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Fall 2011 Nutrition Challenge Winners and Before/After Photos!

Posted on by admin

The Fall 2011 Nutrition Challenge was a major success!

We couldn’t have asked for a better outcome – from major weight loss to disappearance of daily symptoms to a new perspective on food, everyone gained something valuable from this challenge. And it is our hope that you take what you learn and continue to cook, eat and nourish yourself properly going forward.

Without further ado, we are proud to announce the WINNERS….yes, multiple people won this challenge!

As this challenge went on, and especially after seeing the numbers (weight loss and improvement in the workout), it became apparent that with so many factors contributing to ‘success’ in this challenge, there was no way to choose just one person as the winner. We found it impossible to choose just one person who encompassed everything.

The WINNERS of the Fall 2011 CrossFit Aspire Nutrition Challenge are:

BY THE NUMBERS: This person’s combined weight loss (7%) and workout improvement (39%) was most impressive out of all of the participants.This person is DOREEN!

Doreen not only lost weight and drastically improved her workout time, she also actively sought out recipes and tips to help her through this transition into eating well. She was one of very few to request that we extend the challenge out to 60 days since she was having such great success on it. We wish Doreen much luck in the future and we’re here to support her for an extra 30 days or a lifetime. Congratulations, Doreen!

MOST VOCAL/HELPFUL: This power-couple was the most influential and informative throughout the entire challenge, acting as a comment moderator, question answerer, blog writer, encouragement giver, and all-around knowledgeable duo. This couple is STEVE and JAMIE. ( I tried to make you guys into a “Bennifer” -type name, but it didn’t work…Stamie or Jeve just sound silly, sorry!). They didn’t have weight to lose, but they had plenty of knowledge to give. They will continue to be a great resource within the gym in the future. Thanks guys!

The total amount contributed by members was $340, which will be split evenly between the two winning groups. See Alycia or Justin to claim your prize money. I’m ASSUMING you’ll be spending it on grassfed beef and fancy ingredients! But honestly, spend it however you want. Treat yourselves to a massage at the least – you deserve it!



In addition to the winners, there were MANY people who actively contributed to the success of the challenge. In no particular order, they are:

Most Well Documented: Kate Eckert, who kept up her blog, Kate vs Food, for the entire challenge. She has some great stories and recipes that will be used as a resource for future challenges.

Most Visual: Shamus submitted a photo every day of the challenge. I still have a stockpile that I intend to use at some point. His pictures were drool-worthy, funny, enormous, and downright delicious looking.

Most Questions Asked during the first 48 hours of the Challenge: Ameet! This guy travels and has a high stress life – he had a lot to ask about! (This was done behind the scenes in emails.)

Most Impressive Before/After Pic: Mike Ferguson. (See below). Holy abs, Batman! Mike is a chef, and stopped grazing during work while on the challenge. Looks like it helped a little :)

Most Enthusiastic: Jill Fisher. This was not her first challenge, but it proved to be the most successful one. She learned how to cook, and made some very significant life-long changes. Her stories and revelations are in the comments section of the posts on the Nutrition page.

Most Hands On: Melissa G.! She hosted a mini cooking clinic at our house, where she taught us a bunch of simple tips on choosing proper cutlery, and how to shop veggies and fresh herbs. Thank you, Melissa!

Best Meatloaf: Laura. Seriously Laura. I ate it with my hands, out of a tupperware container, while at a red light in the car. Maybe that just shows that I’m a pig, but it was really, really, really good. Thanks for the huge portion!

Most Successful Newbies: Liz and Jesse. They are new to CrossFit, and to eating healthy, and they did a fantastic job of keeping strict and losing a bunch of weight (20 lbs between the two of them!). Keep it up!

Most impressive gym performance: Sharon. She came out of nowhere during this challenge and set a bunch of PRs, not letting anything stand in her way. She also reduced her “Garage” time by half! Watch out – don’t get in her way or she’ll power clean you.

Most Impressive Body Composition Change: Peggy. Justin won’t stop talking about how good Peggy looks. Should I be worried? Peggy also should win for ‘funniest comments on the blog’. She’s a riot.



