Life is a journey and much like any journey you learn different things along the way. Now along my journey I have also learned that it’s not necessarily what you learn but instead it’s how you apply that in which you’ve learned.
Now I’ve posted and spoken before about my journey with nutrition, but I came across these pictures and wanted to share them. Even though it seems like yesterday these pictures were actually taken years ago. The pictures on the left were taken during and right after I had finished my degree at Metropolitan State, where I studied Human Performance and Sport with a minor in Nutrition. I learned so many things as I went through this program, from kinesiology, physiology, and human anatomy. However during this time I was also taught to be able to recite the old USDA Food Guide Pyramid and that calories in vs. calories is all that really matters and it’s just an easy mathematical equation when it comes to humans and weight loss or weight gain. I remember at one point during a class we had to analyze our daily food journal and being told that I eat too many vegetables and needed to eat more grain sources.
Now as you can see the pictures on the left show a much “puffier” version of me. During this time I was following everything that I was taught in school. I was eating good majority of processed foods and drinking shakes but was still consuming the recommended daily servings of each food group.
This continued for the next year or so. It wasn’t until I attended my first CrossFit Level 1 Seminar where I was introduced to the Zone Diet and its principles. At this point in my life and young career I thought I knew everything. I had a resume that was full of jobs where I worked in places with athletes and clients some coaches could only dream of. In addition I worked with some of the best mentors I could have ever imagined, so how could this method be any better than the system I had been following for years and not to mention paid a lot of money to learn about. I remember sitting in the front row listening to the instructor lecture and explain the principles about this diet and being very skeptical, but the one thing that he said that got me was to try it for 30 days and if you don’t like it you could email him and tell him it didn’t work.
So with some encouragement from my girlfriend at the time who is now my wife Courtney, we decided to take him up on his challenge. We even took it a step further and decided to secretly participate in a 50 day challenge that was being put on by a gym on the east coast. At first I didn’t know what I got myself into. I had to weigh and measure my food, along with that I had to perform math and above all I had to take ownership and PLAN ahead of time! This was first time I had been eating not just based off of servings but instead the intent was to regulate and balance my hormonal response. Up to this point I never fully understood how people could be addicted to sugar, but as I went through this process I discovered that my body craved sugar. I literally felt like an addicted searching for my next fix. The first 2-3 weeks were a big challenge for me. However as time went on I developed new habits, which started to make each day easier and easier. Luckily I discovered that grapes and strawberry’s helped with my sugar craves that we becoming less and less frequent. But without a doubt the biggest indicator that my body was asking for a change had to be the amount of change I saw physically. When we first started this challenge I weighed between 182-184 pounds, and by looking at myself I didn’t really think I carried a lot of “bad” weight as I had a six pack and was between 8-9% body fat. Within the first 30 days I had lost 30 POUNDS, yes 30 pounds! I went for 184 to 154 in 30 days. Now I know most people will read that and say that is awesome, but to be honest to say I was freaking out would be an understatement. I grew up as a football player, before I was introduced to CrossFit I considered competing in bodybuilding where size is what it’s all about. However I said I was going to take on this challenge and I needed to see it through. I was amazed by what was happening. I had thought I was doing everything right and within 30 days everything I had been thought was proven otherwise. The 30 pounds I lost wasn’t 30 pound of fat, but instead it was an incredible amount of inflammation. I may have had a six pack, but inside my body it was an inflammatory hurricane. I learned by eating balance meals that had carbohydrates, fats and proteins present my body could better regulate my hormones and utilize the fuel that I was eating for just that fuel. I also learned that quality absolutely wins out and that it isn’t simply just a mathematical equation of calories in vs. calories out.
As I finished up the remaining 20 days of the challenge my body did start to find some regulation and my weight did actually increase to around 170 which I think is my body’s natural set point. The picture on the right was taken about a month or so after we finished that first challenge.
The take away I got by doing this challenge is first don’t EVER think you know everything, be open to learning new methods and new things. I’m not saying the method I was thought in my undergrad doesn’t work, it just obviously didn’t work for me. Secondly I learned that sound nutrition is more about what is happening internally as opposed to externally. Lastly I learned that in order to be successful with anything, I needed to plan ahead. On the days I didn’t properly plan I struggled and didn’t set myself up for success. Since this time I have learned so much more, but one thing that stays constant is that it’s not necessarily what you learn but instead it’s how you apply that in which you’ve learned.