Rest Day Rant: Better is Better

Posted: September 17, 2012 by Jim in Random Thoughts

Yes, I’m writing about nutrition again. Why? Because, quite simply, your nutritional program is the single most important part of your overall CrossFit program. You cannot outwork a bad diet…PERIOD. So, I will continue to hammer this topic into oblivion. The battle with food has proven to be the most difficult one of my entire life, so I completely understand how hard it is to change your eating.

Adrian Bozeman, one of the leading certification trainers within CrossFit has a saying that I love: “better is better.” For example, some people will say, “I only lifted five more pounds than I did last time.” Well, my friend, “better is better.” “I only took two seconds off my Fran time.” That’s better than last time, and better is better! Would you rather lift less or go slower?

Most of us need to apply this logic to our nutritional program. For most of us, me included, we take an “all-or-nothing” approach to our diet that ultimately becomes our downfall.

Perhaps this sounds familiar. On Monday morning, you’re ALL IN. Maybe you are totally clean for a few days. Then it happens: some food you love begins calling your name. After struggling to fight off the temptation, you finally cave and enjoy yourself. Then that voice says, “well, you’ve messed this up. The week is ruined.” Then you dive head first into a period of debauchery, promising yourself that the next Monday you will do it “for real.” Perhaps you even have a “food party” on Sunday to celebrate your renewed commitment to this new lifestyle of eating that you’re convinced you’ll stick to “this time.”

Flash forward six months of this repeating roller coaster and your “new lifestyle of eating” has left you with a new 18-20 pounds you didn’t have when you started. Frustrated, you make the very bad decision to “take some time off” from CrossFit and your “diet.”

This is a common landmine many of us fall for in our attempts to strengthen our nutritional program. There are a rare few who can flip a switch and make a complete transformation in their eating. My hat is off to those people, but that in no way resembled what happened for me.

When I first started my journey to lose weight and improve my health, I was eating around 6,000 calories of day, including such healthy choices as Snickers bars and Hardees Monster Burgers. Things such as Cool Ranch Doritos and Oreo Cookies were staples of my daily food intake.

Try as I might to make a cold turkey switch to healthier eating, I just couldn’t do it. My mind was obsessed with the foods I felt deprived of and hatred of the new foods I was trying to eat.

Then I decided to use the “Better is Better” principle to my eating. I substituted a whole family size bag of Doritos with a 100-calorie snack pack. The same 100-calorie snack pack helped me with Oreos as well. Make no mistake, this was still a terrible diet, but it was better than what I had been doing prior.

Next, I decided to keep eating snack packs of Doritos every day, but only every other day with Oreos. After a week, I was able to alternate Doritos one day, Oreos the next. Two months later, both foods were eliminated from my diet.

Prior to my lifestyle change, I had Hardees for breakfast and lunch every day. Initially, I kept both intact, but reduced my breakfast to one biscuit instead of two, and replace super size fries with regular size. Next, I started bringing my breakfast twice per week, and then my lunch once per week, but I didn’t bring both on the same day, so I was still eating Hardees daily. Again, it was still a terrible diet, but better than what I had previous been eating. After three months, I completely eliminated Hardees from my diet. In fact, Hardees is one place I have not visited since losing weight.

Additionally, I started forcing myself to try one new “healthy” food per week. Anyone can try at least one new food. Also, I switched from regular pasta to wheat pasta and brown rice from white rice. Granted, most hard-core Paleo faithful cringe at the mention of wheat pasta, but at that time in my life, it was better than regular pasta. When I would eat at Subway, I would ask them to “scoop” the bread, which means they pull the extra break from the inside. Today, I eat no bread at all, but at that time, it was better than my prior eating. Again, better is better.

Today, I am seven years removed from the start of my lifestyle change. My transformation into a Paleo lifestyle has taken me quite a long time. Even now, I do not believe my diet is where it should be, though it is light years better than it was in the past. Each week, I try to make small changes to my eating to better improve my health. Some days are much more challenging than others, but I continue to tell myself, “better is better.”

Are you train wrecking your nutritional program with an “all-or-nothing” approach? What’s one change you can make this week to make your eating better? If you’re like me and really struggle with food, this “better is better” approach may prove the right strategy, as long as you continue making forward progress. Remember, small steps, taken every day really add up over time. Don’t wait: make a small change to improve your nutrition this week.

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