Nutrition Challenge Testimonial #1 from 2016
One of these years, we hope to convince all our members to try a 30-day Nutrition Challenge. We’ve made several alterations to our basic guidelines this year in order for our participants to take the Challenge into a more individualized direction. In this way, each Nutrition Challenge participant can receive eating guidelines that are the least-inflammatory to them as an individual, so that they can optimize their results by the end of 30 days. There are a huge number of similarities to the Paleo Diet because paleo is by definition anti-inflammatory. But there are also several key differences, which we feel are necessary and best supports our CrossFit athletes.
Here is our first in a series of testimonials from 2016 to assist in getting participants from among our members for the 2017 Nutrition Challenge, and hopefully to spur interest from other CrossFit boxes to offer their members the same service. As we explained to our members, who wonder why all the services involved in each Challenge come with no price tag: it is because the foundation of CrossFit’s success is nutrition. So not only can you NOT call yourself a “CrossFitter” until you’ve lived through RCFN’s Nutrition Challenge, but we CAN’T call ourselves a proper CrossFit Box unless we offer the service. Without further ado, from Vanessa, 2016 Nutrition Challenge participant:
My paleo journey started in November 2014. I had started CrossFit in October and I was looking for a way to optimize my performance along with my body composition (of course, that’s what got me started with CrossFit in the first place). I started to read more about this paleo thing everyone was buzzing about, and from time to time I heard fellow CrossFitters talk about how changes in their nutrition changed their entire lives. Well…I was pretty skeptical to be honest.
I was completely indoctrinated by the food industry. I believed that fat was bad and light products were the solution to everything. I actually believed that eating less and less would make me more and more happy. I knew (and still do!) the calories for every food. I lived and breathed brigitte diets, low-fat-high-carb-diets, not-eating-anything-at-all-diets, I once even ate only (of course light!) yoghurt for two weeks (round about 400 kcal a day) believing it was a good idea – until my mum forced me to give up on that one. I’m afraid I might have been on the brink of an eating disorder. I suppose now you get how desperate I was to shed a few pounds. The number on the scale was everything to me. Every gram was important.
Then I heard about this eating-philosophy, telling its followers to eat more fat. MORE FAT! I thought it was one of the most ridiculous things ever. Everyone knows that fat has tons of calories and that fat makes you fat. It’s what you can see on the television every day. You can read it in every magazine and every doctor will tell you to stop eating butter and eggs if you got problems with cholesterol. It just seemed so logical. Fat in – fat on your ass. Calories in – calories out. It seemed just so simple.
I don’t know what made me try my first 30-day-challenge after all. But it was the best decision I have ever made. It was the beginning of the rest of my life. It would be a lie if I told you that it was easy for me, that I just breezed through it. I have to admit that it was fucking hard! I had always hated those people who wouldn’t eat everything. Those picky people who always needed some extra shit. And suddenly I was one of them. My entire family made fun of me, my colleagues asked me whether I was going out to hunt myself some mammoths for lunch and others tried to convince me that eating raw vegetables and nuts for lunch was unhealthy and that bread would be so much better. I also decided to give up coffee, which transformed me into a real bitch for the first two weeks. The guy sharing the office with me made a point of drinking a coffee every hour or so – that didn’t help at all. But I pulled through, just sat there drinking some tea (and quietly cursed him, hoping his nose would fall off or something) because I wanted to prove to everyone that I could do it.
At that point I still didn’t really believe that paleo could change my health. But I was curious and that curiosity kept me going. So about 20 days into the challenge I began to notice some changes about the way my body was feeling. Since I was two years old I had suffered from a severe case of constipation. Sometimes I would get stomachaches strong enough to keep me from standing up. No matter what I ate or what I did, it wouldn’t get better. I went to several doctors but none of them found out what was wrong with me. They gave me prescriptions (and I had to take lots and lots of those to actually do anything against my condition – I always had a 3 month supply at home) and I figured I would just have to live with the pain or stuff my face with pills. During the challenge I had stopped taking the medicine and I was convinced the aches would be back. But they stayed gone. I was actually pain-free without taking anything! I would never have to worry about bringing enough pills when traveling. It was the first time in my life I realized, that prescriptions weren’t always the best solution. And today I’m convinced that the right food is the medication of the future!
When this realization hit me, I knew that I would never give up on paleo again. I told my mum about it and she (finally!) started to support my paleo craziness. On the 25th day of my challenge I injured myself and ended up in the hospital for about five days. It would have been easy to just let go and start eating what they served up (which actually looked really good to me!). But I had finally found a way to keep the pain away! A way to live without prescriptions! I couldn’t bear the thought of those 25 days having been for nothing. So I asked my mum to bring me a supply of cooked eggs, dried fruit, nuts, avocados and small tomatoes to get me through those days. I terrorized the hospitals catering-people (I’m absolutely positive that they had a party after I was gone…) and had them bring me the meal plan for the week and told them what components of those meals I couldn’t (well…wouldn’t ;)) eat. To make sure, they didn’t just tell me the food was free of milk, gluten and the like, I just told them I was allergic. That did the trick (can only recommend that one)!
After this first challenge I decided to stay paleo but reintroduced milk and dairy in general. I noticed that it didn’t hurt me and that I tolerated it really well. Since I just looove latte macchiato it was out of the question to completely abandon dairy products forever. But all the health benefits aside. I hadn’t lost a single pound. By that time the number on the scale didn’t matter that much anymore. But when Ginger brought another 30-day-challenge up, I wanted to give this fat-loss thing another go. And only a few days into this challenge I noticed that I had made some mistakes on the fat-loss-front the first time around. I used to eat lots of “paleo baked goods” to replace bread and lots of fruit like bananas as well as more than a hand full of nuts (cashews!!!) a day. I really enjoyed the support Ginger’s daily posts offered me. I started to eat a lot more veggies and reduced my meat consumption a bit (to make space for some rucola on my plate!).
I loved that all the other “fellow-paleo-rcfn-members” shared pictures of their breakfast, lunch and dinner. It really helped me reform my way of thinking about food in general and I became a lot more creative with my meals in the past month. I even started to cook 3-coursemenus for my friends and I really enjoyed planning those dinners and convincing my friends that paleo could be delicious! And they had to admit that they didn’t even miss bread, pasta or flavor-enhancers. One of them was surprised that paleo food could be “so filling” and couldn’t believe that there was nothing more in my ice-cream than frozen raspberries, a banana, ground vanilla and a sprinkle of cinnamon. I realized that it’s not about how many ingredients you put into a dish. I’d rather cook with very few, high quality ingredients and make those count. No more replacing bread or sweets with paleofied versions. And that realization was followed by fat loss.
Of course I still can’t stuff my face with tons of meat, avocado and fruit. But the numbers on the scale are going down slowly. Considering the positive effects this challenge’s had on the way my body feels, my sleep quality and my way of thinking about food (it is hard to believe how good and intense the simplest things can taste!) I don’t even care about that anymore. Paleo has changed my life. It’s as simple as that. And that is everything that counts. Now I know how good my body is designed to feel and I can’t believe that there are people out there not even willing to try this way of life for 30 days! I mean what are 30 days compared to the rest of your life, right? I wish I had found this way of life a lot earlier. I am so grateful to you Ginger and to the whole RCFN-family for their support and I have to admit I really miss those daily posts!
So, what are you waiting for?