“Don’t limit your challenges; challenge your limits. Each day
we must strive for constant and never-ending improvement.”
Today is the 42nd day of a very intense, life-changing 6-week (42-day) diet and exercise challenge my husband and I signed up for 6-1/2 weeks ago. We did it because we knew that we needed to jump start our health, to get on a healthy life path, and were having trouble doing so on our own. We did not necessarily want to, but we did need to. We are both in our early 50’s, we were not exercising, we were eating badly, and we both felt (and looked) it! Losing 20 pounds sounds easy enough right but it is not easy when you are more committed to excuses then to being 20 pounds lighter, in fact that lack of commitment makes it pretty impossible!
On Monday, October 22nd I dragged my husband into a local fitness studio (I’ll call it EC) that was offering this 6-week challenge. I wanted to do it badly and I also wanted my husband to do it just as badly. I knew if we did it together our competitive natures would kick in and help us; neither of us would want the other to achieve their goal alone. AND, we had to put a hefty deposit down that we were guaranteed to get back IF we either lost 20 pounds OR 5% body fat; for us I knew that would be a huge motivator. We weighed in, had our ‘before pictures’ taken, paid the deposit, and received the plan outline. We were somewhat prepared to start that day but then found out our “challenge group” would be starting on Saturday. Wow, what a relief that was, we actually had 5 days to eat like we were never going to eat again, and boy did we! We packed as many of our favorites into that 5 days as we could.
Friday (“the dreaded night before”), we went out to dinner at one of our favorite Italian restaurants. We also started brainstorming meals we would make and went to the grocery store to buy our supplies. The diet is very restrictive (lean proteins, certain veggies, and protein shakes sums it up well!) and at that time we viewed it as impending torture. We also had to participate in a minimum of three, but up to six, 30-minute CrossFit classes a week; we planned to begin that next step of the torture process on Monday morning. Starting was tough, but no longer a choice! I remember well the GIANT egg white and spinach omelet my husband made me for breakfast that first morning! I was ready to quit by lunch, but my husband and the down payment kept me going, so I had a protein shake instead. The first week was truly the transition period for us. We were sore, and we missed our favorite foods terribly! None of it was habit yet, in fact we were wildly in the process of breaking our old habits and comforts. But somehow, we pushed through together!
“If you don’t challenge yourself, you will
never realize what you can become.”
Monday is the big weigh-in day at EC. The first one was after just two days on the diet and my weight and fat barely changed…what did I expect? The 2nd weigh-in was after nine days on the challenge. Of course, as men will do, my husband lost pounds and I lost just 1.2 pounds, how could that be? Their expensive scale had to be wrong. I had even sacrificed ALL Halloween candy! Luckily, I also lost 2.3% body fat which made me feel good and kept me going. The diet got easier as they do. If we can just get through the transition period toward any change, “it” does get easier! We were going to four classes a week and surprisingly enjoying the short but effective workouts. Most of all, we were feeling better and that made it all worth it! By my 3rd weigh-in I was down just 4.1 pounds and 3.1% body fat. After two weeks and sooo many sacrifices it just did not feel right! Why was I not dropping weight like crazy with what I was eating and doing? Of course, my husband was, but his body fat did not go down as quickly as mine. Had it not been for the deposit I may have quit at this point; I am so very thankful for that deposit!
At the 4th weigh-in and 23 days into the program I was down 5.1 pounds (just 1 pound all week) and my body fat loss had gone up so I was at 2.9%. I panicked (there goes my deposit!) and scheduled a phone meeting with one of the owners…what was I doing wrong? This was the first diet I had ever been on where I hadn’t cheated, yet I lost less than ever before. She felt I wasn’t eating enough protein, UHG! I made a commitment to myself to consume more protein, my least favorite food group.
“Don’t decrease the goal. Increase the effort.
Thanksgiving fell in the middle of the next week and we had planned to have a cheat day and we did! Breakfast consisted of bacon scrambled into eggs, just the way I like it. It was followed by spiked egg nog and homemade chocolate chip cookies. By the 6th big cookie I was feeling sick. My body was not used to that much food and certainly not the amount of fat and sugar I had eaten by lunch time. I stopped till our early dinner (which was supposed to be our first of two turkey dinners that day). At 4:00 we had all our holiday favorites; it tasted better than I remembered it ever tasting. My husband is a great cook, but he had truly outdone himself this time! Around 7:00 my kids were ready for dessert (pumpkin roll) and although I was still stuffed, I ate my big slice with everyone else. Then around 9:00 my husband had a turkey sandwich, so I decided that I would have a little more stuffing and gravy, my biggest mistake of the day! When we went to bed that night I still could not lay on my stomach and couldn’t wait to get back to our new and healthy lifestyle the next day (did I really just say that?).
After three more days of healthy eating and exercise it was time for our 5th weigh-in…the moment of truth. I had lost 7.3 pounds and 4.2% body fat at that point. Even though the scale wasn’t dropping at the same rate as the sacrifices I felt I was making, my body felt different, better than it had in a long time. I could now fit into my smaller jeans again, so I was happy. This past Monday, 37 days into the challenge, I was down 9 pounds and 5.1% body fat. I made it, I had succeeded in one of the two areas! All I had to do was make it 5 more days and I was done. Wednesday was my Bible Study Christmas party and I decided to take my life into my own hands and have two small sweets. After, I felt sick to my stomach and for the rest of the day wished I had not indulged. In retrospect, that planned slip-up made me realize just how good I felt and how bad sugar and flour make me feel. I felt different now, much better, and wanted to keep it going. I realized none of my favorite foods were worth not feeling well. They were great while I was eating them, but my feeling of bliss was far shorter than the lasting feeling of bloat that resulted.
This last week really made me appreciate all the effort I have put into my transformation. At my final weigh-in today I was down 10 pounds and 5.9% body fat! I went from thinking about what I was going to eat first as a “treat” for all my sacrificing these last six weeks, to my husband and I committing to continue eating this new and healthy way. We also signed up at a brand new, state-of-the-art fitness center together. We are both feeling great and excited about our new healthy lifestyle!
“A challenge only becomes an obstacle when you bow to it.”
Why am I sharing all this? For a few reasons, my experience was a great example to me and hopefully others that…
- the transition period is truly the hardest part of any change we make,
- if you stick with a change you made (for all the right reasons), no matter how hard, the benefits will present themselves and prove to you that you did in fact make the right decision,
- what feels like a sacrifice in the short-term may actually be just what you need and not really a sacrifice at all,
- self-denial is good for us in so many ways, giving up what we want in the moment for what we want in the long run will only make us stronger and more capable and confident going forward,
- there is nothing we can’t do if we really want it and are willing to put the effort in to get it!
“Don’t take every challenge as a problem,
take every problem as a challenge.”
- In your life, what feels good right now but is actually a hindrance to you achieving your goals? Is it really worth it? This is a crossroad, the point where you have to assess what is more important, reaching your goal(s) or your current comfort. Most of the time we must leave our comfort zone to learn, grow, and change. We must stretch ourselves beyond what feels good in the moment to eventually reach what will feel even better in the long run!
- In your journal, write down that thing you know you should do, but have been putting off to avoid leaving your comfort zone.
- Next write down the small, manageable steps you need to take to achieve your goal. Remember, a small change every single day equals a big change overtime…just consistently persevere and eventually you will arrive. The more you move in the right direction, the more your motivation will increase and thus help keep you moving in that right direction!
“Unless you try to do something beyond what you
have already mastered, you will never grow.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson