The cat’s out of the bag…I don’t eat just kale and berries.
As a gym owner and athlete, I think it may be assumed that you eat a super strict paleo diet. For us (Hunter, myself and our family), that is exactly the case as it pertains to the last 7-8 years or so. We found the paleo diet (eating whole foods and no refined foods) about the same time we found CrossFit. They tend to go hand in hand. It was an amazing change in our lives as we learned how to eat REAL food…not the processed junk that we were used to. It taught us how to cook and prepare healthy meals. It taught us that if we wanted to control an auto-immune disease such as Crohn’s it can do that. Food is very powerful and it can either heal or harm the body.
Fast forward to one year ago and my interest was peaked by fueling for performance. I was in a rut with my eating…trying to maintain that strict paleo approach while also training 2-3 hours per day on top of coaching was not cutting it. Due to the paleo approach, we had completely cut out two food groups: dairy and grains. So I was trying to fuel my body with vegetables for my carbohydrate source and it was leaving me tired, grumpy and fluffy to be honest. I did not have the physique that I desired nor the energy and performance benefits that I wanted from my diet.
I started researching and came to find out that many athletes did not surprisingly eat a strict paleo diet. I was intrigued by this…continued to research and dig…and I stumbled upon flexible dieting. I was like, “you mean to tell me this chick with a 27 pack of abs eats ice cream??”. What’s the catch? I haven’t had ice cream in months and my abs are covered by a layer of fluff. Well…the catch is…science. Flexible dieters use a formula to calculate (based on body percentage, activity, etc) their required amounts of macronutrients needed to support either losing weight, maintaining weight or gaining. I am a very cut and dry, love numbers type of gal so it made sense to me. I however had NO idea how to go about this approach. Luckily, about the same time I was researching all of this my coach Rachel had just finished her nutrition certification. I was her first client…happily.
What this did is it gave me something to work with. I had already learned over the last 8 years WHAT foods to eat but what I was not incorporating was HOW MUCH of it to eat. That is the kicker. What we came to find out is that although I was eating a very clean diet…I was eating way too much fat (BACON!), not enough protein and not enough carbs. This is the reason I was feeling sluggish and had that layer of fluff. Rachel is the one who knows the science behind flexible dieting a.k.a. counting your macros and I do not. I won’t even try to explain that part. What I do know is that now after incorporating this over the last year I have increased energy for training and life in general, I have lost 8 pounds of fat and gained 4 pounds of muscle and am at 12% body fat after one year of doing this thing. I cut my training volume in half this year to 1 or 1.5 hours per day and still continued to see gains. Macros gave me a strategy…the tools to tie my goals to my eating. The results have been incredible for me. I honestly thought that after 2 kids, 2 c-sections and being 34 years old having 6 pack abs was not in the cards for me. It was never my sole purpose to have a nice set of abs but I will say…it has been a nice little cherry on top. My main purpose in trying this was increases in energy, strength and performance and all of the above have increased drastically over the last year…even with my intentional decrease in training hours.
I still eat about 80% paleo, choosing lean meats as my primary source of protein, veggies as my carbs and healthy fats. BUT…I am also eating oats, white rice, some cheese and other foods to compliment my macronutrients. If that comes in the form of a doughnut…yay. There is no ‘guilty‘ feeling of cheating any longer. If the doughnut ‘fits‘ into my daily allotment of macros…then so be it. And I’ll be honest…I make it fit on the regular 🙂 I feel more satisfied and don’t feel as if I am ‘missing out‘ on foods any longer. I eat more than an average male per day to support my lifestyle, goals and training volume…and I love every calorie of it.
Side note here: this diet may not be the best approach for everyone. Hunter has to watch it much closer because of his Crohn’s. The closer he stays to paleo the better for him. I am saying that this approach is better for ME and my body.
I wrote this in response to many questions about what I eat, what I’ve done over the past year to produce such a change in my body, and performance. I have found this to be a very sustainable way of eating and its very satisfying at the end of the day. My advice to someone who is new to fitness, nutrition, CrossFit, etc. is to learn how to eat the RIGHT foods first. That is the most important part of the equation…eating the right things most of the time. You can do this diet and eat junk the whole time but long term that is not going to be the best for your body. The 8 years of practice eating paleo set the groundwork for implementing the macro diet into our lives.
I won’t promise it will be easy or that it won’t take time to learn and prepare your foods. But once you have learned how to do it…easy peasy from there…you have the tools for a lifetime. If you have specific goals whether it be to lose weight, get a 6 pack of abs, gain muscle, increase performance, etc. having a plan like this in place can get you there.
Whew. That was a lot of words. I’m off to eat.