On Beginning A Journey.

Something tragic happened to me last night, guys.

I had one of those workdays yesterday. You know, the kind where you end up just laughing slightly hysterically at your desk because you are in the middle of six projects, all on various looming deadlines, the emails are piling up in your inbox, you realize that you might be a little TOO caffeinated because you haven’t blinked in about 45 minutes, and all you want to do is throw some weight around and the weights are TEN FEET from your desk, but you forgot to bring workout clothes (yes, I forgot to bring workout clothes to the gym. Where I work. Every day. Facepalm.) – yeah, it was that kind of day. I shut my laptop at 8pm to head home, and all I could think about was the pulled pork in my crockpot. Luscious, flavorful, pastured (read: expensive) pulled pork. I hadn’t eaten since 11am. I was like those old Mickey Mouse cartoons where he smells something in the kitchen and floats through the air, pulled by the scent.

I walked to the kitchen and opened my crockpot* and……my pork shoulder was burned. BURNED TO A CRISP. This was beyond “seared” or “caramelized” – it was completely inedible.

I’m not proud to admit this, but whatever, it was the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back. I cried. Actual tears. Heaving sobs over burned meat. The entire day had dumped a load of crap on me, and I’d done everything right, everything that I tell everyone else to do. I’d prepped a big batch of food, knowing I wouldn’t get home til late. I had sweet potatoes and greens to add to said batch of protein. I’d made it through the day like a champion!

So, I grieved. But what I did not do was a) order wings, which have been a go to dinner (hey! they’re probably gluten free!)  for me in the past more times than I care to admit b) sit on the couch with the jar of Sunbutter and a spoon and pretend I wasn’t really that hungry ANYWAY c) go to the corner store and get a pint of ice cream. Instead, while still doing that unattractive sniffle-heave-sniffle thing, I found a pound of grassfed ground beef in the fridge, along with a jar of salsa and half a packet of Trader Joe’s taco seasoning. I found the container of liver pate my husband and I made the night before and I found a cucumber. I found an avocado. I put all the things together. And it was good.

*My crockpot is usually my homie. I have no idea why this happened. I stand by my assertion that it is ALMOST impossible to ruin something in the crockpot. I’ve probably cooked 200 meals in it and I’ve ruined one. Fear not, new cooks. It’s still the up there with the Greatest Kitchen Implements You Can Own.
Dinner, Day 29. Water with lemon, ground beef with salsa, greens, avocado, liver with cucumber slices.

 I say this because I’m finishing up my own Whole30, which is essentially another way of framing the BCCC. It’s not the first time I’ve done it, but it’s the first time I’ve experienced so many abiding realizations about my relationship with various foods. I’m going to avoid writing a novel here, but here are some of my thoughts. Remember, this is not necessarily what I think YOU should do or what YOU should be feeling as you set out on this journey.

1. I ate a lot of fruit over the past month – both fresh and dried – more than I’d been eating prior. In particular, dates are extremely problematic for me. I can eat a LOT of dates in one sitting (and for the record, 1 DATE contains 16 GRAMS of sugar. Oy.) Coincidentally, my extreme I’d-kidnap-your-kid-for-chocolate sugar cravings last until ummm…yesterday (okay, today. Today I thought about the chocolate bar in the fridge).

2. Speaking of my fridge, yeah. I can’t keep off-plan stuff there. A few things that popped up during the month of August (like birthday cake icing and fudge, specifically) I figured – oh, I’ll just freeze them and enjoy them after this is over! TERRIBLE IDEA. I have fixated on them multiple times per week. It’s made me crazy. They’re not worth it.

3. I really missed butter a lot for about three weeks.

4. I felt kind of sluggish and cranky and moody for about three weeks.

5. Then, I got some weird intestinal business going on for 2 straight days in which everything I ate went (ahem) right through me. But after that, I felt FANTASTIC and energetic. Not sure what was going on there.

6. When I discovered that Aki would make sushi for me without rice, I got unreasonably happy, because being able to go to a restaurant without having to ask a million questions about “what’s this cooked in”  made me feel like I was part of the world again. And the only thing that sounded good to  me on day 2 of my “situation” above was sushi.

7. I really didn’t train with any sort of consistency during this, just did stuff here and there.

8. I weighed 164.0 on Day 1. This morning I weighed 157. I’ve dipped as low as 155.4. My goal is to walk around comfortably in the 69kg weight class so I can go back to competing in Oly, and now I’m pretty close to that.  Huh.

9. I found it very easy to stick to The Plan on my birthday, because my husband is awesome and made me all my favorite good foods at home. I found it very, very VERY difficult to stick to The Plan when I was in the Poconos over Labor Day weekend. There was a lot of ziti, a lot of beer/wine and a LOT of smores being made. I ate a lot of roast beef that I’d brought with me. Oh well.

10. I started this thing where I’m drinking coffee til REALLY late in the day (for me). No bueno.

11. For the first time I’m NOT counting down the minutes til 12:01 AM tonight when I can dive into a bowl of icing. I’ll probably have some wine this weekend when I visit my grandparents, I may treat myself to a Capogiro sorbet and bid farewell to summer, but that’s about it. I’m ready to take what I’ve learned and figure out how I can make it sustainable.

My Goals for the September BCCC

1. Train consistently and eat to support that.

2. See how I feel eating less fruit. Going to get my carbs from squashes/tubers/and a little white rice.

3. Continue avoiding sugar. See if it’s sustainable for me to say “I don’t keep sugary treats in the house, but I’ll have a treat if I go out to a restaurant.” (Which shouldn’t happen much anyway over the next month for me financially.)

4. See above re: cheese. Also wine.

5. I will add pastured butter back in as a cooking fat because I know it doesn’t bother me and it’s extremely nutrient dense.

6. MORE BROTH and fermented stuff, always.

7. Less coffee. I’m definitely exploring the idea of giving it up entirely. By Day 1 of the BCCC I’ll know if I’m ready for that.

8. I am continually trying to eat more mindfully. I have a nasty habit of skipping breakfast or eating at my desk or in front of the tv (full disclosure, I’m not perfect!)


SO – with all that said, post to comments! What are your hopes and dreams for the BCCC? Have you made a PLAN? Have you set a goal yet? Are you terrified? We want to hear it! September 16th is DAY ONE – so take the next few days to wrap your head around everything!

Meanwhile, some Zen ideas about forming new habits. For your perusal with coffee. 


