In this video we sit down with Carolyn and discuss her journey back to optimal health and weight. Carolyn is one the most committed people I've ever worked with. I can't say enough good things about how well she did. She was nice enough to type up her reflections on her time doing one-on-one coaching, and we've shared them below.
In terms of Carolyn's weight and inches lost she accomplished the following:
-She lost 40lbs in 4 months
-She lost 9 inches off her waist
-She lost 6 inches off her hips
-Now her hip measurement is the same as her original waist measurement.
In addition to these amazing scale-based victories he also had a bunch of non-scale victories, which I'll let her tell you in her own words.
1.) Winter / Spring don’t always have to mean illness. For the past decade or so, I have accepted that in the winter and spring months, I will battle sinus infections, pneumonia, the flu, etc. I simply expected it, blaming the circumstance on the time of year rather than the dozens of decisions I was making. I started working with Robby in February and have yet (hope I’m not jinxing it here) to be sick with anything. This is unbelievable to me. Robby gave me permission to prioritize my health, which sounds silly, but I needed that. It was the combination of getting my sleep up from 5 hours a night to 7 1⁄2 or 8, eating clean, consistently working out and meditation which helped my immune system. I had to work a bit to find a schedule and structure that would support my health goals -- for example, I couldn’t do the CrossFit workout at 7:15pm because I needed to be in bed at 8:30pm if I wanted to get up at 4am. This meant I had to leave work at a certain time to make the 5:15pm class. It was a hard boundary that I set with co-workers and the demands of my job in order to make it work. -- I have been walking around with this untrue story that I have a bad immune system -- and in a sense feeling defective and weak -- believing that during certain times of the year I will struggle for weeks on end; yet, how freeing to rewrite the ending to that story.
2.)Food is not a punishment or reward or stress management tool.My relationship with food has shifted entirely. After a hard day at work, I would reward myself with a diet dr. pepper and a bag of chips from the gas station or a McDonald’s vanilla cone. At work, I would break into the birthday candy stash I had for my students and treat myself to a box. This would all happen without too much thought; it felt natural. I can remember going out to eat with a colleague and I ordered a diet coke and she said, “What a treat!” and I thought she was nuts. What do you mean pop is a treat? If I attended an early meeting, which happened a couple times a month, and there were donuts, of course I would get one. If I had a long day ahead of me, then I’d get that frappacino and pair with a slice of warm banana bread. I told myself I deserved and needed it. I interpreted the sugar rushes as signals of happiness. In actuality though, the sugar never helped me feel more full or satisfied and usually set me up for increased sugar cravings throughout the day. These patterns of thought and actions were very difficult for me to reverse, especially since the impulses are still there. The whole 30 rules set strong parameters however, and I told myself, “I can’t do that anymore...it’s not an option.” I quit those addictive habits cold turkey. Because I also had a set schedule, I had to leave work and head straight to the CrossFit gym; this didn’t leave time for stopping off and “treating myself.” I started packing my car with almonds or an epic bar instead. Changing these habits forced me to get more intune with the feeling of hunger versus cravings. Eating better helped me feel like I had more energy throughout the day too, mostly because I avoided those crashes that come along with the sugar.
3.) Workouts, while still very difficult, ultimately feel better.For the past few years, my mile time has been around 11:30/12:00 mark - especially for 8K or Half Marathons. My recovery time after these runs would be significant too and the runs themselves never felt good. This past May I ran a 5K in just under 30 minutes and felt strong throughout the race. It’s exciting to hit new PRs and watch my goals shift a bit. I have come to realize that I cannot workout in order to eat whatever I want...that in fact it will feel better if I eat certain foods in order to workout more effectively.
Carolyn, we're so proud of you and we wish you all the best in the future!
Robby: Hey, it's Robby here from Crossfit South bend. Today I'm here with Carolyn and Carolyn is going to be telling us her story. So Carolyn, thank you so much for joining us.
Carolyn: Thanks for having me.
Robby: So let me tell you a little bit about Carolyn's progress. So Carolyn in the space of four months basically lost 40 pounds. She went from 196 pounds to 157 pounds. She lost nine inches off her waist and six inches off her hips and now your hip measurement is the same as what your waist measurement was initially, which is crazy.
Carolyn: It's nuts.
Robby: Yeah so amazing job. You did a fantastic job. So tell us a little bit about where you were at before you started the program? Kind of what life was like, what food was like, the rest of that stuff.
Carolyn: I would say life was pretty mindless. I wasn't really thinking about food at all, it was just something I knew I had to eat to kind of get through my day and what I learned through this process is that I have interesting rationales for some of the choices that I was making. So I was thinking like, "Oh, it'll save time if I eat breakfast in the car, maybe stop by McDonald's on my way to work." That, that saves time and I should do that. So it was a lot of fast food, it was a lot of just kind of impulsive, like I said, mindless snacking in the grocery line, taking Diet Dr. Pepper on my way home from work, maybe grabbing a bag of chips for the ride. So it wasn't very good. And I knew I needed to make a big change.
Robby: So when we initially met and I started talking about the way you were going to be eating over the next few months, what was your initial reaction, what did you initially think?
Carolyn: I had kind of knee jerk, like please don't take these things away from me. I really liked them 'cause I had formulas in my head like, stressful day at work plus Cheetos equals happy day. So I was a little nervous about that because I just wasn't sure how that would effect me mentally and so I was very nervous but I knew that and I trusted in the program and so I knew I had to just kind of quit cold turkey. I had to as soon as I started Whole 30, I just told myself, "That's not for me anymore. I can't do those things because it's not in the rules." So, for me, it had to be immediate and it had to be I couldn't ween off certain things, I had to just be done and so that was difficult. And I can remember the first month feeling like having all of those impulses still there so while I told myself I couldn't have the Diet Dr. Pepper I still wanted it every time I was in the grocery line.
And I can remember going to the movies actually for the first time and not getting any other treat but being very aware of what everybody else in the theater was eating, I was like, "Oh my gosh, I can smell the popcorn and that's person's having pretzels and cheese and that guy has my favorite Raisonettes." And then telling myself, "These almonds that I packed are delicious and I'm so happy." So that was hard but as soon as the movie starts you're fine because your mind is going on something else so that was really powerful for me. That was big learning, my mind needed to be refocused on something else.
