Report from Week One of the CrossFit Elysium Nutrition Challenge

On August 22, CrossFit Elysium launched a six-week Nutrition Challenge for members at the gym. While I’ve toyed around with both the Paleo diet and the Zone diet a bit the past few months, the appeal of the Challenge was to truly invest in trying out the whole program: Both the high-quality food intake of Paleo and the weighing-and-measuring techniques required by the Zone approach. Below is my report from the first week of the experience.

  1. Sleeping better. And having really weird, vivid dreams. Last week was celebrity week. One night I was hanging out with President Obama at the White House. He was shuffling papers in the Oval Office and I was just sitting around with nothing to do. Another dream I spent three days (all magically compressed into one dream) with the Ironman World Champion Chrissie Wellington. It was before the Hawaii Ironman and I was impressed at how casually she was taking it all. Zero stress. We even drank some beers. And then another night I dreamt of hanging out with the guy who starred in the TV show Monk. Tony Shaloub I believe. In each dream I was just tagging along, not part of the theatrical narrative at all. Just a bit player. At any rate, I woke up as if I’d coming out of a radical outer-body-experience.
  2. Snacking has been obliterated. One of the major changes that using the Zone and the Paleo-Zone and the Paleo-Zone-All-Veggies meals is that the occasional desire to snack—to tear into a package of mixed nuts or to sneak a candy bar or cheese and crackers—has been the victim of an wildly successful exorcism. I was neither planning for this nor expecting it. Whether the block of fat in each Zone meal of the Volkswagen-sized portions of vegetables that make up some of the meals, I now look at a bite-sized snack with the same hunger as I would as a soaked towel.
  3. I think I’m smarter. Electrons appear to be gliding through my neural net with glee. Perhaps this has something to do with the steady insulin levels, or the Omega-3s from the Fish Oil coursing through my brain, but I wish I had the SATs this weekend. The usual fuzziness and occasional brownouts that typically happen during my workday have receded. I am ready for a test.
  4. Weight loss. Measurements show that I weigh two pounds less than I did on Day 1 of the Challenge. I have a feeling this is connected to entry #2.
  5. Overall energy levels up. Not possibly a placebo. My energy levels are higher when waking up and with the steady intake of super-clean Zone/Paleo fuel I have noted to Coach P that typically I’m answering a craving for a second or third cup of coffee in the midday. No longer possible. Sensitivity of neurological systems has been cranked to a Spinal Tap 11.
  6. Surge of all-powerful feeling connected to the development of discipline encasing this dietary overhaul. It’s kind of nice to not be a slave to cravings and to actually be on top of the steady drip of intake. It’s a lot easier to do than my first couple of days suggested it might be. An ancillary benefit of the Challenge is that it’s pushed me to think up strategies to get ahead of the game with my nutrition—planning and execution so I’m not caught in the middle-of-nowhere with nothing to eat and facing the lure of the neon pulse of a Jack in the Box sign. I know pack a Trader Joe’s reusable bag full of Tupperwared meals and snacks with me to work every day. My post-race snack at first was Chocolate Milk but I’ve since replaced the CM with a bike bottle’s worth of Coconut water mixed with a scope of Stronger-Faster-Healthier Post-Workout Whey Protein Powder, Vanilla. Oh man, it’s so good.