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Establishing and evaluating the way you eat is an eye-opener. It is definitely not easy, because you are rethinking years and years of eating habits.
I come from a family that loves to eat, a culture that gathers around dinners, brunches and parties to celebrate different events. Food is deeply anchored in my traditions, coming from South America.
Changing those habits proved to be extremely challenging. But at the end of the day, it really comes down to my willingness to achieve my personal goals and change my life. Nothing is easy to come by, everything takes sacrifice. And the bigger the goal, the bigger the sacrifice.
Personally, CrossFit has evolved from a hobby to a lifestyle. It doesn’t mean that I have a statue of Rich Froning beside my bed and that I sacrifice a goat to his name… But it means that it has transformed my life for the better. It has given me a purpose to get better, to get fitter and stronger. Not only in the sport, but also in everyday life.
I know the amount of work it takes to achieve a certain goal, and the mental toughness needed to get there. The easy part is getting up in the morning, going about your day and coming in to the gym to do your workout. You know it has a limited time, and that grinding through it will get you towards the end… the hard part is finding out that the aspect that really makes the difference is what fuels you to get there in the first place. And I’m not talking about the burning desire to become a badass, but what literally fuels you and your body…
Nutrition is THE hardest thing to master in this domain. It is not a one or two hour thing (like your regular CF session), it takes up the whole of the 24-hour period that makes up a whole day. You do something right in your day for 1 hour, there still are 23 whole other hours to either make things even better or to put it all down the drain… your choice.
First time I heard about the Zone diet was in my Level 1 certification course in Basel back in 2012. I never really payed any attention to it, even though I knew it was what would make the difference. I thought I could get away with eating normally and working out, hoping the results would come on their own. They did, don’t get me wrong. but they were never up to my expectations and there was always something holding me back.
Fast forward two years later, and I finally decided to settle the problem and take care of my nutrition and go on the Zone. It was a hassle at first figuring out the correct amounts of food I had to eat throughout my whole day. I couldn’t believe I was actually going to weigh my food.
On a normal day, I ate 5 meals a day: breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, post-workout meal, snack and my dinner. In reality, I was eating the same number of times as usual, but this was in a more structured manner.
Every single one of my meals has a definite amount of protein, carbohydrate and fat according to my bodyweight, fat percentage and activity level during the day. I found myself eating more of some stuff than before, like carbohydrates. Like most people, media had me convinced that a low-carb and low-fat way of eating was the best way to achieve that 6-pack abs that everybody desperately desires.
When you think about it, how would depriving your body from nutrients it needs make it work better?
The fact that I would have to eat a little bit of everything in each one of my meals got me really afraid of putting on the kilos rather than losing them. But to my surprise, this worked very effectively.
With those 5 meals timed properly (every 3-3.5 hours) my body felt nourished, energized and well-balanced throughout my day, and my workout. I didn’t feel any tiredness, I felt my body was working with exactly what it needed for the specific amount of time it needed it for.
My workouts felt better, my strength levels were going up, body fat down, and my overall body composition was heading in the right direction.
The hardest part about it is probably organizing the meals, and exactly when to eat them.
I gave myself one week to establish myself a meal plan with all the food I enjoyed eating, and divide these food in the following categories: protein, carbohydrate and fat.
Then it was just a question of going shopping and mixing everything together in the right portions. Preparing what you can in advance and putting it all in tupperware ready to go is a huge help too.
Without any proper organisation, it is impossible to follow.
It does involve a little bit of matsh, patience, and playing around with portion sizes. But you will find that you quickly pick things up and go into auto-pilot mode. You just have to be willing to make that first step into the unknown, to let go and trust your body.
Yes, things are going to get tough sometimes. Yes, you will have to make little compromises at the beginning regarding eating out at restaurants or dropping the occasional drink. Yes, some of your friends might judge you for what you are doing. But honestly, who cares? You are doing this for your own good, and you are making a life-changing decision. And you should be proud of that.
These are all but a few questions that ran through my mind as I was stepping into the unknown. Once you feel the results, you’ll be glad you did.