Get a natural start to eating right before the holidays

Staff writerOctober 28, 2012 

Jeff Serven is issuing a challenge to his clients that he hopes will prepare them for the avalanche of cookies, cheeses and adult beverages that will rain down on them in a few weeks.

Trident Athletics, a Tacoma gym owned by the former Navy Seal, has dubbed the challenge Natural November.

It sounds like a simple idea: All participants have to do is avoid processed food and manufactured ingredients through Nov. 21, the day before Thanksgiving.

But it’s not really that easy, Serven says.

“Let’s say you have a turkey sandwich on organic bread with omega-3 mayonnaise,” Serven said. “Well, if you were going to go outside to collect the ingredients for that sandwich, would you be able to find sliced turkey, bread and a jar of mayonnaise?”

To participate in the challenge, which essentially follows the popular Paleo Diet, participants must avoid any food that comes in a can, package or container for three weeks.

That means grocery store trips that don’t stray very far from the fresh produce section and visits to your neighborhood butcher. That means cooking instead of nuking your food in the microwave. It means crushing avocados if you want guacamole.

“It takes some work but you’ll feel better,” Serven said. “... Hopefully, this will help open people’s eyes to what’s real food.”

Starting Thursday, participants get a food chart and starting balance of 100 points. They lose points whenever they stray from natural eating. Whoever is closest to 100 points after three weeks wins.

To participate in the Trident’s competition, you must be a member of the gym and check in multiple times each week to show your progress. But it’s not a bad challenge to try to meet on your own.

“We make a game out of it kind of like CrossFit,” Serven said, referring to the popular fast-paced, intense workouts staged at his and other gyms. “It keeps people motivated to keep going.”

Serven says the idea for Natural November came from the idea that most Americans gain between 1-15 pounds during the holidays, but they wait until the first of the year to attempt healthier eating habits.

Serven says the goal of Natural November is to “encourage front loading with natural foods prior to holiday gluttony to establish positive eating habits to carry into 2013. At the very least, Natural November will help combat damage sure to be done from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day.”

Not to mention you’ll look slim and trim when you try to slip into one of your flattering Christmas sweaters.

Trident Athletics plans to launch another healthful eating challenge in January, Serven said. But what about Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day?

Even Serven says staying strictly natural during the holidays is almost impossible.

“You have family obligations and parties with friends who don’t know how you eat,” Serven said. “And what are you going to do when a friend hands you something? Say no? Probably not.

“That’s why you need a preemptive strike.”

Craig Hill’s fitness column runs Sundays. Submit questions and comments via craig.hill@thenewstribune.com and twitter.com/AdventureGuys. Also get more fitness coverage at blog.thenewstribune.com/adventure and thenewstribune.com/fitness.

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