“What I Gave Myself”: Presenting the Honorable Mentions from the Fall 2013 BCCC!

Congratulations and THANK YOU to everyone who participated in the Fall 2013 BCCC. After much deliberation and restrained secret-keeping, we’re ready to announce our winners! We’ll reveal the Honorable Mentions today, and the Runners-Up and Overall Winners this weekend.

As a quick reminder to those of you just tuning in, here’s what it means to participate in a Body Change Composition Challenge at CFCC.  Historically, we’ve hosted this month-long Challenge three times per year. It’s been a cornerstone of our community at CFCC as we’ve moved from a hundred people in a tiny upstairs studio behind 12th Street Gym to the 300+ members strong that share our basement home today.

As we’ve learned and changed over the years, the format of the BCCC has changed. As it stands now, we make baseline suggestions for optimizing nutrition for each of our athletes, regardless of circumstance. Within those guidelines, we encourage the individual athlete to explore his or her personal nutritional habits, identifying those that could use improvement, and committing to that improvement for the course of the BCCC. This is not a “paleo” challenge, where we punish everyone with burpees for eating cookies – it’s a focused effort to simply do the things you say you’re going to do, without fail, for a month.

This commitment could be goal-based or habit-based, for example: “Cook all of my food,” “train 5x per week,” “add twenty pounds to my deadlift,” “lose two inches at my waistline,” “remove gluten and dairy from my diet,” and “cut out alcohol.”

The results were stunning across the board and not necessarily because the participants achieved maximum levels of leanness. There were major shifts in mindsets and overall nutritional approaches, tons of PRs set and major improvements in performance and yes, some very identifiable physical changes – but what was most noticeable to me was that every single winner came into the Challenge looking for a new, sustainable way of eating (regardless of where they were in their personal journeys) and each of them managed to find it.  And in the end, the changes that stick are the ones that will bring the most success going forward.


PS:  If you’re ready to take the plunge into CFCC’s nutrition programs for the first time OR if you’re a veteran BCCC’er who needs a fresh perspective, keep an eye on this space in the New Year because we’re about to change EVERYTHING about how we talk about Food at CFCC.

And, SAVE THE DATES! If you’re planning to prioritize your nutrition as a New Year’s Resolution in 2014, mark your calendars for a FREE Nutrition 101 seminar at CFCC on Saturday, January 4, 2014. This seminar will be designed primarily for those who are new to CFCC or just new to thinking about Nutrition but will also be a great refresher for those of you that need it after the holidays/ at the beginning of a new year, and will be the official kick-start to our January Nutrition Challenge. Again, we’re changing just about EVERYTHING about the way the BCCC runs (maybe even the name!), and we’ll be posting details right after the Thanksgiving holiday….but if you’re even a little interested in participating in January please save the date for the seminar on January 4th! 

We’re excited to host a day-long Balanced Bites seminar right here at CFCC on January 25, 2014. Details and registration will be posted soon. The Balanced Bites seminar is designed to be accessible for all athletes at CFCC, whether you know a little or a lot about food, how it works in your body, and how to triage some issues that you may be experiencing as a result of the way certain foods act on your body.





