diet and fitness challenge

Memorial Day Diet and Fitness Challenge D.O.N.E. – But Not Over


#bruteyogi and I are so friggin’ cute

The challenge is officially over as of Memorial Day.  While I didn’t win, we all walked away with something – no seriously, we did!  I came in fifth with 407 out of 450 possible points – the winner finished with 418 points.  Our challenge master has been putting these little challenges together for a few years and has really fined tuned her craft.  Surprisingly the challenge master also has a decently demanding day job as a family attorney, so I don’t know how she even finds time to make these things possible. The last adventure of the challenge culminated at one of the participants home for a little afternoon pool party and awards ceremony.  Again, the challenge master did not disappoint with fun awards ceremony!  Our winner chose a charity of her choice to send the challenge purse of over $500.  She chose NPR (aka National Public Radio for those of you lame-o’s that don’t know what NPR is).  In addition to bragging rights of winning the entire challenge, her award is the tax write off at the end of the year.  #bruteyogi and I took home the Couple Champions award with that giant bottle of sparkling wine pictured above.  Basically we are a power couple and you shouldn’t fuck with us.

Our winnings!

Our winnings!

One of the participants (2nd place winner) plays a great game at Thanksgiving each year with her family where the entire family participates in something similar to a family superlatives ceremony.  As the superlative is called out everyone nominates a family member (that’s present) and the person with the most votes wins the award.  We did something similar to that as part of our challenge awards ceremony and the winners picked a prize out of the prize basket.  This blog nominated me for the most inspirational during the challenge, and I must thank all of you for reading my posts – this blog has been therapy for me and a way to hold myself accountable during the challenge.  It’s humbling to know that there are readers out there.  I believe this blog also showed my competitive side, a side that I didn’t really think was as prominent as it seems to be, so I grabbed some skittles for that award.  Mmmmmmm skittles!  That 20# DeadLift PR grabbed another treat, and my perpetual state of sobriety (I don’t really like alcohol at all) grabbed another treat.  Notice the Jack in the pile over there…the wifey gets those.

Other awards included the most likes in our private FaceBook group, no grain cheats, biggest complainer, person that never had a perfect day, best transformation, best adventure activity, surviving a birthday during the challenge (we had TWO!), and a few others I can’t remember.

The best part of the pool party was being able to sit around and talk to the people that I don’t normally see on a daily basis beyond our virtual community.  Community, there’s a lot to say about that word.  A group of misfits that may not have been together had it not been for the challenge, was together for an afternoon sharing in conversation and getting to know each other on a more intimate level beyond the virtual community that our challenge created.  We shared in a common goal and that common goal broke the ice allowing the inherent diversity that we all bring to the table to come together.  It’s a beautiful thing to find commonalities between people that on the surface can be as different as apples and oranges.  We really are all the same, just in different vessels.

After the challenge I find myself still acting as if I am preparing challenge compliant food remaining on the challenge in some aspect.  When it’s not convenient, ie we were in DC for the Mid Atlantic Crossfit Regionals this weekend, it wasn’t as much of a pain in the ass to remain compliant.  My coworker asked me if I went off the deep end after the challenge, and I can honestly say I didn’t.  I did have sushi (with some mutha fuckin’ rice), ice cream, and that fantastic Oprah chai tea latte at Starbuck spread over four days…but really I kept the indulgences to a minimum.  We worked too hard to get to this point to throw it away completely.  And I’m finding that I don’t really crave the cheats like in the past.

pile 'o sushi plates post chow fest at the conveyor belt 'o sushi in DC...YUM!

pile ‘o sushi plates post chow fest at the conveyor belt ‘o sushi in DC…YUM!

If you’ve done a diet and fitness challenge, what have you done to stay on the challenge indefinitely so that you don’t have to go back on the challenge the next time they come around?  What’s your motivation to remain clean?  Here’s the scoop – I know how I feel when I over indulge.  I know how I feel when I eat whole foods.  I also know how I feel if I don’t work out and when I do.  When I make choices that include cheetos (I LOVE those damn things), my practice will be to not have food remorse.  What will that accomplish but unhealthy self pitty (for my yogis out there does Ahimsa come to mind?)? This has been a lesson in practicing self love and acceptance for the choices that I do make – good or bad.  And, well, it was a good practice because it seems to be sticking.


Day 31 – ONE MORE DAY!


 This quote is it in a nutshell.

