What it takes

Over the years, I've had the opportunity to coach over 100 athletes that list "Performance" as their number one goal.  The reality tho is that its HARD to maintain that focus 24/7/365. Sometimes people stray down the road of "GIMME ABS, BITCH" or they want to just relax for a few weeks and not focus on diet, training, etc, to take a vacation and just act like a "normal human being."  This is why its SO HARD to qualify for the CrossFit Games.  The sheer focus that most people need to apply is just beyond comprehension.   

This a post about recognizing hard work, and celebrating ALL the M2 clients that dedicate their lives to this sport.  I could just as easily written about Chyna Cho, opening her own gym and still finding time to train her ass off, Mia Akerlund for pouring her heart out all weekend after suffering a devastating injury 3 days before Regionals, or Alex Parker for being a full time lawyer and still finishing top 10 in the best Region in the world.   EACH athlete has their story of sacrifice and hard work, and each one deserves to be recognized.

I chose to write this post about Meredith Root for a few special reasons though.  First, Meredith is incredibly coachable.  She listens and adapts her effort better than anyone I've worked with.  Secondly, I know for a fact that she thinks she's not that great or gifted (she's so wrong), and therefore is borderline obsessed with doing everything she can to be better.  Finally, even though she applied her incredible focus on making it to the Games, she came up just short of her goal.  It's easy to find perspective when all your dreams come true.  It's another thing entirely when you fall just short. On top of that comes some loyalty... We've been working together for over a year now. Meredith trusted me when I was really still new in the Crossfit scene and my reputation was still developing.  That counts for something in my book.

For all these reasons, I wanted to share Meredith's story.  Thank you Meredith.

I met Meredith Root in 2017 at the Atlantic Regional the day after she had to withdraw from the competition due to a fairly serious bicep injury.  How did I meet her you ask? I slid right into those DMs 😏 

 Not creepy at all...  P.S. Love you Kenzie :) 

Not creepy at all...

P.S. Love you Kenzie :) 

Haley Adams had a rough event 2 where everything just seemed to go against her on a set of ring dips.  She took it pretty harshly, as 16 year olds tend to do. Meredith, having literally just finished her event as well, went out of her way to pull her aside, to talk to her about how to learn from the experience, to explain that this was an opportunity to grow.  I was floored... 

The next day, Meredith had to withdraw, and it was her turn to deal with the emotions.  You could see how hard she worked, to see how BAD she wanted to show people what she could do, and how devastating it was to have that opportunity taken from her.  I literally NEVER send strangers messages but sensing her character, I wanted to try and lift her spirits just a little bit.  I'm so glad I did.

Meredith and I started working together as coach/athlete about a month after Regionals.  From day 1, she was focused on performance and doing anything she could to improve her chances of going to the Games one day.  As with most athletes, she was under-eating and doing a few other things that needed to be dialed in as well.   I told her she was going to have to eat more, and after going off and doing some research on her own (freaking scientists...) she did just that.  We talked about the importance of having individualized programming, and she went out and did that too, finding an amazing coach in Mike Fitzgerald.

It's honestly hard for me to tell you what difference our work together made because 1) Meredith gave nearly zero shits about body composition, only performance, so the update pictures were few and FAR between and 2) She doesn't brag much, so I didn't hear about PRs unless I asked. 

To get a sense of what working together was like, I asked Meredith to describe what differences having a "nutrition" coach made.  Here are her words:

"I was always a clean eater, but never really paid attention to particular quantities. I consumed three big meals a day and was eating too much protein and too much fat. I had read books and articles, I knew the science around performance eating and yet I was reluctant to apply those principles to myself.

I thought what I was doing was "good enough." Those are the two most dangerous words in the English language. "Good Enough" is not what gets you on top of podiums. "Good Enough" does not get you to the CrossFit Games. We are in an age where fractional increases in performance make a huge difference. After talking with Mike and seeing what a giant impact he had on Kenzie at Regionals in 2017, I decided I was done with "Good Enough." I decided it was time to work with the best to become the best that I could be. Why put all this effort into training and leave something like nutrition on the table? 

Having someone not only set my numbers but also hold me accountable was huge. I was afraid of carbs, but I knew what was coming if I didn't hit my numbers, so I hit my numbers. And then I started to notice my performance improve. I felt better, I slept better, I looked better. The conversation shifted from accountability to validation. Yes, we are doing the right things, how can we do more? What else can we improve on? 

There were little things that made a big difference. Rinsing my rice before cooking it. White rice contains trace amounts of arsenic. Arsenic blocks testosterone production. You said, "If you're eating 3-4 cups of rice per day, you better be rinsing your f***ing rice before you cook it!" 😬😬😬

I had never had anyone tell me to chew my food before, nor had I even thought about it. When I did think about it, I realized quickly that I was in a bad habit of swallowing a lot of may food whole as I rushed to eat it. I started chewing my food more. It takes me twice as long to eat a meal now, but have much fewer digestive issues and I *think* it's made me a bit leaner."

While the goal wasn't to get leaner or look better in the mirror... shocker, it happened.  The lesson again, if you chase performance and take care of your nutrition and sleep, the body tends to respond favorably.

 M2 takes no responsibility for the loss of tan.  If you choose to move to Calgary, thats your own damn fault.  That bicep vein though... thats all us ;) 

M2 takes no responsibility for the loss of tan.  If you choose to move to Calgary, thats your own damn fault.  That bicep vein though... thats all us ;) 

The first opportunity we had to test how things were working was down at Wodapalooza, where Meredith was going head to head with 30 or so other elite CrossFit women. 

Day 1 was a damn good start.  Meredith can run pretty well and ended up with a 5th and a 3rd place finish on the first/second events which were merged together.  That night was what we'd consider a "wheel-house workout" with 3 rounds for time of: 9 muscle ups, 12 power snatches and 15 cals on the assault bike.  She went unbroken on the muscle ups in both rounds 1 and 2, putting serious space between herself and 2nd place.  I was standing right in front of her watching her dissect the workout.  Coming out of the rings on round 3, she was all alone, minutes ahead of the competition.  As she sat down on the bike, she looked at me and gave me this look of "Where the F is everyone?"  Very casually she coasted to a ~30 second victory ahead of the field.  She described it to me as the highlight of her CrossFit career to that point, and the smile on her face proved it was true.  It was a proud moment for me as her friend.

 Half a week in Miami... still no tan.

Half a week in Miami... still no tan.

The very next morning, Meredith experienced what can only be described as the stomach plague, and after trying everything, she was forced to withdraw.  A second major competition ending before she wanted it to... it was hard to watch, but you just try and be there for a person.  I think this is the value of having a coach that really cares about you.  You can lean on them when life punches you in the face, you can be emotional and know that they've got your back.  Miami was just one of those moments.

