Catching up with Mike

I had the chance to catch up with Mike after the nutrition challenge as well.  Huge thanks to Ariel and Mike for being willing to share their answers with everyone!



What was your athletic background prior to starting at CrossFit Charlottesville?

Prior to starting at CrossFit Charlottesville, my athletic background mainly dealt with Football. I played middle linebacker and defensive end through college. I also played baseball in high school and some soccer and basketball in my younger days! I’ve pretty much been doing some sort of sport ever since I can remember!

Why did you decide to join the gym?

I decided to join the gym because I had been curious about CrossFit for a long time. I finally worked up the guts to come by the gym and check it out and the rest is history! It’s an amazing place to workout! The people, the environment, the programming, everything! It’s awesome!

What gains do you consider most significant in the gym?

I have had gains in all areas honestly! I’ve gotten stronger, I’ve lost weight and gotten leaner, and I’ve developed a better engine and endurance. If I had to pick one area I’ve gained the most in since joining the gym it would probably be my engine and endurance.  I’m able to push through hard workouts a lot easier then when I started.

How has the gym helped you with things that are outside the gym?

I can thank the gym for helping me with several things besides awesome workouts. Guidance with my nutrition and diet has probably been the biggest. The recent nutrition challenge taught me a ton about eating the right things and hitting my macros. It’s helped me feel better and more energetic overall throughout the whole day.

What’s the most surprising thing you learned or achieved after joining our gym?

Honestly, the most surprising thing I’ve learned since joining the gym is the level of camaraderie. Everybody at CrossFit Charlottesville is approachable and friendly and willing to help. The sense of community there is unbelievable and it has just blown me way. 

What did you get out of the recent nutrition challenge?

Well, besides losing weight and leaning out, I learned a lot about nutrition. I learned about what is best for me to eat and how much of it I should be eating. I felt better overall and felt like I had more energy.

What are your fitness goals for the next year?

would definitely like to compete in both CrossFit and Weightlifting competitions at some point. Competing has always helped me to push myself more, so I think that would be a useful goal. I also want to get a lot better with body weight movements in general. That’s a weakness for me that I would like to improve upon. I’d also like to clean and jerk 400lbs and Snatch 300lbs!

What would you tell someone in your shoes who might be nervous about joining the gym?

I would tell them to just go for it! The gym is very inviting and the programming allows people of all skill levels to get good work in!

Catching Up With Ariel

What was your athletic background prior to starting at CrossFit Charlottesville?
I played a lot of sports growing up (bball, vball, cross country, and softball). A year of college softball.
Why did you decide to join the gym?
I discovered CrossFit in college at Radford, so I decided after I started my job that I would get back into it. I missed the CrossFit environment. 
What gains do you consider most significant in the gym?
Knowledge of the movements that ultimately lead me to making physical gains that I had never been able to do. For example: pull ups. 
How has the gym helped you with things that are outside the gym?
It actually really helped me at work. As a nurse, we constantly have to pull patients up in bed or turning them side to side. We also work with some heavy equipment from time to time. It also really helped with moving – moving boxes was a lot easier.
What’s the most surprising thing you learned or achieved after joining our gym?
That I could actually complete a diet challenge and see actual results. The paleo challenge was my first challenge and though it was extremely challenging, I was able to get through it. I saw incredible results and felt amazing. On top of that, the support of the gym is something I didn’t expect. The people are so great, you can’t just find that anywhere.
What did you get out of the recent nutrition challenge?
A new mindset/lifestyle. I feel like I found what works and I felt great doing it. It really is a lifestyle, not some fad diet.
What are your fitness goals for the next year?
I want to be able to achieve the more difficult movements such as the muscle up. I also want to get a little more competitive. I do have a competitive side and I think getting into competitions will be fun. I will definitely be doing the open (which I should have done this past year).
What would you tell someone in your shoes who might be nervous about joining the gym?
Just do it. I live by Nike’s motto because it is so true. If you just do it, you might surprise yourself. If you do it and don’t like it, you can always try something else but I truly believe it’ll be worth the try.
Where are you moving and will we ever see you back in Charlottesville?
I am moving to Gilbert, Arizona. I will most certainly be back in Charlottesville and will be dropping in while I’m there.
Anything else you’d like to say?
CrossFit Charlottesville was life changing for me. I can’t thank you all enough for your time, knowledge, patience, and advice. It really made a big difference – not just physically for me, but mentally. I’ve been to a couple of gyms and the community at CF C-ville is truly one of a kind. I’m going to really miss you all.

See Ariel’s awesome Nutrition Challenge results and testimonial here!
I feel better during the day- mostly because I no longer have the extreme mid-morning and post-lunch sugar crashes/food comas that I used to
I now have no trouble sleeping at all
Thanks to the challenge I have kicked my sugar addiction to the curb and am no longer constantly craving sweets
Max amount lost 14 total pounds
I had more energy and felt like my endurance and ability to “push through” tough workouts got better as well
This was such an enlightening experience!
I felt amazing throughout the entire day
My friends and family also noticed that I had clearer skin and better skin

Congratulations to everyone who participated in the Spring 2015 Nutrition Challenge! This was our eleventh 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 Spring Nutrition Challenge (2015.  I am really proud of the hard work everyone put in.  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.

Lauren and I chose 2 winners and 2 runners-up, but the finishers in this group made it extremely challenging to pick a winner.  There are a lot of factors that go in to choosing a winner, from before and after results based on measurements, to communication and upholding the guidelines during the challenge, to benefits that go beyond just physical looks and measurements.


Mike and Ariel


Andrew and Elise

During this challenge, we tweaked some of the macros based on each person’s body type and activity level. We realize there isn’t a “one size fits all” approach and a lot of factors go into sustainable nutrition and developing good habits.  These finishers clearly demonstrate how this approach helped them reach their fitness and nutritional goals!

Congratulations again to all the finishers!!

-Scott and Lauren


I think I lost about 5 pounds- but losing weight was not my goal. I am overall much leaner than I was before the challenge. I wanted to lose fat and build muscle, and have done so. I have noticed significant changes in tone in my stomach, arms, and legs. My clothes fit better, and I am generally more comfortable in them.


I am now proud of my entire body, whereas before the challenge I definitely felt that I had problem areas that I tried to conceal more. I feel better during the day- mostly because I no longer have the extreme mid-morning and post-lunch sugar crashes/food comas that I used to. My workout performance has improved pretty dramatically (depending on the movement- I don’t think my overhead squats will ever improve!).

During the first two weeks I lacked energy in a big way, but once my body adjusted to the food I noticed myself pushing harder and doing better in workouts- especially in a lot of the really long workouts we did this spring. There was a huge difference in my clean weight and overall WOD time between the benchmark workout week 1 and when we repeated it six weeks into the challenge.  I definitely have more energy more consistently than I did before- fewer highs and lows than I had before the challenge when I was eating pretty poorly. I am able to stay awake later (late is 11:00 pm max though) and be more productive in the evening that I was before. I sleep through the night much more consistently now.


I would recommend this challenge to everyone- it was awesome! It was absolutely one of the hardest things I have ever done, but that makes the end even more rewarding. I never in a million years thought that I could make it through 8 weeks of strict paleo, but I am SO proud of myself for doing so. The challenge completely changed the way I look at food- I developed planning, cooking, and snacking habits that I know I will stick with despite the challenge being over.  And MANY thanks to Scott and Lauren for being so supportive of us and so responsive to my many email questions over the last 8 weeks- we definitely couldn’t have done it without you guys!


I believe I only lost anywhere from 3-5lbs. It fluctuates depending on the day but I’ve been consistently under 140 which I haven’t been in years. I do think I’ve leaned out a bit, I am starting to see and feel more definition especially in my arms and legs.  There is a difference in how well my clothes fit, I can tell the most difference with my summer clothes – they feel a lot looser and overall more comfortable.


I feel 100% better. I don’t need caffeine to get me through the day.  I feel more happy and upbeat.  My workouts have only improved, I’ve hit more PRs in the last 8 weeks than I have in the last 8 months.  It’s been the biggest motivator.Energy wise – I didn’t feel like I was having any crashes.  I didn’t need to take afternoon naps or have caffeine to wake me up.  I was way more energetic than I had been before.  I actually was seeing a sleep specialist for severe insomnia prior to the challenge where I was only sleeping 1-2 hours a night (not exaggerating), I now have no trouble sleeping at all.  I’ve been sleeping 7-9hrs a night while working night shift.  It’s been incredible!  I can think a lot clearer and its made me overall more happy.


I never realized how addicting sugar is and how hard it is to quit. It was the biggest struggle for me. I am really glad I did the challenge though, because after it ended and I went to have that first “cheat” meal – I realized that I didn’t really like those kinds of foods anymore.  That feeling of being so full that I felt stuffed was awful and I decided to stick to paleo with a few exceptions.  I actually enjoy counting my macros. 🙂  It was a challenge, but totally worth it.


This was my first Nutrition Challenge and I was very satisfied with my results.  I lost nine pounds and 2.5” from my waist/hips.  I can see changes all over my body, specially in my midsection. I feel leaner and all my clothes fit better and looser.


The first two weeks were very challenging for me because bread, cheese, wine and sugary treats were staples in my diet. I had major withdrawals symptoms, but once my body adapted to the changes I saw a big increase in my energy levels. This was also evident in my workouts. I’ve been able to see improvements in my performance. I feel stronger and more confident.


At first, I felt very energetic to the point of having trouble sleeping at night. Things level off after a couple of weeks, and my energy levels are more stable throughout the day. I no longer feel like I need a nap or sweets to fight the post lunch slump. I am more focused at work and overall have more mental clarity.

This was a great experience for me. I learned the importance of good nutrition (I realized that I was not eating as healthy as I thought) and how to properly fuel my body. Thanks to the challenge I have kicked my sugar addiction to the curb and am no longer constantly craving sweets. Furthermore,  I plan to continue applying some of the things I’ve learned and to be mindful of what I put in my body.



When I started the challenge I weighed in at 141 and by the final weigh in I was 131, losing 10 pounds overall. I definitely noticed that I am leaner and have more muscle definition, that is a testament to the workout programming I have been doing along with Lauren altering my macros each week. My smaller sized clothes now fit perfectly there is definitely a difference in the way I look and feel in my outfits.


