This is Jess’s story.
As coaches we aren’t supposed to have favorites, but Jess is one of ours. She’s been with us since the beginning, and witnessing her progression has been one of our most rewarding experiences. Helping people like Jess get closer to their goals is exactly the reason why we chose this line of work.
Jess spent almost a year after the birth of her 3rd child, Oaklyn trying to shed some baby weight. I asked her what her fitness goals were once she got back in the gym… “To get lean as fast as possible,” she said. “But Oaklyn’s birth was a C-section, so I was laid up for a while. I ate anything my family and friends brought me. As soon as I was up and moving around, I was eating fast food almost every day.”
As soon as Jess was cleared to start working out again, she was back in the gym. Jess has always been a cornerstone client here at CrossFit Erosion, and has been with us since we opened. We were happy to help steer her towards her goals, but her desired timeline for leanness “as fast as possible” wasn’t quite aligned with her nutritional habits. She trained 5 days a week, worked hard, corrected her movement imbalances and was extremely coachable. But the results just weren’t coming along the way she had hoped.
I asked Jess what she thought was holding her back at that time…
“I was trying to outwork a bad diet. I would eat light and healthy as far as I knew throughout the day, and then eat garbage at night.”
What diet was she on?
“EVERY diet imaginable. I tried going low carb, I tried replacing my meals with overpriced shakes, and when my willpower would cave I would try starving myself because I’d felt guilty.”
“Then I tried some fairly complicated nutrition templates, but it just was too much work for me at that time for it to become routine.”
A lot of her trouble was in nutritional education. There’s a whole lot of information out there available to us with the click of a button. It’s not all bad information, but a lot of it conflicts with the other philosophies out there, and this can make it very difficult to sort the good from the bad. At the root of it all is one truth:
All diets work. The diet that works the best is the one that you stick to.
I hate even using the word “diet”, as it already plants a mindset of temporary adherence. I prefer to use the term “nutritional habits”. Because in nutrition, its ALL about habits.
In order to help take some nutritional habits out of her own control, Jess started buying some pre-made meals from restaurants in town. “I thought meal prep was boring,” she said. As she learned more about proper portion sizes and macronutrients, she realized that these meals, though low in calories, were mostly veggies and had not nearly enough protein. At this time, her frustration had reached it’s peak.
As her coaches, we could tell almost immediately that she was underfueled and crashing. This was the day that she flipped the switch, but it wasn’t an easy process.
“That day, I bombed the whole workout. I couldn’t do anything, and completely quit. There was no gas in the tank, and I was so frustrated because I still wasn’t losing weight, but I felt hungry and tired all the time.”
From that day forward, Jess made a point to hit her protein numbers every day, and has been adding more and more carbs to fuel her performance.
She then switched to a mail-order meal service and started by having them provide 2 meals per day, 5 days per week. “This way I could see what options there were for so-called ‘clean-eating’, and what portion sizes look like. Now I only use the pre-made meals for 5 meals per week, and prep my own meals the rest of the week. Except for Saturday evenings. Saturdays I eat whatever the hell I want!”
Almost immediately we noticed a change in Jess. And it wasn’t like we got the “Old Jess” back. This was a version of Jess we hadn’t seen yet. She was getting leaner by the day, and was smashing workouts. Her strength has always been her best tool in fitness, but suddenly she was able to utilize her strength over long workouts, and looking ready to attack every workout. The fear of a difficult workout was replaced by an ATTACK mindset and she has been kicking wholesale ass in the gym ever since. “I even beat (Coach) Derek in a workout last week,”
And her goals of getting leaner, fast?
“I’ve lost 22 lbs in the 12 weeks since I started tracking my food. I have way more energy than before, I eat a shit ton of carbs, I’m stronger than ever and I’m finally getting good at gymnastics movements.. I got handstand pushups AND toes-to-bar during the Open this year!”
Any advice for someone trying to navigate their way through a change in nutritional habits?
“You have to fail a bit to finally get it. Keep trying new things. It’s not always the diet’s fault, it just may not be the right diet for you at that time. Always keep trying. And eat enough protein. I was never eating enough protein, so my hunger cravings were always all over the place. Start with small changes, and dial it in over time. Just don’t give up, because when it finally clicks, it’s sooooo worth it.”