Five Habits of Highly Successful Eaters
The secret to good nutrition is to establish healthy habits that you can stick with for the long haul, not for weeks or months, but for the rest of your life. Becky Harsh - CrossFit Inc. Seminar Staff Trainer, Certified CrossFit Coach (CF-L4) and Owner of CrossFit Beaver Threat in Castle Rock, Colorado - offers […]

The secret to good nutrition is to establish healthy habits that you can stick with for the long haul, not for weeks or months, but for the rest of your life.

Becky Harsh - CrossFit Inc. Seminar Staff Trainer, Certified CrossFit Coach (CF-L4) and Owner of CrossFit Beaver Threat in Castle Rock, Colorado - offers one-on-one nutritional coaching. Over the years, Harsh has noticed that those who are successful in the long run share a similar approach. People who meet - and exceed - their goals share five essential qualities that have nothing to do with eliminating certain foods or consuming at specific times of the day.

If you're struggling to stick to a nutritional plan, consider these five habits of successful eaters.

Goals may vary, but the path to achieving them is quite similar for Becky Harsh's most successful nutritional clients. (Courtesy of Becky Harsh)

1. Seek help

Changing the way you eat is a big business, not something to be tackled half-heartedly.

Harsh says those with the best results seek help on their own - as opposed to someone signing up for a nutritional challenge because a friend has convinced them.

“In the long run, they won't be as successful as someone who searches for me and says, 'Hey, I'm ready to take it to the next level. Can you help me?'"

If you are not engaged in the process, it is nearly impossible to make healthy decisions with every meal. The motivation to improve your diet should come from within, not from a friend, colleague or relative.

2. Focus on health and performance

What is most motivating: looking good in a swimsuit or improving your health and performance? Even though we think we're motivated by looking good, the subjective nature of aesthetic goals means it's hard to assess - or even recognize - progress.

Harsh said people who focus solely on aesthetic goals are rarely satisfied.

The mirror is lying. Your training log will not do this. (Courtesy of Becky Harsh)

“They're almost too close to the problem and lose sight of when things change and get better,” Harsh said.

Even before and after photos don't work, she says, because clients' eyes immediately go to what they see as problem areas. She tries to tell these customers how beautiful they are, and they often respond, "No, I don't."

“It's very difficult to achieve a goal if it's really based on aesthetics,” Harsh said.

“When it gets too aesthetic, it's too subjective for them,” she continued, “and we're always our worst critic of anything like that.

If the goal is to improve health and performance, Harsh said his clients can look at blood markers and gym numbers to see evidence of success. Has their blood sugar dropped? Do they run faster and lift heavier? Harsh finds it much easier to motivate people to achieve long-term success with performance or health goals.

3. Record your consumption

“I can't stress enough the importance of actually tracking your consumption,” Harsh said.

Daily journaling, she explained, helps remove the emotion of eating and emphasizes data. When clients track nutrition, it's easy for Harsh to help them make the connection between what they eat and their performance.

“'I eat this, and this is how I play' or 'I eat this much and this is what I look like,'” Harsh told clients.

"(People who) follow the data behind these things are able to see long term success because they can change what they eat to meet their goals, instead of just 'I'm going to eat better'," Harsh said. “There is nothing to remember there.

Harsh believes that recording intake is more important than following a specific nutritional plan or philosophy.

“I don't really care what plan you seem to be following, but if you track the amount of food going into your body and know these things, then you actually have the information you need to be successful in the long run. If you don't follow up, that's just a guess. "

Save your food and approach nutrition like a science experiment, not a guessing game. (Mike Warkentin / CrossFit Journal)

4. Make a long-term commitment

Healthy eating is a lifelong pursuit, and Harsh said successful people share a commitment to the process and an understanding of how long it will take.

“It's really that days turn into weeks, turn into months into years,” Harsh said. Those who view their diet as a 12 week experience will not get the results they want.

“It's just a journey - just like fitness, just like health. It must continue. … It's one foot in front of the other, every day, to make good choices, and when you make choices that do not correspond to your objectives, (it is) to understand that tomorrow is another day ”, declared Harsh.

She recommends following the 80/20 rule: stick to your nutrition plan 80% of the time and indulge in foods that don't match the plan 20% of the time. This approach makes room for social events and treats and helps people avoid feeling helpless.

“I think 80/20 is a really great place to live, where 80% of the time you run over it and 20% of the time you have to go to dinner because you take your kids to sporting events and you weren't . I can't wrap your food, ”she says.

Too many restrictions often lead to rebellion and are unrealistic in the long run. Journaling your food can help you keep the 20 percent under control so that it doesn't go up to 30, 40, or 50 percent.