The programming I have been doing started at the same time the nutrition challenge begun which is much heavier volume. It was tough at first but Lauren helped me to program when I should eat my carbs and proteins to maximize my results. The workouts have gotten easier, I wouldn’t call them easy workouts but my body is able to handle the volume now. 

I also have a ton of energy lately and feel so good! I never knew how bad I actually felt relative to the amount of energy I now have. I also tried to get a minimum of 6 1/2 hours of sleep each night which probably has helped.
I think this challenge was perfect for me, I seem to notice a big difference in my body whenever I eat paleo. This time around needing to weigh and log what I am eating for macros gives me much better insight into nutrition and how what and how much you are eating can really effect you.  I will now forever think twice before eating bagels and donuts at the office… it’s just not worth it. I think that’s the main benefit of this challenge is that 8 weeks is long enough to develop a habit and this was not just a diet for me but a shift in my overall lifestyle of eating. Well worth the $20 for Lauren’s expertise and Scott’s guidance and experience.
Thanks Crossfit Cville!!!


I think I lost a few pounds and I definitely leaned out a bit. Some pants felt looser and some shorts that I hadn’t been able to wear in like 2 years fit great!


I’ve been eating Primal/Paleo-ish for a while, so I didn’t feel all that different for the most part. I didn’t see a huge change in my workouts, but I’d say my recovery post-workout was a little bit better. The one thing I noticed was markedly improved was my, ahem, digestive health. I had a Frappuccino the other evening, and it definitely gave me a stomachache the following morning.


Energy and sleep were about the same. Mentally, I felt better equipped to tackle this challenge compared to previous personal challenges I’ve done because I was taking a cooking class at the same time. Being able to make more of my meals made me feel much more in control.
My main goal for this challenge was to cut back on my sugar consumption. I truly believe I have a genuine (albeit mild) sugar addiction, so going cold turkey and getting that back under control felt great. I’ll always struggle to make good food choices when it comes to sugar, but it was good to remind myself that there is a whole world of healthy (and delicious) snacks out there that won’t make me feel like crap the next day. Congrats to everyone who made it through!


I lost four pounds and have noticed a significant change in how my clothes fit. I have gone down about one pant size.


Initially, I was pretty fatigued throughout the day as I got used to the new diet restrictions and figured out how to meet my macros while meeting my calorie goals. My workouts struggled a bit in the beginning but as I figured out how to increase calories while still hitting macros I got back to my previous stamina. 


My sleeping patterns stayed pretty solid, sleeping about 7-9 hours a night. I initially felt pretty tired throughout the day but as I got used to the different diet, my energy bounced back.  Overall I was very happy with how much I leaned out and how I felt throughout the challenge. Normally my stomach gets upset very easily but with the paleo diet, I was able to control that much better.


Max amount lost 14 total pounds – weigh in at completion of challenge, -12lb loss. I feel that I have leaned out a lot. My shoulders and chest especially.  Clothes are definitely a bit more loose especially some of my work pants I had purchased in the fall during our “bulking phase” 🙂


In the beginning, I was a little sluggish in the and lacking energy. After a week or two I was able to acclimate to the diet a little bit and became more comfortable eating the right foods and in the correct amounts. I was definitely able to see, during my workouts, if I didn’t eat enough or the right types of foods, or didn’t time the food intake correctly. When I timed my intake correctly and ate the right amount I felt very strong and was able to get through my workouts faster and with better results. I felt that I needed less time to recover as well – which is a huge plus. I had more energy throughout the day and was able to accomplish more in my work environment. 


Mentally I felt stronger and was able to focus much easier on things than I normally would be able to. This was a great experience. I loved being able to push myself and get out of my comfort zone. I learned a lot and value the experience – I look forward to maintaining the commitment level I kept throughout the challenge with the exception of one thing… pizza… and beer.



I lost right around 10 lbs during the challenge, and I feel like a leaned out a lot! I feel like I was able to keep lean muscle and lose a good amount of fat, so I was really happy with that!


My clothes also fit a lot better near the end of the challenge, pants fit a whole lot better!Once I really got used to the diet and started hitting my macros more consistently, I felt amazing throughout the entire day. I felt like I ate more than I usually did before but I continued to lose weight and lean out. I had more energy and felt like my endurance and ability to “push through” tough workouts got better as well.  All around improvements in all areas! Its amazing to think about how much these things changed for the good!

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I actually realize it more now that the challenge is over. I am still continuing to eat mainly paleo but I have indulged every now and then since the challenge and I can really tell the difference in how crappy food makes you feel. However, icy cold Bud Light has been nice… I actually think that has helped me improve in every area!


I didn’t catch my starting/ending measurements, but I noticed a significant decrease in my waist/hip area based on how my clothes fit. Even after the first week, I could tell a difference in how “bloated” I felt. I also noticed more overall definition.

I felt significantly better, more “even”, as long as I ate on a somewhat consistent schedule. There were a few days on which I waited too long to eat, or ate too little, and I could tell a difference in terms of my hunger and energy. Overall, I didn’t hit my typical 3pm “slump”, and it felt easier to accomplish more throughout the day.

I definitely noticed an improvement in endurance. I didn’t really track my strength progress, but body weight exercises became significantly easier — I finally managed a few pull-ups! I also noticed that I seemed to recover much more quickly after particularly challenging workouts.

This actually surprised me–I noticed that I felt less stressed overall and more capable of dealing with issues as they arose.  I felt like I slept much more soundly at night, after getting through the first week or so of the challenge.

This was such an enlightening experience! Though I was already eating pretty well beforehand, the challenge was really helpful with learning how to balance macros and really rely solely on “real” food. I also appreciate that the challenge forced me to cook more and get creative with some new recipes. I feel like I have a better relationship with food and a better understanding of what my body needs to function well. I noticed a lot of the changes above during the challenge, but it wasn’t until I started adding a lot of “cheat” foods back in that I’ve really noticed a difference. As soon as I began eating sweets, I could almost immediately tell a difference in terms of bloating, energy levels, cravings, and sleep quality. I won’t say I’ll never have another donut, but I will certainly be more mindful of what I eat in the future!


I chose to do the nutrition challenge yet again (my third time) because it is an opportunity to fine time my food and experiment with my performance. The recommendations for protein and carbs were higher
this time. I actually tried hard to stick to the plan. The most challenging part for me was getting enough carbs. During the challenge I learned something about how I eat; I have a habit of filling up on fat because I am slightly carb phobic. Once I began eating more carbs, I leaned out and grew more muscle quickly. I also felt good and performed well. I lost one pound on the challenge (no big whoop.) However, I lost 5% body fat, increased my muscle mass by 4 pounds, and increased my basal metabolic rate by 150 calories (big whoop). I am very happy with that. I will probably do the nutrition challenge again. I have benefited tremendously by becoming more conscious of my food intake and I enjoy the self quantification aspects. Thank you to Lauren and Scott for their support.


I lost 2.5 pounds in fat, lost an inch on my waist, and gained half an inch  in muscle around my hips/glutes. I also noticed that my legs and arms got toned.Though it was difficult adjusting to the paleo diet the first week because felt more light-headed.
But by the second week, I  have more energy and felt better about my health as the weeks went on. My energy levels increased, and I no longer had a sugar ‘crash’ after meals as I previously did. I noticed that I was sleeping about 7 hours a night consistently and felt happier that I was consciously CHOOSING to eat clean foods. For me, it was difficult to do the paleo challenge because of certain stomach and dietary restrictions I have.
However, I found a way to listen to my body and limit certain kinds of foods that would cause irritation.  Because of the challenge, I also learned about portion control, and tracking protein intake, which I didn’t know how to do before.  My friends and family also noticed that I had clearer skin and better skin.


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“You can’t outwork a bad diet”

I lost a little over 19 pounds and took 3 3/4 off of my waist line

I am more alert and energized than I was on my old diet

I do feel leaner and that my body composition is actively transforming

Eating good foods makes all the difference.

 I felt much more level throughout the day.

I noticed was not craving junk food nearly as often as I used to.

I both performed better and was less sore at the end of the benchmark workouts the second time around.

I pushed myself to try things I wouldn’t normally and it got me out of my comfort zone.

I can do a pull up unassisted now.  Never have I been able to do that.

Congratulations to everyone who participated in the Lurong Fall 2014 Paleo Challenge! This was our tenth 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 Lurong Paleo Challenge this fall.  I am really proud of the hard work everyone put in.  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.

For the Lurong Paleo Challenge, we completed a series of benchmark workouts, as well as weekly performance workouts during the middle of the challenge.  This gave us all a chance to experience how changing nutrition might affect workout performance, and everyone showed improvement on the benchmark workouts.

I want to recognize David, who posted the highest point total for any of our CrossFit Charlottesville competitors! Congratulations, David!  Points were awarded based on the daily diet, performance in the benchmark and challenge WODs, overall improvement from the beginning of the challenge to the end, as well as some other factors.

Most importantly, I want to recognize all of the other athletes in our gym who finished the challenge and completed all of the benchmark and performance workouts.  Everyone did an awesome job!  And collectively, everyone made huge improvements across the board with body composition and workout performance.  Taking on an 8-week challenge like this is no small feat, so you should all feel proud of what you accomplished.

You can find the before and after pictures and testimonials below:



When I started the challenge, I expected to lose weight if I stayed faithful to the diet and did the prescribed WoDs, and I lost a little over 19 pounds and took 3 3/4 off of my waist line.  What I didn’t expect was that I would feel so good.  I am now 50 years of age, but after 2 months of eating paleo, I feel like I am in my mid 30s again.  My allergies are significantly better.  I am recovering better from hard workouts (very little joint pain and DOMS).  I also find that I am more alert and energized than I was on my old diet.  This truly has been a life changing experience, and I have no plans on going back to my old way of eating.

The transition to a Paleo diet wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be.  I definitely went though a few days where my energy was down a bit, and substituting almond milk for cow milk took a while to get used to, but I discovered that I appreciated ‘cheats” more when I limited them to one meal a week and the improvements in energy and general well-being made up for anything that I was doing without.



This was my first Lurong Living Challenge, but the second Paleo challenge that I participated in at Crossfit Charlottesville this year. I have been eating this way for the past 3 years, but I have increasingly become stricter with my diet since I began Crossfit ten months ago. I lost a tiny bit of weight over the past 2 months, but I do feel leaner and that my body composition is actively transforming.

