Here I am, halfway through my September 30 Day Challenge and I have a few observations to share with you. I’ve broken them down into the three categories of my Challenge: Diet, Exercise, and Gratitude.
DIET CHALLENGE: 30 days without consuming any sugar*, grains, dairy, or alcohol. (*No artificial sweeteners too. I do allow honey in my tea and pure maple syrup in my almond butter)
- Changing the way I eat is actually a lot easier than I thought it would be.
- I knew I was ready for a change, and I started out with the mindset that this is something I wanted to do. I didn’t feel pressured by anyone. I definitely put more thought now into what I eat, and I set myself up for success. I keep fresh fruits and veggies on hand in my fridge, as well as raw mixed nuts and dried fruits (no-sugar added figs, raisins, and dates) in my car and by my desk so I can snack between well-planned, easy to prepare meals. Yes, it makes eating out more difficult, and sometimes I want to order a pizza. But it’s really not a big deal. I mean, let’s be honest: there’s a huge difference between “inconvenient” and “impossible” yes? BONUS: I don’t find myself pulling into the nearest drive-thru to fill my belly anymore.
- Paying attention to “emotional eating” vs “OK I’m hungry” is a powerful tool for loving my body.
- We eat for many different reasons beyond fueling our bodies. When something is upsetting to me, I don’t have to “shut up” and stuff myself with food to avoid hard feelings. Learning how to tune in to these cues and listen to my body has made it easier for me to honor her wishes. I am actively creating a more loving relationship with the body I live in, and it supports a greater sense of trust and peace.
- Sugar is EVERYWHERE and it’s annoying as hell!
- Just try to go shopping and find products that don’t contain sugar in the listed ingredients. It is CRAZY how much of the sweet stuff is hidden in packaged food, meats, soups, condiments, drinks. I’ve heard it before, but when it came time for me to actually read the labels of everything before I put it in my grocery cart, I was shocked! If something is marked as “SUGAR FREE!” read the ingredients, because there’s a good chance it’s disguised as cane juice, sucralose, or something weird that takes a science degree to pronounce.
- Feeling better in my body happened a LOT quicker than I imagined it would.
- Within just a few days of changing my food intake, I started to notice that I felt pretty good. I didn’t feel bloated. My breasts weren’t tender. My feet had stopped hurting. My knees had stopped hurting. My energy was consistent throughout the day. Now, 2 weeks in, even my lower back – which has been a source of constant pain for nearly 3 decades- is relaxed and virtually pain free! I can hardly believe it but it’s true! One or more of the foods I’ve been avoiding was responsible for creating inflammation in my body.
- I definitely feel lighter, though I don’t know that I’ve actually lost any weight.
- I didn’t go into this Challenge with the goal of losing weight. I don’t believe that losing weight is necessary to make a person happy, to make a person more valuable, or to make a person beautiful. I started this Challenge at 189 lbs, and whether or not I lose any weight at the end of it, I already feel lighter and more comfortable in my body. That is a win!
- There is NO PAIN in my joints anymore.
- No. More. Pain. I suspect this relates to the inflammation leaving my body, and it’s fascinating. If you are a person suffering from chronic joint pain, talk to your nutritionist about developing a diet that reduces inflammation. I hope this helps you as it has helped me!
This weekend, I am going to “cheat” on the diet part of the Challenge. Actually it is an experiment conveniently timed to coincide with my trip to New Orleans to see which of the foods I’ve taken a break from these past two weeks are responsible for causing me so much discomfort. I have my suspicions, but it will be very interesting to see what the science proves.
EXERCISE CHALLENGE: 10 minutes of walking daily. (This can be in addition to any current workout program, or if it’s the only thing you do, do this.)
- Even though it’s JUST 10 MINUTES, I really had to make time for it.
- I have learned that if I want something to happen, I have to schedule the time for it. It is literally only 10 minutes, but if I don’t plan for it in my day, it won’t happen. Something else will ALWAYS eat that time. Always.
- I am much more sedentary than I realized.
- On the days I work from home, I spend hours in front of my computer. On the days I have to drive to the office, I spend hours in traffic AND in front of the computer. I sit to eat my meals. In the evenings after dinner, my sweetheart and I sit together on the couch and watch our favorite shows before going to bed. I realized that my body is really missing regular physical activity, and even a simple daily walk makes a difference.
- I really like talking a nice walk around my neighborhood.
- Getting out to stretch my legs, breathe fresh air, and feel the sunshine on my face (or enjoy a cool & cloudy mist) is such a pleasant experience. I notice when someone is taking the time to spruce up their yard or do some house repairs. Sometimes I see other people and we share a smile or a greeting, other times I see nobody. It feels good and safe and peaceful, and reminds me to be thankful for where I am.
- My body feels super energized after each walk.
- My legs tingle in a good way. I am aware of my breathing. I can feel my heart pumping. I have a light glisten of sweat covering my skin. I feel completely alive, warmed up, and ready for whatever comes next.
- Taking a walk is great for releasing creative blocks.
- I have some of the coolest, most fun ideas that pop into my head when I’m out for my walk. I am really enjoying entertaining them and seeing where they lead. I hope to have some exciting new creative projects to share, as well as some that are just for my own contentment.
- I feel crappy when I miss a day.
- On the days that I don’t schedule a walk in, I feel a noticeable difference in my body. I feel less clear and focused mentally. I feel stressed, rushed, annoyed and maybe a little anxious. My muscles feel tight, lazy, uncomfortable. Probably the worst feeling is feeling disappointed with myself for not making the time (JUST 10 MINUTES). But, instead of scolding myself, I slip on my sneakers and head out the door for a quick walk. Magic!
GRATITUDE CHALLENGE: Record a daily gratitude note specific to each day. (I use a gorgeous journal to write in. You can take a daily photograph, record a short video, use Facebook live… Be creative!)
- I am incredibly blessed and have SO MUCH to be grateful for.
- When I take the time to acknowledge my many, many blessings, it is actually quite a moving and overwhelmingly powerful experience. I can never seem to get through a full list without melting into tears of gratitude! Much like when I sit in prayer, I simply let it flow and let it be a spiritual experience.
- It doesn’t have to be fancy or overly detailed.
- I’m not writing in my gratitude journal with the intention of anyone else reading it. It’s just for me. The writing doesn’t have to be eloquent, the penmanship doesn’t have to be beautiful. I just want to pause and say Thank You for something specific.
- I love recalling the highlights of each day.
- By making it a practice of writing down one or two things each day that I am grateful for that day, it is easy to see so much more to be positive about. Thank You. Happy. More Please!
- Some days are super-basic, and that’s beautiful.
- Just as some days are filled with adventure and excitement, others are quiet and peaceful and comfortably ordinary. I love those days as much as the wildly exciting ones, because there is blessing in stability.
So that’s my progress report for the halfway point of my Challenge. I am gathering some fabulous recipes and will be posting them at the end. I’m looking forward to what happens next, and sharing it all with you, dear lovely reader!
Join me today for my 30 Day Challenge, or tweak it and make it your own.
If you just want to do the Diet Challenge, or the Exercise Challenge, or the Gratitude Challenge- go for it! Empower yourself. You can do this! I totally believe in ME… and I totally believe in YOU!
Enter your info below and let me know if you’re in, and which part(s) of the 30 Day Challenge you’re doing. I’ll send you weekly encouragement, tips, and virtual high-fives.