Ask Erin: training and diet as a newbie?

21 Mar

Recently received this question in my inbox and thought the answers I gave might be helpful for most of you to see! Of course, there’s always a LOT to say when someone asks a question about anything training or nutrition-related – but I do find that paralysis by analysis helps no one – simplify your goals, simplify your strategy for getting there, and you’re more likely to actually DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT.  If you have a question about anything CFCC-related, always feel free to email me at – and THANKS to the member who allowed me to pass their question along!

Even for superheroes, making food choices can be tough... especially when there's a lot of EVERYTHING always around... and usually RIGHT where you can get it!

Hey Erin – based on your blog post this evening, I was wondering if we could chat or if you could give me some pointers as to how to use CrossFit to achieve fat loss/ slim down (I.e., how many sessions per week, how I should be eating, etc.).

Dear, ________.

Thanks for emailing!

As far as fat loss/slim down stuff goes – this is TECHNICALLY not programming 🙂  but I’m happy to get you started in the right direction and you are very right in assuming that the two (what you do, and what you eat) go hand-in-hand when it comes to the majority of people’s goals in coming to CrossFit.

To frame my technical note there – I work as a nutritional consultant during three seasons of the year at CFCC and although this sounds very fancy, it’s really not. We run challenges called CFCC Body Change Composition Challenges (BCCC – because acronyms that are hard to say are SO much more fun) and these involve a big group of CFCCers trying to do something different with their diets for just 30 days.  There’s a small fee to be a part of it but that’s mostly because there are some sweet prizes to be had at the end for the two people that make the biggest change, AND because you get 4 private consulting sessions where-in for a half hour you get a food log reviewed and all your questions answered – depending on your needs sometimes you are literally emailed a “menu” for the week.

The next challenge takes place near the end of April and you will CERTAINLY hear a lot about it then.  All that said, until then, my advice would be this if you are looking to take a step in the right direction in letting Crossfit make the biggest change for you:

1. Train at least 5 days a week– but make sure that you are as rested as you can be when you do train these sessions (so, SLEEP!)  If you work a pretty sedentary job your body will see changes just from doing this alone.  You will also acclimate yourself to the pace of CrossFit very quickly and see gains in performance and in body composition ASAP.  It doesn’t ACTUALLY matter that much at this stage whether the 5 sessions you attend a week are yoga, Olympic Lifting, or a regular session. What matters is that you GO.  So if there’s a day when you feel more sore… go to Yoga/Mobility.

2. Start to learn as much as you can about the paleo and/or primal diet. And if that’s a little too confusing for now – at least try a whole two weeks of cutting gluten out of your diet. While there are lots of other things that you can do to make a change in body composition – this one is probably the single-most immediately important one you can change – AND it’s hard enough on it’s own that it’ll take some practice.  This means…

  • beginning to order your burger without the bun (but for now, fries are ok)
  • getting the wings (yes, probably still breaded but not nearly as “bready” as pizza) instead of the pizza. Save the ever-hallowed pizza for nights when you REALLY know it’s going to be worth eating.
  • instead of having pasta when you’re out, you can have something rice based, or maybe potato based, or maybe just meat with vegetables!
  • breakfast will need to be a little more creative than cereal or bagels.  Try some of these ideas out.  Or just buy jerky and fruit or nuts from Trader Joe’s.
  • You will need to plan to have lunch be something OTHER than a sandwich – and this means, if you don’t like salads – you may need to start packing your lunch!  Fear not – there are so many tasty and VERY easy to prepare options. You may even find that you save a little money off of not buying food out.
  • possibly switching from beer to hard liquor (haha!).  Really though, even if you LIMIT your beer to 1-3 drinks, you’ll be better off if you are currently drinking more than that on multiple nights over the weekend.
3. Ask a lot of questions about all of this as you begin – practically every CFCCer who has been here for longer than a month already has some sense of what all of this is like and how it works for them.  The best plan is the one that works for you.

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