Eat Your Veggies!

by Aimee Wojtowecz

Eat your veggies! Do I sound like your mother nagging you at dinner time?? Well she was onto something. Vegetables provide us with valuable vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that you just can’t get in other foods. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans consume about 32 percent of their calories from animal foods, 57 percent from processed plant foods, and only 11 percent from whole grains, beans, fruits, vegetables, and nuts. A 2010 report from the National Cancer Institute on the status of the American diet found that three out of four Americans don’t eat a single piece of fruit in a given day, and nearly nine out of ten don’t reach the minimum recommended daily intake of vegetables. On a weekly basis, 96 percent of Americans don’t reach the minimum for greens or beans (three servings a week for adults), 98 percent don’t reach the minimum for orange vegetables (two servings a week), and 99 percent don’t reach the minimum for whole grains (about three to four ounces a day).

So when people ask us “what’s the number one thing that will improve my nutrition?” We answer: “eat your vegetables.”

Phytonutrients (phyto = plant) refers to the several thousands of different, healthful, non-nutritive compounds found in plants. These components are referred to as “non-nutritive” because they do not supply calories like proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. They have other benefits like changing the structure and function of cells. For example, certain phytonutrients can radically change how the liver metabolizes toxins. Other phytonutrients lodge their way into specific parts of the body because they have a role there to play, like blueberry compounds in parts of the brain that are responsible for learning and memory. 

For some time, it has been known that we should eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, and seeds. People who eat these plant foods tend to have lower rates of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, dementia, and other chronic health conditions. The minimum recommendations are 5 servings a day, 2 fruits and 3 vegetables. But if you’re looking to optimize your health and prevent chronic disease the recommendation bumps to 9-13 servings a day. Yes that is a lot, but Yes it can be done. A typical serving is only half a cup of cooked vegetables, one cup of raw leafy vegetables, or a medium-sized piece of fruit.

It’s quite common to get stuck in a rut of eating the same vegetables and fruits everyday. They’re easy to prepare and you already know you like them. It has been estimated that 80% of average Americans are missing one or more colors on a daily basis. There are thousands of phytonutrients in nature. If we eat the same foods over and over again, even if they are colorful, we may be missing the complex universe of important phytonutrients in foods. Fruits and vegetables are rich sources of phytonutrients, along with whole grains, legumes, herbs, spices, nuts, seeds, and teas. Phytonutrients in food come in 6 different color categories; green, yellow, orange, red, blue/purple/black, and white/tan/brown, each with their own unique phytonutrients. If you’re looking to add more variety of fruits and vegetables to your diet, start by identifying what colors you’re already eating and what colors you’re missing, then start filling in the gaps. Once you have a baseline with a good variety of colors then you can start adding more volume, an extra serving of greens in your salad, a side of roasted tomatoes with your eggs at breakfast, or snacking on carrots and hummus (that’s 2 different colors right there!). 

So if improving your nutrition is one of your goals for 2022, the easiest thing you can do is incorporate more fruits and vegetables and make sure they are colorful! Eat them cooked, eat them raw, try broiling and roasting and air frying, make stir-fries and soups and smoothies, keep a bowl of fruit on the counter and cut-up veggies in the fridge. Make it a goal to try one new fruit or vegetable a week. Don’t be afraid to experiment! 

Enjoy the Holidays

by Michael Plank

We are smack dab in the holiday season. Every year we talk to people who get so nervous about the holidays derailing everything they’ve worked so hard for. From January through the first half of November they’ve come to the gym 3 times every week, improved their sleep, transformed their nutrition habits, added stretching and journaling, and now it’s a nonstop cookie and party parade everywhere they look. EVERYTHING IS RUINED!

Here’s a Holiday PSA for you…

It’s possible that actually everything is fine.

Think of the first day you can remember that was one you were really proud of… a day where you got lots of sleep the night before, you managed your stress well, fueled and hydrated your body, and got in a great workout. A perfect day! Now here’s the follow-up question… did that one perfect day get you all the amazing results you were dreaming of? Of course not. One day isn’t enough to catapult you forward in your progress. It’s not enough to derail your progress either. Two days isn’t enough. Five days isn’t enough.

