I talk a lot about eating clean, balancing macronutrients and making this a lifestyle. But what I haven’t talked much about yet is how to make this all realistic and sustainable over a lifetime. Because after all, is something really a lifestyle if it can’t be sustained for a lifetime?
So here are my thoughts and actions on this… Sometimes, you have to just give in, go a little crazy, and be so bad.
Go out with your friends, eat a meal without picking the waiter apart for ingredient lists, leave your scale at home, and (*gasp*), overindulge.
Though it might seem counterintuitive for me, someone who has made my life’s goal to help people become healthier and fitter over the long haul, to tell you to sometimes give into temptation and to eat whatever you want, there is thought behind this madness.
Let me start by explaining through example. This past weekend, the operators (and their spouses – lucky me!) from NorCal CrossFit went up to Half Moon Bay, where we were treated to an UNBELIEVABLE brunch at the Ritz Carlton thanks to Jason Khalipa.
The options were endless – everything from waffles, eggs, and bacon, to sushi, fresh seafood, caviar, and really fancy little plates that I can’t even recall the names of. Oh, and to wrap it all up, there were more amazing desserts than you could ever imagine.
So what did I do? I’ll tell you what I didn’t do; I didn’t worry about eating super clean, stress about balancing my macronutrients, or waste a moment doing anything but enjoying the great food and amazing company of some of my closest friends.
I don’t do this too often, but what I have learned from experience is that it is so important to be human, to enjoy time with friends and family, and to experience life through the senses (taste happens to be one of my favorites).
I went through a phase when I first started all of this where I was as strict as possible; I ate extremely clean, and I weighed and measured everything. Things were great at first, but then it started to become all-consuming. When we would get invited to dinner with friends, I would stress and think of excuses to avoid eating out. I would get cranky if I couldn’t have my meals exactly when I wanted them in the perfect proportions, and I would take out this obsessive behavior on the people I love most, mainly my husband (then boyfriend – he stuck around, thank God).
In fact, because I was eating so clean, my performance actually started to decline. The fun got taken out of it.
What I soon came to realize was that the diet was controlling my life rather than creating better quality of life, and it just wasn’t cool. After a few months of being super clean and never giving into cravings or splurging during nights out with friends or nights in with Rusty, I realized it was time to make a change.
The reason we eat clean and think about keeping meals balanced is so that we can feel better, live healthier, and perform better in the gym. Once food becomes a overwhelming focus, though, all of those things go out the window.
And get this, going a little crazy sometimes, eating pizza and ice cream, going out with friends to a delicious meal, having a glass of wine… all of these things are not only important for our quality of life, but they are important for peace of mind and stress relief. Happiness and joy are just as important to our health as nutrition and exercise.
Also, sometimes you NEED to give into cravings because your body is telling you something. When I started giving into certain cravings, like adding in some gluten free grain and raw organic cheese, I actually felt better and my performance improved (Remember we are our own laboratory to test how our body runs at its peak performance).
In fact, among us CrossFit Level 1 Staff Members, Saturday nights are international cheat nights. We all go out to dinner after Day 1, and anything goes! Matt Chan (the guy with the abs), for instance, finished up this seminar in San Jose a few months ago, and put down about half a dozen donuts. Some of the most amazing athletes in the world will tell you that those “cheat” nights keep them going hard in the gym and keep them sane.
Though I eat really clean most of the time and plan meals to balance my macros, I absolutely love going out to nice dinners, trying all kinds of new foods, and most importantly doing all of these things with the people I love most.
Now, there are certain things I know I have to ALWAYS avoid. If I eat gluten, I’m (really) messed up for at least two days, so I always avoid that, but when I am at a beautiful brunch buffet with all kinds of amazing food, pretty much anything else goes.
Take a look at these desserts! The pistachio one was unreal, and the ice creams were amazing.
It was such an awesome day, spending time with cool people, eating great food, and celebrating life and a job working for a company we all love.
So what happens after you go a little nuts??
The coolest part about understanding your body through putting in time eating clean and learning how you run at your best is that now you know EXACTLY what to do to get right back on track.
That evening, Rusty and I got right back on track with a clean meal, and I woke up the next day feeling great!
So keep up the great work, but don’t forget to live life, have fun, and enjoy the little things, which include eating your favorite foods with your favorite people.
Happy Tuesday everyone!