November Nutrition Challenge
November Nutrition Challenge
After the success of the first nutrition challenge, another group of members took part in the second edition. In advance of the challenge, we had a get together to discuss what was to take place over the following month. The primary focus of the month was to create good habits, educate participants as to what a balanced meal looks like and how to fuel yourself in the best way possible for gym performance as well as day to day life. A by-product of these goals was then some very favourable body composition changes by the end of November. As always, the success of this challenge was based on the commitment of all members involved.
Over the course of the month, there were 4 weekly challenges covering nutrition, mobility, food tracking as well as mindfulness. This meant that everyone was held accountable over the month with the sole purpose of helping everyone achieve their desired results. All challenges are set with the aim of creating good habits and ones which are repeatable. Small changes, repeated over a sustained period will breed results. It’s not rocket science, and everyone can most certainly do it.
The results of the retests at the end of November were phenomenal. All participants saw reductions in bodyfat, approx. 2.12% per person. Approximately 2.2kg per person weight lost as well as 2.7 inches lost. Over half of the group also saw large gains in lean muscle growth. All of this done with creating good habits and repeating them consistently over the month.
The overall winner of the nutrition challenge was Sarah Mahony. She absolutely smashed it from start to finish with great results in all categories. Not only that but she was on track all month, checking in daily and staying involved in the Facebook group. Consistent over the month and even ran a half marathon in the last week. I asked Sarah a few questions on what she took from the challenge overall, and she was nice enough to send back a few essays!! They are well worth the read. See the end of the piece for the Q&A.
Going forward we will be commencing Nutrition Challenge 3.0 on 12th January. There will be a 4 week and 8-week nutrition challenge. There will be a halfway body comp check in for those doing the 8-week challenge as well as extra weekly challenges. For the first time we are also introducing a workout at the start and the end so that you can measure both your nutrition and fitness progress. Sign up on Zen and get involved.
Well done to everyone who took part in this challenge.
Q&A with Nutrition Challenge 2.0 winner Sarah Mahony
What were the main reasons for taking part in the nutrition challenge? (lose fat, education, gain muscle?)
It was a combination of things. I found myself stuck in a rut with my weight and wasn’t seeing any changes no matter what I did. I knew a few people that had done the first one and they saw amazing results so wanted to see if this could work for me. I also at a moment of insanity thought it would be a great idea do a half marathon in November, so the challenge was a good way to get my nutrition on point for training.
How did you find the weekly challenges and are they a worthwhile aspect of the nutrition challenge? Some were definitely harder than others (20-minute meals that feel like a lifetime or the frog stretch for mobility…absolute torture, thanks Diarmaid!). These challenges were great for making you aware of things outside eating that make a difference to a healthy lifestyle, stuff I wouldn’t have paid much attention to before. I found they also kept things interesting over the 4 weeks as it was something new each week to focus on, so it wasn’t boring at all.
Did you find the structure of the challenge too difficult or were you able to stay on track relatively straight forward? (meal structures too restrictive, challenges too hard etc). This is what I loved about the challenge – it wasn’t rocket science. Diarmaid didn’t over complicate the process or have us counting macros (maths isn’t my strong point!) which made it really easy to follow and stay on track. I love eating out at the weekends and thought I would have to avoid this while doing the challenge, but it just meant I was more conscious about what I ordered and read the menu for a change. Diarmaid shared loads of information on what your plate should look like, size of protein etc so once you had that in mind you can eat anywhere really.
What did you do that kept you on track for the month that you would recommend anybody else doing the challenges in the future to do? (diary, daily check-in, challenges meal prep?) The daily questionnaires were brilliant for making you accountable and similar with tracking your food, putting what you ate into my fitness pal give you some shock when you realize how many Cals are in a tub of peanut butter – devastating. The Facebook group that was set was great too, everyone got involved, shared new recipes they found or general chat if people we’re being tempted to go off track. I would say finding healthy alternatives to certain foods was a game changer for me. I thought I would be starving all the time but the likes of cauliflower or broccoli rice to bulk up your no carb meals made such a difference. If you just add loads of seasoning you can’t tell the difference or least that’s what I told myself. You know the programme is really working when you start trying to convince people that parsnips are just as good as chips!
Would you recommend it to members unsure about giving the challenge a go? Absolutely, I have literally tried every diet out there…. weight watchers, 80/20 rule, no carbs, veganism, paleo. Clearly, I love a good trend but by far I had seen the best results from this and it’s totally changed my way of thinking about food. Even though the challenge is finished, I’ll keep up with the meal structures as I don’t find myself craving anything and it’s become normal. Regardless of the scales etc, the challenge changes your mindset on healthy eating more than anything else.
Would you say people of any fitness level and knowledge of nutrition can benefit from doing the challenge?
Generally, I eat quite healthy with my main meals so initially I didn’t think I would get much out of the challenge, but it made me realize bad habits I had picked up over time. Like snacking or going all out at the weekend and eating whatever I wanted cause I’m good Monday – Thursday so it’s grand type of attitude! The challenge is great for breaking these habits. From a fitness point of you, I wouldn’t say I did a ridiculous amount of training for the half marathon compared to other times but with just eating healthy I found this run the most enjoyable minus the Baltic weather conditions and I’d say 70% of that was down to the challenge…and maybe CrossFit helped too! I think whatever level you’re at there is always something you want to improve on whether that be eating habits, weight or fitness so this challenge just put you in the right direction to do this. And when all is said and done it’s a bit of fun so give it a go!