Six Week Challenge: Week One Survival Guide (UPDATED)

Dec 2014 Update from TR:

As thoughts inevitably turn to various detox challenges and fuel modifications for the New Year, I’d like to make a few updates to this post, as it has been referenced a few times in subsequent challenges since its creation two years ago.  The updates are my own, not from the 2012 Detox Challenge Team, and are mostly the result of additional reading on nutrition, two books in particular.


The first book deals with nutrition content::  Eat To Live, by Joel Fuhrman.  I would recommend this book without reservation and have given away maybe 10 copies in the last 18 months.  Key points:

  • Think in terms of nutrients per calorie.  What is the nutrient return for your calorie investment?  The goal is nutrient-dense food, such as veggies (in particular leafy greens), fruits (in particular berries), onions, mushrooms,  beans, seeds and nuts.  Fuhrman calls theses GBOMBS on his blog.  Check out the LINK for more info.
  • You’ll notice that refined foods (breads, pastas, sweets, etc) and animal products (meats, eggs, dairy, etc.) don’t make the list.  That’s because they are not nutrient dense.
  • 90/10 Rule:  90% of daily calories are from GBOMBS and 10% anything else.
  • Fuhrman’s follow up book, The End of Dieting is also an excellent resource.

I’ve left the original post unedited, but I would change a good deal if written today: eliminate the refined foods and animal products and add in the GBOMBS.  

But what protein?  Get them in the leafy greens.  Broccoli, for instance, has over 10x more protein per calorie than meat.  100 calories of broccoli = 12 oz.  How much steak do you get for 100 calories? About 1 oz.  Things to ponder….


The second book is about eating psychology:  Mindless Eating, by Brian Wansink (head of the Cornell Food Lab).  Key points can be found in the great ARTICLE that led me to the book.  The article stands on its own but here’s one to consider:

On average, if you eat with one other person, you’ll eat about 35 percent more than you otherwise would. If you eat with a group of seven or more, you’ll eat nearly twice as much—96 percent more—than you would if you were eating alone at the Thanksgiving card table in the other room. If you get a reservation for a table for four, you’ll end up right in the middle—you’ll eat about 75 percent more calories than if you reserve a table for one.

In hindsight, most of the mind hacks from the original post hold up pretty well.  Adding these will make you that much more successful in the execution phase.  


Having been on record as part of the team that kicked off the original Detox / Fuel Challenge, I will also go on record for recommending, in my opinion, a better format, whereby the pax move toward the 90/10 Rule.  The program may look like this:

  • Inventory, benchmark week.  What is your GBOMBS / OTHER ratio?
  • Week 1:  70 / 30
  • Week 2:  75 / 25
  • Week 3:  80 / 20
  • Week 4-6: 90 / 10

No forbidden foods, no worry about cheat meals, no loopholes or special rulings from the Fuel Team.  Just eat to the ratios.  Even Moniteur can get behind a program like this.  #LifeIsTooShort




The easy part was signing up.  Now for planning and execution.  We’ve compiled a Survival Guide that will take some of the pain out of Week 1.  Remember the goal is to educate yourself on nutrition and make changes that will result in not only short term benefits, but will also transition into a long-term, healthy lifestyle.  The question is not, “What am I allowed to eat?” but “What fuels will I choose to result in a healthy and fit lifestyle?”



If the banned items [LINK HERE] looks like your shopping list, you might be stymied for ideas on what to eat. Rather than offering up sample meals, here are some ideas on what to eat during the day.  Make sure you are stocked up prior to beginning The Challenge.  Not having the appropriate food on hand is a recipe for failure.



  • Eggs/egg whites
  • Turkey bacon
  • Veggie “sausage patties”
  • Fruits
  • Light/Greek Yogurt:  add berries and 1/4 CUP of granola
  • Healthy Cereal (Cheerios, Grape Nuts, steel cut oatmeal, not instant) and Skim or 1% Milk
  • Fruit and Veggie Smoothie

TIP:  most cereals are junk calories and even the “good” ones should be done in moderation and combined with a healthier portion.  Cereal and fruit bars are to be considered junk food.  Protein bars are usually very high in calories. Use with discretion.



