How a champion CrossFitter eats, and still enjoys life

What CrossFitter Hiliary Parham ate on a typical day to fuel her goals

Guest article by Hiliary Parham
If only it was as easy as just eating. But food, and our relationship to it, is complex.
Food can be comforting, or it can be intimidating. How we eat can be effortless — eating every meal without regard to what we’re putting in our bodies, or food can be an arduous and annoying task that we’d rather do without. Some people have allergies, some people have diseases to consider. Some people want to look great in a bikini and some just want to eat to feel good. I personally eat to perform well at my sport. More importantly, I eat to be healthy and be happy.

My best friend passed away from bulimia in 2012. Since then, my life has never been the same. I would be lying if I said I didn’t diet hardcore to try and fit in with all the skinny, perfect girls I cheered with in college. But once she passed it forever changed my outlook on eating, and life.

The 80/20 Rule of Eating

We’re lead to believe that there’s a perfect waist size we should obsess over. Your waist size does NOT define you. Your memories do. Whatever weight that YOU feel comfortable and happy in…that is perfection.  That’s why I adopted the 80/20 rule to eating: eating 80%  foods that are full of nutrients and 20% treats, because… life. I am a little bit of a different breed. I track everything that I eat. When I say track, I mean weigh and measure everything. During competition season I become very strict with my nutrition. Nothing goes in my body without passing the “Is-This-Going-To-Fuel-Me?” test. During the off-season I still weigh and measure, but I have gotten so used to measuring, that I eyeball my intake.

I’ve done the paleo diet, Whole 30, RP strength, Eat To Perform and what I currently follow and have found the most success with is Working Against Gravity. I think they are ALL great programs and it’s great to have a variety for different preferences. The reason I’m so strict with my nutrition is that I’m trying to make CrossFit Regionals, so every calorie counts! Most people don’t have to be so strict.

On a recent weekend I went on vacation with friends and didn’t track a SINGLE thing or workout a SINGLE time. HOORAY! Let me tell you, there were a lot of doughnuts, chips and drinks in my life that weekend. And. I. Loved it!

Hiliary Parham and puppy at the beach

 Doughnuts and Abs!?

I get questions from friends asking “How do you eat doughnuts and still have abs? It’s not fair!” What they don’t see are all of the vegetables and nasty, plain meals I eat to fuel my body and to stay healthy. Even though I track obsessively during part of the year, moderation is still key to a happy life. I have self-control with things I eat. Now. I used to overdose on chips and cheese and have no idea that I was eating four times the serving size. I’ve taken ownership of my life and have learned how to eat well, it’s not something I was born with.

I don’t think tracking is for everyone, because some days it’s not for me either. But I do believe moderation is for everyone. And by the way, carbs are NOT scary. Carbs fuel your workouts. This doesn’t mean go out and eat ten boxes of rice, so slow your horse there, darrrlin’. All I’m saying is that carbohydrates (you gotta say “carbz” to sound cool) can be part of a healthy, balanced and happy life. I always do 50 grams of wholesome carbs and 25 grams of protein before each workout. I’ll eat this about an hour before, but some people like to eat two hours before a workout.  Some people like fruit, some like protein supplements.  EVERYONE is different.

I also have stopped eating most meat. I still eat meat now and then. Tonight I will be having a burger with my friends — Yay! — but I made it fit into my day. My body just feels better and the tummy is less grumbly when I avoid meat. I also have whey allergies and sweet potato allergies. Sad I know.  But hey, you can make anything work! Remember 80/20! Find what works for you to makes you happy!

I’m also NOT the best cook. At all. I really eat the same thing over and over because it’s easier for me that way. If I can do moderation ANYONE can, especially if you can cook.

So here’s a little look into my one typical day of eating for me.

A day in the life of Hiliary

Breakfast: Hiliary’s breakfast smoothie that isn’t good just to get nutrients: 2 cups of spinach, sprinkle of cinnamon, cayenne pepper, turmeric, NOW sports pea protein ( I can’t have whey, so sad) 1 cup of almond milk, half a frozen banana.

Breakfast at work (meal 2): Egg white cups – I make these on Sunday so they’re ready for the week. I put 3 tablespoons in a cup with veggies. The  veggies vary, but this week it’s mushroom, tomato, zucchini and spinach. YUM! AND I bought my favorite pimento cheese in the land “Palmetto Pride.” But since it has a lot of fat, I measure out one tablespoon. EEK! That one tablespoon a day is my treat.  One cup of coffee with one half & half creamer.

Lunch: One packet of tuna fish with celery, tomatoes, green onion, and vinegar. I found a paleo mayo to add which I also measure out HALF a tablespoon or I use Duke’s (it’s the best), but only a half tablespoon. I then have about 3 cups of spinach, 1 tablespoon of sunflower seeds and 1/4 cup of beets. I usually crunch up a serving size of Nut Thins or some brown rice chips. I like crunchy!

Snack/pre-workout an hour before I workout: One ezekiel cinnamon raisin english muffin with 1 tablespoon of all-natural grape jelly and 1/2 a tablespoon of peanut butter — how sad, has anyone ever seen half a tablespoon of peanut butter? It’s tragic, but it gives flavor. Then I have non-fat plain greek yogurt (1 cup) and pour my LaCcroix in to make it sweet!

Other snacks: Every so often I’ll enjoy my favorite protein bars: RxBars! I also enjoy a nice, cold FitAID recovery drink on a hot day.

FIT AID Nutrients

Rxbar coconut chocolate

Post workout- dinner: I usually eat eggs, haha!  Breakfast is my favorite meal. So I’ll have a scramble and make a paleo waffle. I get the mix at Earth Fare. I’m not paleo but the mix doesn’t bother my stomach. It’s hard to get protein without meat, so sometimes I eat a lot of black beans. Last night I made egg salad (3 egg whites, 1 full egg) with 1/2 tablespoon of Dukes mayo.  Added black beans and corn to make it like a big fiesta salad! I sometime will have Greek yogurt as my dessert.

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My goal is to have green veggies at every meal. My body loves green juice. I’m a methodical creature. BUT I love pizza and cake also. So If i’m feeling that one day- I’ll just make sure to eat mostly greens and egg whites the rest of the day. Everyone is different but this is what I eat every day! I’m learning to branch out and eat more foods, although eating this way seems to fuel me in the gym and make my body feel like a well-oiled machine.

Did I Say Moderation?

Like I said, I believe in moderation for health. Do what makes you happy. I had to go through eating lots of different things to find what works for me and it’s STILL changing! If you have any questions about what I eat, feel free to ask me! I’m here to help.

About the author

Hiliary Parham Headshot

Hiliary Parham is a competitive Crossfit athlete and travel lover. She loves food and dogs and learning new things. If you want to follow her adventures you can check her Instagram page.

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