Whew. I made it! Fifty days, pretty much no sugar, limited sweeteners, no artificial sweeteners, and almost no white flour or artificial ingredients. I say “almost” because there was a full weekend of slip-ups, and I know with eating out and eating at home and such Im sure things have snuck in that I wasn’t fully aware of. Oh and a few bits of candy in the past few days. Oh well…its easter season folks!
OK wait…I lied. There was one instance of artificial sweetener consumed. I had a TERRIBLE stomach episode (reflex in the middle of the day) and I bought some diet ginger ale. I can’t stand regular soda, so I went for the fake stuff. But when my stomach acts up like that, all bets are off I didn’t talk about it on the blog because it was in the middle of my spring break traveling insanity, and I just didn’t feel like it. And I just remembered it happened. Again, there are no rules when I feel that awful, and there probably never will be…
Many of you have asked what I have learned. So here you go…
1. You cannot expect perfection. With anything. Obviously the ultimate goal would be perfect. But thats just an unrealistic expectation. I am proud at how little I “cheated” though. Yes, I totally fell off the bandwagon for three days. But I got right back on and actually basically totally cut out sugar totally and lived to tell about it. But as many people who know me have pointed out, I am WAY too hard on myself. So when I reflect on the past 50 days I realize just how well I think I did, and in all honesty, Im proud of myself.
2. I really like meat. Yep, I have known for a few years that I was a protein girl. But for years I have lived off of egg whites or boneless skinless chicken breasts and tuna for my protein, plus TONS of low-fat or fat-free dairy. But I ate a lot more higher fat meat in the past few weeks and really enjoyed it. And it actually makes my stomach feel better. I LOVE the taste of vegetarian food…beans and tofu are yummy. But they don’t like me so much. I know I have mentioned this briefly when discussing how I have what I consider a “paleoesque” approach to my diet now. And my tummy is behaving better than is has in the past. If I do another “challenge” it will probably be paleo, but we shall see. But yeah, maybe I am a steak and (sweet)potatoes girl after all. Who would have thought…
3. Changing my diet gave me the courage to change my exercise routine. And I AM LOVING IT. Sore as hell most days, but I haven’t been dreading workouts like I have been. The shorter-duration, higher-intensity seems to be agreeing with me, at least right now. My goal for the next few weeks is to do CrossFit 3-4 times per week, and cardio on other days. I am scared Im going to out-grow my clothes with expanding lats and quads, but we shall see.
4. Eating higher fat does not necessarily equal weight gain. Im not 100% thrilled with my body right now becauseI have gained some weight in the past few months. But I gained most of it before the challenge. I think it has crept up a tiiiiny bit in the past 50 days but Im not totally sure. And again, Ive changed my workouts. I do know that I have to balance the amount of fat I eat, because even just a few bits of avocado or nuts or coconut make the calories add up FAST since they are so calorie dense. But, this just means I need to pay attention to portion control more. Ive realized one of my biggest challenges is actually LISTENING to my body and feeding it when it wants food, and not feeding it when it doesn’t want food. I cannot necessarily blame the composition for my meals for any weight gain, but how much I was eating.
And don’t worry, Im not going to get all obsessed with weight like I was before. But I would like to lose some body fat right now, and I definitely don’t want to gain any more. Im happy with the way I look now, in all honesty. But I wouldn’t be if I gain another 5-10 lbs.
5. I can live without ice cream. Maybe not without chocolate, but I can live without ice cream. Even the times I “cheated” it was not on ice cream. And in all honesty, a lot of time when Im craving ice cream I’m REALLY craving the chocolate pieces found IN the ice cream. Lucky for me raw cacao nibs, unsweetened baking chocolate and unsweetened cocoa have been consumed in moderation to keep me from losing my sanity.
6. Homemade salad dressing is fun. I know yesterday I mentioned that I was looking forward to some bottled salad dressing from trader joes. Well, they have a few versions that are just really freaking tasty (anyone tried the champaign vinaigrette? AMAZING!), and since I am a single gal I like the variety that comes from having two or more bottles of salad dressing in the fridge so you can change depending on what you are in the mood for. But, I think that homemade dressing is HANDS DOWN better tasting. So I will continue to make it from home and occasionally use bottled that are relatively clean.
7. I can live without artificial sweeteners. This has been my crutch for so long, I still can’t believe I gave up gum. I will occasionally get a craving, but it doesn’t last too long. And altoids have been my savior!
8. Eating “real” food is really hard…some of the time. When eating out I just stuck to salads or cooked meat, and tried to choose quality places that used mainly local ingredients. When traveling I had to bring some of my own food. But I normally brought food anyway, so this is nothing new. But going to other social events and such was really scary in terms of not knowing what options would be. I wasn’t faced with this too much, but for some people it is quite the challenge. And the only suggestion I have is to eat your own snack before you go!
9. Grocery shopping is frustrating, especially at first. Even in the health food section or the co-op, I was surprised at how often I had to put something back on the shelf because of some funky ingredient. Oh, and you cannot find artichokes that don’t have some sort of chemical preservative added. If I am wrong and someone knows where I can get some, puhleeeaze fill me in. I made the executive decision to allow artichokes even if they didn’t meet perfect challenge rules. Ya gotta have some fun, right?
10. I feel better when I eat less flour (wheat) and assorted foods, and also less dairy. This is why I have considered a paleo challenge at some point in the future. For now Im not ready to totally give up grains or my dairy, but I am consuming less. Again, my body likes protein and veggies, not carbs…especially simple carbs. So we shall see.
11. I think I need to keep taking my stomach meds. I went without for about a week around spring break, and was super pumped. But, if you recall from the beginning of this post, I also had a bad reflex flare up in the middle of spring break. Lets just say the protonix was immediatley re-introduced to my system. Oh well, you win some, you lose some.
So I wanted to say THANK YOU for all of your support and comments over the past 50 days. As I have said, I plan on continuing to blog. And Im going to try to stick to these challenge rules as much as I can for the foreseeable future. Again Im going to relax a bit with some things, but I have enjoyed the foods Ive been eating and I don’t see a reason to really change much. Im sure figuring out the “rules” for me to live with on a daily basis will be a changing process. So stay tuned to see what happens