The diet component that I found most challenging was giving up half and half in my morning coffee (I never thought I would do.)  I did feel like I leaned out more after doing so.  Luckily I found a great coconut based alternative, which I will stick with from now on.  One new thing I added to my diet during the challenge was bone broth in the morning, which I will also continue.

The part of the Challenge that I most enjoyed was the workouts. I really liked being able to see my progress in the three benchmark workouts.  I was happy that I did improve in each of these over the eight weeks. I liked being judged for the workouts to ensure that my form was proper.  I also really enjoyed being able to see where I ranked on each workout in my division. I found the online component motivating.

I began taking deer antler about a month ago, but it is not from Lurong. I am not sure if I am seeing performance benefits because I am taking a few other performance enhancing herbs as well. I do feel that my diet and life style help me to optimize in all areas of my life, including Crossfit. I plan to keep on keepin’ on!



How much weight did you lose?

  • 15 pounds.

How much have you leaned out?

  • 2″ on the waist and hips.

Do your clothes fit differently?

  • Absolutely! I could go down a pant size now. I will slowly transition into new clothes after losing another 5 pounds or so.

How do you feel throughout the day?

  • I’ve eaten non-paleo friendly foods since the conclusion of the challenge and do not enjoy the after effects. I will probably stay away from processed sugars and heavy carbs for the remainder of my days.

How has your performance in workouts changed?

  • WAY improved! The crossfit WODs became far more manageable as the weeks clicked off. I felt less anaerobic devastation.

Did you make improvements on the benchmark workouts during the challenge?

  • I did. In some cases, markedly so.

How have your energy levels changed?

  • The increased energy levels were transparent. I had to eat bad after the challenge concluded to realize the difference. Eating good foods makes all the difference.

What about mental benefits?

  • A bit more calm and at peace.

Anything else you would like to share?

  • Thank you for providing support of this challenge. My perspective is changed forever.



The Lurong Paleo Challenge was my second challenge. I loved the benchmark WODs added to show how clean eating can improve your performance.  It was also exciting to see the changes and improvements I had made on the benchmarks as the the challenge progressed. Although I have only lost 3 pounds on this challenge, I lost another inch off of my waist and hips and continue to lean out and get stronger. The added energy throughout the day from clean eating is/was a definite benefit. I am able to get through the workday without feeling sluggish or sleepy and therefore, thinking more clearly. I have set some new PR’s, in addition to a few toes to bar and I continue to improve. My next challenge is to maintain eating well most of the time, continue to make improvements and possibly compete in a masters level one day…


CINDY MHow much weight did you lose?

  • 10 pounds.  Mostly through my waistline and hips.

How do you feel throughout the day?  

  • I felt much more level throughout the day.  I still had a mid-afternoon slump but it was much less drastic.

How has your performance in workouts changed?  Did you make improvements on the benchmark workouts during the challenge?

  • Unfortunately I couldn’t do any comparisons because I fractured my foot halfway through.

How have your energy levels changed? What about mental benefits?

  • My energy is more level throughout the day.  There were still times when I felt tired, but it was much less frequent than typical and more in cycle with typical body rhythms and sleep cycles.

Anything else you would like to share?

  • I started this in an attempt eliminate foods, that while I enjoy require me to take medication (which I hate).  After two weeks of the challenge I began to eliminate the medication and discovered that my body was doing just fine when all those foods were out of my system.



DANNY BHow much weight did you lose? How much have you leaned out? Do your clothes fit differently?

  • I lost 16.5 pounds. I also dropped at least one size on my belts.

How do you feel throughout the day?

  • I felt great throughout the day. I had enough energy to do everything I wanted to do despite eating a ton of salads.

How has your performance in workouts changed?  Did you make improvements on the benchmark workouts during the challenge?

  • I improved in 2 of the benchmark workouts and basically got the same score in the third. I certainly felt good in all the workouts during that period.

How have your energy levels changed? What about mental benefits?

  • The only mental benefits I noticed was not craving junk food nearly as often as I used to.




I lost about 3 pounds but I was trying to maintain my weight while shedding fat and adding muscle.  I was happy with my results, but they left me eager for more.  I leaned up in my legs while adding some size to my arms, which is what I was looking for.  My clothes do fit differently, but hopefully that continues to change as I put on more muscle.

I feel much better throughout the day with the changes in my day.  My diet has had a big impact on both my energy and my performances in the WODs.  There is something inherently satisfying about eating healthy and that combined with the actual physical benefits of getting rid of processed foods paid dividends.

I made improvements in all three of the benchmark WODs.  I think part of that was because I was working out consistently more often during the challenge but I think it was also due to my changes in diet as well.  I both performed better and was less sore at the end of the benchmark workouts the second time around.

My energy as a law student is generally pretty low so any additional benefit I can get is welcomed.  Eating paleo didn’t so much as give me more energy as it did not make me feel the post-lunch drowsiness that plagued me before the challenge.




I decided to participate in the paleo nutrition challenge despite the fact that I have already been eating paleo for the last 2 and a half years.  I was intrigued by the workout aspect of the challenge and being able to track my progress through the specific judged workouts. Having someone else watching every rep really forced me to focus fully on my form. Now in the gym I have been using lighter weights so I can improve my form and not worry about increasing weight, especially with any squatting movements.  I was able to improve in all the benchmark workouts in either reps or time. But I was most excited with my improvement in kipping pull-ups. I couldn’t even do one until I started the challenge and now I can string a few together. I was also happy with how well I did in the snatch workout, being able to do so many at prescribed weight. I pushed myself to try things I wouldn’t normally and it got me out of my comfort zone.  So even though my body composition didn’t change, I am glad I did the challenge.




How much weight did you lose? How much have you leaned out? Do your clothes fit differently?

  • I lost 17 Pounds.  3 inches off my waist and hips.
  • I feel leaner and think I look better.
  • My wife agrees.
  • I had to buy new pants.  That is awesome!

How do you feel throughout the day?

  • Looking back on it.  I noticed that I do feel better after eating clean than eating junk.  I did notice not feeling as tired or “yucky” after meals.

How has your performance in workouts changed?  Did you make improvements on the benchmark workouts during the challenge?

  • I did improve on the bench marks.  Losing weight has made it easier to move and improved my endurance.  I have not noticed improved recovery time.
  • I can do a pull up unassisted now.  Never have I been able to do that.

How have your energy levels changed? What about mental benefits?

  • I am not sure I have noticed my energy level increasing.  I think it is more steady.  I have noticed at night I am more ready to go to bed and fall asleep faster.
  • I have not noticed any mental benefits (other than self image improving).

Anything else you would like to share?

  • This has been an excellent experience for me.  I am now in the habit of reading ingredient labels, I notice how “yucky” I fell when eating poor quality/bready food.  I am going to continue to try and eat Paleo and high quality foods going forward. 


Awesome work, everyone! 

I feel lean and mean, systems running like a well oiled machine

I started sleeping much better and didn’t always need that second (or more) cups of coffee in the afternoons, even when I woke up before 5 AM for work

I’m not easily winded when going on the 400m and 800m run

Due to the weight loss my performance has changed greatly

I don’t get nearly as tired during workouts and feel like I have more energy

Overall I had great energy, slept soundly and was happy-go-lucky

I was able to gain perspective on the saying “you are what you eat”

The positive benefits have encouraged me to push myself more and try new things

Congratulations to everyone who participated in the Spring 2014 Nutrition Challenge! This was our ninth Nutrition Challenge, and you can find past results here:

Below you will find before and after photos and testimonials from those who completed all eight weeks of our Nutrition Challenge this spring.  I am really proud of the hard work everyone put in.  You all approached it with an open mind and a willingness to make positive changes.  It was very rewarding for me to witness this, and I enjoyed working with you all. Most importantly, big congratulations go out to Anna and Karen for winning the Spring Nutrition Challenge!  They both not only did a solid job of sticking to the guidelines of the challenge, but achieved measurable body composition changes.  Everyone who completed the challenge deserves recognition, and you can find their testimonials below.  Again, congrats to everyone who participated, and we hope that everything you learned during the challenge will enrich your life going forward.

For this Nutrition Challenge we teamed up with Arqspin to produce some awesome before and after pictures!  Nathan and Chandler were a huge help, and I appreciate the work they put in to make these great interactive pictures.  You can see before and after spins by clicking on the picture itself or the links at the end of each participant’s testimonial.




I rate my overall experience with paleo strong to quite strong. I lost 15 pounds during the challenge, and let’s be honest, ten of those likely dropped due to the absence of IPAs in my diet. I feel lean and mean, systems running like a well oiled machine. I probably lost a dress size. The greatest impact was my recovery time. Throughout the challenge, I continued my usual workout schedule and played in a couple tennis leagues. I was able to do so without fatigue while seeing improvements in performance. Outside of fitness, Mondays are no longer the bane of existence, and I feel more alert around the usual two o’clock lull. Will I continue strict paleo? No. I like beer, ice cream and pizza too much. I will eat those a little less, though. Further, I plan to incorporate the following:

  1. An awareness of the content of your food. As a general rule, chemicals do not enhance food. In order to maximize your output, though, you must also input balanced amounts of protein, fat and carbs at the right time. For instance, I found the switch from a carb-loaded to protein-centric breakfast extremely valuable.
  2. The accessibility of Paleo. You are just one Google search and a bag of coconut flour (though slightly expensive) away from replacing any of your favorite gluten treats. Except pizza – although even my paleo pizza was surprisingly tasty. As far as time commitment, you can commit as much or as little time as you would like. Very little of what I made took over twenty minutes to prep and most meals had leftovers, which was huge.
  3. Consistency. In the illustrious words of Ice Cube, “It ain’t a track meet, it’s a marathon.” The biggest struggle was adjusting my attitude that claimed, “Eat well and sometimes minimally during the week so you can glutinously gorge yourself on the weekend.” Discarding that attitude, I focused on making meals that interested me regularly and finding ways to satisfy cravings so I could easily say no to treats when offered.
Again, a great learning experience and one that will continue to impact my lifestyle.

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Check out Anna’s Spins from Arqspin!

