Yes, we’re all stuck in some sort of rut. It might be something to do with career, money, relationships, health and fitness, the list goes on. It might just be something seemly simple. On the other hand, it might be something so overwhelming that you have no idea how to get ‘unstuck’. I won’t pretend to be a Psychologist or Matt Foley, you may need one or the other. I’ll take a simpler approach.
During an Internet Radio Show interview about a year ago, I was asked what single piece of advice I would give to someone who felt they were going nowhere and wanted to change the direction of their life. Since I did not know that question was coming, my mind rapidly raced through all sorts of possible answers, kind of like my life flashing before my eyes.
I don’t remember my exact answer, but I know it wasn’t very compelling and most likely just sounded like ‘blah, blah, blah’ from the CrossFit guy. Of course, immediately after the interview was over the better answer was clear in my mind. I should have replied: Either start a new exercise routine OR improve your eating habits. Pick one. Don’t worry about doing both, just pick one. The other will follow soon afterwards. It will change the way you feel faster than anything else I can recommend. You’ll feel better, have more energy and probably think more clearly. When you feel better, have more energy and think more clearly, you can accomplish much more in your life.
The reason I was being interviewed was to talk about how I changed the direction of my life. Fifteen years ago I was 40+ pounds overweight. I ate to much, I drank too much and I smoked too much. My only physical activity was hitting a little white ball around well manicured fairways while doing as little walking as possible. I was a wreck and knew I had to make a change. I chose to start an aggressive workout routine first. I saw positive results in a few short weeks. A couple months later I started eating better. I stopped eating crap. The combination worked for me. I lost forty pounds and felt better than I had in over 20 years. I had more energy and clearer thinking which enabled me to make much needed changes in my life. I was able to accurately access my situation, set new goals, learn new skills, seek assistance from others, force myself out of my comfort zone and take necessary action. That’s how you get out of a rut.
So what do you do if you already have an exercise program and you eat pretty healthy stuff? My answer is the same. Either improve your exercise routine OR improve your eating habits. Pick one. Add some strength work to your existing endurance routine. Add some endurance work to your existing strength routine. Start our 100 Days of Suck Challenge. Get outside your comfort zone and work on what you suck at. Write a food log for one week. You’ll see what you are having too much of, or maybe too little of. Decide to eliminate or reduce just one thing. Refined sugar, cheap vegetable oils, processed foods or alcohol. Something, just pick one.
Do this for one month and then tell me how it’s working for you. My hope is that you will be getting out of whatever rut you’re in right now.
Congratulations to everyone still hanging in there with our 2015 Whole30 Program. Since we started on January 5th, I’ve been meaning to log updates here for anyone interested in our progress. When I logged on I was reminded that I started to do the same thing back in October of 2013 during our 2nd go around with Whole30. When I read my first couple posts I realized that I didn’t have anything new to say. What I wrote back then was pretty much identical to what I was thinking now so I decided to leave the old posts stand and continue where I left off. You can scroll back and see what I am talking about.
Fast forward to the middle of January 2015. Today marks day 18 for Staci and me. I’ve found this Whole30 the easiest to stick with compared to our first two month long ‘nutritional resets” as the Hartwigs call it. What I thought was going to be the hardest thing to give up, drinking alcohol, is turning out to be the easiest. Honestly I don’t miss it at all. What’s been the hardest? I miss not being able to go out to lunch or happy hour with Staci during the week. We work hard hours and enjoy our stops once or twice a week, enjoying a good corned beef rueben or fish taco or two. Other than that, we’re doing just fine. We’re lucky because neither one of us has much of a sweet tooth so there is zero withdrawal from sugars. Most of our members having difficulty with this Whole30 are dealing with the sugar cravings/withdrawals.
I remember saying in late 2013 that I would never do another Whole30 challenge. It was my second time and I had a seriously hard time dealing with the lack of energy throughout the month. I increased my dietary fat to make up for the lack of carbohydrates, but it just wasn’t enough. My fat choices at the time were almonds and macadamia nuts, olive oil and avocados. All good healthy fats, primarily monounsaturdated Omega 9 fat.