“Respect your dinner; idolize it, enjoy it properly. You will be by many hours in the week, many weeks in the years, and many years in your life the happier if you do.” – William Makepeace Thackeray

70 Responses to “On Beginning A Journey.”
  1. tp says:

    Thanks for sharing.. your candor is very refreshing. I am a social drinker. Unless I have been physically ill, I cannot think of a time when I turned down going out for drinks with friends (on a weekend). Did I just out myself with a dependency problem? In all seriousness, I love to kick back with friends (and drinks) after a long work week. For this challenge my goal is to cut out alcohol. If I think in terms of it being just 4 weekends as opposed to 30 days, it seems like NBD.

    *I swear I don’t have a drinking problem.*

    • tp says:

      I should mention that I have been working on this paleo thing since July 9th so cutting out the alcohol is my way of taking it to the next level.

      • crossfitcentercity says:

        TP –

        Are you okay to give us your first name so we know who you are? ;)


        • crossfitcentercity says:

          Ok now that I know who you are, I think this is an excellent place to start. And when you’re in social situations, a seltzer with lime looks enough like a vodka tonic that no one asks questions. And really, those that love you should be supportive of a mere four weekends of not drinking. (I say this while shaking my fist at anyone who isn’t supportive).


  2. Len Smith says:

    1) Be super strict paleo again for 30 days and see how I feel.

    When I first ate paleo I felt super-human. Over the last year I’ve gradually reintroduced more and more food, to the point where I’m basically just gluten-free now. My allergies are still gone, I don’t crash at 3PM anymore, I don’t get sick… but I want to see how I look/feel/perform living squeaky-clean again.

    2) Lean out.

    Last month I ate pretty high carb and high calorie as an experiment. I did feel better in metcons and put on some muscle, but fat loss has stalled if not regressed.

    3) Have an excuse to not eat crap.

    “I’m doing a challenge for my gym this month” sounds mildly less snobby than “I don’t eat consider that food.”

    4) Round out my cooking skills.

    Last challenge Erin got mad at me for eating bacon and eggs for three meals a day.

    When no one’s looking, I still don’t cook anything but eggs and bacon.

    The BCC always shames me into expanding my culinary skills.

    5) Not lose too much muscle.

    This is my least concern, since I seem to be able to put on muscle easier than I can lose fat, but I still want to try to PR at the total at the end of October.

  3. Sayra says:

    My goal is to enough enough (more?) to recover from training and get as much strength gains as possible. So becoming a beast without gaining fat %

  4. Cait says:

    My goals for this challenge are:

    1. To add some quality meat (chicken and fish) back into my diet. I have been a veg (between vegetarian and vegan) for about 5 years. The reason I started restricting my diet was because I have incredibly low self-control when it comes to food but, thanks to 12 years of Catholic school, I follow restrictive orders VERY well! I’ve lost a good deal of weight over those 5 years (50+ lbs) and A LOT of that has to do with my restrictive diet.

    2. Cut out heavily processed foods. Being a veg means I rely on a lot of meat substitutes with ingredients labels a mile long. This includes my vegan butter, vegan mayo, and fake meat. This also includes the junkie stuff that I love to have as a snack when I get home from work (chocolate rice cakes with peanut butter!).

    3. Cut out dairy entirely. This should be easy enough because I don’t have real dairy very often. What will be tricky is cutting out the substitutes – soy milk/almond milk, vegan butter, vegan mayo.

    4. Relax with the gluten. I eat a lot of pasta and bread and a ton of other things that have gluten. Cutting that out is a goal as well.

    5. Get stronger! I don’t have specific weight jump goals (yet) but I do want to be able to lift more. I also wouldn’t mind a little more muscle definition either.

    6. Get healthy. I want to live for a very long time – forever, if possible. The way I see it, the best way to do this is to have a lean, strong, healthy body. If that means no more sweets or crusty bread then so be it.

    • crossfitcentercity says:

      Cait – I hear you, I’m coming from a very similar place (former vegan, favorite meal was whole wheat penne, Earth Balance butter and nutritional yeast. Yum. Not.)

      What helped me when making the switch was realizing that high quality REAL fats are delicious, nourishing and extremely nutrient dense. If you have budgetary concerns (and who doesn’t, really) this is where you should make sure you’re spending your money. Pastured bacon from Fair Food Farmstand is my favorite because it tastes amazing and produces a ton of fat that you can save in the fridge for roasting veggies, potatoes, scallops, you name it. Kasandrinos olive oil (www.kasandrinos.com) is amazing, we know the owner and Erin has been to the olive groves in Greece where it comes from (I think there’s a discount code for CFCC too, if someone can chime in with it that would be great). I’d even say that pastured butter would be good for you as you’re transitioning (you can clarify it if you’re really sensitive to lactose) or grassfed ghee, which is already clarified for you (pureindianfoods.com is a good source).

      Fair Food Farmstand is also a great source for high quality protein, or you could explore US Wellness Meats (online). I think Otolith Seafood is a great sustainable fish option, although I haven’t personally used it since I get most of my seafood from Whole Foods or the Eat Fish Live Longer place at RTM.

      Your goals look great.


    • Len Smith says:

      I hear you with the restrictive diet. I was vegan from 1998 to 2008 and vegetarian from 1996 to 2011. I have no willpower either. It’s a lot easier to pass up office donuts when your diet forbids you to eat them. :-)

      When I cut out gluten and sugar, and ate lots of protein and fat, I was amazed at how less hungry I was all the time.

      Coming into Paleo as an ex-vegan is pretty easy… if you can be vegan you’ll have no problem cutting out gluten for 30 days (well, once you get through a few days of withdrawl. just hang in there the first week!).

      • Cait says:

        Thanks for the support, Len! I am well aware that I can certainly do this challenge and am also veryyy well aware the the withdrawal at the beginning is the worst! I went raw for a little while too and DREAMED about bread. I am not looking forward to those dreams…

        • crossfitcentercity says:

          Ack, Cait, I realized as I was writing my tome on animal fat that you were vegetarian, and I deleted some of my ideas with regard to lard, etc, but I forgot to take out the bacon reference. Sorry about that! I still maintain that the FFF bacon is delicious and makes incredible fat but if you aren’t ready to take that leap I totally understand.

          But regardless of the meat factor, fat is definitely your friend when you’re having cravings at the beginning.