  • 1 Can of Tuna / Salmon.  Check the cans for the lowest calorie servings.
  • 4-5 oz. Chicken or fish
  • Lean deli turkey with low fat cheese
  • Green salads with chicken or fish (See notes on dressings below)
  • 3-bean salad (black, red, and chick peas)
  • Little Baby Carrots
  • Hummus (good with LBCs)
  • Celery sticks with organic PB
  • Cucumbers with Crumbled feta and a little balsamic vinaigrette dressing
  • Fruits
  • Raw veggies



  • 6 oz chicken breast
  • 6 oz fish
  • 6 oz lean pork
  • Ground turkey
  • Bean salads
  • Green Salads (use spinach leaves instead of iceberg)
  • Steamed veggies
  • Roasted veggies, such as brussel sprouts and asparagus
  • Pan-roasted chick peas and barley
  • Whole wheat pasta with edamame, arugula and herbs
  • Brown rice and roasted veggies



  • Apple slices
  • Almonds, walnuts, pistachio nuts
  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Turkey Jerky
  • Celery and PB
  • Frozen grapes
  • Bananas
  • Avacado slices with pepper
  • Raw veggies with a little hummus
  • Trail mix (low calorie, low fat if possible)
  • Celery and a little peanut butter

TIP:  It’s a good idea to fuel about 20 minutes before working out (when the nutrients start to hit the bloodstream).  Half a banana, a cup of blueberries or almonds as you rise in the morning prior to a workout will fuel your workout and keep you from bonking.



Bottom line:  Eater smaller portion meals more frequently.  The plan that the Fuel Team recommends:

  • Small portion of energy food before a workout.
  • Breakfast
  • Mid-morning snack
  • Lunch
  • Mid-Afternoon snack
  • Dinner

The idea is to keep your blood sugar fairly stable throughout the day and the hunger pangs at bay so that you aren’t tempted to splurge at your next meal.  Snacking after dinner or right before bed is counterproductive.  If you feel hungry after dinner, drink a large glass of water and luxuriate in a crunchy, wholesome celery stick.



  • Portion sizes in the average restaurant are about twice the size they should be.  Split a meal or take it home for lunch the next day.
  • Consider a healthy appetizer as your meal.
  • Dressings and sauces are often hidden sources of calories.  Abstain.
  • There are plenty of healthy options available even at fast food restaurants, such as veggie burgers and salads.  The key is to watch for the junk calories (white breads, dressings, sauces, etc.).  the best bet is to avoid drive thru’s entirely but if you must, you could do a lot worse than a 6 piece nugget meal and a fruit cup from Chick-Fil-A.



Here are some links to other nutrition resources:

Please feel free to share other resources in the comments.  More options lead to a higher chance of success.



Getting dialed in mentally is often the biggest hurdle.  Some thoughts on getting your head right:

  • The first week will suck.  Go ahead and embrace that now:  It.  Will.  Suck.  But so do sprints up MegaTool, Jacob’s Ladders, 100 burpees, etc.  Discipline is doing what you know needs to be done even though you don’t want to.  So man up and do it already.
  • Plan for temptations.  Stock the fridge/pantry with healthy snacks.  Chew gum.  Suck on some sunflower seeds.  Drink a big glass of water.  Do 50 merkins.   Have a healthy alternative ready when (not if) temptation strikes.
  • Drink a giant glass of water about 15 minutes before each meal.  You will feel fuller by the time you dig in.
  • Make use of fruit smoothies as “dessert.”
  • Commit now that there will be no exceptions, no sneak tastes, nothing.  Do the right thing, even when no one is looking.
  • Meals are a social activity and more likely than not you will be sharing many meals a week with people who are not on the plan.  You’re just going to have to gut it out or use your free pass.  Sometimes you just can’t avoid temptation.
  • If you are trying to lose weight, only weigh once a week.  Weight can fluctuate a couple of pounds a day.  Repetitive trips to the scale can lead to discouragement (or false enthusiasm and later disappointment).



