The New Obsession, is it Healthy?

As many of you CF’s out there know, we have a pretty awesome thing going on. We have the support of our fellow WOD’ers when ladies like “Fran,” or “Helen” decide to rear their ugly heads and kick our asses. The question I am going to pose to you today:

Is there a point where Crossfit & Paleo Nutrition can become unhealthy?

My gut reaction to that question is no, at no point can Crossfit or Paleo Nutrition become unhealthy for a person. You have to think about it. How could working out, eating right, and improving yourself actually be bad for you? For the 99.95% of CF’ers out there, it is completely a healthy occupation of the mind. We get into the program wanting to better ourselves in some way, whether that be appearance, strength, or some people can get into it for mental preparation.


See what I did there? I just put a big BUT in the post! HA!

I know….It’s 0745 on a Thursday morning and I am blogging because I woke up early, and can’t go back to sleep. Please excuse the cheesy humor.

Anyway, where was I? Right…I am waiting for the Crossfit God’s (Glassman flanked by his two angels Fran and Grace) to smite me down for this bit of pseudo blasphemy I am about to spew thru the keyboard.

Crossfit can be unhealthy for a person. Many of us feel the need to workout. We get used to certain routines feel like we need to push ourselves to exceed the normal, or the comfortable. It can reach a point where it does become unhealthy. There is sufficient evidence out there that Crossfit can cause Rhabdomyolsis. “Rhabdo” for short is the breakdown of muscle fibers that leads to the release of muscle fiber contents (myoglobin) into the bloodstream. Myoglobin is harmful to the kidney and often causes kidney damage. Scary shit right? This CAN seriously F*ck up your life.

I did some searching on the great and knowledgeable internets. I found a CF Journal article from an MD in Northern Arizona. Rhabdo is commonly seen in burn patients, severe bee sting patients, and  victims of crush injuries. According to Dr. Ray, Rhabdo is occasionally seen in patients who have been exposed to high intensity exercise in high heat. Athletes will first notice their symptoms of Rhabdo when they start urinating “coca-cola” colored urine. You can also feel nausea, and muscle fatigue but as Crossfitter’s sometimes we overlook those symptoms because that’s how we feel after a really great WOD.

So I am not going to go much more into the science behind Rhabdo, I did link up to the article above and please feel free to read it for yourself. It is very informative. If there is anything you should take away from this blog post, its not that Crossfit is bad for you. I’ll admit I may, or may not have used that tag line to draw you into the post. Sue me. I want you to be educated so that you can properly hydrate, and rest after WOD’s to make sure that your body has time to recover and doesn’t literally destroy itself in protest to the exercise. If ever you doubt, or question any of  your symptoms after a high intensity WOD…SEE A DOCTOR. You only get one body people, take care of it. That is, after all, the reason most of us started doing Crossfit in the first place right?

Now…remember when I said Paleo can be bad for you too? I will admit I may have embellished that line a tad as well. Sue me, again.

I follow the Paleo Diet Lifestyle’s blog. I have all his cookbooks. There are some BOMB recipies on there, its an eBook download and let me tell you it was worth the $29.99.

Anyway, I am getting off track here. On the PDL’s website, there was an article that got my attention. It had to do with Eating Disorders and a Paleo Diet. It actually has a lot to do with how American society thinks about food. I am telling ya, it was a great article to read. I have talked a lot lately about nutrition, mostly because when it comes to food I have no will power. I try not to stress over what I am eating, but sometimes you just can’t help it.

What I love about this article is it touches on some very good points about combining Paleo with a person who has disordered eating. He does a great job noting that it is NOT actually the diet that causes these problems, but it is the effort to maintain the diet that can spiral out of control to an unhealthy obsession. In case I don’t say it enough, this was a great article. Please click the link in the paragraph above and read it over. Even if you don’t suffer from disordered eating, it provides a wealth of information on a topic that is so often tabooed in our society.

For example, he uses this self assessment to determine if you are taking the Paleo diet to an unhealthy obsession:

  • When you break your own food rules, do you feel like you’ve failed as a person?
  • Do you assign extreme moral qualities to food, especially negative qualities (e.g. “white flour is evil. Sugar is the devil. I don’t need to abuse my body with poison like that.”)
  • Are you nervous about eating something anyone else has cooked, even if the person tells you the ingredients?
  • Do you frequently get frustrated because nutrition information isn’t precise enough?
  • Do you feel fear or hatred for certain foods (not the people or the advertisers or the culture surrounding the foods, but the foods themselves)?
  • Do you ever lose sleep worrying over something you ate or are considering eating?
  • Do you consistently feel that you have to keep making your diet stricter and stricter?

If you can answer “YES” to any more than two of these questions, you should have some serious concern. Basically, if you find yourself obsessing over the food that you eat to the point that it effects your life, that’s when you have a problem.

Remember that this is not to put down the Paleolithic Nutritional plan. Like I said earlier, it is the best plan that I have encountered to date. It is backed by scientific research, and most importantly (for me) is not commercially motivated. No one profits off of you switching to primal eating…except for maybe Whole Foods, but that’s a topic for another day.

I hope this post gave you a little self-awareness about your nutritional plan and exercise routine. Neither of these plan’s are actually bad for you people, remember that. It becomes destructive when it becomes an obsession. The kind of obsession that keeps you up and night and effects your relationships with others.


2 responses to “The New Obsession, is it Healthy?

  1. I stumbled upon your blog through a comment on Juli’s PaleOMG Facebook page. Love the blog! And I love this post. I’m only about 6 months into CrossFit activities (I don’t belong to our local box, just do quite a few workouts and train with a trainer at a local gym. We focus more on Oly lifting, but still get in plenty of metcons.) and about 4 months into eating Paleo. I’ve had to “control the obsession” quite a bit, especially with eating. I’ll be following along now! 🙂

    • Hey Mariah,

      Great to hear you enjoyed the post. I love getting feedback from readers! It is tough sometimes to maintain that healthy balance with controlling what you eat. Good luck pursuing all your goals, whatever they may be!

      Ryan A.

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