So… four weeks ago I, and around twenty others from my CrossFit Box, embarked on a 28-day Nutrition Challenge with the goal of incorporating healthier eating habits into our daily routines. We cut out refined sugars from our diets and made fruits, veg, and whole foods key staples of our daily meal planning.
Yesterday our Challenge came to end and thought I’d share my experiences of the last 28 days on here, the highs and the lows.
I’d looked at the list of foods we were allowed to eat over the next 28 days and, thankfully, I liked pretty much all of them, meaning that I would not be limited in what I could eat.
I’d also noticed a few things that were not on the list; bread, dairy products, alcohol. As someone who is quite fond of a cheese toastie, washed down with a beer whilst watching football of an evening this Challenge was going to deprive me of one of my guilty pleasures for the next for the weeks. How would I cope? Could I cope?
On the plus side, I like fruits, veggies, and meat, all of which I was allowed to eat. I was entering the Challenge not to lose weight, but to learn healthier eating habits and to learn how the values of meal prepping.
All in all, I went into the Challenge knowing that there would be some tough days full of temptations but that I could beat them and stick with the Challenge because, more than anything, I wanted to see the improvements that healthier eating would have on my body.
How it Panned Out
For me, the Nutrition Challenge was a huge success on a number of levels. I feel healthier, more energised for longer, have found that my recovery period from exercise has reduced, and I’ve picked up numerous healthy eating habits along the way. I also know that I have a great support network in the shape of my fellow Challengers who were never short on words of encouragement during the entire process.
I will admit, however, that the first few days were pretty rough. We (my partner Zsuzsi also took part in the Challenge along with our daughter, although she was allowed ice-cream every once in a while!) picked up food prepping quite quickly and were able to plan our meals and snacks in advance, which was a great help. However, I found that by around 7 pm I was crashing and burning and had very little energy. Thankfully around day 4, everything kicked in to place and I began noticing improvements.
I was sleeping sounder, if not always waking more refreshed. I had more energy throughout the day and long into the evenings. I felt less bloated. I felt more supple and flexible, to the point where I had to scale up on burpees during a workout because I was getting through them too quickly – this never happens!
I also noticed that I didn’t miss or crave any of the banned foods – well, maybe chocolate a little bit – and found it surprisingly easy to replace them with healthier alternatives. Not once was I tempted to have a beer and, because we didn’t buy any of the banned foods, I was never tempted to have any or felt that I was missing them. Sticking to the principles of the Challenge was actually a lot easier than I thought.
I ate more during the Challenge than I normally do but because I was cutting out the unhealthy options I actually found that I lost around 4kg, not that weight loss was my goal, but with hindsight, it was a fairly obvious outcome from a programme of healthy eating and exercise.
Full disclosure, because I’m not perfect, I did fall off the wagon once and had a slice of cake at my sister-in-law’s birthday. In my defense, it would have been rude to say no.
My Challenge Takeaways
- I feel better and stronger for having taken part in the Challenge; both physically and mentally.
- Meal planning and prepping is key – for inspiration on meal prepping please go check out my friend and Challenger @donmarton’s Instagram page ( I borrowed one of his pictures for my last post without asking, so he’s finally getting the credit he deserves!).
- Chocolate is still awesome but there are other, equally awesome, and healthier alternatives.
- The Challenge may have ended so from now on I’ll not be eating healthily because I have to, but because I choose
- I will, however, have the occasional beer and cheese toastie, for old time’s sake of course.