What was the catalyst for you to start focusing on nutrition?
This picture. This was the final straw. But there is so much more to it than what is captured in this image.
I remember the exact moment (location, weather, who was there, etc.) that I never looked at myself the same. I was in 4th grade and was on an annual trip to Ocala, FL with my dad’s college basketball team. I looked forward to this trip every year because I loved basketball, loved being around my dad, and really looked up to the team. I wanted to “fit in.” One day at the pool, I took my shirt off to swim and immediately I heard “looks like he’s got an entire vending machine in there.” That was it.
I’ve been 200+ lbs since 7th grade, yet very active. Played sports, endurance trained, tried diets, supplements, etc. as I did my best to marry my love of activity & competition with my obsession of feeling like I should look a certain way. Finding a picture of me with my shirt off, to this day, is a difficult thing to do. The mental torture behind all of this has been awful.
Fast forward two decades, I am on our yearly trip to St. George Island, FL with all of my in-laws. I am the “fun uncle”… I fish with the kids, swim, play games, etc. so the young ones always look forward to spending time together. I do, too. Each day, candid pictures are taken and we all look back at dinner and recall the memories. Then, I saw the picture referenced above… and it legitimately ruined my night. Its all I could think about…. “How do I workout this hard, feel like I eat healthy, and still look like this…”
After spending the night stewing over it, I recognized that I have let my self image impact too much of my life. I’d been talking with my wife about therapy for a while… but decided to give CFTC Nutrition a shot before then.
What were your thoughts going into the program and how did they change as time went on?
I was completely open to anything Kayla had to offer. I grew up the son of a basketball coach, I am used to getting feedback and adapting.
Heading into the program, I did my best to drop any mental guard about what to expect. I went in completely open to whatever was coming my way. The only thing that I assumed is that my body composition would change if I followed whatever program Kayla put in front of me. I was more mentally tired of this issue that I was physically… I’d try anything.
About one month into the three month program, we switched gears and started focusing a bit more on the mental side of nutrition rather than just the physical.
Part of that was Kayla prescribing cheat meals and that I take weekly pictures of myself so that I could see the progress. She also said that I had to share them to get help myself become more comfortable in my own skin. I took it a step further and started walking around the house shirtless a lot more often. I really, really tried getting out of my comfort zone.
That was a big change for me. Also, I was a lot more full than I’d ever thought I’d be… some days I felt like I was absolutely stuffing myself. But I was still losing weigh & body fat. Kind of crazy and counterintuitive to anything I had ever thought.
Do you look at food differently now? If so, how?
Yes. For a long time I have had a negative relationship with food. I would eat it, obviously, but after the small bit of satisfaction I’d get from the taste or action of eating… my mind would quickly try to assess the damage that the meal dealt.
Now, I look at food for what it gives me, how it allows me to live a balanced life, how it helps me perform better, feel better, enjoy time with friends, etc.
Let me know explain…
Looking at food for what it can do for me is not just about how food can help me lose weight or even how it’ll help me recover better for my next workout. It is broader than that… I have often felt like music has a time & place. I feel the same about my meals & how I consume.
Example – I can be functional with my eating because I want to keep my macros balanced because my body feels better that way
Example – I can go out and enjoy an awesome meal, too many bourbons, and some cheesecake once in a while because it provides balance that I went out and had a great time, let lose, and put aside the metrics for a minute.
In the first example – I can be functional, I don’t have to savor every meal. In the second example – I can let myself have that, without shame, and get back to being balanced almost immediately.
It has been a game changer.
Where did you struggle the most and how did you overcome it in regard to nutrition?
A few of the biggest things I struggled with were:
- Mental Gymnastics
- Why do I workout SO hard and look like this?
- How come this cannot change?
- Will I ever see change… if not, when should I quit running myself into the ground
- Physical Performance / Body Composition
- I just couldn’t understand why my stomach just WOULDN’T. GO. AWAY at all. Like, no movement at all. Ever.
The solve here involved Kayla pushing me to step outside of my comfort zone. Forced me to look at pictures of myself, evaluate, see the progress, appreciate the progress, give myself cheat meals and then encourage confidence afterward. I needed the most coaching in this aspect (I think she’d agree).
Also, I was very open with my wife (Kali) about everything I was going through. I told her what Kayla was trying to solve for and how… and then she became very active in helping me and coaching me at home. I needed the most coaching at home.
I am still a work in progress, but this part is much easier to deal with than before.
Physical Performance / Body Composition
I stayed pretty close to the macro plan Kayla put in front of me. TONs of protein… I was looking to lose weight, yes, but I also wanted to add a lot of muscle. That required a protein heavy program. I still follow that to this day. I eat close to my body weight in protein grams each day pretty regularly. It has helped me maintain a leaner figure much more consistently. And, I don’t feel bloating from carbs nearly as bad as I used to.
What did you learn about yourself during your time in the program?
That I am a complete work in progress and that it is OK to be vulnerable.
Pretty fluffy statement, right?
It’s the truth. I’m a guy. Guys who workout aren’t supposed to share feelings!
But it is difficult to sit across the table from someone, be completely honest with why you’re there (it almost never an easy conversation), be open about what you struggle with, be honest about your failures, and be completely open to hearing feedback that may or may not push you outside of your comfort zone.
It is easy to make light of a situation that you internally struggle with and act as if it’s not a big deal for fear of sounding crazy. I knew I made a commitment and owed it to myself to see it through.
How has this changed your performance both in the gym and in your everyday life?
Nutrition is a big piece of the health and wellness puzzle. I carry less weight, my body composition is a bit different and those changes matter when it comes to physical performance.
But, my confidence level has definitely increased which impacts how I look at myself, how I perform at work, how I interact with people, etc. The impact is broad.
