CrossFit South Rockland

Monday, August 7, 2017


I was introduced to the 45-day Paleo/Zone challenge 3.5 years ago. Just like anyone who is new to it, I was clueless and didn't know if I'd be able to keep up with it having a busy work schedule. All I had to do though was to try. 

Joining the fat loss team, as per coach I had to eat 5 times times a day. To me it was way too much since I was not a big eater so that was already a challenge. No bread, no dairy, no sugar, just meat, fish, vegetables, some fruit, nuts and seeds - that's all that was allowed plus it had to be portioned as per Zone prescription. First week was the hardest. Disciplining myself to eat right while eliminating my day-to-day sweet treats (yes, I'm a donut and chocolate lover!) was tough, but so is life and everything else in it! "Just suck it up and do it! It will only get you better." That was my everyday thought. 

Going back and forth with the zone prescription table, measuring ounces, figuring out the blocks wasn't so bad as I thought it would be. Prepared in advance meals took time but that made an easier transition during the day and helped eliminate the need to go out for food which could have caused unnecessary cravings. I must admit going to the family/friends outings or restaurants was not easy but definitely got manageable with time.

What really got me through my first challenge was daily email communications with my team. I felt more accountable and knew that there would always be someone to support and correct me if I didn't do things the right way. It just made the challenge much easier because I knew there were other people on the same boat as me  trying to get through it and improve their performance and overall health. Some people found writing emails the hardest because of a lack of free time in their busy lives; but if you think about it, it takes less than a minute to write down what you ate. As a matter of fact, you can do it while you are eating, and when the time for the next meal comes, just do it again. It's just like writing a quick text message to your friend. We always find time for that, don't we?

After 2-3 weeks changes in my body became visible. I felt lighter and my performance got so much better. Things like getting a first unassisted pull-up or a deadlift PR were the driving factors that made me aware: proper nutrition was definitely a GAME CHANGER. I had more energy for the whole work day and even was able to workout more than once a day. 

At first, 45 days seemed to be a long time, but they flew by fast. I fell in love with the results, with the way my body felt and performed, and I didn't want it any other way. I didn't stop eating Paleo foods after the challenge was over. To me it became a regular diet. 

Fast forward 3 years and I'm about to start a 45-day challenge again. I have not skipped a single one of them and am not planning on to. I have learned a lot from coach Ray and my teammates along the way. I became a better paleo baker, learned more about nutrition, lost over 10% body fat within 3 years, PR'ed (hit personal records) a lot of WODs and lifts, and the list goes on. As you can see from the transformation picture, I went from shrimpy skinny Nat to a more toned and lean of an athlete. After all, each challenge was all about personal goals, commitment, desire to be a better self, determination, self motivation, and finally, eliminating phrases like "I can't" or "I will never be able to do it" from the daily vocabulary. 

Everyone can do this 45-day paleo/zone challenge. Don't ever be afraid to try it. You are not alone. You will always have the support of your coaches and team members. No matter how hard it is for you, no matter how busy your life is, find a time to invest in a better healthier version of you. Find a way to shut that little voice in your head saying "I can't." Set your goals and get after them! Your body will definitely thank you for it. 

Nataliya Olifer

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