You don't have to go it alone - fitness and food are best served with friends. (Mike Warkentin / CrossFit Journal)

5. Find a supportive community

Sticking to healthy habits is much easier with a support system. If you're surrounded by people who drink soda and eat fast food, it's hard to forge your own healthy path.

Even Harsh uses a nutrition coach to hold himself accountable.

“It sounds ridiculous because I'm so passionate about this stuff, but I struggle like everyone else,” she said.

Even a supportive partner or gym friend can provide responsibility and encouragement.

“If you settle around like like-minded people, then whatever happens when the going gets tough, you'll get a little extra help,” Harsh said.

About the Author: Hilary Achauer is a freelance writer and writer specializing in health and wellness content. In addition to writing articles, online content, blogs, and newsletters, Hilary writes for the CrossFit Journal. To contact her, visit hilaryachauer.com.

This article originally appeared on November 1, 2018 on CrossFit Journal.


Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For Clarification, Over and Over and Over Again. It’s your time, money, and most importantly, your health we’re talking about here. If you don’t fully understand something during class, ask. If you still don’t get it, ask again. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if you don’t fully grasp the concept, or you think others in the class will get frustrated with you for taking up too much time… they probably have the same exact question. We were all newbies at one point. We’ve all been there. Learning the mechanics of certain movements like the squat, sdt, or any of the Olympic lifts takes lots of practice and critique from a trained eye. If you need help, just ask.

CrossFit Isn’t Everything. CrossFit is a strength and conditioning program that focuses on building general physical preparedness ( GPP ). It is quickly evolving into a sport of its own, but that doesn’t mean that it has to be your sport or your lifeblood. A majority of people CrossFit so that they can do whatever they want : Go out, play sports, learn new things, etc. Having that GPP allows you to take on new défis. CrossFit doesn’t have to be your life. Many people CrossFit so they can have a life… and be awesome at it.

It Doesn’t Get Easier, It Just Sucks Less. The longer you immerse yourself in the suck, the less it sucks. You get stronger, build a greater aerobic capacity, and become mentally tough. All of these aspects, combined with experience, allow you to know when to push yourself and when to back off, so that you can attack each workout to the best of your ability.

You Won’t PR Every Day. Don’t mistake intensity for work. Even if you’re having a bad day and the intensity just isn’t there, you can still get a lot out of your time in the gym through hard work. Intensity and work are not the same thing. Don’t skip a planned session just because you don’t think you’re going to kill it and leave everything out on the table. Not feeling too strong that day ? Something is always better than nothing.

Introduce yourself to others in the chic. How will this help you ask ? When you introduce yourself to someone you’ll feel more comfortable in the chic and realize that you’re not the only one that’s new to CrossFit. So instead of feeling totally nervous and awkward holding a PVC pipe overhead, you feel a little bit more at ease and focus more on what you’re doing.

Keep a journal. Write down the warm-up, the skill, the WOD, and your results. This will greatly accelerate your progress. We often do workouts and lifts based on weights and reps that we have previously done. If you don’t know which kettlebell to use because you never recorded the weight you used last week, then you end up picking the wrong weight. Write stuff down and be able to reference it.

Listen to the Coach. He/she is there for a reason. They spent time studying the subject matter. They have coached hundreds to thousands of people on these movements. Your buddy that watched a couple of Youtube scènes is not lateral to that.

Firebreather. Beast. Rock star. You’ll hear a lot of different terminology used to describe those athletes who kill every workout, and blow everyone else away. Here in our gym, we consider every one of our athletes a rock'n'roll vedette. Hey, it takes huge cojones just to show up and do these insane WODs. Be proud of yourself and what you accomplish here. We sure as hell are.

Walk into any box ( that’s CrossFit speak for the gym itself ) and you’ll be greeted by clanging weights, clouds of chalk and whiteboards scribbled with acronyms like “AMRAP” and “EMOM. ” With insider speak that almost qualifies as its own language and raw, rough-around-the-edges spaces, CrossFit can definitely be intimidating to try. And even though many of the 10, 000 affiliate gyms offer your first workout free, beginners may still feel overwhelmed by the culture of the popular strength and conditioning program.

So what should you really expect if and when you dive into the world of CrossFit ? We turned to five athletes who’ve sweated through years of WODs ( aka workouts of the day ) for the advice they wish they’d gotten when they first started.

“Each culture, expert and [workout] space is very different, ” says Anna Willard, a CrossFit athlete at CrossFit Merrimack in Lowell, MA, as well as a former professional middle-distance runner. ( She snagged a world record in the steeplechase in 2008, but no longer competes. ) She recommends trying out a couple of different boxes before committing yourself — and your credit card — to one. “Don’t necessarily go to the place that is the most ‘convenient, ’” Willard says. Look for that one gym that’ll keep you coming back — so take note of each box’s programming ( aka the structure of workouts ) and study the overall vibe of the community before ponying up for a package.

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