Nutrition Challenges

Lori Capossela Challenge Essay

lori clean jerk

Lori Capossela 3rd Place Challenge Essay


This journey has been a win/win for me. I have been struggling to lose weight for 10 years, every year my weight has been creeping up. When I started Cross fit I told Kara, I’d be 30 pounds thinner and in great shape in 6 months, she said “Mom it’s going to take you at least a year.” Well she was right. I thought that it didn’t matter what I ate just working out would help me lose weight and feel better.

This year I lost 10 lbs. – one month of eating challenge friendly I lost 11 pounds- amazing!

I started Cross Fit because I had a physical and my doctor told me my cholesterol and sugars were really high, she gave me 6 months to lose weight and get them under control or I would have to go on medication. Well that was a wakeup call, I joined Cross Fit and went back to see her in 6 months, I told her I needed more time I was making progress. My numbers went down, but not enough. One year later, I have good numbers and no medication!!

What I have learned:

1. Dairy gives me gas! Not sure if that means I am lactose intolerant, but it is Almond milk for me now!

2. I learned that I can survive without eating bread! I think this is one reason for my weight dropping. I don’t miss wheat at all.

3. Cooking food is not a chore. Cooking for a family of 5 got tired really fast. I took a break after my divorce and stopped cooking, but the challenge has brought me back into the kitchen and cooking for myself, Jack, and Mike has become fun again!

4. Mike is a really good cook! Better than me and it has been wonderful cooking and bonding with him in the kitchen (don’t tell him)!

5. I miss my beer! This has been the biggest challenge; I need to find a new adult beverage. I don’t drink much, but Friday nights is my “get together with my girlfriend’s night” and I would like to find something? I hate wine!

6. Eating clean has given me more energy. I was worried that I would not have enough energy to get thru my workouts because I wasn’t eating bread! Wow was I wrong.

Thanks for all the encouragement and support I could not have got to this place of feeling good without your help.


Rich Mocarski Challenge Essay

Rich Mocarski 2nd Place Challenge Essay

Oh “The Challenge”! I don’t even know where to start. The experience was something of mixed reactions good, bad, and more shockingly confusing. You learn many different things along the way with “The Challenge” that you are capable of cooking and inventing things you never knew existed, you learn a lot about yourself in regards to sticking and seeing things out, and staying disciplined throughout the
entire process.


Obstacles that came about were going out with friends, watching or going to sporting events and not being able to drink or indulge in some kind of non-paleo food. Seeing the entire thing through was easy for me as I am too stubborn to not see things through, and yes I would recommend it to some.

“The Challenge” was an interesting experience to say the least. The bad to get it out of the way was, the restriction to so many foods and types. I like to think I have clean eating habits but to further restrict them by removing foods that were part of either my protein or carb macros made it a bit difficult at first. Some of those foods that were restricted (Greek Yogurt/Cottage Cheese, RICE, Steel Cut Oats,

RICE, and did I mention RICE). The good part to this was learning to expand your knowledge in the kitchen. I can say confidently, if you made the same thing over and over on “The Challenge” well you missed out on something much larger and that is diversifying what you make on a day to day week to week basis.


Things I learned how to cook or invented etc were and not limited to (Monfongo, Yucca cakes, Plantains, Cauliflower Rice, coconut aminos, utilizing more fresh herbs and blending fruit zest etc to get a desired taste). The confusing part was trying to figure out Macro breakdown how to accomplish it without certain protein powders and some of the food restrictions. This was tough; to make sure you were getting the proper break down in protein fat and most importantly starchy carbs. I felt like getting enough starch in the diet was going to be the determining factor in seeing results that ensured fat loss
while keeping as much muscle as possible.

“The Challenge” found many ways to learn and reflect about one’s self. When signing up for the challenge I became intrigued at doing it because I invest a ton of time, money, etc into Crossfit and improving my health but I knew I wasn’t getting the most out of it due to diet, drinking, sleep, and balancing both strength, mobility, MetCon, and most importantly that little thing called LIFE. With that being said I used the challenge as a springboard to “poke the bear” and jump in head first into this challenge to see the end result. There were a few bumps in the road and detours were made during the struggle. Going to sporting events, company events, or just out with friends made it really tough at first.

