You know how I am with my challenges… and while I may have slacked off in my first attempt at the 50 day challenge, Krystina most defiantly DID NOT. I’ve asked her to write up a little something for me to share with all of you because of her great success. I am so proud of her and hope that the next challenge I partake in I’m strong willed like Krystina.
After reading my former roomie, and ICFH teammate, Meg’s guest post on Brownie’s blog, I was a combination of jealous, inspired and nostalgic. Jealous because I now want guest bloggers of my own, but more so inspired by the idea of having a friend speak for you–not necessarily about you, but for you, and about shared interests. Everyone has such a unique voice; it’s incredible the way a story can translate so differently for each person who tells it, and mean something so different to each one who hears it. And today my hope is that as you read this post, you find your own unique meaning in my message.
Boy I’m getting fluffy and deep. Borderline profound. Not meaning to. Naturally. As you can see, I can get carried away with my words. But I digress…
My Little Fudge Muffin (LFM) came to me–well, not literally. Let’s just say she arrived at my digital doorstep, if you will…passing over the Islands of Instagram, and through the trees of Twitter, all to ask me for a guest blog post while she journeys to the beautiful state of Michigan…which I simply associate with a mitten. Probably because of some elementary school geography lesson. (Sadly, that’s all I’ve retained since then, as far as geography goes). I mean, what else is there to do in Michigan? I ask this question, simply to give Brownie all the more reason to blog about her vacay when she returns. So subtle, my hypothetical question is. And now I’m becoming Yoda…
So get to the point, Krystina. Ok ok, I’m getting there.
Setting the Scene…
Over 50 days ago, Katie proposed the idea of “The 50 Day Challenge” to me. I consider myself active, and I strive to eat clean. I’ve picked up running three out of my five workouts a week. (TIP: Never run two days in a row. It has changed my whole running game like you wouldn’t believe! #goodthing). I’ve raced several 5Ks, one 10K, and two half marathons at this point. So, call me a runner, if you’d like. I’m always looking for new ways to challenge myself physically, and mentally…so was I up for something called 50 DAY CHALLENGE? Absolutely. Was there hesitation? Absolutely. But I knew all along that my LFM, one of my teammates who I looked up to for her “I run in a sports bra”-6-pack-abs-toned-figure, overall athleticism, fit mindset, and general foodie-ness, would never challenge me to do something that she didn’t believe I could do.
An LFM Aside…
That’s what I loved about playing with Brownie. Even through some of my highest ups and lowest downs playing college hockey, she always believed in me, supported me, and encouraged me. I looked up to her for who she was as a player (sICk stick skills, I tell ya) but also how she treated and led her teammates with such enthusiasm, determination and passion. She had that “love of the game.” Whether it was an individual or team goal, my muffin always stuck to it. To the very end. To use her words that have since stuck with me, “Head Up, Finish Strong.” Whether you’re friend, family or follower, I’ll be the first to say that Brownie embodies that mentality with dedication and ease. #livestrong <;;– Yup, she does just that.
Circling back to 50 Day Challenge…
I was up for it. Down for it. Whichever you wanna say. As I blogged about here, : ) peer pressure can be a positive and inspiring thing. We want to do what others are doing because of the sheer hype in numbers. That’s fact. Think about Silly Bandz. I know I’m not a seven year-old day camper anymore, but when a fellow ICFH alum was giving them away to us at our alumni game two years ago, you better believe I wanted what the cool kids already had. Dang yo-yo’s. That’s another expense that got me too.
After reviewing the rules of the challenge–and there really were only four–how hard could it be?
After 30 days, habits can be made or broken. I was banking on the former from the get-go. But what it ultimately came down to was one alarming realization: BACK OFF THE SWEETS, XTINA. So you mean absolutely NO DESSERTS? No. But everything you eat has to be <;;10g of sugar, with the exception of fruits, veggies, a weekly guilt-free dessert splurge, and a daily piece of dark chocolate–hey, it's good for your health! But nightly three-inch wide pieces of fresh-out-the-oven, rich, still slightly warm chocolate cake, coated and covered in thick, sweet buttercream frosting…adios, cya-later-alligator, right-out-the-window, say goodbye, Madonna.
