Nutrition Challenge Winner Interviews
Hard work and dedication pay off. And this time, we aren’t talking about showing up to the gym. Yes, that is 100% part of it. But when it comes to diet, it’s the other 23 hours you’re NOT under our roof that really matters.
We recently just ended our 10 week Endorphin Nutrition Challenge. Overall we had great participation from the group! Many of your joined and stayed strong through most of the challenge. Some fell off and came back on. Some fell off but still upheld many of the good lessons learned. Some realized this while diet stuff isn’t easy. And some realized it wasn’t all that hard, once they DECIDED it wasn’t all that hard.
We are proud to announce THREE winners for the challenge- Chris Guild with overall points, Veronica DeSalvo in 2nd place, and Jared Weber in 3rd. All three saw fantastic results and approached the challenge from a different angle. I interviewed each of them to find out how they were able to find success over this 10 week stretch.
1) What was your overall motivation?
JW- My overall motivation was that I was starting to look and feel better but I knew no real change would come UNLESS (My motivation word I used every day. It even worked during WODs. Stole it from the Lorax 😊) I made a change. The day before the challenge I read something online about nutrition and fitness “You go to the gym 4 hours a week. What the f**k are you doing the rest of the time?” And my mind was made up, I was going to do this to the best of my ability, enough with the excuses.
2) What was the most valuable lesson you learned to implement going forward?
JW- The thing I will take away most is the food log. IT IS ESSENTIAL! From meal to meal, day to day and week to week the difference between that 200 calorie daily deficit you are tying to achieve gets multiplied many times over. Even when I thought I was eating good prior to the challenge I was probably eating 200% what I should have in carbs, 50-75% protein and either way low or way high from day to day with fat. Consistency is key and it’s just not possible without a food log.
3) What was your mindset after your food choices weren’t at the standard you wanted them to be? How did you get back on track?
JW- I have a pretty social lifestyle with work and personal so that was one of the things that worried me most going into this challenge. Can I go without alcohol and at least make better choices at all these business and personal events? The little differences add up over time. Stay on track, there will be times where you cannot stick to the plan but stay on track. No one is perfect and in real life there are times you are forced to “eat this not that”. Just adjust the next meal or next day, and get back on track.
1) How did you handle meal prep and implementing variety in food choices?
V- I’ve found the best way for me to meal prep is cooking all my meat and carb sources for the week on Sunday and then every night packing my meals 2 and 3 for the next day, since those were the ones I eat at work. Food variety for me came easier once I started going to the farmers market weekly since they tend to have more obscure vegetables and squashes.
2) When we changed to macros did you change your approach? If so, how?
V- When macros came into play I mostly started eating simpler foods to make it easier to calculate the numbers. Most of my meals now are just a meat, a carb source (usually rice, potato or squash), a veggie. If need I just add whatever fat I am missing in either oil or butter. This has geared me towards eating less packaged foods and less fruit (so many carbs!!).
3) What affect did macros have, if any, on your training?
V- The most significant change for me when I started the macros was loading carbs to my meals before and after my workouts, and eating better workout carb foods like rice, potato, or oatmeal instead of only squash or veggies. I’ve gotten stronger overall, my back squat went from 185 to 225 since I joined the gym but I’m not sure how much of that can be attributed to macros versus an effective training plan. Cutting hasn’t seemed to effect my performance at all so far.
V- Although the results are similar, my current weight is lower now at 144 and I’ve only been cutting for 2 weeks. I should have much more noticeable results as I continue on this track. For me the biggest challenge I have when shooting for any lifestyle change is setting a goal. I originally went gluten free because my body felt so crummy most of the time and I wanted to perform at my best. Once I stopped eating gluten I felt pretty fantastic, but as soon as my motivation for rowing faded I just stopped caring as much about how my body felt and started eating whatever I wanted. My body weight went back up a base weight of around 155 lbs. That said, I was still happy with my body, which is why it was hard for me to really commit to a change in my diet; I didn’t have major body image issues or any major health problems as initial motivators. This time I basically just wanted to challenge myself with something new and see if I could eat clean, because as humans we’re not meant to eat most of the stuff found in the grocery store that comes in packages. Now that I’m starting to see results and feel fitter and stronger there is no reason to stop. I was satisfied with how I looked before but my confidence level has been increasing day by day!
1) What was your mindset coming into the challenge?
CG- When I made the decision to do the challenge, I made up my mind right away that I wasn’t going to cheat at all. So that wasn’t going to be a concern for me. I just wouldn’t do it. I can be pretty determined when I put my mind to something.
I’ve wanted to lose some weight for a number of years now and I’ve seen the success Gabbi has had working with you, so I figured that if I stuck to the plan it would work for me too. And it did. I ended up losing 23 lbs in the 10 weeks. Which brings my total to 36 lbs lost since February. I’ve also lost 2 inches off my waist during the challenge (3 inches since February).
2) What was the biggest challenge you faced during the 10 weeks?
CG- While on the challenge, we dined out 6 or 7 times. In addition, I went to 2 weddings, a bachelor party, 3 Renaissance Festivals, 2 parties with friends, and a wine tasting. These were challenging for many reasons; mostly alcohol and sweets. The hardest part of the challenge for me, though, was when we switched to following the macros and counting every little thing. I almost gave up at that point, but I created a spreadsheet that worked for me for both calculating and recording all of my meals.
Doing freelance work, my daily schedule fluctuates and that was a little challenging too. There were days that I needed to take 3 meals with me, because I would be out all day. I was in 3 different shows during the challenge, so prep work was very important.
3) How did you approach social situations? Planning before and execution during
CG- I do enjoy drinking alcohol, but I’m very lucky that I don’t need to drink, so it was easy to go without it during the challenge. I have a heck of a sweet tooth, but fruit definitely helped with that. I find that the longer you go without sugar, the less you crave it. But you still do, so having an alternative to candy and baked goods was key.
On the days where I knew that I was going to go out to dinner or go to an event, I checked online menus to make sure that I would be able to stick with it and I tried to figure out the macros ahead of time. Taking pictures of my meals when I was out was very helpful too. This way I was able to record my meals and calculate the macros after the fact. When this happened, I tried to always over-estimate on the macros at the time, so if I was off, I would always be off in favor of having a little less than a little more. This way, I could make up any of the numbers that were lacking when I got home. There were a few times that I knew I would be eating more at an event, so I would compensate by eating less earlier in the day.
4) Did you have any “life lessons” learned?
If I learned anything, I learned that spices are your friend. I ate a lot of chicken throughout the challenge, but by preparing it differently and flavoring it with different spices, nothing ever got boring. It made being consistent easier. Having lots of different kinds of vegetables helped as well. We have share with a CSA, so that part was pretty easy too.
Also, you should always read food labels. There’s added sugar in everything! I have bad reactions to many artificial sweeteners, so I have to be very careful what’s in the food I’m eating. The fewer ingredients the better.
5) Why did the diet work this time? (You had already tried diets in the past).
CG- The only other times that I had lost a fair amount of weight (it was 30 and 35 lbs those times), portion control was what did it for me. I didn’t necessarily cut out anything (except soda) and I just made sure that I used smaller plates and didn’t go back for seconds. This time with the macros, I’m actually doing that as well as eating healthier foods.
6) What was different this time?
CG- I think that this time it wasn’t so much a diet as it was a change in my eating habits. That and consistency are probably the keys. I guess your body gets used to eating at regular intervals. I also had a great support system between you guys and Gabbi.
If you make small changes to the way you eat and stick with them, you will definitely see results. You can do anything if you put your mind to it.
2016 11 27