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The biggest thing that I noticed was an improvement in my energy levels during the day and during my workouts (after an initial slump). Once that slump was over, I started sleeping much better and didn’t always need that second (or more) cups of coffee in the afternoons, even when I woke up before 5 AM for work. More than that, I had fairly consistent energy levels throughout the day. I was surprised by these improvements because I ate “primal” beforehand, but never really thought too much about ratios and timing of nutrients.  Beyond that, I noticed pretty considerable gains in strength and muscle size. My squat and deadlift all improved, and I only use the red band for pull-ups now and can do more skilled movements than before (TTB!). I’ve always struggled with building muscle. My digestive issues got even better and my skin and nails got better, too. As for clothing sizes, I didn’t necessarily drop in size but my tops were definitely fitting looser. My pants fit looser in the waist and tighter in my legs etc., but I’m okay with that! Finally I became a lot better at listening to cues from my body – everything from when to rest or when I could do a bit more to my tendency to eat when I’m bored/tired/stressed instead of when I’m actually hungry. I think my relationship with food has improved considerably.



Check out Christina’s Spins from Arqspin!

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  1. How much weight did you lose? How much have you leaned out?  6-7lb loss, I’ve toned/leaned out more.
  2. How do you feel throughout the day? How has your performance in workouts changed? I’m not groggy in the afternoon and I don’t snack throughout the day. My performance in workouts reflect this as well. I’m not easily winded when going on the 400m and 800m run.
  3. How many dress and / or pant sizes have you lost? Clothes are looser but pant size hasn’t changed.
  4. How have your energy levels changed? What about mental benefits? My energy level is great, more endurance.




  1. How much weight did you lose? How much have you leaned out?

I lost approximately 14 lbs.  I don’t know exactly how much leaner I am but I certainly feel like my muscle mass has increased and my fat levels have dropped.

  1. How do you feel throughout the day? How has your performance in workouts changed?

Interestingly my energy level has been great. I still don’t get enough sleep, but that’s my life. One thing I did was completely cut out diet soft drinks, I was very addicted. I wanted to go cold turkey from them and did so. I was afraid I would have headaches from the withdrawals from caffeine but I never once noticed it. So far I am 9 weeks without a diet soda.  Due to the weight loss my performance has changed greatly. I don’t get nearly as tired during workouts and feel like I have more energy. I believe it is a combination of a much stricter diet in combination with the weight loss and more muscle being built.

  1. How many dress and / or pant sizes have you lost?

I haven’t lost any sizes but my current closes fit much better. In fact, my wife says my XL shirts don’t look so tight anymore.

  1. How have your energy levels changed? What about mental benefits?

As I was saying earlier, my energy levels are great. I do find I need more rest but that is again because of my crazy schedule. As for mental benefits, I am much more positive about myself. I feel better mentally because I am doing something to help myself which makes me think of myself in a better way.

  1. Anything else you would like to share?

Just a big thanks to Scott for his encouragement and for the support along the way. Also, his knowledge was helpful as well as his willingness to take the time each week to help us push through.



Check out Bruce’s Spins from Arqspin!

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The nutrition challenge was an excellent experience for me. I have been doing versions of the ancestral diet for the past six years; first Weston Price and now Paleo for the past 2.5 years. Documenting and measuring my food for the first month of the challenge gave me a lot of insight about how I was eating. I found that I was filling up on good fats, but not eating nearly enough protein or carbohydrates.  The biggest positive change for me was giving up all refined sugar. I quit my daily dark chocolate habit about one month before the challenge and have remained sugar free ever since.

I was initially concerned about the “Zone” portion control and potential hunger, but I actually found that I needed a greater variety and volume of food than I had been eating. After week three I cut my intake to about 1300 calories a day in hopes of shedding weight more quickly. I only remember feeling hungry during a few morning workouts.  Overall I had great energy, slept soundly and was happy-go-lucky.

I lost four pounds, 1.5” off of my hips, and about 1.5 dress sizes during the nutrition challenge. I was initially disappointed that I did not lose more weight, but I see now that I have leaned out a lot and gained quite a bit of muscle. I am happy that I am able to squeeze into some of my pre-pregnancy clothes for the first time in a very long time.

During the last two weeks of the challenge I began to see performance improvements in myself. This encouraged me to focus less on the vanity aspect. I find the guidelines of the challenge sustainable and I continue to follow them (with the addition of a few glasses of wine here and there.) Now that I have been doing this for 11 weeks I actually feel like I have hit the tipping point and I am beginning to see the real changes that I was anticipating.



Check out Dominique’s Spins from Arqspin!

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I joined Charlottesville Crossfit in November of 2013.  The range of fitness and physical challenges captivated me.   This is something that I enjoy and it is never boring!  After losing 15 lbs and hitting a plateau, the nutrition challenge was presented.  I had heard of Paleo and thought it would be too difficult to maintain with children and not to mention costly.   This was not a diet for me but a lifestyle change for my family that needed to take place. Once Scott assigned my specific weekly nutritional goals, I began cooking.   Cooking and preparing my meals ahead and pre packing for the week helped with my busy schedule.  I found that the first week, I was always hungry.  I found myself eating all the time; however, a quick healthy snack or meal on hand was a big help to keep me on track.  Once I was able to get through the first week and get into a manageable routine, I found that I had more energy and felt more focused.  “Goodbye to the midday slump.” I think I realized the benefits of clean eating on my cheat days or when I would started to add some foods back into my diet.  I quickly realized these were the foods that were making me feel bad: bloating, sleepiness, mental- fog and so on, it was all coming back.   I was able to gain perspective on the saying “you are what you eat”.  We choose what we put in our mouth and I will definitely continue the clean eating lifestyle and lead a healthier quality of life.  During the nutrition challenge, I lost 8.7 lbs, 2.5 inches off of my waist, and 3.5 inches off of my hips.   I am able to run further distances without stopping and my box jumps have also improved.   The positive benefits have encouraged me to push myself more and try new things.




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Check out Debbie’s Spins from Arqspin!

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Q&A With Clay – Good Luck in Texas Clay and Kristen!

I had a chance to catch up with Clay after he and Kristen moved out to Texas this summer.  Clay and Kristen joined our gym about 2 years ago and were very active members in our small community here in Charlottesville.  Like Clay and Kristen, many people are here for a short while due to school, training, or other commitments, so when that stint is up we often have to say farewell.  We create lasting bonds with people in the gym, and we are excited for them when they start the next chapter of their life although it’s not easy to see them go.  It was rewarding to see the progress Clay and Kristen made during their time at CrossFit Charlottesville, and it was even better to get to know them as people.  I wanted to thank Clay for imparting some words of wisdom and finding the time during the move (and Kristen being close to having a baby!) to answer my questions below.  Best of luck to you both, and come visit us in Charlottesville soon!

Congrats to Clay and Kristen on their wedding this past weekend!!

Where did you move?

Ft. Hood, TX

What takes you to your new home?

Army, back to work. No more goofing off at school.

What is your favorite memory of the gym?

I’m not sure if I could pin down a single favorite memory. Certainly there were some pretty tough WODs that felt great to get to the other side of. I really enjoyed helping out at the SuperFit games and seeing people of all ages who could bang out some reps in some pretty tough events. I am not sure, but I also feel like that was around the time when I started feeling like a part of the community and not just a member. That transition happened gradually, starting from the beginning, but certainly by a few months in, we weren’t just faces coming and going. Folks knew us, trainers didn’t worry if we knew what we were doing, and if we missed a week people asked after us.

Worst workout experience?

Again, hard to say. I never judged a bad workout on how difficult it was; if I thought it was bad, it was usually because I had eaten badly or was sick/hurt, and I was suffering from my own issue. That said, I do tend to hate anything with high rep burpees. All the up and down just spikes my heart-rate.

Best workout experience?

Kristen and I both remember one of the first Burn workouts we did last summer when it just started pouring at the start of a long series of hill runs and dumbbell things. Other than that I would say anytime I progressed to doing a particular movement/WOD Rx from scaled I was pretty happy. That happened a lot over the first year, even if I didn’t record the particular milestones.

Biggest accomplishment since starting CF?

Two (they’re related): first, I’d say my short-lived ability to do an actual muscle up. Second, the weight loss/body comp improvements that came with being healthier overall in that fall of 2012, and again leading up to our wedding the next spring. I got down to the 200lbs mark for the first time in years, and I could really tell how much difference it made, especially on bodyweight exercises–like dropping a 25lbs plate.

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What are your fitness goals when you leave Charlottesville?

Definitely regain the health/body comp focus we had before. Life got stressful and busy with the final school semester, moving, and everything else, and we went from habitual good choices to sporadically good choices in diet.

Anything you’d like to say to your fellow crossfitters? 

We will sorely miss everyone we have gotten to know these past two years. I’m very sorry to anyone who we didn’t get to say goodbye to. You know, this seems to have been a tough year for C-ville in major competitions (except for Elizabeth, of course!), but I would absolutely rather workout alongside of everyone there than any of the professional CrossFit elite on TV. Remember the first rule–it’s what make the community in C-ville so strong.

Any advice or thoughts you’d like to impart on a new person considering trying CrossFit?

Along those same lines–CrossFit as a brand has been evolving at least in the several years since I found out about it. There is the international multi-million dollar competitive enterprise that the brand has become known for on TV, sporting goods stores, and countless blogs either touting or bashing it. Then there is the actual experience you have in the gym with trainers who were in your shoes not long ago themselves, and other members who all share the simple goal of fitness. Don’t be intimidated, come and learn. Don’t skip essentials. Learn the movements correctly, and scale appropriately at first. Don’t try to win the Games next year, just try to hit your next small goal, and catch that guy running a little faster than you up the hill. You will improve, quickly.

Anything else you’d like to say?

The bottom line though is that I think you’re doing it right at CFC. I’m bummed that the national brand is turning into a competitive professional sport, NOT focused on functional fitness for everyday people, but that doesn’t seem to have affected the focus locally. That’s good.





Fall 2013 Nutrition Challenge Results, Before and After Photos, and Winners

My energy is much more predictable and sustained throughout the day

It has been a wonderful exercise to jumpstart self-awareness, preparation, and “kind discipline.”

My clothes fit better, specifically around my midsection.

I noticed improved strength in my core as well as my upper body.

But very quickly after changing my diet, maybe a week or two, I was amazed at how good I slept.

The challenge really opened my eyes to how much change can come from cutting out those last few cheat items, especially gluten.