Though there were harder days toward the beginning, as with any attempt at a lifestyle change, I'm happy to say I survived, and am here to blog about it! So let me re-cap my Top 10 Takeaways:
1. The Start is the Hardest Part – Being amped about the challenge from the start really helped. I tried to motivate my friends and co-workers to get involved. Again, that goes back to the "hype in numbers" theory I have. While people I talked to showed interest, no one was willing to actually commit. And truth be told, taking the first step is the hardest part. I wish I had a local friend to partake, yes. But from a distance, I had my LFM, which worked out wonderfully! One of the best things about this whole challenge was the fact that it brought some fudge back into my life. We talked a lot more, and like I said in my "aside" above, I realized again just how encouraging Brownie is, but more importantly, how much I love and miss having her around!
2. Sayonara "Stupid Calories" – The challenge challenged me to start eating "cleaner," which meant finding the source of what I'll call "Stupid Calories," adding them up and cutting them out. Mayo in tuna, ketchup on eggs, cream cheese on bagels, butter/sour cream/cheddar cheese and everything else that comprises the "loaded" adjective in a baked potato. Initially, this meant the inevitable–I had to count calories. I bring my breakfast and lunch to work every day; I strive to adhere to serving sizes (for once) and portion/ration out everything I eat. That all helped. And after a few days of calorie counting (which is something I NEVER want to become habit) I found the source and cut it off! Lights out to Stupid Calories.
3. Condiment Realization: I Love Grey Poupon Dijon Mustard – Eating more veggies and cutting out Stupid Calories, awakened my senses to a new love for Dijon Mustard. It's 15 calories for 1 tbsp. and has NO fat! Healthier than mayo, that's for sure. Here's a great marinade. I use it on a mixture of about 3-4 each zucchini and squash. Put this in your ziplock and shake it: 3 tbsp. Dijon Mustard, 1 tsp. (scant) Olive Oil, 1 pckg. Splenda (had to cut sugar!), juice of 1 lemon, lots of black pepper (to your liking). No salt! Let the flavors marry in the fridge for about 15 minutes before steaming in a covered aluminum pan on the grill. Also tastes great on asparagus and broccoli. Any veg will do!
4. New Habit Formed: 4+ Servings of Veggies Per Day Required – This rule is now a part my diet. With my daily intake of veggies about 1-2 servings up from usual, I was actually able to cut more carbs out of my diet. I already don't eat bread as it is (and if so, it's rare and low-cal), so focusing on raw/steamed vegetables as a healthy alternative, caused me to eliminate starchy, high-carb sides like rice and white potatoes. Now, since my routine is work, work out, eat dinner, I do need to replenish some of the carbs/energy I've burned. So for dinner, I'll stick to a leaner protein and two servings of veggies–one of which might be a small, or half of a large sweet potato. So out of this new habit, came an even greater one: cautious carb control.
5. What's in this treat? WOW that's SWEET! – After cutting down on sugars for 50 days, things have since become "too sweet." I never thought I'd be the one to say it–as a baker and dessert lover, myself–but it's true. My mom made brownies a few days ago, and I actually haven't even touched the leftovers. I pinched off a small piece admittedly, but I just don't have a taste for them. Ok, I realize this sounds like a stretch of a statement. Maybe she just put too much vanilla in them because make no mistake–my mom makes the BEST brownies. Seriously. I just didn't find this batch chocolatey enough or something. Or maybe I'm now more selective about my sweets? At the end of the day, I just want cake batter froyo, yellow or chocolate cake, a Zaro's black & white cookie, or a straight-up sugar cookie of any sort (be it a Magnolia Bakery Whoopie Cookie, or one of those mushy, half-raw ones from the cafeteria at work). Still trying to figure this one out. But I can tell you this. I've cut the Splenda in my morning coffee from two packets to one. So something has changed.
