In December 2005, The New York Times ran a story about the budding CrossFit craze. The reporter interviewed some of the original CrossFitters and chronicled their fitness accomplishments, which were considerable. But the part of the article that grabbed the most attention was the opening anecdote: A first-time CrossFitter named Brian Anderson had experienced a true mess-you-up moment--he had ended up in the emergency room after his baptismal WOD. Repeated kettlebell swings had torn up his lower back to the point that he could barely stand. In intensive care, he was told he had rhabdomyolysis, a condition wherein muscle tissue breaks down to the point that it starts poisoning the kidneys. Rhabdomyolysis is rare as a result of athletics; ultramarathoners sometimes get it, but ER doctors are much more accustomed to finding it in cases of crushed limbs or massive third-degree burns. Anderson didn't need dialysis, but he spent six days on an IV drip in intensive care, followed by two months of physical therapy for his back.
Two years ago I got formally diagnosed with chronic Lyme Disease. You can read more about that and what it means here. In my health journey, one of my goals has been to reduce inflammation in my system. There are a ton of factors that go into this, but one of the things I can control is the food I put into my body. Food, and restoring gut health, is a huge part of reversing chronic illness.
At CrossFit, some coaches refer to this as “Uncle Rahbdo,” though it’s not something funny or enjoyable. You can read all about the condition and issues it can cause here. This typically occurs with (primarily male) ex-athletes who have not exercised for a while and come back trying to prove something, and end up working at a higher intensity than their body can handle.
In the long term, you have to be sure you’re getting calcium and other nutrients you’re missing by not having dairy products and certain grains. Some paleo-approved foods, such as salmon and spinach, contain calcium, so you have to be sure you’re including them in your diet. It would be a good idea to check with a registered dietitian, too, to make sure you’re meeting your calcium and other nutrient needs.
In the past few decades, our diets have changed dramatically. Processed foods are more common than fruits and vegetables, and it’s impossible to go more than a few miles down the road without spotting a dozen new fast food chains that have cropped up. Enter the Paleo diet plan, a diet that seeks to ditch the modern convenience foods in favor of the foods eaten by our ancestors.

On Day 4, I reached for a beef jerky stick from Epic. I simultaneously took a big bite while turning over the packaging to read the label. When I saw it on the ingredients list, I stopped mid-chew: "honey." I immediately spit the partially chewed jerky in my garbage can. Close one. After that, I always read the labels on my food twice before eating a morsel.

In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto by Michael Pollan gives a guided tour of 20th century food science, a history of "nutritionism" in America and a look at the marriage of government and the food industry. Then the book presents a commonsense shopping-and-eating guide, which like the paleo diet focuses on shopping the perimeter of the supermarket. He also now has a much shorter Food Rules: An Eater's Manual.
Breakfast: My favorite breakfast during this program was leftovers from the night before — it was easy and usually had all the elements I needed to feel full and jumpstart my day. If there was leftover protein, I might throw it over some greens and make a salad. If there was soup, that was always perfect too. When I was feeling breakfast-y, eggs did the trick with some roasted veggies.

As far as food goes, you’re simply going to eat a lot of fresh, good-quality eats and ditch the processed stuff. Beyond that, you’re removing all grains, dairy, soy, legumes, sugar, artificial sweeteners, and alcohol from your diet. All of these foods (especially in excess), according to the authors, have been linked to systemic inflammation, hormonal imbalance, gut issues, and more. The idea is to remove the stressors from your body and give it the nourishment and time to heal itself it needs. This means less inflammation, a healthy metabolism, hormonal harmony, a happy gut, clearer skin, and improved energy! Sounds good to me. (Although if we’re honest, I panicked a bit when I realized no cheese would hit my lips for a full month.)

Between 2009 and 2018, competitors qualified for the Games through participation at CrossFit Games regional events. For the 2019 Games, CrossFit, Inc. discontinued hosting the Regional qualifier and instead sanctioned independent fitness events as qualifiers separate from the Open. Most of the sanctioned events were already widely participated in by CrossFit Games athletes, often used as a part of off-season training, around the world. Each sanctioned event has its own rules for participation, but athletes that attend the sanctioned events are either by invite or through the event's qualification process.
Fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, fresh meat—the paleo diet is all about eating foods straight from the Earth just as our ancestors did. Those ancestors didn't have livestock or crops to call their own, so Cordain advises to go with grass-fed and organic varieties whenever possible to limit exposure to pesticides, antibiotics, and other chemicals that didn't exist back then. Research from Emory University suggests that Paleolithic people obtained about 35% of their calories from fats, 35% from carbohydrates, and 30% from protein.
TBK Fitness Program by Tamir Katz shows how to achieve fitness through a healthy, natural hunter-gatherer diet along with a comprehensive exercise program with over 60 different bodyweight exercises of varying difficulty targeting all of the muscles in the body. Also included is a detailed discussion of nutrition and the diseases of civilization based on scientific research, information on stress management and preventive medicine, recommendations on vitamin and supplement use, tips on how to make your fitness program succeed where others have failed, tips on food shopping and preparation, sample meals, and more. The Amazon reviews average to 4+ stars.
This 2003 CrossFit Journal article captures an early conception of a universal, multi-event test of fitness that laid the foundation for CrossFit competition, including what would become the CrossFit Open and the CrossFit Games. The design requirements for such a test "included but were not limited to the following: quantifiable results; consistency with the CrossFit fitness concept; raising our commitment to improving absolute strength, relative strength, and gymnastic foundations; balancing intrinsic abilities of smaller and larger athletes; emphasizing exercises critical to and foundational to advanced training; mixing training demands within each test and, of course, over the total competition; a design that would identify an athlete’s weaknesses and possibly stand as a workout plan for improving overall fitness; and, finally, we wanted to design a competition that would be 'hard as hell.'"
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