  5. Mr. Hand says:

    Goals with my diet during the challenge:
    – Cut out artifical sweeteners
    – Cut out alcohol
    – Cut out wheat products
    – Cut out dairy

    Goals @ CFCC
    – Increase stamina during the WOD’s
    – Increase weight gains in lifts all around
    – Continue to improve on skill work – double unders, muscle ups & kipping pullups

    • crossfitcentercity says:

      Mr. Hand –

      Looking forward to seeing how this works out for you! I think you’ll be feeling great very soon.


  6. Mason says:

    My goals for this challenge are (in order of priority):

    1. Lose as much fat as possible in 30 days.

    2. Maintain muscle mass and reasonable training volume during the cut.

    Given the amount of weight I want to lose in this time frame (I’m shooting for 10lbs total) I need to keep a really strict diet to avoid losing muscle. My plan is to eat 1gm of protein per every pound of lean body mass (that means 165gms per day) from primarily whole food sources with some organic protein powder supplementation. I’m also avoiding all high glycemic index carbs (no breads, grains, starches, sugars, etc…) and basically limiting my carbs to vegetables or other complex sources. Also avoiding omega-6 fats, processed foods, etc… and am trying to be a generally good Paleo dieter.

    My biggest weaknesses are gummy candies (did somebody say swedish fish?) and those must-eat-anything snack cravings that hit me like a train around 10pm. Managing both of these will be my real challenge (well, that and finding enough good protein can be darned difficult) but if I can do that and keep my overall calories low enough I think I can make it.

    This is going to be interesting!

    — Mason

    • crossfitcentercity says:


      We already chatted over email but just wanted to say thanks for posting. If you’re experiencing late night hunger – it’s worth noting, because you SHOULDN’T be hungry if you’re taking in enough food during the day. Your planned protein intake should fix that, but we can also play around with your fat intake a little as well to start.

      Finally, Swedish Fish proudly proclaim themselves a FAT FREE FOOD, so eat with abandon!

      (Absolute sarcasm.)


  7. Theresa says:

    Hi. I’ve been posting under the moniker “tp.”

  8. Rach says:

    Hi all,

    So here are my goals for the BCCC. I feel like I’m at a pretty “zen” state when it comes to food/training/body composition…but I know I can always do better. My goal is always to become stronger, since lifting the big girl weights is definitely not my strong suit! I also have a habit of not preparing enough food and thus not eating enough in general (ahem, a KIND bar does not = breakfast!) So…here are my goals…focusing more on recovery and health than on specific body composition goals.

    1. BCAAs — pre and post workout. I used to be religious with this before I got pregnant. Time to help manage recovery.
    2. Eat more than a KIND bar for breakfast
    3. Commit to at least 5-10 minutes, 3 times a week of mobility/SMR at home
    4. Take the fermented cod liver oil that Meg says I should take (need to get the link from her so I can order it.)
    5. REALLY stay gluten free (no beer, no grabbing a couple of cheerios that I give to Ethan) – that being said, I WILL be having WHATEVER I WANT TO EAT INCLUDING A BAGEL/LOX when we break the fast on Yom Kippur. I do this once a year. I am not missing it.

    I’ve done a couple of nutrition challenges in the past…let’s see if I can stick to this one!

    Good luck all – just remember…it’s only 30 days!!!!

  9. Amber says:

    My goals are (as always) almost purely asthetic, but I do want to keep getting stronger and not get fat.

    I’m hoping to get as close to 590# at Total as possible (250/250/90#) and also get 3-5 strict pullups (currently at 2) and actually master the kip (I currently flail about then do a strict pullup)

    I think this means really watching portions since I probably eat at least 1.5x what I should be and tracking what the nutrition content is of my food.

    I also think this means that Champagne and I will need to be on a break for a little while, at least for the most part.

  10. Meghan says:

    I just want my goals near Amber’s, since so many of you think we’re the same person. :)

    While I’m as vain as the next, this season’s BCCC for me isn’t about strictly giving things up or cutting weight, it’s about finding a) the balance of nutrition I need to fuel effective and ever strengthening performance and b) recognizing the signs from my body that I need to modify or adjust nutrition, training or sleep levels to support different performance needs (before my clothes or a scale tells me.)

    I need to learn how to detect my own balance. And keep it there.

    To accomplish this I’m going to attempt to: focus as much as possible on whole foods in the right combinations, keep detailed logs, and on get at least 7 hours of sleep a night. I’m already legit allergic to gluten so that’s not going to be an issue. I suspect not being at the shore every weekend will help with nutrition and alcohol, but it will also remove surfing from my fitness repertoire. So there’s that.

    From a performance standpoint, my CF goals are two-fold: finally getting a goddamn body weight pullup and recovering from this back injury safely (AND NEVER ROUNDING ON A DEADLIFT AGAIN.) I’ll also be re-dedicating myself to my yoga practice which had gotten a little scattered toward the end of the summer.

    It’s red wine and bourbon season. In moderation. And that will continue until I prove to myself that it can’t.


    • crossfitcentercity says:

      Meghan –

      Let me know when you find balance and pass it out to the group, mmmmkay?

      Hah. Seriously, I think your goals are extremely thoughtful and sustainable. I suspect that the re-dedication to yoga and a commitment to sleep will do wonders for the stress/recovery thing.

      So I will ask JUST ONE QUESTION – when you say red wine and bourbon in moderation, any thoughts as to what exactly you’ll do to frame that? I know that for me, it’s a slippery slope unless I give myself very specific rules (unfortunately HARRUMPH the most effective rule seems to be “just don’t drink at all”) but I’m testing my theory of no alcohol in the house, but if I go out to dinner then I’ll allow myself a drink or two. It’s a very slippery slope to drunken takeout.


      -Other Meghan

      • Meghan says:

        Hi MR –

        We talked about this this morning but just so everyone else can see, I’m logging strictly to look for patterns…so for me, moderation means if I want a glass of wine when I’m making dinner, or I want to meet some friends out for drinks, that’s what’s going to happen until I see the results that it’s affecting performance. I’m rarely a glass –> 3 glass —> bottle —-> cheese fries situation, but I want to see what happens and how I feel both with and without.