Robby: Yeah, absolutely and that first month can be a little bit tricky with the cravings still there and working your way up.
Robby: Tell us about month two and beyond, tell us about doing the Whole 30 and the introduction. How did you find the rest of the process?
Carolyn: Well, I didn't know food could taste this good so I have been, my whole life, doing grilling and cooking chicken wrong so that was awesome and then roasted veggies was a life saver. So the way that the big meal that I was eating throughout the day were tasting and then filling me up, that was huge. And then it was helpful to see the results so that was extra fuel, extra motivation of this is really making a big change because I feel like before I was like, "Ah, I'll just work out and then I get to eat whatever I want, right?" And that wasn't going so well for me. That's not actually how it works so I feel like with the Whole 30 month two and three focusing on all the other elements of health like getting my sleep on track, making sure that I'm buying and stocking our house with certain things, making sure that I'm meditating and just taking more time for myself. That was huge.
So it actually became something that I was really enjoying and I stopped having those dreams where I ate a whole bucket of cookies. I would have these dreams in the first month where I just gorged and I'd wake up feeling like, "Oh my gosh, did I do that? Did I just eat a whole thing of cookies?" And then I'm like, "No, you didn't. It's just a dream." And that left in month two and three and it was really just kind of enjoying the new lifestyle.
Robby: Awesome. So you obviously had many, many scale victories in terms of weight loss and inches but one of the things we like to talk about from time to time is non scale victories. So things like energy and mood and cravings, how do you perform in the gym, not getting sick. So tell us about those.
Carolyn: That was really one of the most exciting things I think about this process for me is that for the last about ten years I got sick. Every Fall, well, sometimes in the Fall but usually in the Winter and Spring I would get the flu or I would get pneumonia. The last two years I've had pneumonia, I get sinus infections and I just sort of thought, "Well, that's just how my immune system is, I get sick at this time of year," and I just accepted that story and I have not been sick once. So I started in February with the Whole 30 and I didn't get sick one time and so what that taught me is that it matters what I'm eating, it matters how much sleep I'm getting. I went from average 5, 6 hours a night to 7 and a half, closer to 8 hours a night and that probably helped immensely. And so I was really quick to just kind of accept a certain story about my health, my overall health without really thinking about the dozens of other decisions that were probably contributing factors to me getting sick.
So it was really nice to have a Winter and a Spring where I could just continue to go at full energy and more energy than I'm used to having so I woke up with a lot of energy and I'm a teacher so I know that my students appreciated energy too in the classroom.
Robby: That's awesome. So I think you and I are both on the same page that you can't convince someone to eat healthy, people have to come to it for themselves but at the same time imagine you ran into yourself from 4 months ago or someone who is in a similar situation to the one you're in now, what would you say to them about kind of what you initially thought about what you'd have to go through versus what you realize now that you've gone through it in terms of like, "Hey, it's not as bad as you think," or what are your thoughts now looking back on the whole process?
Carolyn: I would say go to Whole Foods, get a level 4 pork chop and it will all be worth it.
Robby: It's kind of true.
Carolyn: It was so good but I think I would say you're not gonna miss the things that you thought you would as much as you would and those things don't have to be a huge part of your kind of emotional identity. So I was very much of a reward system person like, "Oh, I got through my work day and it was tough so I'm gonna have this treat," or, "I'm stressed, I'm gonna manage this with this food." And so if I could go back to my previous self I would say that it can look a lot different and that food can be really, really delicious. For the majority of my life I've missed out on really good tasting food and so I would tell myself to be excited about what's to come because this is definitely the way to kind of, for me, this is the way to move forward for life goals, just continue this way of eating and living and not feeling like I'm missing out. Not feeling like I can't indulge every once in a while but being really mindful about what that indulging looks like.
Robby: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I have to say on my end, using the teacher metaphor, you're a teacher, I used to kind of an academia and there's certain A plus students that come along every once in a while and I would say you have definitely been probably one of the best people I've ever worked with in terms of the effort you've put in, what you've been able to accomplish and yeah, I'm just super proud of you and all that you've done.
Carolyn: Thank you.
Robby: So thank you so much for joining us. Thank you so much for telling everyone your story and I wish you all the best in the future.
Carolyn: Thank you. Thanks.
Robby: All right guys, thank you so much for tuning in. We'll see you next time.
One of the most frequent questions we get asked is: What about a cheat day?
Here are my thoughts:
1. The word "cheat" is really ridiculous when applied to eating off-plan food. We typically use the word cheat to apply to academic dishonesty or marital infidelity. Who are you "cheating" on when you eat a cookie? This association leads to unnecessary guilt and shame with off-plan food. As Robb Wolf says there is no such thing as "cheating" when it comes to food. We eat things, there are consequences to eating things, and that's the end of it. No guilt or shame should be attached.
2. Blood Sugar RollerCoaster-If you go on a complete bender for an entire day you send your blood sugar and corresponding insulin response is going to be put through some hard paces dealing with that spike and crash on a routine basis.
3. Actively searching for bad food just because it's a cheat day is a bad idea. You shouldn't have off-plan food just because it's a Saturday. You should save your off-plan foods for legit special occasions for foods you really care about. Home made cookies made by your grandma for Thanksgiving is a way different context than sitting by yourself eating a bag of Doritos because it's a Saturday.
4. A cheat day results in an unhealthy psychological response to food. Half of that comes the word "cheat" itself, but the other half comes from this constant binging and "purging" on Monday (not literally purging). It's just this yo-yo back and forth, that could be dealt with in a much healthier fashion.
So, if you're going to ditch cheat days what should you do instead?
1. First, let's focus more on a single off-plan meal in one-day rather than an entire day of off plan foods
2. Have an off-plan food only for a legit special occasion (Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.). If this is happening more than 1-2 times a month your definition of a special occasion is too broad.
3. Make it for a food you truly care about.
Today we're gonna talk about the infamous cheat day, and my thoughts on the very notion of a cheat day.
