The Moving Van Analogy – Health and fitness goals are like moving across the country. You know where you want to go and that it’s going to be a lot of work to get there.
Where a lot of people go wrong with their goals is that they don’t plan them before moving day, they just jump in and sign-up for something.
“Maybe I should give that CrossFit thing that Nancy has been bugging me about for 3 years a try” you might say to yourself. After all, this is how we solve plenty of other problems in our lives – just throw the credit card at it and hope for the best.
However, if you have health and fitness goals for 2018, you’re probably going to want to spend 3 hours a week for hopefully at least the next 6 months (78 hours total) in a gym of some kind. Maybe it’s a good idea to spend a few hours up front really thinking about your plan specifics. And that should include all aspects of getting to your healthier state – diet, exercise, and lifestyle.
Below are 3 keys to building a successful health & fitness plan.
Part 1: Fuel
Part 2: Breathe Hard
Part 3: Me Time
We’ll take you deeper into Part 1 today.
PART 1: FUEL
Back to the moving van analogy…
Lots of things can happen between Point A and Point B. Your moving van won’t run without gas in it. Your body is the same way. If you don’t put enough gas, and more importantly the right type of gas in it, you might not even make it out of the driveway, let alone the state.
If you want to get anywhere, you need to fuel your body according to your goals. The more aggressive the goals, the better and more consistent the fuel needs to be to reach them.
The following advice is based on general observations we’ve made from our many success stories at CrossFit Aevitas over the years. Before making any significant dietary changes, we recommend that you consult a doctor or dietitian.
Before you do anything, you need to know what you’re currently eating. If you ask most people, they will tell you they don’t eat “that bad”. If not eating “that bad” is the status quo, we need to move the bar up a little higher.
The goal should be to eat good food and enough of it. How will you know? Step 1 is to TRACK your intake. The best way to track is to use technology to your advantage. MyFitnessPal is a very powerful tool (and mostly free!) for understanding what you eat on a daily basis. At first it will be tedious but after a few days, it will become easier because you’ll notice some repetition in your eating habits. The app even lets you copy recurring meals to minimize redundant entry. The hardest part will be understanding quantities and this takes some time.
Once you get the hang of tracking, let it ride for a week or two being careful to catch as much detail as possible, especially on the weekends where things usually fall apart. If you miss a day, don’t worry! Every day is a new opportunity to improve.
Once you have some data, you need to assess two things: Quality & Quantity (in that order). Often, if you eat good quality food, your body will naturally regulate your hunger to ensure a proper quantity is consumed. Unfortunately, there are a lot of traps when it comes to what constitutes “quality”. Our most general recommendation is laid out in World-Class Fitness In 100 Words by CrossFit Founder, Greg Glassman:
“Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat. Practice and train major lifts: deadlift, clean, squat, presses, clean and jerk, and snatch. Similarly, master the basics of gymnastics: pull-ups, dips, rope climbs, push-ups, sit-ups, presses to handstand, pirouettes, flips, splits, and holds. Bike, run, swim, row, etc, hard and fast. Five or six days per week mix these elements in as many combinations and patterns as creativity will allow. Routine is the enemy. Keep workouts short and intense. Regularly learn and play new sports.”
We’ll talk more about the exercise portion of that quote in Part 2: Breathe Hard. Back to quality… notice some of the caveats in that first sentence above. Are you eating vegetables and meat (or some protein source) at every meal, or do you rarely see leafy greens on your plate? Does your diet consist of “some fruit, little starch, and no sugar”, or do sweet and starchy foods dominate your intake? Take a big-picture look at the quality of your food choices, and adjust accordingly.
Then, take it a bit further by assessing the quality of the individual foods you’re eating. Budget permitting, you should try to get the meat and veggies from organic sources when possible. This will help reduce the amount of unnatural chemicals (hormones, herbicides, pesticides, additives, etc) that could potentially be disrupting your body’s natural desired state.
Cracking down on the quality should result in more manageable hunger and balanced energy levels that will enable exercise and eventual body composition change.
If you don’t notice a difference in 30 days of improved quality eating habits, you need to take a closer look at the quantity. The quantity of food you should eat is a function of several main variables: age, lean body mass, activity level, the nature of your goals and a few more that a trained dietitian can help you with. It is for that reason that we recommend consulting with a Registered Dietitian (RD) like our very own Coach Laura Ligos, RD. aka: The Sassy Dietitian. RDs are trained to help you understand what intake you need to enable your goals.
Stay tuned for Part 2: Breathe Hard and Part 3: Me Time, coming to the blog soon! In the meantime, download MyFitnessPal and start tracking, and set up some time with Sassy!