When my husband, Mike, and I first met with Paul on Halloween of 2013, we had been working with Colby and Colin, the trainers at the CrossFit Combine, for about three weeks. Paul had been trying to get Mike and I in his door since the beginning of that time, and I resisted, much like I had resisted working out as well. (New things are scary!!) The things Paul told us in that first meeting seemed to go against many things I knew about “healthy” eating. As a granddaughter & daughter of wheat farmers, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, and really didn’t even think Paul knew what he was talking about even though what I “knew” had come from a high school health class. I was surprised that grains, brown rice, and margarine were off the list of healthy things.

For the past eight years, Mike had been heavily into cycling and that food lifestyle (carbs, carbs, carbs). But it never leaned him out. We talked and started to wonder if maybe Paul was onto something with his alternate theory on food. And then just that summer, Mike had his first flare up of gout, or so the doctors said, and that he needed a diet of no beef or beer. In our meeting Paul said to try eating his way, and he guaranteed that Mike’s gout would be gone; and Paul’s way disagreed with the doctor’s advice. And in my case, my cholesterol and thyroid were starting to be problems, and I was having joint pain and just that feeling of being “old”. So we thought, it couldn’t hurt to give it a shot, right?

So, after that first meeting, we decided to half-heartedly give Paul’s advice a try. We stopped buying bread, sodas, and processed foods, although still occasionally having some. Instead of throwing it away, we consumed our Halloween stash of candy, and only had a piece or two for dessert, here and there. We didn’t really take things too serious, though, until we had external motivation—the 56-Day Food-CrossFit Combine food challenge in January of 2014.

At that point, we followed the rules — mostly. We cleaned out our pantry of all things toxic (vegetable oil, Crisco, crackers, “nutrition” bars, sweets, marshmallows, oatmeal, spaghetti noodles, items with hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup, etc.) and read every label of what we had. Surprisingly, our pantry was fairly empty, which was an eye-opener that we purchased so much bad food. Also, we were surprised by what was in the food we thought was healthy. From there on out, our shopping experience centered around a lot of label reading and buying things that had no labels (fruits, vegetables, eggs, and fresh meat).

The 10-Week SuperHuman Challenge kept us on track. We met bi-weekly with the group, who helped keep us accountable and encouraged us to keep trying. When Paul added new elements to the program, one by one, frustration would ensue, but we would follow through, and see something surprising in ourselves — a small change here and there. At first, we experienced headaches and low energy, our moods changed depending on the food we had eaten, hadn’t eaten, or the time of day we ate. But then, little changes, positive ones, would happen — a better attitude and outlook, more energy, more focus.

We learned when we were supposed to eat, and what we were supposed to eat at these times. More accurately, our bodies became more proactive in telling us what we needed and when we needed it. Meals weren’t necessary because it was lunchtime or dinner time; they were needed when our bodies craved fuel and nutrients.

By the end of the challenge, we realized that the food we ate gave us energy all day long and that we didn’t hate food anymore. We didn’t feel bad after eating, unless we ate things we shouldn’t, and the extra weight we carried almost magically dropped off, a little every few weeks.

Months of exercising brought on physical changes, but the food challenge kicked that into overdrive. It’s crazy the changes that happened when food and activity combined to push us through. Mike is no longer a chubby biker. I’m no longer living a sedentary lifestyle. When you take out all the foods with processed ingredients and sugar, the foods that are “T-Approved” (as we joke) have taste! We are amazed at how many more foods are out there that have amazing flavors. The food challenge actually opened our eyes and expanded our palettes to an awesome variety of foods.

Fast forward to a year later, and we cannot imagine going back to the way we were eating and exercising (or in my case, not exercising) before. Maintaining the food and fitness lifestyle has been fairly easy — and we really feel like we haven’t missed out on anything. I can eat breakfast in the morning and not feel hungry again until after our evening workout at about 8 pm when we usually have dinner now. I do not feel sleepy in the afternoons, like I used to, and my body continues to change positively over the course of the year. My cholesterol, thyroid, and weight were in the normal range again. Mike also experienced an amazing transformation, shedding extra weight and then gaining lean muscle, and having absolutely no issues with gout, despite eating meat 2-3 times a day. We both feel like SuperHumans and super parents, setting a good example for our son!

Thank you Paul “T”, Colby, and Colin for the time and patience helping us throughout this year to make these transformations! We look forward to another year of healthy food habits and amazing training!