The first KitchnBox Lifestyle Challenge of the year is wrapping up. Given the team environment, incentives, weekly challenges and accountability placed on all participants, adherence to the challenge is generally good. However, training consistently, eating well, and maintaining healthy lifestyle habits are much more 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 – there doesn’t seem to be a middle ground.
Here are some tips to help the challengers maintain the changes they’ve implemented over the recent six weeks. The tips are also good reminders for everyone else 😉
- Set TANGIBLE goals
Your goals firstly have to be realistic, simple, and a few. I like to categorise them into 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 not 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. the challenge and how you eat, you’ll end up with no support ever!
- Don’t “wait for the next challenge”
Yo-yo dieting doesn’t work and in fact does more harm. Moreover, the challenge is not a diet. The purpose of the challenge is to instil healthy habits and kickstart your metabolism, but the only way to keep on improving is to maintain everything you did on challenge. That’s why the 80/20 or 90/10 rules are recommended.
- Book a consult
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. Often, the challenge isn’t enough and that’s why we now have one-on-one nutrition coaching plans. Those plans enable us to drill deep down into your nutrition for the best results.
- Beware the post-challenge binge
This point was deliberately put last because it’s the one you’re most likely to remember. I know what you’re thinking: “I’m going to eat ALL the chocolate!”
Through the challenge you’ve made some great improvements to your health and performance. You deserve to reward yourself with whatever your favourite food treat is. But treat that post-challenge cheat meal as part of your 10-20% for the first week after the challenge. That means a cheat meal, not a cheat day. Be careful with anything that has a hint of gluten, and for some of you dairy. It would suck, after having repaired your gut, to have a week of gastro problems. And be wary of sugar and processed foods – those withdrawal symptoms you had at the start of the challenge pale in comparison to what you’ll feel if you binge on these after the challenge!
Now you can look forward to the Autumn Throwdown, possibly some personal nutrition coaching, and buckling down over winter to start working on that summer body 🙂