Last month a group of us undertook a month-long Lifestyle Challenge.  The goal was to take a 360 degree view of our health and fitness by going beyond just what we do in the gym.  We asked participants to think about and begin creating a lot of new healthy habits.

In addition to exercise and nutrition we also tracked sleep, CNS recovery strategies, physical recovery strategies and active lifestyle habits with the goal of providing participants with a useful tracking tool and a greater awareness of their overall health and fitness.

We were not chasing big changes in the short term but looking to make some very small but meaningful shifts in thinking and behaviour which practiced over the long term will result in a much healthier, more fulfilling life.

The challenge was born of the belief that what we do in the gym is an important part of taking care of our health but for many of us it is the easiest part while other areas critical to supporting our health (and our in-gym success) are more easily neglected.

Our participants faced weekly challenges like eating 30 different non-starchy vegetables in one week; cooking a complete meal that included protein, fat, 3 different veggies and 1 serving of fruit and; cooking and consuming a complete meal with family members.

We met weekly to discuss our challenges and our successes.  Participants shared helpful tips:

1. Some activities are healthier than others.  For example walking the dog in the woods is great to reduce inflammation (physical recovery), mental health (CNS recovery) and provides some nice light exercise (active lifestyle). You don’t need a dog but simply getting out to walk in nature will do you a world of good!

2. Powdered proteins and veggies are no substitute for the real thing.  The volume, water content and fibre are nutritionally essential.  You can supplement with powdered products like Heal but these do not truly replace real food.

3. Silk the veggie-challenge champ taught us that you can solve your veggie woes by simply putting a bunch in a  blender and pressing a button (recipe below).  If pressed for time, load the blender the night before and leave it in the fridge.  Next morning add your liquid of choice and blend!

4. Sleep: It may be the most important factor!  If you could get just one thing right, this would be the one.  Sleep and recovery pro Jet recommends Sleep Meditation by Jason Stephenson.  She didn’t think it would work either!

5. Keep on tracking.  The power is in the awareness.  Participants felt they got the most benefit from tracking their habits.  It helped us differentiate what we were actually doing versus what we thought we were doing.

We faced challenges too. We discovered that under stress it is easy to let something like nutrition or sleep be neglected.  It was challenging for many of us to get 3 complete meals per day.  Even me and I love eating!  Getting enough veggies was also a challenge.  By tracking we discovered we were not eating as many veggies as we thought and certainly not getting great variety. Making time for recovery and creating some personal headspace in our day was often difficult.

But overall participants reported feeling better recovered.  We discovered the power of consuming more veggies.  We felt the difference a bit of active recovery makes.  We learned new food options and strategies from other participants.  We got our families involved making them more aware of their own health and getting them to support us more. 

Now here’s our challenge to you: Can you consume 30 different veggies in one week?

The Great Veggie List 

WF Silk Jet
cauliflower celery asparagus
carrot kale beans
green beans carrots bokchoy
zucchini tomato broccoli
onion shallots brussel sprouts
leek spinach carrots
olives cucumbers cauliflower
avocado snap peas celery
mushroom cauliflower dandelion
bok choy chickpeas egg plant
tomato brussel sprouts green cabbage
cucumber radish green onion
dandelion greens kale
swiss chard kernel corn
parsley parsley
onion parsnips
potato peas
butter lettuce purple cabbage
cabbage red onion
zuchinni red pepper
asparagus tomatoe
rainbow chard turnip
ginger yellow onion
peas zuchini
corn avocado
bok choy red beets
red bell pepper butter lettuce
yams green pepper
starburst squash mushrooms
mushrooms leeks
collard greens
bean sprouts

What We Ate

Silk’s Green Goodness
2 inch chunk of ginger
scoop of hemp seeds
scoop of flax seeds
scoop of chia seeds
1 apple
1 peeled lemon
4 inches of cucumber
1 stalk of celery
1 carrot
big handful of kale (I usually use green kale as it is not as bitter) and/or other greens (parsley, spinach, swiss chard, dandelion) about a cup or so of coconut water fill the blender about half way full of water to taste

-All of the ingredients can be scaled to taste.  

