My 30 day commitment…to myself

Tomato & Red Pepper Soup

When my trainer Grant first asked me to join a 30 day transformation challenge on the Whole 30/Paleo diet, I was skeptical at first. Despite having done some background reading when I first began training with Grant a year ago, and testing the waters a little here and there, I wasn’t sure I could dive into a month-long departure from dairy, grains, legumes, and alcohol. But after the reality of my holiday binging had set in, and knowing I had some big races to start training for, I signed up to begin the challenge on January 2.

Committing to anything for 30 days can seem daunting at first — heck, I haven’t been able to commit to running daily for a month, or doing pushups, much less giving up some major food groups. But as I saw throughout the process, it got easier with time, and now that it’s over, I kind of want to press that “Easy” button in my colleague’s office. So how was it, really? Here are some of the finer points of my 30 day challenge…and the not so great ones:

Bison Meatballs
Bison Meatballs

Why It Was Awesome

  • I cook a lot already, but this challenge forced me to be even more creative and come up with even more recipes. I made more meals with meat in one month than I usually do in six months, I baked paleo muffins, made a delicious brisket in my oven, and tried different snacks.
  • At restaurants, I tried new things because I couldn’t order sandwiches or items with cheese or beans. It also made me value vegetable dishes more.
  • I felt empowered ordering water, tea, or coffee at bars, despite the weird looks the servers gave me. And I still had fun at happy hour.
  • I lost weight — over 7 pounds. Weight loss was just one of the goals in this process, and my skinny jeans are now loose, and some dresses fit better than ever.
  • I was held accountable by others, and I could hold others accountable. The entire group of us recruited by Grant shared recipes and tips and words of support in a Facebook group. I could text my friend Tammy to remind me not to have wine after a bad day, and I could send off quick pointers to someone who wasn’t sure what to order at a restaurant.
  • There’s nothing like the pride I felt after saying “no” to cookies and cakes on the office counter, or for having water and salad at a sports bar on the night of the college football championship. Huzzah for willpower.

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I run because…

As a kid, I hated running. Every time my dad would remind me that I needed to run to gain endurance for soccer or basketball, I cringed. It got to the point that it literally was forced into my schedule and I abhorred every step of the .7 mile lap around my neighborhood.

Then in middle school, I ran track…or rather, jumped hurdles. Short as I was, I needed more strides than most people, and it was more of a challenge to clear the hurdle, but I rather enjoyed it. In high school, I played tennis and started running more on my own, discovering how relaxing it could be to venture down the shaded bike trail path through my town, and conquer the seemingly unconquerable hill that completed my loop.


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Are you taking care of yourself?

When you’ve had a really stressful day, week, or even month, or things just aren’t going right in your life for whatever reason, it’s easy to lapse into a routine of sulking, bingeing on unhealthy foods or alcohol, watching trashy TV all day and all night, and generally feeling sorry for yourself.

While it’s okay to spend a little time wallowing in your emotions, it’s important to not let that take over our lives – you can still take care of yourself despite the stress and drama you’re dealing with. I’m often reminded of this by friends and family, and I’m thankful that I can keep that balance. Here are a few ways you can make sure you’re taking care of yourself:

Pamper yourself. Go get a massage, a hair cut, a mani/pedi, or some other body refresher. Even if you aren’t glowing on the inside, an updated look or relaxation treatment usually makes you feel better.

Buy yourself a gift. Stop in your favorite bookstore to get that new bestseller you’ve been eyeing, or pick your first item of new spring attire. Maybe it’s even something like ordering a new bedspread, a great workout DVD, or a cookbook full of your favorite food recipes.

Exercise. There’s nothing like going on a long run in the sunshine and crisp air outside. Or maybe it’s playing some tennis, taking a yoga class, or trying Zumba (because apparently that’s the hot thing right now). Working out increases endorphins, which will benefit you physically, and is a great attitude adjustment.

Eat healthfully. Try to keep your eating habits regular and keep up with lots of fruits, veggies and protein – all items that will keep your natural defenses in check, and make you feel good. Make a yummy sandwich, or create your own pizza to add some fun to your routine, and that way you won’t slip into the ordering in/takeout/cereal rut.

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You have your health

I was reminded tonight that despite the moments where you are crying, frustrated, tired, stressed, desperate or at the end of your rope, that in the end, life is ok because “you have your health.” Something so little, so inconsequential in our day to day moments of slogging through work, interacting with family, friends or people on the metro – yet so comforting and paramount in the grand scheme of things.

I have my health. My parents are healthy. I have a job. I have a place to live. I have food to eat.

Sometimes, it takes a reminder of what the other person might be feeling, and not because you weren’t trying to be there for them, or weren’t trying to get to the bottom of what was bothering them, but because they didn’t say it and you only took their words for what they were, and were focusing on what your response was and how that made you feel – and you forget that there might be more to it, there might be something else hiding in there. Sometimes, it takes another person telling you all this, or in my case, two today, that made me realize, oh yeah, I guess that could be the reason for that reaction.

Sometimes, it’s not about us, even when we think it is.

Sometimes it takes seeing others in pain to make us forget all about our own troubles and realize that yes, life is hard and we have bad days and bad fights and bad moods, but that there are others who are worse off – they might be going through a divorce, just got laid off, or lost a loved one.

Sometimes it just takes a piece of chocolate, or a good laugh, or a hug, or a nap, or a talk with a friend and then things all shake out and life isn’t so dramatic anymore. And life goes on.

Sometimes I have to remember this every day. Every hour. Every minute.

I have my health.