Saturday completed the 90-day challenge, with the last three weeks being no eating two hours before bed (1 week) and everything pulled together cumulatively (2 weeks). Yesterday I splurged, just a teensy bit, to celebrate! And now on to my reflections…
What I’ve Learned?
Wow! So much and where to begin? If I had to rank the challenge from easiest to most difficult this is the order I’d put them in:
- No eating 2 hours before bed (Although sometimes this pushed my bed time way too late causing me to not want to get up as early for my workouts.)
- Salad and fruit (I was getting a bit tired of salad the last week and am excited to spice it up with some other vegetables not prepared in salad-mode.)
- Only drink water (Tough at first but then I got used to it, and I found it funny when people at work would seem to be dragging until they started drinking coffee. I think I’ve been the most awake in a long time!
- Prepare all meals at home (This was really hard while traveling; you pretty much need a grocery store at your disposal.)
- No trans fats (This was difficult because they seem to be so hidden and labels are often deceiving; I’m afraid I may have even had some trans fat find their way in just because I could have assumed there were not any.)
- No sugar (By far my weakness; I’ve embraced alternatives and am excited to stay as far away from refined sugars as possible.)
At the beginning of the challenge I was certain that the last two weeks were going to be so incredibly difficult, but a remarkable thing happened. My body adapted! The saving grace in all of this is that, while I did not do the entire challenge cumulatively, I did have enough foresight not to splurge when certain areas were not restricted (i.e. when the no refined sugar challenge ended I did not start eating dessert every day). That really helped to teach my body not to crave certain things anymore.
This last week my office had its summer party and I could not eat much of anything. And you know what? I was ok with that, especially after hearing people in the elevator say how full they were. I was secretly a little excited to go home to eat something healthy.
Our group started a Facebook page for this challenge and even though I did not know many of the people (since our boot camp is spread amongst different cities), it was really nice to log on each day and get the encouragement that we could do this. People posted recipes, photos of their shopping excursions and meals they prepared, funny cartoons and scary images of what’s really in the food we eat, as well as what they loved and struggled with during the challenge.
Here are some of my favorites (put in order from early in the challenge to completing the challenge). Do you see a change in mindset?
My coffee is still sitting here next to a glass of water and I keep grabbing the water! Who knew how 2 weeks can change a habit!
Actually, this challenge has not been too bad. I just stopped eating anything. I am too scared to eat.
…today I had a very small slice of the cake I baked for my dad for Father’s Day. It made me nauseous and gave me a killer headache…..It was a loooooong afternoon at work. Maybe I will be giving up that “slab o cake” on my birthday.
So impressed with everyone who made it through the no sugar challenge!!!! Amazing how strong and creative you all are! Thanks for inspiring me (who could not do it) to at least make better choices along the way. Stay in the fight!!!
Time management and planning – who knew that this would be a side effect!
Doing water first is absolutely brilliant! It forced people to face not drinking alcohol or coffee – two potentially very strong addictions – before signing up. Every single person I know in seal team who didn’t sign up sited liking their alcohol or coffee. This is a self-selected group. (Meanwhile, those with sugar addictions, like me, could use the water to cleanse the taste buds before no sugar.) Water only really needs to be first. Brilliant!
There are many many more awesome words of encouragement from folks on the site and I look forward to learning more about how people’s habits have stuck.
What will I keep?
In general this challenge has taught me more about my food choices. I’ve always been pretty good with eating a balanced diet but never did I pay as much attention to food labels as I do now. I plan to do my best in buying things as natural as possible (i.e. if I don’t know what an ingredient is in a label then I just won’t buy it).
I learned that I wasn’t drinking nearly as much water as I should and I aim to keep up that trend. It’s not to say I won’t have an occasional cup of coffee, glass of iced tea or alcoholic beverage. But overall, my body does not crave those things so I really was not missing much.
I’d like to curb the sweets to special occasions only. I don’t need to have a cookie or other dessert just to get me through the day or to splurge in the evening right before going to bed. I’ll try to reach for a glass of water instead.
I’d like to keep experimenting with healthy recipes and finding ways to substitute healthy alternatives for things like butter, margarine, sugar, etc.
It takes time and effort and a bit of extra planning and money but what’s the alternative? High cholesterol, heart disease, lower energy, etc. etc….I realize too that I’m in training for my first triathlon and I want to keep breaking personal bests at my boot camp and in running races (ran my fastest 5K on Friday night and a few weeks ago busted out over 100 sit-ups in two minutes). Age is just an age and I feel pretty strong at this point in my life! Healthy eating keeps that trend alive!
What have I missed?
Personally the hardest part of this challenge was the social aspect of it. If you are a hermit and never go out then it’s not so bad. But peer pressure is the most tempting of all. Happy hour, a cookie tray in the office, a group of friends going out to dinner, deciding what you can actually eat at a party where you did not prepare the food. But there are ways to still make healthy choices in social settings and have fun while there. I have seen how awesome and encouraging my friends have been throughout the challenge—asking me questions (even when they were probably tired of hearing about what I couldn’t eat) and being accommodating to my needs. I’ve learned not to be too limited though because a splurge every now and then is not a terrible thing. If anything it will make us appreciate our healthy home-cooked efforts all the more!
As the 90-day challenge comes to a close please feel free to write me with your own nutrition plans that you have instilled in your life. Diets are fleeting, but making good food choices is something that can stay with you forever!