So first thing, always got to emphasize, especially with these types of videos, I'm not telling anyone what to do, you want a cheat day, have a cheat day. You like your cheat day, have a cheat day. We're not in the business of being a nagging spouse, or an overbearing boss, or a parent. We're just providing information and if you choose to use that, great, if you choose not to, that's cools too. These are just my thoughts on the whole concept of a cheat day.
Number one. As a whole host of people besides me have pointed out, the very word cheat is really ridiculous when it comes to using it in this particular context. We use cheating to refer typically to academic dishonesty, cheating on a test, or marital infidelity, or something of that nature.
Why are we using that term for something that you are activity choosing to do, and not harming anyone else? I don't really understand, I think there's a whole lot of physiological baggage that comes along with it. I understand the idea of trying to say, “Oh, well you've made a promise to yourself, and you're cheating on that promise,” but I think it just creates all this physiological baggage that is just really really unhealthy, and I'll dub into that a little bit more in just a second.
But, I think as Robb Wolf one of my favorite people in the health and nutrition space has said, “We eat food, there's certain consequences that come from eating said food and that's it.” There should be not guilt or shame or anything around this notion of cheating on your diet. It's either you make a choice to have some food, or you make a choice not to have some food, that's really it. We shouldn't be using this term of marital infidelity or academic dishonesty for cheating.
Second problem with a cheat day, in my opinion. Blood sugar roller coaster, so you're going along, going along, going along, you eat nice real whole food and then you spend this entire day essentially, coming close to being diabetic. Let's say, not of course actually, but spiking your blood sugar unnecessarily with all these kind of off planned meals. I think that is really problematic, which I guess leads into the third idea.
When you make it into this kind of day, there are a few things that happen. There's this image of someone kind of sitting in the corner chowing down on a bag of Doritos, saying "Oh, it's my cheat day, it's okay." Actively searching for bad stuff to eat, because it's your cheat day, I think that whole notion is problematic.
I think if you're gonna have off plan food, it should be with others in a social context, it should be a legitimate special occasion, as we've talked about many other times. And it shouldn't just be because it's that day, it shouldn't just be because it's a Saturday. Realistically speaking, it's not the case that we need to have this gigantic binge once a week just because it's a Saturday.
Which leads into the next problem with the notion of a cheat day is, you create this very unhealthy physiological relationship with food. Part of that unhealthy physiological relationship comes from the idea of you're cheating on someone and the guilt and shame that comes along with it. But, the other half comes from the idea of kind this binging and then purging when Monday comes around. Not literally purging, but kind of cleaning things up and "Okay, it will come back around on Saturday, so I can binge as much as I want." I think that just creates a unhealthy physiological relationship with food.
So, what do we propose instead? Well, I've said in many other videos that I think there's nothing wrong with having off plan foods, like pizza and ice cream, health conditions not withstanding, there are some people who legitimately with certain health conditions can't have those things. But, health conditions not withstanding, every year on my birthday I have a pizza and I'm going to continue to do that with friends and enjoy myself. And I don't think there's anything necessarily wrong with that, but it should be for a special occasion.
Had do you navigate this? So again, don't try to plan this one specific day that has no connection to Thanksgiving or Christmas, or these other special occasions, it's just a random Saturday were you're just gonna completely binge, that's just silly. There's nothing wrong with having maybe a couple squares of dark chocolate on the weekend, or a glass of red wine if that's your thing or maybe a gluten free burger or something like that.
But, just from the outside, let's reduce it down from like a cheat day, to maybe a meal, which I wouldn't call it a cheat meal, because again I think the whole notion of calling it a cheat anything is ridiculous. But, something that you're sharing with others, something that you legitimately enjoy and you're not just having it just because it's "Oh, it's my cheat day."
Those are for the more of you're yellow light items, like the dark chocolate and the red wine and the gluten free items that we've talked about in other videos. And then for those red light items, those things that don't actively contribute to your health in anyway, shape or form, you really should just save those in kind of our opinion for no more than once or twice a month. Only for the purpose of a special occasion and only for something you truly care about, it shouldn't be something that happens on a regular basis.
And no ones gonna be perfect with all of these rules all of the time, but this can be a way to guide you. So, just in general when people ask me my thought of a cheat day, I think it creates a horribly unhealthy physiological relationship with food. I think it makes people end up eating bad things that they wouldn't normally eat just because it's a cheat day and I think it makes it so that they fail long term at keeping their cravings and appetite in check. And I think there's a whole better way to do things that involves having those off plan things less frequently and in a more special and meaningful context. All right guys, thanks so much for tuning in.
In this video we discuss how many calories you need.
Generally our approach when it comes to eating healthy is to focus on food quality first before worrying about calories or macros. However, once the food quality is in place it can be useful, in some contexts to consider calorie intake.
There are three main methods for determining calorie intake that are discussed in this video:
-The simplest one is to multiply your weight by 14 cals/lb if you're trying to lose weight, 17 cals/lb if you're trying to maintain weight, and 20cals/lb if you're trying to gain weight. While this method is useful as a quick back-of-the envelope calculation it's not terribly precise.
-A better measurement is to get your basal metabolic rate either online or by getting an InBody scan done. Once you have that you can use the chart from the following article based on activity levels to determine calorie needs.
-Lastly I discuss the Precision Nutrition calorie calculator which has the added virtues a) that it lets you determine how many calories you need depending on how much weight you want to lose in a given time and b) it takes into account the fact that your body will plateau when losing weight. You can check that out here.
Today, we're going to talk about how to determine your calorie needs. There are a few things I want to say up front before we dive into things. First, as many of you know from watching our videos, we think calories and macros, all these different things can be important and useful, but we also generally think that most people need to focus on food quality first before worrying about these things. If you don't have your food quality in place yet, you're going to want to get that in mind, and then you can start worrying about calories.
The second thing is that what I'm going to tell you today isn't meant to be the end-all and be-all of calorie counting. It's meant to give you a few different ways to think about caloric needs that all kind of generally point in the same sort of direction, and give you an idea of where to go. Depending on what you're trying to do, one may be more useful than another, and it is also going to depend on the resources you have available to you.
