Our Third Annual Spring leaning challenge officially starts on Monday, April 13th, 2015.  We’ve already done our nutrition talk and most of our measurements but we might be able to squeeze in a few more. If you want to register, just call the gym at 414-9348 for details. Remember, this is open to all of our members but also to the public so even if you aren’t into CrossFit, we’d love to have you join us for the challenge.

For those of you weren’t able to make it on Saturday, here are some details on how the challenge works and a summary of what we discussed at our nutrition seminar.

You have 3 options to register for the challenge.

Gold Challenge $100

– bodyfat measurements, waist and hip circumference, photos and workout before and after

– fill out  scorecard and hand in at the end of the challenge

– log foods and points on line in the Spring Leaning blog comments or on our Facebook Group

– most % of % of bodyfat lost wins, we will also ask for workout results and look at photos and testimonials to ensure that the best candidate wins

Silver Challenge $30

– waist and hip circumference measurements, photos and workout before and after

– fill out  scorecard and hand in at the end of the challenge

– log foods and points on line in the Spring Leaning blog comments or on our Facebook Group

– most percentage of circumference cm lost wins, we will also ask for workout results and look at photos and testimonials to ensure that the best candidate wins

Bronze Challenge – Free

– log foods and points on line in the Spring Leaning blog comments or on our Facebook Group

– fill out point scorecard and hand in at end of challenge

– winner is based on total points for the challenge duration

For the Silver and Gold challenges, you will need to come by the gym to get your photos and measurements taken by Monday, April 13th, there are sign up sheets at the gym at reception.   Note that weight loss will not be taken into account and photos will not be shared or posted without your permission.

How does the challenge work?

We’ll take measurements and photos and do a benchmark workout before and after the 6 weeks, to track our progress. Every day for the 6 week challenge, you will have the opportunity to earn 11 points by eating well and including other lifestyle strategies like exercise and sleep.

All participants will receive this scoresheet to log their efforts, which will be handed in at the end of the challenge. Each day we will post a bonus point challenge on the blog and you will be asked to log your food intake and total points for the day on this blog.  You must log your foods and points on our Facebook Group or the CFW Spring Leaning Blog by Sunday evening for each week, though we recommend doing it every day, you can also just post photos of your meal if that’s easier for you.  Our first day logging food and points will be Monday, April 13th, and we will post our  first daily bonus challenge on Sunday evening.  The Challenge will wrap up on May 25th.

The benchmark workout for the Spring Leaning this year will be “Cindy”, which is AMRAP in 20 minutes of 5 pullups, 10 pushups, 15 squats.  There are various ways to scale this including reducing the reps to 3, 6, 9 or modifying the movements i.e. elevating hands for pushups and doing banded pullups or ring rows.  The important part is that you write down the details of the workout so that you can reproduce the same conditions after the 6 weeks. You will have the option to do this workout as part of the CFW CrossFit classes on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, or Monday.  You can also do this on your own before or after class as long as you check in with the coach first. If you are not a member at CFW, you can choose any workout you like.  An easy and convenient benchmark workout might be maximum burpees in 5 minutes.

What should I eat?

The basic idea is to eat mostly meat, fish, lots of vegetables and healthy fats, and some fruit, get lots of sleep, exercise and stay hydrated. Here are your 11 points for the day:

1 – No processed foods.  Beware anything that comes in a package and has an ingredients list.  If the ingredients list has more than 5 items, be even wearier.   If you don’t know what some of the ingredients are or can’t pronounce them, forget it!  For the purposes of counting points in this challenge, we shall defined processed as any commercially prepared food designed for ease of consumption, often sold as hot, ready-to-eat dishes; as room-temperature, shelf-stable products; or as refrigerated or frozen products that require minimal preparation (typically just heating).  This includes candy; beverages such as soft drinks, breads, bars, shakes, protein powders, crackers, cookies, fast food; processed cheeses; and canned products such as soups and pasta dishes.  We will however, allow: plain frozen vegetables and fruit, canned coconut milk, vinegars, dried spices, canned tomatoes and tomato sauce (with no sugar), nut butters (no sugar), frozen meats, bacon, canned fish (no vegetable oil), sausage and jerky, simple deli meats such as roast beef or sliced roast turkey, chicken or ham, simple condiments such as salsa and mustard, as long as the ingredients list has been checked for industrial seed oils, sugar, sweeteners, grains, etc.