        From a life balance standpoint, I have had to give up so much in the past 18 months that the social aspects of my life have to keep being important. There’s skinny and then there’s sane. For right now, the latter is primary. :)

  11. Travis Wells says:

    My goals are:

    1.  Eat Paleo
    2.  No alcohol 
    3.  No dairy except butter from high quality sources
    4.  No fruit
    5.  Eat fermented food every day
    6.  Only 1 (small) cup of caffeinated beverage per day

    Maintain 5 days per week attendance. 

    Body Composition:
    Maximize fat loss…10-12lbs weight loss during challenge

  12. Erin Conti says:

    Hi, my name is Erin, and I am addicted to sugar!!! I know it and I have said numerous times that I am going to cut back/give it up, and always find myself plopped in front of the TV with a bowl of ice cream smothered in jimmies!!! (My ultimate weakness by the way!) I will say that I try to primarily eat clean, Paleo, or just plain healthy. So I don’t necessarily feel too guilty when treating myself to other foods. I love healthy foods, but sometimes find myself too lazy to cook something. My “healthy” eating has sometimes wreaked havoc on my digestive system. For years I was eating yogurts, soy or almond milk, and snacking on almonds, only to be told I am allergic. I have been told that I am not intolerant to gluten, however I know when I eat processed junk and foods with gluten…I am in pain.

    My workout habits are either balls to the wall, (not the dreaded wall balls!!!) and working out all the time, or I am completely off the work out wagon, (which also makes me fall off the nutrition wagon as well) and am skipping the gym for months on end. I have no happy medium.

    I’ve recently just moved here to Philly and know not a soul. So I figured new city, new experiences, make new friends, and new disciplines for myself with my health/fitness. I am tired of being tired, needing a nap in the middle of the day, and not feeling well. (i.e. stomach pains, migraines, etc.) And always saying, “I’ll go to the gym tomorrow.”

    So my goals for this challenge are to get in the gym as much as possible, learn to LOVE working out and make it a priority for me! Make new friends that will help hold me accountable! I am not too concerned with my weight in actual numbers, but wish to shed fat, build muscle, and be healthy and in shape. Nutritionally I want to take these 30 days to cut out processed foods, sugars, and be a faithful clean eater!!

    Looking forward to the challenge!!

    • crossfitcentercity says:

      Hi Erin,

      I think you’ll have great success with all of this. Those late night sugar cravings can definitely be mitigated by a) thinking about your portion sizes during the day so you KNOW that physically you’ve taken in enough calories, so you don’t NEED anything at night (then you just have to say NO to the inner-two-year-old) or b) eating a little bit of fat (in the form of a spoonful of nut butter, some avocado, etc) to help ease the transition. Also, if you’re like me, you may just need to say “NO ICE CREAM IN THE HOUSE, PERIOD” for the duration of this. It just makes things so much easier when you don’t even have to see that stuff, then have a whole mental conversation about why you may deserve it, then convincing yourself that it is or isn’t worth it, GAH. It’s exhausting.

      Hope to see you around the gym more, especially at the Thursday evening Q&A sessions!


  13. Melanie says:

    Although this is the body composition challenge and I’d love to lose 10 pounds, my goals are primarily health-related. I’ve been dealing with severe eczema for the past 6-8 months. I’ve been desperate to find a solution. In fact, I was so desperate that two months ago I went from an omnivore to a gluten-free vegan on my own to try to see if that would help. I’ve been to many different doctors and a naturopath and have yet to find an effective solution to the problem. I just started working with Meghan on a plan that will hopefully help my gut to heal, which should hopefully allow my eczema to relent, and to figure out what foods I am actually sensitive to. My regimen will involve not just cutting out foods but adding in supplements and taking other steps to (hopefully) heal.

    My goals are:

    1. Eat the paleo autoimmune diet, which means: no grains at all except perhaps some small amounts of white rice if needed for carb source, no added sugar or sugar substitutes, no legumes, no alcohol, no dairy, plus no eggs and no nightshade vegetables (potatoes, eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, pretty much all my favorite vegetables). What I can eat is mostly meat, cooked vegetables (esp. leafy greens) and lots and lots of bone broth. For right now, I am not omitting nuts or seeds, but I am trying to limit them. If this doesn’t solve my problem then further steps will have to be taken. Of everyone, I imagine the food diary I post will look pretty bleak. It’s amazing what you can do when really motivated because I have been pretty positive about this despite the fact that it is the second massive diet revolution I’ve undertaken in the last few months, and this one is pretty limited. I am already on it, though, and in practice it’s not too bad. Also, I am feeling great so far.
    2. Taking the supplements Meghan has suggested.
    3. Consuming a fermented food/beverage every day to encourage repopulation with good bacteria.
    4. Very minimal fruit and limited insoluble fiber.
    5. Making sure to sleep more and take more rest days if I feel I need them (since I’ve gotten super excited about crossfit I’ve sometimes struggled with taking enough rest days).

    Ideally, I would love to lose 10 pounds and to look leaner overall.

    I’m still pretty new to crossfit so I don’t know what is realistic here. I would love to say a body-weight pullup but I’m only at light band so that is probably overly ambitious. Let’s say move up to mini band.

  14. Khanh says:

    Hey guys,

    Being new to Crossfit and this is my first BCCC, I am both nervous and very excited on starting this 30 days challenge. I have been training fairly consistently (4-6 times a week), but I think my diet has always been a problem. I think I eat fairly healthy with a few unhealthy snacks here and there. The few snacks that I eat are the main problem. I would tell myself I would only eat a little bit just for the taste, but then I would end up eating the whole thing. For example, today someone brought in donuts, I had a quarter of a piece but ended up eating the whole donut (which was delicious). So bottom line is I have no self control and with one bite, things would just spiral out of control.

    For the challenge my goals are:

    1) Eliminate gluten from my diet
    2) No more unhealthy snacking (not even a little)
    3) No processed food
    4) Cook more delicious, protein and nutrient packed meals
    5) Eat more of these meals
    6) Reduce alcohol consumption to 3 drinks per weekend (max!!!!)
    7) Reduce coffee consumption
    8) Continue to show up to CFCC 4-6 times a week
    9) And for or vanity purposes, put on some more muscles


    • crossfitcentercity says:

      Hey Khanh –

      Eating real, whole meals in a conscientious way will definitely help quell the urge to snack. Also, it’s true (in my case as well) that it can be easier to just abstain completely rather than have to try it and stop. Looking forward to seeing how things are going for you!