It’s that moment where I reflect on the challenge as a whole.  My coworkers asked how it was going today, and interestingly enough I realized that 30 days had gone by and they went by a LOT faster than I thought they would.  The challenge has gone well, very well I think.  I surprised myself in how competitive I have been throughout this month – I really do/did want to win!  I don’t know if I’ll pull it off in the end – we have until Monday to accumulate a possible 30 bonus points.  I may only grab 10 of those points and my closest competitor, er uh, participant, will like grab at least that.

Here’s what I’ve taken from this challenge:

  1. Awareness of the amount of sugar that is in our food in this country (and likely else where).  There are just some things that DO NOT need sugar.  Peanut butter for example (keep your “that’s not paleo” to yourself – it’s delicious).  Sausage – does that really need sugar?
  2. Grains are EVERYWHERE.  I think there’s an evil grain alien plot to take over the world.  It’s just empty calories, really.
  3. Speaking of empty calories – I’m much more apt to take a pause before I eat something that’s less than fuel knowing that it won’t really satisfy the need my body has in that moment.  However – I miss ice cream and will be having some this weekend.  BAM!  So kiss it.
  4. Creative intentional exercise!  Maintaining points through out the challenge I have had to get creative about exercise every day – especially when I’m working 12 hour shifts.  Stair climbs, walks around the hospital campus, too much foam rolling, yoga in the middle of my office, you name it!
  5. Writing every day has been much more enjoyable than I may have initially imagined.  My creative mind is just flowing with ideas!  It has been really awesome to be reacquainted with this habit of mine.  I have missed writing.

Here’s something I didn’t realize would happen: While I’ve struggled with my weight throughout life, attempting to look a certain way, fit in to a certain size, have the scale show a particular number, etc – I’ve realized that my happiness is not wrapped up in a number or an exterior appearance.  When I’m fighting with an image I have in my head I’m missing the point entirely by not accepting myself unconditionally.  It’s a long process to recondition my mind and I have to practice this daily or it will never go away.

So, I had to get on the scale at work today for our annual Health Risk Assessment (height, weight, lipid, glucose panel…).  If you remember – my bad habit that I was giving up for this challenge was NOT to get on the scale unless required to for doctor’s visits.  I haven’t been on a scale in over a month.  Today I contemplated covering my eyes so that I didn’t look, but I was curious.  Had the number changed while on this challenge?  How would that number make me feel?

Nothing changed.  I wasn’t attached to that number I saw, so I wasn’t excited or disappointed.  I felt the same walking off the scale as I did walking on to it.  I’m the exact same number on that scale that I was when I started (or at least really close to it).  I didn’t think I’d loose weight honestly.  #bruteyogi and I have been lifting heavy for 2+ months now and doing much less in terms of metcons.  I’d expect my strength to increase along with my muscle mass.  It seems as thought that theory is true.  I’ll post pre-challenge pictures at the end along with the final challenge photo and you can see the changes for yourself.  But what is not visible in those pictures is how I feel.  I am stronger than I’ve ever been.  My body feels good.  I care less about those numbers (pant size, scale, etc) – I care more about the fact that my clothes are snugger in my shoulders, biceps, quads and ass because my muscles are growing.  That’s what I like to feel.  I like to feel strong, I like to be strong – I am strong. 

Today’s Total: 10

We’re off to the Mid Atlantic CrossFit Regionals in the morning!

Day 30 – The finish line



The challenge is almost over!

While in yoga last night, I looked over at one of the other participants and said “I’m ready for it to be over”.  Referring to this Memorial Day Diet and Fitness (and Sobriety) Challenge.

What am I ready for?  To not scrutinize every little thing I put in to my body, while also realizing that that scrutiny will aid my choices in the future.  I want to enjoy the occasionally delicious chai latte, the ice cream, eating out with less stress of figuring out the menu…..

As a person whom has struggled with weight and come to terms with the reality of why the weight was put on in the first place – I feel confident that I can make appropriate decisions regarding what I put in to my body and why.  Food is fuel – not therapy.  (I saw that somewhere and LOVE it!)  I know that beating myself up for poor choices won’t help the situation either – taking responsibility and then letting it go will.

Writing this blog during this challenge has been incredibly rewarding.  I think I’ve heard that it takes 21 days to formulate a new habit – well, this is a new habit that looks as though it will continue.  I won’t be writing every single day, but I look forward to publishing more blog posts than prior to this challenge.

Intentional movement hasn’t always come easy to me (see the struggle with weight above – similar reasons).  Now that I’ve found something I enjoy doing, I’m seeing progress towards my goal to be stronger, and I actually enjoy intentional movement in terms of lifting, exercise, running, etc – it’s easy to keep this up.  Even the hiatus post rotator cuff repair didn’t keep me away too long.  I’m just a bit smarter about that movement now.