This time I decided to use coconut oil as my primary fat source with the goal of increasing energy levels throughout my day. I’ll have to say that it is working great. My overall dietary fat intake is about the same as it has always been(roughly 50% of my daily calories) but the amount of coconut oil is way up. Coconut oil is a different type of fat, it’s a medium chain saturated fat, able to be metabolized differently/quicker than the monounsaturated fats that I had normally favored.
Here is a visual look at the breakdown of proteins, carbs and fats in my typical daily consumption. We are both Zone Diet followers so we pay close attention to the proportions of these three macronutrients during every meal and snack. My proportions are different than Staci’s based on our overall goals. If you would like help understanding and implementing the Zone, please ask us at the gym. We’re happy to help you.
This chart is from MyFitnessPal. If you have not used this app as your daily food log, give it a try. It’s super easy to use and update along the way.
Overall, I have as much energy as I had prior to the start of this Whole30 challenge. I have a much sharper mental focus and am much less irritable on a daily basis. Now the first few days I was a touchy little bitch, but I think that happens to everyone. I am sleeping better and the most important thing of all – all of my little aches and pains are gone. The nagging pain in my left shoulder, gone. I still have the same range limitations as before but the pain is gone. The mild pain in my left knee during heavy squats, gone. Why? Reduced inflammation due to the elimination of certain foods. Which ones? I’m not exactly sure yet but I’ll know next month. More about that process next time.
I can tell you the most important piece of the puzzle to be successful with a Whole30 Program is your food prep in advance. Staci and I spend a considerable amount of time on the weekend preparing food for our daily meals. We have an abundant selection of good food choices available at all times. When we run low on something during the middle of the week, we whip up a few batches of our favorite Whole30 approved foods. Here’s a sneak peek at some of the items we made last week, posted in our group on Facebook: Bill & Staci’s Paleo Kitchen You don’t have to have a Facebook account to view these pictures.
I’ll write more about the ‘why’s” of Whole30 next time along with my plan to determine which dietary item(s) are linked to the pain in my old, creaky joints. Stay tuned.
(Original Post June 2014)
How do you describe to a room full of 75 people in 30 seconds what it is that you do in your business? That’s what all of us had to do at the Rocky River Chamber of Commerce’s New Member meeting this morning. I don’t normally prepare to much in advance for these sorts of meetings. I usually gather a few thoughts before it’s my turn to introduce myself and then just say whatever rolls off my tongue. The message is usually more sincere that way as opposed to delivering a canned 30 second commercial honed and polished over years of practice(boring).
I introduced myself, explained where Staci and I operate our business and then simply held up a “before and now” picture of me and said “if you look a little like the person on the left but want to look a little more like the person on the right, we can help you.” It’s really as simple as that. I could have rambled on about CrossFit and group workouts and functional movements and scaling and blah, blah, blah. But I didn’t. I painted a little picture that says it all. We work with regular, everyday people who have let their fitness and nutrition habits go to hell and teach them how to get on the right track in terms of exercise and eating habits. Give us 6 weeks and we can change the direction of your life. Give us 6 months and you will be a totally different person. Give us a year and you’ll be a badass. No kidding.
The easiest way to get through the first 6 weeks is to begin our CrossFit Executive Fitness Starter Program. We have five groups starting the first week of March. Here is more information and a place to register. CrossFit Executive Fitness Starter Program.
(Original Post 12/31/2013)
Staci and I completed our fall run of the Whole30 Program the day before our wedding anniversary in November. We cut it a few days short since we were celebrating and had no good reason to abstain from a few beverages and restaurant food that weekend. This was our second go around with the Whole30 and it’s probably my last for a while. Staci basically eats this way most days anyways with the exception of her sharing some of my grain or fried food allowances when we go out to lunch once or twice a week. For me, I just don’t have the energy to get through my days when I eliminate all grains from my diet for an extended period of time. I like to have a sandwich a few times a week, usually with gluten free bread or wraps that I buy at Earth Fare or grilled rye bread if I am at a restaurant.