6. If It's Really Sweet, You'll Binge Overeat – When you do have sweets or sugars after going from weekly desserts, to one or none a week, BE CAREFUL. Froyo for me is a danger zone now. Post-challenge and I want something sweet, it's time for my one a week (still habit) and I go for it. And then after I'm done, I want chocolate…I'm sorry, NEED chocolate…immediately. In a sheer act of desperation I almost went to Grand Central just to get a black & white cookie and then come home. Or thought about going to the A&P for one huge cookie and leaving. Then I thought about how ridiculous that would be. I'm not going to confess what I actually did in lieu of following through on these options, but I will tell you it was bad. So exercise sweets with caution from now on.
7. Guilty, or Not Guilty? – One thing that's nice about livin' the post-50DC life, is that while you know you can have sweets, you're still empowered with the choice to act (or not act) on the craving. Whether it's your weekly or nightly splurge, the challenge is over. You can have it. But do you want it? Better yet, do you really need it? If you go for it, that's ok. But moderation. Portion control. All of these factors play a role. And it's nice sometimes to feel that guilt. Allow yourself to indulge yes, but if you're going to splurge, I abide by Bob Harper's Skinny Rules, in that your splurge for the week should be planned…or else it can be quite costly. Calorically, that is. Case and point. Me. Number 6.
8. Simple Truth: Your Love of Sweets Never Goes Away – As Gavin Rossdale said it, “love remains the same.” Granted, he wasn’t talking about sweets. Leave that to me. Meaning, you can expect 50DC to result in a change in habits and lifestyle, to a degree, but don’t expect that limiting your intake of sweets/sugars so drastically will completely dissolve your appetite, love, and or craving for them. If you think you’re the exception to the rule, walk out the door, Gloria Gaynor. Go on now, go.
9. Lifestyle…Changed! – Doing the 50 Day Challenge became more than just a challenge lasting 50 days. It became a lifestyle change, just as much as eating cleaner became a part of my routine. And with that being said…
10. Post 50 Day Weight, Worth the Wait – It was all worth it!! Since the challenge–and now half-way into my 8th week of dieting–I’ve lost a little over 10 pounds, 2.5 inches off of my lower waist, and 1 inch off of my high waist. I’m noticing more tone in my arms too (watch out Jennifer Aniston). And I couldn’t be happier.
My realistic hope is to lose another 15 pounds–and see where I’m at then. But with achieving that goal, comes sacrifice. I’lll need to make some additional changes to my diet–within reason, of course, considering my weekly hours spent running outside, cross training indoors, and lifting at the gym. I have to make sure my body gets the calories, proteins and nutrients it needs. Because my health is something I can’t sacrifice. The changes will entail cutting down my calories slightly more, managing my dessert and sweet splurges, defeating the battle against my late-night snacking (i.e., my addiction to 1 tbsp. peanut butter, 1/2 bag of 94% fat free butter popcorn, rice cakes and pretzel rods), perhaps getting a food scale of some sort to better portion my servings of protein (i.e., meat/beef, fish, chicken), and focusing more on consuming leaner meats.
Losing weight isn’t easy. We all say we want to, over and over again, but it takes that first step of commitment to turn the thought of dieting into an action plan. This is about the only scenario where I’ll outright say, I LOVE TO LOSE, ha. You look good, and when you’re dieting a healthy way, and forming “cleaner” habits, you feel good too! Physically, mentally, emotionally, that’s where I’m at right now–I’m in a good place. Call me Content Connie. Happy Hannah? Whatever you’d like.
I have a long way to go. There will be “off” days, great days, “splurge” days, and sacrifices, but most of all, I have to remember this:
Katie and the 50 Day Challenge taught me that I can do it. In impossible, I only see possibility. Let that mindset be my motivation.
And for Dessert…
I’ll Leave You on a Sweet Note.
To Brownie: I can’t thank you enough for getting me to do the challenge. I honestly couldn’t have done it without you–I wouldn’t have lost this weight, I wouldn’t have strived to eat clean, I wouldn’t have wanted the fit lifestyle to the point that I do now. Thank you for the encouragement and support–from field hockey, to the 50 Day Challenge, and all throughout our friendship in between. You are the absolute best I love you LFM!!!
And that’s the way my cookie crumbles. I hope you “enjoyed each small bite.”