Four weeks is enough to put on a couple of pounds. But the only way that’s the same as derailing all of your progress is if you don’t ever step away from the nonstop cookie and party parade even after the holidays are over. But you will. Because the holiday season ends. And what you do for the 6 weeks from November 19-December 31 is way less important than what you do for the 46 weeks from January to November.

Enjoy the holidays!

Member Spotlight: Robin W!

by Aimee Wojtowecz

Meet Robin! Robin has been an Underwood Park CrossFit Nutrition client since April 2021 and a gym member of UPCF since 2017. She is an accountant and in all of her free time she trains for her mountain biking adventures! Robin loves to cheer on others at the gym, but she realized several months ago that she needed to get her own nutrition in line with her goals to keep seeing the results she wanted.

She was eager to learn a way to maintain her weight, properly fuel for training, and find a healthy balance in her lifestyle. Robin has made amazing progress by focusing on one small habit change at a time, and has noticed a significant improvement in her mindset, performance, and recovery! Oh and she inspired her husband to join this journey with her as well!

Her Journey With Nutrition Coaching

Since starting nutrition coaching with Underwood Park CrossFit, Robin has been able to lose weight and use the tools provided by her nutrition coach to stay “on track” without feeling restricted or like she is on a diet. Through nutrition coaching Robin has learned that wellness is truly a lifestyle! Time for Q&A with Robin!

What prompted you to sign up for nutrition coaching?

My clothes were getting tight and uncomfortable and we were going on a bike trip at the end of the summer. I wanted to drop a little weight to be able to move better on the bike.

How has nutrition coaching helped you?

More than anything, nutrition coaching has kept me accountable. Just knowing that someone is paying attention and is going to ask me how things are going every week makes me want to keep at it so I can report good news. Also nutrition coaching has provided tips to stay on track and ways to make better nutrition decisions and incorporate healthier habits into my normal routine.

What have been your results so far?

My clothes fit better which is great because clothes shopping is one of the things I hate most in life. Also, I have felt so much stronger mountain biking and in the gym. I’ve improved quite a bit with pullups and pushups since focusing more on nutrition.

What would you say to someone considering nutrition coaching at Underwood Park CrossFit?

Trust the process. Going off plan for a couple days… or weeks.. doesn’t mean you aren’t still making progress.

5 Tips for Navigating Holiday Eating

by Aimee Wojtowecz

We’re coming into the last two months of the year and you know what that means… Happy Holidays!

Does the Holiday Season typically mean abandoning your health and fitness goals until January 1st? What if we told you that it’s possible to enjoy your holiday celebrations while staying in-line with your health and fitness goals and NOT FEELING DEPRIVED?!! It’s true! 

The holidays can be a time of excess: excess food, excess drinks, excess socializing. (Go big or go home right?) How could it be possible to still enjoy the foods and drinks you want and not feel guilty about your choices, or feel like you’re always saying no and testing out just how long that willpower is going to last? The answer is simple: healthy habits that you’ve worked all year round to develop. 

When we talk about food and nutrition here at the gym, we’re never discussing a way that you have to eat all the time if you want to get results. We’re not saying “You can never have sugar or dessert again if you want progress!” Or “Have you tried __<insert current fad diet here>___ yet?” What we do talk about is eating for real life, eating in a way that is sustainable and will still aid you in reaching your goals, eating in a way that you actually ENJOY. We do all of this by focusing on your lifestyle and building healthy habits.  So let’s take a look at the top 5 healthy habits to help you move toward your goals this holiday season. 

1. Eat your vegetables

Try something as simple as adding one additional serving of vegetables a day. This is going to increase your fiber intake which helps you to stay fuller for longer. It’s also going to increase your nutrient intake (yay for vitamins, minerals and antioxidants!). 

2. Drink your water

Indulgent drinks are at their peak during the holidays. Drinking water serves multiple purposes. First, alcohol is dehydrating, and being dehydrated can lead to fatigue, decreased performance during exercise, and headaches, and is often mistaken for hunger. Drinking water also helps to slow down our drink consumption and therefore slow our intake of empty, although fun, calories. 

