4 Tips to Help You Kick Start Your Road to Better Nutrition

How many times have you found yourself relapsing back into bad nutrition habits? You were doing so well, you felt great, you felt like you finally got the hang of this nutrition thing.  Then all of a sudden, that one donut or one bowl of Mac n’ cheese caused you to spiral down into a world of bad nutrition choices and feeling like getting back into healthy eating is impossible. How many times have you started a nutrition plan cold turkey and a week or even a few days later find it hard to stick with and just give up? You’re not alone! Even people with strong will power and discipline find themselves in these situations, after all we are human! The hardest part about getting out of these ruts is getting back into it. It’s important to set yourself up for success that will help you ease back into healthier habits and better choices. Over the years of learning the hard way, I’ve been able compile a few tips that have helped me ease back onto the bandwagon of healthy eating. Start with a few goals that are easy to achieve and keep building on that. Create that foundation that will lead to long lasting habits!

 

Start with water consumption

Often times when we relapse into bad nutrition habits, it gets harder and harder to remember to drink enough water. It’s easy to think that taking in other beverages like coffee, soft drinks or juices are a decent substitute for water. There’s that downward spiral again.  You start filling your day with more and more cups of coffee and less and less cups of water. It’s bad enough that most of us don’t drink the minimum required amount of water that our bodies need to function properly as it is. I have found it easier to start making better choices with this small achievable goal: drink at least 8 glasses of water a day for a week. Tailor the amount of water you take in to your lifestyle. Make sure it is an easy goal you know you can conquer. At the end of the week, you should feel like you accomplished a step in the right direction, now you’re ready for another challenge!

 

Add all the veggies

The hardest part of eating a balanced and healthy diet for me has always been consuming a good amount of vegetables. Especially since our meals these days have become less colorful and more neutral, looking like the color of processed carbs. When was the last time you had green, red and orange assorted vegetables on your plate? When was the last time you ate a vegetable other than the standard everyday green beans? Start another goal to include vegetables into every meal as your carb source. Be creative, think outside the usual and everyday veggies. I make my goal to have 50-75% of my meal plate to be compromised of vegetables for a week. Again, make this a goal you can achieve and tailor it to something you are able to accomplish for a specific amount of time. At the end of the week you should feel great about accomplishing your goal and you’ve created a foundation for a good habit.

 

Cut something out

That downward spiral of bad food choices always starts with that first donut. Then it’s easy to make that one harmless donut a habit of many donuts. A habit that you don’t need in your life. It’s time to condition yourself to cut that bad habit out and start the foundation to know that you don’t need that unnecessary calorie anymore, you can live without it. If it’s not a donut then I’m sure it’s something else. Something that you are incorporating into your everyday life that has become a unneeded habit. Let’s get rid of it! Pick that one thing that you want out of your life and challenge yourself to cut it out of your diet for a week. Whether it’s the trip to Starbucks everyday for that pumpkin spice latte or the daily Diet Coke with your lunch, rid yourself of that habit. Again make sure you set an achievable goal. If you need to wean yourself off of it gradually, set smaller goals with shorter timeframes until you get rid of that nasty habit for good!

 

Stay consistent

It feels good to set goals and feels even better when you achieve them. It’s hard when you hit set backs and road blocks. Make a commitment to yourself not to head down that out of control spiral. Whatever goal you set, if you do happen to relapse, its ok. You’re human. Make a promise to yourself to be consistent by making sure that one cheat meal or bad food choice does not set you back and prevent you from achieving your goal. It’s not the end of the world, get back into it and make sure it doesn’t prevent you from creating that foundation of being a better you. Make that next meal or next choice one that aligns with the goal that you set and don’t look back! If you do happen to make a bad choice, set a goal to make sure the next meal is back on track with your previous commitments.

Work Your Weaknesses, Set Goals

There is no denying that CrossFit is known to expose a few weaknesses within us. The question is whether we will choose to acknowledge those weaknesses, or hide from them. It seems like some people believe that continuing to show up to the gym every day, completing the strength portion as well as the WOD, stretching, and then going home will undoubtedly lead to that first Muscle Up. . . Nevermind the accessory work or drills required to master a certain skill, surely just working out in general will bring domination in all aspects of CrossFit. Unfortunately, that is not at all how this whole thing works.