  • Many salad dressings are calorie-dense.  Get to love balsamic vinaigrette and other low-cal options.
  • Sauces.  Not many friends in this category.
  • Avoid white food:  white breads, pastas, pretzels, potatoes, white rice.  Your body more or less treats these items the same as cookies or cake.  Get lots of color on the plate (not M&M’s).
  • Fat-free foods.  Many fat free foods are high in calories—don’t bother.
  • Eating too fast.  You’re brain needs time to figure out your stomach is full.  Slow down.
  • Eating until your food is gone instead of when quitting when you are full.
  • Drinking calories.  Get a Crystal Light variety pack and create your own flavored water on the cheap (just make sure it’s sugar free).
  • Eating in the car or in front of the TV.  Don’t do it.  Concentrate on the food you are eating and you will feel full sooner.  Mindless eating leads to overeating.
  • Don’t eat from a bag.  Control your portion before you start eating.  Don’t trust yourself to stop when you should.  Assume Future Self can never be trusted to make the right decision for Present Self.
  • Use your weekly free pass OUT OF THE HOUSE.  You will likely have some contraband left over and you’ll be tempted to consume it.  


Most “energy drinks” are just sugar water.  Gatorade, Powerade, etc. are basically just juice boxes for grown ups.  Good old water will take care of most of your hydration needs.



People who don’t keep a food log underestimate their calorie intake by about 50%.  Luckily, food log apps are plentiful for smart phones.  The Fuel Team recommends MyFitnessPal (MFP) for tracking  everything that goes into your mouth.  Yes, everything.

An added benefit of using MFP is the ability to follow and be followed by others.  We recommend you sign up with some form of your F3 or twitter handle so we can find each other easily.

If you can buddy up with a few pax that you see regularly, use that for accountability.



Unless you are the chef in the house you married guys will need support from the M.  If she doesn’t participate in The Challenge, she will likely have to change the menu to suit your plan or she will need to become a short order cook.  Get ahead of this issue now so that no resentment builds.  Plan meals together.  Grill the chicken and fish and throw some veggies on there as well.  Make it a team effort.



Even the best-laid plans go awry and the strongest wills can succumb to the siren song of the cupcake.  If that happens to you, confess your sin to Father Hit and get back on the plan IMMEDIATELY.  Don’t wait until the next day to begin anew.  Nope.  Immediate correction.

That’s enough for Week 1.  Go sign up for MyFitnessPal, load up at the grocery store, and strap it on.  Feel free to ping us with questions in the comments, on the Twitterz, or in the Gloom.



39 thoughts on “Six Week Challenge: Week One Survival Guide (UPDATED)

  1. Fonzie

    Chicken & veggie stir fry is one of the best meal options I’ve found when eating like this. You can break it up in much smaller meals for lunch & dinner & it feels satisfying. Choose fresh herbs & citrus over sauces for flavor. Walnuts & almonds are great snacks for protein in small packages. I was railroaded away from this by Christmas cookies. It’ll be nice to come back to it.

  2. Mall Cop

    Great info Tiger Rag!

    I just added a MyFitnessPal account with the same user name as my Twitter: MallCop_F3 for anyone who wants to be accountable and keep me straight!

  3. Joker

    I feel the hunger pangs already. Maybe if I sit real close to Ben Franklin and Moniteur next week I will be able to soak in some second-hand red meat and beer calories.

    1. Ben Franklin

      Sorry to disappoint Joker, but I don’t eat all that much red meat. Got you covered on the beer though.

  4. Tiger-Rag Post author

    My MFP handle: TigerRagF3.
    I will be doing a high protein, low carb option for pax wanting to lean up and drop a few LBs. I will tweet sample meals and snacks: Follow @TigerRagF3.

    NOTE: If you are doing the high protein option you need a min of 64 oz of water a day to help the kidneys flush the system.

    1. Gator

      I literally just spit out my drink laughing at that. Closest approximation would be Aerobics High Impact or Calisthenics High Impact I suppose or a mixture of the two for a F3 workout.

  5. Tiger-Rag Post author

    For those wanting to lean up, here’s my high protein, low carb shopping list. I’ll tweet out my meals if you want to follow @TigerRagF3. This will be very similar to the plan I followed when I lost 100+ pounds in 2011. Warning: I have pretty simple tastes and will eat many things over and over again. Substitute equivalent items as needed.

