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Nutrition: the base of the pyramid

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Nutrition: the base of the pyramid

When CrossFit CEO Greg Glassman designed CrossFit once upon a time, he did so with the goal of eliminating chronic disease. It was as profound a goal as it was ambitious and altruistic.

Through marketing and creating content so people could digest his mission, he developed the CrossFit pyramid. On it, he and his team labelled things that are more or less important to the sport and mission of CrossFit.

It’s one of the most simple concepts they’ve come up with to date. It’s still by far the most overlooked and profound. Within the pyramid, you see things that everyone loves and works on every time they come into the gym. There’s metabolic conditioning (cardio), weightlifting, gymnastics, throwing and even the sport of fitness itself. At the base of it all though is nutrition.

It’s the largest section of the pyramid, it’s the base and it’s the one most ignored.

This isn’t exactly to a fault of CrossFitters themselves either. It’s the most complex to deliver and understand and it’s for this reason countless boxes don’t go into discussing it. In some circles, it’s as divisive as politics and religion, which we’re told to keep away from the dinner table around holiday events.

With that being said, the way Glassman designed the pyramid, it’s the thing that if it’s not properly in check will limit EVERY skill and phase above in the future. What I mean by this is that if nutrition is substandard or poor, you leverage your ability to improve gymnastics, weightlifting, metabolic conditioning and the sport itself. After all, we know the difficulty of doing gymnastics when carrying around extra unneeded weight.

This doesn’t mean that we should walk around feeling terrible about ourselves if we’re in the position where we’re guzzling soda and eating Pop Tarts everyday and have weight to lose, but it does mean that this should be our primary focus going forward.

It’s why you may or may not have taken the initiative to sign up for our Fall Nutrition Challenge. That’s step one followed by a moderated approach on what to eat in the future so you’re walking around feeling good and not locked in a caloric jail cell.

“Nutrition plays a critical role in your fitness,” Glassman wrote in the Level One. “Proper nutrition can amplify or diminish the effect of your training efforts.”

This is what we’re talking about when it comes to eating for wellness. Some of us want to be eating for sports and improving in our sport but if we don’t start with our foundation at wellness, sport will always be compromised. Eating for wellness means eating so that we have a diet in moderation that’s founded on whole foods with levels that support our activity levels but not body fat.

“Effective nutrition is moderate in protein, carbohydrate and fat. Forget about the fad high-carbohydrate, low-fat and low protein diet,” Glassman continued.

When we do this, Greg’s original goal of abolishing chronic disease is improved. Blood sugar, good cholesterol (HDL) improves, inflammation, immunity, metabolic rate, blood pressure, body fat, bone density, flexibility and muscle mass all move in the positive direction.

We move away from he calls sickness and closer towards wellness. Our ability to improve the other steps of the pyramid is dictated by our precision with the base. When one gets better, they all get better. Building a house is best completed through establishing a solid foundation to work from. The same goes for your fitness and wellness success in the gym.

Don’t neglect your nutrition. It’s the foundation for everything and the way to improve everything else both in and outside the box.