While last year's challenge was amazing, it definitely had its flaws. The scoring was pretty fair, however not completely objective in some regards due to scaling and/or missed workouts. While the spreadsheets were a true work of art, they also required a boatload of effort and upkeep from yours truly. And that runs counter to the true spirit of this challenge, which is that YOU should be doing all the work. And finally, I felt like we all walked away from that challenge without having really learned anything about ourselves or our diets .... and that's a crying shame. This year I have a plan to fix all of that - and it comes down to one simple word: Macros.
Since I can literally feel in the air how deflated you got reading that word, I'm going to handle the remainder of this post FAQ style.
What the hell is a macro?
Macro is short for macro-nutrient. They are the proteins, carbohydrates, and fats that make up every single piece of food or drink you put in your mouth. If that didn't help, then don't worry because we're going to teach you all about it before the challenge. Also, you should have learned in like 3rd grade but I won't hold that against you because I still don't know basic geography.
What are we going to be doing with said macros?
We are going to be tracking them daily and reporting out on them weekly for points and money. This will also require that you learn how to measure food (or make a damn good estimate) and establish what your current baseline intake looks like. This is all stuff that you will be taught how to do and guided through along the way. If you take nothing else away from this challenge and make absolutely no progress in any other regard, I believe wholeheartedly that developing this skill is something that will benefit you for the rest of your natural life.
Isn't this diet just the latest stupid fad?
First of all, smack yourself right in the face. Macros are just like everything else you think is new and fancy: it's been around for a very long time, people just started using different names and re-selling it recently. Marketing, I believe they call it. Personally, I started tracking macros as a sophomore in high school back in 1999, and lost about 40 pounds doing it. That's a true story. Also, new research indicates that our paleolithic ancestors did in fact NOT eat paleo, and that cave paintings were simply a rudimentary form of tracking protein intake. That's not a true story.
Note the two dear in the painting, one large and one small: that equates to approximately 50 grams of protein.
Tracking and measuring food seems incredibly complicated and difficult.
Oh, it does? Let me offer my sincere apologies, I wouldn't want to ask you to anything difficult. You know what's easy? Smoking cigarettes. Why don't you do that instead.
Seriously Tim, I want to do the challenge but tracking macros is scary and out of my comfort zone.
Okay you're right, it's challenging. At this point, I feel the need to remind you that participation is 100% voluntary. You don't have to do this. You also don't have to squat, run, do pull ups, go to work, or get out of bed in the morning. You don't have to try. You don't have to push yourself to uncomfortable places. You don't have to learn anything new that may be helpful to your health and wellness in the long run. It's all optional dude.
Why are you choosing this methodology in particular for the challenge?
Because I believe it's the most beneficial thing we can do for our gym as a whole in terms of overall diet. It can be applied to any style of eating, whether it be paleo, vegetarian, vegan, all fast-food, or strictly drugs and alcohol (all of which are not recommended and equally ridiculous). It's also a valuable life skill that you can use to evaluate your current diet and make adjustments down the road that will be important to you, no matter what your different goals may be and how they may evolve. Not to mention that the scoring for awarding a "challenge victor" will be 100% objective and based on your adherence to your own personal targets. Your fate is in your own hands and the potential outcome is completely tailored to you and your goals.
Will I be able to lie, cheat, and fake my way through this challenge just to get a T-shirt?
Yes, Kiva, you will be.
During the challenge, can I eat giant 600 calorie cookies from Bread Company and not get penalized for it?
Yes, Steph, you can.
Have at it. The part all these macro fiends neglect to tell you is that you have to follow it up with 4 straight meals of nothing but plain grilled chicken breast and steamed brussels sprouts in order to hit your numbers for the day.
Will there be cheat days during the challenge?
The beauty of this system is that it eliminates the need for "cheating." There's really no such thing. While the giant cookie example above may seem facetious, it's actually quite true. You can eat whatever you want, as long as it's moderate enough not to blow your daily numbers entirely and you recover from it with the remainder of the day's choices. In the words of some stupid CrossFit T-shirt: "There is no off day."
My life or work schedule does not allow me to track macros / I'm too lazy to do this / I eat out too much to make this work / I don't know basic math / food labels are too hard to read.
As part of the program, I will be keeping cages full of kittens in my backyard. Every time I hear an excuse (any excuse) about why you can't make this work, I go out back and I punch one. That's a joke, don't make some outraged cat-loving post on Facebook ... because then I'll have to un-follow you for being stupid.
Will you be making like 8 more posts laying out all of the details and rules for the challenge?
You bet your sweet ass I will. In addition, we will be holding a seminar for all participants to teach you how to use the tools provided for the challenge and about tracking your food intake in general. Get ready for some fun.