Hi! My name is Kristine Andali and I am the owner of KA Nutrition.
You may know my story but maybe you don’t.
I was a high-level competitive CrossFit athlete for the past 8 years but was doing it for around 10 years. Just recently I closed that door behind me to put all my focus into my Nutrition Coaching Business “KA Nutrition” and be on the other side of things.
Initially, I thought I just wanted to help athletes but that quickly changed when I realized just how many people were struggling to find Nutritional freedom within’ their lives and the issues surrounding overtraining and under-eating not only with athletes but the majority of people who workout.
I wanted to come into this space and help people better understand how to fuel their body the proper way and help them understand that they didn’t need to be training 4 hours a day while eating at 1500 calories in order to “make it somewhere.”
A little back story on myself…
In 2014 I had missed the CrossFit Games by 2 points – it was when they only took 2 spots from the Canada East region and I came third. After that happened I had a change-up in coaches, which meant an entirely new program. And let me remind you that back then, I didn’t have much knowledge in anything to do with training and nutrition I was just being an athlete doing what I was told.
The training program I was on had me training 4+ hours a day, there were no deloads, there was rarely any accessory work, no energy system work, lifting was always heavy and WODs were always at a go hard or go home pace – 100% effort all the time. And to be honest with you I loved it. I was pushing myself to the limits… but the problem there was it was every…single…day.
Outside of that, my nutrition was based on a template, and we all know what that means – absolutely nothing is individualized, training isn’t really taken into consideration… I mean nothing really is.
I started noticing all these really weird things happening to me. I started getting super puffy, especially in my face, I started breaking out pretty bad on my face and on my back, I had nagging injuries all the time, I felt like my capacity was out the window and I couldn’t breathe, I gained 10-15 lbs, the biggest one of all was that I lost my period for 5 months. Guess what I did? I ignored the warnings signs because I was too wrapped up in making it to the CrossFit Games.
Fast forward to suffering my way through the open and making it to regionals. I was out on the regional floor and in the first workout, I completely tore both my shoulders which resulted in me having to get 4 surgeries over the next 3 years.
After regionals, I went and got blood work and saliva testing done and well let me tell you… My hormones were an absolute disaster. I was in the worst stage of HPA dysfunction (“adrenal fatigue” which is more commonly used around this issue).
From this point on, training stopped and it was literally years and years of working to get my hormones back into balance – still to this day I deal with the repercussions of going through that. Thousands and Thousands of dollars spent, really dark days, feeling like I was crazy, confidence out the window, 4 surgeries and never having my adrenals/hormones the same again… all because I didn’t listen to my body and thought I needed to be in the gym every day destroying myself and taking in an extremely low caloric intake because that’s what I thought it took??
This is what many people are dealing with right now… Maybe not to the extent of surgeries but mentally and hormonally? absolutely. This is why I am writing this today. To bring awareness to this topic and hopefully help you better understand the seriousness behind this and the real consequences it can bring.
I am not here to try and scare you…but at the same time, I kind of am. This is no joke and it shouldn’t be taken lightly.
First and foremost the most appropriate thing would be to define overtraining and what that can look and feel like.
It starts with over-reaching or “functional over-reaching” and you’ll notice this over days or weeks. You’ll start to see some performance decreases in training but you will still see some performance increases after you take the time to rest.
- Example – This could look like you starting to notice small injuries popping up more often, motivation to be in the gym is diminishing slightly but not enough for you to really take it seriously and you blame it on just being tired from training. You’re noticing sessions taking A LOT out of you – more than normal but you still have the capacity to recover after you rest and continue to show up for the next session.
Then it starts to become non-functional overreaching, where it starts moving from weeks to months, here you will start to see performance decreases lasting longer and unlike functional overreaching, you stop seeing performance increases after rest. This is typically when you start noticing physiological and hormonal symptoms popping up. Not feeling motivated to train, being a large one.
- Example – This could look something like when a female starts to see her cycle going a bit wonky or even losing it altogether, and males potentially seeing signs of low Testosterone.. (no morning wood) and decreased libido for both parties. Performance has really started to take a hit here and everything starts to feel like it’s a struggle – Motivation to get in the gym is becoming very prominent. You could start seeing symptoms here like gaining weight, low appetite, and skin breakouts.
Lastly, the place you never want to be is actually being in a full-blown overtraining state. For athletes, this can be career-ending. This is where the adrenal glands are no longer able to maintain proper hormone levels and athletic performance is severely compromised.
