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So, for the past two weeks or so I have been participating in a fantastic challenge run by Carly of Smaggle fame (one of my fave bloggers). It’s called the Wholesome Habits Challenge and it was definitely something I was keen on doing, because it came along at the perfect time. I had just recovered from my laparoscopy/hysteroscopy surgery, was feeling bloated and stiff around my middle from lack of exercise and I was keen to focus on experiencing that whole ‘good health’ feeling I’ve been lacking for most of the year (sometimes my fault due to lack of discipline and a lot of the time due to things out of my control).
Basically, the rules of the challenge were:
- It went for 14 days. Two weeks. Nothing too intimidating.
- You must consume 5 cups of veggies per day.
- 30 minutes exercise daily.
- Get 8 hours of sleep every night.
So…how did I go?
Technically, not as awesome as I’d hoped. The first week? I was like a machine. I was hitting those goals like you would not believe. The second week? I got my period and exercise became more difficult and I was more tired (read: lazy) and a bit mentally stressed (related – lame ‘lady worries’ story).
I was a bit bummed I didn’t properly hit all my targets for two measly weeks, but here’s a break down of how I went over the 14 days…
8 hours of sleep: 10/14 days
5 cups of veggies: 8/14 days
30 minutes of exercise: 8/14 days
I guess it’s a ‘pass’? So how do I feel after completing the challenge? I feel OK and I’ve had more energy (a big deal for me – especially in winter). I lost 1.1kg (my goal was 1kg – a reasonable and healthy one for a two week period). I am always shocked at the end of a challenge to see that I have actually lost some weight, because I never feel like I am making progress at the time. I have a way to go (I just do not feel physically great at this weight) but I’m glad to be shedding my post surgery weight. That just felt like a bit too much.
The idea of the challenge was to develop healthier habits, so these are the things I am going to take from it moving forward:
- Planning is everything. I was amazed at how easy it was to have a great vegetable intake when I’d planned ahead at the beginning of the first week. I also found that we did not indulge in takeaway food even once (while we did have a couple of takeaway style meals we were able to make them a tiny bit healthier than if we’d ordered fast food). We saved money on groceries by mostly buying fresh produce too!
- Minimise starchy vegetables. While I have long been a fan of the potato (especially when it’s cut into chip shapes and deep fried), I found it surprisingly easy to cut down while doing the challenge. Same went for pumpkin, sweet potato and all their friends. I will never not love those things, but having smaller portions of them and/or substituting them with other things (i.e. potato can be changed out for cauliflower if you love your mash) wasn’t that painful! I found that eating leafier stuff with some good protein really helped fill me up and stopped me from eating carb loaded crap (mostly). I want to keep this up and try not to fall off the wagon too much. I don’t know if forcing all 5 cups into myself is that beneficial (I was a bit eager in that first week haha), but it is good to have that figure in my head. If I eat 3 and feel satisfied and don’t eat much junk then that’s fine. If I’m starving still, I can have the other 2 instead of looking for gross stuff to pig out on. I probably was too ‘challenge’ focused and not listening to my body, resulting in an initial blow out weight gain (on top of my usual monthly fluid retention and regaining of muscle due to exercise) and becoming challenge fatigued. Next time I’d pace myself better and try not to psych myself out.
- Eating out is still fun if you order the healthier stuff. I learned that if I ate in a cafe or restaurant that it’s actually not less fun just because you choose a salad or a green juice/smoothie. I never felt like I was missing out while on the challenge and I surprised myself at how motivated I was to eat well. My experience was no less enjoyable. I had good company, great conversations and laughs, and I loved that feeling you get when you know you’re doing the best thing for your body. I am going to make a big effort to eat as healthily (and veggie focused) as I can when out, as often as I can. A little indulgence here and there won’t hurt, but I’d like to think I can manage healthier options most of the time from now on.
- Exercise is a priority and should be treated as such. Sometimes I do the guilty mum/wife thing and put off exercising because I feel time poor or I feel like I’m sacrificing time I could be with my family (as much as it’s a lovely bit of me time). My focused exercise seems to go further down the priority list and really, it needs to be at the top so I am fit, healthy, able to keep up with my life’s demands and be physically and mentally better. Everyone benefits. I’m sorry to put my hubby in it (sorry not sorry haha), but he exercises each weekend for HOURS on bike rides, so I should never feel bad for taking half an hour a week day (on average). At most it still adds up to the same hours he often rides in one Saturday! If he can exercise without feeling any guilt at all (none – not even a little bit haha), then so can I, damn it! I learned during the challenge that it is indeed possible and that everyone can/should live with half an hour without me quite nicely. It’s a manageable chunk of time per day and is not enough that it eats away our precious family or couple time.
- Better habits rub off on the people you love. I can find it hard to do these sorts of healthy challenges alone, because you don’t want to force anyone into it at family meal times etc. But I was so impressed and pleasantly surprised when Mr Unprepared volunteered to take part without me even asking him! He’s had salads daily for lunch and started a new habit of having green smoothies for breakfast instead of deceptively sugar laden cereal! I’m so happy for him and he’s making some progress with weight loss already (bloody men – he blinked and lost 3kg)! He’s even tried harder to get his 8 hours of sleep instead of the sleep deprived lifestyle he was trying to maintain before (which hurt my sleep too). This makes me so happy and really helps me to stay motivated. In fact, I’d say he aced this challenge better than I did!
Overall, I loved that this challenge wasn’t about fad dieting or deprivation, because that’s just not how I roll. I am always looking for ways to improve my healthy habits. It can be a struggle so any motivation/inspiration I can get is great. While I could have definitely kicked more arse at this in the past fortnight, this does not have to be the end just because the challenge is formally over.
In saying that, I am about to go to Melbourne and I might want all the food, but I am hoping I can put my slightly improved habits into practice (I think balance is key) and not come home the size of a house!
Did you do the challenge? Would you do something similar to this? How are you feeling, health wise, these days?