Who am I to be talking about nutrition and eating properly? I am a brand new Crossfit Level 1 coach who has been working on losing the 80 gruesome pounds I gained while pregnant with my now one year old. The midnight cravings for chocolate chip cookies and milk really got to me. Now that I have a toddler running around the house, at the end of the day, I am tired and worn out. I would rather order a pizza any day of the week. However, I did attend the crossfit level one seminar and while there I learned about block eating. This is why you should be doing it. I swear it’ll change your life; it’s changed mine.
Block eating is, simply put, a way of tracking your macronutrients in order to create a hormonal balance in the body. These are the most important nutrients your body needs in order to function: Proteins, Carbohydrates (low in sugars and not processed), and Fats. Each nutrient has a measurement attached to it that is considered a “block”. For example, 1 oz of grilled chicken is 1 block of protein. Honestly, when learning this I thought it would make me cross-eyed, but the zone planning guide from the Crossfit website is the easiest tool to use. Here it tells you everything you need to know and has a list of favorable foods to follow.
When looking at the training guide chart, it calculated that I had 13 blocks to eat every day. I based this off of my t-shirt size. Large female. Side note, if you are having difficulty deciphering between small female and athletic female, ask yourself these questions: Are you RX-ing every WOD? Are you performing at a faster than average rate, or lifting heavier weights? If yes, then eat the higher amounts that an athletic female would. This is going to maintain energy levels and continue to boost performance. So, broken down for my daily intake as a large female, its 3 blocks for breakfast (3 proteins, 3 carbohydrates, and 3 fats), 2 blocks for snacks, 3 blocks for lunch, 2 blocks for another snack, and 3 blocks for dinner. In my mind I thought, “holy moly that’s a lot of food!”, in reality, it is! Sadly, the majority of our society views losing weight as equivalent to not eating much. However, that’s severely false and here’s why.
Food is your body’s fuel. Every time you sit to eat, think about how you fill your car with gas to keep it running. In the simplest form, food does the same thing. However, when fueling your body, balance is the key component to running properly. There are 3 major hormones that your body produces: insulin, glucagon, and eicosanoids. When these three hormones are balanced with each other, your body will start performing at peak levels. Insulin is a storage hormone. When you eat, or drink anything other than water, your body produces this hormone to store any sugar that cannot be used at the time of consumption. Insulin is also a trigger for silent inflammation, one example of how inflammation can affect you is tendonitis. Glucagon is a hormone that is produced to stop blood sugar levels from dipping too low when you become hungry. This hormone goes into the stored fats that the insulin has produced to feed the body until food is consumed. Can you already see how it’s vital for these two hormones to be balanced? When you eat fresh fruits and vegetables, your body is more inclined to use everything in their make-up for digestion. Natural sugars from fruits and vegetables are broken down along with fiber and digested slower stalling the release of insulin. Refined sugars, processed foods, and drinks, have an excess amount of your daily recommended sugar intake, thus jumpstarting your body’s reaction to get rid of the simple sugars, and producing more insulin than necessary. When your body relies on the glucagon to deplete some of that fat store, it cannot get to everything, and in turn, your body’s hormonal balance is off. Eicosanoids are the hormones that are produced to fight the silent inflammation that your insulin is creating. Tendonitis is a common example of silent inflammation. Again, you can see how this can affect someone when their hormonal balance is thrown off. Examples of your hormones being off balance include obesity, diabetes, heart disease, tendonitis, and arthritis.
So how does this relate to my weight loss journey? Well let me start by saying that with a 30 pound one year old (YIKES!), my hips were on fire. You may have noticed I mentioned tendonitis multiple times. I had extreme tendonitis through my tensor fasciae latae and glute muscles, and after spending a month in physical therapy with my doctor, I didn’t see a change. This along with everything I have learned solidified my need to make a change in my nutrition. So, with my 13 blocks a day, I charted out the fruits and veggies I like to eat the most. I spent 2 hours and less than $100.00 creating 10 meals and 20 snacks, 5 days worth of food. Did I mention that with said toddler in hand, my trip to the grocery store took less than 30 minutes because we stuck to the perimeters of the store? Amazing, right?! Here is what an average breakfast looks like for me: 3 whole eggs scrambled with 1 cup of steamed spinach (3 blocks of protein and 1 block of carbs) and 2/3 cup of sweet potato with 1 teaspoon of real butter for flavor (2 blocks of carbs and 3 blocks of fats), and water. An average lunch and dinner consists of 3 ounces of chicken or beef (my crockpot is my bestie when cooking meats), and 3 cups steamed veggies with one teaspoon of real butter to flavor the veggies. This gives me 3 block of proteins, 3 blocks of carbohydrates, and 3 blocks of fats. *If you’re wondering how I calculated 3 ounces of protein, I honestly went on Amazon and found a food scale for less than $50.00. It’s super simple to use and I LOVE it. (see the post picture)
Now you’re asking, how has this changed my life? Let me give you the bad news first. Initially my body went into a detox shock. My skin was breaking out, I craved late night snacks of the sugary kind, and I had a stomach ache that lasted for 10 days. Staying hydrated with water was the key to getting through the bad. Now for the good news! In 2 weeks time, I’ve lost at least 10 pounds and have gained muscle definition. My skin is clear, and the raccoon eye mask I was sporting (due to a night owl toddler) has almost gone away. I’ve also been performing better in the box. My workout times are still slow for my liking, but my recovery after each workout has been a night and day difference. My energy levels are through the roof, and my overall mood in general is better than it has been in two years. The best way to start your block eating journey would be to chart out on an excel spreadsheet what your eating would look like for one week, and then stick with a routine. I personally like to eat chicken one week, and then switch to beef the next week. I also like to rotate my veggies from week to week. Once you get into a routine, I promise this is the easiest way to eat. Grabbing meals out of the refrigerator has been so simple and still delicious as if they were made right then and there. Once you get into a routine of meal prepping it also makes sticking to your plan very easy. I know that during those long days of crying and temper tantrums; I don’t have to think about cooking. I can be lazy… the healthy way!