Life Coaching 401

I've talked about this before, but the macros and the supplements are the easy part of being a nutrition coach. LONG-term nutrition coaching is more about balancing emotions and keeping athletes focused.  Asking them to find things they're proud of in themselves, getting them to confide in you when they're stressed.  If I can get an athlete to open up and vent about the stress of work, or family, or a relationship, then maybe they sleep better that night, do a better job with food choices the next day and have a 10% better training session.  Over a year, this adds up and makes a difference.  Here's Meredith again to give you an idea from the other side of this relationship.

"We all know, M2 is not just a nutrition company. More importantly almost, it's a lifestyle company. Nutrition is too emotional to exist without this component. We are not cells in a bioreactor, you cannot simply pump in glucose and amino acids and get the response you desire.  This year was huge for me. I moved my whole life across the continent right at the beginning of winter. I went from sub-tropical North Carolina to the then frozen tundra that was Calgary, Alberta. But it wasn't just my physical location that changed, it was my training environment, my living environment, my access to food, and my relationships."

Coming back to the idea of doing things the right way, Meredith always opened up when I asked her to and evolved to pro-actively telling me about her stress. She understood that bottling shit up wasn't healthy for her as a competitor, never mind just as a person.  It's not my job to fix any of that, but it is my job to listen.  Of course, over time we became more friends than coach/client, or as Meredith describes it, "The waters have become very muddy in a good way. Add coach, athlete, mentor, mentee, boss, employee, and friend into a big pot, stir together, and you get our relationship. It's pretty cool."  

So after just about a full year of working together, there I am at the West Regional with 6 individual female athletes.  Thanks to the lovely CrossFit Gods, I went from having 3 athletes in one Region and 3 in another to having them all shoved together into one Super Region.  Want to talk about stress?  Take 5 spots for the Games and put 6 highly competitive females that you're all "responsible" for in one location... Oh, and add another 10 former Games athletes for good measure.  Thanks Castro...

If you want to see what happened in each event, watch the Regionals replay.  All that matters is at the end of it, Meredith ended up in 6th place, missing out on a Games spot by a painfully close margin, and in a way that was hard to stomach. Watching her sit in the dirt and cry into the shoulder of Alex Parker (complex situation, read here and here) was heart-breaking.  It suuuuuucks to see someone come SO CLOSE and miss.  You're helpless to do anything other than try to be there for them when they want you, and to stay out of the way when they want to be alone. 

I saw Meredith a week later in West Palm Beach at the Atlantic Regional for her twin sister's competition.  While still hurt, she had gained an amazing amount of perspective in an amazingly short period of time.

"And then at the end of it all, there we all were together at the California Regionals. What a weekend! I found you in the crowd during every event. You were a human safety blanket in the midst of the chaos. You were my Guru all year and I was glad to have you there!

Even though I fell a little short of making the Games, I made huge improvements on both the physical and mental side of my game. Sometimes I forget that it's barely been a year since we started working together. Most of my biggest improvements didn't even start until August or September. I now believe I have the best programming available (OPT) and the best nutritionist in the industry. Who knows where we go from here, but it's hard to believe it's anywhere but up."

A few days after that weekend, we were texting back and forth and she told me, "I would rather people remember me as a good person than a good competitor.

Meredith Root, you will NEVER have to choose between those two.

 Three of the best "clie-friends" a coach could ever ask for.

Three of the best "clie-friends" a coach could ever ask for.

2018 Crossfit Games Regionals Nutrition Plan

Congratulations!!! You've made it to Regionals, an amazing accomplishment that so very few will get to experience. This achievement is the result of countless hours in and out of the gym, and five very impressive performances in the Crossfit Open.  What's coming next though is an entirely different beast and you need to be prepared for it.  If this is a repeat trip to Regionals for you, then you'll know that sleeping and eating are going to be very, very different for those three days and nights so you better have a plan.  You don't want to let poor nutrition and sleep screw up 12+ months of hard work.

Here are our recommendations

Day -5 to -1

Most athletes will be in some form of a deload heading into Regionals allowing for a fresh body and mind.  During this time period, there may be a desire to seriously cut back on your carbohydrate intake over the full week.  RESIST this urge.  The first few days you need to keep the macros more or less the same to make sure your recovery does not suffer and that sleep stays steady.  By Wednesday, we're basically into the phase where what we eat will influence the state of our glycogen stores for Friday already, as full digestion/absorption is about a 36-48 hour process.  Moral of the story, stay more or less on the same plan with your plan and don't make major cuts of any kind. 

A few additional quick thoughts:

  • Food quality needs to stay on point as well. This is not the week for donuts and pizza shoved into your macros.
  • Make sure food is well cooked. You don't want to catch even a small bout of food poisoning right now.  Sushi can wait until next week.
  • Hydrate well and make sure you work electrolytes into the middle part of your week.  Think Pedialyte, The Right Stuff, NUUN, etc... 
  • Make sure you set yourself up each night for a good nights sleep.  The further into the week we go, the harder this will likely be so have plan. Check out our Power Down Routine if you haven't already for the basics.
  • Make sure you've got all your food and supplements ready for the weekend by Wednesday at the latest.

DAY 1 of COMPETITION

This should go without saying, but its so damn important that I'm going to put it in big freaking bolded letters

NEVER TRY ANYTHING FOR THE FIRST TIME ON GAME DAY

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This is not the time to swing through vendor village and pick up a sample of pre-workout that you've never taken before Event 1.  Also... if you don't normally drink coffee, don't do it now unless you want your heart to explode on double under 187 (see what I did there??). 

PREWORKOUT 1

Fun fact, stress slows down the digestion process.  Think you might have some butterflies on Friday morning??? Yea, I thought so.  Lets make sure we get breakfast taken care of way before we start working out.  2.5-3 hours before your warming up for Event 1, eat about 600-700 calories for the women and 800-1000 for the men.  This gives you enough time to get most of the digestion done and out of the way.  Keep things pretty low in fat here as well just to keep digestion nice and speedy.

AMENDMENT: Several people asked what to do if you eat breakfast rather early in the day (say 8 AM) and then have a LONG time until workout one, as the women may not be going until as late at 1 PM.  In that situation, we would recommend adding up to a 400 (women) or 600 (men) snack about 2 hours out. So depending upon your heat time, that could be around 11:00 AM. Once again, keep it pretty low in fat and easy to digest.

Reality check: There are a TON of variables that confound how much food you should be putting down, whether you need a late morning at all, what that snack should look like, etc.  This is why people work with coaches.  We plan to be answering questions ALL weekend for our 50+ Regionals athletes.  As Mike Tyson once said, "Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth." 

An hour before the first workout, I'd have a very easy to digest snack.  Something like a Fuel for Fire, Smash Pack, or even just regular old baby food squeeze pack would work well.

Most of you out there don't do a good enough job with your warm ups while in the gym on a random Tuesday, but now we're at Regionals and you've decided that you're going to be the warm up king and get on the bike for 30 minutes, aggressively mobilize for another 20, and then start movement specific prep. 