In 30 days, we weren’t looking for an obese-to-thin picture comparison. That just isn’t possible in that amount of time. What we did expect, and we did see, is our members go from ‘average’ to ‘significantly more awesome looking’ in just a few short weeks. Here are the four brave souls who let me post their pictures for all of the internet to see.

*If you have a Before/After that you want to send me, please do, and I’ll add it here. Consider it your contribution to the Spring 2012 Nutrition Challenge, where you’ll serve as a hopeful illustration of what can happen.

Julie Toone: Total weight loss – 14lbs

Alex Carrese: Total weight loss – 10lbs

Mike Ferguson: Total weight loss – 12lbs

Jill Fisher: Total weight loss – 5lbs

Lastly, we received a lot of great feedback from the survey. It looks like you all enjoyed success during the challenge, and were grateful for the support. It’s the people who did the challenge with you, especially the winners and honorable mentions, that provided the bulk of the support. You all were such an important factor in one another’s success, and I hope you realize that you can now go forward, armed with knowledge and a group of people behind you, and start to live healthy and help others.

We’ll catch up at the Spring 2011 Nutrition Challenge! Look for more blog posts/nutrition discussions before then. Congratulations again!

Posted in 30 Day Challenge, Personal Stories | 10 Comments

In Your Own Words…quotes from the Fall 2011 Nutrition Challenge!

Posted on by admin

Today is Day 30! Last day of the challenge. That wasn’t so bad, now was it? In fact, it was kinda good. Kinda really good.

Here are some of your quotes from throughout the challenge. Whenever you’re having a bad food day, or you realized that you’ve strayed a little too far from the real-food diet, come back here and read this post to remind yourself of how great you feel when you are eating real foods.

With pride and great hopes fore the future, we say congratulations and good luck! Go ahead, eat or drink something tomorrow that you’ve missed throughout the challenge. Then try to stay as close to 100% real foods as possible. Your body will thank you.

“This time I wanted to really make a lifestyle change. I wanted to come out the other side significantly different in how I viewed food and my ability to know what is good for me and make those choices regularly. And, with only a week left, I am pleased to say that it HAS become a way of life. I learned more this time (thanks to all your posts and recipes and Q and A!), and I feel equipped to face the highly processed culture out there with a lot more self control and, frankly, joy! Life is not about all the things we avoid, but all the things we enjoy. And man oh man, paleo style food is straight up enjoyable.”

“My response to “Oh, you’re on that low carb Atkins thing” is “No, I’m on that ‘Eat Only What’s Good For You’ thing.”

“I did ok with eating before but no sugar or dairy has been different. Headaches are gone and I am feeling less tired. I did notice I took an apple in my lunch today and it tasted soooooo good! Guess that would be the sweet tooth being replaced with different tastes! My 30 days are up when I am going to my friends wedding…I was really looking forward to eating and drinking whatever but I must say…I am having less of a desire to “ruin” what I have already done, even when the 30 days is up.”

“This challenge has really opened my eyes to how not Paleo I was eating over the last 6 months which probably contributed to my freak out of gaining weight. I was not understanding why I was gaining weight but when I really look back at my diet I cheated everyday and those cheats add up.”

“This challenge has really straight up just gotten me to the point where I am ready to embrace this lifestyle on a more full-time basis.”

“Since I can remember I’ve always had stomach/digestive issues since college and it has progressively gotten worse through the years. I’ve been to Dr.s and specialists who have told me that I have IBS and that I need to figure out what foods are causing my symptoms – I’ve even been given medicine to help and that didn’t work. So the last few years I”ve self diagnosed myself as lactose intolerant, I know that eating rice makes me bloated and few other things. But b/c i love all the bad stuff, I chose to deal with the pain convincing myself I’m just screwed for life b/c no one really knows what’s actually wrong.

We are on day 17 of the challenge and I have had no issues, no IBS symptoms or bloating, and my body is functioning as normal as can be. I feel great! I don’t worry anymore about how bad I will feel after every meal because I don’t have any problems anymore!!!!! The 30 day challenge was a wake up call, and made me realize that what I was putting in my body was negatively affecting my life. “

“Although I have been eating mostly paleo since January, it wasn’t until this challenge that I have adopted the concept cooking large quantities of meat in a crock pot to last me through the week. It has saved me so much time in food preparation during the week and [so far] the experiments have been tasty and successful.”

