There are a number of thoughts that have crossed my mind lately and I wanted to get some of them down in hopes they stop jumbling through my head.
1. THE HOLIDAYS: You have a decision to make with the upcoming week between now and New Years. Are you going to eat like a complete A-hole or will you figure out a balanced approach that allows for you to eat (and drink) enjoyably without compromising your goals.
If you're training to make it to Regionals or perhaps even the Games, you're trying to do something that 99.9% of the Crossfit world will never do. Figuring out an appropriate approach to manage these 10 days CAN give you a leg up on your competition. I'm not talking about tracking every holiday meal, thats just going to create stress and probably piss your mother-in-law off. Instead stick with a realistic goal. This is mine and its what I recommend to my clients.
- Eat a solid breakfast so you don't go into the Christmas (or other holiday) dinner starving.
- Aim to fill your plate with a solid piece of protein, a good scoop of starchy sides and some veggies. Do NOT weight and measure these.
- Pick one or two desserts and enjoy them, but then put a limit on it.
- Have that glass of wine/beer, but try and follow it up with a glass of water before the next one. Most of you have dynamic personalities and do not need to be drunk to either be or have fun.
- Aim to get back on track immediately the next day, don't let it linger.
- Try and keep your sleep schedule as normal with 8 hours per night.
2. Body fat % and Crossfit. Recently there's been some attention to the idea that if you're not below a certain body fat percentage, your chances of reaching the highest levels of the sport are greatly diminished or zero. The advice extends to suggest that if you're not below 16% for women and 11% for men, you should calorie restrict until you reach that point. In my view this opinion is overly simplistic at best and absolutely dangerous at worst. What would you have the clients that come to me training 3-4 hours a day on 1500 calories do? Eat less??? This is absurd for reasons that I've already explained (thyroid health, adrenal insufficiency, etc). Also, I just have DOZENS of examples that contradict this approach where people eat MORE and lose weight. Weird...
3. Post workout carbs. Similarly, arguments have been made about using leafy greens in the post workout phase as an appropriate carb source. NO. If you're training hard and generating a stress response, the best way to handle that for LONG term development and overall fitness is to spike your blood sugar levels. This has been clinically shown to dampen the stress (read cortisol) response to exercise. Cortisol absolutely dampens both the production and effects of growth hormone, contributes to muscle breakdown, alters the function of the immune system when chronically elevated and impacts insulin sensitivity. We absolutely WANT to make cortisol in response to exercise, but we also want to have a strategy to move into the recovery phase as well.
The best way to do this is with simple carbs. Cyclin Dextran is a great strategy to make it happen, but if you want to use real foods, mashed sweet potato, white rice, even some fruits are better than broccoli. If you can't afford the Cyclic Dextran, basic old powdered Gatorade does a damn good job here as well. Remember, you are training hard, you don't need to fear carbs the same way that an overweight type II diabetic does.
4. For the love of God sleep!!! For once social media was a useful tool as I was reminded by a post about a fat loss study where sleep was the controlled variable. The research showed that going from 8.5 to 5.5 hours of sleep decreased the amount of fat lost by subjects by 55% even though the calories were kept identical between groups. Holy $#!^ thats a huge difference.
How about something you performance junkies care about??? The 5.5 hour sleep group also lost 60% more muscle mass than the 8.5 hour group.
SO yea... you want to lose weight, you should sleep. You want to build lean muscle mass, you should sleep.