You need to have something sweet to just sip (not chug) through this process. There's a very cool set of studies that shows that glucose mouth washes (meaning you don't even have to swallow) can seriously improve athletic performance. So lets use that information to maximize performance here.

Finally, follow your typical pre workout routine from 30 minutes out. If thats BCAAs/EAAs + supplement XYZ, then stick to those here as well.  Nothing new and fancy...

POST WORKOUT 1 / PRE WORKOUT 2

Now the Triple 3's is pretty beastie and you're most likely going to be doing some serious work for about 40-50 minutes at moderate to high intensity.  Our goal for the day is to make sure you're recovering well after each workout, so coming out of this event I'd recommend 25 (women) to 35 (men) grams of protein and 75 grams (women) and 100 grams (men) of carbs.  To be clear, that is still not enough to replace the energy you've just burned out there, but it will tell your brain that fuel is coming and to not stress so much.  Follow that shake up 30 minutes later with something like a FFF or SmashPack, or even just a GreaterThan, Gatorade, Juice, etc.

We typically have about 2 hours between events at Regionals so you really don't have time for much solid foods here in your post workout phase which is why its key that the fueling options be easy to digest and absorb.  Protein and carbohydrate powders are your best option as very minimal digestion is required. 

If you insist on using real foods, make sure that its 1) hyper palatable as your appetite for things like chicken and sweet potato is going to suck, and 2) chew the shit out of the food so that your stomach doesn't have to digest it for even longer.

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In reality, this time period is also your pre workout window for Workout 2 as well.  So try and make sure that you're done with all foods (even the mashed up, squeeze bag king) 1 hour prior to the next workout.  

From 60 to 15 minutes out from workout 2, just keep focused on staying warm and sipping on more sweet beverages based on thirst.  I do not think you need another big hit of pre workout supplements, but if its your usual routine, then stick with it here as well.

POST WORKOUT 2

This event will be somewhere in the 15+ minute range for almost all athletes, with a huge CNS demand from the 55 DL, bench press and cleans.  As soon as you're off the floor, I would have one more protein and carb shake with 20/25 grams protein (women/men) and 50/60 grams carbs (women/men).  An hour after that, have a real meal with plenty of protein, fat and carbs.  This is essentially lunch.  

For the rest of the day, you're going to need to continue to eat some real food, and almost certainly exceed your normal macros by 20% to attempt to recover for day 2.  Higher fat foods can help central nervous system recovery, so don't be afraid of those at all.  Again... this is a fitness competition and not a body building show so EAT... you need it.

Before bed, if you're still wired from the day, try taking a shower where the last 60 seconds are pretty cold.  From there get right into bed and turn the lights off.  Keep the hotel room pretty cool at 65F or so, as this has been shown to be about the optimal temperature for sleep.  Also you might want to bring some kind of white noise machine with you if you're used to using one.

ONE FINAL RULE: No going to bed hungry... period.  

DAY 2 and 3 of COMPETITION

Nothing too drastic is going to change headed into Days 2 and 3 for your breakfast, pre workout routines and dinner, but there are some considerations that we want to take into account for recovery for workouts 3 through 6

  • Workouts 3 and 4 are in the 6-13 minute range, so you might not think you need much fuel to recover from them, but don't forget the intensity of the events is greater than almost anything you've experienced.  Aim for 20-25 grams of protein and 50-60 grams of carbs after each event.  
  • Workout 5 is absolutely brutal with the box step overs, biking and lunges.  Again, 20-25 grams of protein and then 60-70 grams of carbs are recommended after this event heading into the final.
  • Workout 6 is ALWAYS a burner at the end of a long weekend.  Those that succeed here will have put the right focus into their fueling and recovery over the whole weekend.  Get warm, have a few sips of carbs and then be prepared to leave it all on the floor with everything you've got.

Post workout from Event 6 and onwards..

Whether you finish in 1st or 40th, don't track a damn thing for the rest of the day.  Go enjoy a nice dinner with your friends and family.  If you're heart broken, lean on them and remember that they love you for who you are, not what happens on that arena floor. The same goes for your nutrition coach :)

Over the next couple of weeks, take an actual break from the gym and from your nutritional program.  Eat well, enjoy some complex meals that are damn near impossible to track, have a few things that you normally would avoid, and sleep... sleep so much that people start to ask where you've been.

Back when I was competing in 2009-2011, a very smart coach told me not to start back in the gym until you had the Three H's going on in your life; Happy, Hungry and Horny.  Once you're feeling those emotions, you can start thinking about 2019.  Everyone is unique and their recovery from major competitions will be as well.  Don't worry about what others are doing, just listen to your body.

 This should help with those Three H's a little...

This should help with those Three H's a little...

A Final Thought

At the 2017 Atlantic Regional, I worked in the athlete area with Mekenzie Riley before and after each event on her nutrition while her Misfit coaches took care of the warm ups and cool downs.  She didn't always want to drink the protein and carb shakes, the GreaterThans, etc... but she did it anyway.  Kenz entered the final day needing to do some work on the leaderboard to punch her ticket to Madison.  She finished with a 4th and a 1st place finish to put herself on the podium. Watch this and tell me if she looks like its Day 3 of the biggest competition of her life. I 

Carly Fuhrer had another very educational experience.  On Day 1, nerves were high and eating was tough.  She had enough energy stores to do extremely well on the first two events, but Day 2 was a struggle and left her in a hole.  We chatted and even though it was the last thing she wanted to do, she ate and drank a good amount of food (mostly PB &J sandwiches, right Carly???) that night to try and get some energy back.  On day 3, she absolutely crushed the workouts and made up a massive amount of ground to qualify for the Games.  Her final event was one of the guttsiest things I've ever seen in this sport.  The fact is that she was able to go to that dark place because of the effort she put in the day before and after Event 5.

You will likely not be excited about eating if your nerves are high, but you have to make it happen. Its a long weekend and if you don't put the effort in, your performance will drastically suffer on Days 2 and 3.   Its not too late to make smart changes that can influence your short term goals over these next three weekends.  If you need some help, shoot us a message here.  

When Less is More

There are times in life when you just have to work harder.  Whether thats at your job, with your family,  in the gym, we ultimately want to see that hard work rewarded with a great result.  When the effort doesn't pay off, that can be incredibly frustrating.  Recently in the world of Crossfit, there seems to be this sense that when it comes to trying to build a lean, healthy body, that training MORE is the answer.  This post is here to show you that this isn't always the case.

When eating more doesn't solve the problem

I've said before that somewhere between 75-85% of the people that come through M2 are NOT eating enough food to support either their performance based goals or their body composition goals, or both in some cases.