  15. Joel says:

    My CFCCBCCC goals are:

    1. To lose fat, specifically, I want to lean out and drop a pant size. (I’ve no desire to build.)
    2. Eat more natural, whole foods. I’ve been relying too much on processed foods and vegan junk foods (tofu/seitan vegan tacos are my kryptonite).
    3. Improve endurance.

    I already don’t consume added sugars on a regular basis in either solid or liquid forms. For religious and ethical reasons, I’ve been a vegan for almost two years; it’s served me well (before becoming a vegan, I was pushing 250 lbs at 5’7″) but reading the”How CFCC Eats” post has got me a little down.

    The other post keyed me into the fact that most of the vegan sources of protein are verboten as are multiple servings of fruit, so I’m not sure what to do, honestly. I can supplement with a vegan protein powder (another CFCCer recommended Vega; I’ll check them out) but the recommendations in the other post pretty much destroys most of what I would normally consider a healthy, whole-food diet as a vegan (e.g., fruits, grains).

    I’m also not a skilled cooked. In fact, 9 out of 10 scientists agree that I lack the culinary skills of a caveman, so trying to be a vegan paleo seem depressingly daunting. :(

    • crossfitcentercity says:

      Joel –

      I’m working on a response to you, because it’s an EXCELLENT question/concern to bring up, but I want to research some options for you to optimize things while not going against your beliefs. We usually discuss this at the seminar, but no one asked the question this time around. Will post soon with my response!


      • crossfitcentercity says:

        OK, here we go. I’ll email you privately with some more detailed resources so you have them, but for the benefit of everyone else on the blog…

        I’m really, really glad that you asked this question and please – don’t feel down! You may or may not have noticed that you are not the only non-meat eater in this gym by far. And while we’ve certainly seen some Crossfit gyms take a pretty hard stance against the vegetarian/vegan lifestyle (meat or GTFO, I believe I’ve read, to my chagrin), that’s definitely NOT the atmosphere we want to cultivate here.

        Within the context of MY lifestyle, I feel and perform best when including high quality, sustainably sourced animal products, but just like I’ve said every step of the way throughout this, this isn’t just about what’s worked for me. If it was that easy, we would prescribe a blanket set of rules that everyone was required to follow.

        That said, we believe that it’s definitely extremely doable to find an optimal diet within the framework that fits your life. If not eating animal foods is something that’s important to you, we absolutely respect that. So, before I address the rest of your comment I want to make sure that you and everyone else that’s reading understand that NOTHING is “forbidden” during the BCCC. We’re not the Paleo police, and we’re not your mothers, and we’re not YOU. We encourage you to do a lot of self-experimentation to see how different foods make you look, feel and perform relative to your goals, but at no time would we ever want you to do anything “just because we said so.”

        I think that your list of goals are a great place to start. When I see vegetarianism/veganism done “badly” I picture something that’s pretty parallel to any other way of eating gone wrong – a diet that’s high in refined crap, sugar, processed things, and chemical frankenfoods (yes, I do consider Tofurkey a frankenfood, I’ll say it. But so are most hot dogs.) I’d like to take this moment to link you to three blogs, all featuring former BCCC’ers, all of whom had great success chasing the same goals you listed above, and all of whom are vegetarians.

        Ramsey’s Results:
        Ramsey’s Day 1:
        Jordan’s Log:

        I understand that they did consume eggs and dairy, but I just want you to understand that WE understand, and we want you to get as much out of this Challenge as you possibly can, even if we happen to tend to promote eating meat as a main protein source.

        I also found a good resource that you should check out –

        it’s by blogger Denise Minger, a former vegan, and I think it’s an incredibly thoughtful piece (in that she’s not blatantly going “JUST EAT THE MEEEEAT”) that explains pretty well how you can optimize what you’re currently doing and be as healthy and happy as possible. Disclosure, she is a FORMER vegan which means you may get the vibe from her that veganism is less than optimal, and the comments are a bit nutty, but the list she presents is a good place to start in working within your parameters.

        I’d like to personally emphasize the idea that FAT – in the form of coconut and palm oil – will definitely help keep you happy and keep your blood sugar stabilized (and it’s obviously a very dense source of energy), and FERMENTED FOODS are excellent to keep your gut healthy and, in turn, promote absorption of as many nutrients as possible from the foods you’re eating. I don’t think Vega is necessarily a bad option within the framework of what you feel is best for you. There’s also a good rice protein that Shana and I think Jordan K. have used, which I’ll send you more info on. I wouldn’t want you to replace meals with a shake anymore than I’d want ANYONE to do so, but it may help you feel better without consuming a lot of fake food (especially as you’re transitioning to a higher fat diet vs. a diet based on sugars). We can also talk about BCAAs (Branched Chain Amino Acids), which are not sourced from animals but can aid in recovery.

        Hopefully, Denise’s post will be a good place for you to start. And I know that Ramsey’s and Jordan’s blogs are vegetarian, but at least you may get some ideas for quick go-to meals that can be adapted to use plant-based fats that will help you get out of any cooking rut you may be stuck in. Please keep the questions coming! And I’ll keep my eyes peeled for good recipes for you as well.


  16. heather says:

    This is my first BCCC having started Crossfit this past May and  I’m not gonna lie I’m pretty nervous.  This is an eventful month for me, having both my birthday and my best friend’s wedding at the end of this month.  Luckily I will have Khanh, my partner in Crossfit (and all around bestie) to help me out and push me to become better.  My eating habits can definitely use an upgrade.  I eat pretty healthy during the week, but excessive drinking (I now know that a bottle of wine is not one drink) and bad influences completely counteract that.  Oh and I drink about 3 cups of coffee a day, which probably isn’t good.  I need some accountability to keep me in check. 

    So here are my goals.

    1. Eliminate gluten and processed foods from my diet.
    2. Cook more of my meals and have these meals be more nutritious and well rounded. 
    3. Reduce alcohol consumption to 3-4 drinks on the weekends only. 
    4. Reduce coffee consumption to 1 cup a day. 
    5. Increase the number of classes I take to 4-5 times a week.
    6. Eliminate artificial sweeteners and significantly reduce sugar consumption. 
    7. And course, slim down, get stronger, and improve all around. 

    On a side note, Khanh’s and my food log may look a little similar since we’re gonna tackle this as team and take turns cooking for each other. 