Do I think it (Whole30) is something everyone should try? Yes, I think it’s a great way to eliminate everything potentially bad for you for 30 days and then slowly reintroduce certain foods, one at a time, to see if you have any noticeable reaction or consequence from eating them.
If you don’t want something as extreme as Whole30, just start to eliminate crap from your daily eating. My opinions change from time to time based on newly acquired knowledge and experience, so here is my current list of what to eliminate or drastically reduce if you are trying to lose excess fat.
1. Sugar, in any processed form. Table sugar, high fructose corn syrup, maltodextrin, dextrose, etc. Here is an article that includes a list of what they call code words for “sugar”. If it’s processed and tastes sweet, don’t eat or drink it.
2. Cheap vegetable oils in any form. Instead use olive oil or coconut oil and eat avocados, macadamia nuts and almonds.
3. Enriched breads and flours
4. Starchy foods like potatoes, pasta, rice and cereals
If you’ve given up 1 through 4, you’ll be hungry. Make sure you increase your intake of good fats and don’t make the mistake of eating too much protein to make up for the loss of necessary calories. This is a tricky adjustment that takes some time to get right. It’s not something that has an exact formula since you are not exactly like anyone else.
My favorite approach is still the Zone Diet. Basically equal amounts of calories from protein, carbohydrates and fat at every meal. Once you establish a baseline you can adjust the percentages to fit your lifestyle and fat loss and/or weight gain goals. I reduce carbohydrates and increase fat intake so I’m like 30% protein, 20% carb and 50% fat. That works for me.
There is a great article in the CrossFit Journal that outlines the Zone Diet, CrossFit Journal Issue 21
If you have any questions about getting started on the Zone or adjusting where you are with it now, just ask Staci or Bill at the gym. We are happy to help you.
Original Post 10/23/2013)
It’s actually more than a week, today is Day 10 of our strict paleo venture into what is called the Whole30 Program created by Whole9 founders Dallas and Melissa Hartwig. Instead of posting a day by day, meal by meal accounting of our progress, aka boring as hell, I figured I’d wait until we got well into this gig before writing an update.
Why should you even be reading this?
Our intended audience is primarily members of our CrossFit gym, CrossFit Cleveland in Rocky River, OH. Many of our members struggle with cleaning up their eating habits and Staci and I want to help them in any way we can. If you know us, you know we really care about helping people better themselves. If you don’t know us, it’s not my intention to convince you to listen to us. We are not nutritionalists or licensed dieticians, we simply offer advice and guidance based our our personal experiences over the years. We don’t tell people what they should eat or develop specific eating plans, we teach them what NOT to eat. Our mottos is “Stop eating crap, eat real food.” Remember?
Our job is to coach and make you better. It’s not important whether or not we can qualify for the CrossFit Games. What’s important is that we can help you become better. Better than yesterday. We do it every day and we have since early 2007. You will find countless CrossFit Affiliate owners and coaches, I might even say most, who will outperform us in the Open and other local competitions. You won’t however find many who are more knowledgeable and disciplined with their own nutrition than we are. Many talk a good game but really eat like shit believing that crushing their next wod will make it all better. It might seem to work for a while, but eventually age catches up with you and you pay dearly.
Personally, I know this all too well. I went off the rails in my late 30′s, securing my role as the consummate lazy executive. I ate too much, drank too much and smoked too much. My most strenuous activity consisted of leaning over and pulling a golf ball out of a little white cup 36 to 54 times a week. One day I had had enough and decided to get lose some weight and get myself back into the shape I was in when I was in my 20′s. I’ve done that and feel the experience is enough of a reason for someone to listen to what I have to say on the subject. We started a CrossFit Affiliate in early 2007 and have been helping people every since. You can read our quick training Bios on our CrossFit Cleveland Trainer’s Page. This page will soon be updated to include info all of our current trainers: Tom, Ross, Scott, Jon, Emily & Mike as well as our trainer in training Zach.
Enough of my ramblings, back to the Whole 30.
