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August 02, 2009



Complete as many rounds in 20 minutes as you can of:
5 Pull-ups
10 Push-ups
15 Squats


Complete as many rounds in 20 minutes as you can of:
5 Handstand Push-ups
10 One legged squats, alternating
15 Pull-ups

“But I was CRAVING it!”

Eating well certainly has its positives. Better performance, better body composition, better mood, more quality rest, and did I mention health? The list is nearly endless and far reaching into all areas of life. About the only thing over in the con category, and this is debatable, is that you can’t over-consume anything that you feel like stuffing your face with. In other words you have to control yourself in the face of all those tempting choices and inner cravings. (Kind of reminds me of smoking-no positives except superficial ones, but a long list of negatives.)

Inner cravings-ah yes that “hunger” that strikes when you smell a pizza. Or the sudden urge for chocolate! How about something as simple as “I just feel like having…” fill in the blank. These are impulses and feelings. As real as they feel, there is a logical side to it, and it is as simple as -you don’t NEED it.

Let me qualify this by saying that 99% of the people out there who have a balanced, successful nutritional program eat the things that they crave. Just not whenever they crave them. At first there may be a little bit of a revolt from the part of you that “needs” something sweet. But eventually these are quieted and replaced with the enjoyment of all of the positive side effects that fall under that list of pros that we started like, having more energy, losing weight, and improved mood. Those are things that would qualify more logically as NEEDS. Conveniently enough they are also wants of most sane people.

As sane people it seems fair to ask- if everyone wants the positive benefits of good nutrition and none of the negatives of poor nutrition, especially if you are a hard working CrossFitter- then why aren’t we all doing really great and eating lean meats, nuts and seeds, vegetables, some fruit, little starch, and no sugar at levels that will sustain exercise but not excess fat?

Well, it’s much like the afore mentioned smoker-cravings and false signals are powerful enough to make us do something we 1. don’t want to do. 2 know is not good for us. 3. feel worse after doing. When we stop to think about it the lack of control over these things can kind of induce some shame-or loss of dignity on par with addiction. Perhaps similar to a smoker in the rain dragging on a cigarette outside of the party.

Well lets admit that the impulses and cravings are strong and may run deep in many. For others it might just be that they don’t want to put in the effort, still others don’t know any better. For most of us we fall somewhere in between.

We do well for a little while then give in for a little while-or a long while and then get back on it with determination and hit the WOD hard and then a stressor derails us… it is a painful process. It doesn’t have to be. Again lets take a look at logic-if you’ve ever said to yourself “I am craving chocolate cake-I must need the riboflavin that are in the flour. I should listen to my body.” This should seem ridiculous- but I have actually heard this logic from people who are not pregnant. Cravings are not the body’s way of telling us that we are lacking certain nutrients. Cravings are, truth be told-lies.

Then what is the truth behind these cravings that stop us from being as successful as we want to be?

1. You are tired.
Remember the process that occurs with proper rest? The hormones leptin and grhelin are balanced and responsible for feeling satiated or hungry. If you are under slept and it doesn’t make sense that you would be hungry you actually need rest. Try a 10min nap and then go to bed early and wake up early.

2. You are thirsty.
Fun facts: In 37% of Americans, the thirst mechanism is so weak that it is often mistaken for hunger. Even mild dehydration will slow down one’s metabolism as much as 3%. One glass of water shuts down midnight hunger pangs for almost 100% of the dieters studied in a University of Washington study. Lack of water is the #1 trigger of daytime fatigue. Research indicates that 8-10 glasses of water a day could significantly ease back and joint pain for up to 80% of sufferers.
Drink your water and you will be glad you did.

3. You are Stressed
Food isn’t going to solve any real life problems but if you choose this approach here are some stress eating suggestions from the Dallas Daily News

Yogurt. Its minerals include calcium, which helps regulate nerve impulses. Plus, its probiotics aid digestion, which – no surprise – can be upset during times of turmoil.

Broccoli and kale. Leafy green vegetables help boost the immune system, which is vulnerable in times of stress.

Salmon. Hooray for omega-3 fatty acids and magnesium. Why? Because they inhibit the release of cortisol (a.k.a. the stress hormone). Plus, cortisol often is attributed to belly fat. Like we need more belly fat, especially when we’re stressed.

Blueberries. These little wonders not only contain antioxidants for heart health, they also provide fiber, which regulates blood sugar. Voilà! You’re not as jittery.

There you have it. Go ahead and eat, just eat food that won’t add to the stress in the first place. Remember in that list of positives is elevated mood and more energy-things you could probably use to deal with the real issues. So before you let the cravings (cough! LIES) for an unscheduled binge throw you into a feeding frenzy- quickly quiz yourself with this short and simple list. “Do I really NEED this? Or am I 1. Tired? 2. Thirsty? 3. Stressed? It feels good to be honest with yourself and to be in control of what you decide to eat.

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  1. Mark Lee Reply


    There is another throwdown at crossfit new england. There are only 50 spots left-anyone can sign up by going to the web address above and printing the form and mailing in a check for 15$ to the address on the form.

  2. Richard Reply

    I would love to compete in this, unfortunately I will be spending the weekend moving back up to Boston 🙁 I’ll try to make it out and cheer you guys on, though!

  3. Mark Lee Reply

    Personally Rich I am going to watch and encourage/coach Last time I competed I couldn’t workout for 5 days!

    Anyone have any thoughts on the cravings post-I expected a little bit of controversy?

  4. Richard Reply

    Yeah, I am not opposed to cheat meals / days, especially on vacation / traveling. I always thought that cravings were the body’s way of telling you what it might need.

    Personally, I crave Ice Cream a lot. And I will let myself have a small helping about 1-2x per week. Now that I am fairly Paleo, the sugar and dairy makes me feel not right. I will get a headache and get feel kinda blue after the craving is satisfied.

    I agree with the post re: cravings that are just bad for you, i.e. cigarettes and beer. I tend to drink more than I should on the weekends, and come Sunday afternoon, I am always disappointed in myself for “acting a fool”.

    Good article Mark, really helps to stay motivated to eating well, working out well, and living life. Freat advice!

  5. Littles Reply

    I know that my body doesn’t need white flour or white sugar when I’m having a craving and that it doesn’t make me feel any better if I have it. However, if I’m feeling low dark chocolate does elevate my mood, and doesn’t make me feel bad afterwards.

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