    • crossfitcentercity says:


      Doing this over an “eventful” month is tough – not gonna lie, because I just did it, and it was hard sometimes. Just because when you’re at a get-together, the finger foods are right there – and you start to realize how much you eat that stuff mindlessly, even if you don’t even really want it. My birthday was August 18th – two freaking weeks into my 30 day commitment. And I literally had to have a very stern conversation with myself “cake will still exist in the world after this 30 days is over.” And then my husband made me bacon wrapped dates, and then I was a happy camper. And the most amazing part is that on Day 31, I’d totally forgotten how badly I wanted to eat cake on my birthday. Weird how that works out, huh?

      Yeahhhhh, coffee. I’m going to ease my consumption down quickly but not cold turkey (1 extremely mindful cup/day for the first week and switching to decaf after).

      You guys will do great!


  17. Leila says:

    My goals:

    1) Lean outwhile maintaining strength – it’s always my goal to get stronger, but I think Iwant to make this thirty days about a true commitment to fat loss, and coupled with the fact that I don’t have a ton of weight to lose, I will focus on maintaining strength this go round, with the exception of…

    2) Hit a 200lb back squat at the Total in October. Current PR is 190, so I think this is doable;

    3) Improve my pullups – right now I sometimes have a single strict BW pullup (pronated). I’dlike to be able to consistently do 2 strict BW pullups by the end of the challenge.

    4) Diet – I’ve been eating paleo-ish on and off for over a year, but, as Len puts it above – basically enough other “stuff” has crept in that I’m pretty much just gluten free now (most of the time). I’d like to return to strict eating for thirty days, which for me will involve the general Paleo rules we’re accustomed to, and specifically for me :

    a. Limited dairy, specifically no “incidental cheese” – I’m allowing butter, cream incoffee 2x/wk, and small amounts of yogurt in marinades/sauces but not as a snack**

    b. No gluten, no corn, no grains (limited white rice for carbs around workouts is ok).

    c. No sugar

    5) Limited** to no alcohol – I could have written what tp wrote myself, but I’m going to give this a shot. It’s really just cutting out that weekend wine, but this is the thing that I’ve never done before in the challenges, and I’d like to see how I feel and how itaffects my results. I’m going to give myself a pass for a glass or two of wine in this thirty days if I’m out of the house, but absolutely none at home.

    Looking forward to following everyone’s progress!

    **In the spirit of Eric Cartman – “Whateva, I do what Iwant!” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZLVi4v7lSM

    • crossfitcentercity says:


      It’s amazing what happens when you commit to eliminating what “creeps in” to an otherwise pretty healthy diet. Seriously.

      Five gold stars for a SP reference.


  18. Jaclyn H. says:

    Hi everyone!

    These are my goals for the BCCC:

    1. Sleep more. This is my #1 issue. I have a bad habit of staying up until 2, 4, 5 am, then sleeping 14-16 hours straight on the weekend; or crashing at 7pm and then getting up at 3 am for a few weeks at a time. So for the month, I am going to try a bedtime (midnight) and a screen cut-off time (11) and try to stick to it.

    2. Commit to eating 100% paleo. I started doing paleo last September, and had great results (I lost 20lbs, my boyfriend lost 65lbs!) but a few setbacks this spring, particularly moving away from Trader Joe’s, have put me back on takeout and turned 80/20 into 50/50 into “why did I just eat a pizza?!”. BCCC is an excuse to break the cycle.

    3. Eat breakfast during the week and pack my lunch for work.

    4. No more Diet Dr. Pepper breaks at 2pm…

    5. For crossfit, increase my lifts & improve strength and performance for body-weight exercises and during metcons.

    6. Weight is last on the list, but I’m hoping to lose ~5 lb from the diet change and get back to my “before the move” weight.

    Good luck, everyone!

    • crossfitcentercity says:


      Sleep is a beautiful, beautiful thing and something you should REALLY be working to prioritize. I have a few recommendations if you’re having trouble getting on a “schedule.”

      If you’re on the computer til all hours, you can install this thing called “F.lux” that basically dials down the blue light coming from your monitor in conjunction with when the sun is actually going down, while still letting you work. (Blue light is known to have sleep-cycle disrupting qualities, aka, it keeps you awake!) http://stereopsis.com/flux/

      Natural Calm is a powdered magnesium supplement that you can pick up at Vitamin Shoppe. It’s just magnesium, nothing else (don’t get the flavored kind), that you mix into a glass of water and drink about an hour before you would like to fall asleep. I’ve been taking it for awhile and it really helps me – it’s not a sleep aid like melatonin, so it’s not habit forming or anything. Magnesium is just a very low-level relaxer, so it kind of just gets you in the mood to close your eyes and sleep (rather than have that tired but wired feeling at 10pm).

      i think the sleep will help nix those Dr. Pepper cravings too.


  19. Alyssa D. says:

    New to Crossfit and the BCCC, my goal is to make changes that are sustainable throughout and beyond the 30 days. While I would absolutely love (and am secretly hoping) to drop weight, get stronger,  more toned, etc., I’m trying to focus on making healthy changes for sanity (managing stress, sleeping better, etc.) and not vanity. 

    So… my plan is to:
    1. Commit to Level 1 and eat real, whole, fresh foods. When that’s not possible (I travel a lot for work…), eat food with 5 ingredients or fewer. 

    2. Drink my coffee black, my wine red (no more than 1 glass per outing), and eliminate other alcohol. 

    3.  Use everything in my CSA box. (Those farmers work too hard to let it go to waste!)

    4.  Eat only one (or a piece of one) treat I bake and limit BLTs (bites, licks, and tastes) to those which are necessary for recipe development and execution. (Confession: I have a travel and baking blog and post to it weekly.)

    5. Go to CrossFit (or do a travel WOD) at least 4 times per week. (And to get over my fear of “big kid classes” — what I call regular sessions as I watch them going on from the comfort of Foundations.)


    • crossfitcentercity says:

      Hey Alyssa!

      If you give us some heads up (maybe post on the CFCC Eats FB page?) when you hit the road for work, we can maybe talk about some specific options (like what to order at easily accessible restaurants in a pinch). I don’t know how you’re physically getting from point A to point B, but here’s a great article from Whole9 about eating clean on the road. http://whole9life.com/2011/07/whats-in-your-cooler/

      I’m so happy with my CSA box but it is tough to get things used before they go bad. How much longer does your CSA season go?

      I love the phrase BLT – seriously. When you figure out a good strategy for not eating the entire batch of whatever, please let the group know, because that’s a HUGE problem for me, and one of the reasons that I have to commit to keeping things out of the house entirely.

