Tastes Like Vegetables; Feels Like Success: an Insider's Perspective into the CFPW8 Nutrition Challenge

Thursday, March 8, 2018 - 17:06
By Derek Speight, overall male winner


I'm a 6-month newbie to CrossFit, so when I heard about CrossFit Pushin Weight's Nutrition (Wellness) challenge, I was immediately intrigued. This nutrition challenge (otherwise known as the Big Rocks Challenge) was a 28 day challenge to help you completely change your relationship food and help you develop appropriate ways to care for your body. We were split into two teams, each with a dedicated coach to help us through the challenge. Things that were discussed/taught during this challenge included the "plate method", appropriate water intake, how to have a variety in your food selection, the importance of taking some daily ”me time" to de-stress, as well as everything in between. In order to really help you focus on reaching this, points were earned for completing daily and weekly tasks.

I have been interested in "fitness" my whole life and had even dabbled a little bit with my Google education on nutrition as well, but I knew I had a lot to learn. When we started CrossFit in August 2017, I was eating a high-protein, low-everything-else diet that was great for shedding body fat, but my performance in the gym (and the soccer field) was suffering because of it.  We were too new to participate during the September Nutrition challenge, so I was eagerly anticipating the January challenge, which was conveniently right after the holiday season (I LOVE Christmas cookies). My wife Abi and I signed up in hopes to learn to not only be able to eat to get smaller/skinnier, but to be able to eat to perform.  With this Big Rocks challenge, I hoped to finally learn how to eat to fuel my workouts (and hopefully lose body fat in the process).

This challenge lived up to its name with me immediately. I have no problem eating the same thing over and over again, I also am lucky enough to really enjoy chicken breast and eggs. However, I used to always joke that I was allergic to vegetables because, seriously, veggies? Gross. Through some not-so-gentle insistence/encouragement from my wife, I began really diving in and exploring different options for vegetables from day one. The crazy people that came up with this challenge wanted me to eat them THREE times a day. Who does that? After a bit of trial and error, I was finally able to settle on some great, sustainable, options for breakfast and lunch. We even found a way to incorporate some vegetables that we didn't have to fight the kids TOO much to eat at dinner. I also learned that even though I thought I drank enough water, when I started measuring it correctly, I was short of the ideal 80 oz minimum. The nice thing about this challenge is that we didn't just focus on eating vegetables and drinking tons of water, we also had little challenges like worrying about resting correctly (you need your beauty sleep!) and getting my "zen" on daily. All the sudden I realized this challenge wasn't a eat healthy challenge, but a "care for your body" challenge.

Coleen Ramsey.  Spirit of The Challenge Winner.

Looking back on the challenge now, I can see how much my wife and I really benefited from the challenge. Our whole relationship with eating, resting, and training our bodies has changed. Abi (my aforementioned saint of a wife) was probably challenged more than me because she was our meal planner. My job, with regards to the food, was to try whatever she put in front of me and kindly tell her my opinion (not spit the food back at her). She spent a bunch of time coming up with different options for the family and was able to learn a lot about nutrition as a whole during that process. Having her do this challenge with me did give me an advantage over some others because we're super competitive (otherwise known as stubborn) so we really pushed each other to earn the maximum points possible. We were very strict with getting our sleep, with having our zen time together, and completing each weekly mini-challenge. At the end challenge I was able to look at Abi and see both a physical transformation AND a deeper, more impressive mental transformation.

Abi Speight. Overall Female Winner


Between the two of us we lost over 7.5% body fat, gained 5lbs of muscle, inches off of our bodies, and tons of Personal Records (PRs). Abi overcame her fear of box jumps, she went from a very timid 12" jump to owning the 20" box! The confidence that she gained in herself in general was alone worth the grueling process of learning to tolerate vegetables. I've been married to this beautiful woman for nearly 12 years and this is the first time EVER that I've seen her leave the house wearing a tank top (and rocking it). The end of this challenge coincided roughly with the end of a strength cycle with back squat, front squat, and push press as well. We were able to test our new one rep maxes for each lift and I'll gladly report we both had great results (back squat up 40lbs for example).

Near the end of the Big Rocks challenge we sat down and had a long talk about how we were going to continue with all of the things/habits we learned/earned during the 28 days. It has been nearly three weeks, as of this writing, since we completed the challenge and I can tell you that we have stuck with it; we are continuing to push ourselves in the gym with the proper fueling; we have changed our lives to not only care for ourselves, but to provide an example to our children. Thank you to Coach Emine and Coach Shannon (our team coaches) for their knowledge, encouragement, and accountability. Also, thank you Coach Fem and Coach Kara for your wonderful love, support, and great ideas during this whole challenge. Lastly, thank you to all those that did this challenge with us, because of you guys were are better people, parents, and athletes.

Derek Speight Overall Male Nutrition Winner and author of this blog.