CrossFit is all about getting healthy and having fun with friends while you do it. It’s also about making constant progress. That’s why we have workout journals, good coaching and scaling options for the workouts. After the shock everyone feels after first joining, progress comes fairly quickly for most. If you feel like you’ve stalled in the gym however, it might be good to re-evaluate the three factors that matter on the road to optimum health and fitness.
If you just started CrossFit then you’re good on this one. Take your time with the new movements and listen to your coach and you’re good to go! If you’ve been training for a while then take a look at your workouts. Make sure you’re doing enough strength work as well as conditioning. Work on your weaknesses. If you can’t do handstand pushups, take a month to do them everyday and turn them into a strength. If you aren’t getting what you want then talk to a coach and ask for some advice or special program to work on. They would love to help you out.
Diet might be harder for you to change than your fitness habits. Between all the different information out there it can be hard to know what’s right. Diet can be highly personalized so the only way to know what works for you is to experiment. Strict paleo is what I recommend to everyone who is just starting out with improving their eating habits. After you’ve taken out all the junk then it’s time to play around a little bit. Maybe you’re looking to loose some body fat; eliminating fruit and nuts can help get the job done. You could also try weighing and measuring your food to ensure optimal macronutrient intake. If you’re like me then strict a strict paleo diet leaves you withering away.
That’s me pictured above in May of 2012, weighing 184 pounds after the Spring Cleaning Nutrition challenge. On the right is me 10 months later and 20 pounds heavier, after a very non-paleo year of eating.
Lots of sweet potato, rice and milk can help you put on a few pounds of muscle without going off the deep end. The bottom line is you have to do what makes you feel good AND perform good. Ask any of the top CrossFit athletes about their diet and you might be surprised. Once again, talk to a coach for some guidance and don’t stop experimenting until you’re satisfied.
This is the often forgotten piece. How many days do you workout before you take a rest day? The 3 days on, 1 day off schedule is often suggested in the world of CrossFit, but I (along with many others) prefer the 3 on, 1 off, 2 on, 1 off schedule instead. This gives you a rest day more frequently and fits nicely into your week. How much sleep do you get and is it quality sleep? The general rule is 7-8 hours. Did you know that the light in your room while you sleep can affect you? Try getting some new curtains and sleeping in a pitch black room. Also try to limit computer, television and cell phone usage before bedtime. The blue light that the screens emit causes our body to limit the production of melatonin, the chemical that causes drowsiness and helps us fall asleep. You can download a program called f.lux (http://stereopsis.com/flux/) to limit the blue light from your computer. Remember, sleep is when your body releases growth hormones and rebuilds itself after your killer workout. Don’t sabotage your efforts by getting mediocre rest night after night.
CrossFit and your journey to fitness can be tough sometimes; it wouldn’t be worth it if it was easy. Next time you find yourself wondering why you’re not where you’d like to be, take a close look at these three areas of your life. If one is out of whack, then the other two had better be on point. Continue to make small improvements in your training, diet and recovery and you’ll keep progressing towards your fitness goals.