Why I Attacked My Wife Last Weekend

With a baby on the way, my wife and I decided it was about time we got a security system for our home. This wasn’t the result of some alarming incident or deep-seated suspicion, we just wanted something to keep our relatively few valuables (a Care Bear collection and various snow globes) safe for when we’re out of the house at work or shopping, nothing too fancy. Unless of course you’re a tech-savvy burglar browsing the Internet for easy targets… In which case I’d like to disclose that we’ve hired our neighbor’s 8-year-old son as head of security.

I hope you like paint cans motherf*cker.

And he works holidays.

During a conversation with a security salesman at our house, he had an interesting bit of advice for us, “If someone knocks on the door while you’re at home and you don’t recognize them, don’t open the door. But, and this is the important part, make sure to answer through the door and let them know you’re home. Tell them you’re not interested, or that your husband’s asleep after his MMA workout, whatever. Just make sure they know the house isn’t empty. Nefarious characters tend to prefer easy targets, and an empty home is an easy target. Surprising a robber with your presence can turn a bad situation into a terrible situation.”

After the salesman had left, his advice got my wife and I talking. Now, I’m not unreasonably paranoid… I’ll eat a gummy bear well after the five second rule, my first reaction is never to call customer service, and being involved in an assault or robbery strikes me as a highly improbable event. While I understand the likelihood of being the victim of violence certainly exists, it isn’t something that concerns me on an hourly basis.

That this company has three managers for every customer service agent is pretty concerning.

That this company has three managers for every customer service agent is pretty concerning however.

Nonetheless, talk of home invasion got the ugly “what if” questions going… What would my wife do if someone decided to break in while she was home alone? What would she do if she were attacked? What would she do in the event of a sexual assault? As a husband (and not exclusively as a husband) it was a pretty terrifying conversation to have… Especially when the answer to the questions ranged from “I have no idea” to the equally frightening “Nothing.” She’d pretty much just come to the conclusion that as a female, there was basically nothing she could do in the case of violence. My wife, who spends 4-5 days a week at a CrossFit gym getting stronger, faster, and more powerful had pretty much resigned herself to “just kind of submit and hope for the best” in case of assault. The vastly more horrible part was that deep down, I basically agreed that she was powerless should she find herself in a violent situation.

It wasn’t until a couple of weeks later that an opportunity to attend a course by the name of CrossFit Defense cropped up close to home. I had seen the course’s creator, Tony Blauer, in a video describing how to avoid getting mugged at an ATM about 8 months earlier after it had popped up in my Facebook feed. If you haven’t seen it, I’d recommend taking a gander. As a violence averse citizen, it was nice to see a defense expert talk about how to avoid conflict rather than how to five finger death punch an assailant once it’s taken place. At the risk of sounding not very heroic, I’d really prefer to go through life never having to punch or kick my way out of a situation.

Perhaps the one exception.

Perhaps the one exception.

While it was obvious after our conversation that there was plenty of benefit to be gained by attending a personal defense course, my wife and I were still hesitant to pull the trigger. After some conversations at our gym, we found that many of the misgivings we were rolling around were voiced by several of our friends as well. While there was no absence of opinions on the value (or lack of value) we’d get out of CrossFit Defense, there was no actual first person experiences to draw from. That sounded like an opportunity.

So after signing up and attending the CrossFit Defense course, I thought I’d share some of the reservations I had before the course and how I feel about them now after having participated in the program.

1. My wife is a tiny person incapable of defending herself against a stronger male, so why bother?

This, embarrassingly enough, was my actual assessment of my wife’s defensive abilities before attending CrossFit Defense.

Towards the end of the first day, all of the students partnered up for the “Outside 90 Drill,” it’s based on the instinctual flinch you make when someone enters your personal space unannounced… You use your arm to create a space between you and an attacker.

