Well folks, the results are in! Or, have been in. And I’ve just been neglecting you, per usual. I kid, I kid.
March 1st was the final weight in for the Next Step Challenge, a six week nutrition and fitness challenge that I did with my Crossfit box, Crossfit Primal in Des Moines. If you haven’t been following along, here were the rules:
About 3 weeks “Primal”:
Eat meats and veggies, nuts & seeds, some fruit, little starch, no sugar.
Followed by 3 weeks of “Advanced”:
No grains, no sugars, no fruit, increase healthy fats.
I personally followed “Advanced” the entire time (not counting the cheat meals, obviously). “Primal” was close enough to what I was already doing, and I wanted more of a challenge.
But what did you eat?
I got this question a LOT. It’s okay, give it a minute, give it some thought …
The answer is only a few sentences up – veggies and meat! It’s pretty basic, when you think about it. Keeping your diet whole, and natural. While the diet was never officially called Paleo, it was essentially the same thing.
In addition to the diet restrictions, purchasing all grass-fed meat was encouraged. While I fully believe that is the way to go, I can’t personally justify the expenditure on it right now, so I skipped that.
How did it go?
This question has a two-part answer. I didn’t really anticipate that it would when I began, but turns out, your diet can affect your attitude.
So, mentally … It really depended on the day for me. Some days, I was great, and some days, I was miserable.
The trickiest thing to get used to for me with the diet was paying attention to added ingredients. It’s crazy how many things they add sugar (and other junk to) these days. This inevitably meant that any type of pre-prepared (including take out or restaurant food) became pretty much off limits. Enter my frustration. Where do I hang out with my friends? Bars and restaurants.
That right there was my achilles heal in this challenge. Some days, I chose to cheat, and move on. Some days, I kept strong. Majority of the time? I was good. But the days I stayed strong often made me grumpy. So … it’s a toss up. Grumpy & healthy or happy and less-healthy?
But physically … It was a great experience. Day to day, I felt healthy, and strong. When I cheated, I felt kind of awful (clearly my body didn’t like my cheating). To be honest, I’m not sure that I felt any better on a given day then I would have if some of the missing items would have been in my diet, but I certainly didn’t feel any ill-effects of the diet change.
Oh, and did I mention that I lost 10 lbs and about 7% body fat? Not to mention the fact that as a whole, I know I lost inches. In retrospect, I wish I would have taken my measurements prior to the challenge – things like my waist, chest, etc.
Our measurements were taken with calipers, and combined with the weight on the scale, to determine body fat percentage. I began the challenge at 32.23% body fat, and ended at 24.93%. This put me from being slightly in the Obese category, down into the Fitness category.
Would I do it again?
Yes, absolutely. Participating with my box gave me great motivation, and was a lot of fun. Would I do it on my own? I don’t think so. I don’t think I’d have the proper willpower and accountability.
Right now, I’m trying to find a balance between eating Paleo and eating everything. That’s one quote I’ve heard over and over – there’s a big difference between Paleo and eating crap. I don’t necessarily need to eat Paleo to maintain this weight loss. I just need to not stuff my face with crap constantly.
But it did have some long-lasting effects – the good, and the bad
Let’s start with the good. I now, pretty religiously:
- Highly consider what I’m putting in my body. Veggies? Remember those? I actually eat them at nearly every meal now. It’s not rocket science, but I haven’t done it in years, I’ll admit. [Insert stereotypical reference to how healthy living bloggers aren't perfect.]
- Pack my lunch. I’ve been trying to get this habit going since I started working full time. And you know what really gets you into it? NOT BEING ABLE TO EAT TAKE OUT. I didn’t pack lunch? I struggled to find food to eat. Now, it’s easy. Lovely!
- Choose eating at home over take out. Our takeout bill has gone down considerably. I credit this to finally getting the hang of proper and meaningful meal planning.
And the bad. There’s really only one bad …
I now highly consider what I’m putting in my body.
Yes, I know that’s a repeat. But honestly, this diet gave me a messy relationship with food. Grains? Evil. Cookies? Evil. You get the picture.
The further I get away from the challenge, the easier it’s gotten. But it definitely gave me some guilt issues with indulging, which I don’t agree with. My stance has always been “everything in moderation”. Which means I shouldn’t feel guilty for having a treat every once in awhile. Maybe the guilt will go away on it’s own, and maybe I’ll have to continue to consciously work on it. I don’t know the answer to that yet.
Also, I want to say that I don’t blame my box at all for unduly pressuring me in any way, or trying to make me feel guilty. No one forced me to do this challenge. No one forced me to go Advanced. I just wanted to give it a try, and see what happened. This interesting side effect? It’s all me.
• • •
If you made it this far in the post, you’re a trooper. It’s been a long one! But I had a lot of feelings revolving around this whole challenge. I think that where I’ve settled is that I could follow the Primal lifestyle pretty regularly with little to no issues. Ultimately, I think it would really benefit me and my fitness goals. I just need to work on not seeing cheat meals as the worst thing ever – and being at peace with the decisions that I make.
Have you tried a nutrition challenge? What did you think?