Fall 2015 Nutrition Challenge Wrap-Up, Winners, Testimonials, Pictures

My performance in WODs and strength has increased ten-fold! I have been PRing left and right!

I am more alert through the middle of the workday.

I’ve definitely noticed a difference in body mass as well, getting leaner!

I felt like I could sustain the energy

I noticed a significant increase in stamina during AMRAPs and 15+ min WODs

Congratulations to everyone who participated in the Fall 2015 Nutrition Challenge! This was our twelfth Nutrition Challenge, and you can find past results here:

Below you will find some before and after photos and testimonials from those who completed all eight weeks of the Fall Nutrition Challenge 2015.  I am really proud of the hard work everyone put in – it’s not easy to stay consistent during football and wedding season!  You all approached it with an open mind and a willingness to make positive changes. Big congratulations go out to all of the competitors from our gym.

Like all years, it’s always a difficult task to pick winners.  We consider a lot of factors when choosing a winner, from communication and ability to uphold the guidelines during the challenge, to before and after results based on the measurements, and benefits that go beyond just physical looks and measurements.


We chose 3 winners this year, although it was extremely difficult to choose!  Matt, Hassan, and Jaclyn are the winners of this year’s challenge.  Matt was extremely diligent and consistent with his diet and work outs, and it paid off after only 8 short weeks.  Jaclyn had been eating paleo leading up to the challenge, and over the course of a few months dropped 30+ pounds! I think the challenge helped her find some new energy/balance and make a break-through with her diet.  Hassan was also very diligent about his diet and tracking, and is proof that with the right balance you can lean out while eating MORE food.  All the other finishers also had some amazing results, so congratulations to everyone!

Congratulations again to everyone!!


Collages5Since I have been eating paleo for a while now, I joined this challenge so I could be closer to the C’Ville community. I really wasn’t doing the challenge to lose weight or lean out. I gained a lot of muscle, A LOT. I love that though! It was what I was aiming for. I was trying to see how I could gain muscle while still eating paleo, and I did just that!

My performance in WODs and strength has increased ten-fold! I have been PRing left and right! My clean and jerk went up 15lbs; my snatch went up 20lbs; I can squat 170lbs for 20 reps. It’s been amazing!!!

Though I still get tired around 2:30 (don’t think that will ever change), my energy levels in class and at the box have increased a lot. I am much happier about school and life in general. Because of the challenge and my 6 AM WODs, my body is now used to going to sleep early even though everyone in my dorm is up until 2 AM. I definitely now have a clear routine, and I’m sticking to it.


Paleo is hard, but if I can do it in college, anyone can! You can put your mind to anything, and you will achieve it. This challenge reaffirmed my love for paleo!

I lost about 25 pounds. I lost an inch in my neck measurement, a little over an inch in my waist and over 2 inches in my chest.
Being new to CrossFit, I wanted to engage a healthier way of eating to fuel my workouts. I didn’t want to have to take a lot of supplements or powders, but balance based on healthy foods. The zone based paleo-ish diet that I evolved into was key to doing this. This allowed me to time eating the proper foods to fuel workouts and recovery. I specifically noticed eating a decent concentration of proteins close to the finish of a workout really helped me feel good, especially the next day. I was considerably less sore.
In the beginning of the challenge, I often felt hungry during the day, but as I learned to snack smartly, this definitely improved and now I pretty much feel satiated until 4-5 hours after I eat, with healthy snacks.
The biggest change I have noticed here is that with significant grain based carbs in my diet, I would often feel lethargic. This was especially true after lunch. This has completely gone away which means I am more alert through the middle of the workday. As for sleeping, I have always been a 7-8 hours a night type of sleeper and this hasn’t really changed. I can say that I do feel more tired when I got to bed and fall asleep faster and am wide awake in the morning and ready to take on the day.

I really like cooking, but the taking the time to prepare and shop has always been a huge hurdle. I used the cooksmarts.com site to great benefit, reducing the planning stage down to a few minutes and a couple of button clicks. The other thing that help me was learning what I can buy frozen and in bulk and where to shop. Places like Costco offers great natural wild caught seafood that is frozen. Then I found that Trader Joe’s has great quality, but less selection than whole foods, so I pick up a lot of items there. Finally whole foods fills in the niche items. This approach allows me to lower the grocery bill at least compared to shopping entirely at whole foods, without sacrificing quality of food.

Where to begin?!  I saw so many changes during the 8 weeks, the least of which was weight loss. I think I only dropped 8 pounds during the challenge, but lost almost 3 inches each on waist and hips. I’ve definitely noticed a difference in body mass as well, getting leaner! I’ve been dropping off bags of clothes to Goodwill every week, and rediscovering a wardrobe I’ve held on to for years in the hopes I’d eventually fit in it again!

I was still pretty new to CrossFit when the challenge began, but had already had pretty fantastic results – dropping almost 20 pounds by the time the challenge started. By tracking macros, I was able to understand HOW the food I ate affected my performance. I had already switched to paleo two months prior, but didn’t have a good handle on what to eat/why/when. As a chef, there was the additional challenge of making sure I was eating enough – I’m used to grazing all day, but the first two weeks I really struggled with eating nutritionally dense food that hit my macro numbers. Once I settled in, though, I really noticed a difference in my energy – and no longer felt like I was “eating too much.” From the workouts perspective, being able to do push-ups, pull-ups and more things that I never would have thought I could do has been so inspiring – and keeps me coming back for more every single week.