As many of my coaches have said to me – just keep moving, you’re almost done!

Today’s Total: 10


Day 29 – Assumptions



Attaching expectations to a supposed outcome can involve navigating some dangerous territory.  Expectations: a strong assumption that something will happen…in the future.  Assumption: something is accepted as truth or certainty without proof.  Right there we could get in to a nice discussion about how the definitions are much more involved than the words alone.

Think about how much pressure we could take off our shoulders if we let go of the expectations we have – especially when it deals with other people in our lives.  To be able to enter in to conversations without the expectation that your friend will react or respond in a specific way.  Desiring these outcomes is actually a great mirror in to our own life.  If we take the opportunity to look, and really see, ourselves in this mirror we can look into what our own expectations of ourselves actually are…they aren’t of that other person at all.  That’s not our responsibility.

What do we do with the unexpected now that we aren’t expecting it in the first place?  Roll with it, be present in that moment.  My personal practice is to not take it personally when things don’t go the way I thought they may.  It’s a difficult practice to let go of this ego response because it had nothing to do with me in the first place, right?  Why make it about me when their responses are actually projections of them?  Then I’ve created more energy in to that circle of attaching expectations, not seeing myself, blah blah blah.  (See, dangerous territory, right!?)  By taking responsibility for me I have let go of  those attached expectations – WIN!  (We won’t even go in to the process of how to begin to do this other than to say, be like Nike and just fucking do it.)

images-1  Here’s my proposition: If you want to know something, ask!  Assuming you know the answer only puts you in that little shark infested pond on a small ass island of steak.  We’d have so much less D.R.A.M.A in the world if we would just communicate in a from the heart and honest way.  Take responsibility for your own feelings, actions, thoughts – they’re already yours.

Let’s take this challenge for example.  I have consciously and subconsciously placed expectations not only on myself but on the other participants.  Those that I have placed on my own outcome I have had to really get real with and not allow disappointment or judgement to creep in – take ownership for my own thoughts and actions, right?  I’m a conscious being that is capable of making my own decisions and must own the decision I made to have grain last night and loose a point – for example.  Now, my expectations of the other’s in this challenge are not my expectations to make – AT ALL.  They can do as they wish and it’s not my place to even think or judge that they should act in a certain way.

What have you wanted to know, but have never asked?

Today’s Total: 10


Day 28 – Addictive Habits



What habits do you have?  Those habits that occur without you really even being consciously aware of…those are the habits I’m referring to.  Those habits that just happen on a regular basis without a second thought…or even sometimes without the first conscious thought.  You know the ones I’m talking about, right?

I’m not talking about brushing your teeth, or taking a shower, or letting your dog out to pee.  No, really think about those habits that you are used to doing, because you like them or at least you used to.  I put out a FaceBook blast to see what some of my virtual friends habits were.  I got some great responses!  These are the habits I’m talking about:

  • I’m talking about the daily coffee in the morning.
  • Or the additional [insert coffee shop] [favorite coffee drink] on the way to work.
  • The [insert favorite] drink after work, before bed.
  • The bowl of ice cream after dinner (or favorite sweet).
  • That alotted daily Pepsi.
  • Taking one more look at your phone, for the 200 millionth time in 30 seconds.
  • Checking the mailbox even though you know there’s no mail.
  • Check the weather app every morning before even getting out of bed.
  • That list…all of those post-its….it just keeps growing.
  • Kissing your significant other before you get out of bed, go to work, come home from work.
  • Look at the clock AGAIN to make sure you really have to get up.
  • Talking baby talk to your furry/scaly/etc family members.
  • That little countdown before you leave the house.

Those habits appear to have an addictive property to them, don’t they?  What if you removed that habit from your daily life for a period of time?

  1. Could you survive?  (Yes, it’s pretty likely you could – you just may not want to.)
  2. Could you do it?  (Yup, again, you could do it, you just may not want to.)
  3. What would the outcome be?

Try this as an experiment: Find one of those habits that you’d be willing to give up for a minimum of 7 days.  Don’t cheat!  Really challenge yourself to give up something that you love.  For example, I LOVE ice cream.  Currently I have been abstaining for 28 days.  I’m still alive, FYI.  I don’t think I want to give up my wife kissing me before she gets out of bed, ever – and that statement alone implies that I am depending – or addicted – to it, doesn’t it?  Maybe I should’ve used that as my example?  Eh…

During this challenge become aware of the thoughts that swirl through your head, the cravings and desires that pop up.  Be honest with yourself about why this thing that you’ve given up is even a habit to begin with.  Take the ice cream example – I love the flavor, I love the cool texture, I love the creativity of flavors even though I tend to choose vanilla 9.999999999 times out of 10, I loved when my dad would grab my ice cream cone and clean it up so it didn’t drip on my hands (inevitably leaving less for me to consume).  There are fond memories surrounding this habit of mine.  Would they go away if I gave up ice cream?  No.  But I bet when I have some ice cream after this challenge is over it will be incredibly delicious with a new memory etched in the filing cabinet of my memory bank.  Suddenly I’m craving ice cream.

