Lauren Brooks on programming and diet: Preview from our interview with 2014’s 7th place Games finisher.
What’s your programming like?
LB: A common mistake a lot of people make nowadays is believing that you have to follow programming. Programming can be great, but if you get a general program online—whatever’s ‘cool’ at the time—the bottom line is that it’s not a program for you. The mentality in CrossFit is that you show up and because you’re hardcore, you get it done—but that’s not always a good idea. So if I show up at the gym and my back is bothering me and I’m supposed to max out my back squat or my deadlift, is it really smart for me to do it? No, and at this stage in the game I wouldn’t. I would probably do 5 sets of 10 overhead squats at 95lbs just to work on my muscle endurance instead of hitting something heavy because of how I’m feeling. But people show up to the gym and say to themselves, “well I’m hardcore so I’m going to get it done,” and they ignore the warning signs and end up getting injured. If you don’t listen to your body, you put yourself in a position like I have several times where you’re not able to train. Needless to say, I don’t do that anymore. I train around how I’m feeling that day, and that’s my approach.
With that approach, how often do you train during the week?
LB: Well, as you know I’m a mother with two kids. My daughter is 5 and my son is going to be 9 soon, so my life revolves around them and my business. My life doesn’t revolve around CrossFit, and I know all the Games athletes will gasp reading that, but at the end of the day when I decide I can’t be a competitor anymore I’m still going to be a mom. I’m still going to be a family person and a gym owner, so when I choose my training schedule throughout the day it’s simply centered on when I can fit a workout in. If I can get up early in the morning and do a really long run before I take my kids to school, and then fit in a lifting session and maybe some conditioning at night, that’s what I have to do. Sometimes I may have an extended block of time in the middle of the day and I’ll have to get it all done then. Pretty often I walk away from the gym not having finished everything because I’ve got other things I need to get done, so it’s definitely a challenge.
How much importance do you place on your diet?
LB: Going into CrossFit I had a lot of knowledge on nutrition, but I’m an eater, and I love to eat. So when I’m hungry, I’m like ‘screw everybody, I’m eating.’ Now, my comfortable weight is 170lbs. That puts me about 35-40lbs heavier than any average CrossFit female out there. I’m strong and I can move weight, but when it comes to volume gymnastics I just can’t hang with everyone else. So I realized that I needed to be at a fighting weight of about 160lbs. So I met with Jeff Delaney, who’s a genius nutrition coach. I told him, “Jeff, I need you to help me. I need to eat for performance and I need to get my bodyweight down.” He took me from 18% to 10% body fat by the time I went to Regionals, and I think that was an enormous contributing factor to the reason I was able to compete in the gymnastic contest.
I’m not paleo or zone. I have a diet plan that Jeff sends me, and it’s got some wiggle room in it. Last year he sent me plan and said to me, “Lauren, if you follow 90% of what I want you to follow, you will be successful. With the industry that you’re in, you don’t have to eat exactly what I send you. So if you eat a bunch of carbs before bed wake up the next day, forgive yourself and move on. If you commit to being consistent with this routine and you screw up now and then, you’ll still be successful.” I’m at the point now where I don’t need to weigh or measure what I’m eating, and I’ll just kind of go by how I’m feeling.
With that being said, I do have a sweet tooth. I love chocolate, cake, ice cream, pop tarts, donuts—I could go on and on. I try to treat myself only once a week, but sometimes that stretches to twice a week!