My energy levels skyrocketed during the tracking period, and I was feeling much better during and after the workouts.  I’ve made a greater effort to get to bed early and up to the gym early every day. I noticed that the weekends when I had several events and less sleep, that I was still able to bounce back SO MUCH BETTER than before. Five-wedding-weekends didn’t leave me utterly and completely spent – instead, I was back at the gym Monday morning!
I’m excited to keep up with the overall principles of the challenge – nutritionally dense foods, watching macro ratios and continuing my CrossFit journey.

I have definitely seen a significant change in my body composition from doing this challenge. I didn’t necessarily lose a lot of weight in pounds but, I have lost three inches all around which feels awesome. I can feel and see it most in the way my clothes fit, and how lean I’ve gotten from doing the challenge.
I work with children with Autism, and just in the first several weeks I felt so much more energy throughout the day. As long as I was eating clean and consistently throughout the day, I felt like I could sustain the energy. In terms of my workouts, I have felt less recovery time, and felt like I could push myself longer and harder than I used to before.
definitely more clarity throughout the day, and a ton more energy!

Doing this challenge has definitely been a great experience. The best part, is that I have definitely appreciated my food, and cooking a lot more in the past 8 weeks. It has become a process that I thoroughly enjoy and is actually relaxing. Nothing beats coming home and cooking some good food that not only tastes good, but makes me feel good. I have learned a new way to approach food and snacking throughout the day, and have a new found love for almonds and grapes! I feel like going back to basics with paleo made me realize how much I don’t need all the extra’s in my diet like processed grains, and sugar, and I feel like this is a lifestyle we could maintain as a family.


It felt like I lost more weight than the numbers indicated at the start and end of the challenge. Regardless, I still leaned out. I didn’t lose enough to change pant sizes (down from 32″ down to 31″) but I did need a belt and my shirts fit noticeably better. Also, abs and hip bones popped out from hibernation which was validation enough for me in terms of the scale not moving too much.

Throughout the day, my moods felt more consistent. I prefer to eat twice a day (lunch and dinner). I find it difficult to eat in the morning and this made it really difficult to hit my macros early on.
I had been eating mostly paleo before the challenge; usually a meal or non-paleo snack every other day or so. Once I shifted to paleo it took me a while to adjust to eating more. Halfway through the challenge, I found protein shakes to be a good substitute for at the very least a late breakfast/early lunchtime snack especially on WOD mornings. Also, snacking on sweet potatoes or plantains (seared in olive or coconut oil 8 min) or grazing from a big Planter’s mix (from Sam’s Club) of blended walnuts, Brazilian nuts, pecans, etc. made things a whole lot easier.
Performance wise, I felt lighter during burpees and could string together multiple muscle-ups more consistently. Very surprised to hit a Clean & Jerk PR (225#) even though the only thing I was doing differently was the challenge.
Energy wise I felt a sluggish at the beginning of the challenge. It took me a while to adjust to eating a lot more than I expected. Tracking and seeing how little I was eating pre and post WOD was enlightening though because maintaining stamina during WODs is my weakest area in CrossFit. I noticed a significant increase in stamina during AMRAPs and 15+ min WODs just by adding a sweet potato or carb heavy snack (sweet potato/plantain) a couple hours before working out.
I also started to sleep better. Never realized how non-paleo food (even if it was the only thing non-paleo thing I consumed all day) could really cause restless sleep.
Challenge is infinitely more manageable if you think of the whole thing as a dietary reset button. By the end of the challenge it definitely felt like I was getting more energy and nutrients out of eating meat and veggies than eating mostly paleo on an inconsistent basis.
I would definitely recommend planning meals in advance. Each week I went in with the intention of just having paleo food available every day during the week but it’s very difficult to not just lean heavily into Chipotle. Honestly, if anyone were considering the next challenge I would recommend setting up a meal schedule of literally anything you want and sticking to it for a week. I imagine it would be a lot easier to just substitute the food with paleo options once you get used to planning meals.
I’ve done challenges at other boxes before but what sets Charlottesville apart is the phases of tracking. I’ve never tracked macros before and I only continued for a week or so after the required phase during the challenge. Since the only thing I’m training for is being able to play my ab xylophone for the ladies poolside during summers, math isn’t something I think I’ll incorporate into my daily (or even weekly) eating habits.
However, the weighing and tracking phase made doing the challenge alone worth it for two reasons. First, it made it a lot easier to save money shopping for the right amount of food. A bag of frozen organic broccoli or peas is like 2 bucks and change at Whole Foods + only take 8 minutes to steam! Second, l got considerably better at eyeballing correct portion sizes of already cooked food. Spoiler alert: did not realize how easy it was to overdue it on fats and undershoot protein.
I would highly recommend:
Snack: Bag of sweet potatoes from Trader Joe’s, (microwave 2 min, split open and eat).
Meal: Chipotle: salad, double meat (I perfer steak/chicken, any of the salsas, and guac).
So Delicious No Sugar Added Coconut Milk Ice Cream.


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