Being the socially inept hermit I am, I asked my wife to partner up. For reference, I’m 5’9″ and 190 pounds. I have a 205 pound shoulder press, I can open almost every jar in my house (the vanilla extract being the one exception), and I can pretty much grab both of my wife’s wrists with a single brutish paw.

My wife on the other hand, weighs about 120 pounds and hits 5’3″ on a warm day. She can almost reach the top shelf of our medicine cabinet and still asks me to get rid of crickets that find their way into our house. Did I mention she’s pregnant? She’s also pregnant.

And feathers. She's made of feathers.

And feathers. She’s made of feathers.

The purpose of the drill was for the defender (my wife) to keep the attacker (me) at arm’s length. I decided far in advance that I’d be attacking with just 10% of my normal ferocity, I didn’t want to hurt my wife or spawn. So I lunged… And she kept me at bay. Quite easily I might add. So I tried to pull her in a bit harder… And she still didn’t budge. It was at this point that I realized in order to break the space she’d created, I’d have to actually try. So I did. Then I tried harder. And harder. And harder.

When Coach Blauer finally told us to switch, I still hadn’t made any progress. I wasn’t assaulting her with the gentle pressure of a husband, I was trying with every ounce of my being to get this woman into a bear hug and I simply couldn’t get any closer. My wife, who screams and runs out of the bathroom when she sees a moth, was able to hold at bay a pretty fit dude that outweighed her by 70 pounds.

The biggest benefit I saw that day wasn’t that my wife learned how to properly execute the “Outside 90 Drill,” it was the realization that she was fully capable of fending off an attacker should god-forbid that day ever come. The decision to fight, to scream, to kick, punch, scratch, to defend yourself could be the difference between being the victim of an attack and being the victim of an attempted attack. The first day of CrossFit Defense, my wife gained the confidence to not allow herself to be an easy target. To me, that experience was beyond value.

But while the drills were awesome exposure to new defensive postures…

2. Two days of punching a medicine ball sounds like something exclusively enjoyed by a 12-year-old.

Based on the videos I’d seen on YouTube and my general preconceptions, I assumed CrossFit Defense was going to be a two-minute lecture followed by hours of holding medicine balls like speed bags and worrying about getting a haymaker in the mouth.

Which, and I can't stress this enough, was basically my childhood dream.

Which, and I can’t stress this enough, was basically my childhood dream.

To my surprise, on the first day of the seminar we didn’t perform any physical drills until six hours in. This wasn’t because Coach Blauer needed to diagram where our fist should land during a falcon punch or the proper body position during Randy Savage’s elbow drop. He used this time to discuss defense in a way that we don’t normally consider it. Whereas I usually think of self-defense as stopping a punch with my teeth, Tony would claim I’ve already skipped over two steps, detect and defuse.

That two-thirds of self-defense is being aware and defusing potential risks was in itself a pretty mind-blowing concept, despite it seeming incredibly obvious. “Detect” wasn’t just looking over your shoulder as you walked up to the ATM… It was not getting on your phone to check Facebook immediately after getting into your car. It was paying attention to that little voice in your head when something doesn’t feel right and acting on it (even if you feel stupid or embarrassed afterwards). It was, as Coach Blauer phrased it, “choosing safety over everything.”

I know... It's far less catchy.

He’s basically the Drake of Personal Defense.

It wasn’t six hours of lecture based on paranoia and scaring the audience. It was learning about situational awareness and trusting your instinct. It was understanding fear management and distinguishing between legitimate and manufactured fears. It was lots and lots of swearing. Lots of it. Tony swears a lot.

I’d love to expand on the lessons learned during the lecture portions of the course, but I’m pretty sure that would be borderline plagiarism and I’m not sure I would do any of it justice. I know that six hours of sitting around talking about personal safety sounds horrendously boring, but believe me when I say it was anything but. At the risk of sounding like an infomercial, Tony is absolutely hilarious and manages to make the content incredibly interesting.

And he even throws in this EggGenie.

And if you order within 30 minutes, he even throws in this second EggGenie.

