You Can't Out Train a Bad Diet

One of my favorite things to do after a gigantic workout is to go out to dinner. Whether it is Murph, Angie, Glen, or some sweaty 30 minute chipper, I love to come home, take a shower, enjoy the stillness of successful muscle fatigue, and go out for food. I love browsing the menu and feeling satisfied that I can order whatever I want and have as many drinks as I want because the echo in my head repeats, I’ve earned it.

I read an article recently that discussed the problem with adult humans rewarding themselves with food; the author argued that the practice should be reserved for dogs only. I wasn’t initially sure how I felt about that idea seeing I spend most of my days rewarding myself with food. My initial reactions sounded a bit like I earned my Saturday pizza so screw you random internet fitness trainer, and there’s no way I’m giving up post-WOD cheesecake.

There is nothing wrong with cheat meals or cheat days; I refuse to live my life in a cycle of scarcity for the sake of abs. But this food-as-reward sentiment does run parallel with another phrase I’ve encountered a thousand times in the CrossFit community: you can’t out train a bad diet. I have read it in the CrossFit Journal and heard it from trainers during the CrossFit L1 certification. In fact, when you look at the CrossFit Pyramid of Fitness, nutrition makes up the largest component of the pyramid as its base. In other words, what you do to improve your fitness level relies entirely on what you put in your body first. All the work you put in at the gym, whether it is lifting or gymnastics, matters less than what you stuff in your face. That is a pretty bold split.

So you train hard and practice skills during open gym. You listen to your coaches and take appropriate rest days; you stretch and roll. But if the rest of the time you eat whatever you want with little regard for what it is or how much or when, a lot of your hard work is for naught.

You may think to yourself: I look pretty fit. I can even count a few abs. I crush workouts sometimes. All of that may be true. But what if you could be better? Isn’t that what we are all aiming for? The definition of better is self-defined: it could mean looking better in a bathing suit, having better endurance, or being a stronger lifter. What if all you needed to do to be your type of better was dial in your diet a bit?

We know that life is busy, kids are a handful, and work is stressful. But if you want to be better, consider taking an honest look at what you eat and when and why. What if a few small changes could make you even just a little bit better? You might drink more water, count your macros, or stop eating so much cheese. Small changes and an honest self-assessment can be a fast track to being better.