Checking In

So, we’re just over a week into the Nutrition Challenge –

How are you feeling?
Have you noticed an increase in energy?
How is your willpower holding up?
Are you using your nutrition log? Do you feel it’s helping?
We’re doing a 20 min AMRAP today – How did you feel your energy sustained during this 20 min WOD compared to previous 20 min WODs?

Remember, this challenge is to help you create new healthy habits and keep you accountable to your goals. If you have questions or need advice – ASK! That’s what we’re here for!

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Tasty Tuesday

Getting bored with food choices yet? Frustrated with searching for something that will knock your nutritional socks off? Give one of these a whirl!

Breakfast:

205 Paleo Breakfast Recipes

Lunch:

Paleo Egg Salad Recipe

Cucumber Avocado Salad

Dinner:

23 Easy Paleo Crock Pot Recipes

 

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Hydration Station

Are you drinking enough water?

You should be drinking about half your body weight in ounces of water each day. ( Your body weight x 0.5 ounces = Daily water intake.)

Don’t panic!! Water doesn’t have to be boring! You can easily jazz up water by adding some frozen fruit (or fresh if you prefer) and some mint or basil leaves.

Quick Tips for Hydration:

  • Keep a bottle of water with you during the day. Consider carrying a reusable water bottle and filling it from the tap rather than purchasing bottled water, which is expensive and creates plastic bottle waste.
  • If you’re going to be exercising, make sure you drink water before, during and after your workout.
  • Start and end your day with a glass of water.
  • When you’re feeling hungry, drink water. The sensation of thirst is often confused with hunger. True hunger will not be satisfied by drinking water. Drinking water may also contribute to a healthy weight loss plan, as some research suggests drinking water will help you feel full.
  • Drink on a schedule if you have trouble remembering to drink water. For example, drink water when you wake up; at breakfast, lunch and dinner; and when you go to bed. Or drink a small glass of water at the top of each hour.
  • Drink water when you go to a restaurant. Not only does it keep you hydrated, but it’s free!

water

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Stickwithitness!

Willpower, aka – determination, drive, resolve, self-control, self-discipline, stickwithitness, or “Step away from the cookies!,” is characterized by the following points –

  • The ability to delay gratification, resisting short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals.
  • The capacity to override an unwanted thought, feeling or impulse.
  • The ability to employ a “cool” cognitive system of behavior rather than a “hot” emotional system.
  • Conscious, effortful regulation of the self by the self.
  • A limited resource capable of being depleted.

You may think that willpower is an innate trait that you’re either born with or without, but actually it’s a complex mind-body response that can be comprised by a variety of environmental factors. Stress, sleep deprivation, and nutrition (HEY LOOK! Nutrition!) are the most common environmental factors that either hinder or strengthen your willpower.

Let’s call “willpower” a cousin to “stress.” Both are not just psychological experiences, but instead mind-body responses to your environment. Stress responses are reactions to external threats. (ie – your reaction to a fire alarm) In contrast, willpower responses are reactions to an internal conflict. (ie –  you REALLY want that cupcake, but know you shouldn’t or on the flip side, you know you you SHOULD go to the gym, but would rather do nothing.)

Willpower responses put your body into a state of calm versus the adrenaline rush response of stress. The “pause-and-plan response” of willpower helps you to resist temptation and override self-destructive urges. This response also sends extra energy to the brain’s prefontal cortex — the part of your brain keeping track of your goals and helps you override cravings. The ultimate result? Motivation to do what matters most to you.

prefontal

However, like oil and water, stress and willpower simply can not exist together. Chronic stress will cause our willpower to decrease exponentially. The fight or flight stress response that floods the body with energy steals this energy from other areas of the brain — mainly the part of our brain that helps us make wise decisions. Learning how to better handle your stress – even if it’s learning to take a few extra deep breaths when feeling overwhelmed – is one of the best ways to increase your personal willpower.

So, are you sleeping? Are you getting more than 6 hours of sleep a night? Sleep deprivation is a chronic stress that impairs how your body and your brain uses energy. The prefontal cortex – that epicenter of decision making – is the hardest hit when we are sleep deprived. Studies show that the effects of sleep deprivation are equivalent to being a little drunk! (We know we don’t make great decisions when we’re drunk…now do we?) The good news here is that the best step towards better willpower is just catching a better night of sleep!

So, after all this mumbo jumbo, lets get to why you’re really here. Nutrition. Nutrition influences availability of energy for the brain. Not only the amount of energy, but the type of energy. Simply put a plant-based, less-processed diet makes better energy more available for the brain and what have we learned about energy in the brain and willpower? Ohhh, that’s right! The prefontal context NEEDS it to help you make good decisions!

However, we all know that energy dapleats rather quickly over the course of the day. People who use their “willpower muscle” will run out of willpower quicker than those who don’t. This muscle model of willpower mimics the same way any of our muscles will get tired and start to fail. This doesn’t mean we’re doomed to fail or run out of willpower by midday. Just like any muscle we strengthen through exercise, willpower gets stronger the more we use it. What starts out as difficult becomes easier overtime. New behaviors will soon become habits, temptations becomes less overwhelming, and willpower challenges become less daunting.