So the course was a good mix of lecture and drills, which was a welcome surprise. But still…

3. CrossFit is for getting all my grocery bags in one trip, not smashing a guy in the face.

CrossFit is a strength and conditioning program, not a one-stop shop for all my survival needs. I couldn’t quite wrap my head around what could be the benefit of CrossFit brand self-defense.

What I didn’t realize until afterwards was that the same shameless realism that permeates CrossFit finds its way into the specialty programs as well. That brutal honesty that causes Founder Greg Glassman to say that CrossFit “can kill you” is an integral part of CrossFit Defense. Tony Blauer doesn’t make promises about becoming John McLane or defeating end bosses. He doesn’t pretend that defending yourself is a heroic right of passage that we should all go through.

Sunday's practical test was pretty brutal though.

Though Sunday’s practical test was pretty brutal.

Coach Blauer was always honest about the fact that he was teaching us to use fire extinguishers, not to run into a burning building with a firehose. This wasn’t CrossFit MMA. We were learning the most basic and easily understood movements with the broadest benefits. Where CrossFit has “functional fitness”, CrossFit Defense has “functional defense,” the idea that your body’s instinctual flinches are actual defensive measures and that this training helps you leverage those natural reactions.

CrossFit excels at distilling movements to their most basic components, an effort to extract the most benefit with the greatest efficiency. That Tony Blauer’s defense program incorporates that philosophy actually becomes an incredible asset.


The three reasons to avoid CrossFit Defense mentioned above are not an all-inclusive catalog of my hesitations. Similarly, a comprehensive list of benefits I received from the lecture and drills are not included either. While it may feel like this is the one course you hopefully and most likely will never have to use, there are benefits that go far beyond the knowledge or confidence to make yourself a difficult target for an attacker. I’ve found myself incorporating fear management into my workouts as I stare at high volume thrusters, or using those same techniques before I head into an important meeting. I no longer zone out on Facebook as I walk down the street and I’ve stopped trying to figure out what fashion models are staring at when shopping for clothes with my wife.

Is it a bear? It's a bear isn't it? I hope it's a bear.

Is it a bear? It’s a bear isn’t it… I hope it’s a bear.

As a personal recommendation, CrossFit Defense was actually really fun, incredibly informative, and made use of familiar CrossFit movements and vocabulary to drive home the physical aspects of defending yourself. If you’re looking for a personal defense program that focuses on avoiding conflict and not depending on constant training to defend yourself in case it does happen, I’d definitely take a look. Plus, you may even learn some new swear words. Did I mention Tony likes to swear?


CrossFit, Back Pain, and Severed Spine Injury.

Facebook has been brimming with support over the past two days for Kevin Ogar, a CrossFit athlete and coach who severed his spine this last weekend at the OC Throwdown, a fitness competition in Southern California.

The spinal injury was the result of a missed snatch, with the result of Kevin being paralyzed from the T-11 vertebra down. It was an injury as rare and anomalous as it was tragic, and Kevin not having health insurance has only exacerbated the catastrophic nature of his accident.

At this stage, the focus is rightly on Kevin and the support the community is able to provide. There has also been an immense amount of discussion on the incident and what it means for the sport of fitness, as well as the relation between risk, reward, and responsibility. The conversation has played out both in the gym (respectfully) as well as on the interwebs (not so respectfully).

My perspective during these discussions has been from the vantage of a 30-year-old married guy that does CrossFit relatively intensely. I competed for the first time this last December and plan on doing more in the future. So when I heard what had happened over the weekend, my first reaction was pure unadulterated fear. Fear for myself, fear for my wife, and fear for my friends and family. My wife and I CrossFit. My brother and brother-in-law CrossFit. A huge portion of my friends CrossFit. And we perform snatches with regularity. Was there a missed lift in my future with a life altering injury in tow? Or even worse, was my wife at risk of a similar accident?