"We've got to stop starving our athletes" Part 1 and Part 2 show that adding MORE food to your diet can absolutely make enormous changes for people.  Part 3 showed us that sometimes we just need to be patient and that changes will come to those who stick with the plan. But what do you do when you add in the appropriate macros, get people sleeping enough and STILL don't get the results that you want in your body composition? 

The answer is often not what people want to hear.  Training needs to change, and not in the way that people want, as we typically have to have a rough conversation around doing LESS in the gym.  I recently went through this with about a dozen clients and I want to highlight the changes that we made to get the desired results with just one of them.

Ashleigh first contacted me in the summer of 2017 with a goal of improving her body composition, and to be honest she also was a little attached to the scale with a goal weight of 135.  She came to me with a pretty solid nutrition plan after having worked with some of the better coaches in the industry, so she was not massively under-eating.  Ash was in good shape, training HARD in the gym but things had been going sideways on her for a while, with a slow steady increase in the scale from the low 130's to almost 140.  This was definitely concerning to her as she came from a background of having lost a significant amount of weight from about 168 lbs earlier in life.  

Getting back to the point, she wasn't happy with the results that she was getting both in the gym or in the body composition that she was after either.  With her 3-4 hours of training from MISFIT programming, we bumped up her macros pretty quickly and steadily, settling her in at about 400C per day. She felt better and better, and performance was honestly headed in the right direction as well.  She had great strength gains in back squats and olympic lifts, with huge performances in the aerobic capacity department as well.  While this approach of "train more, eat more" has absolutely helped people to lose weight in the past, it wasn't happening with Ashleigh here.  In fact, at one point she was up to 142 lbs. Honestly, her body composition was still GREAT but there were all kinds of warning signs.  Anxiety was through the roof, and some ice cream binges were becoming more frequent as well. 

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What I haven't mentioned yet is that the other factors in Ashleigh's life were starting to dominate her time as well. School was keeping her busy and her burgeoning small business was starting to generate traction as well.  All of this on top of training like someone that wanted to go to Regionals someday. Ashleigh and I had a number of chats about how to "fix" this.  I told her straight up that she had three choices: 

1) Focus on performance and not on the scale. If she chose this, she needed to be prepared to sacrifice some of the other things in her life.

2) If she wanted to lose body weight, eating less was not the answer, training with lower intensity and volume was.

3) Continue down the path and be totally burned out, fatigued beyond belief and continue to gain weight.

Unfortunately for both of us, Ashleigh really needed to prove to herself that eating less wasn't going to be the answer.  I didn't love this but we slowly dropped her macros down, losing about 400 calories a day over a month. All that and she lost.... 1 lb.  We had more conversations about training less being necessary because ALL the other stresses in her life were mounting up on her.  It took another month and me basically asking "Do you want to be an athlete, or run a successful company? Because you are not going to have both" for it to finally sink in.

To her absolute credit, once Ashleigh decided to commit, she was all on board.  Training was reduced first to less than 2 hours a day, then closer to 90 minutes.  We let that settle in and then adjusted her macros down to match.  She got back into the 130's with these changes and was feeling MUCH better, much happier and much healthier honestly as well.

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However, she was still dealing with some anxiety around the whole situation.  Fun fact: Ashleigh had tracked her macros everyday for something like 4 years. While admirable, it was also another source of stress in her life.  She felt like she had to be "perfect" with her nutrition otherwise she wouldn't be successful. 

Of course we don't need to be PERFECT, and I just had to convince her that 80-85% accuracy with tracking and LESS stress was better than 99% accuracy with lots of stress.  Finally, Ash agreed to stop tracking for a while and just to eat intuitively. Instead of tracking food, we tracked other aspects of life such as food quality, GI health, getting off her laptop at a reasonable time and keeping exercise to less than 90 minutes and 5 days a week.

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First day... definitely some anxiety, but by day 4-5 she was feeling more at ease, more relaxed.  Her sleep went through the roof, her business did even better than ever thanks to more energy dedicated to it and sure enough she dropped another 7-8 lbs of healthy weight loss ending up in the 131 range.  Sure, some of it was due to muscle loss from a decrease in training, but at the end of the day she just was a much healthier person and it was reflected in her body composition and her happiness.

This is just one story out of about 12 that I've deal with recently where training LESS produced the desired results.  Why? Crossfit is a damn stressful exercise program and hammering it for 2-4 hours a day 5-6 days a week can have consequences. 

  • Elevated cortisol will cause insulin resistance and preferential body fat accumulation. 
  • Higher stress will result in aldosterone increases, which causes water retention and elevated blood pressure.  People will talk about feeling puffy.
  • Cortisol also breaks down muscle tissue since protein is metabolically expensive, while fat is very much inexpensive. When survival mode hits, the body will sacrifice muscle mass first.

All this leads to a lower metabolic rate.  Lowering calories typically just makes it worse, induces thyroid issues or adrenal insufficiency.  Not GOOD.

So what do we learn from this???

  • If someone's biofeedback sucks (poor sleep, always or never hungry, preferential midsection weight retention, lack of menstrual cycle) start by increasing the macros and getting them to sleep 8 hours a night, and focusing on good food quality to address
    • If you're the client, do NOT simply work out more when a coach bumps your macros.  That is annoying AF when we're trying to fix your broken ass :) 
  • Some supplementation can be helpful, but there are no broad recommendations, everyone is different. Gut health and adrenal support can be helpful to look into.
  • If that does NOT solve the problem, you have to remove other stressors, such as high intensity, high volume exercise. 

This is complicated S#!*, you might want some help with this process and figuring out the right balance of exercise and nutrition for you.  Hit us up here and we'll get you headed in the right direction.

I'm Proud of You

 The M2PN mission statement

The M2PN mission statement

If you follow us on Instagram, you may notice that the content we post is a little different than most other nutrition companies.  Sure we have a few "Before/After" photos, but most of the material revolves around athletic accomplishments in the gym. If you glanced quickly, you might assume we're a programming group like MisFit, TTT or OPEX.  But we're not, we're a nutrition company... in theory.

Lets start of by focusing on what we're NOT trying to do with our social media posts.  We're NOT saying we're responsible for the PR lift, the high end gymnastics movement or the podium placing at a competition.  Those successes are accomplishments of the ATHLETE, pure and simple. Its not to say that nutrition doesn't contribute to athletic success, it certainly does, but that achievement is not ours to claim.

What we ARE trying to do is to help people redefine the values that they choose to determine their own value with.  So many people, but especially women, have visual goals reinforced into their psychology from a young age ("You look so pretty!!"), which are hammered home by media for the next decade or two before we start working with them.  Things are definitely moving in the right direction globally, but there's a ton of work to do.  

We've chosen to fight this battle against a world that values what you look like versus what you can do by celebrating PRs and the training process that gets us there.  I don't care if you're a Crossfit Games athlete or a grand mother of three (or both! Heyyyy Linda Elstun), our check ins will ALWAYS start with some variation of, "How's it going? Tell me about the gym, your sleep, your energy levels in life. How's your mood?"

