And the winner is…

Leah after

The Paleo Polls closed last night and today the votes were counted.  There was a winner by a landslide and the winner is…..drum roll…. Leah!  Leah came to CrossFit West just over a year ago, de-conditioned, overweight, and very intimidated about the idea of throwing around heavy weight and conditioning hard with a bunch of experienced CrossFitters.  But she rose to the challenge.  She joined the inaugural Paleo challenge and did an amazing job increasing her performance, losing a ton of weight, and changing her life for the better.  But with a ways to go still, Leah finished in a close 2nd place.

But full of determination, Leah kept after it even after the first challenge.  Months later, we launched Paleo Challenge 2.0 and Leah was ready for round two.   Even though the  2nd challenge itself was only 4 months long, Leah has been strict Paleo for over a year now.  The results are not only astounding, but inspirational to everyone around her: family, friends, and even strangers from all around the country who check in on our site.  She is the perfect icon for what CrossFit combined with healthy eating can do.  It’s been a long time coming Leah.  Congratulations!


The end of Paleo 2.0 also marks my one year anniversary being Paleo, so I can’t help but reflect on both the year  and the four months of the challenge.  Simply put, CrossFit, Paleo, and CFWSC have been key elements in changing my life.  Some changes are monumental and obvious like appearance and strength, but others are more subtle and hidden, like my mental attitude about pushing myself and feeling more like the person I believe that I should be.  I could describe dozens  of results, both small and large, but for now I’ll try to just focus on how I look, feel, and perform.

Over the last year I have lost 55 pounds, and in the last four months I have lost 15 pounds.  Over the year I have lost 6 sizes and over 20 inches.  I am very happy about how I look now compared to a year ago or even four months ago.  When I started this journey, I knew it would be long and hard.  I never expected this much fun, joy, and satisfaction in the midst of the hard work.  I cann’t help but compare it to what I have already tried.  There was such an overwhelming sense of desperation and deprivation with everything else.  I knew I needed permanent life changes, not just something that I could keep up long enough to lose some weight. I would never be happy counting points ala Weight Watchers for the rest of my life.  Ack, that gets old fast!  I found Curves to be mind numbing as I worked around a circle of machines and bounced on trampoline, and there was no real measure of strength and fitness, just weight loss.  When I tried a personal trainer, she was nice, probably too nice, as we had lots of great chats while I walked on the treadmill or used the weight machines, but I never worked that hard.  Now after this Challenge, there is no question about it- my life has changed for the better.  I never knew how ridiculously happy I would be to reach the size that I am now, even knowing I still have work to do.  I haven’t been this size since high school!

For the first time in more years than I can remember, I don’t feel pressure to come up with some new plan.  I already have a New Year’s resolution, a summer shape up plan and a holiday survival guide.  I have a lifestyle and it works.  I have tried just about every diet there is, but after a full year of Paleo, I am confident that I can and will keep this up, because I’ve made Paleo a way of life.  I don’t worry about continuing to gain weight,  putting myself at even greater risk for health problems.  I don’t regret the example that I am setting for my students and siblings.  I don’t carry around the mental weight of knowing that I was making poor food and fitness choices, that I was living a life that I didn’t want to live, robbing myself of so much in life. Outside the gym, in my everyday life, I feel so different, more confident, happier and certainly healthier.  I feel like a different person in so many ways, inside and out.

I love seeing that I am getting more fit as each month goes by.  I can see the results of this fitness all of the time, from my neighborhood walks, to my daily stamina, and my performance in the gym.  One of the great things about CrossFit and the Paleo Challenge specifically is the measurable results.  It is so motivating to move from a single focus on the scale to many areas of measured success-the scale, the tape measure, the barbell, the timer, the pull up bar, and more.  I am consistently blown away by the progress in my fitness.  It wasn’t too long ago that I was lamenting my total inability to do even banded pull ups.  For months I was stuck at one blue band pull up, and I just retested my max at 25 with the green band.  Now I just have to get a real pull up!  When we started the Challenge, I set the goal of adding 40# to my back squat, and I was able to add 45#.  With another benchmark, rowing, I had a goal of 1:50 sometime in 2010, and I was able to meet that goal during the retesting.  Honestly, my goal for Christine was to simply not go any slower than I did in January.  **Shudder** I still strongly dislike metcons like that, but I know I need to do them, and I know that even with just a 38 second PR, I am slowly becoming more conditioned.  This improvement is physical, but I know it is also mental.  The last couple of months in particular have been a time of becoming more mentally determined in both what I know I should do in the gym and what I want to do in the gym.

This Challenge came at just the right time to really push me to the next level.  I appreciate the clear goals and camaraderie that help keep me on track and motivate me.  I know that the last four months have been instrumental in cementing patterns of healthy eating, dedicated fitness, and determination.  One of my nagging fears during the last year was hitting some bump in the road that would quickly and easily derail all of the work I had done.  I’ve gone through that yo-yo cycle of a couple months of change and then falling off the wagon many times.  Quite frankly, there were times when I was almost terrified of this happening again.  But now, knowing that I have made it this far, knowing that I made it through being sick for weeks, knowing that I made it through some intense carb cravings, I know that I can keep this up.

Leah Lutz


High Box Jump


*add height each round until you find your max height 3 rep box jump

Row Sprints:

7 Rounds

1 min max meters: 1 min rest