That initial reaction of fear seems to be fairly prevalent… In addition to the incredible support I’ve seen across the net and pouring in to Kevin’s Fundly page, I’ve also seen a lot of ill-timed and ill-intentioned posts and replies. Comments questioning the safety of CrossFit, competition, olympic lifting… Comments like, “What did he expect?” or “What did YOU expect?”

With more time to consider my thoughts, I’ve realized that my initial reaction was a result of my own flawed ability to understand risk.

We fear the missed lift, not the drive to the gym.

Our brains have been wired to deal with sensational, unlikely events in ways that completely overestimate the odds of horrible but rare accidents and underestimate the risk of completely mundane and ordinary activities. Fear touches the primitive brain and causes it to make reflexive reactions before we even really understand what we’re seeing or reading. I read an article about how a professional athlete experienced paralysis after a missed snatch and my mind immediately jumps to my wife ditching a bar on her back, but I’m happy to kiss her goodbye as she drives to work… Completely ignoring the over 30,000 motor vehicle deaths a year in the US (car accidents also accounted for almost 40% of all spinal cord injuries from 2005 to 2012).

Fear strengthens memories, the horror and drama associated with unlikely events cause our brains to expect them to occur more often. I speed to the airport at 75 mph through traffic to make a flight and all I can think about is the plane crashing. I take the freeway to the gym 5 times a week and all the sudden my concern is whether or not a missed snatch attempt is going to end with me in the hospital. The fear skews our analysis of risk.

But of course, what does it matter? Why not just avoid all risky activity and remove any doubt?

We fear the missed lift, not the back pain.

Ironically enough, this morning an article popped up in my newsfeed from NPR discussing how exercise can help alleviate back pain. The article discusses the possibility that we are overprescribing painkillers, overprescribing injections, and overprescribing back surgery. The article goes on to talk about the “endless loop of pain,” the term used to describe patients experiencing acute back trouble due to persistent hypersensitivity of the nervous system. This would be like the full year I spent where my back would twinge every time I sneezed. I’d wake up in the morning and be hunched over for the first 15 minutes of my day and I was only 27. It started when I got too busy at work and stopped going to the gym. Because my back hurt, I didn’t workout. Or run. Or do anything active. In the meanwhile, my back got weaker and the pain just became chronic.

It wasn’t until I got back in the gym that I noticed my back started to feel better. I joined CrossFit and within a few months my back pain disappeared. Not “got better.” Disappeared.

Our brains are really good at underestimating a menace that builds up over time. The idea of dropping a bar on our back becomes much more frightening than the idea of living a sedentary life of chronic back pain. It’s difficult for our monkey brains to understand a risk that doesn’t produce immediate negative results.

And it’s bigger than chronic back pain. Heart disease killed almost 600,000 people in 2010. Diabetes was almost 70,000. A life of stagnation can result in a sub-par quality of life that ends prematurely. Be wary letting the microscopic risk of catastrophe limit you to a life of inactivity.

Respect the missed lift.

Perception of risk can also swing the other direction: Risky behavior can seem less risky when we feel we can control the outcome. It’s the same reason I distrust drivers who text at the wheel yet I’m perfectly comfortable doing it myself. In addition, the perception of risk can also decrease as safety measures increase. That is to say, if my form gets better and my body gets stronger, I may increase the level of risk in the form of volume or load. The brain prefers to maintain a specific level of risk, and if risk decreases in one area it likes to increase it in another. Just remember that not having gotten into a car accident for the past 20 years does not make you incapable of getting into one today.

The point of course is not to avoid increases in risk at the detriment of our development; but rather, to understand the real risks that exist and try our best to mitigate them. There’s not a lot we can do to avoid a freak accident, that’s why it’s called a “freak accident” and not “terrible thing you should have expected.” But there are actions we can take to mitigate the damage of a “freak accident.” In the case of fitness and the terrible mishap this last weekend, perhaps the lesson for the community is the importance of catastrophic health insurance. Or safety measures that haven’t yet been explored. I’m sure the webz discourse over the next few days will only get more polarizing and interesting and something will come up.