Ultimately we're trying to get at whether you're happy more days than not, because we’re really in the business of trying to help people lead happier lives. Sometimes that means changing diets, or getting people to sleep more. Sometimes it means letting people vent about a stress that they’ve not told anyone else about. Sometimes it means playing the bad guy and telling people that no matter how bad they want a certain body weight, there’s no short term way to get there that won’t leave them a physical and mental shell of themselves. It SUCKS having to be the one to deliver that message sometimes, but we are in this for the long game. 90 day transformations??? I have no interest in those unless I also get to see what you look like 6 months after that. We will never compromise someone’s health just for a cool IG post... Never.

 The best part about this update pictures from  Allison  isn't the abs... 

The best part about this update pictures from Allison isn't the abs... 

There is NOTHING wrong with wanting to have abs, a defined back, or quads that hang over your knee caps.  It just needs to be done is a sustainable way that allows for long term success.  I saw a post the other day that said something along the lines of, "If you're cutting for more than 2-3 months, you're doing it wrong."  I absolutely love it.  It would be SO EASY to put people on highly restrictive diets for 3 months to generate short term results.  About 50% of people would respond in the short term, the other 50% wouldn't... but shit who needs them, we'd have more than enough posts to fill our storyline up with (It hurt my soul just to write that).  Its more WORK to tell someone that they need to spend 2-3 months at "maintenance numbers" before they can try to cut.  Its more work to tell someone that they should alternate between 2 weeks at deficit and 2 weeks at maintenance (That works better by the way) but that doesn't mean that its not the right thing to do.  

In my opinion, good coaching tries to focus on the "means to the end" and not the actual goal itself. If you focus on enjoying the process, the actual training in the gym, or the discipline to get your butt in bed before 10 PM, then there can be 1000 small wins along the way that we can celebrate in addition to the final "after" picture.  If you've worked with us for long enough, you probably get the impression that the "update pictures" are kind of an afterthought.  They're important of course, but we'll always ask "How's life? How's your sleep going? How was the gym this week? Are you hungry? Anything stressful going on these days?"  Its not that we don't care about the progress in the mirror, we just know that if we can dial in those other things, the mirror will take care of itself. 

I've joked that I would market myself and M2 as a life coaching company, but everyone would think we're nuts and never hire us.  But thats what we do... we help people get their day to day actions in line with their long term goals.  Macros are a PART of that process but way less than you might expect.

I think its equally as important to someone's success to help them define what success means in a bigger sense. To let them know that you're PROUD of their effort to eat well that day when shit hit the fan at work, to tell them that you're PROUD of their PR in the gym, to tell them that you're so freaking PROUD of them for finally sharing their story that for so long defined who they were.

 Read  this ... its important.

Read this... its important.

I feel a need to share this example.  I cried tears of joy when Mekenzie qualified for the Crossfit Games.  It was a proud moment for me as her nutrition coach, but I teared up because I was just so damn HAPPY for her.  To see her realize her goal was an amazing moment and something I'll never forget, but the moment was made so much bigger because of all the small victories that she had won over the last two years of us working together.  I don't think she makes it to the Games without facing some demons along the way and choosing to focus on the process and not the result.  If you go check out the IG post from the day she qualified, you'll see that I wrote the following, "18 months working together... there's been laughs, tears, fights and hugs. I was proud of her before she even took the floor and now I'm just so freaking happy for her. Mekenzie Riley, Crossfit Games athlete."

If you want a nutrition program thats JUST focused on the macros, update pictures or the end result, we're probably not the company for you.  If you want a coach that cares probably a little too much, then give us a shout.  We'll be ready. 

Of Macros and Men

I’ve been a nutrition coach in some capacity for about the last 7 years.  I’ve worked with hundreds of athletes, and built customized nutrition plans for more than 1000 people in that time.  I would estimate that the male to female ratio of my work is close to 90% in the favor of women.  Let’s be clear, it’s NOT because men do a better job with eating than women.

As a male, and someone that has seen huge benefits from paying close attention to my nutrition, I want this to change... so now you get to read a blog post on the topic!  This isn’t just for shits and giggles, but because I know for a fact that you’ll look, feel, and perform better if you learn to pay even just 50% more attention to your diet, guys.

To spice it up a little bit, I’ve enlisted the help of my good friend, and all around Crossfit badass, Jake Marconi.  Jake started working with me in August and has seen some pretty remarkable results.  He was already a beast in the gym, but he’s taken his game to a new level.  Of course, much of that is due to great programming and hard work, but fueling him appropriately led to some FAST changes.  On top of that Jake has seen some pretty great benefits in the head space category… never mind the mirror.  Let me tell you, you haven’t lived until a hairy dude with a man bun sends you update pics out of the shower.

 Swear to god, this was Jake's before picture...

Swear to god, this was Jake's before picture...

The reason I chose Jake for this post is because of where he came from, as it relates to his relationship with food, and where we have him headed now. Its been an amazing transformation and I can't wait to see how far it takes him in the future.

WHY DON’T MEN TRACK

I think there’s this idea in fitness that men don’t under-eat as much as women do, and therefore don’t need to pay much attention to their diet to fuel their performance appropriately.  That’s just nonsense in my opinion. The best evidence that I can use to support this is about 75% of the men that I build nutrition plans for end up eating significantly MORE food than prior to us working together.  I polled four other nutrition coaches in the Crossfit community and each gave me a similar answer.  So I think we can easily dismiss the fact that men are doing a “good” job with their nutrition to support performance and/or body composition goals.

To be fair, there’s absolutely no evidence that the last 8-9 years of male Crossfit Games Champions (Fraser, Smith, Froning or Holmberg) counted anything in their diet.  Sure, Rich has partnered with RP now, but all evidence points to the fact that his four years of dominance was fueled pretty heavily by whole milk and peanut butter. However, it’s a dangerous game to think that what the best in the sport are doing will work well for the other 99.99% of us.

I think the other aspect of men not wanting to track their diet is related to the idea that men are more liable to think that they can simply “out train” a bad diet.  The concept of “Well I’ll just do an extra couple miles on the track tomorrow so I can have a few extra beers tonight” is one that I see frequently. The reality of this situation is that it typically backfires horribly.  More training simply does NOT equal better results. 

I thought about whether there are more social stigmas placed on men than women with tracking and dieting in general... is a man is more likely to be teased for weighing and measuring food, or carting his Tupperware around?  In the end, I don’t think we can say that there’s a disparity here.  Both sexes deal with comments from family, friends and coworkers that send the message of “Come on man, just eat the cake… have another beer… why are you dieting anyway, you look fine!”  "Health shaming" is a huge topic deserving its own post, so I won't expand here, but I think its safe to say, most everyone deals with that in some form or another.

