Rusty Reflects on Our Most Recent Lifestyle Challenge
As we come to the close of our most recent nutrition challenge (CTRL + ALT + DELETE), Rusty reflects on his experiences with dialing in nutrition, body composition change.
The Role of Homeostasis in Body Composition
I know challenges such as this should not be about body weight, but it’s a major concern and should be discussed. When I started CrossFit 10 years ago, I also started competitive weightlifting, which like many sports divides its athletes into categories based on weight (as one’s body weight can affect one’s capacity to lift). At the time, I fell into the 77kg weight class and I simply adopted that as my ideal weight for no other reason than “that is my weight class.” And while my current body composition is significantly different and better as I am stronger, more fit, I still would be in the 77kg weight class. I should add that I’m also the heaviest that I have ever been. The point is, however, that I’ve maintained this body weight for so long that it is what I’ve created to be the normal for me.
What I’m describing is homeostasis: “The tendency toward a relatively stable equilibrium between interdependent elements, especially as maintained by physiological processes.” In other words, our bodies work very hard to remain the same. Stability is good in world of biology and our bodies.
The reason I bring this up is that the number I started with could have been anything (65 kg, 70 kg, 80 kg, etc.). Now that there are new weight classes, my old 77kg weight class is gone. So, I can decide to either cut weight to be in the 73kg class, or I can maintain/gain weight to be in the 81kg class. Either way, the struggle will be difficult as I will need to reset my equilibrium (which has been established over the last 10+ years) to be a new number. Yes, gaining weight will be just as difficult as losing weight as I’ve proven to be able to maintain weight without regard to the quality of my nutrition. In addition, I’ve also proven that with a few changes to my nutrition, I can cut a lot of weight, too, but it’s temporary. Either of these directions will take some time for me to set as my new “normal.” I don’t know how long it takes to make a lasting change; however, I do know that it’s more than 8 weeks.
For instance, I don’t know when my OHS went from
But those photos are about 10 years apart.
The “CTRL+ALT+DEL” Challenge
We’ve had several of these nutrition challenges since we’ve been in operation. This is the 7th one and the best one so far. We’ve had iterations of Whole30, paleo, and whole unprocessed nutrition approaches. The evolution of these challenges has resulted in several main elements that drove this particular challenge:
- Team approach – accountability
- Acceptance of several nutrition approaches
- Inclusion of fitness/skill performance
- Focus on daily habits like mobility, protein and greens, some cardio
This challenge forced me to be conscious of what I consumed. Taking a few things out (Chick-fil-A, fries, monster, snacks, cookies, etc.) and adding a few things (more water, more veggies) I know that I can lean out. In addition, this challenge encouraged me to actually work on my lifetime skill of handstand walking.
Elements of my success:
Having an awesome wife (spouse) is essential for support and accountability — Madeline did just about all of the meal prep so I wouldn’t make a bad decision.
Starting at an ideal body composition — I am not currently trying to lose weight, so a few small changes go a long way. The farther away you are from your idea body composition, the more drastic the changes must be.
No emotional connection to food — I don’t reward myself with food, sweets, etc. nor do I really crave anything, so I don’t obsess about what I consume or don’t consume.
Starting with a decent diet — My nutrition is pretty good. I don’t make many indiscretions so the poor choices I do make don’t affect me (see below). Making dietary changes are not drastic.
High consistent physical output — I train often, use pretty good form, and I train at a pretty high intensity so if I do eat garbage, it gets burned quickly.
Food prep work was difficult to ensure that meals/snacks were available to avoid making convenient poor choices.
Maintaining the discipline, after the challenge, to create a new and lasting homeostasis for myself will be difficult.
Hopefully this challenge demonstrates to the participants necessary lifestyle changes SUSTAINED and OVER TIME that can adapt one’s homeostasis: proper sleep and nutrition + a focus on movement and mobility → increases capacity → builds muscle → increases metabolism → and results in a shift in body composition.