Take me for example – because I messed up my adrenal glands so bad by putting an outrageous amount of stress on my body I was never able to get the capacity back to the level it was at previously, my body wouldn’t allow itself to go there anymore.
Was it completely career-ending to the point I couldn’t compete? No, I went back for more but it was a struggle all the way there.
In simple terms, what’s happening here is your body stops tapping into the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest) and you remain in the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) and your body lives in a highly stressed state.
Your body starts to live in “survival” mode which inhibits it to focus on the processes in our body that keep us feeling well (homeostasis), like reproduction (proper hormonal function), digestion, immunity, and cognitive function.
Signs and Symptoms
Loss of Motivation
Increased Heart Rate
Feeling lethargic Through Training
Irritability Lack of Mental Concentration
Increase in Injuries
Changes in Menstruation
Waking up tired/Feeling Wired At Night
Getting Sick Often
These are just to name a few…
Causes of Overtraining
When it comes to overtraining what many people fail to realize is that yes, a lot of it comes from spending too much time in the gym and overdoing it but they forget about the other 22 hours of the day.
They don’t consider work stress, family stress, emotional stress, quality of sleep, food intake (this is a huge one), water intake and the real impacts these can have on our body.
Your body can’t deceiver what kind of stress it’s under. It doesn’t know if your co-worker is being an idiot and stressing you out, it doesn’t know that you’re going through a rough time in your relationship, or the pressure you feel from raising a child, or the physical stress you’re putting on your body from doing workouts that destroy you every day.
It’s all the same and it all starts to add up over time.
Stress at work – Increased demand on adrenals
Stress at home – Increased demand on adrenals
Stress of training – Increased demand on adrenals
Stress of crappy sleep – Increased demand on adrenals
Stress of dehydration – Increased demand on adrenals
Stress of undereating – Increased demand on adrenals
Where in your life are you actually taking the time to allow your body to recover? To tap into that parasympathetic nervous system and allow your body to rest?
In my opinion, the biggest culprit of overtraining is undereating.
Over and over and over again I see people undereating and overtraining because that is what the media tells us right? Or because that template that every top athlete says they are using but actually aren’t tells us that’s how much we should be eating. We get mislead everywhere we look which is resulting in some pretty devastating problems for people.
Signs and Symptoms of under-eating
Chronically feeling cold
Always feeling hungry OR lack of hunger
Disrupted sleep, trouble staying asleep
Inability to gain muscle OR lose fat
Loss of or regular menstrual cycle
Low hormone levels, infertility, low sex drive
Regularly getting sick or injured
Low energy, blood sugar swings, mood swings
Performance, Strength and building muscle means you have to EAT. If your goal is performance you cannot be eating for aesthetics. It just doesn’t work. You can’t have both. Eating for aesthetics requires a lot less overall calories. If looking good is your primary goal, you have to accept that you are not going to be as strong as you’d like, or as fast as you’d like, you’re most likely not going to recover as well as you could and being hungry will be a regular occurrence. Alongside that, this is where health markers can start to go sideways if you begin to live in a deficit.
When it comes to gaining muscle and getting stronger we have to be either sitting at maintenance or in a surplus. The only time this sometimes isn’t the case is typically the first year or so of someone starting to implement strength training who may be obese or inactive and that’s due to neurological adaptation.
They are further away from their natural muscle limit so a recomposition of losing fat and building muscle becomes much easier and they are able to handle being in a deficit with no real metabolic adaptations initially.
They could be eating 3500 calories a day or 500 calories a day and still be making gains and seeing PRs but that only lasts so long and things start to level out.
This is not the case for someone who is already fairly lean and has years of training under their belt.
What many people fail to realize is that just as training needs to be periodized, nutrition needs to be structured and periodized too. If we want to get strong and breakthrough plateaus we need to give our body the proper fuel, we need to spend some of our year sitting in a surplus in order to do that.
We need to eat, and eat a lot.
There is a time and place to diet, but in doing so training needs to be adjusted or else you begin to dig yourself into a hole that you potentially may not be able to get out of fully.
I promise you that chronically eating at a really low caloric intake and spending hours in the gym is not worth it, and it doesn’t need to be like that in for you to order to get where you want to go.
I learned that the hard way but it’s the foundation of why I do what I do today. Help and educate others so they don’t go through the same thing.
If you struggle with any of the above, I am here to help you.
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org