“Anyway last time I did the diet I failed from the drinking part. I couldnt do it for 30 days. But now I’m much more comfortable going to a bar and asking for a club soda with a ton of limes. As long as I have something to sip on it didn’t really phase me to much. I also think its a maturity thing as well. You grow up and realize its OK to not drink even though everyone else is.”

“Before this challenge I was cold ALL THE TIME. I used to sit at my desk and just freeze I would drink loads of hot water and my nails would still be blue from cold. That’s totally vanished in the last few weeks. Even my husband has noticed, saying that my nose and cheeks aren’t cold to the touch.”

“So because we had a wedding to go to my husband and I started early. Today is our last day (although I feel fabulous and will continue to eat this way…. plus a little liquor). Survey says….30 days Paleo…..minus 14 lbs. I am pretty freakin’ proud of myself. I did not enter to win but just felt like I wanted to share with people who know that this was a super healthy way to lose…I have been met with lots of “you are looking great but are you sure cutting all that out is healthy” comments! Keep up the great work everyone!!! It does pay off!”

“Top 11 things I thought would never happen and did during the challenge
1. I cooked.
2. I drink my coffee black
3. I gave up Splenda (yes I know that should have been gone years ago)
4. Mike ate the food I cooked
5. I went grocery shopping multiple times
6. I spend most of my day on Sunday looking at recipes
7. I didn’t cheat on the diet
8. I didnt drink
9. I now enjoy cooking
10. I now truly embrace Paleo as a lifetime way of eating.
11.Mike did the entire challenge didn’t cheat, didn’t drink, and lost mad weight!”

“I’ve definitely given up gluten for good and learned when I’m actually hungry versus when I’m just craving sugars/random foods (if extra breakfast/lunch/dinner is not appetizing, I’m not really hungry).”

“I am now feeling like it’s a lifestyle change rather than a diet. Even when I’m craving bad foods, I know I won’t go near them because of how negatively my body reacts to them.”

I’ve cooked more in the last two weeks than I’ve cooked in my entire life. Need a vacation from this. Know of any Paleo cruises?”

“I have always been into cooking and good food so I started to change my diet slowly in preparation for the challenge and started reading all of the nutritional information that has been posted on the website. Oh boy what an eye opener! I was aware of some of the obvious stuff, but the toxic affect of gluten, the genetic modifications to food we eat and the long term affects of a wheat infused diet are really frightening. This experience is definitely a life changer for me. Not to say I will never cheat and eat ice cream or drink wine, but it will be with my eyes open and knowing that 90% of the time I am on the right track. One of the hardest things for me has been incorporating so much red meat into my diet. I am a big fish eater but now I am eating bacon – my dogs are thrilled – and all kinds of meat and I am feeling great! Some of the benefits for me are:
I am sleeping better than I have in years
I feel really rested when I wake up – but I still love my coffee
I have much more energy throughout the day
I am not hungry at night so I am not snacking after dinner
I am getting leaner and stronger – last night I increased my front squat weight by 50 lbs!
Actually I am never hungry anymore and I haven’t really been too full – except Sat night when all of the different food was so awesome!
My clothes are fitting better and I don’t feel so bloated
I also feel more clear headed and focused.”

I used to be plagued with headaches and migraines…usually they would start at 3 in the afternoon and last until after dinner time. They would be so bad i was sensitive to light, nauseous, would have to laydown in the dark and take pills to knock me out. Once I started changing my diet a year ago I started getting fewer headaches. I got a headache the first 2 days on the challenge but that’s it. Nothing since then. I know the headaches were related to my diet. My body is very sensitive to sugar, I get really bad highs and lows from it. My crashes usually were when I would get my headache and then I would feed my headache and so the cycle continued…this last year I’ve ended that cycle and I feel better. When I occasionally eat sugar I feel like I wake up with a slight hangover, groggy, sluggish etc. “

“The other thing I’ve noticed about eating this way, it’s a mood stabilizer for me. Usually the highs and lows that I got from eating sugar also affected my mood, I got angry, tired, depressed, giddy. Now I feel I don’t have as bad of mood swings.”

“Like many in my family, I have dealt with anxiety over the past several years and was even on anti-depressants for a while there. Even before I found crossfit, I was feeling relief through my attempts at better diet and exercise and weight loss.”