How to help…

I’ve never met Kevin and I can’t imagine the emotions he’s experiencing. I’ve spoken with a few athletes at CrossFit Max Effort who’ve known him over the years and I think Zach Forrest summed it up with, “Kevin is one of a handful of people I know that is capable of taking a terrible situation like this and making it something inspirational and good.” (I didn’t write it down at the time, so I may be paraphrasing).


Be a part of turning this into something inspirational and good and donate what you’re able to on Kevin’s Fundly page. It’s been only two days and at the time of this post the community has already surpassed the goal of $100,000. Give what you’re able, the CrossFit community has always had a reputation for overachieving, go live up to it.

Three Nutrition Lessons Explained By Dessert

When I was growing up, nutrition was rarely a consideration.

My friends and I once had a Hot ‘n Spicy McChicken eating contest during the 60 minute break we were given between 2nd and 3rd period in high school. The details are foggy, but I’m pretty sure we got into “counting on two hands” territory before we ran out of either space or money. At 17, I didn’t relate food to anything… I wasn’t concerned about how something made me feel because I felt awesome all the time. I could eat an entire loaf of bread as a pre-ice cream snack for breakfast and still feel awake enough to learn about Euclidean Geometry at 9AM. “Lactose intolerance” was an excuse my best friend came up with for chronic flatulence and “gluten-free” was just the combination of a fake word and my favorite word.

So, "gluten" is spanish for "couch?"

So “gluten” is spanish for “couch?”

Over the past few years however, I’ve noticed a much more direct relationship between what I eat and how I feel. I’m approaching 30 this year and I can’t make it half way through a cheeseburger before taking a nap. If I go too long without feeding, I turn into a cranky old lady who doesn’t understand what texting is and fast food makes my stomach feel like dubstep. Seventeen year old me would probably laugh between handfuls of jelly beans if he knew a cup of cottage cheese is how I relax after work.

I’ve also been given a fun opportunity to observe the relationship between lifestyle and indulgence: I spend anywhere from 8-12 hours a day within arm’s reach of 25 pound buckets of buttercream, milk chocolate brick slabs, and Scarface end-scene-ready piles of flour and powdered sugar. I own a family bakery and cake shop that’s been in business since 1959.

Yep, same year this gentleman was conceived.

Established the same year as Thomas F. Wilson.

In addition to working in the dessert industry, I’m also fiercely interested in health and fitness. I’ve spent a large chunk of time trying to understand how my job relates to health since most of what we create at our shop is considered classically “bad for you.” Lots of calories, lots of fat, and lots of sugar. While I wouldn’t suggest replacing your lunch with a slice of cake, I do believe that dessert plays an important role in our culture/diet and that my experience at the bakery has afforded me a unique perspective on nutrition.

For a bit of full disclosure, I’m just a normal, everyday, super brilliant handsome international spy. I don’t have a degree in nutrition, nor am I doctor, food expert, or wizard. Most of my data is anecdotal or based on studies I’ve only just made up. I don’t plan on delving into the science of anything, just some good honest observations from someone who loves cake and working out.

And lamp

And lamp.

Years in a family business dedicated to creating delicious pastries and desserts has provided some uncommon context for my outlook on health and nutrition, and I’d love the opportunity to share some quick observations I’ve come across while serving eclairs and butter cookies. I’m not laying down some incredible insight on zone blocks or macro-nutrient ratios, just some honest notes on what might be getting in the way of a healthier America.

1. Beware the clever disguise.

Working with confections has given me the ineffectual superpower of recognizing the difference between food, indulgence, and indulgence disguised as food. The nice thing about cake is that it’s very clearly not a cuisine associated with healthy eating. Many other foods don’t give us quite the same courtesy.

