In the Nourish Interview Series, I interview interesting individuals about their nutrition journeys and how they nourish to fuel themselves. Keeping with the spirit of the CrossFit Open, going on now, let’s meet another awesome North West Regionals CrossFit athlete and learn about their approach to nutrition in the second interview of the series (click here if you missed the first interview in the series). Meet Alex Konicke. My youngest daughter has said she loves Alex because he’s so smiley all the time, just like her, which makes her happy. It’s a pretty accurate description of Alex. He’s pretty much always got a smile on his face, he gives awesome hugs, and he’s one of the most motivating coaches I’ve ever had the pleasure of being coached by. Here’s more about Alex’s nutrition journey and goals.
Please introduce yourself. Who are you, what is your background professionally/athletically?
I am a people person. I love being around people, being of service, and really just being available for those that need and appreciate me and what I do. I have been involved with sports since I knew what they were and stayed on my own path of what I wanted to do. My brother played baseball, but I wanted to try soccer and ballet. I ended up playing lots of baseball as well, but I am truly glad I became my own person and followed things I wanted to not what everyone else might have been doing. I played some high school soccer as well as Varsity Tennis. When the college years came, I wanted something new. Without looking too hard, Rugby fell into my lap and I loved every minute of the 4+ years playing. Towards the end of the college days, CrossFit was introduced to me. A very fit freshman friend of mine coaxed a few of us to try it with him and I was sold. Within the next year I had drank the Kool-Aid and was dedicated. CrossFit Nine was where my CrossFit future started (Dec. 2010). Dan Arvidson, owner of CrossFit Nine, swung me a deal I couldn’t pass up to join the gym. Within a couple months I had my CrossFit Level 1 Certificate and wanted to coach. It wasn’t until the end of 2011 that CrossFit Nine was in need of more coaches, so after a short hiatus I took to run a half and full Marathon, I was back in 100%. After 4 months, I unfortunately had a bulging disk that was giving me loads of grief for 8 months. To feel my pain, during this time I was daily dreading getting out of bed and out of the car, walking around like an old man. From this I learned to coach well with verbal cues but I was questioning my CrossFit future. I was back into good working ability with the help of physical therapists, sports rehab specialists and chiropractors. I am very motivated by the competition within CrossFit and I have goals to make it to the CrossFit Games in the near future, so I am avidly training for this.
After 2 years of solid coaching, I managed CrossFit Nine for the majority of 2014, when I left to open Reign City Fitness – CrossFit Downpour with a few others I had met on my journey. After 3 ½ Months in, we are well established with a quickly growing community of over 210 clients (110 CrossFit Clients).
Throughout college I attained a Bachelors in Business Marketing. I am currently certified in CrossFit Level 1+ 2 and USAW Weightlifting certified, and I don’t plan to stop there.
What are your current goals? Are you training for something specific or training in general?
I am training for the CrossFit Games. The first step for me is to become a top caliber athlete in my region, then from there rank in the top of the NorthWest/Canada West division, leading up the making it to the CrossFit Games. I have my own personal coach that programs workouts for me weekly to attack my own personal weaknesses among the athletic ability that CrossFit tests (Strength, Endurance & Gymnastic ability)
What motivates you?
What motivates me is being the best at something. CrossFit is new, unique, different, and euphoric. From a daily workout, to competing at Regionals, CrossFit gives me the euphoria that I felt during my years of intense sports.
Tell me about your diet/eating philosophy.
I always resort to Paleo when eating. I have always been a chubby kid inside, wanting cheat meals more than I should. I have been eating 85% clean the past 2+ months after dialing in a healthy plan. My goal is 2-3 cheat meals a week, and no more consumption of alcohol over 4 drinks/week. This is great for me and I have seen great results from this certain plan. In the past I haven’t watched my diet too well, but from the past few months going forward it will be imperative to do so in order to reach my goals and have the fitness success that I am motivated by.
Along with the parameters of the cheats and drinks, my diet is to be gluten free and the majority of it is Paleo. I will eat some dairy here and there, but focus on eating as many vegetables and lean meat as possible and snacking on nuts and fruit.
How are you using nutrition to help reach your goals?
If I didn’t hone in my nutrition, I wouldn’t be happy with my body type and I would be carrying around even more extra weight that I am now. This is bad for the mentality as well as on the competition floor. The heavier I am, the harder most CrossFit movements will be. They would be harder even more, if I am not burning the right fuel in my body. This will show up in worse mental drive, slower movements, and lack of energy, even body depressant with too much gluten.
