Over the last 5 years we have done a Beach Body Challenge at our gyms, with the goal being not necessarily helping our members to lose weight but to teach them diet principles that they can apply to their life well after the challenge is over. Our goal is to teach them what they need to be focusing on and how to get where they want to go with their health and fitness. We recently finished this year's challenge and our participants had the most success of any challenge to date. We really feel like we have come up with something that can not only help someone make a short term change, but can help them to develop habits that will last well after the challenge is over. I want to use this article to walk through the basics of the challenge and show what habits we think that if our athletes develop will help them have long term success.
Before we get into the details of the challenge let's go over the results. We had about 40 athletes across 3 gyms take part in the challenge, with 32 of them rescanning after the 6 weeks was over (we used the InBody to scan them at the beginning and the end of the challenge). Those 32 people lost on average 3.95 pounds of pure body fat, 126.3 total pounds of fat, and 1.74 average body fat percentage. There were 4 people who lost over 11 pounds of pure body fat, 11 people who lost over 3% body fat, and 3 people who lost over 4% body fat. The winning individual lost an incredible 5% bodyfat, and the winning team (CrossFit Blue Shark) lost on average 8.53 pounds of fat and 3.4% bodyfat. These results are truly amazing and are a testament to how consistent the participants were.
Now that we have talked about the results let’s talk about how the Beach Body Challenge was laid out. We started the challenge with an info meeting and a body scan. Each team (each of our gyms was on a team with the gym's head coach being their team’s coach) had their own meeting and scan session. During the info meeting we talked about how the challenge would be laid out (view the talk here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZqngfH6_xEM), gave them a shopping list (if you are interested in this list email email@example.com), and helped them set up their MyFitnessPal app and their Sleep Cycle apps (view instructions here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DT9Dr6E0bH0). We then went over the scorecard and gave them 6 cards (one for each week). You can find a picture of the scorecard at the end of this article, and I will break down the scorecard in the next paragraph. They graded themselves each week and turned in the scorecard to acquire points. This was a team competition so each person wasn't just acquiring points for themselves but for their team. At the end of the 6 weeks we tallied up each team's average weekly point total, average body fat pounds lost, and average body fat percentage lost. The team that finished the best across the three categories would win, and we also declared an individual winner for the person who lost the most body fat percentage (which we discussed earlier). We also created a Facebook group page for each team to discuss what was working well, what they were struggling with, and to offer each other support. The team aspect worked very well because it created accountability between the team members and it also gave them a coach who they could ask questions.
So let's talk about the scorecard. The scorecard was developed as a way to keep score, but the real goal was to have the participants develop good health and fitness habits. We first determined what categories we know will move the needle the most for body composition. I have talked in depth about all of these before so I won't go into detail here, but I will just give a brief description of each. We wanted them to look at both quality of food and quantity of food, so there was a category for each. For quality of food they got a point for every day that they ate only foods from the shopping list that we gave them. For quantity of food they got a point for every day that they were within 5% of their calories and macros that we helped them set up in MyFitnessPal. The next thing on the list is water intake, which we had them track in MyFitnessPal as well. Every day that they got over 100 ounces of water they got a point. We wanted them exercising every day, so every day that they did 30 minutes of activity they got a point. This could be going to class or it could be as simple as going for a 30 minute walk or bike ride. Finally we looked at sleep. We know that most people need around 8 hours of sleep, but this can be hard to quantify (time to go to sleep, waking up in the night, etc.) so we just had them track their time in bed with the Sleep Cycle app. For every day they were in bed for 8 and a half hours (adding a 30 minute buffer to account for time in bed not asleep) they got a point. They also got a point for every day that they came to class (we wanted them coming at least 4 days a week), which mean mean that every day the came to class they got 2 points for exercise (1 for the 30 minutes of activity and 1 for class). Finally we wanted them to realize the impact alcohol can have on their body composition, but didn't want to make it a deal breaker, so they got a bonus point if they didn't drink alcohol that week.
In addition to the points, we also had them fill in a few other things on the scorecard. They started each week with writing down 3 reasons they would be successful this week. They could put the same thing each week, but we encouraged them to try to think of different reasons each week. We wanted them to tap into their intrinsic motivation and really give them a clear picture of WHY they wanted to change their body. If they could get a firm grasp on their why then they they would have a much better chance of succeeding. (Interestingly enough the people who wrote their why's down each week and changed them each week were the most successful in the challenge). We also had them grade themselves on their effort and consistency at the end of the week (a simple are they happy with it or not) and finish with what they would do to improve their consistency next week. Once again the people who wrote down what they would do to improve the next week were the ones who had the most success. They graded themselves each week because in the end it really wasn't about the points, it was about developing the habits that would lead to results.
So did the points work? We were curious to see how it would play out, but it was a resounding YES. The people who averaged the most points across the 6 weeks had the most success. The people who didn't get many points each week or didn't turn in their scorecards each week didn't have as much success. This is just another example of how consistent effort pays off. The people who have the most success, no matter the area, are the ones who put in the most consistent work over time. The trick is not knowing what to do, but executing.
What's the next step after the 6 weeks is over? The goal of this challenge was to set the participants up for success for the long term. In the span of a lifetime 6 weeks is just a blip. We have never been a fan of just trying to see how much weight you can lose in a short amount of time. We want people to develop habits that will last the rest of their lives. Hopefully if you go through this 6 week challenge you will pick up some of these 5 habits. The next step is to debrief. What went well? What didn't? If something went well then keep doing it! You worked hard to develop that habit. It should be a lot easier to keep doing it now than to stop doing it. Now look at the habits you struggled to acquire. Maybe adding 5 habits at once was too hard. A good strategy would be to try to add one new habit for the next 6 weeks. Keep the new habits you developed and try to add one more. Once you have added that new habit spend the following 6 weeks adding the next one. If you add one new habit every 6 weeks then in 30 weeks you will have developed 5 new habits. If you keep these habits then in a few years you will be a COMPLETELY different person. We are the sum of our habits, for good or for bad. If you can determine what habits you need to do to become the person you want to be then you will get there sooner or later if you develop them.
One final thought for you. No one is perfect. Even the people from the challenge who had the most success didn't get a perfect score each week. We are all human and we are never going to get it completely right. If you screw up don't beat yourself up over it. Just get back on the train the next day. If you make the right choices consistently over time then you will make progress.
I hope that this challenge can help you. If you commit to it for a period of time then it will work. That was proven over the 6 weeks with a decent sample size. Remember, the goal isn't necessarily to lose the most body fat in 6 weeks. The goal is to develop the habits of a fit and healthy person. If you can develop these habits then you will change your life. I start each Beach Body Challenge meeting with our goal for the participants-that they don't have to do the Beach Body Challege next year. If you can develop these 5 habits then you will never have to worry about your health and fitness. Put the work in now to develop healthy habits that will last the rest of your life and it will be harder to NOT live a healthy lifestyle than it will be to live one. As always if you want any additional help please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I love this stuff.