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You can always make more money, make more friends and acquire more knowledge- but without your health none of it matters….

It’s the time of year when we continue to adjust to new schedules. Things get busy and we often forget to take care of ourselves. Bad habits creep back in and then the holidays hit pushing us further into neglect of our personal health. Let’s take a deep breath and focus on a few simple things this fall that can help us avoid getting too far off track.

By stepping into the doors at CrossFit 7220, you already demonstrate your desire to be healthier; but inattention to other areas in your life prevents you from addressing overall health. A workout will not make up for a poor nights sleep and a week of bad eating. The hard work you put in at the gym can either be enhanced or negated by the foods you put in your body and how you rest and recover.

As we examine the components of optimal health, we can all find things we can improve upon. Change is rarely easy and, interestingly enough, sometimes we feel safer sticking to what we know even if it’s not really working for us. in regards to diet, many continue the same eating pattern day in and day out thinking that eventually it will suddenly start producing different results. Others don’t change simply because they want things spelled out for them. “Tell me exactly what I should eat, how much and when.” The thousands of different diet plans and books available is evidence that a one-size-fits-all approach to diet doesn’t exist; and if one perfect meal plan for every human was developed, the vast majority of folks wouldn’t be able (or willing) to adhere long term.

The reality is that every BODY is unique and different foods work differently for different folks. Some do great on a vegan diet, others eat only meat and feel better than they have in years. We can duplicate someone else’s intake down to the exact gram and experience very different results. Our bodies ability to deal with and thrive on different foods depends on many factors including hormones, gut micro-biome, age, activity level, stress and genetics. What complicates things even further, is a diet that worked for us at one time may suddenly or eventually not work anymore due to changes in one or more of those above factors.

With this said, there are a few absolutes that apply to everyone and we will focus on these principles as we “challenge” you to make some positive changes in the next 5 weeks:

  1. Everyone needs to stay hydrated to be healthy. Unfortunately, beverages can be part of our diet where many unfavorable substances sneak in.

  2. Mindset matters! The brain/body connection is powerful and our connection with others is an important part of our health and overall well-being.

  3. Everyone needs sleep to function, perform, think and act optimally.

  4. Every body is healthier with less added sugar.

  5. Every body is healthier with less processed food.

Remember that during these nutrition challenges we may ask you to cut out things or do things that are out of your comfort zone and don’t seem sustainable. We realize that all the short term things you do may not “stick” forever but we hope that your personal application of the information we provide:

1. Increases your knowledge about nutrition and wellness

2. Raises awareness and consciousness of your own personal habits

3. Prevents you from sliding all the way back into bad habits

For instance cutting out all added sugar is likely something you may not do forever, but doing so for even a short time teaches you to read labels and pay more attention to what you eat. You may also have a realization that you were eating a lot more sugar than you thought! When the challenge is over, maybe you’ll indulge in a sweet treat once a week instead of topping off every dinner with a sugary treat.

Let's dive into our first week of FOCUS:

In this day and age of Hydroflasks and to-go cups, it is rare that anyone ever enters into a state of life-threatening dehydration. In fact, overconsumption of water can lead to loss of electrolytes and also be life-threatening. But it is not uncommon to be mildly dehydrated which can interfere with our bodily functions and affect our mood, energy level, and mental focus. So the obvious advice here is- listen to your body: drink when you feel thirsty, stop when you are not.

1. Make water your primary source of hydration: Drink more water each day vs. any other beverage.

You may expect a certain recommendation here such as “8 glasses or 130 ounces per day” but it’s not realistic to set a standard amount for everyone as hydration needs differ based on:

  1. body size

  2. activity level

  3. body temperature

  4. environment temperature

  5. food intake: eating foods with higher water content will decrease our need for added fluids

  6. hormones

  7. medications and supplements (some substances affect fluid retention and release)

2. No soda, juice, energy or sports drinks (diet or regular).

This is a no-brainer, but if you need reminders about the dangers of soda, CLICK HERE.

3. Limit caloric drinks to 1 or less each day (smoothies, protein drinks, milk, alcohol)

Smoothies: possibly a good way to ingest a lot of nutrients, but also potentially a lot of sugar in the liquid form that gets absorbed too quickly. If you have a goal of losing weight, try eating whole foods instead. Chances are you'll eat less if you have to chew your food rather than grind it up and drink it.

Protein drinks and other supplements: Manufactures of supplements have convinced us that we need to drink their special concoctions before, during and after workouts in order to maximize the effects of exercise.

Only if you have a very low body fat percentage and are focusing on elite level performance, should you consider supplementing. If you have body fat to lose, you should not be gulping down protein shakes! You are only adding unnecessary calories. And remember, you can’t supplement your way out of a bad diet! A protein shake does not negate the effects of eating junk only adds unnecessary calories.

Milk: Dairy products are not necessary for bone density or to meet optimal levels of calcium intake. A glass of milk a day likely won't kill your diet but you may consider eliminating dairy for a trial period as 70% of humans don't tolerate dairy well. This may or may not manifest itself as GI distress; dairy may be causing inflammation of your joints, skin, etc.

Alcohol: While there are documented health benefits to red wine, more than 3 drinks/week begins to be a health risk vs. a benefit. The favorable substances found in wine such as polyphenols can easily be obtained through ingesting certain foods.

4. Limit caffeine to 200 mg per day

200 mg of caffeine each day may help you wake up and feel energized. But scientists say more than 200mg actually has a counterproductive effect on memory, focus, and alertness. So with high caffeine intake, at first you feel that surge of energy... but after awhile you crash and need more coffee. A vicious cycle. If you need to cut back, do so slowly to avoid unpleasant caffeine withdrawal symptoms.

OK there you have it.

Spend the next week thinking about what you are drinking! Make some positive changes even if they are small.

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