Since Staci and I completed our first Whole30 Program in January 2012, we’ve heard from a bunch of people about their results. The truth is, most people fail within the first few days. It seems that if you get past the first week your chances successfully completing the entire 30 day period are pretty good. The first few days will most likely bring out the crab ass in you. If you and your spouse/partner/live-in are both doing this you should expect a few collisions right off the bat. Deal with it, things get better in a few days.
If you are going cold turkey away from a lot of crap foods, these first few days will be almost unbearable. If you are like us, it’ wasn’t so bad. The biggest adjustment for Staci and me is completely eliminating drinking. We knew the first few days would be easy since we started on a Monday following a pretty good party weekend with our boating friends. The real test would be the first weekend. Here it is Wednesday and I can honestly say I’m not sure when I’ll pour myself another vodka cranberry. I don’t miss it at all and I’m glad for the break. Now I will admit that I could have easily enjoyed a Patty Melt smothered in mayonnaise or a Rueben and a cold beer last Saturday afternoon at Deagan’s in Lakewood, but I quickly brushed off that craving.
What’s most important?
The most important thing for you to do is to have plenty of good food prepared in advance for your meals. Staci and I spend a few hours together every week preparing plenty of food. In order to make it through this 30 day program without fail, we have to pack every meal that we eat away from home. It’s sounds like a real pain, but it gets easier the more often you do it. Here is a video from our Bill & Staci’s Paleo Kitchen series showing how fast I can pack two meals on the go.
So what has been the hardest?
The hardest thing for me is making sure I eat enough food. The total elimination of grains leaves me a calorie void that I must fill in order to have the energy to support my activities. I have to be careful not to increase my fat intake too much. I eat a lot of olive oil, avocados and macadamia nuts – all easy items to over do. I am able to eat a decent amount of fruit but you should be careful if you are trying to lose weight. Watch your fructose intake, even if you are eating organic, locally grown, blah blah blah fruit. Fructose is fructose and your body can only handle so much before it turns it directly into fat. God forbid you have an high fructose corn syrup(HFCS), that shit is poison. I know you wouldn’t accidently touch that stuff since you have given up all processed foods on your Whole30 Program, but in case you are just dabbling and don’t know that HFCS is really bad for you, IT IS.
Here is a quick reference sheet on getting started with the Whole30, Whole30 Quick Start Guide. The Whole9 website is full of informational material. If you need more, just Google the topic, you’ll find an endless supply of information for you to chew on.
More from me later, have a great week!
(Original post 10/15/2013)
I’ve been waiting for a good time to start posting here and time keeps ticking away. Yesterday Staci and I started our 2nd Whole30 nutrition program as a way to end the summer boating season make up for some eating and drinking indiscretions of late. I figured this is as good a time as any to start logging our progress in an attempt to help others who are looking to do the same.
Our simple nutrition tip has always been “Stop eating crap, eat real food”. If you want an extreme dose of this concept, try the Whole30 program. It’s not for the faint of heart or the undisciplined. However you successfully complete it you will be amazed at the changes in your life in terms of health and fitness, even if you don’t exercise.
Day one started off yesterday following a full 8 hours of sleep the night before. Breakfast consisted of three of Staci’s paleo egg & sausage muffins and a batch of her beanless chili made with grass fed beef. About an hour later I had a Refuel Bar from Amrap Nutrition prior to my morning workout. These bars have become a big hit with many of our members at CrossFit Cleveland. Lunch and dinner looked about the same, both consisting of a kale salad with steamed broccoli, 4 ounces of filet mignon left over from our weekend steak roast and clam bake and grilled chicken I cooked earlier that afternoon, and a handful of almonds. Lots of water and a couple cups of coffee throughout the day. Nothing sexy, just good, real food.
More to come, stay tuned.
Whole9’s original program designed to change your life in 30 days. Think of it as a short-term nutritional reset, designed to help you restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, calm systemic inflammation and put an end to unhealthy cravings, habits, and relationships with food. Since 2009, thousands of people have used our program as a jump-start to changing the way they eat for the rest of their lives.