Justin Foy won the 2014 CrossFit Winnipeg Spring Leaning Gold Challenge (click here for full 2014 wrap-up), incredibly shedding almost one third of his body fat over the course of six weeks. Here’s why he signed up, how he did so well and why he’s doing it all over again this spring.
Why did you do the CFW Spring Leaning Nutrition Challenge last year?
I wanted to challenge myself and see what I could do. I wasn’t happy where I was and I wanted to see if I could get to a specific spot by the end. It was all about body composition – I did not like the way I looked.At my biggest I was 250 pounds. When I started here in January 2014, I was around 200/205.
What types of changes did you see over the 6 weeks?
I lost 8% bodyfat, which was a reduction of 30% of my total body fat, yet I only lost a couple of pounds. My body just completely changed.It showed what healthy eating and working out can do. For the first few weeks, I couldn’t understand why my weight wasn’t changing. I think that when you look at yourself so long in the same way, it’s hard to grasp. But everyone else I know saw the changes immediately; it was such a massive difference.
How would you describe your fitness before CrossFit? Why did you start?
Walking through the bush hunting… that was about it for exercise! Why did I start? There were a lot of different factors: I really wanted to be healthier and fitter for my kids. I wanted to be able to really play with them, run around with them and do whatever they wanted to do. On the other side, I’ve told myself that I also wanted to look better for my wife. Really though, it was for me. I wanted to change.
What was your diet like before the challenge?
Short-term before starting the challenge I was doing strict paleo. Long-term: it was crap. Before I started at CrossFit Winnipeg, it was BK, McD’s… fast crap.
What was the hardest part of changing your diet?
The biggest challenge at first was trying to make food that I enjoyed. Coming from greasy fat stuff that’s full of flavour, to incredibly healthy eating was tough. I was just trying to adjust and eat things that wouldn’t make me want to puke.
What were the keys to your diet and fat loss?
I cut out grains and got my carbs from greens and veggies. I ate lots of salad and fish, and sometimes red meat (moose, deer, elk, beef). Within a couple weeks I got my body to the point where I wasn’t relying on carbs for energy- I was relying on my body’s fat instead for fuel. It’s probably not an enjoyable thing to do for a long time, but it worked.
What were the biggest challenges?
My eating. I have kids and they like their ice cream and cookies – there’s always that stuff around. Just trying to keep it clean was hard.At work it wasn’t as much of a challenge, because I ate what I brought and that was it. I had to deal with guys making fun of me when they were heading out to get their bud, spud and steak, but you get past that quickly.
How did your family react?
At first, my wife hated it; it was a lot of extra work to prep my meals. She really took on the challenge, though. My kids accepted it. They’ve learned what healthy eating is and I’m happy they’ve learned that at such a young age.
What did you learn about your body?
For me, personally, dairy is not a good thing. I’ve tried whole milk on the farm, milk from the store… my body does not like dairy. My body does not like bread, either. I don’t know if it’s the sugars, wheat… whatever. It does not like it. My body sure is happy though when I eat sweet potato and salad. If I don’t have one salad a day, my body is not happy. As far as nutrition goes, it’s a constant battle and every time you think you’ve figured it out, you don’t. You’re a machine and there’s always different ways to improve. You have to tinker.
How has your diet changed since the challenge?
My diet has been fantastic! The biggest thingfor me is that I’ve increased my carb intake, and it’s tricky figuring out the timing.
What are your favourite clean foods?
I eat a lot of wild meat, and there is nothing better in this world than sweet potatoes. My wife makes these awesome sliced up sweet potatoes with butter and bacon grease, and they are amazing.
Do you crave the stuff you’ve cut from your diet?
I can’t even walk into a burger joint anymore. I went to Five Guys and I didn’t want to eat anything there. Since I started eating like this a year ago, I’ve had one hamburger. It was a fantastic hamburger, don’t get me wrong, but I felt terrible after. I have no interest in eating things like that anymore.
Why should people do Spring Leaning?
It’s one hell of a way to motivate yourself to make a change. You can do the entry level where you’re striving to get your water/sleep, to eat proper things and remove toxins. Or you can go full bore, changing everything and altering how you look, feel and train. It’s a massive motivation, especially when you talk to the other people who are doing it – everyone is going through it, you’re not alone. When you’re struggling, you can talk to Tania, or talk to a coach for advice. For me, it was massively motivating and really special that everyone is doing it for the same reason.
Are you doing the challenge again this year and why?
I’m doing the challenge for fun this time. I still look at myself and say: “meh, you could be better”. I won’t go to the same extremes, but I’ll play with things in my diet and see how it goes. I was a rather unhealthy person when I started, so I needed a drastic change. Now that I have a better base, I’d like to see where I’m at versus last spring and how I’ll do this time around.