The 30-day Paleo Challenge

I’m interrupting my regular scheduled program of endless fertility chatter to bring you something new:

The whole9life diet. Specifically, the 30-day challenge it provides.

I guess this isn’t really that new. It’s the Paleo diet, packaged up tightly into a 30-day, go-get-em adventure.

How did I get to this point? Well, so many of you are currently participating in the healthy eating/exercise challenges making the rounds in blogworld. I wanted to join, I really did, but I just…couldn’t. I wasn’t motivated. Not to mention, for whatever reason, I need extremely specific guidelines that are given to me, as opposed to creating them myself. I’m not dedicated enough.

But over the past week my stomach has been a hot mess. Perhaps the follistim, trigger shot, or progesterone cream have had something to do with it, I don’t know, but it’s been bad. I’ll spare you the details, but I’ve either had extreme constipation, to the point that I look 6 months pregnant, my stomach is hard as a rock, and I can barely bend down, or the exact opposite, complete with major pains. I’m over-eating, for sure. In addition, I’ve continued to eat things that don’t agree with me, such as processed food, like gluten-free bread, or dairy, or corn. I don’t feel good, I don’t look good, and this can’t possibly be good for my body.

So then I got a post from a foodie blog I follow, ibreatheimhungry, and she has decided to take the Whole 30 challenge. From there I went to the Whole 9 website, and decided, enough is enough. It was like they were speaking directly to me. Digestive issues? Skin problems? Fertility issues? Yes, yes, and yes. Why would I not do this? How could I let this opportunity go by? Can I do this for 30 days?

It’s much easier to think about when you consider a 30 day challenge rather than the rest of your life. And even this is hard. I had to think, hmm, what’s coming up in the month of August that I could use as an excuse NOT to do this? A lot of little events – two baby showers and a family gathering, and two major things – a vacation at the Cape in a few weeks, and my birthday, on the 29th.  What month will ever come around where I don’t have any excuse to eat tasty food? But here I am, already making excuses before I’ve even started, so I made a compromise with myself. The vacation – it has to go. I was so looking forward to fresh ice cream. That, of all things, is what I am most upset about. It makes me realize that I’m not in it for the relaxation or the company. I’m in it for the food. I wonder how many events come up in my life on a regular basis that I’m excited for because of the food. Perhaps that alone is enough of a wake-up call that I’m really obsessed with food, especially tasty food that breaks all the rules, but since it’s a special occasion, it’s okay. Yikes. But as for my birthday, I’ll be damned if I’m enjoying a “sweet potato cupcake” that some Paleo person suggested on a forum. Not sticking a candle in a piece of steak, either. Instead, I will finish the program that day. That will be my 30th day. And that night, yeah, I’m having ice cream. No doubt in my mind it will result in painful stomach issues and probably hives, and the next day I’ll swear to another 30 days. But until then, that’s the plan.

Now, since starting this blog, I have committed to this sort of “change your life” diet plan at least 3 times, and besides going completely gluten-free and 90% sugar-free, I haven’t stuck with a damn thing.

So I guess I am joining your challenge, ladies, after all, just really late, with a focus on going completely Paleo for 30 days.

For those of you who have gone Paleo, or mostly-so, here are my concerns. Here’s what is holding me back from jumping in head-first:

This 30 day challenge says NO sweeteners at all. Not a single one. Which means NO STEVIA. How do I drink tea with nothing in it? And the other major issue I’m having trouble getting my head around is no chemicals, at all. I agree, they are bad, but….I love ketchup. I love mayo. I love honey mustard salad dressing. I loveeee my almond milk (7 grams of sugar…). I also enjoy butter and sour cream. All of those things – gone.

I suppose one could say, well why don’t you just do a partial challenge, like just go dairy-free, grain-free, and sugar-free? Well, I could, but then I wouldn’t be doing the challenge! And I’m going to bitch and moan the whole time, but then, at the end, I can say I did it. No doubt I will feel better. THEN, after the 30 days, then I bring things back, slowly. Starting with stevia. Followed by cheese, ketchup, etc. But I think the point is that after the 30 days, I might not want those foods ever again.

So that’s where I’m at today. I’m posting about it here as a written contract. I hate cooking – all the most delicious Paleo recipes involve lots of cooking – but if I want to eat something other than salads and eggs every day, I’m going to have to learn. You all are hearing this, and I will try to cave, I know it, but then I’ll have to post about it here, and I don’t want to do that.