I asked Jake about stigma’s and here’s what he had to say, “There is definitely a stigma with tracking your food for both men and women, but I feel it comes from people outside of fitness. Tracking what you eat has been commonplace in athletics for a very long time, so inside of our bubble it is not head turning when someone is weighing their food or sipping La Croix in place of a few beers.  There are still jokes, but for the most part I personally don’t feel a stigma as a male athlete. This is in large part due to surrounding myself with like-minded people who are either focused on similar goals or understand what it takes to reach a high level in any field. The stares, questions, and comments come from those who simply don’t understand why we are doing what we’re doing.”

Jake’s attitude and approach of building himself a strong support network that is aware of his goals and understands the larger picture is admirable.  Feeling isolated in your actions can be very daunting, but having others that understand the choices and respect the dedication can make life significantly easier.

 WHY MALE ATHLETES SHOULD TRACK

I’m clearly biased as the owner of M2PN and as a nutrition coach, so I thought I would let Jake give us some insight onto the benefits he’s seen as a result of working with M2PN.

Why did you enlist the help of a nutrition coach?

I’ve worked with nutrition coaches in the past but I never found a great fit for me until working with M2. I didn’t realize it but I had always been searching for a coach that I could be in consistent contact with, so that we could work collaboratively instead of just telling me what to do, then checking in every so often. I love to geek out on both training and nutrition and have since I was 13 so having someone to discuss concepts, methods and theories with is awesome.

The reason I reached out initially is because one of the M2 athletes gave a raving review and made fun of me because she was eating SIGNIFICANTLY more than I was at the time. I had also been in a spot where I was willing/ready to make a change nutritionally because what I had currently doing was not working. For me, performance was not an issue although it has improved since working with Mike, rather I never saw the body composition results I was looking for given the amount of training I did.  

What difference have you seen since working with M2PN?

Since working with M2PN I have both gotten bigger and leaner which is every dudes wish, right? I’ve also developed a heathier relationship with my food seeing it as fuel that will help my performance opposed to something I was restricting due to fear of gaining weight. The difference goes beyond body composition though, my performance has continued to improve, I feel less run down between sessions and have much more energy outside of the gym.

What benefits besides food/macros have you found from working one on one with us?

The two biggest benefits I’ve had since working with you are my sleep and my relationship with food.

 When we started working together I was waking up 5+ times a night and never feeling rested upon waking. Now I am able to sleep through the night without getting up and I wake up ready to train/take on the day. This has come through a lot of trial and error of techniques and enforcing habits such has creating a wind down routine, blocking/cutting out blue light, and journaling before bed (probably a bigger stigma around this then tracking, a dude writing down their feelings… WHAT THE F$%!??) Honestly, dialing in sleep has been our biggest priority and it has become clear that the better/longer I sleep the better I perform and look.

On my relationship with food, you helped change my perspective on carbohydrates a lot. FOREVER I had a fear that a lot of carbohydrates would inevitably make me fat, not fuel my performance. I have learned that I was quite wrong and it didn’t take long to realize this. I was eating around 260-300g of carbs a day when we first started working together and you immediately bumped me up to 405g daily which was scary as shit… but there was no negative change, I only felt better and looked better. After that it didn’t take much convincing.

 Amazing what some attention to detail and appropriate fueling can do for a guy.  

Amazing what some attention to detail and appropriate fueling can do for a guy.  

 

If you had to give advice to someone deciding whether or not to work on their diet, what would it be?  

As humans, we often live in a constant irony; we don’t know exactly what we want but we keep ourselves constantly busy chasing “something”. This is a quote I often use as a self-check, “Am I doing busy work or am I doing things that are in line with my goals and are moving me further towards the goal.”

 I was asked by my training partner the other day what I thought the biggest change has been in my training over the last year. It got me thinking, that the most significant change was a LONG series of tiny changes in my daily actions that have become routine. Things like having a bedtime routine, morning routine, food prep routine, mobility work daily, body work weekly, warming up and cooling down daily, etc… the accumulation of good habits has entirely changed my daily life to be in line with my goals and this took TIME and will continue to.

 Jake has a great perspective on the mental aspects of training and I think its allowed himself to start realizing his full potential.  He was already doing a great job with his training before working with us, but now he’s layered additional levels of successful practices on top of that.  Nutrition, food quality, sleep, body work, and all the other seemingly factors that add up to give huge results.  I would wish Jake the best of luck in the rest of the Open and what appears to be a very solid chance of making Regionals, but I know for a fact that he would say “F#$! luck, I’m prepared.”

If you’re looking to dial in your nutrition, sleep and lifestyle hit us up here to start working with a coach towards your goals.

How to Eat for the Open

Now is not the time to worry about your abs

Big picture, Crossfit is not a figure competition and these 5 weeks are NOT going to be the time we want to focus on trying to lose a few lbs.  This might be the most stressful time of the year which is already working against your body composition.  Lets not add to it by putting ourselves into a massive calorie deficit.

Fuel your performance

There are several key aspects to think about when it comes to your diet, but it all comes back to making sure you're recovering as much as possible from each training session, especially before you do an Open workout

High level: Is your training volume changing?

Many athletes drop their training volume dramatically the week before and throughout the Open to allow for optimal performance two times a week.  Instead of doing 4 hours, they might reduce down to 2-3 and remove some intensity, with the obvious exception of 18.X each week.

We definitely do NOT want to make major reductions in carbs, but if your training volume has been cut in half, listen to your body.  If you're having trouble finishing all of your macros, talk with your coach about making a small reduction.  Emphasis on SMALL.

Pre Workout nutrition is a 48 hour process

The reality of this situation is that it takes 24+ hours to actually replenish glycogen stores, which means that if you want to be "topped off" for 18.1, you need to make sure you're eating enough TODAY and TOMORROW (24-48 hours prior).  Its probably a good idea to add in an extra 50-100 grams of carbs to your typical macros the day before you take a run at the Open workout.  Don't go crazy on fiber here either... we want straight forward carbs that the body can actually use without literally digesting it for 2 days.  Veggies are great, but not so many you look like a rabbit.

Also, stay relatively hydrated.  This does not mean you should drink so much water that you think about "recycling" your piss.  Just make sure you're not thirsty before you go to bed.  You can't fix dehydration in one hour, so get your shit together today.

Game Day

Don't lose your mind and try something completely different from normal.  If you normally train fasted at 6 AM, Friday is NOT the time to decide to eat a full meal 2 hours prior and hit the workout at 6 PM.  Not unless you want to feel like a complete dumpster fire, at least.  

For higher level athletes, follow the usual competition routine.  Eat a solid protein and carb based meal with easily digestible foods 2.5 hours from "3, 2, 1, GO."  This will ensure a fairly empty stomach and prevent hunger from being an issue.  30 minutes prior, if you typically take BCAAs, take your BCAAs.  If you typically take Beta-Alanine, take Beta-Alanine. 