Photo courtesy Hudson Handel Photography

Photo courtesy Hudson Handel Photography


With Cathryn’s permission, I’m sharing this note she wrote to me because I believe her thoughts here so beautifully illustrate what we’d like every athlete at CFCC to achieve after a period of self-experimentation – what I like to call food Zen. It’s a state of nutrition in which you feel satisfied with your overall health, performance and body composition within the context of your current situation, knowing that life will simply never stop being life for better or for worse. Without further ado, here’s a little more from Cathryn on what she learned from her experience this time around: 
One of the biggest things I learned was that I need more to my day beyond CF and work – and that idea you shared of just getting out of the house in the morning has made all the difference.
Since this is my 203943234324th Body Composition Change Challenge, this month hasn’t been unique in that respect. But this time, things don’t feel extreme anymore, especially in the way that we, Crossfitters, crave it. I haven’t felt restricted, deprived, etc.
I haven’t felt like food controls me.
In my past three years of nutrition challenges, I’ve tried losing weight, gaining weight, nutrition for performance and recovery, and more. I’ve experimented with my body in ways that have felt extreme and abnormal, especially stepping out of the gym into a world where the only acceptable option society gives a woman is to ‘get smaller.’
This month was unique because of what I gave myself, rather than what I took away.
To start, I gave myself a time in the morning to walk and meditate. I wrote greeting cards, creepily looked in people’s houses, and just reflected.
I gave myself already prepared meals and a good night sleep, despite my busiest work schedule of the year. I also gave myself the ability to celebrate the work that I did for others through this busy time.
I gave myself one drink and one dessert a week. I ate cookie sandwiches, banana splits, and more.
I wondered what it would be like to get a muscle up for two years, what it would feel like to get to the top of the rings. I gave myself one muscle up. Just one. I’ll probably give myself more soon.
I tested myself for five weeks in competitions, preparing to give my best performance…not just for myself, but for my team. I gave my best strengths to others around me. 
Finally, I gave myself the ability to enjoy food as a part of a different culture, a movement, a looming issue, and a part of the lives of people around me. I traveled to Thailand and took in everything different around me. I sat down for a 900 person meal prepared by Vetri of all endangered heirloom foods. I ate with friends at Weddings and with over 500 people at the work event I put on.
I took time away from my world to enjoy the meals that someone else prepared. I ate fish, even though I hate fishI enjoyed the breadth and variety, tastes, smells and presentations. I appreciated the preparation and the people involved…. and most importantly, I became way more thankful of my food’s ability to fuel me for the varying needs of my current lifestyle this month. 
So thanks for being there every step of the way. It was great to have someone to talk to, learn things from, etc.I hope other people get a chance to have just as much support as I was able to have from you.


Can you say a few words about your specific goals for this round of the BCCC? What was your general “plan”? What did you hope to achieve? Did you have any expectations coming in? How did you feel on day 1?
My plan was to maintain a low-stress lifestyle and try to bring some consistency to an all around weird month. I had weekly goals – such as try to add more restorative time in my day outside of CrossFit and work, try a new recipe each week (but I definitely didn’t do that), prepare for a busy work schedule, traveling, competitions, etc.
What did you like best about the BCCC this time around?
This BCCC gave me a better perspective on creating a sustainable lifestyle. It wasn’t necessarily specific to performance or a certain weight, measurement, or aesthetic goal.
What was the biggest challenge/hardest part?
I had to REALLY think about planning. What does sleep and eating look like in a country I’ve never been to? How do I prepare for a 20+ hour flight? If I never leave my office from 6am- 12am, how do I make sure I have access to not only food, but the right types of food? When I feel like I’m going to die in a competition, will I actually die….
What was the most delicious meal you ate? What was your “go-to” meal?
Go-to meal was a Sweet Freedom cookie sandwich. But no, really. I looked forward to this EVERY week…because I could only have one paleo dessert so I chose things that were stacked on top of one another, because if it’s all connected..it counts as one. Remember that. Otherwise, I had a really strange variety of meals. I loved rice and chicken curry in Thailand and mango or banana sticky rice. I became obsessed with passion fruit. I ate a hundred year old black egg. I don’t make shit up: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Century_egg
What advice would you give to someone that’s new to the BCCC?
Sometimes we crave stress and the feeling of needing something extreme in order to get results. So what happens when you exist off of this feeling for an extremely long period of time? SO MANY THINGS. I would recommend that people think less about the PRs that they are setting and more about the process and journey. What we learn from CrossFit and (CrossFit Center City specifically) is that this doesn’t have to end when you reach your max deadlift, lose 20 pounds or win the Games….fitness continues because our lives continue. We just have to figure out how to do it all in a way that makes it sustainable.
What habit/change in behavior are you planning to continue now that it’s over?
Morning activity… I realized that this was a HUGE piece missing in my life – creating habits and regularity outside of work and CrossFit….and making sure there is time in life to do other things (because sometimes other things really do exist outside of the basement we spend our lives in).
What was a typical day of eating and training like for you during the BCCC?
Nothing, I repeat, nothing….was normal for me this time around. The higher Powers That Be decided that I could finally have a taste of what it feels like to get a muscle up. Again….emphasis on ONE. Similar to my past three years at CFCC, I trained 5-6 days a week. I tried to not have the expectation that I would be at my best with higher stress, possibly less sleep, etc.

