Ever since I started CrossFit in 2012, I started playing with my “diet” and what my nutritional lifestyle would look like. After a few months of CrossFitting (3-4 days a week), I started eating “paleo”. I use quotation marks because I just decided one day I would do it. I didn’t do a whole30 or any type of detox period because I thought I knew what did and didn’t effect my body already. Dairy? No issues! Wheat? I’m probably fine in moderation! Sugar? Addicted? Me? No way. It wasn’t until much later that I realized these things really did affect me. Did I break out more? Did I feel nauseous? No but I knew I definitely didn’t feel good. I constantly felt bloated and sluggish. Anyway, after following my first version of “paleo” and not really seeing any major results I was convinced it didn’t work. I continued to eat mostly paleo but still had cheat meals (which often turned into cheat days or cheat weekends).
It wasn’t until fall/winter of 2014 that I stumbled across flexible dieting through Nicole Capurso’s post, How Donuts Gave Me Abs and An 80kg Snatch. Tell me that’s not a catchy title. Donuts?! AND abs?! Count me in! She mentioned Krissy Mae Cagney and her e-book Flex-i-ble Dieting. I immediately bought it and was totally engaged. I loved the idea of being able to eat things I still wanted and still get in better shape. Now, Krissy doesn’t say eat all the donuts, pop tarts, cake, etc that you want as long as it fit into your macros (macro nutrients). She enforces eating a nutrient dense diet but if you want a donut, then you can fit it in your macros and not feel like you ruined your entire day. For those who don’t know, macronutrients refer to the amount of carbs, fats, and protein you’re eating every day. The amount of calories you eat every day also ties into these numbers. It can vary person to person because it takes into account your goals (losing weight/gaining weight/maintaining weight), activity level and lean body mass. Check out the article for more info!
At first, this method worked really well for me. I began to see results and was proud of how I was performing. My body felt good and I was crushing workouts and lifts. However, as time went on, I slowly started to add in more junk instead of sticking to the nutrient dense foods I should have been sticking to. Soon I was trying to see if I could fit in two pop tarts every day, Ben and Jerry’s another and more and more junk that I knew wasn’t good for me or my performance in the gym. After the CrossFit Open I realized I needed a break. Food was starting to stress me out and weighting/counting everything was becoming too much. It was around this time that a friend lent me Liz Wolfe’s book, Eat the Yolks. How had I not read this before after being a so-called paleo follower? Who knows but I am glad I finally got my hands on it!
After starting to read this book and the fortuitous timing at my gym, I decided to try out paleo again. Now I still didn’t go completely strict. I still had alcohol and a few cheats now and then but I paid more attention to how food really made me feel. I realized I don’t really do well with a lot of dairy or grains. As much as I love ice cream and pizza, neither left me feeling good. I started to better recognize what made me feel like crap and what I could eat without much fuss. Since finishing the CrossFit Open, I had finally begun to feel better about my relationship with food and what I was putting into my body.
Eat the Yolks really helped open my eyes to the food industry lies and common misconceptions. However, after weeks of following paleo without weighing or entering everything into My Fitness Pal, I realized I still wasn’t feeling 100% great about my workout performance or how I was feeling. As I’ve mentioned a few times recently, I have amped up my training a little more and have been focusing on how my performance feels. Now, I know I’m not a Games athlete but working out is important to me and I take my performance fairly seriously. Whether it’s local CrossFit competitions, weightlifting meets, or CrossFit Regionals (hopefully one day!), I want my nutrition to be properly fueling me for the demands I make on my body.
That said, I decided to get back on the flexible dieting/macronutrients train. I signed up for a semi-local weightlifting meet in September that I need to drop a weight class for. Now, need might be a little overzealous term. I picked this weight class because 1) I have a better chance of being a successful lifter here and 2) This will also benefit me in CrossFit world. However, since I decided to take on this endeavor, I knew I needed to get my nutrition together. In my opinion, if your sport includes weight classes, than flexible dieting is the way to go. Heck, even if your sport doesn’t include weight classes and you’re not sure of where to start, give flexible dieting a try! Just remember, it’s not all about fitting whatever treats you can into your allotted macronutrients for the day. It’s about real, nutrient dense foods!
What my macros look like on training days. They vary a little bit but MFP doesn’t let me put in the exact amounts I need
I’m not saying flexible dieting is the only method that works. I think figuring out what works best for your body is the most important thing. If you train great eating Paleo, keep it up! If you train great using intermittent fasting, more power to you! I just wanted to share my experience and the success I’ve had following flexible dieting and hopefully offer you new information! If you have any questions, contact us or leave a comment! I’d love to hear your feedback on what’s worked for you and how nutrition helps fuel your lifestyle!