CrossFit founder Greg Gassman laid out a theoretical hierarchy of development in the seminal article "What Is Fitness?" in one of the very first CrossFit Journals. The foundation of this hierarchy is and has always been nutrition.
We talk about it a lot but we also know that it can be easy to get off track from time to time and to focus on physical activity as the means to our health and fitness goals. The truth is, if we ignore this fundamental piece, then we are sabotaging our efforts -- particularly if body composition (i.e. fat loss, muscle gain or both) is our aim.
A recent article in the Washington Post focuses on the recent trend of activity trackers, a.k.a. FitBits, etc. and how the emphasis on physical activity can in fact work against someone seeking fat loss by creating a false sense of achievement leading to consumption of too much of the wrong nutrients.
"...the rise in exercise was matched by an increase in obesity in almost every county studied. There were even more striking results in a 2011 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, which found that people who simply dieted experienced greater weight loss than those who combined diet and exercise."
This doesn't mean that physical activity is not part of your health and fitness strategy but that you must take a holistic approach to be successful. Your workouts should focus on teaching you to move better, safer and more efficiently (sound familiar?).
"Working out will make you healthier and less susceptible to disease. No matter what your size, even 20 to 30 minutes of physical activity that breaks you into a sweat five times per week will substantially improve your health and well-being. Do what you enjoy, whether it’s dancing, cycling, sex or all three. If it’s longevity you’re after, note that elite athletes in high-intensity sports don’t live any longer than top golfers."
But physical activity without the foundation of solid nutrition will not by itself guarantee your health. Take, for example, distance running guru and author of The Lore of Running, Tim Noakes' experience.
"Despite being an almost daily runner and completing more than 70 marathons in his lifetime, Noakes developed Type 2 diabetes in his late 50s, which he attributes to his excessive consumption of sugar and other refined carbohydrates."
If you need help with your nutritional strategy, talk to a coach and come out to the Food as Medicine presentation by Dr. Kyle Chavers of Foundations Medical Center on June 6th at 10 a.m. at the gym.