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By Fitness Editor Paula Jager, CSCS
Anyone that participated in this Fall Fitness Challenge, set goals, made a commitment to themselves and saw it through to completion is a winner!
Whether they achieved their goals, got closer to them or learned something about themselves and gained insight to continue on this journey I consider that success. I salute everyone that did so. I would like to take this opportunity to highlight three of the challenge participants, their stories, accomplishments, and before/after photos.
Erin: Before and After
Starting weight: 98lbs, Body Fat: 25.74
“What a month…I can hardly believe all that has happened! To recap my goals, I wanted to gain weight and strength and lower my body fat levels. I also wanted to get rid of my little belly left over from having two children. To accomplish those goals, I did the following:
I went on the GAPS diet to work on healing my digestive system and to help heal my daughter’s auto-immune issues. I had no idea how much work it would be following the GAPS Intro Diet which we did for two weeks before starting the full GAPS diet. I upped my fat intake and lowered my carb intake, and of course eliminated grains, starches, dairy, soy and all added sugars. I will be adding cultured dairy back into my diet soon.
2. Working out
For the past 10 years my work-out focus has been on cardio instead of strength training. I see how much I need strength training now. I have been doing push-ups, lunges, squats, crunches and other body resistance exercises. My goal was to do this 2-3 times per week, but it has happened only about once a week (see challenges below). I have also tried harder to be active when I’m out with my kids at the park. Instead of sitting there watching them, I try to move with them, bring along my exercise bands and do pull ups and other exercises.
The main thing I learned in this challenge is that I need more sleep. I’m making an effort, even now while on vacation to get in bed around 10 pm. I never know if my kids will wake me up during the night, but getting to bed early at least gives me a chance at having an uninterrupted night of sleep.
*Challenges I faced in reaching my goals: Three weeks ago we unexpectedly had to move out of our apartment, left the city we had lived in for 6 years and moved in with my in-laws in Greenville, NC. This threw a huge monkey wrench into my work out plans, not to mention my life, but I did get to do a lot of heavy lifting–of moving boxes that is! I somehow managed to continue with the GAPS intro diet during that time, thanks to the support of my wonderful husband and in-laws. This move has taken a big emotional toll on me as well. Thankfully, we had a family vacation this week in Orlando, FL. I did pretty much stick to the diet and did exercise and carry heavy children around Disney World. I’ve been sleeping very good at night too!
*Accomplishments: I made it through the GAPS intro diet! My belly is a little smaller than it was when I started. I’ve been getting sleep. I am not sure about my weight or measurements because I am unable to measure either now, as I am still on vacation in Orlando. I will try to do the measurements next week. I am not totally thrilled with my results because I was envisioning myself with a very flat belly in my post-challenge, pictures, but I still feel really good about the accomplishments of this month.
*Future Plans: To continue with the GAPS diet, get a physical to see why I eat so much and still only weigh 98 pounds, take advantage of the in-home babysitting (my in-laws) and go to a gym to start weight training 2-3 days per week.
Thanks Paula for organizing the challenge. It really helped motivate me and I enjoyed doing it.”
Paula’s Comments: Great job Erin, you have made several lifestyle changes and are well on your way to maintaining them despite the obstacles and challenges of life that we all face on what sometimes seems a daily basis. Good luck and best wishes as you continue on your journey of health and fitness.
Aimee: Before and After
Starting weight: 130.4 lbs, Body Fat: 24.5%
Ending weight: 126 lbs, Body Fat: 23%
Total: 4 lbs lost and 1.5% body fat
“How Aimee got her grove back…
First off, thank you for allowing me to participate in this challenge! While I may not have lost the 10 pounds as was my original goal on October 19th, what I now have is a sense of calm, peace and optimism (and 4 less pounds).
I am always up for a challenge, I am a type A personality and perfectionist at that. This has always been what has hurt me and causes me to throw in the towel. One slip up and it’s all over. That slip up occurred only a week and a half into the challenge when I attended a Halloween party. Up until that point I was taking full advantage of the FitDay tool, meticulously tracking every morsel that entered my body, then using it proactively to plan my meals for the upcoming days, ensuring the correct caloric to fat/carbohydrate/protein ratio. And it worked very well too, amazingly well, but one drink lead to the buffet, lead to desserts and more garbage than I care to remember. Challenge, what challenge?? Needless to say my attitude was not in a good place.
What was I really doing this for – to win for the sake of someone picking my name, or to be a healthier happier person?
Not sure what it was that clicked for me, maybe it is all of the healthy fats I am now consuming, the yoga classes and lots of self reflection, but I am no longer beating myself up if I do not achieve what I planned out for the day. For the most part, it was too much anyhow. I do what I can realizing my limits. So to that end, here is the routine I had been following consistently for the past two weeks, and plan to continue on:
Weights – 1 hour 2 times per week,
Cardo / intervals – 30 mins 3 times per week
Yoga – 90 mins 1 time per week.”