Going to a game without having a beer and a dog is criminal to a large part of the population. Going out and only having a seltzer or water gets an odd look or a snood comment from some. Not having cake or eating a bagel on bagel day is seen as taboo in the office. Then when you explain what you are doing and what your goals are; a Crossfit Hater comes out of the wood work, and lambastes anything that you do and or is associated with the one word of Crossfit. You quickly learn that these are the people that bring you down and should be quickly ignored for their simple mind.

So once I signed up for the challenge I started thinking what did I want to achieve while on the challenge. Fat Loss check, maintain and improve body comp check, increase lean muscle mass check, become more flexible check. Now how to combine all of this was the tricky part. I immediately came up with an idea and started to write it out.

Strength work would be done following the strength program as best I can, once completed perform that day’s WOD, and finish off with foam rolling, stretching and hammering out any other nagging injuries. With this schedule I felt more at ease. Going for just an hour is ideal to change one body’s comp but does it do anything to make you stronger, and more flexible I found to be difficult to near impossible. As the weeks passed, I saw a big difference in both body composition, maintained my strength levels and became a bit more flexible (heck I can even squat clean and squat snatch now!)

Tome in order to best reflect on what one has done is to accurately detail what you did. The point system if you remained truthful to it all was a starting block, but to take it to the next level I documented every meal, every WOD, and notes on how I felt that day, and what things were said to me for improvement especially on relearning how to squat clean/snatch, or simple adjustments and tweaks to a skill movement (Hit my first muscle up while on the challenge). This started every morning with making sure I was drinking 25oz of water, and then documenting what I had for breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, periworkout and dinner.

I was also keeping track of my times during WODS, and my numbers when I lift. This was beneficial in adjusting on the fly as to why I was sluggish, felt fast, missed a lift, or hit a PR.

I called this the accountability journal, and I think it helped me remember the goal is not way down the road but right in front of you.
Like anything else in life for me, seeing the end result is always the most rewarding. It shows hard work and dedication are always paid out. “The Challenge” was hard work in many senses and dedication was a must at all times for thirty plus days. At the end of the day, this was a great feat to finish that left me happy, surprised, and yet still yearning for more and better results. This challenge is hopefully just the start of a journey to continue to improve in all aspects of life.

I would recommend this to someone who has the mindset to not just say five days passed and I notice nothing, and program hop to something else. This isn’t a fix or cleanse but this is a lifestyle. If one is willing to part ways with their old lifestyle and embark on a new one then I would recommend this to anyone and everyone.

Finally, I can say I am very happy with the how I feel, what I look like in the mirror, and what the scale and body fat% say to me. My next goal is to seek the advice of a professional to see what and how I should eat in order to take this to the next level. I feel having a better understanding of macro breakdown and supplementation can take the results that were achieved already to greater heights.

Again this is a lifestyle, a lifestyle that I am willing to continue on with.


Samantha Schroeder Challenge Essay

Samantha Schroeder 1st Place Challenge Essay

Day one, I had no idea what I was getting myself into!

I felt like I was over my head and was so overwhelmed. Not that I wasn’t eating healthy before the challenge started but cutting out pizza, cheese, my pasta but most of all my beloved ice cream, my addiction! I found that pre making my food and finding a book geared toward paleo cooking helped me out tremendously!

Without it I feel like my meals would of been my downfall to this challenge. I never had a problem with staying active, going to the gym and being outside. I was always good at finding an activity to do where id sweat and feel as though I’m almost on cloud 9 if I wasn’t able to get in for a daily WOD.

Sam S Challenge Pics

Since i found cross fit these part few months have given me such a boost in my confidence and how i present myself on a daily basis. Before i started this i was only doing weight lifting and felt as though being in a regular gym i was being judged and i had little to almost no confidence in myself and wasn’t such a happy person in my daily life. Being at CFS Ive come out of my shell and still in shock how amazingly happy and stronger i have become in just a short time of starting. I always look forward to being here and learning and growing to find my new PR and getting my form better than the last WOD class.