      Don’t be afraid of the Big Kid classes! EVERYTHING is scaleable, always (I still scale and I’ve been doing this for a REALLLLLY long time).


      • Alyssa D. says:

        Thanks, Meg!

        I’ll definitely reach out before work travel season hits its peak in October. I fly most places, but I’m sure I can pick up some tips from the Whole9 article and will look forward to hearing what other CFCCers do to eat clean on the road.

        My CSA is year-round! Pick up is on Tuesdays at the Pure Fare on 21st St. in Center City. Crawford Organics is fantastic — they’re great about accommodating my travel schedule (either rescheduling or crediting me for missed boxes) and I love the weekly e-mails with a heads up on what will be in the box, recipes, and pictures/updates of what’s been going on at the farm. Check them out! http://www.crawfordorganics.com/csa.html


  20. Jeff B. says:

    Hi all. My goals:

    1) Paleo for last 2 years, home cook virtually everything…BUT there have been the occasional cheat meals/desserts, finding myself at Barbuzzo where, somehow, a salted caramel budino ends up in front of me or Le Virtu, where I am powerless against their beautiful menu. SO, while my “level 3” is pretty well dialed in, I want to keep it 100% pure for 30 days to see how pure feels (esp sans alcohol) and would like to explore how “level 4” may improve my performance in the gym.

    GOAL: strict, Whole30 diet with total alcohol elimination for 30 days. I’m allowing rice, potato, or cassava as a clean carb source for recovery. Track macronutrients for optimal strength gains using a cellphone app (any Android recommendations?).

    2) Pretty new to Crossfit (June, 2012) with avg strength, terrible endurance, and old-man mobility, the latter of which I feel is seriously limiting me in EVERYTHING and has side-lined me for Oly.

    GOAL: commit to doing a Mobility WOD 30 min minimum 5x/wk (to be designed this weekend).

    3) More lean muscle mass — so add strength through daily (5x/wk) crossfit workouts. As a marker, I think a goal would be just adding 10 lb to my max deadlift of 265 lb (it’s a modest increase because I. just. can’t. move. 275 lbs.)

    GOAL: Increase lean muscle mass, using max deadlift of 275 lbs (with good form) as a marker.

    You all rock! I’m totally looking forward to this.

    • crossfitcentercity says:

      Hey Jeff!

      1. Yeah, that salted caramel budino may or may not be my most favorite dessert in the entire world. Dammit. Let us know if you stumble on any particularly delicious cassava recipes especially, as I feel like people tend to forget that it’s a pretty good starch option when they get really sick of potatoes.

      2. A commitment to mobility is going to do NOTHING but good things for you. Once you settle on something that works for you, would you mind posting it? It’s always good to have at-home options.

      3. Can’t WAIT to see what happens for you at the Total.


  21. Mel says:

    I just started school three weeks ago after being in the workforce for 6 years and the schools I commute to (temple and temple med) don’t have a whole lot of healthy food on site. I’m there from anywhere from 8-12 hours a day.

    So my goal for the challenge is to bring my own food and not resort to food trucks for my lunch and dinner. Further challenge: I will not have a fridge/microwave at school and I spend most of my other time studying. I want to build in healthy habits so that I don’t spend the next 8 years relying on hospital cafeteria food.

    Specific goals: no sugar, no white carbs. My diet right now is basically those two food groups plus peanut butter. I’m also someone who can and will eat the same thing for weeks at a time so id like to introduce variety into my diet. I stopped caffeine in February and I don’t drink alcohol so I’m not concerned about that. I do tend to graze on crap when I’m stressed about school. I have noticed this over the past 3 weeks and want to consciously stop doing that. Chocolate ice cream shouldn’t be used as a reward for studying nicely.

    I have a blender and a slow cooker and plan to make ample use of both. If anyone has suggestions for non-fridge, easy, fast lunch/dinner options, let me know. My training goal is to consistently perform at a high level during wods and to maybe do a few regular pushups and graduate to mini for the pull up. I lost upwards of 40 lbs after my car accident and know I have the discipline to do this. What worries me is a lack of time… And resorting to bad decisions because of that lack of time.

    • crossfitcentercity says:

      Melody –

      I’m also on a mission to find the perfect food packing situation for long days spent away from home, especially when I’m riding my bike. I need a lunch container that’s leakproof, light and doesn’t take up a ton of space (ie can fit in a backpack for biking purposes). I feel like this is one of my great Keys to Life. I’m trying to swap out my cheap plastic tupperware for Pyrex, but Pyrex is heavy and not always leakproof. I’m looking into these: http://www.lunchbots.com/ but it’ll have to be a one-at-a-time replacement thing. I also keep meaning to try a Salad in a Jar – http://www.thekitchn.com/salad-in-a-jar-make-a-week-of-lunches-173014 (but it might make more sense to use something like a wide-mouth thermos that seals shut, because then things would conceivably stay cold? I WISH we could find you a way to at least get to a microwave at Temple! Do they not let you use the cafeteria at all unless you have a meal plan?


      • Mel says:

        Sadly no microwaves. But I’m armed with avocados, sardines and almonds for tomorrow :)

        Will let you know if I find an awesome lunch bag….right now I’m using throw-away plastic bags stuffed in my ginormous backpack.

  22. Jackie N. says:

    This is my second try to post my goals. Sorry if there is a double post from me. Anyway, this is my 1st BCCC and while I’m a little nervous I’m excited to stick to it and see a difference overall. I’m new to CFCC and know that my unpredictable diet habits have been holding me back from better results. Admittedly, I got my wisdom teeth removed this past Friday so while this should be day 1, mine may be a bit delayed until I can eat regularly.

    So my goals are:
    – cut out dairy
    – cut out wheat, grains, rye, etc.
    – get at least 7 hours of sleep per night
    – stick to training 4-5 times per week

    Jackie N.

    • crossfitcentercity says:

      Hey Jackie,

      Sorry about any issues with the internet eating your post! Thanks for letting us know what you’re up to during the BCCC and I hope your teeth/face are feeling okay!


  23. Luke L says:

    Well, I must begin with a mea culpa. I though the challenge started tomorrow so I spent today trying to rid my apartment of food that isn’t in my plan by eating it (oatmeal, pizza, etc). I guess that just means I’ll start tomorrow. I am both new to CrossFit (started mid August) and new to Philadelphia (arrived this summer) so I’m hopeful that this focus on diet will really help my training and recovery take off.

