I meant to post this yesterday as a ‘Happy First Day of June’ post, but after a marathon (12 hour) work day, I just didn’t have the time before I was exhausted and fell into bed. That’s ok…a day late isn’t too bad. Although June 1st is National Running Day and also happens to be National Dare Day (which fits in nicely with this post), June 2nd is National Rocky Road Day. Click on the picture below for a tasty and easy Rocky Road Fudge recipe that I have made numerous times. Happy Rocky Road Day!!!
About a year ago, I was feeling frustrated. I was having trouble maintaining my weight, felt sluggish, and was battling breakouts almost every day. I had already decided to sign up for my first triathlon and thought it was a good time to really think about my eating habits. I knew that I was eating relatively ‘well’ in terms of fruits and vegetables and I have never been a huge fan of red meat. But many new processed diet foods had crept into my pantry as well. I read countless magazines, discovered books by Michael Pollan, and scoured the internet for information. This is when I learned about Tosca Reno (I found her cookbook at Barnes and Noble) and was introduced to healthy lifestyle blogs. I recognized immediately that I needed to CLEAN UP my diet. I was eating way too many processed sugars along with all my fruits and vegetables. On June 1, 2010, I challenged myself to go 1 month without High Fructose Corn Syrup and limit my white sugar and white flour intake. I started looking more closely at labels and realized that HFCS was in everything, even my ‘healthy’ salad dressings. I also decided to cut out soda because even though I wasn’t drinking it daily, my soda intake always crept up in the summer.
I spent the month looking closely at food labels, trying new foods and clean recipes, and avoiding foods that I knew had HFCS when I went out to eat. I found that I had to explain myself to everyone who asked why I wasn’t eating this or couldn’t I just have one bite of that. This was actually the one thing that surprised me… how many people tried to CHALLENGE my personal challenge and how much time I spent defending it.
After a month of cleaner eating and triathlon training, I felt great! I didn’t even miss the sugar! My skin had cleared up and I was able to stop taking antibiotics. My energy levels were high, even through the days where I was doing BRICK workouts in the morning and then working a 10-11 hour day. I think I lost a few pounds, but what I noticed more was that the shape of my body changed. I was carrying less weight around my stomach (where us apple shapes tend to store) and started to notice more of a waist. I was feeling so good that at the end of the month, I drank 1 diet Dr. Pepper and then decided to continue my challenge through July as I was training for my second triathlon.
Since last summer, I have maintained many of the healthy habits that I started. The biggest difference is that I try to eat real foods…as Michael Pollan says, thing my grandparents would recognize as food. Now that doesn’t mean that I don’t eat anything white, processed or sugary (which I am sure you can see if you have been following me on the blog). But, I have cut out many of the bars, snacks, and crackers to make room for the fun new foods I am discovering along the way (Hello, butternut squash and kale!). I have also discovered a love of the farmer’s market and recipes featuring seasonal produce, which has been one of the most exciting parts of this journey.
Which brings me back to June 2, 2011…
In honor of the start of summer (and a sunny day in Chicago), I am challenging (or daring) myself again to go the full month of June without HFCS and soda, and to limit white flour and sugars to special occasion treats and not my typical BLT’s (bites, licks, and tastes). As a new addition, I am also challenging myself to cut down on the amount of artificial sweetners I drink daily (which affects my Crystal Lite habit, which replaced my soda habit) by making and drinking more flavored waters and teas. I am also moving into what I call “Full Training Mode” with my first triathlon 6 weeks away since I haven’t even gotten into the pool…yikes!
My last piece of this challenge is to try one new food each week all summer long. I began adding new and interesting foods into my diet last year, but with the help of the CSA my mom and I are doing (which I still have to tell ya’ll about), this should be fun and easy!
I am writing this post not because I am super comfortable being this exposed in public and certainly not on the internet (as you can see, I am not on Facebook), but because I am hoping it will help people understand that this challenge is to help me lead a healthier lifestyle and feel stronger each day. Perhaps it will even encourage others to challenge themselves and create a new healthy habit this summer. I DARE YOU!