Emotionally, I learned that I’m so cranky when i don’t eat enough or take out certain things i felt i needed in my diet. I found myself almost every two hours shoving my face with some sort of snack to fuel my energy and keep myself from being a ” cranky bitch”, as my co workers call me. This challenge also gave me the strength and knowledge to know things don’t happen overnight and even though i know I’ve come a long way from day one to day thirty i feel this is a slow steady process that ill never be done with and ill always want to strive to be better, look better and feel better about myself.

Sam S Challenge Pics 2

As for recommending this challenge to someone for the future, I would 100 % and tell them don’t ever feel discouraged, don’t ever give up and make sure you give it your all. Because on day thirty of this challenge i didn’t feel to much different until i took a step back and stared at my pictures, put them side by side. I couldn’t believe the difference in my body and the amazing changes i has made!

What added to the excitement was finally doing my last weight in and getting my body measurements. Loosing inches in my waist and as i say with my hips, i grew a butt!!! but like i said before its a steady progress that ill never be done with and will forever be working to just better myself for the rest of my life. Id do this again in a heartbeat and give it 200% this time to watch my pictures and numbers change even more.

I appreciate the chance to be a part of this challenge and experience something different and amazing. I cant wait to start this new chapter in my life and work harder towards achieving more of my goals ! thanks for giving my the tools i need to do so and giving me a place to become an amazing athlete in cross fit!

Congratulations, Brent-2nd Place in the Winter Paleo Challenge

Brent Front Brent Side

From Brent:

I entered the Paleo challenge with my main curiosity and goal being
increased energy level. I think the winter has a lot to do with it,
but I found myself struggling to get out of bed in the morning, and
feeling very tired throughout the day. I wanted to see if a Paleo diet
and more sleep would make me feel better. The answer is definitely
yes, I feel like I have more energy, but I can’t be sure which factor
contributed more, the sleep or the diet.

Considering the fact that I’m basically diagnosed with OCD (by my
peers, not by an actual doctor), I didn’t have much trouble staying
strict through the competition. It was all about creating a routine.
Get my 8 hours of sleep, wake up and drink my water, go work out, eat
Paleo all day, foam roll before bed, rinse and repeat. The hardest
part was making sure I had the right foods available. Normally I
wouldn’t hesitate to chow down on whatever is available (pizza Friday
at the office, all my daughter’s leftovers like chicken nuggets and
mac and cheese, etc.), but the competition kept me from indulging.
Usually on Sunday I would prepare a bunch of chicken and sweet
potatoes and eat that throughout the week. I kept it very simple, and
rarely spent the time to whip up one of the more complex Paleo dishes.
Instead of excitedly looking forward to my meals, I kept reminding
myself to treat meals as fuel . One of my favorite quotes (I believe
from Benjamin Franklin, according to Google) is “Eat to live, don’t
live to eat.”

I would definitely recommend it to anyone to do the Paleo challenge.
Honestly, even if you didn’t follow the Paleo diet too strictly, there
are so many other benefits from the rest of the contest components. I
probably hadn’t had 8 hours of sleep since I was in college. The
competition forced me to turn off the tv, get off the
Ipad/Iphone/computer, and go to sleep. Drinking water (right when you
get up, as well as throughout the day), exercise, recovery, are all
going to contribute to making you feel better. That’s my advice for
anyone who says they won’t do the challenge because they can’t/don’t
want to follow the Paleo diet. It takes some effort to strictly follow
the Paleo diet, but if you are ok with giving up a point or 2 a day on
the nutrition side, I think it would be pretty easy for those afraid
to try.

As for advice, I would say be careful with the cheat meals. It’s a
slippery slope. I made a huge mistake by cheating on Superbowl Sunday.
Not only did I overindulge at one meal to abide by the rules of the
contest, I was in full on eating mode after that and cheated again
later in the day, which cost me a point on top of my freebie. After 2
weeks of doing really well, I feel like that binge day really set me
back. Maybe it works for some people, but if you have a tendency to
overdo it, I’d caution to be careful with the cheat meals.