So, let's start off with the most dead simple, easiest way to determine calorie needs. A really simple way that's not super precise, but most people can just easily do at home is the following: If you want to maintain your current weight, then you're going to multiply your body weight by 17 calories per pound of body weight. So take a theoretical hundred pound person, which obviously would be very light for both sexes. Take a hundred pound person. That person would need to eat 1,700 calories a day to maintain their weight. If that person wanted to lose weight, I don't know why they would at a hundred pounds, but let's just use a hundred pounds to make the math easy; they would multiply their weight times 14 calories per pound. So we'd be talking 1,400 calories a day. If they wanted to gain weight, then they would multiply their current weight by 20 calories per pound, so a total of 2,000 calories a day.
Now, what's nice about this approach is that it's just super simple, back of the envelope, really easy to calculate. What's not so great about it is: It's not terribly precise. How much lean body mass does the person have? The more muscle they have, the more lean body mass they have, the more calories they're going to burn. Is this hundred pound person very fat-dominant or very muscle dominant? It's not terribly precise, but most people who just want to get a basic sense, they can use that as a rough guideline.
What if you want to go a deeper down the rabbit hole to determine calorie needs? Well, to do that, you can either look up your basic metabolic rate online, which is based on things like height, weight, things like that. It's the amount of calories you burn not doing anything whatsoever. Being asleep, just your heart beating, breathing, brain functioning, things like that. You can calculate it online with these online calculators that are based on height, weight, and other things. But if you're a member of the gym, or you're not a member of the gym, but you'd like to find out super accurately; you can get an in-body scan here. We can tell you, super precisely based on your lean body mass, what your BMR is.
Let's just say, theoretically speaking, that someone's basic metabolic rate a day is 1,500 calories. 1,500 calories is the absolute bare minimum they need to maintain their energy relative to their function. This isn't even, again, doing anything. This is just ... Imagine someone sleeping. If someone were just walking around, but not doing too much in the way of activity, you would multiply that 1,500 number times 1.2, and that would capture the energy needs of someone who had a 1,500 calorie basal metabolic rate, but was just walking around.
So, what would you do in the case of someone here, who is working out three to four times a week? For most people, I talk with ... We multiply their basal metabolic rate times 1.5 or 1.55, depending on who you ask. Basically, it's their basal metabolic rate with another 50% added onto that. That amount that you would calculate out would basically be the amount of calories you would need to stay at your current rate. Assuming I'm doing the math correctly in my head here, if we had someone with a 1,500 calorie basal metabolic rate, and let's say they were working out three times a week; then roughly speaking, they would need to consume 2,250 calories just to maintain their current weight.
That's not saying anything about losing weight, that's not saying anything about gaining weight. That's just maintaining their current eight. Now, if someone wanted to lose weight from there, they would take that 2,250 and basically knock anywhere between 10 and 20% off of that. 20% being very aggressive, and 10% being less aggressive. If someone wanted to gain weight, they would add 10 to 20% to that. Again, 20% being more aggressive, and 10% being less aggressive.
Now, if you're listening to this and you're thinking, "Wow, 2,250 is a whole lot more than I'm consuming." Well, you might be right, because what we see far more often than not, you might be surprised to hear this; is we see a lot of people under-eating. People not eating enough relative to their calories are rounded up to the calories that they need. If you think this means that they should be losing weight, it actually doesn't, necessarily. If you drop below 20% of your calorie needs on a daily basis, your body will essentially go into starvation mode and horde onto whatever it can, and make it very, very hard for you to lose weight.
So it's not the case that if you're severely under-eating, you'll necessarily lose weight. You want to do it in a smart way, with no more than a 10 to 20% variation, relative to that total daily energy expenditure that you calculate by getting your basal metabolic rate, and then multiplying it times your activity level. If you guys are getting all creeped out by the math, don't worry, I'm going to put this all below in the description of the video.
The last way that we really like ... There are other ways as well, I'm just mentioning some of the ways that we really like to calculate calorie need. There is a calculator online put out by Precision Nutrition that I'll post a link to in the comments, excuse me, in the description below; that not only determines your calorie need, but it has an equation that basically accounts for the fact that the more weight you lose, the more your body is going to try to resist you losing weight. That's just the way your metabolism works. It doesn't like you losing more and more weight, so it accounts for that and it gives you an even more precise calorie count of what you need.
The other thing that's really nice about this is that you can exactly say: How much weight do you want to lose, and in what period of time? The problem with the previous methods that I mentioned, the 14, 17, and 20 body method and the BMR method is that we're not specifying how much weight someone wants to lose or gain in what period of time. That makes all the difference. If someone wants to lose 10 pounds over six months, that's a gigantic difference from someone wanting to lose 30 pounds in a month. So, those inputs and outputs are going to make a huge difference to your overall calculation.
The Precision Nutrition calculator is really, really cool, because it allows you to change the time domain. So let's say you want to lose 40 pounds. Well, the amount of calories you're going to need to take in is going to depend on whether you want to lose 40 pounds in six months or three months. The other really cool thing about the calculator is that it tells you how many calories you'll need to maintain to lose that weight. Then once you get there, how many calories you're going to need to maintain that weight, and those two are very different.
You're going to need to drop your calories lower to lose that 40 pounds initially, but to maintain it once you've lost it, you can actually up your calories. That's a very, very important point that people often forget. You don't need to be hyper-caloric for the rest of your life. It can be short term in the service of getting you where you need to be, and then once you're there, you can up your levels a bit.
Alright guys, so those are just three different methods that we like for determining calorie needs. Again, remember that food quality is first and most important above all else. Get that in line first, and then maybe worry about calories and macros. The second thing, these methods that I've laid out aren't the be-all and end-all, but they're just places to start to determine how many calories you need. Again, if you've been listening to this and thinking, "Boy, am I under-eating?" That might be the case, and that could be why you're not losing weight, surprisingly.
We've seen a number that people who eat more of the right things, and they can actually lose weight. Alright guys, thanks so much for tuning in. I'll see you next time.
In this video we discuss whether whey protein shakes are good or bad.