Growing up, I can’t count the number of times I was exposed to the phrase, “Part of this nutritious breakfast.” There is an entire aisle dedicated to sugar and processed grains pretending to be good starts to your day. “Hot Fudge Sundae Pop Tarts” is an actual thing that exists and it’s found in the breakfast aisle. Right next to sugary cereals that are fortified with a variety of vitamins and minerals to hide the fact that they’re basically tiny cookies and milk.

Spoiler alert: they most certainly are not.

Or tiny S’mores and… Orange juice? He has terrible parents.

The tricky bit I want to point out here is not how bad grains are for you, but how careful we have to be with clever disguises. I grew up in a world of “non-fat” and “light.” It was a world where companies marketed products with clever buzz words to denote their healthiness without providing any real value. It was the same world a lopsided pyramid encouraged us to eat more servings of rice and pasta than meat and vegetables combined.

The Food Industry has not moved away from this practice. Smart players recognize what the populace perceives as healthy and follow the path as far as they can. It’s easy to avoid with phrases like “Hot Fudge Sundae,” but not so much as the game gets more sophisticated. At a recent baking convention, I made a habit of noticing the current and upcoming expressions wordsmiths are using as synonyms for healthy: Gluten-Free, Whole Grain, Vegan, Paleo, Sprouted, Natural, Organic, and Sustainable among others.


“We had high hopes for “crotch punch,” but it didn’t test well.”

It’s not that “gluten-free” is always a deceitful marketing tactic, but it exists independently of “healthy.” Something can be both healthy and gluten-free just as easily as something can be gluten-free and terrible for you. There seems to be a large emphasis on increasing the perception of health rather than making a product actually better for you.

For example, I was raised favoring juice and shunning soda. Coca Cola is currently 140 calories per 12oz while the same volume of Welch’s Grape Juice has 210 calories, and they’re both just sugar-water sans nutrients. One is “100% All Natural Fruit Juice” while the other is whatever Coca Cola is (unicorn tears?). Neither is particularly good for you.

Does coke

Coca Cola knows about the relationship between seals and polar bears right?

Be wary of this month’s health related buzzword when making purchase decisions and have a good understanding of what it is you’re looking for in food. Don’t be drawn in by clever marketing gimmicks, a gluten-free chocolate torte has the same amount of sugar and excess calories as a traditional chocolate cake and Oreos are essentially vegan (true story). It’s easy to be moderate with dessert when it’s being very upfront about not being a protein bar or something. Not so much when it’s hiding behind a forcefield of Sustainably Sprouted Ancient Whole Grains.

And similarly…

2. Broccoli is not spelled b-a-c-o-n.

Occasionally, my wife and I will go out on a date night to sit in awkward Facebook lit silence. When the time comes to select our dessert, very little thought is given to anything that doesn’t completely fulfill all of our sweet related desires. That is to say, I would never select whatever boring fresh fruit option is available over the ever-loving deliciousness of a freshly torched creme brûlée. I know a sliced pear is significantly more healthy than sugar topped cream, but dessert when eating out is a time to mollycoddle my taste buds, not my fitness. During times of indulgence we target what we enjoy most and ignore the rest.

The very same can happen when we jump into a new dietary lifestyle. Often we tend to stick to the aspects of the diet we enjoy most and ignore the parts that may help us create success. Discussions on “paleo” often seem to regress to recipes for bacon wrapped something somethings and coconut brownies. Eating bacon wrapped steak fried in coconut oil every meal is probably the most awesome and least creative fantasy I can come up with, but it’s not really conducive to a long-term plan for healthy living.

Hate cats? I've got just the meal plan.

You can’t expect to eat just cat sandwiches and not get taken off the air.

We’re all adults here… Broccoli kind of sucks. Vegetables as a whole aren’t nearly as appetizing as platters of coconut shrimp. But it takes work to be healthy in the overwhelming paradox of choice that is America, even when you get rid of all the processed foods. Avoid taking the dessert approach of, “whatever I like most” when so many options within the boundaries of your diet are available that totally defeat the purpose of your new lifestyle. “Paleo” isn’t a section of the menu where everything is exceptionally healthy, good decisions still need to be made. So make good decisions.

