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Why the Hardest Work in Fitness Doesn’t Happen in the Gym

There are 168 hours in a week, and the vast majority of people spend roughly only five of those hours doing a workout inside of the CrossFit/powerlifting/cycle studio/big box gym. That leaves us with 163 hours per week no spent working out. Take away 8 hours per day of sleep (56 hours/week), and that means that you still have 107 hours per week (!) that make up how your weight loss, fat loss, or muscle gain goals will turn out. No matter how hard your workouts are, those 107 hours are still much harder to get right.

When you’re inside of the box, you’re going to work hard. 90% of the work is just showing up. Once you’re here, you’ll get into the workout with your friends, and it all gets pretty easy from there on out. I’ve yet to see even one person take a workout easy. You just won’t do it when you see how hard everyone else in the class is working. But what happens when you walk outside of these doors? What happens when you go home?

Here is the thing…if you walk into your house and immediately hit the freezer for the ice cream as a “reward” for going to workout, you may as well have not come to the gym to begin with. Sorry. I know that isn’t exactly the best sales stance for the box, but it’s the truth. I said this yesterday when talking to one of our clients, “I only see you for four hours per week. Can we really expect those four hours to make up for the other 100 you aren’t in here being held accountable?” This is why the CrossFit pyramid starts with nutrition. It is the foundation.

Now that we have firmly established that your five hours in the gym pale in comparison to the other 100 you’re spending doing other things, let’s talk about how we make those 100 work as a step toward our goals, rather than away.

1. Get enough sleep: Notice how I gave 8 hours per night, seven days per week up there? Yeah, you’re probably thinking, “Who actually has TIME for that?!?” I get it. I don’t always get my 8 hours. But I also never get less than seven. I’ve found that as long as I am getting over 7 1/2 hours per night, I’m in a good place. I feel good when I wake up, and I don’t need a nap. You need to find a time that works for you, as well. This article from Healthline explains why you need 7 to 8 hours per night, and outside of their highlights on the importance of sleep for health sleep also assists your workouts. When you sleep, you excrete growth hormone, which helps you build muscle. More muscle equals greater metabolism, equals less fat. All good things.

2. Spend one afternoon/evening meal prepping: If there is one main obstacle we all face each and every day in our quest to improve our fitness, it is that annoying thing on the front of our face. It likes things like sugar, and it is constantly telling us to put more food into our bodies. Stop. Resist. And make it easier on yourself by preparing a bunch of healthy food before you’re craving something that may taste good for 10 seconds, but that won’t make you feel good nor help you to be healthy after you’re finished. Check out this post from CrossFit Invictus (awesome place) about meal prepping. It is quick and to the point. Basic moral of the story: prepping a bunch of healthy food that you can turn to on a moment’s notice keeps you out of the drive through and away from yet another late night burger and fries.

3. Let supplementation be your friend: Meal prepping is awesome and keeps your meals healthy, but what about those horrible snack habits we all have? Mine used to be going for one spoonful of peanut butter…and finishing the jar. Peanut butter may be full of healthy fats and proteins, but 1,000 calories is 1,000 calories and that is no bueno. This is the space that supplementation shows its true colors. In the past month whenever I get hungry outside of my usual meal time, before eating anything else, I have a protein shake. It fills me up, keeps my blood sugar levels steady, and helps build muscle all at once. I am a big fan of both SFH and Driven Nutrition. I’d be happy to explain the difference between the two companies, and why I like them both over everything else I’ve tried. Just comment below and I’ll get back to you!

So that’s it. Don’t let the 100 hours outside of the box negate the 5 you put in with us every week. We work hard inside these four walls, but the real work comes outside of them.

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