Thanks for being here. You could be doing a lot with your time, so it means a lot that you’ve decided to use some to read this.
This article is going to be all about the last 15 months of my experience making my own training a priority again.
Here;s what you can expect:
1. I’ll tell you a short story
2. Nutrition/ Supplements/ Recovery
3. Mental/emotional stuff
If you have any questions about any of the content in this article, PLEASE ask it in our private Facebook group which you can join through this link:
So, without further adieu, let’s talk training.
This past 15 months I elected to do a different style of training than I have to this point. It’s a
buzzwordy type of training you’re likely familiar with:
For anyone who’s known me for a length of time outside of the last 3 or 4 years, I used to talk A LOT about how CrossFit is stupid.
In the 3 years prior to the last 15 months I changed the way I thought about it to, meh, it’s cool as a sport, and if people like it and it gets them active, go for it. I’ll never do it but, by all means you can.
Then something weird happened in March 2020, and found myself sitting all the time, working all the time, sad, frustrated and unmotivated, sick of my programming and just in desperate need of something to make my training interesting so I’d actually do it.
So, I hired a coach. A CrossFit Games athlete in the master’s division named Dermot Cleary.
I’ve now done "CrossFit" style training over the past year and a bit and I can honestly say; I was incorrect.
My training over the past 15 months has followed the same sound principles that we coach and program at STRONG.
Basically, we do an assessment to identify the areas where we can make the largest
improvements overall with the least effort and greatest ability to recover.
We pick a focus for a few weeks, work to improve whichever component we’ve identified is most important for you right now, and then reassess and move on to the next low hanging fruit.
You can’t improve everything at once, and everything can only improve until it’s so far out of
balance, at which point further development starts to create problems.
A good program will repeat enough to see improvement, and change enough to avoid plateaus and injuries.
My training has not been without aches, pains and injuries, but overall I”m certainly (when I feel good) much stronger and much more physically capable than I was 15 months ago.
I’ve lost about 15 pounds overall (depending on the day you ask), and I’ve managed to maintain or improve on all of my “main lifts” at the same time as increasing my endurance and stamina dramatically. The training, like any training done with almost perfect consistency for more than a year has yielded great results for me.
Here’s what makes this type of training, and great results possible;
Nutrition, Supplements and Recovery
Since I started my focused training I've been very on top of a few things that I think make a massive difference.
The first is I pretty much stopped drinking. This happened for two reasons I think, the first being I wanted to recover well and I know alcohol doesn’t help with that. The second being I deal with a lot of anxiety at the best of times, and alcohol/hangovers make me feel like my world is ending and I’m no good.
When I don’t drink, I feel better about myself. When I feel better about myself, I find more
opportunities, I’m more creative, I have more energy, I’m more focused, I like myself more.
And when I want to have drinks, I can do it now and I don’t feel terrible afterwards (or at least I recover from it quicker). This may not be a necessary step for most people, but it was for me.
I’d say if you want to make your health and well being a priority and you have a positive
relationship with alcohol, this is probably not a big issue. But if you don’t have a great
relationship with alcohol and you want to make some positive changes, I’d give some thought to cutting it out, if only for a little while.
Second, I take vitamin D and Zinc every morning when I wake up. Both of these play roles in most hormone production and cell functioning, and are missing or insufficient in most people (especially those living at Northern latitudes) simply because of a lack of sunlight (vit d) and because of decreasing soil mineral concentrations over time (zinc).
Third, I take magnesium and fish oil every night before I go to bed. Magnesium is a mineral and electrolyte involved in every muscle contraction. It’s utilized in the chemical process of
contracting the muscle, and like zinc, is excreted when you sweat more (and I have sweat a lot this past year). It’s also found in decreasing amounts in food because of soil mineral depletion.
Magnesium deficiency can have a host of negative effects but most notable is the effect it has on muscle tension, restlessness, and sleep quality. It can also cause or increase symptoms of anxiety and depression, and often people who start supplementing with a good magnesium supplement notice a better ability to control racing thoughts. For me, I notice after a few days without taking my supplements I have a much harder time falling asleep, and often wake up very early in the morning and can’t get back to sleep.