2 – No grains.  Try it for the challenge and then if you actually do it and you still don’t look and feel better, come and see me and we’ll talk.  And no, whole grains and sprouted grains are NOT ok.  Grains include wheat, rice, pasta, breads, quinoa, spelt, oats, rye, corn, etc.

3 – No sugar or sweeteners.  Stay away. This means no agave, honey, stevia, succralose, aspartame, alchool, cane sugar, cane juice, date sugar, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, etc.  Fruit is very nutritious and is allowed on the challenge, but if you have insulin management issues (more likely if you are overweight) then you need to keep an eye on the amount  of hidden sugar you are getting from fruit.

4 – No industrial seed oils.  Stay away from trans fats, margarine, canola oil, corn oil, soybean, safflower oil, grapeseed oil, and “vegetable oil”.  If you knew what they do to this stuff you would not touch it with a 10 foot pole.

5 – No dairy, except for butter.  There is some dissent in the paleo/primal community about this.  You’ll never know if you can tolerate dairy until you eliminate it completely for the duration of the challenge before reintroducing it.  If there’s one thing dairy is good for (other than making stinky old cheese), it’s putting on weight, so if losing weight is a priority, it will be particularly important to stay away.  For the purposes of this challenge, the only dairy we will allow is butter, preferably organic and clarified (ghee).

6 – No legumes and beans.  Again, there is some disagreement on how “bad” these are.  Let’s put it this way, if it needs to be soaked , cooked or fermented to neutralize its toxins (as is the case with soy, lentils, and most beans), then it’s probably not a good idea.  Remember that gas and bloating are not part of optimal health.  If beans, legumes, nuts, or anything else for that matter, cause bloating or gas for you, just don’t eat it.  It’s that simple.  This means no soy, no navy beans, white beans, lentils, kidney beans or peanuts (yes, peanuts are a legume).

7 – No alcohol of any kind.  If you absolutely must drink stick to hard liquor with no mix or a quality red wine, however, you will not get your point for that day.

8 – Water intake.  The scoresheet says 2 – 3 L.  This varies from person to person.  Here are your  minimum water requirements based on bodyweight, this can include water and tea.  Under 125 lbs – 2L, 125lbs to 150lbs – 2.5L, 150 Lbs to 200Lbs– 3L, 200Lbs Plus – 3.5L.  You might need a bit more if you sweat a lot or workout a lot.

9 – Sleep.  Minimum 8 hours per day a cool dark room.  If you cannot do it all in one chunk you may nap to make up the difference and earn your point for the day.

10 – Workout.  For the purposes of this challenge, we will include all of CFW’s classes, including CrossFit, mobility, yoga, kettlebell and barbell club.  We understand that not everyone has an unlimited membership and that you can workout elsewhere, so on other days, any 60 minutes of activity will count, including strength training, jogging or hiking, cycling, walking, stretching, martial arts, team sports, and playing outside.  We also recommend a minimum of 2 rest days per week, on rest days we recommend a yoga class, mobility class, sports, outside play or walking, rather than something higher intensity. It does not need to be 60 consecutive minutes, 20 minutes of yoga, 20 minutes of walking, and 20 minutes of cycling is good too. If you can accumulate 60 minutes of activity on those rest days, give yourself a point.

11 – Daily Bonus Challenge.  This will be explained on the blog, which you can see on the right hand side sidebar for  Members, and posted on the Facebook Group. Every week will bring a new theme, sleep, supplementation etc.

Pre & Post Workout Nutrition

This will vary quite a bit from person to person.  Generally, you can eat a normal balanced meal before a regular CrossFit workout.  Some people need several hours to digest, this is up to you and you may need to experiment.  What you eat after your workout is probably more important.  If your priority is to lean out a regular balanced real food meal of protein, fat, and carbs within an hour or two of your workout is the way to go.  If you are looking for performance over body composition, you will want to focus especially on protein and carbs after your workout.  The longer and sweatier the workout, the more carbs you will need (squash, yams, potato, beets, etc). The more skill based and power based your workout is, and the more it includes heavy lifting, the more protein you will need post workout. Keep in mind that if you want to put on muscle mass, you can do it on this plan, however, you must eat much more, ensure that you are eating before and after every workout and before you go to sleep, as well as when you get up.


Generally, if you focus on quality foods, you won’t need to worry too much about weighing and measuring your food.  If trying to lean out, you want to stop when you feel about 80% full.  However, here are some helpful guidelines for portion sizes that can help you get even better results. Generally women wanting to lose weight will want to stay on the lower end of these portions whereas men and women who want to keep performance up and add or maintain muscle mass will want to stick to the higher end of these portion sizes.  Use these portions when planning out your 3 square meals a day and you can add some smaller snacks during the day if needed. Use the size of  your hands to eyeball.