3. Third verse same as the first…

I think people are somewhat distrustful of a fit-ish guy that works at a bakery. I’m often asked how I manage to stay thin while working around cookies and cake. It seems that the assumption is I must not eat any of it or that I’ve somehow grown tired of it. The truth is I absolutely love the stuff. And I eat it, probably more often than I should.

So how do I stay fit? This might be getting redundant, but I try to make a point of understanding the difference between eating for pleasure and eating for fuel. If you happen to be one of those lucky folks that loves raw garden vegetables for every meal, this is probably something you don’t need to worry about. And if you happen to be one of those equally lucky folks that can eat Baked Alaska during a workout and still crush personal records, then this is still equally worthless.

Two pounds of fries = 45 minutes of crying on the Stairmaster.

For everyone else, two pounds of fries = 45 minutes of crying on the Stairmaster.

I once had a customer complain that a coffee cake she had eaten made her stomach upset. I was absolutely concerned even though we’ve never had an instance of food poisoning, so I started asking some questions to understand a bit more about the situation. She said she was positive that it was the coffee cake because it was the only thing she had eaten all day. The only thing. All day.

I think coffee cake is a magnificent breakfast dessert, but it doesn’t make for proper nourishment as breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Copious amounts of sugar, fat, and flour is not going to treat your body the way some grilled chicken and vegetables will. If I go without eating for six hours and eat a couple of cookies to keep me moving, it doesn’t take long for me to feel pretty un-glorious. Paying attention to the quality of what we’re putting in our body isn’t something we should immediately ignore after we move out of mom and dad’s.

We'd still be there if it wasn't for the fight.

We’d still be there too if it wasn’t for a couple of guys who were up to no good.

Though finding a gentle balance between eating the things we need and eating the things we love is absolutely paramount. It’s not that strict meal plans don’t function, only that as a long-term solution there really needs to be the inclusion of treats and rewards, but avoid rewarding yourself for making it two hours without eating. Indulgence is awesome. Life’s too short to cut it out, but life can be a lot shorter if dessert’s all you eat.

Made it this far?

Diet is a funky thing to discuss in any setting, I’m hesitant to write about something so polarizing when I’m admittedly a bit ignorant on the science. Like religion and politics (and CrossFit apparently), folks can get pretty passionate about what they believe when it comes to nutrition and what’s worked for them.

The real degree of a diet’s merits should be measured by its effectiveness related to your goals. I know a guy at my gym whose single purpose in life is to throw up the most massive numbers possible on his clean and jerk. His diet is going to look starkly different relative to the woman who’s trying to drop 30-40 pounds in the next 8-12 months.

Or a guy who.

Or a guy who caught his first tube today… Sir.

Understanding your objectives when scrutinizing your nutrition should really be step one. Someone who makes a decision to be Vegan based on moral grounds is going to have a lot harder of a time with a Paleo diet than someone who has no issues getting down with some bacon. If fitness and how I feel simply isn’t a concern, brownies and beer may be exactly what I’m looking for.

There is no “one size fits all” diet plan that addresses everyone’s needs and objectives a to z. I’m an average guy that does CrossFit to look more majestic during the summer and win three-legged races at corporate picnics (I choose my partners carefully). I’m not trying to optimize my health to become a professional athlete or games competitor and I’m also trying to limit my dietary sacrifices to those that are convenient. I’d like to get healthier and more fit but not at the expense of my ability to see bright colors and hear music.

That said, Glassman’s rundown is probably the most concise, balanced, and common sense approach to nutrition I’ve ever come across: “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.”

If you can stick to that prescription the majority of the time, I think you’ll find at the very least a good starting point. Just don’t forget a cookie or two when the time is right.