One year ago I met Dallas and Melissa Hartwig for the first time when I attended my first Whole 9 nutrition workshop. Since that weekend I have completely changed how and why I eat specific foods. Does that mean I stopped eating Tropical Skittles, donuts orGlenlevit 18 year? No, but it does mean I am much more aware of the dangers those items present to my health, immediate mood and my training.
During the month of June 2010 I completed my first Whole 30 Challenge, broke it with a few donuts which lead to a headache and a belly ache. The side effects were enough to straighten me up for the next few weeks leading up to the CrossFit Games 2010. Those next few weeks, I experimented with different foods pre and post workout and took mental notes on how those foods affected my performance, recovery and mood/sleep.
A few common themes were found; (1) Whole 9 was right, this stuff jacks you up! (2) Preparation is EVERYTHING (3) I am a stress eater.
Most who know me, know I very easily admit others are smarter than me. This is one of those times. Whole 9 was pretty much 100% correct on everything they said in their seminar and in their follow up consultations with me. Dense carbohydrates with little nutritional value (aka grains) trip up your gut and the digestion process, leading to bloating, extra bathroom breaks and the infamous post meal belly ache. Prior to Whole 9, I was constantly having gas, feeling bloated and regularly had to run to the bathroom after a meal. Post Whole 30, I was pretty much gas free, realized I can be full and not bloated after a big meal and frequented the bathroom less than half as many times daily. These changes led to me feeling better and thus a domino effect on other aspects of my life.
Changing how I approached pre/post workout nutrition was hard to embrace, because of years of “crap” I had been fed via supplement advertisements and traditional nutrition thinking. Removing my 3 year love affair with Muscle Juice as a post workout /recovery drink was one of the best things I have ever done in regards to improving training and recovery. I replaced it with hard-boiled egg whites, chicken or the occasional steak for my protein. For my carb replacement I used sweet potatoes and occasionally carrots. I also discovered adjusting post-workout nutrition according to the duration and type of workout was key in optimal recovery. I feel confident saying these changes in diet (which were implemented by all CrossFit Denton County team members) lead to our top-30 finish at the CrossFit Games. (Side note: If it wasn’t for a crucial mistake during WOD #3, we would have notched a top-20 finish, but who’s counting right? Obviously, we weren’t J )
Being able to have good healthy options readily available sure makes cook time faster and more enjoyable. Food preparation played an important role in helping me make healthy food choices. I found if I had something already cut, diced, sliced, peeled, cooked, grilled, etc. then I would eat it, and be able to fight the cravings for something unhealthy.
When stress would hit so would the desire for sugar and grains. So weird I never thought I would ever admit this, but I was someone who was an emotional eater. This was controlled by the implementation of the above mentioned food prep. If I had something ready to eat it made it more difficult to make an unhealthy decision. I was very dumbfounded at the truth of how eating something REAL unhealthy made me feel, just for a short time, better. It freaked me out the first few times after I figured it out. It was a bit of a double-edged sword because I knew in all reality it didn’t solve any issues or decrease stress, but it did give me a temporary “high”. So I would often (and still do) have interesting discussions with myself in regards to
In conclusion, one of the best ways to optimize your performance is begin to eat whole foods, eliminate grains, sugars, soy, alcohol, legumes and dairy. I have adopted a dietary regiment that provides me with a little leeway here and there, but overall is leading me towards solid workout performances and has been pivotal in improving my overall quality of life. Please examine the label on your foods, if you are able to find a label you might want to rethink eating that product.
PS – Please don’t think I am pretending to be a perfect angel when it comes to nutrition. I have had good days and bad weeks, but all my decisions on eating were made by ME and I knew the consequences. I do plan out poor eating meals/days and realize there is a price to pay. I accept that price and move on. With that being said, I think you need absolutes in the beginning so you can spend 30 days knowing what it feels like eating clean and healthy.