I also have always wanted to be a model, so while training for CrossFit competitions, it is helping me lean out and look better. It will help out the physique side of my goals in this respect as well.
How important do you feel nutrition is to getting you to your goals? Would you still be able to achieve your goals without paying attention to your nutrition?
I for sure wouldn’t be able to. Not having good nutrition just adds more variables that can hold you back. If I am burning off the doughnuts I ate before a workout and not broccoli, I will certainly notice a difference in how my body moves, recovers, operates, and feels.
Tell me about your nutrition journey. How did you find what works nutrition wise for you?
I’ve done many cleanses and short diets. My favorite thing to do is juice fruits and vegetables. I will drink a freshly juiced drink (consisting of a majority of veggies) any day, any time. Convenience and price can get in the way of this easily but I am usually all over Evolution Fresh & Whole Foods in house juiced drinks.
How did you eat before finding what works for you? Did you pay attention to what you ate? How did that affect your training?
I ate what was convenient and may have seemed somewhat healthy (Subway) unless I had a strong craving, then the game was over. This is how I ate, very spontaneously. I did not pay much attention to what I ate. There were many times where I would try to track for a day or two then forget to track and lose…track, LOL. Eating this way would affect my training in a way that I may not have felt like working out that day. I might have had to take way more breaks than usual and be very confused why. In my college years I partied and drank a lot which had a serious impact on my ability to play rugby at my best.
What do you eat on a typical day? If you time your meals to a schedule, when do you typically eat?
I shoot to eat every couple hours. I listen to my body for the most part and have food handy as needed. My diet can include anything from, bacon, turkey and eggs, to salads, broccoli and hummus. I keep apples and bananas around as well as Lara Bars and other gluten free protein bars laying around for snacks, though I try to keep away from processed foods as much as possible. I’ve lately gravitated towards “Amy’s Chilli” and gluten free soups, and steamed veggies in some form everyday.
Do you count macros? Why or why not?
I have never counted macros but I feel it is the next step for my goals and healthy eating.
What are your favorite pre and post workout snacks?
I don’t necessarily have a pre or post workout snack. Coffee is a usual pre workout drink for me. I do try to cycle through other pre workout supplements once in a while as well to not be reliant on one certain caffeine source.
Do you plan your meals? If so, how do you plan and what tips do you have for others who might need help planning their meals?
I plan them as much as possible. It can be hard to find the time, but I usually prep for a few days. I usually just make sure I am well stocked at work for healthy snacks. I do not measure out or count calories. My tip for those needing help planning is to make sure you keep track of your Tupperware lids, they get lost so easily! On a serious note, when meal planning, what I find best is to do it Sunday and Wednesday (at least a couple days apart). This way you aren’t spending ALL day/night cooking and you wont avoid your 3-4 day old planned meals that you end up throwing away.
What is your favorite treat meal?
I LOVE pizza (Zeeks) & doughnuts! I am an advocate for sweets for sure; anywhere from Cheese Danish to Cinnabon to Chocolate. Two of my top choices for desert cheats are Mousse and Crème brûlée though.
What suggestions or advice would you give others who are trying to optimize their nutrition to nourish and fuel their bodies?
Start from scratch… Paleo. Make it your own but it’s so easy to start there. On top of this, you NEED to log your intake. Start a template of all of your meals and snacks and have your coach/trainer look at it and give you input. This is the best way to springboard onto a solid diet. This way you notice what foods you are actually eating, you can see what is good and isn’t good for you. You can identify if you should be eating different foods at different times. Lastly you can realize what foods help you lose weight, gain muscle etc., and learn which don’t.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
Keep a workout regimen and diet in your daily goals. It is hard to keep on track, but keep trying things you haven’t tried before. Unhealthy and overweight issues are so treatable, if you can’t do it alone, please just put your trust into someone to help push you. Regarding diet and injuries, I always say, “the ONLY thing you can do is try things you haven’t tried yet.” Do your own trial and error. If they don’t work then great, you can now try something else and see if that works. If you keep trying the same thing over and over again you will literally go insane… “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result”.
Keep on developing yourself. We are here to learn, grow and experience. If you feel like you have stopped dead in your tracks and are unhappy, make a change.
“Do what makes you happiest”
Alex is an owner/general manager at Reign City Fitness/CrossFit Downpour in Bellevue, Washington. Reign City Fitness opened November 2014 in a gigantic 42,000 square foot facility. In addition to CrossFit, Reign City Fitness offers yoga, TRX classes, Zumba, Pilates, Barre, and more!