3. Portion control

We’re not saying you need to travel to every party with your food scale, but portions are still important; it’s how we balance the foods we need with the foods we want. Two super simple ways to keep portions in check are with the plate method and the hand portion method. The plate method means filling up half your plate with vegetables, ¼ with protein, the other ¼ with carbohydrates, and a little fat on the side. Incredibly simple and works with any size plate. 

The second method, using hand portions, is also simple and portable. Aim for a palm sized portion of protein, a cupped palm of carbohydrates, 1-2 fist sized servings of vegetables, and a thumb sized serving of fat. 

4.Stick with that exercise routine

“Abs are made in the kitchen” While I hate that saying (you already have abs, you were born with them, you can’t possibly make them in a kitchen unless your name is Dr. Frankenstein), I do understand the sentiment behind it. Nutrition is incredibly important for reaching your health and fitness goals and a large part of what is going to get you there. But that doesn’t mean that fitness can be neglected either. Building muscle helps to increase our basal metabolic rate which means our body burns more calories even when we’re watching Hallmark movies on the couch. Exercising is also a great stress reliever, something we all have an abundance of this time of year, as well as a support system for those of us who might struggle a little or a lot through the holidays. 

5. Don’t forget to have fun

The holiday season is meant to be a time of reflection, celebration with friends and family, gratitude, giving and sharing, love and hope. If you want to indulge in that cheesecake or pie, by all means do so and enjoy every single bite, revel in it and move on! Food can be a way to enhance all of these experiences even if it is not the reason for all of these experiences. Memories and time are the reason. If the holiday season is tough for you, we hope that you have the love and support you need during this challenging time and can still find ways to have fun and joy in this season. 

If navigating this time of year has always been a struggle for you, let’s make this year different! Try a few of our tips and have a Happy and Healthy Holiday Season!

If you need support, accountability or guidance this holiday season reach out, we’re here to help! 

 

Test Your Sources

by Aimee Wojtowecz

You probably follow some social media influencers. On Facebook, Instagram or Tik Tok, there are countless people out there providing massive amounts of information; more information than any generation has ever had instant access to. Sometimes they’re flashy and loud, sometimes they present their information simply and clearly. Regardless of presentation, how do you weed through the countless nutrition tips all over the internet?

First, listen to your gut. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. It’s probably also not safe or sustainable. Safe and sustainable weight loss is a slow process, much slower than weight gain (yes, bodies are weird like that!). We talk about an average of between half a pound and two pounds lost per week as a sustainable goal. And when we’re talking weight loss, we really should be talking fat loss. Losing weight is simple, but losing fat while maintaining or even increasing muscle is an art form. And on the other side of the coin, anything promising to add 10 pounds of muscle in 20 days is also probably not going to work. The average rate of muscle growth for males is 1-2 pounds per month and for females around 1 pound per month. This is with consistent weight training and an intentional nutrition plan. 

Second, do your research. By research I don’t mean typing into google “How to lose 20 pounds in 10 days” and reading whatever comes up. This is called confirmation bias, or looking for articles that already support the position you’re trying to research. If you’re into evaluating scholarly articles, you want to be using google scholar. It’s free just like google and not limited to only people doing academic research. You also want to be asking a more neutral question, for example, “What is a safe rate of weight loss”. Rapid weight loss can even trigger disease conditions such as stress-related hypothyroidism. Extreme calorie cutting and stressful conditions that result in rapid weight loss can impact thyroid hormone levels and how those hormones are converted into their usable forms. Sustainable and slow also equals safe here. 

You also want to be researching the credentials of the person presenting the information. Do they hold a professional certification? What’s their academic background? In the United States professional nutrition regulation is not universal between states. There are some states where it is a heavily regulated profession and there are other states such as New York, that are considered green states, meaning there are almost no regulations. This is where things get a little tricky with language. In NY anyone can call themselves a nutritionist and give out nutrition information with zero training or education in nutrition, but to be called a “certified” nutritionist they must be licensed through the state and have gone through extensive educational and professional training. Make sure you’re looking for someone who has some kind of professional nutrition certification and training. 

