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Thanksgiving Confessions

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The majority of the prospective clients that come to us are looking for two things:  they want to “lose weight and tone.”  Great goals; most have a sedentary job, a fair amount of stress in their daily lives, haven’t made time for regular physical exercise and are eating a standard American diet which collectively led to the aforementioned problems. This article is not for them. . . yet.

The majority of our current clients have for the most part solved those problems. They have been working out consistently for several months and made fitness and proper nutrition an 80/20 lifestyle. They are “toned” and have lost body fat.  The results have carried over into and improved other areas of their lives such as family, relationships and career.  They are happier, healthier, sleeping better and have more energy.

It leads some to think they should increase the volume and frequency of their training. Not all but many of our hardcore CrossFitters—those that have drunk the kool aid so to speak also have a ‘more is better’ mentality.  They are Type A’s, hard driving, ambitious and striving for perfection.  They’ve put in work, gotten results and want to continue to achieve higher goals.  That’s great right?  Up to a point and then you will see diminishing returns.

Often overlooked or neglected is one of the most important aspects of fitness—recovery.  And I am guilty of this myself.  I’ve been in the fitness game  since 1995.  I have competed, tried extreme programs and diets, overtrained at times and been an advocate of the more is better, work harder, do or die and never give up mentality. That has led to some successes and to some failures.

I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I now have a good balance.  My nutrition is no longer extreme but one that is sustainable in regards to maintaining a comfortable weight without feeling deprived or experiencing cravings.  My training is consistent with 4 days a week and 2 recovery sessions of yoga which keeps me feeling good, injuries at bay and results and improvements continue.

Even after all these years I keep an open mind, continue to learn and am occasionally surprised.  Take this past weekend.  I had a five day Thanksgiving getaway planned – with the family at the beach. I’d been working hard and needed to get away.  I was packed and prepped a week in advance; I trained Monday and Tuesday and had 2-3 workouts planned during the trip.

Wednesday went well with relatively healthy takeout for dinner while the fam had pizza delivered, Thursday I decided to take another rest day and Friday’s ‘workout’ turned into an 8 hour black Friday shopping tradition. Tomorrow …

Saturday am came, hmmm, the game is at 12 and I just didn’t feel like running on the beach or going to the local CF box.  I slept in, drank coffee, visited and actually put make up and a cute shirt on for the game.  I ate a large healthy breakfast so I wouldn’t eat from the junk food spread.  Well that didn’t work; I started munching on the food that was put out; steamed shrimp, chicken wings fried in God knows what kind of oil, tortilla chips with colors not found in nature pasteurized cheese spread and Ruffles “cheddar cheese” potato chips.  You could literally smell the chemicals wafting out of the bag. The only things I refrained from were gluten and alcohol.  I don’t do well with either.

That continued throughout the day interspersed with leftover pumpkin pie.  Oh my, I actually sat on the couch and ate potato chips for a large portion of the day.  If you don’t know me I can’t tell you how out of character that is or how rarely it happens.

While driving home on Sunday I came across a good article on FB that Robb Wolf had shared on recovery.  One of the comments was from a woman who said “so I sat on the couch and ate potato chips and that’s supposed to help my fitness”.  Lol that really hit home.

As I was unpacking and carrying stuff up and down the stairs I noticed how well my knees and joints felt after 5 days without strenuous activity.  Didn’t think more of it; spent the rest of the afternoon on the couch reading a fiction book and went to bed at 8:30.  Again, out of character.

Feeling like I had just blown off 5 days and eaten bad food I wondered how my Monday morning workout would feel.  To my utter surprise I felt really good squatting and was up 5# from the previous Monday.  On Tuesday I felt even stronger and had a really strong workout.  My shoulders felt better than they had in weeks. My mind was clear.  Could fitness really be improved by sitting on the couch eating potato chips?  Very doubtful but the much needed recovery could be exactly what my body and mind needed.

A lesson learned for the hard driving Type A’s—it’s really okay to let go once in awhile and eat or drink something that is not on your typical program.  While being a couch potato that thinks the drive thru is their kitchen is not good the other extreme is not either.  Let go and lighten up (on occasion) because being human is a good thing.