Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Good writing, CF Sectionals, and the Gadd Not Diet

First off, I really like this piece of writing by Stephen Koch. It rings true and clear for not only climbing but many things in life. Stephen really helped me and all of us out during the Ouray Endless Ascent battle, this essay explains a few things, and urges me to do better not only in climbing but life. Nice one, and hope you're healing all the old injuries Stephen!

Second, my wife, Kim Csizmazia, and Sarah Hueniken (both train at Cult Fit, check it out)went to the Crossfit Sectionals in Edmonton over the weekend. Sarah has been training CF in the evening after guiding all day; I have no idea how she does it, the load would be too high for me to handle. Kim trains CF around chasing our kid, writing, etc., I also have no idea how she find the motivation. CF is motivational... Our neighbors think we're crazy, especially when the garage door is open and there are women screaming in the driveway with big weights at -20. Me, I think it's pretty damn cool. Anyhow, Kim finished 11th and Sarah 20th. These are good results for sure, but even better considering they have only been CFing for six months. Kim is now qualified for CF Nationals in a couple of months, the neighbors are gonna be scared now!

Third and last, I've got some opinions developing on "nutrition." I'll write more about this later, but I'm convinced the whole "diet" industry is composed of nothing but energy sucking vampires; the only thing worse than them are the victims who keep expecting something different out of the latest program.

Here are the "rules" for any diet that will actually work:

1. It has to be a way that you can eat for the rest of your life, starting today. Really, no BS on that--don't "get just a bit leaner" first, etc. etc. That will NOT work long-term. Why is it so hard for people, me included, to understand this? Seriously, it NEVER works--every failed diet on the planet shows this, long-term there are no exceptions. You have to eat today like you will forever or you're just playing games with your body and head.

2. Measuring, calorie counting, or any other form of food manipulation is doomed to fail. See above; it never works long term. And if it doesn't work long-term then why bother? I am an athlete for life, I want to eat as an athlete for life, and find a way to do that.

3. Any "diet" ultimately pushes the eater farther and farther away from the real goal of nutrition, which is to fuel the body appropriately and leave the eater feeling reasonably good (stable enough blood sugar levels, looking good enough nekked to be happy, etc). The only way to reach this goal is to learn how to listen to your body. I can see every zoner, Pritikinite, Grok, Blood Type and South Beacher's hackles rise; "It's not possible your body actually knows what to eat!!!!" Yes, it is, but most people have screwed with their eating so much they no longer have a clue what their bodies are saying. "Learning" how to eat by Zoning or whatever is just retarded because it only teaches you how to ignore what your body is asking for, and your body does ask, loud and clear if you listen. But if you're only eating three blocks of A when your body wants a steak then you'll ignore those signals...

4. So, what to eat? Well, CF's original nutrition (and that's different than a food-restricted diet like the Zone, or a food-restricted diet like the cave man stuff) prescription was pretty good: "Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat." Cool. Try that out. If you're hungry eat more. If you're not don't. Go eat a whole bowl of ice cream with extra sauce, but instead of feeling all guilty about it pay attention to what your head and body feel like when you want that ice cream, and then after eating it, and how your energy levels change. Write this down if you need to. Learn about insulin, the glycemic index of food and as much as you can so you can understand what's going on physically and mentally... Go hiking or climbing all day and bring beef jerky, a chicken breast, a can of tuna and no carbohydrates. Watch your vision dim and your motivation drop. Learn why complex and even simple carbs work when you're working hard. Read about nutrition, but ignore the diet hoaxers. Eat. Listen. Listen carefully. Never "cheat," because the idea is ridiculous to begin with--you're eating the way you want to eat, to feel the way you want to feel as a human. Listen to your body starting now. It takes time to learn to listen, but less time than all the diet nonsense wastes year after year.

So there it is, the Gadd not-diet. Send me a cheque for half of what you save on diet books, "Paleo," "Weight Watchers" or any other branded and packaged food that purports to be special. It's not, I look forward to retiring on my cheques. This would be funny if it weren't such a tremendous waste of money, time and energy for so many.


Butch said...

hey Will, interesting stuff on diet.

Regarding the "listen to your body" thing, this has been studied: you can get meaningful feedback only about simple nutritional stuff (e.g. hunger, thirst, or glycemic index) off physical sensation. Other stuff is too complex.

IE you have a vitamin deficiency. You will feel "off" in some way but it will be basically impossible to figure out why from the way you feel (one of the reasons why super-high performance athletes (cyclists etc) who are focused on one specific kind of workout have regular blood tests and they get their vitmain etc doses adjusted).

You could put nutrition down to one simple rule: what you eat has to support both long-term health and short-term energy needs. That means a largely, tho not exclusively, vegetarian diet of complex carbs, fat and protein most of the time, protein etc after muscle-torquing workouts, and lots of simpler carbs during performance.


Will Gadd said...