    Note this is only a temporary detox phase–I will add back in more complex carbs later on.

    Little Baby Carrots
    Red, green, yellow peppers
    Blueberries or blackberries
    Small apples (tennis ball size)
    Deli meat: turkey, chicken (no more than 3g of fat per oz. 1 g/oz preferred)
    Chicken breasts
    Pork chops (go lean)
    Lean Fish: Tilapia, flounder, sole, halibut, trout (not breaded)
    Cans of tuna (preferred) or salmon (light, low cal)
    turkey jerky
    Ground turkey (lean)
    Chick peas (garbanzo beans)
    Black beans
    Low fat cottage cheese
    Low fat string cheese
    Pine nuts
    Leaf Spinach x2 (for salads)
    Romaine Lettuce
    Crumbled feta
    Low carb, low calorie balsamic vinaigrette
    Virgin olive oil
    Parmesan Cheese (not powder)
    Sugar free Crystal Light (for flavoring water)

      1. Tiger-Rag Post author

        For my lean out program, I am avoiding more than a serving or two of fruit because of the carbs. The fruit I do include will generally be 20 min or so before a workout to serve as fuel. I chose blue and blackberries because they are easy to measure, don’t require prep, and I like them over strawberries. Substitute 1 1/4 cup of whole strawberries for 3/4 cup of blueberries – (60 cal and 15 grams of carbs).
        Berries of all kinds are expensive at HT. Best to go to Costco.

        1. Uncle

          Aye, Thanks for the list TR and F3 Fuel for these resources.

          I would also add Chia Seeds, Kale, Coconut Oil, Quinoa, Goat Cheese – all available at Trader Joe’s and all creative substitutes for that list. Also, if anyone has interest in supplements, I have some that I am partial too that I would be happy to share as well hear what others use.

    1. Pesci

      TR – interested in thoughts on pre-work out fuel, especially for longer ones. I was nearly complex-carb free for most of 2012, but really struggled on long runs training for Thunder Road 1/2. Finally started eating some pasta and bread (whole grain) and felt better. But I managed to gain weight (not muscle) while doing that training.

  6. Six Mike

    Aye – in – so far today had 6 beers and 20 wings….working on a bacon wrapped filet and bottle of red with side of onion rings.

    Need counciling….this is going to suck but committed

    1. Reboot

      Yeah I blew it out last night. 2 pints of beer, pretzels with queso, and a Prohibited burger and fries at Leroy Fox. It was good to go out with a bang.

  7. Silent Bob

    My handle is SilentBobF3. Stocked up on fruits, vegetables, nuts and organic chicken yesterday, but admittedly a little nervous about handling all this as a type 1 diabetic.

    1. Tiger-Rag Post author

      The same precepts apply to the #FuelChallenge as the regular workouts: this is voluntary and entirely self-policing. I don’t know most of your real names, much less medical history, etc. Remember those “consult your physician” disclaimers? Those apply here. I am an engineer, former #FatGuy, and won’t even go as far to say I am a shade tree nutritionist. This Challenge is ultimately about making healthy choices. Determining whether you should participate is the first choice.

    1. Reboot

      Oh and looking for a co-admin or three for the group. Holla if you want to be able to edit the thang.

      1. Reboot

        Awwwww crap, so that’s what Private means. So much for saving work :(. Mutiny what’s your MFP username, I’ll have to invite everyone.

    1. Mutiny

      I would try a HR Monitor. I have one you can borrow for a few days if you dont mind an old sweaty band. I dont use it too much anymore but Ill likely wear a few times over the course of the challenge.

      I have heard its 10-15 calories per set of 10 during the #12DoB but I cant confirm that.

    1. RedRyder

      awesome question!
      I think if we create workouts on and prefix the name with F3, it will be easier for others to find them.

      I just created a workout out there called “F3 Kettle Bell Beatdown.” I have no idea how accurate it is, but I calculated about a 500 calorie burn for a 45 minute workout. Now… I created it for a 200 lb., 56 year old WarDaddy (read…”old, flabby guy sucking wind as he brings up the rear”)

      to build the workout…

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