* Protein (meat, fish, poultry, eggs…)

– a portion is the size of 1 to 2 palms of your own hand

* Carbs (spinach, brocoli, kale, carrots, yams, potatoes, berries, apples oranges…)

– leafy green veggies  – as you like but use 1 1/2 to 2 fists as a starting point

– starchy veggies and fruit –  limit portions to  1/2 to 1 fist if trying to lean out

* Fat ( butter, nuts & nut butters, avocado, olive and coconut oils, tallow, lard…)

– a portion is the size of 1 to 2 thumbs, but you may need to have more if you are  not eating starchy veggies or fruit


Here are some of the supplements we’ve had good results with for our clients.

Fish oil – 2 to 3 grams (2000 to 3000 mg) of EPA + DHA – check the label

Multi-Vitamin – good quality, with chelated minerals

Vitamin D – 2000 to 5000IU in winter and 1000 to 2000IU or less in summer if you spend time in the sun

Magnesium – 200 to 500 mg (or more if you need to soften stool) in chelated form (glycinate, fumarate, taurate, and orotate)

Digestive Support – digestive enzymes or probiotics

 Myths and Misconceptions

* Fat makes you fat – It seems that it’s not that simple, and insulin regulation plays a huge part in determining how we store fats, so watching your sugar and carb intake can go a long way toward staying lean.

* Paleo means cutting out all carbs – Many people see grains and sugar as carbs but in reality there are 3 macro nutrients, protein, fat and carbs and they are present in various foods in varying degrees.  For this challenge we will be getting our carbs from fruits and vegetables, including starchy roots and tubers such as yams, sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, beets, squash, parsnips, turnips, etc…

* You must eat lean meats  – There are certain conventionally raised foods that you can find in the supermarket that are very high in certain omega-6 fats that can be unhealthy.  For example, the fat in the skin of conventionally raised chicken is very high in linoleic acid and can be bad news.  So if you buy your meat from the supermarket, you can stick to leaner cuts of poultry. Ruminants such as beef and pork will not be as problematic in this regard, due to their fatty acid profile, which is why many people can do well on higher fat cuts of meat such as bacon. The ideal situation is to get grass fed and pastured meats or game meats and wild fish, in this case, the fat can be very healthy and we would encourage you to eat as much as you like.

* Salt is bad for you – While the standard north american diet tends to contain way too much sodium, you will find that if you cut out processed food, this will be reduced dramatically, so you may need to add a sprinkle of salt to your food as you cook or as you eat.  The human body does need some sodium, and the link between hypertension and sodium is not as solidly established as you might think.

Common Pitfalls

Here are a few mistakes we see with first time challengers, or some of the things to watch out for if you are not getting the results you want.

* too much fruit if trying to lean out, if you have insulin management issues, the fruit might contain too much sugar

* too many “paleo treats” and baked goods

* too many smoothies and shakes

* trying to replace everything you currently eat with a paleo version, sometimes it’s ok to just relearn to eat real food!

* not eating enough, especially fats

* not enough variety, eating the same foods every day

* not enough sleep

* not enough water

* too much cardio

A few more notes

* Keep in mind that these are guidelines and simply a way to get started eating clean.  Though it may seem restrictive, it is just for 6 weeks and the goal is to kick start fat loss.  We recommend that after 6 weeks, you re-evaluate and make some adjustments based on what you learn over the 6 weeks.

* Remember, you have the option of doing all the challenges or just picking a few to get things started, and you will have the support of CFW staff and the other challengers. Ask yourself how likely you are to stick to it on a scale of 1 to 10 and if you answer anything less than an 8, you may want to lower your expectations.

* There are many different versions of Paleo/Primal eating, but just because one website allows something, it doesn’t mean we will allow it in our challenge and just because some experts don’t allow certain things, it doesn’t mean we won’t.  For example, we will allow butter as well as potatoes, as long as they are peeled, whereas many paleo experts will not allow these.

* Please speak with Tania if you have any special nutrition restrictions (vegetarian, vegan, etc.) or health conditions (diabetes, heart disease, cancer, auto-immune diseases, etc.)

* We’ll be posting some resources and additional details as we go, but feel free to ask questions. Here is a link to the CFW nutrition page, which has a ton of recipes, shopping guides and meal plans.