Butch--the same people who say you can't listen to your body are likely the same types of people who brought us the low-fat, high carb diet that resulted in massive obesity across North America: Nutritionists.. Not buying it. I've also read research that shows that kids will ultimately make good nutritional choices after getting after all the sugar etc. first. I'm not sure I'd trust that entirely as a parent, ha ha, but I haven't tried it.

"Listening to your body" is a long-term experiment, not a short-term feedback loop. Eat a lot of simple carbs, drink heavily, and don't exercise. How do you feel? That's listening to your body.

Eat meat, vegetables, low glycemic index carbs, drink less alcohol, how do you feel? That's listening to your body.

Go do tons of long slow distance exericse; what does your body want before, during and after? What WORKS to maintain energy levels?

Agree with, "what you eat has to support both long-term health and short-term energy needs." Don't agree that this is mainly a vegetarian diet of complex carbs, but that may be what you run well on, and if it's working then cool!

Thanks for the comment.

yum said...

"eat food. not too much. mostly plants." - that food book guy

Bill said...

My understanding of "listen to your body" is that your body will only ask you for things your body thinks are in the available food supply. You body only knows what is available by what your put in your mouth. At one point my body thought that the options were, chocolate, dorritos, pastrami and cheese. If I listened to my body it would scream for one of those options and never ever for broccoli. My body wouldn't ask for broccoli, no matter how much I might need it. It didn't exist. In other words listening to your body will not work unless or until your diet includes the things it might need. Till that point it will just want more dorritos.

Anonymous said...

Love it, Will!
I agree with the 'listen to your body' thing. It's taken some time but I have learned that when my body is screaming for steak, I need to feed it steak. Now that I listen, I feel so much better not only physically but mentally. True, sometimes my body screams for chocolate ice cream with chocolate sauce and chocolate sprinkles and I'm ok with giving that to it as well; just in small doses ;)


visualadventures said...

I have found that you can teach your body to crave certain things less. We are creatures of habit. For example, eat less sugar for a month, and you will crave it less. Same goes for alcohol.
From my experience as a parent, kids in general have major cravings for sweet and carbs and few would feed themselves properly if left alone with the choice.

Anonymous said...

Good info, Will. I think there is an evolution in how fueling the body is considered. There are many considerations for food selection relating to your activities. Weighing and measuring? Useful for at least a while...absolutely. More simple carbs during endurance activities? Absolutely.
We just completed a nutrition challenge based on the Paleo Diet. We had great results across the spectrum of fitness levels. However, I do not believe that using a strict Paleo Diet is a useful lifelong eating plan. Its too restrictive for people to utilize as a lifelong eating plan.
And weighing a measuring for life? No way. The zone is about quantity and paleo is about quality.
I think we have learned that everyone is a little different. What works for me won't work for everyone. But selecting a Paleo food plan to level our insulin response, cutting out dairy and grains for a brief period to determine if it improves our performance, increasing our good fat intake to check performance are all good experiments.
Where do we end up? Everybody will be slightly different. I think a more workable food plan for me may resemble the Primitive diet championed by Mark Sisson. At the end of the day we must be willing to experiment a little. That may include weighing and measuring for a while. I've heard it asked this way, "how do you feel, how do you look, how do you perform?" Pretty simple, but without being willing to experiment a bit, how do you really know what works best for you?
Sorry if this is a bit long, but I think I agree that nutrition is the base of sport. Its is how we fuel our performance.
Good post. Good luck to Kim at the next competition.

Hypoxia CrossFit
Ouray, CO

Stephen Koch said...

Thanks for your kind words regarding my essay. I really enjoyed participating as a belayer and supporter for your Endless Ascent project and hope to share a rope (not attached to a tree but attached to me!) with you again sometime soon! Congrats to Kim!
Stephen Koch

Anonymous said...

@Butch, kids can do it:


Matt said...

Hey Will. Thanks for another great post.

Have you checked out the Beast Skills website yet? If not then google it and take a look. It's a lot of gymnastics based skills and I've been using some of it in my training. It adds a lot of interest and all of it has been great for body tension and overall strength. Check it out

Aimee said...

Question about the lady crossfitters in your life....do they do the full WOD? Do they self scale or use the BrandX modified scales? Just curious....

Will Gadd said...

Hi Aimee, at first Kim and Sarah were somewhere between buttercups and puppies on the Brand X scaled workouts. Over the last six months or so they've gone from that to doing many of the WODs as RXed, but if there is heavy lifting involved they will scale as per Brand X or whatever seems reasonable. They usually do the CFWU plus skills; I think the CFWU (or something like it) is integral to the success of the CF protocol, it adds a "base" to the load.

Will Gadd said...

Sorry for the delay in response Allan, for some reason I didn't see your comment in my email. And thanks for running a great box, Kim really enjoyed her time with Hypoxia! Sorry I couldn't make a WOD, I was on a bit of a sport-specific training regime while in town but look forward to hitting it next time.

I started writing a long response and then it turned into a blog post instead, thanks for the inspiration!