The answer is that whey protein shakes are neither good nor bad. Whether they should be considered "good" or "bad" just depends on the context and someone's goals.
Whey protein is pretty clearly what we would call a yellow light food. It's not nearly as healthy as something like broccoli (a green light food), but it's certainly not as bad as a can of soda either (a red light food). So it has some good and not so good aspects, which is why it's a yellow light food.
-provides a good amount of easily digestible protein
-It's very quick and easy to have on the go
-increases glutathione production, the body's master antioxidant
Not So Good:
-Dairy is a very common food allergy and food sensitivity
-If whey protein is used as a substitute for, instead of a supplement to, real whole food that can be problematic
-The overwhelming majority of whey protein shakes have crap ingredients (artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and sugar)
So what are some examples of contexts where whey protein can be useful
-An athlete using whey protein as a final supplemental addition to an otherwise real whole food diet.
-Someone who is not eating very healthy who is using whey protein as a temporary(!) stepping stone towards eating more healthy food.
So, if you're going to use whey protein make sure either a) that 80-90% of what you're currently eating is real whole food or b) that you're using whey protein as a temporary tool to get you closer to that goal of 80-90% real whole food.
In this video we sit down with Tiffany who completed our one-on-one heathy eating program.
Tiffany's story is interesting for a number of reasons, but one that really stuck out to me was the following. The main reason she decided to do one-on-one coaching wasn't to lose weight, but to love herself more and create more positivity in her life.
In our society, we sometimes equate loving ourselves with arrogance or self-obsession. But there's a healthy form of self-love that Tiffany is describing where you care for yourself so that you can care better for others and be the best version of yourself possible. As she said in the video, if your cup is empty you're not going to be able to fill anyone else's cup, and therefore doing things like eating healthy, working out, sleeping and de-stressing allow you to be the best version of yourself you can be.
Tiffany accomplished the following during her program.
Even though she was already eating really well before she started the program she:
-Lost 13lbs total
-Lost 10lbs of pure fat
-Lost 3.5% body fat
-Maintained her muscle mass.
She also got some non-scale victories:
-Not anywhere near as sore as workouts
-Went from a half-pull-up to doing pull-ups
-Energy way better, no 2-3pm slump
-Saving money because she was cooking most of her meals.
Tiffany we're so proud of you, and all that you've accomplished!
Today we're going to talk about one of my favorite topics, chocolate. It might be the case that chocolate is one of your favorite topics, as well. There's certain things that some of us care about and some of us don't. I couldn't care less about alcohol or soda or anything like that, but man, do I love chocolate. So today I'm going to give you a sense of whether chocolate can play a role in a healthy diet or not and what sort of considerations should go into whether you should have chocolate.
The first thing to say is if you use our rubric that we sometimes use for how to judge a food, green light foods being the super nutrient dense foods that are anti-inflammatory. They don't spike your blood sugar. They're healthy for you, so on and so forth. Things like quality protein, vegetables, healthy fats, fruits, nuts and seeds, herbs and spices. Those are green light foods.
Then over on the other side, you've got your red light foods. Your red light foods are going to be things like pizza and soda and processed foods, candy bars, ice cream, things of that nature. Things that aren't bringing you any health whatsoever. They're psychologically addictive. They're inflammatory. They put your blood sugar on a roller coaster.
Chocolate is going to fall squarely in the middle, what we sometimes refer to as yellow light foods. Yellow light foods are things that have some not so great things about them, and they also have some positive things about them. So let's talk about both the positives and the negatives in the case of chocolate. Let's start off with the positives.
From a health perspective, of course, it tastes delicious, but from a health perspective, there are some nutrients in chocolate. Things like magnesium and potassium and chromium and copper and other nutrients of that sort. There's a compound known as theobromine that can have certain antibacterial benefits. It can ... You get a little bit more energy. It's got that effect to it when it comes to neurological effects. That's kind of the positive side of things. It's very, very high in antioxidants, so if you look at pure cacao powder on the ORAC scale, which is the measure of how many antioxidants are in a particular food, cacao powder, pure cacao powder is really, really high up there. So that being said, it would be a mistake to treat chocolate as a pure health food.
I think that really is where things sometimes veer off the road, and in particular, the reason is that chocolate is very much addictive for a lot of people. I know for me, that's something I have to watch out for. Probably for you, that's something you have to watch out for, with chocolate more so than with broccoli or with steak, right? If you have a little bit of it, you're going to want more. It can also spike your blood sugar a little bit, depending on how much you eat. That fact that it's both addictive and it can spike your blood sugar, given the sugar content of it can also be problematic. It's that yellow light food, which is to say that you shouldn't be having it certainly on a daily basis, but it's not something you need to avoid like McDonald's and pizza, for example.
What are the things you should look for, and how often should you have it? The things I tell people to look for when it comes to chocolate are number one, anything less than 70% cacao, in my opinion, is just a Hershey bar. Might as well just be a candy bar. That cacao content determines how much sugar is in it. If you've ever compared the 70% cacao bar versus an 85% cacao bar, you know that the 70% cacao will have 12 grams of sugar versus like an 80, 85 will have maybe six grams of sugar. So you really drop down precipitously with the sugar, the higher and higher you go. That's why I think 70% is a minimum.
The second thing to say is that a lot of chocolate has a lot of artificial ingredients and not good stuff, some crap in it that you just shouldn't get. Good, real chocolate shouldn't have dairy in it, for the most part. It shouldn't have milk chocolate. It shouldn't have any of that type of stuff in it. It should just really be cacao powder, which is the dark brown stuff that typically gives chocolate its antioxidant effects. It's going to have cacao butter, which is the fat that gives chocolate that creaminess. And it's going to have some sugar. Unless it's 100% cacao, it's going to have some sugar in it. So you're going to have some sugar, maybe some vanilla or maybe some salt or something like that, but really besides that, it shouldn't have any soy lecithin. It shouldn't have any dairy products in it. It shouldn't have any wheat or gluten or anything like that. You want to make it like that.