Congratulations to everyone who participated in the Fall 2013 Nutrition Challenge! This was our eighth Nutrition Challenge, and you can find past results here:

Below you will find before and after photos and testimonials from those who completed all eight weeks of our Nutrition Challenge this fall.  Chris and I are really proud of the hard work you put in, and I’m glad that we were able to finish this challenge together prior to him moving up to Northern Virginia.  Most importantly, big congratulations go out to Linde and Kelly for winning the Fall 2013 Nutrition Challenge!  They did a great job sticking to the guidelines of the challenge, achieved measurable body composition changes, but also created new sustainable lifestyle habits now that the challenge is over.  Again, congrats to everyone that participated, and we hope that everything you learned during the challenge will enrich your life going forward.


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I lost 13 pounds from Day 1 to Day 60. Nine of those pounds were lost after the BodPod measurement, which really motivated me to change my body composition because it gave me a very specific breakdown of % body fat, rather than just a number on a scale. I do not have my measurements about leaning out, but my clothes fit better, I am squatting and lifting more than I did 2 months ago, and I look and feel tighter, especially around the leg area.

Before doing this challenge, I napped at least an hour every single day, and I had serious issues with my sleeping habits. Once I settled into the challenge, Chris pushed me to track my sleep cycle and meal times, which really transformed the ways I gained and expended energy. Because my energy reboots come more rhythmically now with a better sleep cycle and better eating habits, I feel like my energy is much more predictable and sustained throughout the day. I was told years ago that I was hypoglycemic, and I always had what I called “hypo dives” throughout the day, where I’d be exhausted and light headed until I consumed carbs or sugar. Now, that is completely gone; I cannot emphasize how much of a change that is for my daily routine.

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I do know that my thruster has increased by 10 lbs; that I grab the 25 lb kettlebell instead of the 15 now; that I can squat 25 more pounds; and that I have moved from ALWAYS being the last runner back to SOMETIMES being the last runner back. I also have moved to completing the higher level of workouts, which is in part due to getting used to CrossFit… but I bet I can also thank this challenge. And I can actually do a push up now!

I’ll be the first to admit that I wear yoga pants 99% (ok, 99.99%) of the time, which are quite forgiving, but just the other day I had to go shopping for a dress because I did not have one to wear for a function I was invited to. I went from a tight medium (especially around the arms and lower stomach) to a comfortable small in a similar style/fit of dress. I can also fit back into the size 6 jeans I have, where before the challenge I was at a tight 8. I was most excited when I could confidently ask my grandma for size small sweaters when she called me before Grandma’s Christmas Shopping Week this year (rather than nervously requesting smalls or mediums and hoping for gift receipts)!

I talked earlier about the “hypo-dive” disappearance already. Beyond that, I wouldn’t say that I feel profoundly more energetic. I do feel less lethargic, though. And I feel more stable (less hyper/lazy cycles). Mentally, I have experienced more profound benefits. I have completely changed my relationship with my body, and my mind has definitely noticed. I started practicing a sort of “kind discipline” with myself, rather than indulging or bullying myself constantly about my food intake and my weight and my insanely unsustainable workout cycle. I read the Primal Blueprint throughout this challenge, and it guided me to a more natural (and pleasant) way to live healthily, including eating Paleo. My mind feels a lot more in “calm control,” much less anxious and less “grabby” than I used to feel when I sought control.

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I had only been doing CrossFit for a few weeks when the challenged started, so I was nervous about getting through the workouts. Also, I started the challenge as a vegetarian, which made me not even want to attend the info meeting. This challenge was a huge shift for me, and it taught me how to get good sources of protein and rely less on carbohydrates and sugar for quick surges of energy. I shifted completely from a vegetarian to a pescetarian during this challenge, and I am going to continue eating and living this way because I love the way it makes me feel. I had to experiment way more than I wanted; there were many days where I was literally dozens of grams under my protein intake goal; and I wanted to eat my hand off the first two weeks. But it was amazing how my body adjusted and began thanking itself for it: deeper sleep, cleaner skin, calmer mind, sustained energy, and so on. I am so happy that I went out on a limb, had some grace with myself so that I didn’t give up completely when I cheated and ate 3 cookies a few weeks ago, and never stopped experimenting and reflecting on the manifestations of healthy eating on my body and in my mind.  I have learned that this is a process, which is a hard thing for me to accept, but it has been a wonderful exercise to jumpstart self-awareness, preparation, and “kind discipline.”


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This nutrition challenge helped me adopt habits that have helped me feel more balanced in terms of my health and wellness. I began the challenge having only attended a free intro crossfit class, and was a nervous beginner. The crossfit staff and members were very welcoming and offered coaching and advice with each workout. I attended the gym 2x/wk, and ran several miles at home 3x/wk which I was doing at baseline. With crossfit I quickly noticed that at work I no longer felt as fatigued during my 12hr nursing shift. I noticed improved strength in my core as well as my upper body.

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Following a paleo diet has helped me learn to consume more protein and less carbohydrate in a ratio that best supports my personal activity habits, so I no longer experience sharp drops in blood sugar, and I now rarely crave sugary foods. I feel I have increased muscle tone and have improved posture. My clothes fit better, specifically around my midsection. My favorite part about crossfit, however, is the sense of feeling powerful after completing a workout. Most of the workouts included something I had never done before, and never would have otherwise attempted, and I appreciate the nudge out of my comfort zone that crossfit so consistently provides : )


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I lost 3.3 pounds (I don’t know how much I leaned out).  This is my second nutrition challenge and it was definitely a different experience than the first. In some ways, I felt less committed and if I had to grade myself on it I’d give myself a low grade. We (my boyfriend and I) both did the challenge together and it was good for both of us to see how I needed to eat much differently than he. It gave us a chance to consciously modify some of our daily behavior – like, how we grocery shop, how we pack each others’ lunches and how we spend our evenings. I wasn’t particularly good at logging my food after the first week, social situations – which seemed to be in abundance this fall – were full of temptation to which I succumbed, and I grew inconsistent with workouts almost like I psyched myself out or maxed out my own mental bandwidth. But looking at it from a wider view, in this time a few deeper level things really started to unravel.

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At the same time I was taking the 8-week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course which helped me start to face some of the emotions I have had wrapped up in my relationship to food. Instead of mentally leaning on “only the best” specialty foods or specialty snacks to get me through at the expense of any other personal commitment, like a groceries budget, I opted to take the slow path. I needed to be cultivating a little more of the bigger picture view – allowing for imperfections and healthy mental talk on the back end. Where I noticeably self-sabotaged, I practiced self-compassion instead of striving for perfect paleo. And it was really hard, but with a little encouragement from Chris, started to pause before meals with more consistency (another important place to practice compassion). In the end my ego would have liked for me to have lost more weight and be able to report a great new physical feat, but I know that slowly crafting a lifestyle that is sustainable and loving is more important in the long term. So, that’s what I started to do. It’s a process.

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I ended up losing between 2-3 pounds.  Though I don’t yet have the official Bod Pod measurements, I’m estimating that my Fat % decreased by about 1-2%.

Energy level definitely increased and overall workout performance improved as well.  The diet complimented what I what I was able to do in the gym really well.

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How many dress and / or pant sizes have you lost?
No changes at all!  Which is important because one of my main goals going into the Challenge was not to have to buy new clothes at the end.

The challenge in some ways was a tale of two stories.  During the first month I completely abstained from both coffee and sugar and felt phenomenal.  I was pretty strict in my diet and was able to hit my ideal macro nutrient targets most days.  By the end of the first 30 days I was at my peak for the entire year in terms of physical energy and stamina and experienced a high level of mental acuity.  During the final 30 days I was absent from the gym for about 3 weeks as both nursed a cold and rested a strained muscle.  Coffee and sugar crept back into the diet fairly regularly however my mental and physical energy still remained relatively high considering the circumstances.

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I participated in the Challenge alongside my girlfriend, Heather Hightower, who took part in the Spring ’13 nutrition challenge. She ended up being the one who planted the seed that led me to Crossfit and eventually the fall nutrition challenge.  My goals of the nutrition challenge were twofold: increase my own overall health and well being and be supportive of Heather as she sought the same. So it became not only an exercise in increasing physical and mental health but a relationship building exercise as well.  The benefits I received from the challenge were immeasurable given their qualitative and subjective nature, but no matter how you boil it down it was a win/win.   Chris and Scott offered excellent guidance and support along the way and I’d recommend the challenge to any individuals or couples who are curious about taking the paleo plunge.


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I lost 6 lbs and about an inch off my waist. I wasn’t trying to lose very much weight so I was satisfied with that. I think I’ve leaned out some in my abdomen, still have a little ways to go but I’m happy with my results after only 8 weeks. I’m not a crossfit member, so I didn’t do the crossfit workouts for this challenge. I did, however, change my routine from just running every day to lifting weights with the help of my boyfriend. I definitely like the results I’m seeing from that along with the diet change. I had hit a wall when I was only running with the occasional ab workout.

I feel great throughout the day. I don’t feel the need to take a nap after getting up at 5:30for work. I definitely have more energy and less moodiness.

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One of the best things I noticed about this challenge was how I was able to sleep through the night. This probably helped with my energy level as well. I have NEVER been able to sleep through the night without waking up three or more times. Before this challenge, I honestly couldn’t remember the last time I slept all the way through the night. But very quickly after changing my diet, maybe a week or two, I was amazed at how good I slept. Very exciting. A reason all in itself to continue with this lifestyle change.

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The nutrition challenge wasn’t easy but I definitely learned a lot about fueling my body.  I definitely noticed that I had more energy during the day. I didn’t limit my caffeine intake but the longer I followed the challenge the less I felt I needed it. Before the challenge I pretty much relied on my cup of coffee in the morning but during the challenge I grew not to need it at all. In terms of workout performance, I don’t really have a base point. I started working out with CrossFit only a few weeks before I started the nutrition challenge. I felt a little increase in stamina but I’m not sure how much of that was due to the new diet and how much of it was a result from just getting into a 3 times a week intensive workout regimen.

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My dress/pant size didn’t drop but I went from most of my pants fitting tightly to them being comfortable and even a bit loose.

My energy level definitely increased from eating clean. My mental energy was better in the fact that I felt more alert during the day. I also felt an improvement in my physical energy. I felt like my body was stronger and didn’t tire as quickly.

