With Thanksgiving a week away and Christmas just after that, food is expected, if not required, to be present. And it will probably be a topic of conversation at your Box.
And Bryan St. Andrews, the Affiliate of CrossFit Nittany in State College, Pennsylvania, may have solved the best way to have that touchy conversation with members this time of year, without offending members.
First, he doesn’t believe in the phrase “cheat meal.”
“Obviously, that’s a slang term that people know and they see in magazines and stuff. But we try and get people away from a calorie in/calorie out sort of mentality. So we try and flip flop it,” said St. Andrews.
Instead, he has his members look at the workout they’ve just done and ask what is required to give them energy to be able to recover and workout again. “When people have made that flip in their mind … that’s when they’re successful and their weight doesn’t fluctuate as much,” he said.
He breaks his members up into two groups. If they’ve been there for 3 or 4 months, and they have a substantial goal, he will go into the conversation with some understanding, but less compassion. He believes this approach allows for him to have “more mature” conversations surrounding nutrition with his members.
If one of CrossFit Nittany’s members has been there for over three years, St. Andrews said his members should know what he is going to say: “If you have one extra bowl of ice cream, you don’t need to be flipping out. I’m going to need you to be able to handle that.”
But if nutrition is not an Affiliates area of expertise, St. Andrews said that conversation should be outsourced to a company, such as Renaissance Periodization, a nutrition information company that uses science, formulas and calculations to best serve individualized results, or another Box that has more genuine knowledge.
And he said outsourcing should not be viewed as a lack of knowledge for the Affiliate. Instead, it allows Affiliates to build relationships within the industry until they have genuine experience and knowledge in nutrition practices.
“You just have to acknowledge that everyone is human, right? So people are going to deviate from the diet every now and again. Again, nobody is a robot. Nobody is going to be 100 percent perfect,” said Nick Saw, the co-founder of Renaissance Periodization.
For experienced members, Shaw recommends Affiliates rely on mentoring their athletes on macros. For new members, Shaw advised Affiliates to not overwhelm the member with knowledge nor to consider calories.
Overall, Shaw said Coaches should be understanding of where their members are coming from, in terms of nutrition, and set realistic expectations for them. And when members do get off track in their diet, just advise them to get back on track before it extends into a weekend, then a couple of weeks, then a month of over-indulging.
And Shaw would encourage Affiliates to advise soon-to-be members to start now, instead of after the holidays. “Get started now, get ahead of the curve, so that way instead of being 5 pounds or 10 pounds heavier come January 1st, you’re right where you are now, if not a little bit lighter, so you’re staying head of the curve,” he advised.