“This 30-day challenge (and crossfit workout) have definitely contributed to additional improvements. I’m way more relaxed, in the moment, calm, clear headed, confident. Anxiety was also a cause of my over eating. I’m no longer likely to hunt for snacks and eat just for the sake of eating. I’m finally breaking the vicious cycle!”

If that wasn’t enough, head on over to Kate vs Food ( Kate Eckert’s blog!)  or More Spiel (Steve’s blog)…they are great real-life resources, and include recipes, too!

Posted in 30 Day Challenge, Personal Stories | 6 Comments

30 Day Challenge! You Game?

Posted on by admin

Hey Members,

This post is for those of you who have read our ‘Baby Steps’ approach to eating better, and have said  “gee, that sounds good”, but haven’t really made all of the changes necessary to complete the transition into healthy eating all of the time. This is for people who have started eating eggs for breakfast instead of cereal (yay!),but too frequently find themselves with a handful of cookies and a diet coke at 3pm (ugh, again?).

This post is for Me. This post is for Justin. And if you think you’ve got the drive to really make a difference in your performance, energy, health and body composition in the next 30 Days,  then this post is for you, too.

Starting on October 24th, the people over at Whole9 are rolling out their 30 Day Challenge, Version 3.0. This is an update to their original 30 Day Challenge which is a kick-in-the-pants, no cheating allowed, approach to eating well. It’s 30 Days of consuming the glorious bounties of the earth (meat, veggies, fish, natural fats), and nothing else. No sugar. No grains. No dairy. No alcohol. No processed foods.

The point of this 30 Day exercise is to show your body how much is actually doesn’t need or crave those things that you’ve grown up eating, but are making you sick. If you don’t know how or why sugar, dairy, grains or processed foods are not good for you, ask us!

Justin and I will be participating in this challenge. To reiterate, it STARTS SUNDAY, OCTOBER 24th.

We’ve done it before, and we’ll do it again. At the end of each challenge, not only do we look, feel and perform much better, but we bump our overall healthy eating habits to a new level. We become healthier people, and feel less temptation to stray from perfect eating.

If you want to join us on a 30 Day bonanza of eating perfectly, TELL US! Comment below, email me, tell us in person, shout it from the rooftop, etc.

It only takes the support of one other person to help you get through a challenging 30 day exercise. We aren’t turning this into a ‘gym-wide’ challenge because we want this to be an individual choice. Just like deciding to join CrossFit. You do it because you’re ready.

If at least one other person joins us in this challenge, I will be posting additional resources, recipes, and words of encouragement throughout the next 30 days to help you (and us) stay on track.

It doesn’t take anything more than a little planning and willpower.

You can do this.

If it’s your time, tell us or post your commitment to comments. Don’t dwell…do it right now to save yourself the stress of wanting to make a change but not following through. This is your chance to finally become a healthier person.

Happy Eating Always!

Posted in 30 Day Challenge, News & Events | 11 Comments

For the Love of Food: Cooking 1 Week of Meals in 1 Hour Flat

Posted on by Alycia

Trying to eat Paleo, but find yourself reaching for a ‘quick snack’ during the day because real food isn’t available?

Read, or re-read these articles. You might need a refresher!

Baby Step #1: Change your Breakfast

Baby Step #2: Pack your Lunch

Baby Step #3: Get Rid of the Bad Stuff

Hopefully (especially if you’re a member of our gym!) you’ve adopted some of the suggestions that were provided to help you transition into 100% clean eating. For most, you probably had a few ‘take aways’ from the articles, but you surely didn’t implement all of the tactics for eating well. After all, that would include a ton of COOKING….and who has time for THAT?


Don’t believe me?

Take a look at my Monday night. I cooked all of my food for the week between 6pm  and 7pm while Justin coached a single CrossFit workout. I knew that the week would be VERY hectic, and rather than set myself up for bad decision making later in the week, I decided to go on a cooking rampage and just cook everything in my fridge at once!

6pm - Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Unwrap a Trader Joe’s Cabernet Pot Roast, plop it on a baking sheet and cover with foil. Remove 5 marinated chicken legs (free range chicken from Reading Terminal Market) from the fridge (these were marinated in Newman’s Own olive oil and vinegar dressing) and put them in an oven safe dish and cover with foil.