This happens sometimes anyway because my training volume is quite high, but it’s dramatically better if I’m taking my stuff.
The fish oil I’ve been taking every day for years. Your cell membranes are all made up of fat
cells which determine what can and can’t enter your cells. If you have more omega 3’s in your diet, you have healthier, more flexible cell walls that allow nutrients to enter and exit more easily. If things can get in and out of your cells easier you can produce energy, heat and movement more efficiently.
Healthier cell walls = more fit.
This is the short list of supplements I take consistently. I take some others like creatine,
glutamine and protein supplement, but more on this in nutrition (next).
Have a question about supplements? Ask it in our Facebook group!
The way I eat has changed quite a bit over the course of the last year. Just as your training
needs to evolve over time, so too does your eating.
Initially I focused primarily on as much meat and vegetables as possible, with minimal
sugars/starches (low carbohydrate). My goal early on was to try to lose some body fat relativel quickly, and I’m pretty capable of setting my mind to something and sticking with it
unwaveringly, so dropping alcohol and grains was pretty easy for me.
As my body fat dropped I found myself feeling very sluggish and unmotivated after the initial training excitement wore off. I saw great results with the low carb diet for the first three months of training, but stuck with it way too long and my training quality and results likely suffered from keeping carbohydrates out for too long.
I went on vacation in July and ate a ton of pie and all of a sudden my workouts felt way better. I felt stronger, I ate a ton of pie and got leaner, and my mood improved a lot. I put the pieces together and realized I needed more carbohydrates in my diet if I wanted to continue training as I have been, so I’ve been making a concerted effort to eat a lot more.
I still think I’m not getting enough, but it’s a work in progress!
Anyway, my basic rules for eating are:
1. Eat breakfast, predominantly fat and protein which helps with focus and energy
2. Have 3 hours between meals so your stomach has time to empty and digestion is able to
work as intended (fill and empty before fill again)
3. Eat meat and vegetables first. They’re harder to eat when you’re already full, and have
more micronutrients and protein than the carbs, so definitely make them a priority
Sleep is essential. If you don’t sleep nothing works. Make sure you prioritize your sleep. I put my phone in another room to charge now. I know this isn’t possible for everyone but if you need it for an alarm, put it on the other side of the room and don’t use your phone in bed under any circumstances.
Too much work and stress comes from our phones these days. Those are pretty much the
opposite of sleep, so don’t bring them into your bed.
I’ve been making a point to set my alarm and plug my phone in at least an hour before I start to go to bed so I have a clear delineation between work and sleep.
I’ve also found not having my phone on me makes me more able to connect with my partner
and my friends, both of which help create a sense of well being and will make sleep easier.
As much as possible try to minimise screen time in general, but if that’s not realistic try to watch things that are calming. If the episode ends on a cliffhanger, you’re not going to be able to fall asleep very easily.
I’ve heard mindfulness and meditation work wonders. I’ve done it maybe twice so I can’t really speak to its effects on my recovery, but in theory it makes sense to me that mastering your own mind would help with sleep.
Also take supplements (see supplements section above).
I think that’s it. Have a question? Ask it in the Facebook group!
This past year has been a very trying one for most people, I’m certainly no exception.
I started really focused training again because of the pandemic lockdowns. I was forced to close my business, decisions that seriously impacted me and my clients were being made without my ability to influence any of them, and it left me feeling like everything I was working towards was taken away from me, and I couldn’t control any of it.
I was really angry, definitely anxious, probably depressed and I just needed something that I could focus my energy on that was a big project that would need a lot of attention. So I chose myself as the project.
Through this process I’ve had to really choose my priorities, and it’s been a real challenge
learning to set boundaries. Pretty much the only constant through this process has been
change, and it’s been a challenge trying to navigate that.
I’ve once again been able to experience first hand a lot of the challenges our clients face, and I think it’s a really important thing as someone who spends all day working with people on taking care of themselves that I too am taking care of myself.
I’m really proud of myself for sticking with it, and I hope you get to feel that way too. So if there’s anything we can do to help you in this fitness thing, we’re always a message away and happy to get to know you in a free consultation.