Paula’s comments: Excellent Aimee!! A great start towards reaching your fat loss goals but what is most important is your first sentence “a sense of calm, peace and optimism” and also “realizing your limits”. I relate very well to what you are saying being a Type A and perfectionist myself. I think you achieved far more than you originally set out to on this challenge. Keep going and the 6 pounds will melt away. Yes, Aimee, you got your groove back!!
And The Winner Is … Peggy!
Starting weight / body fat: 149 / 35%
Ending weight / body fat: 143.2 / 32.4%
Total lost: 5.8 lbs and 2.6% body fat
Starting this challenge was just that, a challenge. We have grown so accustomed to a “little help” from processed foods. Since we moved four times in the past 2 ½ years I have gotten a lot of so called help from processed foods. There is more to the story than just that; there was an irony to my life. I would preach to my family and friends how processed foods are terrible for your body yet I would I would go home, eat out and order in exactly what I told them to avoid. I wasn’t always bad and I wasn’t always good but I know I was not happy with where I was heading. I looked and felt processed; it was time for a change.
Too many of us think this is the easy route but we are ultimately fooled. It may not be easy at times but it is worth the effort. I am tired of not practicing what I preach. I am ready to commit and live vibrantly. This challenge had its difficulties but it has reawakened the real Peggy. Winning this would bring me to the next level. I need your help. Not only do I want to be the best that I can be but I also want to pay it forward to others. I want to help others attain the kind of energy and radiant life they were meant to live. I AM practicing what I preach!
Paula’s Comments: Congratulations Peggy! You have learned a valuable “lesson”, you must first practice what you preach before forwarding to others with success. One must be a shining example for their children, family, friends and spouse but most importantly for oneself. That leads to “the kind of energy and radiant life meant to live”.
Closing Thoughts on the Challenge
It was a tough decision and a very, very close one between these 3 ladies as you can see from their essays and photos they are all winners. I hope each continues on this path and please keep in touch with any questions you may have and your progress.
In closing, I realize that most all of us are not Navy Seals nor will we ever be however I had several participants that rang the bell. During Hell Week for the Navy Seals when the bell was rang 3 times it meant you quit, you couldn’t take or handle it and you were giving up. For those that did not complete the challenge and the commitment they made to themselves I would ask why? What happened? We all fall down, the important thing we do is get back up.
It’s 90% mental. Mastering your mind is the key to mastering your body and pushing it to perform far outside the limits of ordinary human endurance. It is not too late to get up and pick up where you left off. As with most anything in life, it’s not the start that counts, but the finish.
Paula Jager CSCS and Level 1 CrossFit and CF Nutrition Certified is the owner of CrossFit Jaguar in Tampa, FL
Hey Paula and Sarah,
I just wanted to give you an update, a year after the challenge. I cannot believe all that has happened. I continued to eat a fantastic nourishing diet, exercise regularly, get sleep, etc. and was still tired, under weight with a belly, no menstrual period (even though I was 32 months postpartum and had started weaning my daughter months ago). I was working with an oriental health doctor and a family doctor. Finally found out what was going on a few weeks ago at a GYN appointment. It turns out I had a large tumor (grapefruit size) on one of my ovaries and my doctor thinks it was producing a lot of fluid that was pooling in my belly area. I had surgery on Monday to remove it. I’m so thankful that it was not cancerous. This whole ordeal was scary b/c the doctors didn’t know if it was cancer or not until doing the surgery. But I wanted to mention 3 big lessons I learned in all this: 1. Trust God. 2. Love like it’s your last day. 3. If things in your body don’t seem normal, GET THEM CHECKED OUT.
I still don’t feel like I have the whole picture of my health figured out, but at least another giant piece of the puzzle is in place. Hopefully in the months ahead I’ll get stronger and stronger.
Crazy stuff! I’m so glad this is behind me. Sarah, I love reading your blog. Thanks for taking the time to write it–definitely one of my favorites.
God bless you both!
Way to go, everyone!
Emily @ Butter Believer
So pleased to see another underweight person looking to achieve her goals! Erin, I’m sure GAPS will go a long way in healing what’s behind your weight struggles. Just make sure you don’t let yourself go too low-carb! You’ll need the fruits, honey, veggie juices, etc. for gaining now that you’re off intro.
I’d skip the physical. Your doctor will likely only tell you exactly what mine have all my life, “There’s nothing wrong with you. Eat more.” But now I know that gut damage has been a huge factor in my health struggles and the reason why, just like you, I can eat plenty of food and still not gain weight. Gut dysbiosis will do that. I’m finally starting GAPS in January. I’m feeling inspired by your story and journey so far! Thanks for sharing!
That’s great, Emily! I’m cheering for you on starting GAPS! Let me know how it goes and if you need any encouragement at all, please write!
Great job ladies! I am now beginning my own fitness challenge!
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
What amazed me most about these finalists is how little it takes to make a huge difference in how you look!