It can be confusing when you hear elite CrossFit athletes like Rich Froning brag about fueling their 8 hours per day of training with Big Macs but I promise you that there are no elite masters athletes bragging about carefree nutritional practices.  Through your 20’s most of us can get away with it.   In our 30’s a few of us can still relax.  And a few oddball outliers and genetic freaks can even survive the 40’s before being forced to face the truth:  Nutrition is the key to long term success.  Thanks to Shades for taking on this very critical topic and leading the charge for our Empower athletes committed to getting the best out of their bodies!

Makeover Monday, Turn around Tuesday, Fresh leaf Friday.  I’ve spent more than half my life striving to change my ways.  I’d vow, “Today will be the day I’ll turn things around!”  My resolve would generally last till about noon, maybe the next day.  Maintaining consistency was a major battle.  My struggle with weight and fitness goals started when I was a plump 10 year old girl who eschewed sports.  Lacking in speed and skill I found participating in sports awkward, hard, and embarrassing.  Reading Nancy Drews and banging out stories on a typewriter was preferable to flailing about clumsily on a sports field.  Exercise simply was not my friend.  The weight kept piling on and I became a desperate 14 year old.   Being overweight and out-of-shape in High school was hard and I wanted out! One day I spied an ad for a weight loss camp in the back of a teen magazine.  It gave me hope.  I thought one month away from temptation, would set me right.  In fact, the camp helped a lot.  I lost 15 pounds, a good jump start, discovered I liked running and was able to slowly lose more weight once home.   Fast forward to adulthood.  I continued running and started going to a community center gym,  picking up my first dumbbell at age 28.  However, along the way I had also developed a partying lifestyle.  I was an enthusiastic wine drinker, smoker and generally happy to gad about from one event to the next.  My dietary habits also were not the best, consuming cereal, muffins, and bagels for breakfast, pasta for dinner and chips and candy at will.  But that was then.  I’m 47 now.  I’ve given up smoking, don’t drink, love to workout and my diet is much more mindful.  These changes have not been easy but life “on the other side” as I like to think of it, is much better.

Any chance you are feeling stuck in your ways?  Maybe you are trying to make a health and fitness change but find it hard to get started and keep going?  If so, maybe some of the lessons I learned over the years may help you.  Here are the 5 key strategies which caused me to shift gears.  Some might work  for you too.

1. Start slow. Pick one thing at a time to change.  Radical overhauls can be impossible to maintain.  Tackle whatever is bringing you down the most or choose something which you have a 7 out of 10 chance of succeeding.   Success breeds success.  Be reasonable.  If you wish to go Paleo, start by swapping a morning muffin for eggs, avocado and sweet potato for a month. Then add another meal.  The first habit I broke was smoking.  I focused on that and nothing else.  It feels weird to admit to smoking in this day and age, but I was shackled to the habit.  When it came time to make another change, I was able to tell myself, “Remember you quit smoking, you can do X (insert next change).

2. Play it forward. How will you feel tomorrow if you don’t meet your goal today?  Keep your motivation high.  Ask yourself if you want to start over?  Think of how far you have come and  hang in there.  Envision how amazing you will feel for seeing it through!  In this case, no pain, no gain, really holds true.

3. Anticipate triggers that will throw you off course and come up with a plan to deal with them ahead of time. Triggers can be bad moods, hellish days, certain social everts, family stresses, double unders.  There are no end to triggers! Try to avoid getting too hungry, tired or isolated.  Know it will be hard.  If attending a certain event would derail your goals, consider saying no. For example, late nights may affect sleep, diet, a morning workout. Prioritize.  What is most important to you? Keep your goals in mind and carry on. The first 3 days of a habit change can be the hardest. Vow to get through those, and then take it one day at a time

4. Go without alcohol for 100 days. A few years ago I took on a 100 day “no booze” challenge.  I had previously completed 30 day alcohol free challenges and felt great at the end. I  wondered what a longer stint would do.   Prior to these challenges, I was in the habit of drinking 2+ glasses of wine a day, more on weekends.  The wine was disrupting my sleep and creating a slew of other issues for body and mind.  It was remarkable how much better I felt after a 100 days booze free, but that is a topic for another day.  Depending on your drinking habits you may wish to consider going a 100 days sans alcohol. You never know what it might bring.  Note: if you simply have a few drinks a month, this hack need not apply.

5. Don’t go it alone! Find a supportive community where health and fitness is practiced and valued. Join others who have embraced a healthy lifestyle. The support and motivation of others can help you tremendously.  In my case, I found such a place at Crossfit Empower!