I joined Crossfit Stamford last December because I decided that one of my goals for 2017 was to get back into a more athletic shape. I can’t say all of the Crossfit exercises struck a chord with me from the very beginning; I’ve always enjoyed the more HIIT-focused workouts but many times I got frustrated with my limited capabilities in the Olympic lifting-focused WODs.

This past May I decided I was going to take it up a notch and began focusing more on my nutrition, quit drinking (only for a month though) and began focusing on improving my strength and endurance in the WODs. This decision was a game changer for me and the combination of these changes led to noticeable improvements in my strength, reduction in bodyfat and an overall improvement in my flexibility.

Participating in the 30 Day Challenge has really helped me accelerate these fitness and nutrition goals. Since I’ve always tended to eat pretty healthy during the week I actually didn’t find the food restrictions to be that significant of a change for me and I decided since the Challenge was only 30 days I would be extremely strict with the nutrition portion and never ended up having a cheat meal or drink. I definitely think the increased focus on eating a balanced, fruit, vegetable and protein rich diet continuously (as opposed to just the weekdays) has been the biggest driver of the gains I’ve made in reducing body fat.

I think the biggest surprise from the Challenge has been the improvement I’ve seen in my sleep. I love my job but it can be pretty stressful and a lot of the time that stress tends to pile up right when I get in bed which can lead to some restless nights. These past 30 days however I have found myself falling asleep much faster and staying asleep throughout most of the night. This has been very beneficial because I find myself with a higher level of energy the next day which has helped me be more productive at work and life.

The other part of the Challenge that I have found very rewarding is seeing the gains I’ve made in both endurance and strength over the past month. It has had the effect of creating a positive feedback loop because the better I’ve gotten in the workouts the more workouts I’ve come to and I find myself working out now 5 days a week vs my previous 3 to 4. I also think working out more has helped me find a consistent way to decompress from work which is really important for me. Being a very competitive person by nature, the fact that I find myself able to keep up with some of the really impressive Crossfit members in the WODs has also served as a huge motivating factor for me.

With the Challenge wrapping up, I am more motivated now to build off of my recent gains and use this roadmap to continue to improve my strength, endurance, nutrition and health.