Lastly, use the resources around you and talk to a trusted professional. We have nutrition coaches here at the gym that you can talk to anytime, even if you’re not a nutrition client! If you have a question about some information you’ve heard, please ask. We would be happy to help you evaluate that information and have had extensive training to be able to do so. Better yet, sign up for a 15 minute FREE intro and ask us all the questions you want, EVEN if you never sign up for nutrition coaching! We can even refer you to Registered Dietitians if you have more complex health issues that need special concideration.

All this said, there are reputable information sources out there on social media if you can sift through the noise to find them. Some of the top nutrition influencers that we recommend are:

@kids.eat.in.color
@lower.cholesterol.nutrition
@andydoeshealthy
@elainaefird
@syattfitness

Check them out for some quality nutrition information and let us know what you think!

Meal Prep in 5 Easy Steps!

by Aimee Wojtowecz

You know that being successful with your nutrition goals takes some planning and preparation but it often feels overwhelming to start. Here are 5 easy steps to start implementing some planning and preparation in your life!

1. Start with a plan

Being prepared doesn’t have to mean making every single thing you’re going to eat for every single meal all week, but it does mean that you need a plan. Take out a piece of paper or a calendar, look at your schedule and write down anything that might be an obstacle that week. Kids have a late night soccer game on Tuesday? Write that down. Work lunch on Thursday? Write that down. Now fill in your meals knowing that Tuesday you need something quick and easy or a crockpot meal that you can start in the morning before you leave and Thursday you don’t need to bring lunch. Remember too that not everything has to be homemade from scratch to help you meet your goals. Don’t have time to make breakfast? Plan on buying a box of frozen Kodiak Cake waffles or breakfast burritos. Hate chopping vegetables? Pay the extra for pre-chopped, it will save you time and stress. 

2. Grocery shop

Now that you know what meals you’re going to need this week you can make your grocery list. This cuts down on impulse buying and food waste because you only buy what you need to make meals and snacks; you’re not just throwing anything that catches your eye into the cart. It also ensures that when you’re going to make your meal that you haven’t forgotten something. There’s nothing like going to make buffalo chicken and realizing you don’t have any buffalo sauce!

3. Set aside time for prep

This is usually the part where people get thrown off in their plan. Taking time for meal prep does not mean dedicating an entire Sunday afternoon to cooking. It could mean that you’re taking 20 minutes to chop up vegetables for snacks while you’re making a batch of pulled chicken in your Instant Pot (Also if you don’t have a pressure cooker get yourself one! It’s a huge timesaver and can double as a crockpot.). Even the smallest bit of preparation for the week ahead can save you time and stress. 

4. Store your foods conveniently

Does your fridge have room for 5 days of individual meals? Do you have enough containers for food storage? Are these containers portable, leakproof, shatterproof? Do you need to take a cooler to store your food for the day or do you have access to a refrigerator? 

5. Follow through with your plan

When life happens during the week – a rescheduled game, an unexpected late work night – it can be hard to stay committed to your plan. Remember that you’ve already done some of the prep work and you would hate to waste that food but also that reaching your goals requires consistency and occasionally some discipline and tough choices. That’s why it’s important to also build some fun into your plan! Include plenty of vegetables of course but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy homemade pizza one night, schedule a dinner out at your favorite restaurant, or meet friends for drinks. These can all be part of a healthy balanced nutrition plan. 

 

We’re all striving for food freedom and a healthy relationship with our nutrition and it might seem counterintuitive to actually implement more discipline but meal planning and prepping doesn’t have to be one more stressful chore. It’s ok to take some shortcuts where you need to. It’s not about perfection but rather being 1% better than yesterday. As Jocko Willink says “Freedom is what everyone wants – to be able to act and live with freedom. But the only way to get to a place of freedom is through discipline.”. 

If you need help with accountability and planning we’ve got tools for that!