My Reflections on the 30-Day Real Food & Fitness Challenge
I survived the 30-Day Real Food & Fitness Challenge. I feel like I should have made a t-shirt to commemorate the conclusion of it, but I guess I’ll settle for a new outlook on the foods I eat. I will admit to eating a piece of wedding cake and to drinking a glass of wine at a friends wedding 3 weeks into the challenge, but don’t be too disappointed in me (I’m not). Minus the one purposeful cheat, I was extremely diligent in following all the challenge rules. I have a new appreciation for food as fuel for my body and not as something I eat mindlessly just because it’s there.
Part of the challenge also included getting off my butt and exercising more. Adding in weight training 4 days a week resulted in visible changes. I did weigh myself at the end of the challenge, and I lost precisely zero pounds. What? No weight loss! I must have messed up my calories during the challenge, right? Don’t let the lack of decreasing pounds make you think that eating whole foods won’t lead to body composition changes. Getting fitter doesn’t always mean huge changes on the scale, but it can lead to other numerical changes. After the challenge, my waist is a full inch smaller (pretty big deal for 1 month), my thighs are each 1/2 an inch smaller, and I lost roughly 1% body fat. I changed, but the scale didn’t. Scales can be pretty useless–remember that. I’d put up a picture of the change, but I’m against selfies. Just trust me that my stomach is a lot flatter after eating only clean foods and consistently exercising.
Even if you didn’t participate in the challenge this month, I highly encourage you to pick a month soon–maybe after the holidays–and give it a shot.
What you can expect to gain from participating in the challenge:
- Perspective: Food is meant to provide your body with the nutrients it needs to be healthy. Snacking on processed foods does not give your body the nutrition it requires, just empty calories. Mindless eating–when you eat for social reasons or out of boredom or stress–is easy to do when there is a lot of high-sugar or high-fat foods around. However, when you focus on whole foods, your brain is nourished and will allow you to reach your goals. You won’t be tempted to overeat fruits and veggies–the appeal just isn’t there.
- Mindful eating: When junk foods are no longer in your food repertoire, the impulse to grab a carb-laden granola bar, soda, or chips to fix your hunger is gone. This gives you the opportunity to ask yourself if you really are hungry. If you are hungry, then you can grab healthy foods to feel energized. Processed foods will only make you feel sluggish and overly full (especially if you weren’t even hungry when you wolfed down that second brownie).
- More energy: Not eating processed foods limits drastic blood-sugar spikes and drops, which gives you more steady energy levels throughout the day. I could always use more energy!
- Broadened food horizons: I ate a lot more lentils, split-peas, vegetables, and brown rice than I had ever in the past, but I loved eating these foods more. I ate my tuna on hollowed out green peppers and sliced cucumbers instead of toast. I ate spaghetti squash noodles instead of whole wheat pasta, and I ate a ton of fruit for dessert instead of chocolate and ice cream.
I felt terrific every day on the challenge because I chose the foods I knew my body needed. I exercised and got in the activity I knew I should be doing. I saw changes in how I looked and felt in one month. I will definitely keep paying attention to my food choices, and will choose the foods that nourish my body and give me the energy I need to continue getting fitter. I hope you will choose to do the same!