If you've NEVER done either of those things before, NOW IS NOT THE F-ING TIME TO TRY IT.  Same thing with coffee.  If you don't typically drink caffeine, do not start now unless you want to end up in a pile of your own urine, vibrating on the ground with the feeling of your heart wanting to leave your chest.

I made this mistake at Regionals in 2010 (yes I'm pretty old).  I happily chugged a coffee 60 minutes before a workout of 3 rounds of 20 box jumps, 20 C2B and 20 wall balls.  Warming up, I did 3 box jumps and felt my heart rate go to 100%.  "Mistake have been made..." was my only thought but there was nothing I could do about it.  Don't be an idiot like 2010 Mike... be better.

***SIDE NOTE:  Oftentimes higher level athletes will use a session in the morning to work out the kinks for an Open workout later in the afternoon.  Have a SOLID amount of purely liquid carbs after the first session.  Think 50-100 grams worth depending upon the size of the athlete, and the duration/intensity of the first session.***

Recovery

The open is a highly stressful process.  Oftentimes, stress can shut down aspects of the nervous system that control digestion making it really hard to eat.  With that in mind, eating really simple foods can make a huge difference in your ability to recover.  Veggie are great, but not when you're struggling to get down a meal post workout.  Think about using a protein and carb powdered shake POST WORKOUT to make life easier on your gut.  For most people 20-25 grams of protein and 25-50 grams of carbs will be a good idea.  Side benefit: that blood sugar spike that this post workout drink will give you will also lower your stress hormone (i.e cortisol) and allow your body to start recovering faster... because ya know you're gonna lose your mind and try the damn workout a 2nd (or 3rd) time.

How swimming is screwing up your diet

Over the past year or two the "functional fitness/crossfit" world has also begun to heavily integrate new sports and new training disciplines into their routine.  This is most obvious with the inclusion of swimming into the weekly training regiment.  Swimming can be a very unique training stimulus for many people, and something that I think deserves a little more attention from a nutritional point of view.  A lot of athletes are now incorporating "recovery swims" into their training but treating them like rest days as it relates to macros, etc.  I think this is a huge mistake and something worth discussing.  I can't even begin to tell you how many times a client  has come to me and said, "Dude, I'm starving on my recovery day" only to find out they swam for a full hour at a "relaxed" pace.

To start off, I asked M2PN athlete and all around bad ass Rikki White, a former elite level swimmer, about her experiences with swimming and nutrition.  Not only is her story insightful on the demands of swimming, but I think has a great message about nutrition in high school and college athletics as well.

Introduce yourself and tell me a little bit about your swimming career

My name is Rikki White and I was a competitive swimmer for 15 years, both with year-round club and school teams. I also was an assistant swim coach for 2 years, and a head swim coach for another 3. 

 Rikki killing it at Clemson

Rikki killing it at Clemson

What was your training like?

My training varied throughout my career, but on average, since the age of 12, I swam around 5.5 hours a day, 6 days a week. This time was primarily spent in the water, with a little dry land work spread out a couple days a week. I was a mid-distance swimmer that focused on butterfly, freestyle and IM. It wasn't uncommon for me to have practices where I would swim a mile of just butterfly. I had a couple coaches that believed that some females could not be over trained, so our workouts would be a little longer than the rest of our group's. 

What was your nutrition like when you were swimming competitively?

I'll be the first to admit that my nutrition was not so great. I can remember waking up and eating pop tarts for breakfast, buying a sandwich with chips at school for lunch and then usually ate just enough to be allowed up from the table for dinner. After writing all of this down, it's making me a bit sick to my stomach. I think I was definitely motivated to be a great swimmer and to be great at my sport, but at the same time I was definitely motivated by how I looked. I'm not sure at what point that started to take over as my main motivator, but I became so concerned about looking skinny in my bathing suit and having a flat stomach. I started eating less and less, because I started getting this new type of attention. My mom definitely noticed the change in what I was eating and how MUCH I was eating, but she never had a great relationship with food either, so I think it was hard for us to connect and talk about what was happening. Then I started having episodes where I would just pass out, which we eventually learned was from low blood sugar. From that point on, we got the help we needed by talking to my doctors and some nutritionists about what I should be eating, based on my above average level of activity.  

Were you given any instructions from coaches on nutrition?

I can remember my coaches always talking about how swimmers can (and should) eat whatever they want, whenever they want. It was always a little blurp after practice saying "eat a little extra tonight." It never seemed all that important though, almost like an afterthought. I do know they would mention it in the parent meetings they held. My mother said that it was always an ask to make sure your kids eat healthy and don't consume too much sugar. 

Was there any talk about the importance of sleep?

I don't remember a single coach ever talking about sleep with us. In high school, I took all honors and some AP classes, so I usually had close to 2 hours of homework to do after I got home from practice, ate, and showered. I would go to bed between 11-midnight and then get up the next morning for practice at 5 AM. I also know that the rest of my group had similar schedules. I'm not sure if it's because they thought they couldn't change anything because our first priority was school, but it never seemed to be an issue for our coaches. 

Did you place any importance on micronutrients at all?

It was always about volume of food and never about the quality. 

 Rikki's getting ready to kill it in the Open this year

Rikki's getting ready to kill it in the Open this year

Is there anything with regard to nutrition that you know now that you wish you knew then?

EVERYTHING. I plateaued a lot during my swimming career. I can't help thinking that things may have been a lot different if I had the tools that I do now.  

Rikki, you are amazing... thank you for the help.

Why is swimming unique?

There are a near endless variety of workouts that one can do with swimming.  Short sprints, long endurance work, intermediate intervals, low strenuous recovery work.  This aspect is of course not unique to swimming as similar approaches are taken with running, rowing, biking, etc.  What is unique is the training environment... being surrounded by water.  Of course, lakes and oceans are at the mercy of the weather/time of year/location, but even pools have a large variety in temperatures.  Some are quite cool while others are heated.  Regardless of the situation, the human body has to work extra hard to try and maintain 98.6°F. For this reason alone, we need to treat training in water differently than other sports as it relates to the impact that it has on our bodies. 

Topics to consider

1) Hydration: It’s extremely difficult to provide specific hydration recommendations at a group level, but with aggressive workouts in the pool, especially with warm water, you're losing a significant amount of fluids to sweat.  Pay attention to urine color with a goal of "not quite clear" if you catch my drift.  On average though, at LEAST 100 ounces per day for someone in the pool for several hours is a good starting point, recognizing that in warmer pools and with longer workouts, significantly more could be necessary.  Also, do not forget to include some electrolytes throughout the day to replace what is lost with sweat

2) Fueling: Whether you're using activity multipliers, the Harris-Benedict equation or some other method to calculate someone's calories/macros, you need to be careful when accounting for swimming. If one hour of exercise 5 days a week means that you're athlete is eating ~2000 calories a day, we need to increase that if one or more days of training involve swimming.  For an hour of swim, I would easily add 200-400 calories to the recommended intake for that day compared to if the session was spent in the gym.

