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The Importance of Proper Digestion for an Athlete

The Importance of Proper Digestion for an Athlete

We aren’t what we eat, rather we are what we absorb.

The digestive system is the foundation for all other processes that take place in the body. What we put into our body is what is mainly responsible for our energy, mood, performance, and overall wellness. In today’s age, there is a huge disconnect between what we put into our body and how that can affect our overall health. Poor nutrition, and even further, poor DIGESTION are major contributors to chronic disease.

I believe that proper digestion is the root to optimal health and here’s why: digestion begins in the brain. The brain signals saliva to be produced when we begin to chew food. Our saliva contains different enzymes that begin the breakdown of food. Chewing your food THOROUGHLY is extremely important for proper digestion. Ideally, we should chew each bite around 20-30 times (the average is 4). Chewed food becomes what is called a bolus that is swallowed and moved through the esophagus and down to the stomach.

WHEN DIGESTION IS OPTIMAL, adequate stomach acid is secreted in addition to pancreatic enzymes that further break down the bolus into a substance called chyme. Chyme is extremely acidic as it moves from the stomach into the small intestine. Once in the small intestine, the acidity of the chyme becomes more neutral thanks to additional enzymes that are secreted, as well as bile from the gallbladder. These are to further breakdown proteins and fats. MOST NUTRIENT ABSORPTION OCCURS IN THE SMALL INTESTINE. What is left from the chyme is passed through the large intestine where any remaining usable nutrients and water are absorbed before being excreted from the body.

This is why a properly functioning digestive system is essential to optimal health and performance. Every single thing we eat goes through this process. We can eat the healthiest diet, but if we are not digesting properly then we are not absorbing all of the nutrients our body needs.

As an athlete, we need a proper balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrates because we expend a lot of excess energy during workouts. In addition, we may also need to consume more calories to adequately replenish our glycogen stores, repair damaged muscles, nourish the body and maintain general health. The digestive tract of an athlete is put under more stress than that an individual who does not regularly train. This is why it is incredibly important that as an athlete, we have a strong digestive system to break down food properly for optimal absorption of its nutrients within the body.

Tips to improve digestion:

  1. Chew food thoroughly. Ideally 20-30 chews per bite.
  2. Eat in a relaxed state. Sit down to eat your meals without any distractions as this will let the body solely focus on the process of digestion.
  3. Drink warm lemon water before meals. This is very soothing to the digestive tract in preparation for eating and the acidity of the lemon may help with stomach acid production.
  4. Try not to consume liquids during meals. Small sips of water are okay, but avoid chugging drinks as this can dilute stomach acid.
  5. Eat a properly prepared, nutrient-dense, whole food diet. In addition to the macro-nutrients, whole foods provide many micro-nutrients such as vitamins and minerals.

 

Eating Seasonally

Eating Seasonally

Eating seasonally is a great way to mix up your meals with fresh, in-season produce. Seasonal produce is purchased and consumed shortly after it has been harvested, and therefore when it is most nutritious. Even better, seasonal produce that is produced/purchased locally does not require long transport times and has moved from farm to table in a shorter amount of time.

Choosing local produce also has it’s own benefits:

  1. Beneficial to our local environment.
  2. Supports our local economy.
  3. We are able to get to know our local farmers and growers who can tell us how their products are grown and raised.

Produce that is in season right now (early September) in North Dakota:

  • Apples
  • Asian pears
  • Basil
  • Beets
  • Bok choy
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Cantaloupe
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Celery root
  • Chard
  • Chicories
  • Chili Peppers
  • Chives
  • Collard greens
  • Corn
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Endive
  • Garlic
  • Grapes
  • Green beans
  • Green onions
  • Ground cherries
  • Kale
  • Leeks
  • Lima beans
  • Melons
  • Mint
  • Mushrooms
  • Mustard greens
  • Okra
  • Onions
  • Oregano
  • Parsnips
  • Pears
  • Peppers
  • Potatoes
  • Pumpkin
  • Radicchio
  • Raspberries
  •  Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Shallots
  • Sprouts
  • Summer squash
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Thyme
  • Tomatillos
  • Tomatoes
  • Turnips
  • Watermelon
  • Winter squash
  • Zucchini

If you haven’t been to the Red River Farmer’s Market on Saturdays from 10 AM – 2 PM, I would highly recommend checking it out! Get to know the growers and support the local community. Plus, the produce there ROCKS!

