“By simply changing my diet, nearly everything about my life has improved.”—Jenna Wetzel, first time Lurong Challenge participant

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Jenna competing in Open workout 16.4

Five weeks ago, twenty-eight members (twenty ladies and eight dudes, in case you were wondering) of CrossFit 405 and CrossFit 405 South signed up for the Lurong Summer Living Challenge, an online contest where participants take body measurements, keep track of their diets, and compete in programmed workouts—all of which earn them points for the chance to win prize packs of gym necessities (wrist wraps, jump ropes, etc.). Or—if the gym as a whole does really well—new gym equipment for the box.

There are three levels of the Lurong challenge. For the eating plan, athletes can choose Elite (very similar to paleo), Pro (a little less strict), or Starter (the least restrictive). For the workouts, participants can choose from levels 3, 2, and 1 (3 being the most difficult, 1 being the most “scaled” version).

Participants don’t have to pick the same level for every meal or workout—but the more Elite-level you eat, and the higher you score in the workouts, the more points you get. When athletes sign up for the challenge, they commit to tracking what they eat and scoring their workouts.

“I knew this was what I needed to reboot my good habits for the summer,” said Emily Riley, who competed in the Lurong Resolution challenge in January. When coach John Veal encouraged her to do the first challenge, she was hesitant about not seeing results, but now she said it was the best investment she could have made for her health.

“This time around, I knew what to expect, so it wasn’t confusing or stressful,” she said.

For the summer Lurong challenge, Riley decided she would aim to do Level 3 for every workout. “I haven’t been able to breeze through the WODs like I could for Level 2, but I feel better about challenging myself.”

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Emily Riley crushing Clean&Jerks at Bricktown Throwdown, a competition she completed shortly after starting the Lurong Challenge

Riley said the competitive aspect was one of her favorite parts of the Lurong challenge, and since she’s a very competitive person, the scoring kept her accountable.

In a CrossFit gym, we challenge our bodies and compete with each other every day. For most members who participated in the challenge, the most significant change was how it addressed their relationship with food.

“I kept telling myself to get through the first week and it would all fall into place,” said Melissa Leonardo, who was new to the challenge this year. “And that’s exactly what happened.” Melissa wasn’t used to constant food-prep and cooking, and she was grateful for the jump-start the challenge gave her.

“I found a new relationship with food and figured out what foods and meals work for me. I’ve learned so much about myself.”—Melissa Leonardo

The Lurong Challenge requires its participants to record what they eat every day, every meal. While that in itself is difficult for most people, the strict accountability was what kept many members on track and opened their eyes to the way they view food.

Jenna Wetzel did her first WOD at CrossFit 405 South in January 2016, and the Lurong Challenge motivated her to adjust her eating habits to supplement the rigorous work she’s been doing in the gym.

“I had no idea how addicted I was to sugar,” Jenna said. “I realized that at twenty-one, I am way too young to be putting my body through that!” She swapped her drive-thru runs for nutritious cooking sessions and said she no longer needs an afternoon coffee break to get through her work days.

And let’s not forget the best way to spend newfound energy—doing CrossFit.

“My endurance during WODs is substantially higher,” Wetzel said. “WODs that I was once intimidated by, I’m now excited to tackle.”

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Jenna crushing a workout

With the food tracking, scoring, and weigh-ins, participants couldn’t help but notice the changes the challenge spurred in their bodies. Emily Riley said she lost a significant amount of weight during her first Lurong challenge, and she hoped the scale would show an even greater deficit during the summer challenge. “It wasn’t as much as I was hoping,” she admitted—but then she took her measurements and realized she’d lost several inches all over her body. “I was so surprised and excited. So that just shows you, scales aren’t everything.”

Of course, it wouldn’t be a CrossFit challenge without competition. Coach John Veal was excited to learn that he was the top competitor in the Men’s Masters+ category who completed the Level II workout. “There were fifty-four athletes competing at that level,” he said. “That was my high point of the challenge.”

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Coach John Veal jump roping at CrossFit 405

Overall, CrossFit 405 as a gym placed 28 out of 79 total teams, with Emily Riley snagging the number 2 spot for all women in the South region (13th for women all over the country.) Coach Karen Colwell placed 4th in the women’s division in the South and 28th in the country. And our leading men in the box? Aaron O’Neil climbed to 88th (out of 1,024) in for the men’s division and the south, and coach John Veal placed 94th in the same category.

So if you’re looking for a way to get involved or challenge yourself, give Lurong a shot. And be sure to congratulate everyone who participated when you see them in the box!