It feels great to make it through the challenge, and it’s a bit of a
relief that I don’t have to be so strict with all the contest
components. I’m happy with the results as I lost weight and bodyfat,
but apparently I also lost a little muscle mass. I feel better, look
better, and did better on the Wod. I’m looking forward to adding back
in some not so Paleo foods (like white rice) to see if I notice any
ill effects, but for the most part I believe I’ll keep following the
Paleo way of eating.

Congratulations to Danny – 2nd Place Winner of the Paleo Challenge


Here is Danny’s write-up about his experience with the Challenge:

I spent a good amount of time and effort reflecting on my experience over the course of the past month, and I made sure to make mental notes on all the different aspects of life affected by a paleo challenge. My initial impression was like that of the many people who I told I was doing the challenge – they questioned how realistic it was to cut out legumes, dairy, grains, and everything that contains soy – this was going to be torture. I was convinced that the person who was going to win this challenge was the person who could endure the most torture and monotony.

Seeing as how I was not keen on suffering for 30 days, I made sure to spend the days leading up to the challenge researching as many paleo options – breakfast, lunch, snacks, dinner – to really get an idea of what my options were going to be.. My first two weeks consisted of lots of prep work for meal planning – Paleo baking (muffins that used avocado as shortening for instance), I used tons and created tons of recipes and really improved on efficient kitchen and time management. This was a crucial improvement considering I had to create so many things from scratch and the time constraints. As fun as it was to cook drastically different things every day, the constant prep work does gets old… I found that the work for snack food (paleo crackers and pate – duck liver is better than goose – not so gamey) got tedious and I resorted to carrots, celery, jerky in the last week. For the most part the food was great. I only messed up making mayonnaise… I can make soufflés, make perfect flan, and render chocolate… but I F*CK UP mayonnaise – WTF.

The most surprising things were what I missed and what was easy to give up. I thought that the bread and grains would be easy for me, and they were. I thought dairy would be hard, but using full fat unsweetend coconut milk really worked out… but in the end it was not hard. I substituted lard or coconut oil for butter, I discovered raw honey (amazing), and learned how to use baking soda/powder to mimic real baked good with almond flour and tapioca flour. Even with all this, I still could not kick the desire for peanut M&M’s – which is odd, because I rarely eat them. Then there is god damn diet coke. I must have tossed out maybe 12 DC’s that I would buy out of habit. I eventually managed to change over to sparkling water, but those were my only two real struggles.

My main take away is this – The challenge is psychological. Anything you want (chocolate – I made chocolate mousse with avocado and coconut sugar with a bit of raw honey) you can make without loading up on empty fillers, it just takes a little effort. I have decided to stick with this life style, but on an 85/15% basis. I like cheese and wine, but I will save that for special occasions. Same with apple pie (working on a recipe…), but I will hopefully keep dropping weight (9.8lbs and counting)

Challenge scores:
Body fat 14.9% to 11.1%
Tape measurements C:39.5in and W:35.5in to C:40in and W:33.5in
Benchmark WOD before:64 after:92
Points 262

Winter Paleo Challenge 1st Place Winner – Craig

Craing Front

Craig Back

Congratulations to Craig who, in addition to showing great physical change, also had the second biggest improvement in the paleo WOD.

This is what he had to say:

It was an eye-opening experience in a few ways. It showed me and my family that I could challenge myself to a high degree and gave me new perspective on myself and how my mind functions under this kind of test, and more broadly, who I am.

About two thirds of the way through the challenge I was feeling almost euphoric about myself my life my goals, my future and my health. But at the same time I felt the pull to falloff – not work out – not push myself, take a deduction… kind of like being two thirds the way through a WOD saying “I did enough, I’m exhausted, I can back off now” etc. To follow through and give it my best to last nights sleep was awesome!

My “brand” has never before been about physical fitness and having a great physique. Seeing my body change and seeing how much more fit I am (skiing with my family for instance) has really changed this view of myself. I think for my family as well.

I can say, with utmost sincerity, that I have felt better in my life! I would recommend it to anyone (and have) because no matter where you are in the spectrum of fitness and dietary discipline, you can compete and show yourself an improvement.

Thank you for putting this challenge out there and pulling such a great community together at CrossFit Stamford



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