6:05 - Put the meats in the oven and set the timer for 1 hour.

6:10- Rinse and chop fresh arugula, garden fresh tomatoes and cucumbers ( all from Haddonfield Farmer’s Market). Dress with olive oil and cracked black pepper.

6:15 – Put a pot of water on the stove with high heat. Peel and cube a sweet potato.

6:20 – Chop a 1/2 of a yellow squash into rounds and sautee in a large pan ( try to have a single layer of rounds) on medium heat in some Kerrygold pure butter.

6:25 – Put the sweet potatoes in the water. Flip the squash rounds. Rinse and chop some kale.

6:30 – Cut an acorn squash in half, scoop out the stringy part and seeds. Score the inside of each half. Set open sides up on a baking sheet. Put a pat of Kerrygold butter and a few shakes of allspice in the scooped out portion of each. Put that in the oven with the meats.

6:35 – Remove the yellow squash rounds from the heat and set aside. Put 2 small pork loins ( or one large one) in a crock pot and set it on high for 4 hours. Add a little olive oil to the bottom of the crock pot, and a small amount of water, just to make sure the meat doesn’t stick to the bottom. Don’t worry about seasoning. You’ll do that later when the meat comes out.

6:40 – Drain the water from the sweet potatoes, and add the squash rounds to this pot. Mix in some Trader Joe’s Everyday seasoning and mash together slightly until it looks like chunky mashed potatoes. Put 3 slices of bacon in a small frying pan and cook on medium, occasionally draining the bacon fat into a larger sautee pan (large enough to cook kale in).

6:45 - Slice 6 small apples (organic,  from the Haddonfield Farmer’s Market) into thin slices and put them in a pot on the stove with a small amount of water. Cook covered on medium for 15 minutes.

7:00 - Remove the meats ( leave the acorn squash in there) from the oven and check for doneness. If they are done, set them aside to reach their optimal level of tenderness. If they need more time, stick them back in the oven! Don’t let the bacon burn. Take it off the stove when it’s done and chop into small squares when it’s cool.

7:03- Drain the water from the apples, and add in a handful of raisins and about 1/4 cup of  almond meal. Continue to cook on low heat for about 3-5 more minutes. Remove the acorn squash from the oven ( don’t undercook – the whole thing should be soft, and pliable when touched).

7:06 – Toss the kale into the sautee pan with the leftover bacon fat. Coat the kale, cook for a few minutes until it wilts and gets smaller. Toss in the the bacon squares.

Later, when the pork is done, remove it from the crock pot and shred into small pieces with two forks. Store in the fridge with the liquid from the crock pot ( should be water + fat from the meat). When you’re ready to eat it during the week,  add some minimally processed BBQ sauce, or make your own to put on it. You can also mix this with chopped raw veggies and olive oil, and eat cold ( a la chicken salad).

To recap, here’s what I made:

Arugula salad with local vegetables (2 servings)

Pot Roast with spices from Trader Joes ( 4 servings)

Pulled Pork ( 6 servings)

Baked Chicken ( 3-4 servings)

Sweet potato and squash mash ( 5 servings)

Apples, raisins and nuts ( 5-6 servings)

Kale with Bacon ( 4 servings)

Baked Acorn Squash ( 4 servings)

Depending on the size of your family, or how much you eat at one time, this could easily keep you fed and happy for the rest of the week. Simply cook some more green veggies to add to the plate each time you sit down to eat. These meals were prepared in about 1 hour, will feed Justin and I for an entire week, and the total approximate cost of everything was about $50!

My plan for the week:

Breakfasts: Chop up one of the meats into tiny pieces and add to eggs for an omelette.

Lunches: Meat + one of the squash dishes, and whatever greens are left/available.

Dinners: Meat, a little of one of the squashes/sweet potatoes, and cook more greens to accompany.

Snacks: Nuts, high quality lunch meats, and some of the apple/raisin/nut dish.

And there you have it. My hectic schedule seems less hectic now that all I have to do is cook some eggs or greens, and re-heat good, clean food.

Still think you don’t have time to cook?

Try this out next week and let me know how it goes!

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