Some of you may or may not know that I’m on a 90-day challenge of eliminating all wheat, grains, alcohol and added sugars from my diet for various reasons. Although the reasons are for health and strengthen my will-power, I also want to lose weight before my competitive training begins. The lighter you are, the faster can go (yes, I’m just a tad bit competitive but just a little. Ha!) I have until the end of March to complete this food challenge, when my base training for the iron-distance triathlon at EPIC Dartmouth, Nova Scotia will finish. In April, I start my competitive phase in which I CAN NOT make any calorie sacrifices as that will effect my recovery and performance. So there it is – the challenge and the personal reasons to do it. Am I crazy? Nahhh…not at all!
What is crazy thou is I actually found the first four weeks insanely easy. I was focused, feeling great, no cravings, and things were going super duper well. Alcohol is easy to avoid at this point in my life as I have grown to hate hangovers and that hate outweighs the love of the “liquor buzz” (which is pretty awesome considering I was a weekend boozer for many years of my life). Plus consuming alcohol interferes in the things I cherish in life…I want to do more of what I cherish! Surprisingly the sweet tooth isn’t that bad, which really freaked me out cause I could eat sugar from a spoon. I believe this is due to the fact that I am eating more healthier fats than ever before and this is known to help decrease sugar cravings. Going to the Lunenburg Farmers’ Market after my morning Core Strength fitness class that I teach at the Lunenburg Community Centre fitness studio has become a ritual lately but also a huge tease. Temptation was growing. It is the lure of Lahave Bakery’s bread – the sweet loafs, various pastries, glaze coated cinnamon buns, homemade breads, brown breads, bread with oats and cranberries, and so on…and so on…and so on…
Anyway, instead of giving in to these cravings, even though I found myself thinking about them more and more as I moved into the 5th and 6th week of my mission, I looked at it from a different viewpoint – a battle of will. I said “I am strong, I have will, I’m not caving.” The mind is powerful – change your outlook and you can change your life. I decided to stop thinking about my cravings and took a positive stance, paying more attention to how strong my will power is becoming by refraining from it all.
But…then came Valentine’s Day…and I had one chocolate (oh dear…). This was fine, I forgave myself, but over the weekend that followed, Justin (my wonderful boyfriend) and I went to a social function at Ski Ben Eoin in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Well, I ended up not just falling off the wagon, but crashed the damn thing. I had beer…several beer…I had bread…a white bread chili bowl…I never eat white bread chili bowls!!! Okay, okay…so the point is, I totally got off track. Let’s not dwell on it. The questions are – how did I get back on track (hell yes, I don’t quit that easily, that’s not my style) and what did I learn?
Getting back on track actually wasn’t that hard because I easily recognized the crappy feeling that quickly brewed in my body from eating and drinking that junk. Wow! I felt sluggish, digestion took forever, I became bloated and gassy, I had a slight hangover the next day after the beer, and my sinuses got plugged up. I also had to use the bathroom more than usual = no fun. Some wheat is known for causing allergies and because I have sensitized my body to it from omitting it, it doesn’t take long to have a reaction when I eat it.
What I learned is:
1) I am not superwoman and should do challenges in 4-week or even 2-week blocks instead of 90 days at a time.
2) I’m looking forward to putting quinoa back into my diet. It’s not a grain, it’s a seed, and it is closely related to species such as beets, spinach and tumbleweed. I think this will help me along on completing this challenge.
3) I can’t drink alcohol like I used too, not do I want to anymore. Doesn’t take much to create a hangover and the hangovers keep getting worse with age (hard to believe in my twenties, I never had hangovers…which actually was not a good thing = danger).
4) I’d rather eat clean and feel light with a flat belly instead of eat dirty and feel heavy with a bloated belly. The former definitely outweighs the latter, no doubt about it! The trick is to always remember this when temptation arises.
5) It’s good to fall off the wagon so you can realize how much better you feel when you are riding it. The key here is having the strength to get back on it ASAP, wasting no time, and then learn from the experience to make you stronger.
6) I discovered my will-power with food is stronger than ever. I am moving forward…instead of letting this stall me. I believe this is true because everything that I am learning about food. Reading is knowledge…knowledge is power! Practice what you preach!
7) What I think of as “treats” now is not the same in the past. Eating bowls of ice cream, take out food, chips, pop, etc. would have been considered falling off the wagon years ago for me. Now…something as simple bread I consider a treat. I really like this lesson because after the challenge is over, I can make my own homemade organic breads made from very little processed flours (spelt, coconut, etc) and have them as my occasional treats. How freakin awesome is that?!
So there you have it! I’m not ashamed to admit falling off the wagon, I am human, I make mistakes, yes even as your health and fitness coach, I am not perfect! But I try, I set goals, I work hard to succeed, and I use my experiences as learning lessons to make myself stronger and more knowledgeable. At the end of the day, just knowing that I am trying my best and it’s making a difference is all that really matters.
For those who aren’t quite sure why I’m so hung up on the wheat thing, click here for a little insight. Please know that I’m not dogmatic about health and fitness, things change, I have to remain open-minded if I want to learn. Over the past year, I have been reading and researching the whole “wheat thing.” I am learning that the wheat in which the masses are consuming that’s on the mainstream market has a strong correlation to many current health issues. So for now…it’s something I’m certainly involved in learning more about and introducing the topic and experience to others. More on the topic of wheat in another blog.
So the wagon has been crashed, lessons were learned, and life goes on.