Overall, this nutrition challenge taught me a lot about how my body functions in response to the food I eat. I will definitely try to incorporate clean eating into my everyday life from here on out.

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I lost about two pounds. I have leaned out a bit but overall just feel healthier and fitter.

I have much more energy and no problems with my stomach or headaches that I am accustom to. My workouts seem to have improved and I feel more energized and have increased endurance.

I have not noticed an entire pant/dress size loss although all of my clothes do fit better.

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My energy levels have certainly increased. I sleep much better throughout the night whereas before I had serious sleeping issues. Mentally, I feel more alert and productive.

I was inconsistently paleo before this challenge for about a year. The challenge really opened my eyes to how much change can come from cutting out those last few cheat items, especially gluten. I have an incredibly sensitive stomach however it has not been upset once since starting the challenge. The biggest change for me though is definitely my sleep. I was a huge insomniac through high school and college and rarely ever slept a full eight hours straight. Now I have an awesome sleeping schedule and feel much more rested from the sleep I do get. I have been tracking my sleep cycles with a free app called Sleep Cycle.

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My energy levels are more stable

Performance has improved, most noticeable in Oly-lifting as I PR’d my snatch by 5kg in one day

I have noticed increased energy levels and better sleep

It will be a great platform for me to build some more nutritional knowledge

I look forward to keeping this lifestyle change.

I felt I could think more clearly as well because I wasn’t thinking about snacking or feeling hungry

I am increasing reps in most body weight exercises and I’m adding weight in all my lifts

This change has really been a lifestyle change and not a diet.

It really makes you think about what you are putting into your body

Congratulations to everyone who participated in the Spring 2013 Nutrition Challenge! This was our seventh Nutrition Challenge, and you can find past results here:

Below you will find before and after photos and testimonials from those who completed all six weeks of our Nutrition Challenge this spring.  After compiling the testimonials and pictures into this post, I can honestly say that what you have done is truly inspiring!  I know that Chris had a blast working with you all, and I want to thank him for everything he has done.  Most importantly, big congratulations go out to Heather and Jason for winning the Spring 2013 Nutrition Challenge!  They not only achieved the best body composition changes, but also have created new sustainable lifestyle habits now that the challenge is over.

Chris had the following to add in response to your amazing efforts this past spring:

“It is always great to work with people who are committed to making positive changes in their lives. Undertaking a Nutrition Challenge like this can be intimidating, and at times you have to place a lot of trust in your coach. That said, it’s very inspiring to see the results these people achieved, and I congratulate each and every one of them for their participation!”


Heather Front

I lost 10 pounds. I leaned out in my abdomen – lost 3.5 inches on my waist and I guess my waist to hip ratio improved a pretty good amount – .76 to .71. My face is less puffy, my legs are less bloated.

I feel better throughout the day. My energy levels are more stable. It’s definitely easier to wake up in the morning, and that was a huge relief and wonderful perk. Admittedly, I’ve been focusing mostly on just “showing up” for my workouts, and not really getting too into comparing how I perform day to day. At the start of the challenge I aggravated an old shoulder injury and took care of it with Airrosti, so there were at least a couple of weeks where I only worked out twice, and a bunch of workouts that I modified to take easier during to allow for the big-picture recovery and realignment of this part of my body. But I have noticed a difference in my performance – my recovery time is shorter, and the 400m jog doesn’t feel like torture anymore. I’m also not worried about how my stomach feels when I go to work out.

Heather Side

I don’t know that I really changed clothing sizes – I went from what I might consider an “over-stuffed” 12 to a 10/12 that feels about normal.

Hands down, the best benefit for me (along with slimming a bit!) was the impact the nutrition shift had on my imagination. It felt like a thick cloud had been lifted from the middle part of the right side of my brain. I noticed it most significantly in my day-dreaming – that important time when you create your life without necessarily realizing you’re creating your life with your practiced and unconscious thinking. I found that I could imagine more desirable outcomes to projects I’ve undertaken, envision conversations with my clients that felt really good to me, allow playful creative ideas to have a little life before my analytical brain would start going to work on them…this is priceless. I’m really grateful to the challenge for this shift.

As for energy – at first my energy was really wonky – I felt spacey after 3pm, and I definitely think I leaned on caffeine too much in the challenge overall. Caffeine was like my blankie. But by week 2 or so things started to even out. By week 3 I definitely noticed that I didn’t feel the compulsive desire to stuff my face with something to get through the day, and I wasn’t thinking about it, either.

Heather Back

I’ve tried making a shift like this in the past, but the biggest difference for me was being ready to do it. For me, it’s part of a bigger life shift. In years past, I tried to make food changes with the wrong motivation – I tried to make changes out of fear (“If I don’t look better/feel better/weigh less/have clearer skin/whatever… I’ll never get to be or achieve XXXX goal.”) and this never works. Or, if it does, it does not last because it’s built on a false foundation – that there’s something wrong with you. In my own life, I am clear on my own purpose in the world – and I’m clear that having a healthy body is a necessity in order to achieve those goals. But that’s a deep, personal, spiritual feeling. Because I’m connected to my deeper purpose, this time I could make dietary shifts that are relatively pretty intense, log everything (I’ve NEVER been able to log my food…EVER – emotionally it would tear me apart), cook meals regularly for the first time in ages, and not get overly obsessive about any of it. Honestly, it’s been a long road to get to this point inside of myself – I’ve hired coaches to help me with the emotional side of eating, nutritional therapists…the information wasn’t new to me. Maybe that made it a little easier. It was the fact that I was ready, and having a community to do it with was really powerful. It just took the edge off to know that there was a gym full of dozens of people who could chime in with ideas and support. I feel like for any woman (or man?) who has an emotional relationship to food…my suggestion would be to not pressure yourself to be perfect, but keep the bigger picture. One of my proudest moments was falling off the bandwagon like a champ…and getting back ON the program.

And, it took me until week 3 to not automatically salivate at the mere site of cookies and other carbs. That was the most annoying part of the beginning – being mentally on board and waiting for my body to calibrate. But it did, and I’m grateful.

Now that the challenge is over, I am going to keep it up – but I realize I have to CHOOSE it. At least for me right now, it’s still not fully natural. I have to wake up and decide that today I will eat a certain way. Because it’s just too easy to let all sorts of other unsupportive foods in, and they taste so good, but they hurt so bad!


Jason Front

I lost 10lbs.  Not sure how much I’ve leaned out.  I wake up more refreshed and don’t have to play the snooze game.  I have noticed more stamina and better performance in my workouts.  I am increasing reps in most body weight exercises and I’m adding weight in all my lifts.

Jason Side

I have dropped a full shirt/pant size.  I have increased clarity at work.  I’m don’t get that groggy afternoon feeling and have a better outlook on the day in general.

Jason Back

It really makes you think about what you are putting into your body and gives me a better perspective on how my body reacts to the fuel I provide it.

Kim S

Kim Front

I lost about 5lbs, but have lost another 3lbs since my weigh in.  My upper stomach/lower rib cage area has definite improvement, and my arms are also considerably leaner.  Energy levels have stabilized; right in the sweet middle of not being too high nor to low.  Love that.  Performance has improved, most noticeable in Oly-lifting as I PR’d my snatch by 5kg in one day.

Kim Side

Mental clarity has improved.  The most noticeable, is short term memory.  Mine has never been great, or at least felt not-so-great, but during the challenge I noticed that I wasn’t needing to write down notes or grocery lists as much.  I was quicker to take care of a small errand or chore, rather than procrastinating for a day or 2.

Kim Back

I had a great overall experience with this.  I was already consuming a Primal dietary lifestyle prior to starting the challenge, but wanted to clean up my intake further as I felt that I was starting slip on too many sugary confections.  My main goals were to eliminate these entirely and cut back on carbs, and monitor my progress and energy levels collectively.  I actually enjoyed logging my food intake each day as I felt that it gave me better control to stay on point nutrition-wise.


Kiersten Front

The beginning of the challenge was during the end of the school semester so my primary goals were to cut out alcohol, think clearer, and perform better in the toughest part of my year.  I think a little piece of me also wanted to see visible physical changes.  Throughout the challenge I noticed several things both expected and some unexpected.  Immediately I lost some weight.  I also noticed that I started to sleep more soundly and had MUCH more energy.  I could make it an 18 hour work shift and not yawn once.  However, I haven’t noticed many performance benefits.

Kiersten Side

The biggest adjustment/change/benefit I saw was my relationship with food.  Its completely changed.  The first week I noticed that food had become an addiction.  I was having cravings and dreams where I would cheat at a fast food restaurant and then immediately throw the food against the wall in shame.  I don’t know how I didn’t realize this dependency sooner.  I started eating a lot… constantly.  Good food, of course, but i was always hungry.  The last 2 weeks of the challenge I was able to adjust small things to where I wasn’t consuming the calories but was getting the satisfaction.  I truly now know what the phrase “food is fuel” means… and I don’t think I will ever look at food the same again. 

Kiersten Back


James Front

I gained 5 lbs but my goal was to gain. I felt good throughout the day and didn’t have the urge to snack as much as before. I felt my performance was unchanged in my workouts.

James Side

James Back

My clothes remained the same.  My energy level remain constant through the day and I didn’t want to take a nap after eating a meal.


Corey Front

I lost around 10 pounds.  I definitely see some more definition in my abs and shoulders.  Not too many things changed food wise (I’d been doing paleo-ish zone since January), all I really cut out was beer and all I added was more supplements.  I think the lack of alcohol kept me a bit clearer and the extra fish oils may have helped prevent some soreness.

Corey Side

I am normally a 32″ waist.  I bought some new jeans during the challenge and they should have been 31″.  As far as mental benefits, I’ve been clearer and in a better mood – others have told me I’d seemed happier.

Corey Back

This was a great way for me to focus on macro nutrients, which I’ve never really done before.  It will be a great platform for me to build some more nutritional knowledge and try to keep hitting numbers while keeping overall calories down.


Carrie Front

I lost 6 pounds, I’ve noticed my arms are more toned and my core feels stronger.  I am sleeping much better and feel more rested when I wake up.

Carrie Side

I didn’t lose a pant size but my pants are looser than before.  I definitely have more energy and i am learning to have a new mental relationship with food, i.e. only eating when I am hungry and identifying why I feel like eating (making sure it’s not boredom, emotions, etc.)

