What I learned during the 30 day Outdoor Fitness Bahamas 32.0 challenge
Updated: Aug 31
I know, I know…who does a fitness challenge near or around the holidays???!?! I was actually crazy enough to take on this feat, knowing that Thanksgiving was on the horizon. I joined Outdoor Fitness Bahamas (OFB) in early 2018 and became more committed to the workouts later that year when I became an Outdoor Fitness Warrior. Although I enjoyed the workouts, I wanted more for my overall fitness and joined the challenge (from November 4th – December 4th, 2019) seeking to develop a more disciplined exercise habit and to utilize a structured meal plan in aid of warding off the temptation of eating fast food (thus returning to a cleaner eating lifestyle). I was confident and excited entering the program because of the family environment fostered by lead trainer Craig Walkine Sr., and his team of trainers who were motivational and engaging throughout the sessions in various ways. The organization has a long history (nearly 10 years) of conducting fitness Challenges ranging from 7 – 30 days, which has helped many to attain and maintain their fitness goals. I, along with the other participants, were encouraged to incorporate the guidelines best suited for weight loss, appropriate calorie intake and well-balanced food intake throughout the 4-week period, based on the information provided. There was an exception for those who had diabetic needs (blood sugar regulations) or who were athletes, as they required more protein to maintain their physique/optimum level during training The meal plan also excluded added sugars, reduced fat intake and focused more on whole and at times raw foods (with vegetable-only days).
Overall, the challenge involved:
Attending 3 – 5 workouts per week,
Following a structured meal plan which excluded common vegetables and fruits as well as the expected white rice, flour, fried and processed foods; and
A WhatsApp group that created a community for support, reminders, and recipes.
Throughout this experience, there were a few things I learned that have really made an impact on my food intake and changed my meal planning perspective going forward. These are:
Eat bigger portions. With the removal of the vegetables and snacks I would normally eat (turns out the vegetables were mostly starchy…sighs), I found myself hungrier in between meals. This led to the discovery that bigger vegetable portions really made a difference in creating a heartier and more satisfying meal. Commonly a large food portion is viewed as a negative or overwhelming concept, however, the nutritional properties of eating more of the right vegetables does not slow down or harm the digestive system, thus making it healthy and beneficial in larger quantities.
Not all vegetables are the same. This one was a doozy! I was so accustomed to eating high starch, carb or sweet vegetables (pumpkin, plantain, green banana, tubers), without realizing that it wasn’t beneficial for weight loss. Starchy vegetables raise glucose levels and also limits weight loss (as extra sugar is stored in fat cells). As odd as it was not having these vegetables often, I did notice (and thoroughly enjoyed feeling lighter overall and knew it was something I wanted to experience daily. With this in mind, I’ve decided to lower the number of tubers I consume going forward although I love it in soup (especially okra), and am learning daily about how beneficial certain vegetables can be for my overall well-being.
Take the time for breakfast. With such an early morning rise and sometimes an even earlier morning workout, I’m usually on a ‘dash and go’ when it comes to breakfast; which means I barely eat it or end up purchasing a chicken patty as a quick bite. Breakfast is said to be the most important meal of the day and should be the biggest one too - which weren’t concepts that I often practiced. With specifics in the meal plan for this morning meal, it demanded that I take the time to prepare and enjoy breakfast, while as well as the valuable quiet time before the rest of the day began.
Keeping a food journal is fun and easy once you make it appealing. Using bright font colors, template designs, and an interactive spreadsheet will make you more interested in tracking your food and exercise on a daily basis. I found this made a difference in me recording my daily activities and encouraged me to stay focused. An online version through my email was easy to use as I was able to update more instantly rather than writing in a notebook. Tip: Implementing this in other aspects of your life such as goals and deadlines can also be beneficial.
I like baby bella Mushrooms! Normally the white whole mushrooms are plentiful on the grocery shelves with little attention given to the baby bella mushrooms; and honestly, I hadn’t noticed them until now! They have a more dense texture and earthier flavor, while also adding ‘meat’ appeal to the dishes I made using them. They have become my official preferred mushrooms.
I’ve also learned a few fun facts and adopted some healthy habits such as:
Having fewer cravings for meat or sugar (e.g. in fruit juices, desserts, etc.)
Eating breakfast more frequently and consistently
I like cucumbers in salads!
Preference for olive oil and/or vinegar dressings only
Upkeep of my food journal as it keeps me accountable for my food choices
Did I reach my goals? Yes! Although I wasn’t anywhere near the winning mark for the challenge (the winner lost 24.4lbs and 3.3” off their waist), I gained confidence in my meal planning, increased strength during workouts and an overall improved physique and perspective. Would I do it again? Definitely! I enjoyed the experience and would recommend it to anyone who is looking for an effective way to eat with the intention of weight loss, balance, and health, as well as a supportive trainer and network, which will help to fuel and take your body to the next level. To join the next challenge (held monthly) or to sign up for workout sessions (mixes of high and low intervals, strength, core, cardio, etc.), contact Lead Trainer and Founder Craig Walkine Senior via email or on WhatsApp at 357-4026. You can also visit them on Facebook.
Have you participated in a fitness or health challenge? What did you learn through your experience? Which new habits have you gained? What is your fitness challenge for 2020?