The boxing gym I attend, K-Fit, offered a 20 day challenge titled “Train Hard, Eat Clean”. The idea behind it was to continue with the good habit of exercise (since we were already attending classes at the gym there) and try to form the new habit of eating clean. We were challenged to focus on eating whole foods instead of processed foods and avoid sugar, including added sugars, artificial sweeteners, and alcohol. We were encouraged to eat as many fruits and vegetable as we wanted. We got a daily email with health and nutrition information as well as recipes and encouragement. I decided to take on this challenge because sugar is for sure my bugaboo. I believe sugar is addictive for some people, and I am one of them. In the past, I have found that if I eat one sugary thing, it triggers an outright binge. I also have found that I always crave sugar after a meal. Always. So I thought this challenge would be good for me to tackle.
I was right.
During this 20 day challenge, I continued to exercise as I had been. I had no alcohol and no soda. I drank water and seltzer water instead. I increased my intake of fruits and vegetables. I focused on eating whole foods as opposed to processed foods as much as possible. I avoided foods with added sugars and cut out having the sweet snacks I always had in the past. It wasn’t easy. When I am stressed, I find myself wanting a Diet Coke or something sweet. I watched Jim eat a really yummy chocolate cake for dessert one night when we went out for dinner with friends. I was faced with a barrage of sweets in the teachers lounge it seemed every day I went to work. I turned down Dan’s caramels at a meeting (if you’re local, you know just how hard THAT was!!). But I managed to do it. One way I was successful was by telling everyone what I was doing. By being upfront about it, people understood and it kept me honest. I was also fortunate enough to have a husband who supports me in every endeavor I take on. His encouragement and “atta girls” really helped me stay with it. I also had the support of a great group of people at the gym doing this right along with me. We all shared stories of successes and temptations along the way or talked about upcoming obstacles and offered encouragement to each other so we could get over those obstacles.
I lost 11 pounds in 20 days by doing this. And if I am being really honest, it was not anywhere near as hard as I thought it was going to be. I think the support system with the emails and the group at the gym and good friends and a terrific husband really carried me over the hard parts. I feel better. I feel stronger, both physically and mentally. The mental part is really huge for me, though. I have always talked about my weakness around sugar but I proved to myself that I don’t have to be weak. I CAN be strong. I AM strong, stronger than the sugar. This is really big for me. I am pretty proud of myself for doing this.
I wanted to grab a quick, ready to eat breakfast this morning so I grabbed a container of yogurt I had in the fridge that had been off limits for the past 20 days because it has added sugar in it. It was really sweet, almost too sweet if I’m telling the truth. The sweetness overpowered the vanilla flavor. I have to wonder if that has to do with not really having any sugar for the past 20 days. I’m nervous about having a piece of candy or a dessert, though. What I WANT to happen is what happened with this yogurt — I want it to be too sweet so that I don’t have the desire to eat much of it. What I am AFRAID will happen is that it will trigger those cravings all over again and I’ll be back to square one. I didn’t count on being afraid of sweets at the end of this. But I am.
I’ve made some healthy changes over these past 20 days, changes I want to keep in place. So I will keep plugging away at this. I enjoy being healthy most of the time and junky only occasionally (like I was the past 20 days). I don’t want to go back to the reverse of that. My body needs me to keep moving forward with healthy eating choices. My mind needs me to keep moving forward with healthy eating choices. It’s what I need to do if I want to live up to the slogan on the back of my K-Fit hoodie:
You. Better. Stronger.