Carrie Back


Carolanne Front

I lost 4 lbs and 5 cm from my waist, while maintaining my hip size. I have obviously leaned out in my stomach, with abs finally visible and a more defined waistline.  Since starting the challenge, I have noticed a huge change in energy level throughout the day. Although I ate paleo prior to starting the challenge, adding zone portions, with carbs only after wods and at night, made my energy more constant with no crashes after meals and little to no bloating. This has carried into the gym–I had more energy to tackle a wod regardless of the time of day, I PR’d in 3 lifts this past week, and the wods have just felt less taxing in general.

Carolanne Side

I lost 1 pants size during the challenge and found myself reaching for the smaller jeans in the back of my closet and literally punching a smaller hole in a belt or two. My dress size has actually increased–not in the past 6 weeks per say, but since starting crossfit in the fall, my shoulders have broadened and I went up one dress size as a result.  As stated previously, my energy levels are much more constant since adjusting to a zone way of eating. I felt I could think more clearly as well because I wasn’t thinking about snacking or feeling hungry.

Carolanne Back

I just wanted to say that although the changes I made for the challenge were small compared to my previous diet, the portions and timing of certain macronutrients throughout the day made a huge difference for me. Just when I thought I was leveling out with paleo, these changes gave my body the boost it needed to keep improving.


While I only lost a few pounds, I look different after the challenge.  I traded fat for some muscle, and people have commented that I look healthier and more fit.  The first week I felt horrible.  I actually got very weak and sick, due to withdrawal symptoms of dairy and grains. But after that, each week I gained energy and woke up more refreshed than I ever have in years.  My performance increased at the gym, I was able to push harder and lift more weight than before.  I also increased my recovery time.  One dress size smaller.  Overall I have a lot more energy.  I wake up earlier and need less sleep than before.  My afternoon brain fog has disappeared and actually crave my workouts after work. The paleo challenge was difficult the first few weeks.  It took a while to figure out what you could eat, because everything I used to eat wasn’t allowed anymore.  But by week 3 I figured it out, and started feeling better.  I plan to continue the paleo lifestyle as I feel better and healthier.


Bryan Front

I lost a total of 10 lbs during the contest and 4 inches off my waist.  To date I am down 14 lbs.  My neck, where I really show weight gain, has really thinned out.  I can wear shirts and pants that made me look like Chris Farley in a little coat before.  I have also stopped snoring according to my happy wife.  I have seen a big energy boost.  I don’t get the after meal comas that eating crap brought on.  I went from a size 36 to a size 34 and about 2 holes on my belt.  This change has really been a lifestyle change and not a diet.

Bryan Side

I really don’t have any cravings for bread or pasta.  I will continue this way of eating as it has become normal and I enjoy the way I feel.  I have 15 more lbs to go to reach my under 200 goal and feel with an increase in workouts I can achieve this.

Bryan Back

Kim N

Kim N Front

Throughout the Paleo nutrition challenge I lost approximately 10 lbs and lost a couple centimeters off both my waist and hips. Although I have not gone down any clothing sizes, due to these thighs, I feel leaner and tighter. I mostly noticed change in my waist, particularly the ‘love handle’ region.

Kim N Side

The first week of transitioning into a Paleo routine was a little harder than expected. The planning of quantities and pre-made meals didn’t go as well as expected and so my calorie intake was way under combined with the unexpected heat-wave, I literally got sick. As soon as I figured out how to ‘plan’ more efficiently and to fit in snacks and meals at work better, I really felt a difference in my everyday energy and well being.

Kim N Back

Throughout the course of the challenge I became stronger. I PR’d on a few lifts and workouts. I am now able to do kipping pull-ups.  Planning and cooking has become easier and more fun.  I look forward to keeping this lifestyle change.


Jaye FrontI lost about 9 lbs, but my clothes fit better and I was able to wear dresses that were too tight before the start of the Challenge.  I feel and look leaner and several people have asked what I’m doing differently.  I felt more stable and focused during the day.  I injured my back early on in the challenge so workouts were few and far-between, but I could still hike. I don’t think I dropped a full size, but definitely appreciated having the clothes fit better!

Jaye Side

On days I did hike I made better time, was able to go longer distances, and recovered more quickly.  I slept better and was more clear-headed during the day.  Once the sugar was out of my system I felt so much better overall.  Also, cutting the booze was definitely a good thing.

Jaye Back


Jackie Front

I lost 7 lbs, 5 inches off my waist, and 1 inch off my hips.  I feel pretty much the same; no noticeable difference in workouts.  I haven’t lost an entire size yet, but I’m close.  Energy is overall better, but there were some days where it was pretty low.

Jackie Side

Jackie Back


Kate Front

Kate Side

Kate Back


Clay Front

Clay Side

Clay Back


Kristen Front

Kristen Side

Kristen Back

CrossFit Charlottesville is hosting our seventh Nutrition Challenge! This event is open to the public, so come redefine your relationship with food, learn how to cook again, and get some abs in time for the summer!

At 6 PM on Sunday, April 7th we will host our Nutrition Challenge Kick-off at the gym. Anyone, member or non-member, is welcome to participate; all you have to do is bring $20 in cash for the prize pool. Here are the results from our past challenges:

Then at 7 PM we will host a Paleo Potluck Dinner. Bring snacks, appetizers, entrees, or desserts, as long as they emphasize good-quality real food (meat, fish, veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, etc.) and skip out on the bad stuff (processed sugar, gluten, etc.). We will supply utensils, plates, bowls, and paper towels. Bring your own beverage.

Food is fuel, and in order to fully achieve your health, performance, and body image goals, you need to dial in your nutrition. Unfortunately, exercise alone will not do the trick, and there is no such thing as out-training a bad diet. Here are three great resources about proper nutrition written by our very own trainers from CrossFit Charlottesville:

Nutrition Challenge Rules

  • Consult your doctor before you make any nutrition changes.
  • You must bring $20 in cash to the meeting on Sunday in order to participate. The money will be used as a prize pool for the winner.
  • If you want to enter the Nutrition Challenge, follow the guidelines exactly. There are no exceptions or “cheat” meals.
  • It starts Sunday and ends after 6 weeks.
  • On Sunday we will take a picture of you showing your mid-section. The winner will be the one who shows the best body recomposition (more lean muscle mass and less fat). Men will go shirtless for the photo, and women will be asked to wear a sports bra.
  • You need to enter everything you eat into FitDay for the first three weeks. Once a week, print out your FitDay information and bring the sheets into the gym to review with Chris G.
  • Emphasize naturally-raised, organic, and pastured food as much as possible. Shop at Whole Foods, the Farmers’ Market, and the C’ville Market. Avoid processed food-like substances in the aisles by sticking to the perimeter of the grocery store.
  • Good: local, organic, or pastured meats and eggs, wild-caught fish, local or organic vegetables and berries, oils like coconut or olive oil.
  • Bad: processed sugar, gluten, grains, alcohol, soda (even diet).
  • Grey area: full-fat grass-fed milk and butter, whey protein, full-fat Greek yogurt
  • Supplements: fish oil (5 to 8 grams daily), multi-vitamin, vitamin D (5,000 IU per day), creatine (3 to 6 grams daily)

Calculating How Much to Eat

  • Take your body weight and subtract fat mass. For example, if you weigh 150# and have about 20% body fat, you have 120# of lean body mass.
  • Everyone will start out by eating 1 gram of protein per pound of lean body mass (our example would eat 120 grams of protein per day). Based on general Zone guidelines, divide that number by 7 to estimate fat and carb macronutrient blocks. This gives us 17 blocks for our example.
  • Multiply by 9 for carbs and by 3 for fat; so roughly 150 grams of carbs and 50 grams of fat (which we will tweak later on in the challenge). This is not purely a science, but rather it is just a starting benchmark.
  • If you are looking to shed fat dramatically, you need to be eating under 100 grams of carbs per day. Under 50 carbs per day and you are going to be lethargic and your performance will decrease. You need to experiment, track, and dial things in based on your specific needs.

More Resources

I lost around 21 lbs over the course of this challenge.

I am wearing pants that stopped fitting me years ago.

I lost 17 pounds, and I noticed more definition.

When eating Paleo I sleep better, less restless nights.

I feel a greater sense of focus and confidence.

This has been a life-changing experience.

I am off prescription medicine for acid reflux.

I got my first strict chin-up!

Over the course of this diet I became faster and stronger.

I feel better throughout the day.

Even my face and neck look thinner.

Congratulations to everyone who participated in the Fall 2012 Nutrition Challenge! This was our sixth Nutrition Challenge, and you can find past results here:

Below you will find before and after photos and testimonials from those who completed all eight weeks of our Nutrition Challenge this fall. It was truly inspiring working with these people over the past two months: seeing their progress week-to-week, hearing their stories, and playing a small role in their improvement. An extra congratulations goes out to Clay, Kristen, and Mike for winning the Fall 2012 Nutrition Challenge! They not only achieved the best body composition changes, but also have created new sustainable lifestyle habits now that the challenge is over.

Thinking about waiting until the New Year to set some resolutions and lose fat, gain muscle, or get in shape? Why wait? Take a look at what these people have achieved below through a Paleo / Zone diet and CrossFit strength training. Rather than giving in to cravings for sweets, they stuck to meats, veggies, fish, nuts, and seeds. Instead of binging on gluten and alcohol, they monitored their carb intake, made sure to get enough protein, and ate healthy fats in abundance. Once again, join me in congratulating those who participated in the Fall 2012 Nutrition Challenge, and check out their results below!


ClayFrontFinalI lost around 21 lbs over the course of this challenge. The fastest loss was definitely in the first few weeks, but even toward the end I was consistently pushing the scale reading down. Over the past few months my diet had been evolving to a more healthy set of habits—even before starting this challenge, but I definitely remember the attack of the mid-afternoon sleepies that used to come after a big junk-laden lunch with coworkers. Contrast that with effects of the Paleo/Zone diet: as promised, I felt very consistent levels of energy throughout the day. No downs, no unnatural highs…except after a tough WOD. Speaking of which, losing weight (20+ lbs!) has obvious effect on bodyweight exercises, especially pull-ups. During a few recent WODs I was tempted to grab a band for assistance just in case, but quickly found that I didn’t need it and could do the exercise Rx’ed.

