With the change of season and the warmer weather starting to appear, many try to make a change in their “diet” to lean out and transform their body before summer hits. Here at 6S, we went against the norm, not focusing on the just the body changes but instead the positive health behaviour changes to improve overall health, feel better and perform better - for summer and for every other season of the year!
Starting April 1st, 30 participants embarked on a 6-week journey to start making better health choices to improve performance, energy and overall well-being. The group was led by our two Food for 6S Dietitians - Alysha Coughler and Leigh Merotto - who provided guidance and support to the brave participants venturing on this journey.
To start, each participant received a lifestyle plan with goals for exercise, water intake, sleep, health and diet, in addition to a nutrition plan based on gender and activity level. In some cases, individuals received a more personalized nutrition care plan, taking into account additional factors such as goals, needs and lifestyle.
So, what are the keys to success with your nutrition?
1. Seek Information + Education
Having an understanding of food science and how it relates to the human body is instrumental to making smart decisions with food. If we don't have a basic understanding of what food is and what food our body needs, how it breaks down in our body etc., we're going to be spending alot of time guessing. Instead, we should always be aiming to make informed decisions.
The challenge began with an educational launch meeting where Alysha & Leigh reviewed some key concepts (e.g. macronutrients) and provided participants with the tools to be successful throughout the challenge and beyond.
2. Have an Accountability Partner(s)
We have all experienced the power of accountability in our life in one aspect or another. The human mind thrives off of positive reinforcement and encouragement, so having a strong, positive support system is key to staying motivated. Whether that is a dietitian you meet with regularly, a friend you call weekly or your coach at the gym, surround yourself with people who want the best for you and are going to help you achieve your goals.
In this initial meeting, participants where placed into teams of 2; these partners were each others' guides and meal-prepping/healthy-eating/workout buddies throughout the 6 weeks. Participants were also part of a Whatsapp group for additional support and guidance, and were given access to a library of healthy Food for 6S recipes.
3. Set Goals
"A dream is a wish your heart makes"
We always say DREAM BIG, but in order to increase the chances for success you must have a plan in place and, a plan needs an end goal, something to strive for. Set a large "end-game" goal, then smaller ones that you will need to achieve along the way in order to reach the final one. Then, write them down and share them with other people in your life. Tell your friends, coaches etc. because this will link back to #2 and increase your chance for success even more!
Before the initial launch meeting, participants articulated and shared their goals for the challenge. At the meeting, initial and final biometric testing were completed (e.g. weigh-in, measurements, pictures, body composition) as a comparison for those curious of the changes and for those individuals who had quantifiable goals.
4. Track Your Progress
With the busy lives we all lead, most of us do not have the mental space to remember what we had for breakfast last week or how we felt the morning after having pizza at a new restaurant. If we don't remember what we ate or how we felt, how are we supposed to make educated adjustments or informed decisions about food? That's part of the reason keeping a log is so important! Keeping a "nutrition diary" ensures that you are in-tune with your body and how it responds to different foods. Without that information, our nutrition is a guessing game, which leaves too much up to chance!
Participants were required to track their foods with a food log and their behavior changes with a daily lifestyle log, wherein they were asked to rate their energy, motivation, performance and overall mood.
5. Be Creative
Most of us will get bored of eating the same thing everyday, which over time can result in decreased motivation and sometimes disinterest with healthy eating. Therefore, it's important to still eat foods you LIKE (within reason, of course) and to switch things up. This means seeking out new recipes online or from your friends, asking for help etc. There's no point re-inventing the wheel! Unless you are someone who enjoys experimenting in the kitchen and who has the time to do so, there is plenty of information available for you to try (with minimal effort).
Our participants shared recipes and experiences together, allowing everyone to learn from each other. As well, everyone was given access to a Food for 6S recipe folder.
As part of the challenge, Alysha & Leigh hosted an educational and interactive meal-planning workshop. In this workshop, everyone shared some of their top tips to make food more efficiently and delicious, to stay prepared for the week and to save money and time at the grocery store. At the end of the workshop, participants got their practice in the kitchen and worked with their partners to create their very own custom protein ball to take home for the remaining challenge weeks.
It wouldn't be a "challenge" without a prize, right!?
In the end, the team of 2 with the most points would be the "winners of the prize" (because everyone is a true winner in our eyes). Participants could earn points throughout the challenge by: 1) Filling out their daily lifestyle logs and 2) Participating in the weekly challenges.
In addition to accumulating as many points as possible, teams were required to submit short "essays" to the dietitians about their partner, highlighting their partner's journey, successes and challenges throughout the 6 weeks. This was a great way for Alysha & Leigh to get the inside scoop into people's journey, and learn about some of the things that went on behind the scenes that weren't recorded otherwise. Plus, most of us are too modest to explain to others all of the amazing things we have accomplished, so having partners brag about each other was much more successful :)
Prizes and recognition were awarded at the end of the 6 weeks during the post-challenge celebratory potluck to the team with the most points (i.e. those who had the most improved behavioural changes, as evidenced by the lifestyle logs and the essays). Special shoutout to Kyra & Alex who were the winners of the challenge & each took home an instaPOT and some healthy goodies! For being enthusiastic and showing team pride throughout the entire challenge, Elizabeth & Vicki were awarded the spirit prize.
A HUGE congratulations goes out to everyone who made it to the end of the 6-week challenge. Even if it is just a small change that you made, like drinking more water or attending an extra class at the gym each week, that is still a sustainable and maintainable change, and an ACCOMPLISHMENT! We're so proud of you all and look forward to seeing you continue to progress through your health and nutrition journey!
Remember: A nutrition plan should not by a crash DIET, but rather a lifetime of healthy habits to hold onto!
CrossFit 6S team helping you achieve your fitness goals.