There's a lot to plan to make a nutritional challenge effective and successful. We've got some ideas that can help make it easy on you while providing some community-building fun for your members.
What measurements to track? Write down a list of the measurements you want to track. Be selective, as for each measurement you choose you will need to budget the time it takes for each participant to go through twice, at the beginning and at the end. Some ideas of good benchmarks to track? Baseline workouts, weight, body fat, blood pressure, resting heart rate and body circumferences (neck, shoulders, bust, waist, hip, thigh, calf etc) should give you a good starting place. If you can arrange it with a local lab, you can often get blood work done cheaply as a part of a research study, or you can look into whether your city provides basic blood testing as a service. Your participants will love to see how aspects, other than their weight, change with new eating habits.
Get Organized! When are you going to start the challenge? How long will participants have to take measurements? Will you be taking photos? How will you decide the winner? These are all things you should have in place well before your kick off. If you have 25 or so participants, plan for about 2 hours of measurement taking (and 90 min for each additional 25 people). You can either have people sign up for slots or hold a 2 hour long opening party where everyone learns about the challenge and takes their measurements at the same time. There's no reason why this shouldn't be as fun and thrilling as the prospect of losing weight and becoming more fit.
Setup a blog or FB page specifically for the challengers! With all the free blogging tools out there and the ease of creating a Facebook page, this one requires little time and effort on your part but can create an instant micro community for the members participating in the challenge.
Ideas for making a great Paleo ChallengeHave movie nights! There are a ton of great movies you can show to your members during the paleo challenge. King Corn, Food Inc, Food Fight, Fresh, Super Size Me, The Future of Food and Killer at Large are just a few ideas. If you plan on charging a sign up fee for the challenge, consider using a small portion of this money to purchase paleo friendly snacks for everyone to munch on while you watch. Set up a projector, your computer and some fold out chairs and you are all set to supply a great motivational tool for your Paleo challengers, not to mention some interesting conversation starters!
Host Paleo dinners! A back yard BBQ is one idea, but you can also step it up into a potluck where everyone brings their most recent favorite paleo dish and about 20 copies of the recipe. Its a great mixer, cheap, fun and everyone gets to gorge on delicious food! You can even collect the recipes and make them into a cookbook to hand out at the end, or sell in the future!
Find some lecturers! You can often find someone willing to talk about any variety of healthy eating or environmental aspects. Many times they'll even do it for free, check amongst your members first to see if you have any local experts available there. Sometimes there will even be lectures at local universities or science museums that you can attend as a a group, and often these are free of charge as well. This will require a little investigative foot work for you at the beginning, but adds a new dimension to your challenge! Also, be sure to start off the challenge with a lecture educating the members on what paleo is and motivating them as to why paleo is a great lifestyle. (If you need a jumping off point, we can send you one we have made for the lectures we have done in the Boston area!)
Get journals! With a set of paleo challenge journals you can outline your rules and have pages specifically for their beginning and ending measurements as well as a single place for them to track workouts and nutrition. It is also an easy way to look at a participants daily activities when they need help getting past a certain plateau and best of all you can build accountability into their scores. If you're checking them off every week or two, faking the challenge becomes more difficult. Customizing journals is easy and included in the price of bulk journal orders (starting at $13.50/journal). You can easily include the journal cost into the entrance fee with a little pre-planning!
Prize IdeasCash Money! A portion of the entry fee can cover a cash prize for the most dramatic transformation, top male/female or some combination of the two.
Local Sponsorships. Send a quick email to a local spa, hair salon or health food store to find out if they would be willing to donate some goods to the winner. You can offer to put sponsorship ads in a nutritional journal everyone uses, at the start of a lecture or in email blasts to the participants.
Gym Recognition! Organize a photo shoot to document their transformation, put them up on the blog for everyone to congratulate, give them some sort of free gym swag, this is cheap and easy for you and a great incentive for the participants. If you have a wall of fame, this is a good opportunity to fill it with images of your members' successful transformations.
Cookbooks, cooking lessons or a home cooked paleo meal!
Good luck and if you need any more tips and tricks feel free to contact us!