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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.

 

How to Measure Progress

How to Measure Progress

When you first start CrossFit, it is easy to see progress in the gym. Every day you have a new movement, a new chance to set a PR. After a year, or two, or three, it can be much harder to see progress from day to day. Here are a few ways we can measure progress.

How to Measure Progress

Use Sugarwod

For those of us who keep our entire lives on our phones, it only makes sense to keep our workout information there as well. Choose an app, we use Sugarwod, and record everything. The more notes the better, you will thank yourselves for the extra information when you are deciding between going for the same weight you used last time, or if you should jump 5 lbs.

Keep a “Workout Journal”

If you have the handwriting for it a workout journal is a really cool tool to track your progress as well. Pick a nice book, or a legal pad and use a page a day, per workout, or however else you want to organize it. The cool thing about a workout journal is that it is your own. You’ll know exactly where everything is recorded, and it will make sense to you. They also are a neat keepsake when you fill them up.

Go to a Baseline Class

Saturday, 8 am. We recommend you go to this class quarterly. You will get an InBody scan as well as our baseline workout. This will give you objective data. The coach will help you understand your results and how to proceed. Sign up now. Classes are capped at 5, you definatley don’t want to miss this opportunity.

Get an InBody Scan

Schedule an InBody scan with your primary coach, they will help you understand what all the numbers mean. In general, we want to see muscle mass go up, and body fat % go down. Bodyweight doesn’t tell the whole story. Don’t focus too much on that one number because it is often not the best picture of progress.

Progress is NOT Linear

There are so many variables that can make you feel like you are not making progress. Sleep, nutrition, mood, stress, work, kids and even attitude can have a direct effect on your daily workout. What are the odds that on any given day, you are going to come in perfectly prepared for a 1 rep max? If any one of those variables are even slightly off, you may not see all of your hard work in the form of a PR. This is where notes come in handy. So what, you didn’t hit that new weight. Put it in your notes. “Missed, less than 3 hours of sleep” and move on. Progress takes time, and if you don’t measure it in some way. It is easy to say there is none, because you don’t feel it on that day. If you zoom out and look at the big picture you will see that the overall trend is up.

 

What’s Next After the Nutrition Challenge?

What’s Next After the Nutrition Challenge?

Reflecting on the past four weeks of the Partner Nutrition Challenge and they have been filled with accountability, support, recipe sharing, food photos, trying new things, crushing goals, and creating new habits.

ALL AMAZING THINGS.

Are you wondering about what’s next? How to keep the momentum going after the challenge and building on the healthy habits you’ve worked so hard to create may be some things that you are starting to think about and game plan for.

The number one best option for you to continue to hit your goals and progress forward is Ongoing Nutrition Coaching.

Typically, in order to move forward with ongoing coaching, you need to complete an initial nutrition package, however all challenger participants can use the challenge as their initial package and jump right in to ongoing coaching as soon as the challenge is complete.

What is included in Ongoing Nutrition Coaching:

  1. 1-on-1 support from me, Coach Anna.
  2. Individualized macro goals based on your unique, individual needs.
  3. Virtual check-ins every other week.
  4. In-person check-ins and biometric testing one time per month.
  5. Food journal sharing.
  6. Text and email access to me outside of appointments.
  7. Specialized plans to hit your weight loss or performance goals.
  8. Additional reference materials.
  9. Individualized nutrition education.
  10. Goal setting sessions every 4 weeks to ensure you hit your goals and plan new ones once you do.

We have two different pricing options for our ongoing nutrition program at Icehouse. You can either add it on to your existing membership OR you can switch over to our brand-new Wellness Membership. The Wellness Membership includes unlimited fitness classes + ongoing nutrition coaching. If you are already an unlimited member, the Wellness Membership is the way to go because it will save you some cash money each month.

The momentum has been so damn strong throughout this challenge, so why stop when it ends?! Schedule your first 1-on-1 nutrition coaching appointment with me today!

“Performing the common uncommonly well.”

“Performing the common uncommonly well.”

We all want to progress and be better at the goals we have set for ourselves and achieve a higher level of fitness, and we all want it right now. Truthfully there is nothing wrong with that. In fact your desire to improve can be a great motivator on your journey towards a greater level of health and fitness, not just in the gym but outside as well.

The purpose of this conversation however is to address the process we take to achieve that next level. Be forewarned this is an honest conversation that expects you to check yourself and be realistic about your answers.

How many times have you been at the gym working your way through another awful set of wall balls and that one didn’t quite hit the line at the high enough spot, or maybe that squat on the last one was not quite below parallel? You might count it as a rep anyways and keep on going. I mean really who is it going to hurt? Nobody saw it, and nobody really cares if you did 24 out of 25 full, true, wall balls.

The truth is YOU SHOULD CARE! Not because it matters what everyone else thinks about your wall balls, but rather how you feel about completing the work in its entirety. At the end of the day, the person you are hurting is you.

There is an article written by CrossFits founder, Mr. Greg Glassman, that talks specifically about this and more-so it talks about the process it takes to gain meaningful success in the gym and how that can be achieved through true virtuosity.

It sounds like a buzz word or something cool for the coaches to say (to let you know that they know all the things and stuff) but practicing virtuosity by “performing the common uncommonly well” will not only serve to help you achieve those goals faster in the gym, but also in life.

It all starts with the foundations of movement. Air squat before we overhead squat, and must learn to overhead squat before we learn to snatch. Don’t take this as a shot at your ego or that you are doing anything wrong. Take this as an opportunity to get best at the basics and to make the more complex movements beneficial; not only for your safety but also for your overall fitness.