Fitness Outside of the Gym

Fitness Outside of the Gym

It is not about how good you are at exercising.

Even though our members do get quite good at it. There is so much more to Icehouse then just helping you get into the best shape of your life.  Our favorite success stories aren’t around the total number of pounds or inches lost, or how much strength and/or speed is gained.  Those are all awesome & amazing accomplishments, but not what it is about.

Here are 2 of my favorite changes other then just improved fitness we see in our members:

1.Gained confidence

It is not uncommon for someone new to say or think “I can’t do that” when they read the workout.  CrossFit works because it is hard work, but it is absolutely possible.  If it wasn’t it wouldn’t work, and we would not ask you to do something if we didn’t believe you were capable.  We are all capable of so much more then we think!

Slowly we lift a couple more pounds, get a little faster, and/or loose a few pounds.  Before you know it you don’t even bat an eye at the workout because you just know you can do it. You even start trying tougher versions of movements because you’ve been killin’ it.  THAT is amazing!

Even better when a big project/opportunity at work, or a challenge out in the real world shows up you roll up your sleeves and take it on.  Because you are strong.  Because you are capable.  Because you CAN!

2. Saying YES to life

This is my absolute favorite reason to be fit, and why I stick with it.  I never want to have to say no to a fun outing, vacation, or adventure because I am concerned about being fit enough.

When someone shares a post about how they were able to go for a hike with their family on their annual vacation for the first time in years, or go outside and play a game with their nieces or nephews without getting winded THAT is what it’s about.

I understand that at this point you may have back pain, or you may have some knee pain stopping you from getting in shape. We are in pain so we don’t move, and we don’t move because we are in pain, and our bodies are not meant to just sit.  Find someone who can help you with those issues (we have coaches who have experience with all of those issues and can help you build the strength needed to solve them), or check out my recent blog of 5 places to start your fitness journey if you aren’t sure where to begin.

Take care of your body, surround yourself with people who believe in you, and say YES to life!

I Need to Get Healthy!  Where Do I Even Begin?!

I Need to Get Healthy! Where Do I Even Begin?!

I’ve got to do something, but what?!

There are SO MANY conflicting ads, posts, diets, cleanses, wraps, shakes, lollipops (seriously don’t get us started on that one) workouts, out there.  No wonder we don’t know where to start or who to trust.

If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is.

When reading an ad, or considering trying a product or program, first ask yourself “Does this option seem realistic?”

  • “Loose 20 lbs in 1 week!”
  • “Loose inches overnight!”
  • “You won’t feel hungry”

These are tempting because who hasn’t wanted to loose 20lbs in one week ?‍♀️?! However they do not sound realistic.  If they are promising a quick fix, they are likely a hoax.  They may even get you some quick results, but often times the more drastic/quickly these quick fixes work the faster the weight or inches will come back, often with some long term effects making the next time we try it even harder/less effective/more damaging.

If it doesn’t pass a good ol’ fashioned gut check, it’s likely “too go to be true.”

It did not take us 1 month, or even 1 year to get to where we are, so it will take some time to get to where we want to be. And we likely picked up some bad habits along the way.

Habits are hard to break, especially the bad ones. If we want a different result, we have to take different actions.  But trying to overhaul your entire life all at once rarely works.  It’s overwhelming & confusing, so start small.

5 Places to Get Started

There are more parts to being healthy then just working out and eating well (though those are HUGE pieces of the puzzle). Decide what is a realistic area of your life you are willing to make a few changes with TODAY, and focus on that until you have some new, healthier habits in place.

Choose just 1 of the following options to begin. Once you crushed that, THEN pickup another.