You know the feeling...

You know the feeling…

If this habit is/was something that is/was truly something pleasurable and special to you after this hiatus I imagine it will have even more meaning to you when you decide to go back to it – or it’s time to let it go completely since it really wasn’t serving you any longer.  Only you can decide that.  I’d love to hear your experiences.  Drop me a line in the comment section.

Today’s Total: 9 (lost my grain point)

Day 27

lifting besties


It’s how I met my wife.  At the bar…bell that is.

Some of the best friends you’ll ever make will be met doing things that you love to do.  Yes?  I bet you can name a few.

Sometimes you create such an amazing network that those chosen friends end up more like family – more that the family you were born in to.


Sometimes minions are just awesome.



Today’s Total: 10 (I may need to amend this tally tomorrow if I find that there was illegal sugar in a dish I had at dinner tonight with friends….I’d like to claim ignorance, but then I’d live with the guilt of possibly not knowing.  Stay tuned.)

Day 26 – Habits of Others



I love that quote ^^^^!!!  As we gain more knowledge and get better at things we sometimes forget what it is like to have started out as a beginner.  In yoga we often refer to being in a beginner’s mind and/or a beginner’s body.  We won’t ever know everything and we’ll always find something to be a beginner at.  This challenge has given all of us the opportunity to remind ourselves what it is like to live in a beginner mindset….if we allowed it.  We may know how to eat, but we may have all forgotten how to mindfully eat, how to be mindful about our activity level, what it was like to try new things, what a gift it is to share a meal with others, the gift of a like minded community reaching for a common goal….etc etc etc.

Our challenge master noted the other day that we were over 75% complete with the challenge leaving only one week to go.  She and I both posed a similar question: What are we likely to continue when the challenge is technically over?  What are we going to miss by not being on the challenge?  Here are some of the responses.

  • Maintaing the mindful perspective of the food we are actually consuming.  If we briefly stop and ask ourselves what are we needing before we consume what is in front of us, it is a little bit easier to understand what it is actually fueling.  Let’s take a bag of potato chips for example.  Am I needing salt?  Oil/fat?  Cure boredom?  Am I actually thirsty?  Am I having a hunger emergency and this is the fastest thing that I can consume?  If I sit and pause for just a moment, is it the chips that I actually want?  Is it the chips that will satisfy me or leave me wanting for more?  Try it next time you sit down (or stand at the kitchen counter) to grab something to eat.  Your answers may surprise you.
  • The community of 18 like minded people on a similar journey, sharing experiences on a private FaceBook group doesn’t have to end…but it will likely trail off as the challenge dissipates.  That sense of belonging to something and sharing in similar struggles was a common theme amongst the posts this month.  Everyone really liked sharing thoughts, recipes, PRs, ideas, struggles, laughter, new adventures, photos, etc on our page.  We can all support each other, validate ideas, push each other to try something we may not have before and laugh together at our shortcomings.  What’s stopping us from taking this virtual community in to the real world?
  • This challenge has been a kickstart for a few participants who felt like they needed a little help regaining control over their overall health.  Me included.  The sense of responsibility and accountability in reporting our points daily has been just what a few people needed.

Habits that people would like to continue (in a more specific way):

  • Taking supplements everyday (most of us are CrossFitters, Strong(wo)men, Athletes)
  • Keeping up the hydration
  • No more coffee creamer
  • No drinking during the week – which equals no smoking for one participant (great job!)
  • Not going down the rabbit hole completely in terms of cheats – we’ll call this mindful cheats
  • Less caffeine

Seems like everyone that responded chose diet habits to stick with.  I was surprised to not hear anything about being more active, trying something new, or continuing with the other habits we have chosen (like reading 20 minutes a day).  I for one have really enjoyed writing these posts.  So much so that I started two other blogs (yet to be published).  Writing has always been something I’ve enjoyed – this challenge has been the little nudge to get me going again.

Today’s Points: 10 (Almost lost one point at our sushi date – that was a hard one to stay challenge compliant!  Wowza!)