So how do we exercise our willpower muscles?

Meditation helps to improve willpower skills, and helps to sharpen our attention, focus, and overall stress management. People who regularly meditate show more “gray matter” in the prefrontal cortex than those non- meditators. After a mere 8 weeks the brain changes and the prefrontal cortex gets “stronger.” (Pop quiz: What does the prefrontal contex do again?)

Physical exercise also leads to similar changes in the brain, especially  in the prefrontal cortex. (There it is again!) However it’s not clear why. Regular exercise – both intense cardiovascular trainings (You know, like CrossFit.) and mindful exercise like yoga — also makes the body and brain more resilient to stress, which is a great boost to willpower.

So, basically if you skipped all of the mumbo jumbo and ended up down here at the end without reading everything — Willpower works like a big cycle. The more willpower you use, the more willpower you will have. Sleeping well and eating better will add to your willpower longevity and therefore help you reach your goals.

So…stick with it!

Read more about willpower and sticking with it over here at – James Clear – How to stick good habits even when your willpower is gone & 19 Reasons why willpower fails you

Posted in Nutrition Challenge, Tips & Tricks, Willpower & Habit Forming

Habitual Offender

We are what we repeatedly do.
Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit. -Aristole

If you answered the question from the WOD Blog with 21 days you might be surprised to find out that you’re both right and wrong.

The common misconception that a habit takes 21 days to form was started back in the 1950’s by a plastic surgeon observing how long it took his patients to become accustomed to their new face/appendage/feature. The “21 days to a new habit” myth is one that has stuck and permeated the self help industry…but if you’re looking to make REAL changes, be prepared to hold on a little big longer.

How much longer? Well, studies indicate that it’s different for every human and that our thresholds for will power vary greatly across the board, but in about 66 days you should be able to say you have a NEW habit.

So, for you 30 day challengers you’re only about half way to a new habit and you 60 day challengers may hold onto your new food lifestyle longer than than your 30 day challenge counterparts.

Need help setting yourself up for habitual success? Here’s a few tips —

  • Find your motivation. Is it to fit into your favorite pair of jeans again?
  • Create “micro quotas” and “macro goals.” – Your goal should be something you wish to accomplish while your daily quotas are the minimum amount of work that will get you there performed daily. (ie – Goal: Eat healthy. Quotas: Eat 2 healthy balanced meals a day.)
  • Have a plan and stick to the plan. (ie – Have healthy snacks available. Plan your meals out for the week.)
  • Be accountable. That’s where the food logs come in!
  • Have support. Enlist a spouse or roommate to help prepare meals with you. Tell your friends what you’re doing.
  • Eliminate “Ahscrewit!” moments. You know what I’m talking about, don’t be coy. We’ve all been standing in front of the ice cream/chips/cookies/enter your vice here and thought “Ahscrewit…” So, how do you eliminate this? Well, you don’t, but you do learn to forgive yourself for the slip up and look at it as one small bump instead of a complete derailment. Focus on the number of days you’ve been able to stick with your habit instead of the fact that you broke your daily goal quota.
  • Identify triggers. Does work make you eat terribly? Do you not drink water when you’re home? Does PMS derail you? By identifying what makes it hard for you to stick with your new habit you can more easily avoid pitfalls.
  • Be prepared for sabotage. Both from yourself and outside pressures.
  • Be aware of self-talk. What we say to ourselves is louder than any words said to us at any given time. Be aware of what you’re saying to yourself and BE POSITIVE.
  • Sleep. No, it’s true. Sleep. It’s our greatest restorative and regenerative power as humans. So do it.

Ok, so…what are you going to do tonight? That’s right! You’re going to put your goals on paper (or in your electronic log)!  (….oh, and get some sleep!)

Make sure you come back tomorrow and read up on will power and stickwithitness!

Good luck guys!

Posted in Nutrition Challenge, Tips & Tricks, Willpower & Habit Forming

Rise & Shine!

Remember all those years ago when your “elders” told you that breakfast was the most important meal of the day?

They weren’t kidding.
 

when

Stumped on what to eat for breakfast now that you might be cutting out carbs and sugar? (RIP bagels…you too PopTarts)

Here are some easy and healthy ways to start your day!

Cinnamon Sweet Potato Pancakes

Chia Seed Breakfast Custard

Paleo Cereal/Granola

Twice Baked Breakfast Sweet Potatoes

25 Paleo Cereal Recipes

Breakfast Casserole

Posted in Breakfast, Nutrition Challenge, Recipes

Nutrition Challenge Resources!

Stumped on what to eat?
Take a look at these sites!

Whole30
Paleo Plan
Multiply Delicious
Against All Grain
Nom Nom Paleo
PaleOMG!
Cavegirl Cuisine
Paleo Grubs
Empowered Sustenance
Paleo Movement

Posted in Nutrition Challenge, Recipes, Tips & Tricks