Congratulations, you have completed the first Fit Challenge of 2016...Now What?

Congratulations, you have completed the first Fit Challenge of 2016...Now What?

Well, it's over (almost).  You hopefully feel great, and while you may be craving one thing or another, you may wonder how to proceed – how to get to a new reality -- a lifestyle that incorporates healthy nutrition and regular intense training.

First lets talk about Nutrition...

I’ll admit….I am a rule follower…….actually in most cases I’m a rule follower to a fault.   My wife says everything I do -- I take it “overboard”.  I have to do it in excess.  Like the time I wanted to hydrate for a marathon and drank so much water in one sitting that I ended up puking it all up and became dehydrated. Or when I decided to spray the yard with organic weed killer meant only for the weeds.  I thoughtit worked so well that I spayed the entire front yard, killed all the grass, and ended up having to re-seed the entire yard most of the summer.   Then there was the time I decided to be a vegetarian and liked it so much the first month, that I became vegan, went from vegan to vegan/raw, after about three weeks of that, I ended up onlydrinking smoothies with kale, carrots, and apple, lost 15 pounds and got really sick.  
So, yes, I may over-do things, but I say the best way to learn something is to experience it.  Then you know!  And what I know is that when it comes to diet and nutrition, whatever “flavor” you choose, must be sustainable for you.

Nutrition is a tricky thing and different people have different needs based on specific goals and physiological needs.  What works for one, may or may not work for another.  I do not endorse Paleo (or Atkins or Weight Watchers) or any diet that claims to work for everyone.  As a matter of fact, in my house we do not follow a strict Paleo diet.  We eat grains and use sweeteners.  We just do it in a way that works for us.  You will read later on how we learned to soak and sprout grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes and to use raw natural sweeteners for baking that are delicious and, in my opinion, taste better than refined sugars.  Again, your nutrition plan has to be sustainable for you and align with your health and fitness goals.

I can’t stress enough, the importance nutrition plays in the realm of weight loss and performance.  When I first opened my doors, I had a client who was a great NCAA Division I athlete and was coming to me 15 years after his NCAA career 50 pounds overweight. He was unable to run a mile or do ten push-ups in a row.  As I designed a 90-day program for him, I thought about what would be the most effective course of action to get him in “fighting shape” in three months.  Clearly, a specific workout and training regimen was necessary, and so was a nutrition plan that would support the increased level of intense activity while also enabling him to drop weight.

My client didn’t want to commit to the nutrition component of the plan but was all in on the training.  Ninety days later, the client was able to run the same mile pace he ran in college, perform 50 push-ups, jump, and do pull-ups and everything else a well-conditioned person should be able to do.  However, not a pound of body fat was lost, nor was an inch of waistline -- proof that nutrition is paramount.  You can work out all you want:  in order to achieve the best physical results, you need to “eat right”.

One of the bestways to identify the type of nutrition plan that is not only effective but also sustainable is to follow an elimination plan for a specified period of time – let's say 30 days.  An elimination diet means removing certain foods from our diet and the toxins that go with those foods.  Removing toxins from our daily nutrition can tell us a lot about what works (and doesn’t work) for us individually.  Eliminating foods from our diet enables us to see what reactions we might have to these foods when we re-introduce them into our bodies after a certain period of time.  Most, or some of these foods, are likely to cause inflammation, imbalanced PH, hormone disruption, or a host of other issues that inhibit weight lost and/or performance.  An elimination diet can be difficult, as some of you know,  and unsustainable for most of us for the long term.  A life spent with no grains, no wine, no sweeteners, and no dairy would be torture, especially for those of us who appreciate food.

When it’s time to re-introduce the foods that were eliminated,  there is a way to do it that limits the common negative effects (bloating, upset stomach, skin irritations, headaches, etc.).  I have an ancestral-type philosophy when it comes to reintroducing things like grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes.  I find that adhering to the traditional ways of preparing grains, nuts, and seeds works best.  In fact, it works so well that we've continued to prepare our grains, nuts and seeds this way – we soak them and sprout them.  It takes much longer, but the process has a profound effect in pulling out many of the anti-nutrients contained in these foods.  Anti-nutrients are what make foods toxic.   It's not simply about getting vitamins and minerals from these foods, its about eliminating the toxins that are harmful to the body.  

Soaking and sprouting is quite easy, and it’s been a really effective way for us to eat in a way that is sustainable and totally manageable for our family.  It just takes a few minutes of preparation and a bit of planning.  From time to time we will cut out all grains, just like we do in the gym for a challenge, but we live the other 90% of our lives eating rice, lentils and other grains that have been soaked and/or sprouted, as well as nuts and seeds that have been soaked and dehydrated.  

For those of you who want to learn moresoaking and sprouting, the best resource I have found is a book called “Nourishing Traditions”.  It’s not only good information, but also has very good ancestral, nutritious recipes.  Soaking and sprouting is gaining popularity, and soaked and sprouted food items can be found in most co-ops and at Whole Foods if you don't want to do it yourself.

One thing we do stay away from is sugar!  We have no refined sugar at all, but we love to bake, and using things like almond flour, coconut flour, tapioca, and potato starch, we can make almost anything.  We bake with natural, unrefined sweeteners such as dates, really ripe bananas, a little raw honey, and sometimes maple syrup in limited amounts.