Now, how frequently should you have it? Again, you have to know yourself. You have to know are you someone, like me ... I'll be honest here ... who if you have a square or two, you want to have the entire thing. In that case, you probably want to have it less frequently. If you can have a square or two and just leave it be, then maybe two or three times a week in addition to a nutrient dense food ... Or excuse me ... in addition to a nutrient dense diet wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing. That can be a way to do it.
Another way to do it that I have taken to doing is there's something about buying an entire bar that it's almost like the bar is challenging you to finish the entire thing. Maybe that's just me. I've taken to buying smaller bars, and that way, I have a smaller amount. That's another way you can do it.
In terms of what types of bars to get, Whole Foods, local good grocery stores that have the fancier chocolate. Those tend to be better items. Alter Ego is a brand that I really like. They make a really good 85%, a really good 90%, a really good 70%. One other thing to mention about those cacao percentages that you should keep in mind is that not all are created equal. You could get an 85% from one brand that tastes like a chalkboard, and an 85% that tastes really good from a different brand. That has to do with the relative balance of cacao powder and cacao butter. So don't write off all 85% or 90% chocolate if you just had one bad experience. Hey, go out and experiment, right? I'm telling you to go out and experiment with chocolate. That's another thing to keep in mind.
All right. Hopefully, now you've got a better sense of where chocolate fits in the hierarchy of healthy foods, whether you can have it long term as part of a healthy diet and what things to look out for. Thank you guys so much for tuning in. We'll see you next time.
This video is the first in a series of videos discussing what CFSB coaches eat. In this video we sit down with Coach Andrew to discuss what he eats on a regular basis.
Andrew just graduated from Notre Dame, he's getting married this summer, and he's starting a new career. He's also an all around bad-ass in the gym, and he's got a super cool coach edition shirt with a sword on the back, which is pretty awesome.
In this video we talk about:
-what Andrew typically eats
-what he grew up eating
-his favorite off-plan items
-how he navigates social situations
-how to eat healthy while in school
Andrew, it's been a pleasure having you here at the gym, and we wish you all the best in the future!
Robby: Hey guys. Robby here from Crossfit South Bend. Today I'm here with Andrew and we are going to be talking about Andrew and food. And this is actually going to be the first in a coach series about how coaches deal with nutrition and eating and all the rest of this stuff. By the way, rocking the Andrew signature series shirt.
Andrew: Shameless plug.
Robby: It's got a sword on the back. How many shirts do you know with a sword on the back? Cop it, if you don't have it yet.
Alright, so what are we going to talk about today? So, first thing I want to talk about is, what was food like for you growing up?
Andrew: Food for me growing up, I'm thinking my mom did most of the cooking around the house and she cooked pretty well 'cause she actually had celiac disease so she was gluten free for the most part. But that does not mean that when I came home in middle school I didn't throw, like, eight chicken breasts from Tyson in the oven everyday. So there was definitely that mixture of pretty healthy when she was cooking but then, you know, there was plenty of the friend foods and Chick-fil-A all the time.
Robby: Okay. So what's food like for you now? So you're a college student about to graduate, give us a typical breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Andrew: Yeah, and this is something I'm kind of working through. This school year is actually the first that I was preparing my meals and kind of figuring that out for myself. So right now my typical breakfast looks like is, I'll just cook some eggs and I'll have some toast with some jelly on it, get some carbs in there. And that's typically about it and then a [inaudible 00:02:00] and coffee. If I'm pressed for time I'll do, like, some kind of shake just with Greek yogurt, protein and then throw some fruit in there. But that's typically all I'm working with in the morning, and I kind of have to force myself sometimes.
Robby: Okay. How about lunch and dinner?
Andrew: Lunch and dinner, shamelessly, it is chicken and rice all day every day and I'm about as sick of that right now as I possibly could be. But I do a lot of crock pot chicken. I'm the terrible cook as you can probably tell from me saying this. But lots of shredded chicken, rice and trying to figure out how to do some other stuff.
Robby: Okay, so we have a lot of college students here, you know, you've been through the ringer living on campus and being off campus. Talk about some stuff you've run into, some things you've learned. Like, is it even possible to eat some of the things in the dining halls and things like that?
Andrew: I think a lot of it is the social pressures around it, and just what is the norm? Now, us crossfitters, we're probably not fitting into the norm most anyway, but when you're around people it's a lot of alcohol and a lot of bad eating. It's late night pizza. It's just the norm. So that's what the biggest challenge is for me, is kind of drawing that line, saying, "I have to do things differently so I don't fall into that."
But it certainly is possible. And if you're eating dining hall, you eat like cattle. It's like anything you need just go and it's fuel and none of it tastes good. So I just had the healthy stuff. And obviously they're not always cooking it in the healthiest ways, but you can still get your rice, your chicken, your veggies, and it's actually quite easy in the dining hall setting.
Once you move off, as I did, and kind of go off the meal plan, got a little bit tougher because I'm starting to prepare. And so that's kind of what I mentioned working through is, you know, preparing with my Tupperware and having my shredded chicken and having my rice and, you know, my broccoli whenever I can. But it just takes a little more preparation once you get away from that meal plan kind of setup.
Robby: Okay. So tell us a bit about nutritional off-roading. So of your favorite, you know, what are your top three favorite, like, I don't care about health, I don't care about [crosstalk 00:04:11] I just want to have a Caracas milkshake or what have you.
Andrew: So no matter how tough of that I'm following, I can't say no to Chick-fil-A. Like, that is my thing. And I've just recently been able to make the switch to grilled sandwiches and that is a huge thing for me. So if there's an excuse to eat Chick-fil-A, I'm there and it just goes down well with sweet tea. And it's just a bomb. And so that's like, just, let it go. Do that. And then if I can, you know, stay away from the Chick-fil-A and then if I'm going, like, the candy route I'm all about any kind of sour Gummies. And that's just, like ... That's tough. That is temptation, that is temptation.
Robby: Have you ever had the, not that I've ever had them before, ever had the chocolate cookies at Chick-fil-A?
Andrew: Oh, they're incredible. They come in bags of six.
Robby: Yes. That's a mistake. How about any, like, food holidays? Special, you know, things with your family these days? Anything like Thanksgiving, anything that your Mom cooks or anything like that, that you really enjoy?
