Q&A Recap: Goal Setting

Here’s a brief recap of what we discussed at our group Q&A last week. Have a question, problem or tip to share with the group, or just need some support from your community? Join us Mondays at 6:30pm (tonight, our discussion will involve optimizing your sleep, hormones and recovery) in the coaches’ lounge, every week during the June BCCC (signup on Mindbody). Meg and Greg will be talking briefly about some more in-depth nutrition topics that pertain to athletic success at CFCC, and then we’ll take any questions you have about your own BCCC journey!

Download our Goal Setting sheet here.

Since this was our first official Q&A of the Summer BCCC, we took some time to talk more about setting appropriate goals, and what was feasible to expect during a monthlong challenge. The concept of setting SMART goals – that is, goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time bound – are a great way to help you frame things in a way that helps you direct your focus without being overwhelmed by all the things you want to improve. Remember, this is a brief outline, and as our Q&A conversations are pretty informal, we may touch on topics that will show up in more detail later (but since it’s all connected, it’s hard to discuss one without bringing up the other). Don’t forget, if you ever want to sit down with Meg or Greg one on one to discuss your nutrition on a more individual level, we’re offering discounted rates ($50/hr) for individual sessions for anyone that’s participating in the BCCC.

 

CFCC Pyramid of Greatness

Q: How do I know what to focus on?
A: Create a hierarchy of priorities and choose (1) what’s most important to you, but also (2) what’s going to have the most impact on “all the rest of the stuff”. Note the CFCC Pyramid of Greatness (above, and will be discussed in greater detail at the Q&A on 6/3).  Trying to lose body fat is a stressful situation for your body ALREADY. It already wants to hang on to fat, and cortisol (stress hormone) will make you hold onto MORE. YOU DO NOT GET STRONGER BY TRAINING, YOU GET STRONGER BY RECOVERING. If you are not treating your recovery as seriously as your training, you are not making optimal progress. All of these pieces work in conjunction with each other. You’re doing yourself a disservice if you discount the importance of any one piece of the puzzle.
Q: How do I know how many rest days to take / how to space them out?
A: IF you’re new to CFCC, we recommend aiming to train 3-5 times per week. If one of your primary goals is fat loss, then you should especially not get caught up in the mindset that exercising more = fat loss. The sweet spot might be 4 days/week for most people. You can get away with 1-2 rest days weekly if your life is not terribly stressful — but when you get to 5 training days, EVERYTHING else better be in order (sleep, nutrition, etc.). Doesn’t really matter how you time the rest days — Greg does M/T/Th/F, so 2 on, 1 off, 2 on, 2 off.
Remember, the VAST MAJORITY of activity should be slow/low intensity, i.e. walking, moving around at work, cleaning the house, etc. Again, don’t overthink this, but aim for doing stuff like this when insulin levels are low, i.e. first thing in the morning or when you haven’t eaten in a while. This low-level stuff actually burns more fat than middle-ground activity like jogging/running (plus, it’s good for lots of other stuff like stress relief, getting fresh air, getting sunshine, etc). Mid-level intensity activities like jogging actually hold you back if you are trying to lose fat, because you burn CARBS at that level of intensity. Take-away point: Walk all the time. Walking is awesome. “Jogging” will not do much for you at all. High intensity in small doses is also good (that is, your weekly CrossFit WODs), however, it’s important to note that you don’t burn fat DURING a metcon (it’s too high-intensity for that)… but you do burn fat AFTER a metcon.
Q: Is it OK not to eat before a morning metcon?
A: Yep, if YOU feel okay training on an empty stomach (some people don’t). If you’re training fasted, though, you should consider supplementing with unsweetened, instantized Branch Chain Amino Acids – yes, the unsweetened, instantized part is important- or a hydrolyzed whey protein right before a session to spike protein synthesis – which means you’ll get a little bit of energy and you’ll recover better (as in, you’ll be less sore – always a good thing).
Q: Is it best to take BCAAs pre-workout or post-workout?
A: The most important is PRE — always take them before, because you want to spike your levels BEFORE you train. The next most important is POST — spike them again right afterward to help with recovery. Don’t forget – you still need to eat a full meal 45-60 minutes after your workout! Some athletes that are doing especially long or taxing training sessions take BCAAs before, after, AND during their workouts, which is fine.
Q: BCAAs are gross tasting, can I just take the capsules?
A: Yep, there’s no difference, except that they’ll probably be more expensive than the powder because you’ll need to take more of them to equal the amount you’d take in powder form.
Q: Are BCAAs better than regular protein powder?
A: Yes, because they’re absorbed faster, AND because they can actually be used immediately by the muscles as fuel (BCAAs are already broken down, so they don’t need to go through the whole digestive process as whole food would). Same is true for a spoonful of coconut oil right before a workout – coconut oil is made up of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) and can be used for fuel immediately.
Q. Should I do anything specific to time my macronutrient intake? 
{NOTE: This will be discussed IN-DEPTH at a Q&A, and is definitely not something that you need to worry about if you’re new to all of this (at first, just concentrate on developing the habit of eating for quality. All of our discussions of nutrient timing is predicated on the expectation that your nutrients are coming from high-quality sources. A Pop-Tart is still not optimal, no matter what time of day you eat it.)} Eating protein and fat and leafy greens in the mornings and during the day will train the body to be a fat-burner.  Generally, eat the majority of your carbs with your evening meal, but not within 2 hours of bedtime. If your insulin levels are still spiked from a carb heavy evening meal, you’ll impair your growth hormone synthesis (which spikes when you sleep and is one of the main ways we get rid of body fat). But, again, getting all stressed about this stuff is going to negate the benefits. Focus on getting enough protein, fat and carbs from solid nutrient dense sources throughout the day, and dial in the timing when you’ve got that habit down.
Recommended intake amounts for macronutrients:
NOTE: This is VERY INDIVIDUAL and is meant as just a starting point, and it shouldn’t be something you get stressed about. You’ll need to tweak this based on how it’s working for you, regardless of what we say. 
PRO: at least 2/3 bodyweight in grams [so a 150 pound woman should aim for 100g of protein per day]
FAT: AT A MINIMUM, half your bodyweight in grams to ensure proper hormone function [about 75g for our 150 pound woman]
CHO: 1/2 bodyweight in grams on non-training days [about 75grams on rest days for our 150 pound woman]; aim for the equivalent 3/4 of your bodyweight in grams on training days and include some starchier things – don’t overthink this. We’d say a 150 pound woman would need about 110g CHO on training days. If you’re looking to maintain or gain or are performing at a really high level of activity, you’ll need more than this. 
Q: What’s a healthy body fat percentage for women?
A: This depends on your individual goals. If we’re asking what a fairly lean, healthy athlete would carry – it’d fall around 20%, although since all bodies are different, some women appear more lean than others at 20% body fat. The super -lean, vascular female Games athletes are around 15%, some as low as 12-13%. You’ll likely start to see your abs around 20%.
Q. Why should I log my food, and how? 
A: Logging your food helps connect the dots between how food makes you feel and perform. If you’re doing some investigative work with regard to digestive issues or reactions to some foods, it’s crucial to be able to look back even a few days to see what might be causing the issue you’re experiencing. It’s a fine line though, because it shouldn’t stress you out or make you feel crazy. Most people don’t need to track their food down to the calorie/half ounce, and the method you use depends on your preference. I (Meg) have switched between iPhone apps, blogs, and paper with various pros and cons about each method. Generally, I record what I eat, about how much (I use visual references, I don’t weigh and measure my food), and how I feel immediately before and after.
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