It is safe to say that most of us have at least one goal when it comes to the gym; whether it is that bodyweight Snatch, our first pull-up, or a sub 3-minute Fran. Sadly, most of us are not willing to put in the hard work to obtain those goals. There are even those of us who know full well what our weaknesses are and when they pop up on the screen at 8PM the night before, so we decide tomorrow will just be a rest day (you know who you are). This mindset will lead us only to further disappointment; instead, we need to be attacking these weaknesses with fervor! Realize where the chink in you armor is, pinpoint it, establish a plan to dominate it, and get to work!

Not sure where to start? First, make it a specific goal, narrowed down to a certain movement, skill, or type of training (i.e. get a Handstand Push-up, be able to squat below parallel, gain better endurance). If you have several issues you’d like to work on, pick one for now. Once you have a specific goal in mind, set a reasonable time frame to accomplish that goal. Maybe even find someone to hold you accountable; your best bet is to find someone with a similar goal and work on it together, if anything, your competitive nature should kick in and give you the drive to accomplish the goal before your training partner does. . . classic CrossFit. Next you will need an actual plan to accomplish said goal. Ask a coach! Any one of the coaches should be able to give you some tips for the general CrossFit goals, or at least know where to look to find the proper progressions and training plans for some of the more allusive goals, like a Strict Ring Handstand Push up.

Perhaps the biggest challenge to obtaining our goals is our mindset. Greg Amundson, of the CrossFit Seminar Staff leads a course on goal setting; he brings up a great point that all goals should “provide us with an intense amount of motivation, inspiration, and direction.” Speak positivity into your goals, don’t practice the progressions of a skill while telling yourself “I’ll never get this,” because with that mindset, you probably won’t ever achieve your goal. CrossFit.com once said, “The mental aspect of high-intensity fitness is incredibly important, and weakness in the brain and heart of an athlete will cause just as much trouble as weakness in the posterior chain and core.” So set out with a purpose and a determination that cannot be broken!

Hate running? Guess what, so do I.

Written by OPCF Member Kathryn Buckley

Being short, I did not have a lot of options for high school sports. Not tall enough for basketball or volleyball.  Not coordinated enough for soccer or softball.  And, definitely not flexible enough for cheerleading (which explains some of my CrossFit problems). So, I joined the Cross Country team, thus began my running career. It did not start out well. I was more interested meeting cute boys than running. I mean, who can’t resist those thin, nylon-running shorts? (only joking) It took me all of two seconds to realize that the cute running boys did not like the slow girl pulling up the rear at the races. I decided it was time to speed it up and focus. Turns out, I was pretty good runner when I put my mind to it. I even found a boyfriend (or two) on the team.

Running literally runs in my genes.  My parents are both runners. My mom was the one who encouraged (forced) my two sisters and I to run our first marathon. She was 25 years cancer free and said the only way she wanted to celebrate was to run a marathon with her daughters (lucky us!).  We laughed, cried, limped and crawled our way through the Chicago marathon. It took us well over 5 hours. At one point in the marathon my mom suggested that we quit because we were not properly trained (thanks for the encouragement, Mom). This was her 15th marathon and slowest ever but we finished, together. With my first marathon behind me, I learned a few things: drink less wine, train properly and do not run with my mother.

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Training properly became my focus. I put in more miles than I ever had before. My next marathon was the Kansas City Marathon and I improved my time by an hour! (Somehow my mother still beat me) It wasn’t until CrossFit that I started to understand what proper training really meant. CrossFit introduced strength and speed into my training. Simply going out and running 5 miles at the same speed never improved my pace. Building muscles in my legs during squats helped tremendously. Getting my fast twitch muscles to start firing during sprints made a significant difference. And, getting my heart rate up quickly for short periods of time helped my body learn how to recover faster. Six months after I started CrossFit, I ran my fastest half marathon to date. I averaged a 7:50 pace per mile for 13.1 miles (versus my usual 9:30 pace per mile).

Running has also had an impact on my CrossFit workouts.  Halfway through a “long” WOD, I find myself speeding up and feeling better.  My body is able to handle a 20-30 minute WOD because it is used to running for 40-50 minutes at a time. Running improves endurance, which can significantly impact overall performance in the longer CrossFit workouts.

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I hear a lot of people say that they hate running. I actually hate it too. It hurts everything in my body. The first mile usually makes me want to turn around and go home. And, the Kansas humidity makes me feel like an elephant running through a jar of peanut butter. But, what is the alternative? The dreaded treadmill? Those things will get you nowhere fast. I run because it is time to myself, to think, to provide clarity in life and answer life’s toughest questions. It is the feeling I get after a run that keeps me running. The feeling I get when I beat the voice in my head that tells me to quit. Running is not easy but it can have a huge impact on your fitness and overall health.

