It’s hard to believe that the 8 Weeks To A Better You! mini-challenge (4 Weeks To A Better You!) is over. Yesterday marked Day 28, the last day of the challenge.
So, how did it go? I’ll get to that, but before I do, let’s do a little refresher on what the challenge entailed. If you recall, the challenge consisted of seven physical challenges and three emotional/spiritual challenges.
The physical challenges were:
1. Exercise at least 45 minutes a day
2. Get at least 7 hours of sleep a night (if you are short a little just squeeze a nap in to make up for it)
3. Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day
4. No Sugar – eliminating sugars and white flours (which turn into sugars)
5. No soda, fast food or junk food
6. Eat at least 2 servings of fruit and 2 servings of vegetables
7. No eating after 8 p.m. (unless it’s your dinner – but try really hard to get dinner in earlier)
The emotional/spiritual challenges were:
8. Write in your journal EVERY DAY.
9. Complete at least 15 minutes of uplifting reading or scripture study
10. Complete an act of service or random act of kindness. Whether it be a small one or a big one, do something kind for someone else that is out of your normal routine.
The challenge included one FREE DAY each week where we got the full 10 points whether or not we completed all the requirements.
Possible points earned – 10 per day, 70 per week.
And my results…
Week 1 – 69 points
I went out strong, gave it my all and got really tired. It was a lot to think about at first – changing my diet, figuring out ways to work in exercise every day instead of just occasionally, taking time out to read and write daily. All of it was a challenge, but the adrenalin rush kept me going. Exercise the first week consisted of my treadmill (and a hotel treadmill). I started out just walking at 2.5 mph and working up to 3 mph. Doesn’t sound like a lot, but it was enough of a challenge at the beginning. Food – I quickly realized that I didn’t have to give up everything I love, I just needed to find substitutes and get the other stuff out of the house. To eliminate the temptation, I gave away the white flour foods in my house (mostly pasta) and replaced them with whole wheat and whole grain. Sugar was my nemesis. I love sugar. The first 3 – 4 days were rough. The cravings were horrible, but I didn’t give in. After about Day 4 they were gone. In fact the only time I ate sugar during the challenge was the first free day, after that I didn’t really have the urge. The first week also included 2 road trips, one on the front weekend, one on the back weekend. I don’t typically drink soda or eat fast food, but road trips are typically the exception. Although I don’t love fast food (and it doesn’t love me) I do love a Coke and fries on the road. To get around my traditional fast food stops it took a little planning ahead. I made wraps, brought along lots of fruit, nuts, cheese sticks, whole wheat crackers with natural peanut butter, trail mix and water. It ended up keeping me satisfied and not really missing the Coke and fries.
Week 2 – 61 points
Week 2 was my best week and definitely my toughest week. The initial adrenalin rush was gone and reality had set in and I was tired. This was the week that I thought about throwing in the towel, but believe it or not, I had already started to notice results, so that was enough motivation to keep me going. About the middle of the week I had to change-up my exercise routine as well. I could feel that the 3 mph on the treadmill was no longer a challenge for my body. I knew that if I wanted to continue to feel the results I needed to kick things up a notch. My treadmill has pre-programmed workouts so I switched to Power Walk, which is basically interval training. After a couple of minute warm-up it gradually speeds you up for a minute or so at a time, backs you down and back up and so on until the cool-down. The max. speed on Power Walk (P4) is 4 mph. I also worked in a little yoga this week.
Week 3 – 63 points
I started to find a groove. Eating the right foods became less “difficult”, I didn’t have to think about it as much and working in the exercise, journaling and reading as well as the random acts of kindness became easier each day. Sugar, white flour, soda, fast food and junk food were not an issue. The Power Walk P4 continued to be my buddy. I continued to feel better, have more energy and see changes in my body. Kiss that hail damage goodbye!
Week 4 – 63 points
The home stretch. This week sealed the deal for me. Groove found. Exercise is missed if I don’t do it. Eating healthy no longer feels “hard” and making conscious healthy choices are becoming a part of my norm, even finding good stuff on menus at restaurants is less overwhelming. Water is almost craved. I use mineral water with fresh lime as my treat with dinner instead of the occasional glass of wine. This week kicked up my treadmill routine to Power Walk P5. The intervals take me from 2.5 mph, up to 5 mph and back down. I’m not sure who can walk at 4.5 mph or 5 mph, for me it kicks into a jog, but again it’s another triumph to get this far. At week 4 I look forward to reading, journaling and looking for ways to make someone else’s day a little brighter. I feel good both physically and emotionally. I continue to have more energy and feel more grounded than I used to. An added bonus is that I continue to see progress (changes) in my body.
Total: 256 points out of a possible 280. Perfect score? Absolutely not, but I’m proud of my results.
In summary, I’m so grateful I decided to do this challenge. It was the push I needed to take a good, hard look at what I’ve been doing to myself and my body over time. It made me realize how often I veg out instead of work out. Normally if it’s getting late, I feel a little tired, whatever the excuse may be, I get lazy and stop pushing myself, fearing it will be too hard. This challenge helped me push on, push myself a little harder. I made a point to do the best that I could each day and I feel that I really did. Some days were tough, life happens. But the days that didn’t go so well I didn’t beat myself up. Instead, I went to bed so I could get enough rest, got up the next morning and started fresh.
My plan at the beginning was to mix-up the exercise, I primarily used the treadmill, partly because we’ve had a lot of freeze-thaw here which translates to icy sidewalks and paths. I’d also hoped to find some yoga or other classes to take part in, but didn’t find anything that seemed like a good fit. The treadmill allowed me to work my exercise in whenever I had time, which in a lot of cases is at night after my son is in bed.
As part of replacing my traditional food loves, I have gone back to Clean Eating wholeheartedly. I used to rely solely on Tosca Reno’s books and Clean Eating Magazine but found some great food blogs which added nice variety. A couple of my favorites are The Gracious Pantry, which is a Clean Eating blog with daily recipes, and The Pursuit of Hippieness, which is an organic/vegan food and healthy living blog. The recipes they offer are both clean and healthy and have yet to disappoint me.
I chose to read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho as my uplifting reading. I know I mentioned this before so I won’t go into detail here, but this was a perfect fit for me both for the challenge as well as where I’m at in my life right now. I highly recommend it!
What will I do now that the challenge is over? Push on. I’ve seen such amazing results thus far and worked so hard to get to where I am. I don’t want to go back to where I was. With that said I started my day today with chocolate chip pancakes and bacon cooked my son. Tonight, I had a steak and a glass of wine for dinner and a small bowl of ice cream because I could, but I still plan on shifting back to healthy eating and the full regiment tomorrow, not because “I’m doing a challenge” anymore, but because I want to. I’ll continue to have one “free day” a week to indulge if I want and skip exercise if I need a break, but as for the rest of the week, I can do without. I like feeling good!
Will I do another challenge? Absolutely. Am I a “better” person than I was 4 weeks ago? I think so. Could the next challenge make me even better? I don’t see why not. I think we always have room for improvement. Besides that, I wouldn’t look at myself and say I’m “fit” yet, but I’m getting there. And I’m nearly muffin-top-less! It can only get better from here…