Awhile back, after EC pitched #yamsondemand to me in my kitchen, she pitched another idea. Would I see if I could eat 800 grams of fruits and vegetables each day? I would share my results and I’d do it for a few weeks.
“Sure I said, that’s easy. No problem. We already do that anyway, I’m sure. Totes easy.”
I didn’t know it at the time, but I was in for a serious wake-up call.
I didn’t even plan for the first day. I assumed I’d be close and just ate as I normally would. Sure, I’ve weighed and measured my food 1,000s of times but I have never really paid attention to the weight of my fruits and vegetables. My first day’s total of just eating-how-I-had-been-the-past-few-weeks – 297grams.
Day 2 required some planning because I had failed miserably the day before. I came home that night and made some potatoes and broccoli and was pleased to log almost 450 grams for the day (except I wasn’t pleased, I was pissed at myself that I had let this much nutrient barren food creep into my diet over the past two years). I was still baffled at how I was to get to 800 grams. I then did what anyone on a food challenge does at some point – I whined – to Eric, my children, and EC. I also whined to myself.
EC reminded me that I could have fruit.
Fruit!? I couldn’t even remember the last time I had bought fruit other than bananas which are for my kids because ever since I was a baby, I do not like bananas, Trevor too – it’s genetic.
I went to the grocery store a few days later and bought grapefruits along with various greens and potatoes.
On the morning of Day 6, I peeled a grapefruit, laid it on the scale and gasped – 325grams. Could this be? It could. Daily total 707 grams. Screw that! – I wasn’t coming that close to 800 grams to fail again! I ate a cup of blueberries and SugarWOD confetti actually poured out of my ceiling. It was weird.
Learning to Hit the 800 gram Total
Over the next few weeks, I learned to hit the 800 gram total (Read this post from OptimizeMe Nutrition on why 800 grams). I started to plan and pack my food for work again, incorporated vegetables and fruit into lunch, substituted potatoes (instead of rice) for dinner and blended the occasional smoothie when I had to run out the door in the morning. While I was making a conscious effort to eat 800 grams, and expending a lot of mental energy to do so, I didn’t feel deprived or stressed. I didn’t have to plan out every social engagement, drink, or travel day.
It has been my personal experience over the past few years in CrossFit that I have slowly let more and more processed foods back into my diet – rice, gluten-free bread, gluten-free noodles, and muffins, to name a few. While I have no intention of ever going back to the initial CrossFit-crazed diet of “Paleo or BUST,” I do feel that a better attention and commitment to quality alongside quantity is something I need to get back to.
Over the past four years, as the mainstream strength and fitness cultures have infiltrated CrossFit, CrossFitters have been swarmed with social media photos of pre and post workout shakes and supplements, food that fits macros but is also straight sugar, and the idea that lean gains can come by eating low-quality food, as long as you work hard in the gym and hit a precise macro total.
What’s Kept Me Up at Night?
This influx has kept me up at night.
Can a 28 year-old kid eat ice cream and cake, workout hard, and still be lean? Sure. Is it laying the best foundation and habits for them as they age? No way.
Can a 38-year-old mother embark on a macro plan, fill her remaining carb numbers with fat-free yogurt ice cream, and because it meets the total, check the box for cancer prevention over time? Perhaps not.
And can a 48-year-old man maintain a relatively active lifestyle to offset the 1-2 additional pounds that appear on the scale each year and be considered fit? Nope.
In a way, I’d gotten soft. With the infiltration of social posts that hashtag #donuts, #cleanbulk, and #icecreamtrainingplan alongside lean athletes, maybe I said yes to a few more diversions from eating high-quality food that supports performance in the gym AND longterm health. It took just a few days for me to realize that gluten-free toast for breakfast and rice for dinner makes a hard punch at my real whole food total for the day. And while one can stay overall lean by eating low-quality foods and not too much, CrossFit’s diet has always been about optimization for HEALTH and performance.
My results were fantastic. They stretched from physical to mental to my family. I’m not going to share them with you just yet, as I want you to have your own experience with the challenge.
Come to the Chalk Talk
Some of you may have noticed that we (I) canceled all group classes at 5 pm on Wednesday, January 24th. Instead of class, we are holding the #800gChallenge Chalk Talk. I did this because that’s how important I see this opportunity. This challenge is one for the books, it’s life-changing. As a gym owner, I know that we have slacked over the past few years in our lead on the nutrition front. Instead of having an ongoing conversation like we did from 2009 to 2015, we just stopped the conversation thinking we were a broken record. But this conversation can never end, as you will consume food every day for the rest of your life.
And the fact remains that you can’t out-exercise a bad diet.
Prioritize coming to this talk, even over a workout this week. Skipping a workout on Wednesday to come and listen to the talk and how to be successful has the potential to change the trajectory of your health.
I want to make the gym as accessible as possible for everyone to come and learn about the challenge, sample food from Boulder Kitchen Collective, and be with others who are also doing the challenge. I want you to be able to listen and engage without the backdrop of heavy barbells clanging throughout the gym. Bring a kid if you have to, set them up with dinner on the couch. Bring your spouse or roommate to listen and convince them to do it with you.
So, while I know you can watch from home after the fact, please come TO the challenge chalk talk, because after all the live version is ALWAYS better than the recording. Here about it first hand, listen to the questions, ask your own, and meet other people who are also doing it. Don’t think you have the motivation right now in your life? Come see what motivation you can draw from other people who you workout alongside.
And finally, see that everyone is going to struggle in some way, but it’s worth the longterm gainz, there I said gainz:).
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Thanks for sharing this, Nicole! Like you, I’ve found lower-nutrient foods creeping back into my diet lately especially when life gets mega effin’ busy – so I, for one, am super pumped about this challenge. I also hate bananas. Actually, they hate me (hello, reflux…) See you Wednesday night!