You might also ask yourself how much of a "rest/recovery" day this really is.  Just because the intensity isn't there doesn't mean that its not a significant stress on the body.

3) Don't fear the carbs: Most swimming workouts will rely HEAVILY on the glycolytic pathway to provide energy.  For this reason, we want to make sure that our diet includes a significant amount of carbohydrates as a part of the total calorie recommendations.  For ~ 1 hour training sessions, maybe 40-45% but if you're doing more like 2-4 hours, then you'd easily want 50-55% of your calories coming from carbohydrates.

4) Timing: Just like other training modalities, as soon as the workout is over, we'd want to have protein and carbs almost immediately.  For most training sessions, something around 25 grams of protein and 50-100 grams of carbs will help get our bodies OUT of the stress response and into recovery mode.  Protein shakes with added carbs can be a perfect option in this situation for quick absorption into the body.  As we've talked about before, spiking blood sugar is a GOOD thing for high level athletes post workout.

However we would also advise that you have a real meal, about 60-90 minutes after having that shake as well.  This meal would be one of the more nutrient dense meals of the day, with lean proteins, veggies and fruits, sweet potato and/or rice and of course some fats as well with avocado, olive oils, etc.

5) Sleep: Just like any other high level sport, sleep will be hugely important in your recovery process.  Ignoring this will stress the body and cause it to preferentially choose to store your energy intake (AKA food) as fat and not burn it as fuel.  Instead the body will choose to break down muscle mass (thanks to elevated production of a hormone called cortisol) to provide energy for your training.

Again, none of these 5 areas are truly unique to swimming, but I do believe that more attention and detail needs to be paid to them than for other training modalities.  If you want to get some help with maximizing your performance in the pool, or just in general, hit us up at: 

https://m2performancenutrition.com/sign-up

Patience...

In the past, I've written two blog posts about under-fed athletes and how correcting their macros resulted in amazingly fast progress.  The first example was about  Bri (click for post), an athlete that was being DRASTICALLY underfed.  Fixing her diet through the addition of about 1000 calories a day solved a bunch of scary symptoms, dropped about 10 lbs off of her and increased her performance dramatically.  The second example was about Mia (click for post), where we increased her diet, but to a much smaller extent, and once again saw huge benefits in both performance and body composition pretty much immediately. In both of these cases, the women were hyper-responders to the new plan. In my experience, this happens in about 1/3 of cases.  Its great as a coach because the emotional response is obviously a positive one and it helps the client to buy in fully to what we're trying to do. 

Sadly, not everyone responds this way.  In many cases, there's a period of weight GAIN that proceeds the leaning out process but no one really wants to talk about this.  It doesn't really generate a lot of likes on IG when you post updates of:

"I've added a bunch of calories to my diet and I'm becoming a healthier person that's going to see progress in 3-5 months, but right now I've gained weight and mentally having a hard time with it."

Its difficult to see a virtual world where people are posting all kinds of progress pictures with leaner physiques and not be "in the club" despite doing exactly what you're told by your nutrition coach.  With that in mind, I thought it might help to share a story about a client that dealt with just these same issues and ultimately persevered to become a huge success story... plus I'm really proud of her and I want to brag :)

Let me introduce you to Sam...  

Sam came to me having worked with another nutrition program that had put her on some pretty low macros for what she was doing in the gym, and while she had seen progress physically, there were consequences.

"I have somewhat of a bad relationship with food and have a hard time with my body image. I have been tracking macros for about the last year and have had some great success dropping body fat, however when I cheat I tend to binge uncontrollably and it's hard to get back on track. I know I need to eat more. I'm currently around 2000 Calories a day but I have a hard time knowing if I'm doing things the right way." September 2017

Based on what Sam had told me about her training I knew she needed to eat more and she did as well.  I told her that it might mean some temporary weight gain and that she would need to work through that process with me to restore some health factors, and that ultimately she would be where she wanted to be.  So we increased her macros pretty substantially for the first 2 months and this is what happened.

Screen Shot 2018-01-09 at 12.50.35 PM.png

It may not look like big changes, Sam was clearly still lean but it was a step backwards from Day 0, and it was hard for her mentally to be OK with it. 

"I just see these top athletes look the way they do, and I just want to look the part. I know I'm very hard on myself. And I have a poor relationship with food but it would be nice to see that its possible to make body comp changes eating this much."  

The good news was that she was seeing nice improvements in her performance and we could try and focus her attention on that.  Sam also started to report that she was getting HUNGRY, which was a really good sign, so we increased her macros, and she ended up even MORE hungry... again, a good sign so we bumped the numbers up again.  This took a ton of trust on Sam's part to stick with me through this phase as the first time I bumped her macros, she gained weight.

So a few months go by and we decided to take a few more update pictures along the way. 

Screen Shot 2018-01-09 at 1.42.42 PM.png

Day 30-75 was encouraging, but Day 110 was absolutely amazing.  It was the final bump up to around 360 grams of carbs that really pushed us into the right direction.  

Now we're focusing on pictures here because thats a major component of why Sam hired me, but I can't help but brag about the insane number of PRs that she hit along the way.  If anyone follows our IG feed, you'll know what we prefer to post about athletic accomplishments instead of physical changes.  Abs are cool and generate a ton of likes, but thats not why we do this.  We do this to help someone have a better relationship with food. We do this so people can improve their performance.  We do this so someone can hopefully realize a dream someday.  I'm happy to report that Sam is on the path to making those things happen.  She doesn't have nearly as many binge issues and we're working on not beating ourselves up when they do happen.  Her performance is through the roof as evidenced by her qualification in the Elite division at Wodapalooza this weekend.  I can't wait to see her out there competing on the floor.

What can we take away from this???

  • You might be able to generate a nice set of abs in the short term by putting someone on a heavily restricted set of macros, but long term this won't work physically, and we may do even MORE damage mentally if you can believe it.  Your Day 0 to 60 update picture might look pretty amazing, but what does it look like 2, 3, or 4 months after that?
  • Progress isn't always a nice linear path. Sometimes we need to go backwards with body composition to ultimately take a much bigger jump forwards.
  • Results are not just found in body composition.  Signs that we're on the right trajectory could be improved sleep, improved performance, better mood or even just a healthier relationship with food.

When you look for nutrition coaching, what does that company or that coach prioritize? Is it short term results that look good on an IG page? Or are they more concerned with the person behind the picture?  This is one of the central tenets of what we do here at M2PN.  We have to connect with the client and see them as more than a set of macros, or a set of abs.  These are PEOPLE that we're working with.  People with concerns and fears, emotions and frustrations. Templates cannot account for those emotions and help guide you through the rough times... but a good nutrition coach can.