Do as I say, not as I do.
I thought about that last night as our substitute coach pushed us through a 1000m row and tortured us with a 21-15-9 WOD of wall-balls and sit-ups with DUs between each round; and a 400m run on either side of the WOD. All while eating a freshly made flurry with custard, Oreos, and Butterfinger bits. As a certified coach and someone who consistently RXs WODs, who am I to judge what he eats? He looks good, feels good. Froning, fittest man in the world, drinks whole milk and downs peanut butter daily (neither are paleo). Neal Maddox, 9th in the world, enjoys his donuts and ice cream.
The “World Class Fitness” rules dictate:
Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat.
So while there are clearly exceptions to the rule, I would never choose to eat as those guys do, and I tend to judge others who make poor food choices that don’t have some high athleticism to back it up. I think there is some paleo elitism in my mind. Skip the sweets. Ditch the pop. Put that PB away. Avoid soy, dairy, gluten. Stop the processed nonsense. Did you read those ingredients? Low-fat? Low-carb? Gluten-free? Chemical s***-storm?
Eat real food.
Watching other people struggle, I have suggested to a handful of people at my box that they need to eat more. And eat more carbs without fear. And not stress out about the number on the scale and just eat. It seems so logical to me: why is so hard for people to just get it?
Newsflash: I don’t have it figured out myself.
When I had my BodPod test done, it confirmed I should eat around 2600 calories a day. Fine. I’m okay with that. I have zero concern about gaining weight and eating more. Combined with my discovery of Eat to Perform, I think I have found the answer to my performance issues. Eat more, do more. And rather than filling the void with just anything, I choose to eat more clean calories. Avocados, chicken thighs, beef, coconut oil, anything on some sort of paleo-approved checklist, I’m golden.
Yet I find myself logging calories into MFP every once in a while and consistently coming up short on carbs. And my paleo-induced mindset has me hesitant to eat anything with a pinch of soy, dairy, grains (I’ll eat rice now), and even resistant to multiple servings of fruit. This approach is not working for me. While I am getting near my required calories, I’m still struggling in WODs and always at the bottom of the whiteboard.
But aside from looking in the mirror sometimes and feeling like I’m having a “skinny-day” (like girls have fat-days, you know), I like the way I look.
A friend commented to me yesterday, “You definitely look like you are leaning out a lot. Do you feel okay?”
It’s one thing for someone to notice I am getting stronger or comment on my shoulders/back being muscular (love those comments!), but commenting about me being lean, even though she meant it well and followed up with “You look great!”, was almost insulting. I don’t want to be skinny yet I am somehow scared of gaining body fat or losing muscle or losing the strength and endurance I have worked so hard to build. As someone who has never ever had any sort of eating disorder or body image issues, this is something I am so unfamiliar with and cannot explain why it is so hard for me to loosen up my mindset. It’s not like I am an elite athlete or figure competitor at her peak. I am average, if that, and not near the performance level I wish I was at.
Most people need the paleo-ideals drilled into their head. They can’t give up beer, or pasta, or bread, or McDonald’s. I have no issues giving those up. I sacrifice the junk food for better workouts, or at least I think that’s what I am doing. Someone yesterday was just about going to pay me to eat ice cream, just for the amusement of watching me consume something outside of my norm. I snacked on my apple and protein shake.
I hate when people say, “Everything in moderation.” No, commit to something and do it.
Yet I also hate when people say, “All or nothing.” Because you do need to leave some wiggle room.
In my defense that I am not completely obsessive about eating, I will eat Qdoba nachos probably once every other week. And Saturday morning post-WOD breakfast at Granny’s, I may have pancakes or french toast. If I’m really hungry at work, I’ll eat a Nature Valley Granola bar from the vending machine. Last weekend post-WOD, I had an English muffin and hash browns. On vacation, I disregarded everything (including workouts) and ate bagels, donuts, and muffins from Tim Horton’s daily. But in the normal Monday-Friday world, other than protein powder, it’s 95-100% strict. And while I think that is a great and disciplined and all, is it healthy mentally?
I see both sides almost equally. If you want to commit to a healthy lifestyle, commit. I think making excuses to eat cake and donuts and binge drink is silly and like self-sabotage.. But on the other hand, doing what I am doing is not working the way it should, so I think I need to re-evaluate my thoughts and take the 80/20 approach a bit looser.
I’m still conflicted. I’m still trying to figure it out. I have sought suggestions on the ETP forum, from people who work with the amazing Elizabeth Akinwale, for example, and they are encouraging me to rethink my relationship with “bad” carbs. Eat oatmeal. Eat super-ripe bananas, and even eat jam. Eat cereal. WHAT?! Stop analyzing every ingredient. Fit your macros. Eat to perform.
I have come such a far way from how I used to eat daily, eliminating the pasta and cutting out nearly all cheese and wine. Now it almost seems as if I am supposed to pedal backwards to have a healthier mentality and even better performance. All I can do is keep tweaking until I find what works best for me. Always a work in progress.
I was told more than once yesterday, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”