KIPPING IT REAL WITH PAUL KNUDTSON!

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Each month Overland Park CrossFit recognizes a member who exemplifies our values and motivates others in the gym to push themselves with encouraging words. November’s Athlete of the Month is Paul Knudtson. Paul’s consistency, hard work, and dedication within the gym is inspiring to members! Learn more below about Paul!

 

 

  1. What were your thoughts after your first CrossFit workout?

Wow, this is certainly different then what I had done in the past.  But this is a lot of fun and extremely challenging.

  1. What has been your favorite workout?

My favorite was probably “Murph”.  Not only was it a great workout, but honoring Michael Murphy and all that serve/have served our country.

  1. What is your favorite cheat meal?

To be honest most of my meals are cheat meals unfortunately.  However, my favorite is pizza. Of course with an 11 year old and 14 year old in the house, pizza is frequently requested.

  1. Where do you work?

I work for Saint Luke’s Health System.

  1. What do you like to do outside of work?

I enjoy attending my boy’s activities and occasionally playing golf.

  1. What advice would you give a newbie just starting at OPCF?

Worry about yourself and not what others are doing in the workout.  I am one of the slower people in my class and I have to remember not to compare myself to others, and just do the best I can do.

  1. What is your favorite lift?

I enjoy the varieties of shoulder to overhead lifts and front squats.

  1. What’s your biggest “GOAT”?

Well that could be a long list.  I would say my biggest GOAT is overhead squats.

  1. What is your biggest improvement or proudest accomplishment thus far?

While I had to scale it a bit, “Murph”.  I feel it was a real accomplishment to finish the workout.

  1. What is something you have always wanted to do but haven’t yet?

My wife and I talk about going to Europe someday.

Motivation: Finders Keepers!

It’s always interesting to me what sparks motivation within me.  Ok, not really, it’s pretty obvious.  In-laws coming over, time to get motivated and clean the house.  Deadline at work and my boss is breathing down my neck, it’s definitely motivating.  Don’t even get me started if someone asks me to skip a workout and do something fun!  Finding the motivation and keeping it, when it comes to exercise, always seems to be a challenge!

If you are like me, you feel like you have tried everything to make you “want” to workout.  Pictures of fit people on the fridge, a new 5-minute ab routine you are supposed to do every day for a 6 pack, and all those other hoaxes we read in fitness magazines that may work for a week.  Then poof, you are on your couch again!  This is where we need to work smarter, not harder, and find motivation with accountability, create habits even we don’t want to break, and incorporate motivators specific to our interests!  Try one, or a few of these ideas to help find your motivation for exercising and keep it.

 

Text THAT Friend

We all have “that” friend, who we know will be brutally honest and will call us on our crap.  Heck, most of us have a few friends who don’t hold back, and when we don’t have those, there is always family!  Text whoever that maybe for you (the more the better) and tell them your plan to workout that day and/or tell them your weekly schedule or your goals.  Having someone all up in your business will get old real fast, especially if they are reminding you of your shortcomings in life!

 

Play Tricks On Yourself

Maybe one of the hardest things about working out is actually going to the gym.  Once your there, your there.  So tell yourself you are ONLY going to the gym to stretch or just go for a portion of the workout.  Most likely mob-mentality is going to get you and an hour later, you’ll be laying on the ground, covered in sweat, thinking “how the hell did that happen”!  Just remember, any workout is better than sitting on your couch.

 

Create the Ultimate Pump Playlist

If you are anything like me, when “your” song comes on the radio, you lose complete control of your extremities and you don’t care who’s watching.  It’s that feeling that you need to bring into your workout environment.  So create a Spotify or Pandora playlist (depending on what your gym uses) and ask them to play it at your next class.  Not only will you enjoy your class that day but you might also make a new friend with a similar taste in music!

 

Hit Yourself Where It Hurts

Let’s be honest, if you dropped $50 bucks on the ground, would you knowingly leave it there and walk off?  Maybe if you make it rain on the daily, but let’s get real, most of us would pick a dollar up off the ground if someone dropped it and run the other direction. The same goes for signing up for a race or a competition.  If you pay to participate, you are more likely to train for it so you don’t die at the event because there is no way you are going to miss it if you paid for it!

Don’t Be Scared To Try!

