And the Winner Is . . .

Everybody that put it on the line for the 2014 new years challenge.

But Seriously, before I announce the winners, I wanted to put some background information out there on the challenge. . . 

I’m not a huge fan of the word resolution, you can read about this on this old post.  What I am a fan of is challenges. Also, when it comes to fitness, I’m not a fan of goals related specifically to weight loss because I think they encourage the wrong behavior and ultimately lead to neurosis around body image and food.  As everyone has heard, there is some controversy related to the winner of the 2014 biggest loser.  So when I set out to create a challenge for folks, I wanted to make one that challenged every aspect of the participants being, and would not encourage folks to eat nothing but cabbage soup for 6 weeks.  This is not life changing money here, so I doubt anyone was going to lose 42 pounds during the 6 weeks of the challenge, but none the less, I wanted this to be an exercise in reflection vs a race to lose the most pounds.


So the elements of the challenge are this:

  1. keep a food log for 3 weeks – enough to understand your food intake, but not enough to become neurotic
  2. keep a sleep log for 3 weeks – enough to understand how much you get vs how much you know you should get
  3. participate in weekly challenges – to challenge comfort with your time, your beliefs, and your doubts
  4. workout once per week outside of the gym – duh
  5. have your body fat measured before and after – to measure the side effects of 1 – 4 above

So for my top three winners, they did all of these things, and really embraced the challenges

Challenge number 1 – give something to the homeless.  This is really tough for some people, but when they do it, they report feeling very good about the interaction.  The world is full of people that are hurting, and there are a lot of scammers out there taking advantage of the good will of folks that are doing OK.  The folks that did this were humbled by the experience, and generally reported  positive thoughts on this.


Challenge number 2 – Find a meaningful piece of poetry and share it with the class.  Poetry is something that I found particularly annoying when I was in school and forced to read it or write it, but every now and then, I read one that touches me on an emotional level and makes me think.  Most that participated in this found that it forced them to do some reflection and think deeply versus being distracted by facebook, twitter, the Bachelor, Naked and Afriad or something else.


mine was Invictus by William Ernest Henley:

Out of the night that covers me,
      Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
      For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
      I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
      My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
      Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
      Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
      How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
      I am the captain of my soul.
Challenge number 3 – Get an accountability partner for the challenge – This was to encourage folks to share their feelings, and goals.  As a coach, I tried to pair people up with someone that had similar traits, or challenges so they could bounce ideas off of each other.  No-body is in this world alone, you need a swim buddy.  Again, most of the folks here found that they had some common ground and discovered that we are not unique snowflakes
Challenge number 4 – Use your phone as a phone, and not for texting, facebook, candy crush, etc..  I actually thought I was going to get into a fist fight on this one and had to argue technicalities of not just switching to the Ipad for facebook, twitter, texting, etc.  The only exceptions were if your boss texted your, or your kids were trapped in a well (with only their phones).  The expectation of this would be that everyone discovered how much of an automatic reaction it is when you are not immediately engaged to go to the phone and start playing candy crush.  Coach Phil’s opinion is that the many useful apps on a phone are the new hand to face habit like smoking
Challenge number 5 – Take 3 cold showers.  This is something that I got from reading the Flinch, you can download it for free here.  many things that we have to do in life are uncomfortable (putting together that presentation, going to the doctor for annual testing, signing up for a race/event that you’ve never done before, etc.).  This experiment is to show you that what you dread is really not as bad as the actual event its self.  The lesson is to not dread things, and just go after them and get them done and over with and move on.  
If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first. –  Mark Twain

Challenge number 6 was to provide me with honest feedback about the challenge.  I did get some feedback that I really appreciate, specifically, I could have explained some of these things in a much clearer fashion.  I left a little bit to the imagination on purpose, but from the feedback I got, it appears that I left a little too much to wonder. The next time I do this, I’ll fine tune it like an appropriately sized bathing suit, enough to keep everyone interested, but not so much to remove all wonder.

On to the winners.

3rd place – Carol C!, Carol wins a $50 gift card to Academy to use however she sees fit (no cold shower required) and a 50% reduction in next months dues  – Along the way, Carol lost about 2% of body fat, and took some time to learn about some different diet techniques.
2nd place – Adam K!, Adam wins a $75 gift card to Academy without the need to recite poetry and a 50% reduction in next months dues – Along Adam’s journey, he learned that some of his fellow gym rats have lives outside the gym.  Adam also lost about 2.5% body fat
1st place – Mary W!, Mary wins a $100 gift card to Academy, and a 50% reduction in next months dues, and a lovely trophy, I’m not even going to make her give up facebook for a full week to pick up her prizes.  Along this journey, Mary lost just shy of 5% body fat, just under 10 lbs, and learned how to achieve better sleep, a clearer head, and how to actually control other peoples minds!
Congratulations to our winners.
Coach Phil.


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