ClaySideFinalThe other benefit has been better fitting clothes. I am wearing pants that stopped fitting me years ago (but I still hung onto them), and I moved two belt buckle positions in the 8 weeks. Along with sense of consistent physical energy, mentioned above, I wasn’t suffering from afternoon fogginess, which was a great help staying focused through some of my graduate classes and homework sessions.

ClayBackFinalI mentioned having been gradually trending toward a healthier diet even in the months before the start of the challenge (in total I’ve lost almost 40lbs from my highest weight, around 30 since mid summer), but even with the general awareness I’d had at the start, the rigorous attention to measurement and balancing macronutrients was impressive in its effectiveness to make rapid changes. We stopped measuring every last gram of food, but doing that for 4 weeks definitely established a framework for gauging how much is enough. I definitely plan to keep up the effort, since I can’t deny the results.



I lost 17 pounds, I noticed more definition, I assume less fat and more muscle, in the upper arms and hips/upper thighs.

KristenSideFinalI have been waking up earlier and have more steady energy throughout the day. When eating better and Paleo I sleep better, less restless nights. Also I never felt like I had over eaten or have the post meal urge to nap. After work outs or runs my recovery was faster, so my energy levels were great. I have increased my strength, especially looking back at the summer.


I went down a full pant size and in some clothes two sizes.


MikeFrontFinalDepending on the scale, time of day, etc…, I think it’s fair to say I lost about 20 lbs, give or take. I’m not sure how to quantify ‘leaning out,’ but I definitely feel very different, like I’m ‘wearing’ a new body. I’ve actually started to see my hip bones, which I don’t think I knew were under there. In terms of energy, I feel great all day. Before doing the challenge, I had a bit of frantic-ness when I got hungry, like if I felt hungry and didn’t eat within 15 minutes that I would start crashing. That is definitely no longer the case. I’ve even started fasting occasionally (did a 24 hour and 36 hour fast, both with a workout at the end) with NO change in energy level. I haven’t noticed a huge change in my workouts- although I feel like I’m rowing a lot faster with ease, and am feeling my ribs on the burpees instead of the giant pillow that was my stomach!

MikeSideFinalI started the challenge between a 34-36 pants size, and finished with size 32 feeling loose. My 16 1/2 dress shirts all look absurd on me now, and I have for the first time that I can remember started buying adult size small. I already commented on my energy level, but I would say I feel a greater sense of focus and confidence throughout the day. I also feel (although my wife may disagree with me) that I am forgetting things less.


In summary, I would recommend this challenge to EVERYONE. I don’t want to sound dramatic, but this has been a life-changing experience for me and my family. I had been doing about 75% Paleo before the challenge (no grains, but sweets a couple of times a week, way too many nuts and fruits, and a fair amount of highly processed peripherals like creamy salad dressing, barbecue sauce, etc…) and not really losing any weight. Within 10 days of starting the challenge, the weight just started flying off of me. I felt different (and better) fast.

My attitude towards food has changed, and I think the way the challenge was shaped (in terms of changes in amounts of protein, carbs, and fat as well as the length of the challenge, 8 weeks) had a profound impact on my mind. I don’t feel like I’m a slave to my cravings as much. I feel like I can say ‘no’ to sweets a lot easier, and can pass on the ice cream in favor of a few pieces of dark chocolate. I also read “The Primal Blueprint” by Mark Sisson, and highly recommend that book as it has impacted more than just my diet but other life habits.

Finally, I am happy to say that for the first time in over 5 years, I am off prescription medicine for acid reflux. I have had severe acid reflux for years, and was even in the emergency room last May for stomach-related problems. During the 5th or 6th week of the challenge, I wanted to try going off of the medicine I was on. I had about a week of slight discomfort at night, and now that discomfort has COMPLETELY DISAPPEARED. (I also now eat a tomato, bell pepper, and 5 cloves of garlic a day, which I used to think were my triggers for acid–who would have thought that the thing on the pizza that was giving me so many problems was THE BREAD?!?!) I have truly appreciated this experience, am so grateful that it was offered, and am glad to be a part of this community.



I think I lost about 3 pounds over the course of the nutrition challenge. I weighed myself about once a week though, and the changes over the course of eight weeks tell an even more interesting story: about 4 weeks in, I had lost about eight pounds, the lowest weight I had been in around 3 years. I know we shouldn’t focus too much on pounds as an indicator of health, but I believe that I lost fat and then gained some muscle. My strength and lifts improved dramatically, and I’m almost at my goal of a bodyweight back squat. For a good portion of the challenge, I was stuck in a walking boot, so the types of movement and activities I could perform were limited. So I’m thrilled that I actually made substantial gains during that time. I got my first strict chin-up!

Even though my weight hasn’t changed much, the way my clothes fit definitely has. Shorts that haven’t fit me in four years fit again and my current pants and belts are too loose. And some of my shirts are a little tighter which means my shoulder muscles are growing! Hooray!


My energy levels throughout the day were fairly level. I’ve found that strict Paleo eating helps to limit hunger levels throughout the day. It also made me very aware of which foods and meals didn’t agree with me very well. It makes you feel more in-tune with your body. Since the end of the challenge, I will admit to having had some desserts and treats that were delicious but certainly not Paleo, and the resulting food–and sugar–hangovers it has made me miss the way I felt during the strict challenge. I definitely intend to return to strict Paleo and to keep it up for life. When I took the time to cook, I loved the basic template of eating a whole bunch of meat with some good veggies thrown in and with sweet potatoes post-workout. And once your palate adjusts, naturally sweet foods have all the sweetness you could want, and sweetened foods become almost sickeningly sweet. My new favorite is baked sweet potatoes or pumpkin topped with cinnamon for dessert.


Some lessons I’ve learned: I found that it’s all about planning ahead, keeping nutritious food in the fridge, carrying a cooler around during the day, learning to eat chicken drumsticks while driving, and even buying a share of cow to make sure you always have plenty of protein. That has also taught me that hamburgers actually make delicious breakfasts, especially when topped with a fried egg!



I lost about 5 pounds, which is not as exciting as finding veins in my arms and shoulders. I pretty much felt hungry and tired for the first two weeks then I
added lots of nuts and felt better.


Over the course of this diet I became faster (400m run is easier) and stronger (I have set a new PR for every lift). So at least the diet did not greatly incumber my training. Although my pant size has not changed, my energy level has evened out.


The nice thing about thinking about food all the time is learning to be creative. I have learned how to get meat to the office and find food at more places around town. I am also more aware of what, when, and how much I need to eat as a function of the food that is available and what I am planning to do.



I lost 13 pounds and leaned out all over. I notice more definition and muscle tone in my arms and legs, and my stomach is definitely flatter. Even my face and neck look thinner. I’m down at least one pants size–size 12’s were snug before this challenge, and now size 10’s are comfortably loose. Shirts that fit before now look baggy on me and I’m wearing clothes that I haven’t fit into since college.


I didn’t notice much change in terms of overall energy levels, but I do feel like my energy is more consistent throughout the day. No more 3:00 slump! My body composition seemed more consistent during the day too; I felt less bloated and full at night. The most beneficial piece of this for me was the focus on macronutrient balance. I plan to continue with a higher protein/higher fat/lower carb diet, but probably won’t worry as much about which particular foods I can and cannot eat.


This challenge was also really helpful in breaking some bad food habits. It turns out I don’t need to buy chocolate and ice cream every time I go to the grocery store–who knew? I’ve cut way back on my sugar consumption, which was definitely something that needed to happen. It takes a lot more planning and work to eat this way, but it was worth it.



I went from 210 to 196 and lost 14lbs. My pant size was 36 at the start of the challenge and then after 8 weeks my pants went down to a comfortable 32.


The first week of the Paleo challenge I would get strong hunger spikes and get hungry at the most random times (like 4 in the morning). After my metabolism and body adjusted, I felt a more consistent with my energy throughout the day and slower to get hungry. I hope to continue to make progress and seek new challenges.


I would like to tip my hat to all of the other competitors that took part in this competition. It’s not always easy to take on a challenge that causes a person to change their day-to-day eating habits. I think the real reward is the benefit of incorporating a healthier lifestyle that can affect a person’s health over time.


I didn’t really feel the need to lose any weight, I wanted to gain more muscle and change my diet. I had lost about 5 lbs. the first couple of weeks. I really hate to get on the scale because I think I should weigh a certain weight. What I have noticed in a positive light is that my abs are more defined which is amazing and this is where I see the most change. My backside is also getting more toned.

Paleo has made my energy levels about the same. What is different though is how my body feels: more healthy and less bloated. I do see my workouts getting stronger and a couple of people have also said that to me at CrossFit. Clothing size is the same, but my stomach doesn’t protrude over my pants like is used to. My waist seems smaller too.

Energy levels are pretty good. Mental benefits: a bit stressful when I thought about Paleo being too restricted. However, as soon as I went off of it I didn’t feel like I was going to start binging on carbs. I had a few here and there and to be honest I am suffering from stomach aches after eating things I had given up. It is nice to have a glass of wine again though. Paleo has changed the way I eat. Now I have eggs/veggies for breakfast instead of toast. I don’t eat pasta, instead I have meat sauce over broccoli etc. I thought I would go back to the way I was eating before which I thought was pretty healthy, but Paleo has changed that. Overall I would say it was a positive experience.


I lost 11 lbs, even though that wasn’t my goal. I just wanted to pay more attention to my nutrition and to improve workout recovery times. I’m down from a 36 waist to a 34, and even that feels loose. I’m having no trouble maintaining the weight loss, and it’s becoming clear that I need new pants. I feel better throughout the day. It’s amazing how quickly one can adjust to the new nutrition program. I think it all clicked for me after week three. Portion sizes, marco-nutrient content of each meal, became second nature. I’m still experimenting with carb intake, but I feel like I have the tools to manage my nutrition properly.

Workout performance has improved. I’m doing more strict pull-ups, which is awesome. I couldn’t do a single pullup in college, when I was even lighter! While I’ve lost some pounds, I’m lifting the same amount of weight I did before and gradually improving here and there. Weighing and measuring works. Buy a scale. It’s worth it. Even though the challenge is over, I still weigh and measure a couple of times a week and find it really helpful.