Ever see the CrossFit Games on ESPN and think, “I would really like to try that but I can’t do what they are doing or I’m too out of shape to workout with people on that level”?  The truth is you aren’t!  In reality, the athletes you see on TV and/or competing at competitions are elite athletes just like professional football or basketball players.  These are the 1% of 1% of CrossFitters.  Most CrossFit athletes are just like you and me.  We just want to be healthy and make our exercise routine less of just that, a routine.   Below are some tips to help you get over the fear of trying CrossFit because we’ve all been there.

We all started somewhere and nobody is going to judge you.  One of the first things that I hear when I talk to people about joining a CrossFit gym is “I’m too out of shape for that” or “those workouts are too much for me”.  I agree, CrossFit workouts are going to challenge you, and the best thing about the workouts are that they will not only challenge a beginner, but also a veteran.  This is because all of our workouts are scalable.  Whether this means reducing weights, number of reps, distance, etc., every person in the class will be able to challenge themselves at the same time.  If you wait until you “are in better shape” to come try it out, I will probably never see you.

I can’t do all of the movements that everyone else is doing.  This is completely understandable and we don’t anticipate that every member is able to jump in and be able to do everything.  At our gym, we offer a bootcamp class to go over the movements so that all members have at least seen them before being thrown into a workout.  You might not be able to do all of the movements before you leave bootcamp, such as pullups, but you should have a good understanding of ways you can scale each of the movements until you develop the proper strength or movement patterns.  If you are looking at a gym and they don’t do an on-boarding of some sort, word of advice, keep looking.

Compete against yourself.  One of the biggest mistakes that new members make is to try and compete against the top performers or go too heavy because that is what was prescribed for the workout.  This leads to rushed reps and poor form, which leads to injury.  The goal, at least for beginners, is to be a fitter, better version of yourself, and not go to the CrossFit games.  You have to build a solid base before you can grow.

Listen to your body.  CrossFit is tough.  You are going to get sore, especially if you have not been working out previously, this is normal and perfectly ok.  What is not ok is trying to work through injuries.  You should not be in pain when doing a workout or after a workout.  If you are starting to feel an injury coming on, get with a coach before it gets to the point where you can’t workout.  This is one of the benefits of a CrossFit gym.  The coach is there to help you try to avoid injuries and but can also provide stretches or options to help treat the ache or pain before more drastic measures are required.

Don’t be scared.  We all started at the beginning.  It takes time to build a solid base.  Be patient, have fun, and enjoy the journey.  Being healthy is a lifelong project and not something that happens overnight.

Protein, It’s What’s for Dinner

Have you ever been at the gym and heard someone talk about needing to have their protein shake or needing their midafternoon protein bar? Normally it’s the muscled out beefcake, and well they need it right, because they want to be huge and jacked? WRONG, we all need it! Whether your goal is to eat healthy and lose a few pounds, or get some new PRs, protein is an essential part of that process.

Building Muscles

With every weight you lift in the gym, your muscles and tissues are breaking down. This may sound scary, but the truth is you must do this to build them up stronger. Protein is the nutrient you need to re-build that tissue and muscle. Because your muscles are primarily made of protein, it makes sense that increasing your protein intake can help build muscle and gain strength.

Satisfying Your Hunger

Have you ever had a large dinner followed by dessert, but then an hour later you are hungry again, but can’t believe how that could be possible because of all you ate? Think back, did you eat any protein or just a bunch of nutrient-less foods that, at the time, tasted great but now have left you hungry. If you were to fill your plate with more protein vs. the second dinner roll, you would stay fuller longer because protein takes longer to digest than carbohydrates.

Improves Mood

We all have stressors outside the gym, and sometimes inside with a bad lifting day or WOD, which can affect our mood. Eating high protein foods can provide your body with amino acids that are needed to balance your hormones and help reduce anxiety. Protein can also help steady your glucose which can help with your moodiness and irritability.

So How Much Protein Do You Need?

The recommended dietary reference intake (DRI) according to the Institute of Medicine is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of your body weight for an average sedentary person. For a woman weighing 135lbs that’s close to 49 grams and for a 200lb man, that would be about 73 grams. Keep in mind this is based off of relatively sedentary people. For your own target number, you need to keep in mind your active lifestyle and your goals aka to lose weight, gain muscle, etc..

So take a minute to go online to a calculator such as the IIFIYM one, and take a look at how much protein you should really be getting. I think you might be shocked and need to head out for a steak dinner ASAP!