DT’s Lifestyle Challenge Recipe for Taco Salad

Protein:  ground turkey/beef (cook with onion and salsa or seasoning or chili peppers to taste)

Veg: 1) onion (with the ground meat) 2) bell peppers 3) cucumbers 4) greens (we had none so coleslaw it is!) bonus: corn, jalapeños, & cilantro in tomato salsa

Fruit: 1) tomatoes 

Fat: 1) avocado 2) sprinkling of grated cheese 

Easy Peasy Instructions:
Chop veggies
Cook meat
Assemble in a bowl to your liking!

Iron Man & Pepper’s Egg Roll in a Bowl
1 lb ground chicken
1 T avocado oil
1 T minced ginger
2 cloves minced garlic
1 bag “coleslaw mix” (green and red cabbage, carrots)
2 cups broccoli
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 T sesame oil
4 chopped green onions
Sriracha to taste

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat avocado oil. Add ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add chicken and cook through.

Push chicken to the side and add sesame oil. Add broccoli and coleslaw. Stir to combine and add soy sauce.  I didn’t cook this for long as I like my veggies crunchy.

Transfer to a bowl and garnish with sriracha and green onions.

Dessert: pineapple and blueberries

WOD Father’s Potato-Leek Soup
Saute some onion in bacon fat for flavour then add bone broth
Chop in carrots, leeks, garlic, potato, and a hot pepper. 
I flavoured with turmeric, salt and pepper and added some pork sausage from my friend’s farm and added some kimchi.

On the side I had blueberries and pistachios to complete my meal.

Jet’s Fried Chicken Salad
Strawberry & spinach salad with bokchoy and kale.
Olive oil for the dressing

Chicken dipped in plain kefir then a mixture of cornflake crumbs and fresh grated Parmesan cheese and baked.

Silk’s Beef & Veggies
Beef and veggies (bok choy, peas, corn, yams) with rice. 
The beef and veggies were made with olive oil, soy sauce, brown sugar and garlic and dessert was raspberries.

Iron Man’s Pankegs & Freggies
4 servings
-8 eggs
-1/8 cup of milk
-1 large tablespoon of wheat or almond flour
-blueberries and raspberries to taste
-Stir eggs, milk, flour, and hand full of berries in small bowl or or cup.
-Heat two frying pans on 3/4 heat.  -Add butter to first frying pan.
-Add 1/2 inch of mixture to frying pan.
-Cover and fry until top of Pankegg solid.
-Flip Pankegg into second frying pan for 2 min.
-Flip onto plate and add fresh berries, sausages, and avocado as desired.
-Alternative to 2 pans – use one frying pan.
-Once surface solid.  Add berries to one side and fold in half.  Cool for additional 3 minutes.

Jet’s Fajitas
With homemade guacamole. Skyre or sour cream on side.
Protein –  sautéed Steak and Black beans
veggies – sautéed orange pepper/green pepper/onion
Fruit – Sautéed apple
Fat – avocado.

DT’s Kinda-Thai Chicken Curry
Lifestyle Challenge Checks:
Protein:  chicken
Veg 1:  onion
Veg 2:  carrots
Veg 3:  spinach
Fruit:  bell pepper
Fat:  coconut milk 

2-3 tbsp coconut or olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 lb boneless skinless chicken, diced into bite sized pieces
3 cloves garlic
1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
2 tsp coriander
1 can coconut milk
1 ½  cups shredded carrots
1-3 tbsp Thai red curry paste (to taste)
½ tsp black pepper
3 cups fresh spinach
1 tbsp lime juice
¼ cup fresh cilantro
+ Rice or Quinoa for serving 