  1. Get a Fit Bit (AKA Just Move).  If money is a factor and a gym membership is truly not in the budget, Fit bit has some affordable options.  Buy one, put it on and hit 10,000 steps EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
  2. Drink More Water. I can guarantee just about all of us are not hydrating properly.  We should drink 1/2 of our body weight in oz of water every single day.  There are A TON of benefits with hydrating properly. Bonus points for subbing out 1 sugary drink/caffeinated/alcoholic drink per day for a glass of water.
  3. Go the F*ck To Sleep. We need 7-9 hours per sleep every night.  Even if you already are crushing workouts and your nutrition lack of sleep can wreck havoc on your body & metabolism.  Plan your day around your sleep schedule and make it non negotiable.
  4. Practice Mindfulness (Reduce Stress) This ranges anywhere from meditating or journaling for 5 minutes to finally making an appointment with a Therapist (I have a great one if you need a referral!).  When we make changes in our life, we have to work on our internal dialogue to get our mind & bodies in sync to stay successful long term.
  5. Get a Coach If you are looking at this list and thinking “sure that seems easy, but I’ve tried all those things and quit after a week” you may need a coach.  Why Icehouse works is greatly due to the accountability having a coach provides to our athletes.  Having someone expecting us at the gym, or helping us set the right goals for us and then having the tough conversation when we didn’t show up and ate a whole wheel of cheese and getting us back on track quickly has saved a lot of us from backsliding. Even our coaches have a coach because we too are human, and need someone to hold our feet to the fire occasionally.

Still unsure?  We offer a Free Intro to get to know you, discuss your goals and recommend the best place to start to ensure you will be successful long term.  Chat with a Coach HERE

You do not have to start all of it today, but pick a place to start, THEN GET STARTED!  Good Luck!

More info on Icehouse

Clean Eating

Clean Eating

In any fitness regiment, the most important, and often least considered, element is the diet.  And by diet, I don’t mean a fad diet saying you can’t eat any carbs ever, or you can only eat cucumbers for the next 30 days, or shakes for every meal for the foreseeable future.

None of these are sustainable over a long period of time and oftentimes they don’t even address the actual root of a bad diet.  A wise woman once said to me, “You can’t outrun a bad diet,” meaning that no matter how dedicated you are to working out, a bad diet will thwart your results every time.  So what can we eat to supplement and enhance an active lifestyle while at the same time being fulfilling and full of freedom?  Short answer: clean eating.

What is clean eating?

Clean eating is the basic idea of eating food as close to its natural, raw form as possible.  This does not include boxed, bagged, or packaged foods.  It also excludes processed foods as they contain a TON of unnecessary sugar, salt, saturated fats, all the unhelpful stuff.

Imagine your grocery store.  Now picture the perimeter of the store.  All the produce is there, (fresh fruits and vegetables galore), raw, fresh cuts of meat, the eggs, the spices; the stuff that you could eat from nature without having to add preservatives.  The purpose of eating clean is to eat for nourishment and fuel.

Clean eating powers the body more efficiently.  The fibers in fruits and vegetables keep the metabolism working longer.  Fresh meat contains protein to help build and replenish muscles.  Healthy fats that run the cells smoothly are found in eggs, nuts, seeds, and more.  Essentially, the more naturally colorful the food is, the better.

From personal experience, after clean eating for two months then dipping my toes back into the processed food world, I felt sluggish, out of focus, and noticed I didn’t perform as well in the gym.

Balance in Important

Of course, life is about balance.  If you discover that you’re drinking a soda or two everyday, replace them with Zevia, Bubly, or La Croix.  If your meals are mostly microwaved from a box, start weaning yourself off your sugar/salt addiction by replacing a meal with chicken tacos, with fresh veggies, or any number of delicious, fresh meals.  Eventually, work your way into the 80/20 realm where 80% or more of your food intake is clean food and 20% or less is your treat food.  This way you can satisfy your cravings but you take in much more quality sustainence.  Meal prepping is invaluable in this.

Clean up your act!  Eat clean!  (Insert cheesy wink here)

Want More Info/Help with Nutrition?

Clean eating is a great place to start, but if you want more information or a more specific plan and some accountability Icehouse does offer Nutrition Coaching.  To learn more with a free Intro call, snag your time here to see if we can help: https://meetme.so/IcehouseNutritionConsult