Monday, March 5, 2012

"Healthy Habits Challenge"

**If you have questions about this post, let me know. This Healthy Habits Challenge is something my sister and her husband put together for their clients and anyone else who wanted to join in. I chose to be a part of it. I didn't think it would change much about my life, but I was wrong. I never considered myself as an unhealthy person, but this was exactly what it says it is: a challenge. Who knew?? :) They are planning on starting another 7 week Challenge some time in April. I'm not trying to sell anything to anyone- this was an email I sent to them, documenting my experiences of the last seven weeks. I'm putting it here for journaling purposes so I'll remember how I felt. Each person who wanted to take part in the challenge paid $20; $15 of which went into a pool with everyone else's money. Whoever has the most points at the end of the 7 weeks wins the pool of money. It may sound cool, but this turned out to be something more than trying to win. I'm serious when I say I feel better than I did seven weeks ago. This has been great for both me and my family.**

I can hardly believe the 7 weeks is over. It went by faster than I ever could have imagined. Honestly, if you had asked me at the beginning of this challenge if I thought I could hold myself to it, I would have given myself a 50/50 chance of sticking with it. When you look at me, I don't seem like the typical "Healty Habits Challenge" person. I'm not trying to lose weight; if anything, I look like I could stand to gain a few pounds! I didn't think that I ate that badly before the challenge. I typically run to stay in shape, but after a stress fracture in my foot last fall, I really lost all motivation to get out and do anything. I really just needed a push to start exercising again. Being held accountable to someone felt like the easiest way for me to get up and do what I needed to be doing. The other stuff that came along with the challenge seemed like the easy part.


The first week of the challenge was miserable. I craved the sugar that I wasn't getting from the junk I didn't realize I ate everyday. I'm not a soda-aholic, but I do love soda and drink it a few times during the week. My treat to myself after my kids go to bed each night is some kind of sweet or a drink of some kind of soda and cutting that out was very difficult. And it wasn't just the treat, but eating at all at night that was hard (especially with a husband who is a late night snacker). I wanted chocolate so badly that I had to get rid of any that was in my house so I didn't cheat. My head ached everyday that first week. 64 ounces of water doesn't seem like that much on paper, but when your body isn't used to having it, it feels like torture to get it all down. There were nights that I felt I was gagging it down just to get the amount in for the day. And I was constantly running to the bathroom because my bladder couldn't take the extra amount. I felt like I was pregnant again! I never realized that I wasn't getting enough fruits and vegetables in a day until I started counting. My entire life seemed to be turned upside down by counting everything that went into my body. Exercise became the least of my worries. I may have had a perfect first week, but I wondered how I was going to make it the next six weeks.

I was actually shocked to find that the second week was easier than the first. The water went down faster and easier each day and eventually I found I was drinking more than 64 ounces. My need to eat at night was dissovling as I changed my eating habits throughout the day. I found with each passing day and week that I wasn't even hungry after dinner. I was snacking less during the day and eating bigger meals to compensate without even realizing it. I was shopping differently each week, with my focus on what I could eat and not what my family might like to eat. As a result, they started eating differently. My kids started trying things I didn't think they would eat and they liked the majority of it! I was exercising regularly, sleeping better at night, and waking up with less trouble in the morning. And as I started exercising regularly, Andrew started exercising with more regularity (which I didn't think would ever happen). As much as he didn't think he wanted to take part in this challenge, he really was eating everything I was, sleeping almost as much as I was, and was exercising more than he has in a very long time. It was great! My "free" days became much like every other day. I had my treat each week, but was less satsified with it than I had remembered. My body started to need the water and even though I wasn't watching the amount, I was still drinking more than usual.
Last week we took our kids to Disneyland and I had soda with my lunch. I took two sips from the straw and was done- I didn't even want it.

I chose to organize my home as my personal goal for this challenge. I told myself that I needed to go through one drawer, cupboard, closet, pile, etc. in my house each day. It was amazing. It broke down a daunting task to a manageable task in no time. My house felt cleaner, more organized, more under control and it was absolutely satisfying. I took more trips to DI in the last seven weeks than you can imagine. There were some days that I didn't want to stop what I was doing because it felt so good.

I'm amazed at how many people have shown interest in what I've been doing. Everyone asks when I pass up a dessert or stop eating at a certain time of night. When I hit a late night movie with girlfriends and don't get any snacks from the snackbar, but instead pull my water bottle from my purse. When I smile and thank my friends for bringing cookies on Valentine's Day and tell them my kids will love them. So many people want to be better, but don't have the motivation or the know-how to start. This is the way to start. It's straightforward, with no hidden agendas. You are doing it for you, which is the whole reason to start in the first place!

I have learned far more than I thought I would in the last seven weeks. I learned that I have more willpower than I thought I did. I put everything I had into this challenge. I told myself that it wasn't worth doing if I didn't give it my all. And if I cheated and snuck a treat here and there, it wasn't worth doing the challenge at all. I woke up this morning and thought, "I'm done. What will I eat for breakfast now that I'm free to eat what I want?" And what I wanted was a bowl of plain Cheerios with fresh blueberries on top. Seven weeks has done its job. I didn't feel any cravings today for the food I used to eat so easily. I wanted a snack this afternoon and instead of grabbing chips or Girl Scout Cookies, I grabbed a handful of carrots because I wanted to. I am truly amazed by the differences I see in myself. As far as continuing on: this has become a part of my life. It's become the way I do things in my home and for my family. I may be a little more relaxed in my counting, but I know this will stick with me. I feel great. How could I ever go back?


Tawna said...

I'm interested in finding out more

Andrew and Cori said...

Tawna- go to There is a link at the top that says Healthy Habits Challenge. It will give you the basic guidelines of the challenge. There is a more in depth email that they sent after you committed to the challenge. My sister said that within the next couple weeks they will put up something talking about the next challenge.