Yet another Challenge has drawn to a close. Given the team environment and accountability placed on all participants, adherence to the challenge rules is generally good. However, training consistently, eating well, and working on your mobility seems to become difficult when the only person accountable is you. And that is why I always say that “the challenge begins after the challenge.”
There are typically two groups of people we see post-challenge. Those that maintain the healthy habits developed during the challenge, and those that don’t. Because of the all-or-nothing sort of people that typically do CrossFit, those that don’t maintain their challenge habits unfortunately lose the plot entirely.
Here are some tips to help you stay on track after the challenge. These tips apply to everyone else too, though.
- Set TANGIBLE goals
Your goals firstly have to be realistic, simple, and a few. I like to categorise them in to body composition, fitness and lifestyle goals. A body composition goal would be losing a particular amount of body fat over a specific duration. A fitness goal is a performance goal, for example, improving a benchmark score by 5%. And a lifestyle goal has to do with what you’re going to do at home to ensure that you maintain healthy habits. For example, lights out at 9 p.m daily or cooking enough food at dinner so that you have leftovers for lunch the next day. Write your goals down and stick them up somewhere you can see them daily. Better yet, post them where many people can see them. The more people you have holding you accountable the better.
- 80/20 works if you’re at or close to your goals
80% of your total weekly meals and snacks must be clean. For the remaining 20%, eat whatever you want. If you eat 21 meals a week that means you can treat yourself in four meals. But, treat yourself in a meal and throughout a day. Treat days lead you to a slippery slope down to where you were before the challenge.
- 90/10 is needed if you’re still far from an ideal body composition
That’s your reality. Unless you’re in or close to the 12-16% body fat for guys and 14-20% for women, you need to be tighter on your dietary habits.
- Surround yourself with support
If you’re spending your weekends with people on a sugary ferris wheel, your dietary habits are unlikely to improve. By the same token, your friends get it. If you chew their ears off by only ever talking about CrossFit and Paleo, you’ll end up with no support ever!
- Don’t “wait for the next challenge”
Yo-yo dieting doesn’t work, and is in fact does more harm. That’s why the 80/20 or 90/10 rules are recommended.
- Book a consult and/or retest
If something on the challenge didn’t work, or you’ve noticed that after the challenge you just haven’t been feeling good, then book in for a nutrition consult. Nutrition is by no means a one-size-fits-all method. The challenge is essentially a reset button to help us identify which foods are best for YOU and changes often need to be implemented for the individual. And if you want to keep track of your changes in body composition, book a retest – it only takes 5 minutes.
Remember, the challenge is a reset button. It gives us an opportunity to properly start identifying what your best nutrition fit is. In some cases, the length of the challenge is only just enough to reset, in which case changes only begin happening after the challenge.
Lastly, never forget that nutrition is the base of your health and fitness pyramid. You should therefore be putting most of your effort in to improving that. “You can’t out train a shitty diet.”