Lets start with the positives:
- This has been, by far, our best challenge, as far as participation goes. We had many new people jump in and help create a community with their comments and many more follow along, but just weren't up to leaving comments yet.
- Several people have had trans-formative experiences, some mental, some physical, some both. Many people responded well to a focus on improving their health rather than aesthetic goals.
- Many people have opened their eyes to a whole new way of nourishing their bodies for health and performance and are beginning to question the conventional wisdom that is prevalent today.
- Several past challenge members "got it" this time around and are reaping the rewards.
- We had several who were unable to see the 30 days through
- We did not put up as many recipes and tricks as we would have liked to.
- We would still like to see even more in the way of comments to help drive the community aspect of the blog. We started with great comment trend which we have found is directly correlated with committment to the program. You can see where the trend line went from there below.
|Graphical representation of the comments throughout the 30 days|
We are going to finish this thing off by returning to our primary focus at the beginning of the challenge, the mental and emotional aspects of eating.
Those who made the whole 30 days congratulations! You have made significant growth in your mental and emotional strength and should be very proud of yourselves. Know that it is an ongoing battle though, and you need to keep your guard up even more as you loosen the reigns and find a way to work in some of the eliminated foods into your new routine. Look below for what you need to do when reintroducing foods you have eliminated.
Those who broke during the 30 days, don't beat yourself up over it and consider yourself a failure. It will only cause resentment and push you to find comfort in your old friends(Bagels, pizza, chocolate, ice cream). You have taken the first critical steps to better health, remember that is what this is all about. You are not doing this for anyone other than yourself and one slip up does not have to be a spiral out of control. Any day without processed crap, sugar, etc. is a day towards better health. Continue on your journey to better health and when those demons of instant gratification pop up and tell you you are a grown person and no one is going to tell you how to eat, ask yourself which is more important, your health or that sweet treat?
We have heard many things over the past 30 days from people doing the challenge and from people who ask us what we are doing when we politely decline a forbidden item. People say, "This is so hard!" "You have so much discipline." "It must be hard eating that way?" Guess what? It's not hard. Fighting cancer is hard. Spending a year fighting insurgents in Afghanistan is hard. Getting off of crack or heroine is hard. Being homeless is hard. Not eating a piece of pizza, a cookie, or drink a beer for 30 days is not hard. Especially when the stakes are so high. The real sad part is we have been conditioned to the point that eating nutrient dense, whole, natural, healthy foods is weird. We are the ones who are on that weird diet and asked why we eat "that way."
Unfortunately, we see almost daily how quality of life can be affected by failing health. We have loved ones who are missing out on significant life events because they don't have the physical ability to keep up and their physical failings are at least partly related to the foods they choose to eat. It is sad and, in truth, somewhat disappointing when we have clients and challenge members reversing conditions by taking charge of their lives and eating clean and we can't help those closest to us.
For closing this thing out, what you do over the next few days is more important than what you have done for the past 30. Rather than recreate the wheel we have cut and pasted our final post from our last challenge for your post challenge instructions.
This challenge has been called a cleanse and can be looked at that way. We are trying to get out most of the foods that are known to cause gut irritation and see how your body reacts. The goal being to then reintroduce these foods and see which ones work for you and which ones do not. This technique will not work if you reward yourself for your strength over the last 30 days by going out for pizza, beer, and ice cream. I can tell you now how you will feel afterward and the worst part is you will have no idea which foods caused problems. As we reach the end of this challenge, one option, the way we have settled into, is to keep those foods out for good. You have proven that you can deal without them. We do want you to find something that works for you, so if you feel you have to have some bread, grains, dairy, or beans be smart about it. The trick is to start back slowly by reintroducing one thing at a time and see how your body responds. Start with cheese in your eggs on the first day or a glass of milk with dinner and see how you feel. If things go well, try some oatmeal for breakfast the next day or pasta for dinner. Pay close attention to how your body is responding and make adjustments as needed. If you have issues with food, the symptoms could range from sneezing and a stuffy nose to a full on bout of Montezuma's revenge, but rest assured your body will let you know.
We have reached a point where we do not eat grains, dairy, or legumes at all unless we make a conscious decision to go off our eating plan. This is mostly in the form of a family pizza night or an occasional trip to the ice cream store. We purposefully go out of the house, have our cheat and come back. This way the tub of Bryers mint chocolate chip, or the left over Ledo's pizza is not calling to you from the fridge. Eat it, enjoy it, and move on. Don't feel bad or guilty about it. We have also decided that we are going to transition into a one cheat day a week format for the next couple of months and see how that goes. We will eat clean during the week, including pizza night(we now love eggplant pizza) and blow it out on Saturday with any and everything we want. We say this, but it will probably just mean a cheat dinner with some beer or wine.
We hope this experience has raised your awareness of what you are putting into your body to fuel your everyday functions and ultimately your health. We hope that you have been empowered by the idea that you can have control over the emotional pull of food and the temporary comfort it provides. We want you to be very aware of the idea that if something is able to sit on a shelf for months and not spoil, it is probably not very good for you. We want to make sure that you are aware that vegetables are carbohydrates and a good meal has a quality protein, a fat, and a carbohydrate. Every Meal!
We eat this way because we feel that it has benefits far greater than just looking, feeling, and performing better. Not to sound too new wave or crunchy, (we are headed down that path) we believe strongly that the human body is a wondrous machine that is perfect in it's most natural state. It wants to be healthy, but we do our best to screw that machine up with what we expose it to through our environment, our lifestyle, and our diet. Giving your body the food it was meant to eat, exercising a little, and getting enough sleep will go a long way to repairing the damage we have done to ourselves.
As is always the case with these challenges, we feel as if we learn a ton more than anyone participating in the challenges and for that we thank you. We are looking for a few challenge experience stories to post over the next few weeks. If you would be willing to share your results with us and let us highlight you in a post let us know and we will work it out. We had ideas of hosting a post challenge pot luck dinner but have managed to fill up every weekend in February with events, so it may have to be something we organize down the road. We are planning on doing our 15 day pre-summer reset in may again and hope you will join us. If you ever have any question you can ask them in the comment section of any post and we will get them, or you can e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would also love to hear from everyone as we wrap this thing up. How did your experience go? If you made it through, what helped you stay strong? If you didn't, what made you break? What changes did you notice? What was particularly hard? What are your plans going forward?
Thanks for joining us!
Dawn and Paul