What did your success look like? What did it mean to you?
Success was measured in both hard & soft metrics for me. My goals were more than metrics…. Although they definitely started there. I am very much a “what gets measured, gets improved” person.
Over the course of 3 months, here are some of the hard metrics:
- Weight: 222lbs -> 211lbs
- Body Fat Mass: Decrease of 11.5#
- Skeletal Muscle Mass: 102 -> 106
- Percentage Body Fat: 18.6 -> 14.1
**The “before” picture was taken on Day 1 of Month #2 of the program – The “after” picture was taken at the beginning of the final week of this program. Third picture: 2.5 months post program**
Some soft metrics:
- Confidence that I can achieve balance with my nutrition
- Confidence that I can get the physical results I want while still being full / feeling satisfied
- More confident in my own skin (not completely there but its improving every day)
- Confident that I can have a MONSTER cheat day… and jump right back on the wagon no problem
Tell us how this program helped you navigate the happenings of everyday life (holiday, eating out, parties, food planning/prepping, etc.)?
Honestly, this is a lot easier than everyone thinks it is… I am actually working with my sister-in-law (she lives in Indianapolis) on some of this.
At first, I went head-first into prepping like a maniac. I did that for about 2-3 weeks. The more I prepped, consumed, and logged… the more comfortable I became with certain foods, the value they bring me, their macro balance, etc. which ultimately made it a lot easier to eat on-the-go.
Here are some big takeaways (bullet form – I have written a lot thus far, not even sure if you’re still with me!)
- It is so common that each Holiday meal is centered around a protein like Turkey, Ham, Fish, Steak, etc… this is perfect for me. Here is how my Thanksgiving plate looks: Tons of turkey – about 1.5x what I’d normally eat, 1/2 the mashed potatoes I’d normally eat, 1/2 the stuffing, green beans. I start with my protein, drink a glass of water, consume the rest. I cannot even tell you how full I was.
- Eating out
- Look at your menu ahead of time & log your meal! Then, work backward. Going to Chi-Fil-A later? No problem – log that #1 with waffle fries in the AM… and then MyFitnessPal will tell you what you have remaining for the day and consume accordingly. This is so much easier than people think.
- Work dinners at Steakhouses? Couldn’t be easier to plan for…
- Parties –
- Maybe you don’t know what everyone is bringing… so how do you find that information? Just ask! (Hey – what are you guys bringing tonight?!) Or, maybe you don’t feel comfortable being the person who is being mindful of their intake or potentially feel like you’re missing out on all the delicious treats that everyone else gets to eat… First, CTFD (Calm the F$@! Down). Its going to be OK. Just front load your protein for the day and know that almost everyone brings a dish full of awesome carbs and fats. Protein will make you feel full and less likely to binge each the slices of bread covered in baked brie.
- Oh, you like drinking at parties? Vodka Sodas with a crazy amount of lime… White Claws (Not Truly… Truly is trash)… or, again, CTFD, and have yourself a Bourbon because you knew you were going to have it when you woke up that morning and mentally planned for your evening.
To be honest, this is where I believe people struggle most. They love eating out, they love hosting gatherings, there are holidays, etc… These can all be planned for. And, if you cannot plan for meals at home because you’re a whatever-is-available-eater… well, make good food available (plus also have some Hershey kisses in a drawer somewhere in case you just need it).
Balance. That is the name of the game – you might go over your calorie intake once or twice. Recognize how it happened, ask yourself if you’re satisfied with it, and adjust. You can hop back on as easily as you fell off.
Now, I say all of this and it might sound like “really, just eat what you want”. I am a firm believer in personal accountability. You need to be intrinsically motivated to change your situation – if you want to change, you can absolutely succeed on this program even if you fall off the wagon for a day or two. Because your internal drive will make you hop back on that train real quick. Then, add in the coaching from Kayla & encouragement from your CFTC community.
This isn’t a diet – this is a way of living a balanced life when it comes to nutrition.
What was it like to work with a nutrition coach? What does the extra accountability mean to you?
As mentioned earlier, I am the son of a coach. I’ve been coached my whole life. I am comfortable being pushed out of my comfort zone. So, it was great working with a coach. I walked in, dropped whatever I thought this program would be about, and let Kayla work with me.
The part that got really uncomfortable was unpacking the mental blockers. Being open about that stuff is difficult because there was a lot of baggage there. And, until then, my wife was the sole carrier of that burden.
The more I spoke about it, the more I was open with others about it… would talk to Andrew and others.
More than likely, if you’re thinking about joining the nutrition program you are likely on much more than a physical journey. If that is the case, don’t step into this only looking for physical results. It’ll be much more gratifying if you are looking for improvements in each place you seek them.
What message would you give to those considering taking the next step in their nutrition journey?
Lots – I’ll do my best to keep it brief
- This is not that difficult – but its game changing. You have gone through much worse, that is a promise. Actually, it is kind of nice focusing on yourself
- If you do this, dive in to the experience. Really give it what you’ve got for 3 months… it is over before you know it and you’ll have better habits and knowledge to carry forward
- Share your journey with the people around you – We could all use encouragement and good news. I find that people want to share in your results & happiness. So, why not?
- This program is for everyone – All shapes and sizes. Already fit but want that extra edge? Do it. Just getting into health & wellness? Do it. Want to start 2020 with a new outlook and skills to dominate the year? Do it.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
- I’ve been to a lot of gyms, part of many groups, participated in short and long endurance competitions, been on many teams, etc. but I definitely feel like the people at CrossFit Tri-Cities have been some of the most welcoming. It is one thing to take on something like this solo – it is another to have support from your nutrition coach, other coaches in the gym, and even other members. Lifting each other up is a contagious thing. The community, in total, makes this a much easier process than it would otherwise be.