Drumroll please….I am extremely excited to share with you the King and Queen (winners) of Crossfit Quantum’s GET REAL Challenge!  Everyone who participated in the challenge did amazing and we saw some fantastic changes across the board!  I loved following each of your blogs and getting a window into what you were eating and how you were feeling.  I was so impressed with everyone’s dedication and commitment.  Your hard work has paid off and it amazes me to see what people can accomplish in 6 weeks.  MAJOR props go to all the people who stayed strict until the end and survived MANY wine and/or cupcake-infused occasions!  (Especially my brother in-law and his girlfriend who had to survive a few dinners with my mother in-law’s plethora of to-die-for desserts…I feel your pain).  It was a tough decision, but alas we can only have 1 King and 1 Queen.  READY?!?!  Here we go…

The KING of the GET REAL Challenge is the amazing Alber!!  Alber is working father of 2 who joined Crossfit Quantum a couple months ago – he jumped into the challenge with gusto and posted one of the most amazing transformations that we’ve seen to date.  Dropping 18 pounds, he practically shed a small person and gained a whole lot of compliments from everyone who was along for the ride.  Check out Alber’s transformation below – Do I even need to tell you which one was the before?

The QUEEN of the GET REAL Challenge is supa-fly Julia!! Julia is a busy nurse that gained her supa-fly status at the gym by competing in the 2011 Crossfit Games Open and other challenges.  She can rock pull-ups and has a mean back squat (…that makes me jealous).  Julia is living proof that pictures speak louder than the that stupid scale…she only lost a couple lbs over the 6 weeks, but she got riiiippped!  Check out her transformation here:

Thank you to both the King and Queen for allowing me to use their pics.  I know they will inspire others to GET REAL!

I asked Julia and Alber a few questions about the challenge to share their advise and experience.

What the challenge has done for you?

Julia:  This challenge has taught me about self control with food.  I thought before I had good control but while on this challenge I was able to test myself by being around large quantities of my “favourite bad foods”.  Just because I want it, and it is available, is no reason to dive in and eat it.  The self control aspect of this challenge was so difficult but in the end really rewarding.

Alber: The challenge has taught me how to treat my body with respect so that it rewards me with high levels of energy, physical power and mental confidence.  I learned what real food is and how the conventional North American diet fails us on so many levels.  I believe eating real food is the best way to allow my body to perform at its most optimal level, to be able to grow in strength as well as health and get closer to my top potential.

Did you find it easy or hard to stick with it for 6 weeks?

Julia: During the week and while at work it was not too difficult, I just had to be on top of planning meals and not leaving myself hungry while out in a public “tempting” atmosphere….Nurses LOVE sharing food and patients LOVE bringing us all sweet treats, which was hard at first.  The most difficult part of this diet was going away with friends for a weekend, or watching a sporting event at a pub.  Those places were torturous for my greasy fat filled taste buds.

Alber: I found it hard to eat only real foods for the 6 weeks.  I had to deny on numerous occasions my desire to eat sugary and carb loaded bad foods because I was dependent on them before.  However the motivation to eat REAL was always there, and with proper science backing up this new idea of “real food”, I was never de-railed from my goal to eat properly.

Where did you see the biggest improvement (how you look, feel or stuff at the gym?)?

Julia: I am not too sure if I saw any concrete improvements at the gym, that we would have to ask the CFQ crew to see if they noticed a difference (insert Summer’s comment: I saw you clean #110 the other day…I’d say you’re rockin it at the gym!), however I did feel WAY more energized in the morning.  I would wake up and feel awake and refreshed, instead of the usual lethargic and hazy feel.  My quality of sleep was definitely better and in so my energy in a day was higher than before.

Alber: I saw the biggest improvement on how I look.  I gained new muscle and lost fat.  I also gained strength throughout my body, which goes hand in hand with the increased muscle.  I can lift more, jump higher, skip better and all other movements have improved; but we are forever in our own skin, so the reminder of how I look better is the predominant improvement.

Summer: I love that you both mentioned how you FEEL and PERFORM better.  It goes WAY beyond just dropping some excess lbs and translates into every aspect of your life.  Yay!

Are you going to keep up with the lifestyle?

Julia: For the most part…YES.  I am so much more aware of the food I was packing away mindlessly prior to the challenge.  I have learned a whole bunch of new recipes and food ideas that are more body friendly then I was previously eating.  That being said now that the challenge is done, I have enjoyed indulging some weekend beers.  Oh beer I wish you were healthy! (Summer: I wish cupcakes were healthy!!)

Alber: I will most definitely keep up with this lifestyle.  I now feel guilty just thinking about eating grain products like bread and pasta because I know the health problems it can cause in both the long and short term.  Sugar is harder for me to stay away from and I have to try harder for me to resist that temptation.  But I look at grains, legumes, dairy and sugar now as one would look at regular excessive drinking or chain smoking: being detrimental to my health.

What is your advice to other people looking to GET REAL?

Julia: PLAN PLAN PLAN.  For the first few weeks making sure you are never left hungry or eating the same ol meals.  Searching for new recipes and being able to 100% say no to any food temptations for the first month.

Alber: My advice to others is to educate yourself on what you are putting in your system and ask hard questions about where the ingredients in your food come from, and learn what your body really needs to thrive.  Don’t give your body less or more then it needs.  Find out what the happy medium between hunger and overeating is, and which REAL foods you like because that will help you reach a new controlled and planned out way of eating that will last forever.  Get a slow cooker, get lots of new spices, start experimenting with easy recipes and try new real foods that seem fun and tasty to you.

What was your favourite REAL food to eat?

Julia: Sounds so lame but tuna was a new food I discovered while doing this challenge.  So easy and filling and you can put anything with tuna to change up the taste. And lets face it, the Healthy Butcher is pricey but the quality of meats I was eating was WAY more tasty….mmm meat…so yummy!

Alber: It’s hard to choose a favourite REAL food but I love sashimi, steak and broccoli.  I eat raw broccoli almost everyday, and for protein I love eating a tenderloin steak or fresh raw fish.

Congrats to you both…you both did AMAZING!  (And you made me proud….tear)

Until next time, keep it REAL!