I just finished a 30-Day Performance and Nutrition Challenge at my local CrossFit and I am pleased to report that it didn’t kill me.
I do want to dissect what went well within the rules of the contest, as well as with my personal goals.
From a Nutrition and Wellness perspective, the rules required you to determine your optimal caloric intake and then to monitor your caloric intake for the 30-day period. You received one point for every day you tracked. If you were within 200 calories /- of your daily caloric goal, you received a bonus point. If you consumed processed foods, including sugar and alcohol, you lost a point for that day. You also got a point for every night you got 7+ hours of sleep. In addition, if you consumed Fish Oil supplements in excess of 2400 mg/day, you got a point.
For fitness/performance, you got a point for every day you showed up at the gym for the daily WOD or Open Gym. There was a max of 6 points per week for WODs. In addition, we had three benchmark WODs in the first three days of the contest and we repeated them three days after the contest, to determine the percentage of improvement. In addition, we had to submit Before and After photos with Front, Rear and Side profiles to show changes in body composition.
I was able to track my food intake daily, frequently making my macronutrient ratios. I adhered to the unrefined carbs and alcohol rule with few exceptions (I had a few desserts and I had a Harpoon Octoberfest with Julia after we ran Rugged Maniac). I made five to six WODs per week. I did daily fish oil and mineral supplements.
What is my impression of this latest incarnation of our challenge? Let me preface this by stating that “Your Mileage May Vary” from mine. On the Eat to Perform calculator, I was told I needed to consume 3000 calories a day. That is a 50% increase over what I was eating. Now I will concede that prior to this contest, perhaps I was not eating enough to gain and keep muscle, but I will tell you this, 3000 feels like way too much food for me.
On the Calculator, I stated that I was “very active”, and I do believe that my activities likely far exceed a typical 62 year-old male. But I think a “moderately active” selection would have scaled my caloric intake to a more reasonable level of 2700. In spite of my increase in caloric consumption, my weight remained constant. In addition, I lost 1.5 inches in my waist.
The past thirty days have been very deliberate in forcing more squats into the WODs. Front Squats, Back Squats, Wall Balls, Goblet Squats. It has paid off in strength and endurance in many of the moves.
How about the Benchmarks? Well I hate to admit it, but I am a better runner than I was thirty days ago. I can run longer and faster, without experiencing as much misery as I had been before. I did find some comfort in running cross-country instead of on the road. This past week I ran about ten miles off road, in addition to the many 400m runs that we have had in WODs.
Now onto my personal goals. Let’s just say I had mixed results. I succeeded in a few areas and I failed miserably in others. The reality is, there is only so much change in routine that one can interject in their life at any given time. I clearly got over-enthusiastic and bit off more than I could chew. But, I prefer to try and fail, than to never try at all.
Here are the goals I set for myself a month ago, copy & pasted directly from the September 19th blogpost:
- Do not eat ANY dessert for thirty days. Yes, you read that correctly.
- Monitor and log my Fasting Blood Sugar every morning
- Reduce my Blood Sugar by 10 Points
- Monitor and log my Blood Pressure at least five times per week
- Take my Supplements daily (my daily supplements may be a future post)
- Run at least a half-mile five days a week (that may sound trivial to many readers, but if you knew how I abhor running, you’d understand)
- Workout at home every day, for at least fifteen minutes, with bodyweight or dumbbells.
- I want to look better in the “After” photos than I did in the awful “Before” photos
So where did I excel, and where did I fail?
- Fail – I had three desserts in the past 30 days. Once at a wedding, another at Kimball’s, and Cafe Sicilia in Goucester.
- Success – I did monitor my Fasting Blood Sugar every morning
- Success – I did reduce my Blood Sugar by an average of 10 Points
- Fail – I didn’t measure my BP five times a week, I averaged three times per week
- Success – I did take my Supplements daily
- Success – I did not run a half mile five days a week. I averaged four, but I increased my distance with trail runs of 2-3 miles
- Fail – I totally bombed on the bodyweight/dumbbell challenge. I did it one week and life got in my way.
- Success – Before and After photos ? – My wife Suzanne was amazed at the before and after pics, and she knows I don’t know PhotoShop.
How did I do in the benchmarks WODs?
Monday, I did the Running WOD. On September 16th, I ran 800 meters in 5:18. Today, Nicole insisted that I do the full mile run and she gave me a stopwatch to capture my time at the 800m mark. I finished in 5:21, so I was 3 seconds slower. I figure I should get a free 15 second handicap for her changing the course and the rules on me at the last minute. And I should get a 15 second handicap because I was sobbing uncontrollably and it was difficult to breath. And I should get another 15 second handicap because it was 35 degrees outside and I was wearing a parka and boots. But knowing there is prize money on the line here, I do not expect her to cut me any slack.
Tuesday, I did the 5 Rounds For Time of Deadlifts and lateral bar Burpees. Rx was 1.5 x Bodyweight. Since my PR doesn’t even come close to this, I scaled down to 165 on September 17. At that time I finished the WOD in 11:25. On October 15th, I did it in 9:53, an improvement of 1:32. It wasn’t pretty, but I’ll take it.
Wednesday, was the Benchmark WOD from hell. Wall balls and Pull-ups or Ring Rows.
- 40 wall balls (20/14)
- 20 pull ups
- 30 wall balls
- 15 pull ups
- 20 wall balls
- 10 pull ups
- 10 wall balls
- 5 pull ups
I was thrilled that I was able to take off six seconds. Though it may not sound like much, the real measure of progress was that I felt strong throughout the WOD. Wall balls usually wipe me out and I was able to finish well. I still had my Oly shoes on from the earlier round of skills training, when I did wall balls. What a difference, my stance and footing were much more stable and the entire WOD was more efficient, allowing me to pace myself and not burn out.
As I am writing this, the winner of the challenge has not been announced. Regardless of who the winner is, I have been amazed and impressed by the progress that many of my colleagues have made in their performance, as well as those who have radically changed the body composition in such a short time. It is wonderful to have a community of supportive friends to encourage you when you undertake embracing new habits.
Get Defiant! Get Well!