Andrew: Favorite thing about going home is having the nice grill they kind of work on. So I do a lot of grilled meats. Chicken thighs are, like, my favorite thing ever. So I eat a lot of grilled chicken thighs and do any kind of veggies with those. But probably my favorite thing that my mom makes whenever I go home is, like, these zucchini boats that she does. So she hollows out the zucchini, puts it in a food processor with cauliflower and ground beef or turkey, mixes it all up in there, throws it back into the zucchini and then bakes it. And it's my favorite thing. So on a good day we've got that going and I'll eat on that, you know, whenever I'm home. So that, like, that's a good day.
Robby: That sounds pretty awesome. So one of things we want to do with this series is try to help give people advice about how to deal with different struggles that they've been through with food and, you know, especially in your case with college. If you were talking to someone, I don't know, maybe coming in fall, 2018 to Notre Dame. And, you know, it's obviously not going to be completely going to be [inaudible 00:06:23]. It's not even going to be close to that for the most part. But just, like, little things you could do, or they could do to kind of help keep them healthy. What advice would you give to, like, an incoming freshman to stay healthy?
Andrew: Most times just plan. Plan out your meals and know that there're going to be times when you want to go get pizza with your best friends, like, and I would encourage you, go do that, that's an experience. But it's just planning that. And if you can have a good meal, have a good meal. So it's just kind of taking those opportunities when, you know, if it's not a big deal, like, there's no reason for you not to be eating what you should. So it's just making sure you put parameters around that, so that you're not just kind of saying, you know, "C'est la vie" at all times.
And that's something that I work on, too, is just making sure. It's, like, okay, well, if I'm going to go get pizza on Wednesday night, that means I better be crisp the rest of the week. And that's sometimes a struggle.
Robby: Gotcha. I think that's good advice. And that's one of the things we talk about in our nutrition coaching program is, like, you know, not every day is a special occasion.
Robby: Yeah, so it's just kind of finding those ones that are legit special occasions and then enjoying yourself. Alright, guys, so first in the series here of nutrition coaching videos. Just want to give you guys a sense of what the coaches do here. Again, it's got a sword on the back. If you don't have the shirt yet, go get it.
Andrew, thank you so much for joining us today. Appreciate it.
Andrew: Thank you, Robby.
Robby: Guys, thanks so much for tuning in. See you next time.
Today we're going to talk about a basic intro to your digestive system, and how it actually works. You don't need to be going into the medical field to know that this stuff is important. You should have just a basic understanding of how this stuff works, because it ends up being overall important. Not just for your digestive health, but for your overall health. So, let's talk about how things work when you actually eat food. What happens in between when the food enters your body, and then when it exits out the backend.
First thing, your mouth. When you start eating food, your body produces saliva to basically coat that food. And, there are certain enzymes in your mouth, typically salivary amylase, which helps break down certain starches and sugars from the food that you're eating. And then of course, chewing is going to be a huge part of that start of the digestive process. You're basically taking whatever it is, whether it's a steak, or roasted vegetables or something like that. Which, by itself, if you just put it into your small intestine, wouldn't be very digestible, or absorbable in terms of extracting the nutrients out until you start this process.
So, again with your saliva. You're kind of lubricating it essentially. And then with your teeth, you're basically grinding it up. Then with those enzymes, and the salivary amylase, you are basically getting it ready for future things down the line. And, that active chewing starts to activate that parasympathetic nervous system. Now, technically even though I started with the mouth. Technically, even before that there's going to be your brain. When your brain knows that you're going to eat, it starts to secrete digestive enzymes, it starts to anticipate the food. Things like smelling your food, or anticipating your food can kind of help start that digestive process. But technically, physically, it's going to start with the mouth.
Once we get past the mouth, the food basically goes down your esophagus, and then it gets to your stomach. A very common misconception is that digestion takes place in the stomach. That is not the case. Really what takes place in the stomach is preparation for digestion, if by digestion we mean absorption of nutrients, which actually takes place in the small intestine. What happens in the stomach? Well, that stuff that you just chewed up basically gets down there, and then assuming that your stomach acid is sufficiently acidic, which it should be. It's typically about a PH of two, which is very acidic. Water is a seven. So, once it gets down there, that acid basically breaks a lot of that stuff down, and prepares it to be absorbed in the small intestine.
Now, another thing to realize about the stomach is that, there really isn't that much in the way of bacteria in the stomach. We talk a lot about probiotics and stuff like that. That's going to be much more located in things like the small intestine, and to an even greater degree, the large intestine. Isn't to say that there isn't some bacteria in the stomach, but it's going to be a very, very small quantity 'cause it's obviously a super acidic environment.
Okay, next point is really going to be the heart and soul of digestion. This is the small intestine. When we talk about leaky gut, or when we talk about a healthy gut, or we talk about are you absorbing your food. This is where the action takes place. So, your small intestine is basically where that food that you chewed up, and then was broken down by your stomach gets absorbed. And, if the acid from your stomach isn't sufficiently acidic, then your pancreas isn't going to release digestive enzymes to properly break down your food in your stomach. So, this whole chain is very important.
n your small intestine, there is a lining basically of single cells called, "enterocytes," that help your body absorb nutrients from the food that you're eating, but also keep bad stuff out. This lining is incredibly, incredibly important. It's what allows good stuff into your body, and it's what keeps bad stuff out.
Now again, going back to this notion of bacteria. We said that there's a very small amount in the stomach. There's definitely a bit more in the small intestine. But, you don't want too much there, because then that's going to interfere with digestion. Really where the vast majority of the bacteria is going to be, is in your large intestine. When we talk about probiotics, and healthy bacteria in the microbiome, that's really in your large intestine. Your large intestine is basically where three main things happen. You absorb water, a lot of the compounds that your body can actually absorb like fiber and other compounds get broken down by your bacteria in your large intestine. And then, you basically, you're preparing things to essentially exit your body.
