Nutrition, Health and Exercise: My Thoughts and a Guide to find helpful information.

Eating properly to live a healthy lifestyle is not very complicated.  Avoiding sugars and processed carbohydrates is essential, after that you can decide to be more or less strict with how balanced your diet is.  If you eat a lot of Vegetables and some fruit then you are on the right track to not having any health issues that can be caused by a bad diet (you would be shocked at how many illnesses are caused by unhealthy eating).

Even though it seems simple to eat healthy, poor food choices seem to be the number one cause of sickness and mortality rates around the world. Of all the people who have suffered from heart disease, type 2 diabetes or obesity, I wonder what percentage of them were fully aware of how their food choices were affecting their health?  The impression I get from speaking to people that are close and friendly to me, is that most of them are not fully aware of what kinds of effects unhealthy food has on them. Most of the time, if people do not get fat, they feel like they are lucky and consider that this means that they can eat whatever they want.  Weight gain is only one of the many symptoms of a poor diet, and by no means can someone be considered healthy or not by the simple fact of their being overweight or not.

This perception that many people have of weight gain being the only cause of a poor diet can be very dangerous for athletes and non-athletes alike.  In both cases a poor diet can have many negative effects that the person is not aware of. For the athlete the least of these is that a poor diet will have a negative effect on your performance, but the consequences could be much worse.

Nutrition is important if not basic to living a healthy life, so is exercise.  One is not more important than the other, and using one to overcome a lack of the other does not work either. For example someone who eats well but does not exercise will only ever reach a certain level of health, they may not have health problems but a lack of exercise will certainly affect them as they get older and lose functional use of their bodies.

I believe that people should be able to eat what they want, and live the lifestyles that they choose.  I do however think that it is important that people be aware of the consequences of their choices and be able to easily find healthy alternatives.  Below are some examples of where I go to find information on Nutrition and Health.

Barbell Shrugged

This is a website and weekly podcast that covers everything regarding strength and conditioning, including nutrition.  Here you can learn about what you need to eat in order to train to your maximal potential. They also have programs that you can join to help you with your goals, whether that is to gain muscle mass or to get lean.

www.barbellshrugged.com

Crossfit.com and The Crossfit Journal

Almost everyone who does crossfit will be familiar with this website that proposes a workout per day but the site also has a wealth of information regarding crossfit as well as nutrition. Whether it be a description of the type of diet they propose (see link below) to articles regarding nutrition in the crossfit journal here you can find a lot of information related to nutrition and health.

www.crossfit.com/cf-info/start-diet.html

Nutrition Facts

This site is like an encyclopedia for nutrition. If you are interested in researching the pro’s and cons of a given ingredient you will be able to find the information here.

nutritionfacts.org

Eat to Perform

This is a site with a lot of interesting articles and information regarding nutrition mostly related to performance. Here you can find all kinds of information regarding what to eat depending on what your goals are.

http://www.eattoperform.com/

The Birthday Wod

I have been training my friend Iain for four weeks now and I must say that the progress he has made is very impressive. He has been coming to the box five times a week, and even though on some days his legs or his shoulders hurt, he gives it his all during every single workout.  The focus of the workouts has not changed much since the beginning, however I have been programming more movements that require upper body strength in the wods as well as in the strength portion of the workouts. The main intention remains to keep him moving at an elevated heart rate to gain some metabolic conditioning and stamina.  HIs strength has also increased, for example he could not complete 10 ring rows on his first session and he can now string 21 in a row during a wod, Progress like this has been the norm with most of his movements.

Last thursday was his 31st birthday so I programmed a special workout for him.  I decided to make it tougher than what he was used to, in part as a special treat for his birthday and also to gauge the progress we were making. The  night before I received a voice message from him about how excited he was that a t-shirt he had bought  a few weeks back was now too big for him. That was great motivation for me as a coach and hopefully for him to tackle the workout I had planned for him.

The wod consisted of

31 squats

31 single jump ropes

31 Kettlebell Swings

31 Ring Rows

31 Walking Lunge steps

310 meter row

31 wall balls (14lbs)

31 burpees

Plus an additional 31 barbell thrusters if he felt he could. He did them.

Total time 21 minutes.

He hit the wall on his burpees and seemed like he was going to stop a few times but he fought through them, all the while saying “You know I used to have a friend called Kevin”, and when he was done he said “Now that we’ve done all this we might as well do the thrusters”.

From Sickness to Fitness

It has been two months since I received the certificate as a L1 trainer from crossfit and it has been a month and a half since I have been coaching at the newest box in Barcelona, Crossfit Poblenou. Whilst coaching the classes and introducing people to crossfit and watching them get hooked on it from the beginning has been incredibly fulfilling, what has me the most excited about coaching is the opportunity that I have to coach a particular individual.

A very close friend of mine who has not had great luck with his health in the last couple of years and who has not really helped himself with his lifestyle, has asked me if I could train him and try to help him to get back into shape, or to put it in crossfit terms, to bring him from a state of sickness to one of fitness.

We had been talking about the possibility of doing this for a few weeks now, and at the beginning I was not sure if he was going to follow through with it.  He had been saying he was going to come in so we could get started but things kept getting in the way. I was not very interested in training with him if he was only going to show up sporadically and not take it seriously. I am 100% committed to helping him as long as I see 100% commitment from his end as well.

However we have now trained three times in the past week and he seems extremely motivated to push forward and I am very excited to see how far we can take this and what kind of results we can achieve. In a past my life my friend had a personal trainer that he still raves about today and he has a solid base of how to move and knows how to push himself to get the work done. I am certain that he will make great gains very quickly. The main focus for now is to work on metabolic conditioning or cardio. I feel that if we can build a solid base of cardiovascular resistance then the rest of the work will be much easier. However all the programming comes from crossfit as I know of no better way to improve someone’s health as well as their fitness. Here below is the programming I came up with for the first three sessions.

Day 1: We went over some basic movements such as the squat, push-up, pull-up, and the row. Strength: Ring rows and push-ups WOD: 5 rounds 250 meter row 25 squats

Day 2: We went through some more basic movements, sit-ups, burpees, deadlifts, shoulder press and box jumps. Strength 5×5 push-ups (knees on the ground) + 1 minute AMRAP push-ups. WOD: 4 rounds 10 burpees 10 box jumps 20 walking lunge steps

Day 3: Skill work: Single Jump rope, wall ball, med ball clean. Strength: 10-8-6-4-6-8-10 ring rows, 1 minute rest in between sets WOD: 12 min AMRAP 10 wall balls (10lbs) 10 sit-ups 5 push press (15kg).

My first impressions are that he is fully dedicated to getting better and getting into shape. He pushes very hard during the workouts, to the point that many experienced crossfitters could learn a couple of things about pushing through pain.

There is however a big difference between his leg strength of which he has plenty and upper body strength of which he has hardly any.   To try and remedy this I plan on programming a lot of upper body exercises in the strength portion of the workout and allowing him to use his legs more for the workouts. I plan on splitting the strength days into push and pull sessions with different variations such as ring rows, push-ups, bench press, banded pull-ups to name a few.

I will be tracking all of the workouts and the results on the blog as well as his health meters with the hope that we start to see real change and share this journer with anyone who may be interested.