If anyone is interested in joining, I am starting it this Sunday, the 29th, so that it finishes on my birthday, August 29th. I will post good recipes, tips, and whining rants once or twice a week. If anyone does Paleo or has any tasty recipes to share, I would love to hear those, too. I have no idea what I’m doing.

Forming new habits, one 30-day challenge at a time

Hello, 2012! I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this year lately; my goals, wishes, hopes. I’m all for making resolutions – they work for me, at least for a little while. At the same time, I hate how everyone seemingly makes these goals on the first of the new year, crowds the gym, swears on nutrition, and then so many people (including me) lose those goals in about a month, maybe two.

I don’t want that to be me this year.

So to avoid that, I’ve considered a few things. First of all, let’s not think of these goals as “resolutions” – it carries too much weight on my shoulders. Instead, I’m going to think of them as habits. There’s a great blog post from Zen Habits about creating fitness habits, which you can read here. I used that as a basis for my thoughts.

Secondly, I considered what I am already doing in my life, and opted not to have those be part of the new “habits” I am forming. They are part of my days already; perhaps not to the extent I want them to be, but that is something I can work on.

I already:

-Went gluten free, and have stayed so through the holidays and for about three to four months now.

-Go to the gym regularly. I’m in love with my new gym classes (yoga, pilates, kickboxing, spinning, cardio pump, power sculpt, etc.) and go almost every day.

Thirdly, there will be no habits/goals/resolutions regarding getting pregnant. We all know, above all, that is what I care about most for 2012 and forming some sort of timeline around it would be a bad idea.

Lastly, I’ve found that to form new habits for 2012, one would need to be very specific. “Eating healthier” won’t cut it. “Exercise more” won’t work either. If you aren’t extremely specific about what you want to achieve, there will be too many gray areas and you’ll lose it. For example, my husband has just started training for a full Ironman triathlon that will take place this summer. His goals include 1) finishing that race, and 2) getting down to a specific goal weight in training. He will form his new “habits” around those goals.

I had been considering a sort of “30-Day Challenge” for a little while now, and liked the idea a lot. Rebecca, on her blog, had a 30-Day Blog Challenge that I thought was cool. Then, this morning, I stumbled upon another idea, stemming from Invisible Mother and Hannah Wept Sarah Laughed. 12 Months, 12 Challenges. I like it! Instead of challenges, I’ll be thinking of them as new habits.

I’m going to give it a try, combining the ideas. Instead of coming up with the habits I’d like to form now for each month of the year (like 12 Months, 12 Challenges), I’m going to just work on one month at a time, and go about it like a 30-day challenge. I’ll keep them up on the sidebar and will update my progress regularly. There is no reason I can’t do one specific thing every day for a month.

So, January is here. My goal for January is to eat smaller portions. My 30-Day Habit is going to be cutting my normal portions way down, by about half, especially at dinner. Why? Well, I generally eat as much as my husband at dinner (and sometimes lunch), and sometimes I could keep going when he is full. He’s over 40 pounds heavier than me. This should not be, and it reflects in the scale.

I also will judge if my portion size is the right one for me by how I feel after 20 minutes. I am used to stopping when I am FULL, sometimes uncomfortably full. If after 20 minutes, I am still hungry, I will have more veggies, or a little more protein. I highly doubt I will do this, however.

Yes, this is going to be really hard. I have the worst self-control when it comes to portion sizes. But that’s why it’s called a challenge. I’ll be forming a new habit – eat less, feel better. That  means for any gatherings in the month of January, I still will have to eat a small portion.

Notice I didn’t decide upon the type of food to eat. One month at a time.

I invite you to give this a try. Make your own “12 Months, 12 Challenges”, “30-Day Challenge”, or combine the two, like I did. Make yourself accountable for it – if you have a blog, post about it, regularly. If you don’t, write it down in a journal and make sure to look at it daily, to remind yourself of how well you’re doing or to get a kick in the butt. If writing isn’t your thing, tell someone who won’t mind hearing the updates. Make sure others know – it’s a surefire way to keep you going when you don’t feel like you can.

So, what is your January 30-Day Challenge going to be?