When we talk about probiotics, healthy bacteria, there's something like a trillion bacteria in your large intestine, and that's where you want bacteria to be. So, it's so important that all of these things are working together in harmony. And, if one thing is off, like if you have too much bad bacteria in your large intestine, or insufficient stomach acid in your stomach, or you're not chewing your food in your mouth. Any one of those things can mess up digestion. And, as we've talked about, digestion is incredibly important for the health of your overall body.
I hope now you have a good sense of how digestion works, just a basic sense. And, in the next few videos we'll talk even more in depth about how this stuff works. All right guys, thanks so much for tuning in. We'll see you next time.
Today, we're gonna talk about how to eat healthy at local restaurants. The first idea I wanna give to you is this idea that look, if you're only doing this once in a great while, don't worry about it so much. It's not gonna be that big an issue as long as you're eating healthy, real whole food the vast majority of the time.
But if you are eating at restaurants on a regular basis, that's something you need to potentially consider cutting back on and some of the tips in this video will hopefully help you pick some healthier fare.
Tip number one, when it comes to eating healthier at restaurants these days, it's a whole lot easier just because menus are online so you can actually check out this stuff before you go. You can see what stuff fits in the dietary template that you're following. A lot of restaurants tend to have really good gluten free menus now. They have a lot of options and healthier fare for people when you actually go to the restaurant.
Another thing to say is when you get there and you're actually looking at the menu or if you're looking at the menu beforehand, most entrees at most restaurants are meat or quality protein plus veggies plus healthy fat. Let's say steak, broccoli, and baked potato. Or salmon and rice and some sort of vegetable. That's the way it is and the nicer restaurant you're eating at, the easier it is to eat healthy. A lot of times, when you're actually looking at the menu, look at those entrees and those are gonna tend to be in a pretty healthy mold.
Now what do you do about the waiter or the waitress? We have to balance between two ends of the spectrum here. On the one hand, you don't wanna be that jerk who orders the Cobb salad and then takes everything that makes a Cobb salad a Cobb salad. But at the same time, you're the one paying for and ordering the meal. Try to be nice and appreciate to your waiter and waitress but at the same time, if you have dietary restrictions, don't be afraid to ask for that and don't be afraid to say something if you wanna make the food a bit healthier.
Now, here's some practical tips for eating out at certain places. If you're going to a Mexican restaurant, try to emphasize meat and veggies and then try to cut down as much as you can on the beans and rice and to the lesser extent, some cheese. If you're going to a Japanese restaurant, some sushi, you can get some sashimi, white rice isn't the worst thing in the world, and get some vegetables there. If you're going to an Italian restaurant, most classical Italian cooking doesn't actually involve gobs of carbohydrates. That's really just American Italian cooking so don't be afraid to get something like chicken with some vegetables and some tomato sauce.
Hopefully those tips gave you a sense of how to eat healthy but remember, at the end of the day, if you're not doing this terribly frequently, enjoy yourself when you're out and it's not that big an issue but if you are doing it frequently, either cut down on the frequency or try to involve these healthy tips as much as you in your healthy eating when you're eating out. Alright guys, thanks so much for tuning in. We'll see you next time.
Today, we're going to talk about some super simple home remedies that you can use to help improve your digestion. In other videos, we'll talk about more advanced things but today we're going to talk about the super simple ones that pretty much anyone can do at home and these are things that you would want to check off the list first just to make sure that it's not something super simple that you've overlooked.
Number one is a huge one and I would readily admit that this is something that I work on myself, but it is really an important issue. Chew your food. Chew your food. There are a couple of reasons why that's important. One of my favorite sayings when it comes to digestion is there are no teeth in the stomach. What does that mean? It means once things have essentially gotten to your stomach, there's acid to help break things down, but if you have a piece of food that basically hasn't been chewed properly and it's making a way down to your stomach and then your small intestine, it's not going to be absorbed properly if you didn't break it down sufficiently in your mouth. You want to chew your food. Chewing your food sufficiently also helps activate certain enzymes in your mouth that help start to break down certain compounds in the food and it activates the parasympathetic nervous system, the so-called rest and digest nervous system that's necessary to help you digest. If you're in a constant state of sympathetic, kind of go, go, go mode, then it's going to be very hard to digest food.
Along with that same idea of chewing your food, you want to sit down and eat your food. This is something, while the chewing I'm still working on, sit down and eat your food I've gotten pretty good at. Most of us today eat on the run whether it's in our car or we're answering emails. I routinely get emails from people who tell me I don't take a lunch or it's 15 minutes or they're just gobbling down food. Again, if you've activated that sympathetic nervous system, it's going to be very hard to digest in that mode. You want to sit down. Take some time out. It doesn't need to be all the way to French culture where they take an hour and a half each day for food, for lunch although that would be nice. But it shouldn't be five minutes where you're scarfing down something and answering emails and driving somewhere either. Take some time out and sit down and eat your food.
Number three, water. Water is great, super healthy for you, but at the same time you shouldn't necessarily be drinking it during your meals. There are different reasoning you hear behind this. Some people suggest that it dilute stomach acid. Some people suggest that if you have cold water it's going to reduce the rate at which enzymes are going to be breaking down your food. But just in general, you want to try to eat your food and not drink it, so one of the most compelling reasons I've heard is this idea that people use water as a means to swallow otherwise improperly chewed food. If that's your reason for drinking water when you're eating, then you probably want to slow down, chew your food and not drink a bunch of water to have it go all the way down.
Number four, you want to try and express gratitude or de-stress or maybe it's 10 deep belly breaths or maybe if you're religious, maybe it's praying or maybe it's meditation or maybe it's a quick laugh before a meal. Something where you're activating that parasympathetic system and you're not constantly in this go, go, go mode where you feel like you can't really properly digest things.
Then number five is going to be that you want to try and cook your food or mash it. If you really are having digestive issues, one of the best things you can do is, A, cook your food. That's going to "predigest" it for you. Then in addition to that, the more you mash up the food, the easier it is to digest so something like, I don't know, white potato fries are going to be harder to digest than baked potato that has basically been mashed up.
Hopefully, those things can help you with your digestion and you definitely want to try those things first before you go deeper down the rabbit hole and we'll talk about some alternative strategies for improving your digestion in later videos. All right, guys. Thanks so much for tuning in. See you next time.