, we’ll keep them there as a statement of your goal, and at the end we’ll walk them over to the food-hamper bin at the next Bombers game. We’re not trying to pawn off crummy food on the poor, but bad food is better than no food at all, and throwing it out seems wasteful.

Level 2: And Your Little Friend, Too

In Level 2, you’re going to eliminate several Things That Suck. Now we’re getting into combos like chips and pop, ju-jubes and Twinkies, beer and cigarettes, country and Western music. You know, horrible pairs of things that have a negative effect on your life.

You can, of course, eliminate a whole whack of things. We’ll take any number of bad dietary and lifestyle choices you want to eliminate.

Level 3: Conscious Eating (Use Your Big Brain)

In Level 3, we’re asking you commit to one “big-picture” change that’s part of a plan for revamping your diet. We’re not telling you to go Paleo or Zone or whatever. We’re asking you to commit to something that will implement a significant change in your eating habits for a month.

You might commit to eating regular meals and not skipping breakfast. You might commit to cooking the week’s food Sunday night. You might commit to making a meal plan for the week and sticking to it. You might simply make time to shop for groceries twice a week so fresh, healthy food is always in the house. You might plan a way to avoid those god-awful office cake parties that happen with disturbing regularity.

You can, of course, integrate some aspects of levels 1 and 2 with Level 3 if you have some crap in your diet.

Level 4: Brave New World

In Level 4, we’re asking you to take some larger steps toward overall health and fitness. At this level, we’ve already cut out the crap and we’re looking to really dial things in. We’re asking you to get busy addressing at least one big-picture item that represents a significant change in your life.

Look at replacing grain-fed meat with grass-fed meat. Try out important things like kale and coconut oil. Consider adding a fish-oil supplement to your diet. Research good fats and figure out how to work them into your diet. Get rid of boxed food and processed food.

Buy organic food. Shop two or three times a week for fresh food and stop going go down the aisles at the supermarket; the healthy stuff is around the edges. Try out new healthy recipes. Source out high-quality local foods and work out which combinations will make you feel the best and give you the best results in the gym. Read books on nutrition and put pictures of your meals on Facebook.

You’re committing to fully eating like a real human athlete should eat—and you’re feeling great!

Post goals and commitments to comments! Have fun!

Most CrossFit gyms do some sort of diet challenge to encourage their members to adjust their food intake and see what proper nutrition can do. Most people find spectacular success by making sweeping changes and sticking to them because of the accountability that comes from stating a goal in public and then having the rest of the community hold them to it.

Many gyms go with some sort of “Paleo challenge” where members vow to follow the Paleo Diet most famously promoted by Dr. Loren Cordain. There’s nothing wrong with the Paleo Diet. It’s a great way to adjust your eating if you know what you’re doing. Dr. Barry Sears’ Zone Diet is another diet worth researching.

Nevertheless, CrossFit 204 is simplifying things. You don’t have to start weighing and measuring your food, and you don’t have to memorize the glycemic index. Nor do you have to understand how sugar affects insulin levels and how macronutrients fuel the body. You just have to use common sense to eat better.

Inspired by Jeff Barnett of CrossFit Impulse, our diet challenge is simply called “Eat Less Crap,” and it will run from Sept. 1-30.

Rather than asking members to dive right into a diet they don’t understand and aren’t ready for, we’re asking them to behave like the intelligent humans they are. While we might not know exactly why, we all instinctively know which foods and drinks are crap. So we’re going to cut those things out to various degrees.

Water = good.

Pop = crap.

Simple, right?

In short, we’re going to ask members to commit to small, medium or large adjustments to eating habits for one month. At the end of the month, they’ll evaluate what those changes did for them and if they’re ready for more.

We’re going to do this by offering several “levels” of the challenge. Level 1, for example, might just include eliminating one bad food choice for a month: no chips for September, or something like that. Another level might include more sweeping dietary changes like eliminating refined grains or switching to grass-fed beef.

The goal here isn’t to overwhelm, browbeat and prescribe one diet for all shapes and sizes and activity levels, then throw everyone in at the deep end with a few pieces of celery floating in the water. That would be stupid. Our goal is to get people thinking about what they eat and then making small personal changes that will add up quickly.

We challenge you to commit to some level of the Eat Less Crap challenge and see what it does for you. If you aren’t interested, feel free to evaluate what this experiment does for others.

We’ll reveal more details tomorrow, and Mike and Crystal will be blogging about their experience with the challenge all along the way.

Stay tuned.

And eat less crap.