Cathryn, trying new things in Thailand.



Joe takes on the kettlebell as part of CFCC’s Liberty Box League Team. Photo courtesy Hudson Handel Photography

Watching Joey Hand’s progress since he started at CFCC has been enlightening and gratifying. From his first BCCC (in which he gave up a few of his favorite things and emerged pretty shredded, then decided it was time to learn to eat for strength), Joe has been consistent, ever-inquisitive and always overwhelmingly supportive of his fellow athletes and the community. This time around, he recognized the importance of setting challenging yet achievable goals while recognizing and celebrating even the smallest accomplishments along the way. 

Mr. Hand’s experience in his own words:

2013 BCCC Fall Season 

I would like to first just say that each Challenge has been different for me (in a good way). I try and seek out specific new goals that I can achieve within a one  month period of time. The CFCC programming leading up to the Total was a major factor in my success with the BCCC this Fall (even though I didn’t end up participating in the actual Total due to a nagging lower back issue).  A strength cycle like this one can be very humbling, but will also bring out the best in an athlete. Listening to your body and learning from the coaches is a valuable lesson. I had the opportunity to PR my strict press and I also enjoyed being a part of the Liberty Box League. The CFCC Novice Team was a great bunch of athletes that came together with awesome results. I would encourage any athlete to seek out team members for competing and to support others that are in the competition.
What did you like best about the BCCC this time around?
I liked combining my BCCC eating habits with training for the Total . I knew that if I fueled my body correctly and trained consistently I could see great results.
What was the biggest challenge/hardest part?
My biggest challenge during this cycle was listening to my body and not participating in the Total even though I’d trained so hard for it. The week before the Total my lower back was not feeling great so I had to make the very difficult decision and not compete. But all the training leading up to it was not for nothing. It will be a reminder for bigger and better things to come.
What was the most delicious meal you ate? What was your “go-to” meal?
I was very much into cooking pork for the cycle. I had made several pork tenderloins for meals and enjoyed using different ingredients to dress it up.
What advice would you give to someone that’s new to the BCCC?
Listen to your body. If you are training and things are sore, make sure you tell the Coaches and rest if you need to.
What habit/change in behavior are you planning to continue now that it’s over?
Proper rest will be my biggest change and habit I will continue to follow. I know now that not everyday will feel like 100%, but with the proper movement I can still make some big improvements.
What was a typical day of eating and training like for you during the BCCC?
Breakfast – Coffee with a little bit of creamer. Bacon and Egg Sandwich on gluten free bread
Lunch – A Protein (Pork, Chicken, Steak or Ground Meat) with vegetables like peppers, lettuce, onions and maybe a starch like sweet potatoes or rice.
Dinner – almost exactly the same for lunch – some form of protein and vegetables and starch. Meat loafs were very fun to make in this cycle.
Snacks – f I indulged were almonds and the occasional Trader Joe’s cookies.
Over the course of the cycle I was proud to achieve the following:
  • PR’d power snatch 105 lbs. (Many thanks to Danny & Tim)
  • Matched my PR’d 305 lbs. back-squat from last years total (Many thanks to Greg & Record)
  • 37 burpees to 42 burpees in the 3:00min challenge
  • Learned to kick up onto the wall for handstand hold (Many thanks to Ave & Danny)
  • Competed and Won an event in the Liberty Box League for the Novice Team (Many thanks to all the team members of CFCC’s Liberty Box Team)
  • Increased my strict press from 135lbs to 140lbs (Many thanks to Tim)
I’m also proud that I followed through on the habits I’d committed to:

  • Attend at least 16 CrossFit sessions within the BCCC Season – check!!!
  • Increase bicep and chest size. Maybe???
  • Strengthen right side weakness – check!!!
  • Rx’d as many WODs as possible – check!!!
  • Get over 135 pounds in a overhead strict press for the Total – check!!!
  • Ate and Drank responsibly on weekends – check!!!
  • Increased protein in meals – check!!!
  • Ate good carbs – check!!!



Congratulations to our Honorable Mentions!



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