Monday, April 18, 2011

Always Question

Always Question

Maybe it's my graduate training, maybe it's my innate personality, but I always question things that are presented to me on some kind of authority. In other words, I won't take your word for it, no matter who you are. You need to convince me. I need to know why.

Two things today reminded me of this.

The first thing was when a coworker asked about my pregnancy and I mentioned something that was bothering me a little bit. She immediately asked if I'd called my doctor about it. And my response was of course not, I researched it on my own. I don't like doctors, I don't trust them, and they really don't know all that much.

How much advice have I heard from doctors that is just plain wrong? (Hint: NUTRITION) And what did they tell me when I had my miscarriages? They said there was nothing I could do. So I researched it myself and the simple removal of gluten from my diet was enough to fix the problem. You know who I trust? Me. I trust MY evaluation of the information that is out there (and it's out there). Not the doctors who let me down. They are technicians, they have useful procedures and knowledge in an emergency, but they are definitely not who I turn to when I need answers. If anything, they are one of many sources to be evaluated. I always question.

The second thing was when I recently came across the standard 100 word summary of CrossFit philosophy, from Greg Glassman:
Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat. Practice and train major lifts: Deadlift, clean, squat, presses, C&J, and snatch. Similarly, master the basics of gymnastics: pull-ups, dips, rope climb, push-ups, sit-ups, presses to handstand, pirouettes, flips, splits, and holds. Bike, run, swim, row, etc, hard and fast. Five or six days per week mix these elements in as many combinations and patterns as creativity will allow. Routine is the enemy. Keep workouts short and intense. Regularly learn and play new sports.
My reaction was that, much as there is that's good about CrossFit, it really doesn't get everything right. Here's my breakdown of that statement:

My biggest issues are with the first two sentences on nutrition. Meat and vegetables, yes. Nuts and seeds, not so much. Seed oils are really bad for you, and nuts contain lectins and omega 6's and can cause inflammation and are best limited. Fruit, not really - fructose taxes the liver and is preferentially stored as fat, so fruit consumption needs to be limited too. Starch, well it makes a big difference whether it's sweet potatoes or squash vs. corn or rice, as the first two are sources of healthy carbohydrate while grains contain anti-nutrients. Sugar, that depends on what kind, how much, whether it's post-workout, and how your body responds to different carbohydrate levels. To say yes to fruit and no to sugar makes no sense, since fruit is sugar. The second sentence makes no sense - if you're eating the right stuff, just eat to satiety. If you fix your hormonal profile by eating the right foods and avoiding the wrong ones, your internal satiety signals will be functioning the way they should and you can rely on them.

The major lifts and gymnastic movements are fine, I'm on board with that. The bike, run, swim thing isn't always the best idea since you'll probably go too long and raise cortisol. I mean, if you love it, fine, but if you don't, no big deal. You can be a weightlifter who does one lactate threshold workout a week and takes a hike once in a while and be quite fit and healthy. Five or six days a week is really too much over the long run, not enough time for recovery. Routine is not the enemy - some repetition, thoughtful programming, and long-range planning are actually good. Short, intense workouts are great, but how many main site workouts are short anymore? 30 minutes, 45 minutes? That's not short. Learning new stuff is great as long as you don't get injured or elevate your cortisol. But if you never specialize, will you ever get good at anything?

So yeah, can't say I'm on board with CrossFit HQ, especially given that this is advice that hasn't changed in probably 7 years or more, despite lots of new information and opportunities to revise and hone the advice. Why hasn't it changed? Because HQ stopped questioning. When people ask me why I don't just go to another CrossFit (and I get that question a lot), I have to say that it's not CrossFit I love. It's critical thinking and questioning and the search for what works that I love. If I don't see that questioning and that search, that underlying skepticism and hunger for knowledge, it's not the place for me. It doesn't mean it's a bad place, but I'm not going to feel at home there. Maybe that makes me a CrossFit outcast. I guess I'm okay with that.

Okay, so I got a little ranty today, but next time someone asks me "Did you ask your doctor?" or "Why don't you just go to another CrossFit?" I can just say, because I always question, and send them here for the details. I get that not everyone is like this, and they don't have to be. But it's how I am and that's not going to change.

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