Learn the Healthy Cycle Competitors Thrive on
Competitors are in a league of their own. They are constantly challenging themselves to be better than yesterday. With this relentless competition, they gain incredible insight into their own bodies and minds. Each workout teaches them the limits of their muscles’ abilities and their minds’ willpower. And then they push those limits. Testing their limits, they discover new capabilities, and with new capabilities, they can test new limits. The cycle repeats.
Where do they really outshine the rest of us? They eat like gods. No, not off a silver platter, but simply the best food. There’s no processed or fast food in a competitor’s diet (cheat meals not included). It’s only the richest, whole foods for them. This is one of the defining elements that give competitors an edge that’s hard to measure up to.
Our foods are the building blocks we use to create stronger bodies and minds. Competitors know this and take advantage. Godlike foods provide the best nutrients, which build superior bodies and minds. Exceptional bodies and minds can withstand cravings and eat only godly foods. Yet another healthy cycle.
Our bodies need sugar, but not like you'd think
Glucose is a simple sugar and our preferred energy source. The most common source of glucose is carbohydrates. In the most simplified process, our cells take glucose, water, and oxygen and convert them into energy in the form of Adenosine triphosphate (ATP). This process also creates carbon dioxide and water.
Think of ATP like the energy currency of our bodies. Our cells can use the generated energy for perform all matters of functions. From flexing a muscle to food metabolism, our bodies need energy to work.
How you are setting your body up for failure
It’s called neglect when you fail to meet a person’s basic needs, and yet we fail to meet our bodies’ nutritional needs on a daily basis. I know I just said we can make glucose from anywhere, but some food sources are actually damaging because they carry too much waste. Let’s take a step back and look at waste.
Everything we eat creates metabolic waste. It’s actually a natural part of all living organisms from plants to animals. We rarely consume foods that have only what we need and nothing else. As we break down our food into usable compounds, we are left with substances that cannot be used. This metabolic waste needs to be removed.
Luckily we have a fantastic system of organs that specialize in removing waste. However, stressing these organs with excess waste can cause all kinds of issues from poor performance to immune system suppression. Over consumption is the leading cause of stressing our digestive system. Even overeating healthy foods can lead to increased metabolic waste because there is only so much that our bodies need on a daily basis.
All foods are not created equal.
If we looked at how highly processed foods are made, we might not be so quick to eat them. To make them taste better, all sorts of additives like sugar, salt, and fat are incorporated in processed foods. All this excess is essentially garbage, so we are asking our bodies to wade through that rubbish to get to the good stuff.
My favorite analogy for this is the packaging you find on a DVD. Some only require you to remove a flimsy sheet of plastic to get to the goods. Others have that ridiculous adhesive strip on all three sides that are enough work to get off that it doesn’t feel worth it. It’s just as stressful for our bodies to remove excess waste. This added stress hurts us our abilities to perform.
When we exercise, our bodies utilize energy from recent consumption or stored energy. This nutrient depletion needs to be countered with replenishment. The first two hours following exercise are the most critical, but nutrition demands are increased for the following 24 hours. Not meeting these increased demands can lead to prolonged recovery. One day of recovery can extend up to a week. Again, this is a cycle that can become dangerous if a step is skipped.
Missing the nutrient replenishment step leads to a prolonged recovery. If we jump the gun and workout prior to recovering, we are exercising on an already depleted body. Imagine never filling your gas tank; your car will eventually stop running. Our bodies are no different. And so the cycle will continue until we start supplying our bodies with the right recovery diet. Feed your body the best nutrients and your body will feed your competitive abilities.
Our minds need a constant supply of glucose
Out of all the organs in our bodies, the mind is the epicenter. It is necessary for all other functions in our bodies, so it behaves like a spoiled five-year old. What it wants, it gets and now. The most important is its nutrient supply. Our brains main energy source is no surprise: glucose.
To make it easy for our brains to get the necessary glucose, our livers regulate the supply of glucose to our brains through our blood stream. In case it’s not obvious how important a steady blood supply to the brain is, it’s called a stroke when that supply is interrupted!
Healthy eating affects your brain in a number of ways
We shape our minds with food. I know this sounds crazy, but stick with me here. Our mind is a highly specialized organ that needs specific nutrient sustenance just like any other part of our body. And just like any other part of our body, when we provide it with inferior or non-existant nutrients, its performance suffers and so does our mindset
It’s like asking two kids to build a castle. Only you don’t give them the same building material. To one child, you give building blocks; the other child gets recycled cans and bottles. They both can make castles with the parts given to them, but who’s castle do you think will look better? Why do we expect different results from our brains? When we give them rubbish, we get rubbish in return. Not a great cycle to be stuck in.
Our brains are responsible for a multitude of complex functions, most of which are done without our conscious involvement. These functions, like breathing and digestion, will always take priority to our conscious functions. This makes sense, since we can’t walk and talk if we aren’t supplying our body with oxygen and nutrients. So, it shouldn’t be surprising when our higher mental capabilities decline when we are nutrient or calorie deprived.
One of the brain functions crucial to healthy eating is willpower. That ability to say no to a donut and yes to a banana. We cripple that ability when we deprive our brain of glucose. There’s a reason we should never grocery shop while hungry. Our willpower is at an all-time low when we are hungry, so we end up will all sorts of junk food in our baskets.
Willpower is also essential when training or competing. Think about the days when doing the normal amount of reps feels like lifting an elephant. Or how about the days when you want to throw in some extra reps because you’re feeling pumped. What is the difference in these two days?
While many factors play a role in determining our physical performance, our mind can act like a tipping point. When satiated, our minds will give us the willpower to stay strong even in the face of muscle weakness and fatigue. That little voice that says, “You’ve got this” will only speak up when it’s nourished. Feed your mind, and it will feed you willpower.
Eat like a competitive CrossFit ® athlete
Competitive athletes have found two important sequences for building amazing bodies:
- They test their limits and discover new capabilities. These new capabilities allow them to test new limits.
- They eat foods with the best nutrients which help them build superior bodies and minds. Which in turn help them resist temptation and only eat wholesome foods.
It’s easy to look at competitive athletes and compare, but we shouldn’t. They have been rotating through their cycles for hundreds and thousands of revolutions. Start your new cycle and watch as it grows and takes on a life of its own. It’s the snowball effect. With each successful cycle, we get stronger and more self-discipline.
And with each trip through a new cycle, you will also be weakening the vicious cycles that lead to unhealthy habits. Resisting a donut will be easier the second and third time because you have the knowledge that you turned it down the first time. The trip to the gym will seem easier after the first week because you have developed new muscles and new willpower.
The first few cycles will be the hardest, but you can give yourself the resources to push. Feed your body and mind with the best foods. You don’t even have to cut out your unhealthy indulgences to start. By adding the nutrients your body and mind crave, you will start to feel a difference. You’ll function better physically and mentally, you’ll desire that increased performance, and you’ll start to see your own cycle develop.
Related Article - Creating A Healthy Balance