Sunday 1.23.11

Classically trained actor, James Franco, providing acting lessons and demonstrating the physical prowess and fitness necessary to do the job.

A different point of view

This isn’t an archive of the great things a healthy diet can do for you.  Anyone can provide a testimonial on how some program has worked for them.  But I have decided to sacrifice my body to study and discover the effects of ditching a healthy lifestyle even for a short while. 

Back in October, I had just completed an Olympic Weightlifting Program and saw great improvements in my Clean and Jerk, Snatch and related exercises.  With this specialization program, I also ate and inordinate amount of calories (any type) and saw those effects in my body type and certain exercises I had otherwise dominated prior to the program.  Remember, The Compound’s programming is attempting to provide an overall fitness level increase of equal parts strength, endurance, conditioning, etc.  Most specialization programs lean to one side of the fitness realm at the expense of other areas.

So, after I completed the lifting program, I decided to get my body back in shape, with a focus on the nutrition aspect of fitness.  This meant to focus on eating cleanly, or as we generally prescribe; Meats, veggies, fruits, seeds, and nuts, little starch, and no sugars.  I gave myself 3 months and a goal to eat that way 90% of the time (I know that seems low, but it was the upcoming Halloween and Holiday seasons and I wanted to succeed).

Besides weight gain, aesthetic degradation, and general decreased overall fitness level, I also was experiencing trouble sleeping, high cholesterol (duh….lots of bad calories and genetics), and slow recovery after workouts and minor sicknesses, headaches, the list can go on.

Skip to the end of the three months, I got my 90% goal and experienced extreme mass loss, without a loss in strength, my performance in the gym was up higher than it ever was, I was sleeping soundly through each night, and my recovery from difficult workouts was quick and painless, headaches only after cheat meals, etc.  My cholesterol however was……still high.  Looking back at my 3 months, I saw some things that I had changed in my eating.  My cheat meals were extremely horrible, almost like I was making up for it at each meal.  I also increased my diet soda intake two or three times higher than my normal intake, which was a lot to start with.  Still, overall I was performing and feeling better than I have for a while.

But, to celebrate my goal achieving success, I spent the next three weeks (leading up to this article) “celebrating” and eating like crap.  Not complete crap, but definitely worse than the 90% I had just done.  And my body has responded to it:
Mass gain, spare tire popping up, feeling sluggish in workouts, slow recovery especially in my joints, obvious inflammation resulting in persistent pain in the knees and lower back, etc.  Did I mention this was only 3 weeks later?    My wife might add higher irritability, headaches more often, etc., but you know wives….they are right more often than not (love you, honey).

The best thing about eating great, then stopping all of a sudden is the heightened sensitivity to how my body feels.  This past week I worked out Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.  Wednesday was rough on me and I definitely needed a day off.  My plan was to take Thursday off, then workout Friday and Saturday.  I made it through Friday’s workout but then spent the next two days recovering again and I was unable to make the Saturday workout, Compound or running workout.   In short, what you put into your body has a direct effect on how you perform, feel, and recover.  In order to get the most out of training and life, I know I have to eat well.  I like this CrossFit model on “Sickness, Wellness, and Fitness” over our lifetime:

This diagram is making the case that the line between "sickness" and "fitness" is on the same continuum, and passes through wellness or health.  In short, if you have worked to make yourself as Fit as possible, before you can become Sick (chronically, not once in a while) you must pass through "Wellness" or just become healthy first.  Not a bad deterrent from chronic sicknesses most of the population suffer from. 

So go out and eat well so you can achieve your fitness goals, whatever they may be. (I was going to end it with "Live and Thrive", but with Kaiser across the street, I thought they would come over and rough us up for taking their slogan).  cc


  1. Craig, after reading primal blueprint and the paleo solution I've given it an honest shot and I've seen really good results. I feel better during the day and sleep well just like you've described, but I've really noticed some fatigue during the WOD's. I feel like that lack of grain/wheat carbs that I was used to took away some of my energy. Do you recommend upping my protein intake to compensate for the caloric loss? Any other suggestions?

  2. actually, most of us don't have a problem with taking in enough protein, but we are a little apprehensive to take in more fat. Try increasing your good fat intake, as that is what your body will need to use for energy.

    Also, after a workout, try to eat more carbs with protien; more fruit, sweet potatoes, yams, etc.

  3. CFE: 4.97 miles/ 45 minutes
    stretch and mobility work
    .06 of a mile futher than last week, will make up the 10k soon

  4. This doesn't make me feel good about the nachos I had for dinner.

  5. Good info. While I don't follow any rigid diet plan, I do try to make the decent choices. Maybe one day I will stick to a more rigid eating plan. Anyway, I feel that "tire" creeping on my, so I need to get my butt to the gym. when I work out, I crave better choices and this week I've been HORRIBLE with my eating. I hope to see you all tomorrow for sure!