Ask a Coach: Your Questions Answered

Questions? We’ve got answers! Alchemy’s coaches are here to offer information and advice, so don’t be shy. But I’ve heard a few questions more than once lately and so much so that a member (shout out Melissa B.!) suggested we do a blog post answering them.

So, here are a few popular member questions followed by my answers.

Q: I just saw What the Health on Netflix. Should I become vegan?

A: Do you want to become vegan? Veganism is a completely viable life choice and if you want to do it, and have a solid understanding of how to do so healthfully, then go ahead. (Personally, there are a lot of animal products I will not give up so I will not be joining you.) My only advice is to look for stable, solid, and unbiased sources of information when making any drastic changes in your diet. In my opinion, What the Health, while shining light on many important issues, is not an unbiased source of information. I also firmly believe in the principle of moderation when it comes to eating choices and hesitate to counsel anyone to take an extreme restrictive approach. And don’t beat yourself up for being human. Instead, consider all of the things you do to live a healthy lifestyle. So, if you make all of your own food rather than buy pre-made options, pat yourself on the back. If most of your diet is made up of plant-based sources, you are doing well. If on average you eat one meal or less of meat per day, you are doing well. If 90 per cent or more of your fluid intake daily is water and you drink multiple (read, 3-4) litres each day, you are doing well. If you follow those four rules I think you’re making sensible and ethical dietary decisions.

Q: How do I get a muscle-up on the rings?

A: Man, those damn rings, hanging above your head every single class just taunting you! Look, you’ll get there one day but remember this: it’s an achievement that takes a base level of capability combined with time spent developing competency. Which is a fancy way of saying, you’ve got to pay your athletic dues. So, can you do pull-ups? Can you do ring dips? And I don’t mean barely getting your chin over the bar or to the bottom of your dip while your shoulders, elbows and spine fly into any shape necessary to achieve the feat. I mean can you really perform these movements? Do you really own your shoulder strength and stability? Your pull-up and your dip should be machine-like for at least 5 strict reps. If you’re already there and still struggling to muscle-up, well then my next question is how much time have you spent working on your muscle-up? There are dozens of drills you can do to build to your first muscle-up. If you have the strength, and are willing to spend a few hours of your life working on the skill, then book a meeting with a coach and we’ll help you formulate a plan of attack.

Q: I lost 5 pounds last week and gained it all back. How do I fix my diet?

A: You probably didn’t lose 5 pounds of fat last week, it’s more likely you lost 3-4lbs of water. Unless you literally starved yourself last week, large fluctuations in weight are mostly due to water retention. Most of us hold onto lots of water due to the amount of salt in our diet and glycogen stored in our tissues among other factors. If you want to lose the same 5 pounds you lost last week, eat less salt (look at sodium on labels of your food and then choose something else because your labelled food likely means it’s prepackaged and has lots of sodium), reduce your carb intake (especially non-vegetable carbs) increase water intake for a few days, and then return your water consumption to normal. If you want to lose real weight consistently, 1-2 pounds per week, look at my rules in question 1, be more active, or get help from a source you trust!

Duncan McNeill is a coach and co-owner at Alchemy CrossFit.

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