Nutrition Part 1: The Why

IMG_3410So if you follow us on Facebook or Instagram, you’ve already seen this photo and the promise of a nutrition post to come. I also hinted at it in my pull-up post a couple weeks ago. But rather than write you another novel length post, I thought I’d divvy it up over a few weeks.

First of all, I have to say that I feel a little weird sharing the picture at right (December 2013, May 2014, May 2015 if you were wondering). I’m not sure why. I’ve never really been one for taking all those “before and after” photos. And I don’t really consider myself an “after,” or someone who’s got it all figured out. And although I am proud of myself and my accomplishments, I don’t, in any way want to come across as bragging. But, these photos do show progress and tell a story – my story. And, like anything else CrossFit or blog related, if my journey can help or inspire anyone, then I’ll share it.

All that being said, let’s start from the beginning….

I started Crossfit at the end of September 2013. Our gym memberships include nutrition consultations. I remember thinking when I started that I’d never use them. The main reason being that, although I was definitely not at the lowest weight I’d ever been, I was coming off 6+ years of a rocky relationship with food, dieting, and my body. I had successfully lost weight, gained it back, been unable to lose any weight for no apparent reason, been that no-fun, diet-obsessed girl, ate way too many processed, low fat “healthy” foods, at one point tried working (unsuccessfully) with a naturopath, and, quite frankly, was over obsessing with food and weight loss. I had been “skinny,” but found it really unmaintainable for my body type, and for someone who LOVES cooking, baking and eating. You can only subsist on piles of vegetables, low fat and low calorie options for so long, right? Plus, looking back on it now, I don’t think that I was really all that healthy when I was at my lowest weight (and certainly my muscles were nothing compared to what I’ve got now. 😉 ).

I didn’t want CrossFit to be something I did to lose weight (although I was definitely not opposed to that happening). That’s what exercise had always been to me before and I hated it. So I thought I would just stick to working out, get in shape, and that would be that. Even though I would’ve liked to be thinner, I had come to a place where I was relatively ok with my body and comfortable with who I was, and I wanted to enjoy life and food and not worry about it.

So that’s what I did. I actually gained some weight over my first 6 months of Crossfit, and, as much as I would like to say it was all muscle (maybe some was, but that’s being generous), a lot of it was moving to a new city, adjusting to a new lifestyle, and all the tasty options that were at my fingertips. Plus, at first, I was only doing CrossFit 2 or 3 times a week and running on the other days. In March of 2014, I decided to take advantage of a nutrition consultation, had one discussion with Coach Duncan, and then didn’t really do anything from there.

Over the following months, I ate what I would consider a fairly “healthy” diet during the week, but had no qualms about treating myself on weekends or special occasions. I had denied myself for too many years, and I enjoyed the freedom of eating what I wanted when I wanted.

But I was secretly also frustrated. I worked out SO MUCH. But you wouldn’t know it to look at me. My weight went up and down a bit, and I did look a bit leaner since starting CrossFit, but I still wasn’t where I thought I should be.

I will interject here and say that I feel like weight loss is almost taboo in CrossFit circles. People are all about “strong is the new skinny” and celebrating all body types (which I think is AWESOME. And I’ve said to many people how much my ideal beauty and body type has changed since starting CrossFit). But, sometimes, the hard, ugly truth is that some people need to drop a few pounds to achieve their goals. And that’s ok. You can talk all around it. But, at least in my case, as much as I wanted to deny it, I knew that if the number on the scale was lower, certain things would be easier.

Last November, I was messaging with Coach Duncan after he sent me a new round of programming. I was particularly frustrated about lack of progress in pull-ups (one of many times he had to hear about it, poor guy). He just said simply, in his matter-of-fact way “in regards to your pull-ups I think it’s time we revisited nutrition,” and went on to say that cleaning up my diet for performance would help make all bodyweight movements (AKA my greatest weaknesses) easier.

I thought about it, and it made a lot of sense. I was working hard, busting my butt in the gym working toward that illusive strict pull-up and other goals, why wouldn’t I want to tweak my diet so that it was helping me get to where I wanted to be? And so, even with my previous baggage, some nervousness and hesitation, but willing to commit to the process, I said yes and made plans to sit down and chat about nutrition with Duncan.

Once again, I have to hand it to him. Duncan never once said, “you need to lose weight.” In fact, in subsequent chats, he actually told me he didn’t care what I weighed. He was simply doing his job as a coach: seeing someone working hard, and wanting to help maximize my efforts to help me succeed. It’s a touchy subject, but I never once felt awkward or stupid. In fact, the whole process has been less painful than what I might have imagined.

I’m going to save that discussion, as well as what I was eating/eat now for next time. As I’ve alluded to though, if you’re expecting paleo, prepare to be disappointed. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past almost 6 months, it’s to embrace those carbs.

So the title of this post is “the why.” Just like CrossFit as exercise has been different for me, in that I truly love it, look forward to it, and am not doing it just to lose weight, focusing on my nutrition this time around has been different too. I will be clear that weight loss was and is the goal. As I said before, there’s no denying the straight up fact that a lower number on the scale means that things I struggle with get easier. Although I won’t lie: I like how I look and feel now, and all the compliments I’ve been getting lately feel pretty good too.

But, for the first time ever, “getting skinny” or looking a certain way is NOT the goal. I honestly think that I am mentally in a better place than I’ve ever been, and I had to get there first before focusing on weight loss. I had already decided that I liked being strong, I liked my body and what it could do. I just wanted to help things along. And, from personal experience, it’s way easier to be disciplined and focus on diet when the motivation is being able to get better at something I love (and finally getting that strict pull-up!!!), rather than some form of self punishment or trying to look a certain way.

…so there’s the why. Stay tuned in the weeks ahead for the rest…

As always, if you have questions or comments, feel free to add to the conversation. I’m all about sharing the wealth! And, as I tell people over and over again – I’m not anyone special. If I can do this, anyone can.


2 thoughts on “Nutrition Part 1: The Why

  1. Thank you so much for discussing the “strong is new skinny” idea. I feel like skinny AND strong is the new skinny- it’s still not cute (or comfortable, or, for most people, healthy) to be a super strong 250 pound woman!


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