  1.     In a large skillet, sauté onion and bell pepper over medium-high heat until soft.
    2.     Add chicken and cook about 5min until fully cooked.
    3.      Add garlic, ginger, coriander, stir well.
    4.      Add coconut milk, carrots, Thai curry paste and pepper.  Stir to combine.  Reduce heat to medium.  Simmer 5min, until liquid has reduced and thickens slightly.
    5.      Add spinach, lime juice, and stir to combine.  Cook until spinach is slightly wilted and tender (1-2min).
    6.      Optional: add additional curry paste/salt/pepper to taste.
    7.      Evenly sprinkle with cilantro and serve immediately.

Silk’s Chicken Teriyaki

With spinach, broccoli, corn and rice
Marinade: honey, soy sauce, garlic, olive oil and apple cider vinegar 

Pepper’s Spring Rolls
Spring rolls. chicken, purple cabbage, green onion, carrots, cilantro, yellow and red pepper. Cooked rice noodles and rice paper.
Peanut sauce: 1/3 cup peanut butter, 2T rice vinegar, 2T soy sauce, 1T sesame oil, 2 cloves garlic pressed, approximately 2T water to thin sauce. Stirred.

WODFather & HeeHee Shepherd’s Pie

Mashed potato: potato, butter, salt, coconut cream

Filling: ground beef with mushrooms, onions, shallots, hot peppers, spinach, olives, tomato sauce, garlic, basil, oregano, paprika, salt, olive oil, thyme, corn, parmesan cheese.

Challenge Winners
At the start we promised a free 30-minute session with WOD Father to our winners drawn from the Lifestyle Challenge participants who completed all the weekly challenges.  Those winners are Silk, Pepper and DT!  Congratulations ladies, contact WOD Father to book your private training session.

Wednesday WOD
Today is a technical lifting day.  My very favourite!  The perfect set up would include a barbell with adjustable weights but this can still be a useful practice session with only a PVC pipe or broomstick.  Indeed, my CrossFit Coach, a competitive lifter, trained an hour or more a week with just PVC pipe.  We won’t necessarily be working on strength or conditioning today but we will be working on other essential athletic attributes such as mobility, speed, coordination, accuracy and balance.  Development in these areas will unquestionably make you a better athlete!  Anyone can train strength and conditioning, but few will ever take the time to develop the other 8 of the 10 general physical skills.  Some because they do not understand their importance, most because they are much more difficult to develop.

Warm Up
1 min Samson Lunges
1 min Air Squats
1 min Shoulder Pass Throughs
1 min Overhead Squats

1. Power Snatch

The focus of the power snatch is maximizing the vertical travel of the force the barbell (force production).  The weight you can move is the measure of your success.  But you do not need any weight to practice the following three critical components to this lift include mastering your timing and coordination to get good hip contact, maximizing hip extension and maintaining a vertical bar path.

2. Snatch Balance

The snatch balance is to the snatch as the hang squat clean is to the clean, an opportunity to practice speed getting under the bar.  If you haven’t developed the mobility (flexibility + stability) to drop into a deep squat with load locked out overhead, you do not need anything more than a PVC pipe to practice this movement!

3. Squat Snatch

Here’s where we put it all together: maximize the vertical travel of the barbell and then drop underneath it to receive it overhead.  Even with PVC pipe this explosive opening of the hips followed by an immediate, lightning-fast retraction of the hips to land in a deep and stable overhead squat is beyond many athletes primarily because they avoid training it.  I know that I did for the longest time.  The timing, speed, coordination, agility, balance and mobility, all have amazing carry-over into every athletic endeavour.  There is no more complete athletic barbell movement.  Master this and you will own the world!  It may be humbling but a PVC pipe is the best place to start.  My coach was ranked #2 in BC but she still practiced with PVC pipe weekly.  Don’t let your ego get in the way of excellence.

Cool Down
Hanging Hold
Shoulder Pass Throughs
Quad stertch
Pigeon Pose