Hunkering Down for the Holidays


In 2015, CrossFit East Bay held a holiday challenge that ran from Thanksgiving to Christmas.

“That seems to be the time when it’s easiest to let things go,” explained Andrea Lewin, a co-owner of the Box in Oakland, California. “For the people who wanted to stay on top of that through the holidays, that’s why we had that nutrition challenge.”

The holidays can definitely be a tough time when it comes to maintaining solid nutrition. Cookies, pies and full-on feasts can hold sway over most. Lewin said they knew a lot of their members would struggle with the holidays and then come back in January far behind where they had been. The challenge was a chance for them to keep on track.

Bryce Wood, a nutrition, strength and conditioning consultant at CrossFit Chicago, said he sets goals with clients so that when vacation or holidays come, they can assess their food choices in terms of how it will help them reach their goals. “It’s just getting people to be realistic about what their primary goal is, and then you can manage that,” he explained.

From there, they are encouraged to make choices to help achieve their goal. For example, Wood said to look at a holiday. Instead of getting up and eating a large brunch, complete with an alcoholic drink or two, he would encourage his clients to eat a healthy breakfast and work out. “[It’s] building the base of, ‘I’ve done something positive for myself, now I feel like I want to continue that,’” he explained.

At CrossFit Luminary, owner Shane Davis agreed that setting goals is essential, as is the individualization of it. “I really try to dig in, dive in deep and get to know them as a person, as an individual,” he said of his nutrition consulting. “What does their life look like?”

So when the holidays roll around, Davis focuses more on what each individual needs, addressing their specific issues. “People need different things,” he said.

In terms of the holiday challenge at CrossFit East Bay, Lewin said it was somewhat customizable. For example, alcohol was allowed up to a certain amount, and each individual chose if they wanted to gain or lose weight.

Plus, the challenge wasn’t just about following rules. It was also about teaching members more about themselves. One way the Box did this was through a daily reflection. Members were required to reflect on what they ate and what hurdles they faced in complying with the challenge.

In fact, that was one of the biggest reasons why Lewin said other Affiliates should consider a nutrition challenge: it’s a chance to teach members something new. “When thinking about doing a challenge, it’s worth thinking: What do I want my members to take away from this challenge?” explained Lewin. “Challenges don’t last forever, but if you learned something you didn’t know previously, it’s worth it.”

Heather Hartmann
Heather is the editor for Box Pro Magazine. Contact her at