    I’ve never really done any sort of specific diet plan, although over the last couple of years I’ve learned to eat veggies in larger quantities (anything is more than zero). Lately, I find that I vacillate between eating pretty clean and binging on awful food so I definitely want to focus on eating real food for the full 30 days. Additionally, I’ve had some problems in the past with bowel distress that I always just attributed to stress (which I do think plays a role). Thankfully my issues aren’t as bad as what many experience, but I’ve wondered for a couple of years now if I don’t have a minor allergy to gluten. With that in mind, I’m going to try and go gluten free as well. Finally, I normally add artificial sweetener to my coffee so while I have absolutely no plans to reduce my consumption of coffee, I’m going to drink it black and see how that goes.

    Since I’m pretty new to CrossFit I don’t have any really specific goals outside of continue to learn and improve upon the skills and in general to be a badass athlete. But, I’ll try and accomplish the following for some measureable outcomes.
    – start and keep a training log (the newbie board seems to think it helps)
    – snatch 80 kg (current PR is 70 kg)
    – improve pull up volume so I can do more of the WODs Rx

    • Luke L says:

      And I forgot to add for training to take better care of my calluses. I really don’t want to rip any more of them off.

    • crossfitcentercity says:

      Hey Luke – BLAST! But not a huge deal, like you said, just kick it off tomorrow.

      Will be very interested to hear if ditching some irritants doesn’t help your GI issues. Also, I found that getting really GOOD coffee made drinking it black much more bearable, and now I wouldn’t have it any other way.


  24. Patti says:

    So in all of my CFCC years I’ve only attempted the BCCC once and it was NOT pretty. I heavily rely upon food to deal with the awfulness that can be my job. Unfortunately the food that is the most comforting is not necessarily the most nutritious or paleo. So in heading into my second try at the BCCC I have learned that I need to lower my standards/expectations for myself (at least for the beginning) and become more strict if possible as the weeks go on. Other than my random binges on ice cream, baked goods, and chocolate, I eat relatively healthy so this month will just be about tightening up and to avoid devolving into a pathetic ball of stress covered in brownie batter and tears.

    1.) Avoid/minimize gluten
    2.) Yoga once per week
    3.) CF 4-5 times per week
    4.) Run 1-2 times per week
    5.) Limit fruit to less than 2 servings per day
    6.) Lose inches, drop a few pounds
    7.) In bed 7 hours per night
    8.) Max 1 coffee per day

  25. Sam L. says:

    Hi all,
    Here are my goals for BCCC…my top priorities are lifestyle and diet, and I anticipate that my biggest challenges will be eliminating refined sugar and incorporating meaningful amounts of vegetables into my diet for the first time ever. Good luck everybody!

    Goal #1: Healthier lifestyle
     – sleep at least 7 hours per night
     – cook/prepare at least one meal at home per day
     – reduce stress by: procrastinating less, not dwelling on work issues at home, pursuing one hobby not related to work or exercise
     – maintain some semblance of workout/diet log

    Goal #2: Improve pushups and pull-ups
     – do the “100 pushup challenge” with friend Anna, in hopes of getting five good (not snaked), real pushups by the end of BCCC (http://hundredpushups.com/index.html)
     – make a point of attending WODs involving pull-ups, in hopes of moving from the light band to the mini band by the end of BCCC

    Goal #3: Find a more balanced alternative to my terrible, sugar-dominated diet
     – NO: refined sugar, candy, artificial sweeteners, gluten, candy, grains, candy, corn, dairy, candy (and drinking coffee black could also result in the elimination of coffee from my diet altogether…)
     – No alcohol other than red wine, which is only allowed on the weekend (no restriction on quantity)
     – Avoid processed foods when possible
     – No more than two servings of nuts per day (and no cashews, which I have been eating tons of all summer despite possibly being allergic – they’re just so good!)
     – At least one cup of vegetables with each meal
     – Find a better protein source than nuts and yogurt; possibilities include fish, eggs, bacon, and maybe chicken

  26. Jaclyn L. says:

    Here are my goals for the BCCC:

    1. Strict Paleo for 30 days

    – alcohol will be a challenge, but I’m ready for it
    – eliminate sweets – I’m have a huuuuge sweet tooth, but I’ve been able to survive so far (I officially started last Thursday once I got measured).
    – generally incorporate a healthier lifestyle, cook more, eat out less (very rarely)

    2. Lose as much fat as possible and gain as much muscle as possible

    3. GET STRONG – increase weights overall for lifts, complete pullups with no assistance

  27. Kevin says:

    Hi All,

    This is my second attempt at posting my goals, not sure what happened the first time around. I’m looking forward to the next 30 days and seeing what effect the change in my diet will have on my health and performance.

    My goals for the challenge are:

    1) Eat clean whole foods
    2) Eliminate gluten, dairy and processed foods from my diet
    3) Limit myself to 1 serving of fruit per day
    4) Increase lean muscle mass and decrease % of body fat
    5) Increase strength and mobility (especially my left leg)
    6) Focus on perfect form for all movements
    7) Hit 650 for the total (+25lbs over current PRs)
    8) Complete my Nov. 3rd Marathon in under 4 hrs.

    Best of luck to everyone

  28. Mike M. says:

    Hello All,

    Wanted to weight in here on my goals even though it all started yesterday. I’m a newbie to CF (Aug12) and the BCCC, but am excited by the challenge. So here goes:

    Goals for the September 2012 BCCC
    1. Train for Philly Marathon (peak to 45 miles during the weeks of the BCCC, taper after)
    2. Train at CFCC – try not to embarrass myself, Increase weight gains in lifts all around and continue to improve on skill work- double -unders, muscle ups & pretty much everything else.
    3. Eat to support all this.
    4. Add more (much more) fish into my diet
    5. Alcohol has been out for a while
    6. Have been avoiding sugar for months but not the fake kind. Its gone too.
    7. Coffee must stay in – black only
    8. Introduce more fermented stuff
    9. Behavior modification ( I eat in front of TV sometimes, can you say “Global conglomerate conspiracy”)
    10. Slowly eliminate gluten. Don’t eat much now basically the stuff I eat is hidden in things I eat that I am unaware of. Do a better job here.

    Cheers and good luck all,
    Mike (one of many)

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