Remember that 6 week personal challenge I started in April? No me neither…I kid, I kid. Today’s post is all about the ups and downs of that challenge, and a few pretty big “AH HA” moments that I had. Some of my experiences were negative, some positive, but all made me just a little stronger and a little more passionate to reach my goals.
I initially decided it was going to be an uber strict fully raw plan to see if I could do it. I enjoy raw foods, and eat a pretty high fruit diet already so I thought it would be easy. However, in order for me to maintain this type of eating, and not feel like a zombie with my workouts, I need to eat at least 3,000 calories. At first things went great, but then I started to become so exhausted due to work, lack of sleep, and my strenuous fitness goals that felt sick all of the time and couldn’t eat. Let’s just say that backfired. This didn’t really begin to happen until around the 3.5-4 week point, but when it hit, it completely crushed me. I wasn’t sleeping, eating properly, but still forcing myself to workout and I couldn’t take it anymore. I was miserable, exhausted, shaky, and the list goes on. However, I realized that eating cooked food wasn’t BAD just because it wasn’t the initial plan I had created if that meant I’d feel better. I started incorporating chickpeas, sweet potato, and even some crackers and hummus and all of a sudden my tummy didn’t hate me quite so much.
AH HA Moment #1. When I realized that this challenge was just that, a challenge. Sure I had hoped to eat fully raw for 6 weeks, but my body needed other things. I didn’t fail by altering the plan, instead I found what worked for me…for once I started listening to what my body NEEDED.
The main reason I was completely MIA during the last 2 weeks of the challenge was related to 2 things, lack of sleep and stress from work. I wasn’t sleeping even tho I was exhausted, I was stressed because of deadlines, I couldn’t sleep because of deadlines, but I couldn’t focus on deadlines because I was exhausted, and then I stressed more because I was worried about not falling asleep. A fun, fun time. Then one night, I came across a post about stress by Girls Gone Strong and essentially whether it’s stress from working out super hard, a tough job, too many commitments, etc our body can’t differentiate between the different TYPES of stress and eventually it just gets overwhelmed and starts shutting down. Turns out, when you’re super stressed even when you’re exhausted you can’t sleep, and then you’re not recovering–mentally or physically. So I wasn’t alert at work because my mind didn’t repair, and my body was aching constantly because it didn’t repair either.
AH HA moment #2. When I realized I honestly just had to let go of everything I was allowing to upset me, and focus on making myself HEAL–physically and emotionally. If I screw up my diet, miss a deadline, or skip a workout life will go on.
Instead of setting my alarm for 6:45 on the weekend, I didn’t set my alarm at all and I slept for 14 hours. I ate carbs all day (not cupcakes, but good things like quinoa pasta, sweet potato, etc), I listened to happy music, painted my nails a pretty colour and just let go of everything that was out of my control. Of course there is still stress in my life, but how I handle it now will be different. Also, I won’t stress myself about being PERFECT all the time. If I mess up my diet, I’ll do better tomorrow. Simple as that.
Now that i’ve gotten the “big things” out of the way, here are a few other things I learned.
-I love lifting heavy weights. I discovered body beast and although some days I curse at Sagi, I love feeling my muscles grow. My shoulders and arms are so pumped after a workout and I feel so strong and confident.
-When I’m less regimented with my diet, I actually eat better. Saying “I can’t have any alcohol ever, sugar ever, fries EVER”, only means i’ll think about them all the time. Instead, I have decided to eat clean and allow myself a treat meal each week where I have whatever I want. Lately other than a glass of red, it’s been a bowl of quinoa pasta with lots of roasted veggies, or sweet potato fries with spicy ketchup. Basically, giving myself freedom has allowed me to enjoy clean food and even crave clean food.
-The mind is such a powerful tool. I held a 6.5 minute plank. I was sweating buckets, but it felt so good.
-Yoga and meditation are so good for me. During that hour that I am focused on my breathing I become centered.
-I am stronger than I give myself credit for. I’ve gotten stronger with push ups, weights, planks, yoga poses such as headstands, and even attempted a hollow back pose.
-Having someone to talk to, and encourage you really helps. My husband is so supportive of my lifestyle and fitness goals and although he likes to tease me (because he’s bigger and stronger than I am), he likes that this makes me happy.
The most important thing I learned is that it’s great to set goals for yourself, train hard, and always strive to do better but when those goals are controlling your life negatively you need to reassess, take a deep breath, and figure out a better way. I am still working on my abs, my arms, heck my entire body–i’m still focusing on eating a clean diet (check out my instagram/twitter for pics), and i’ll always be creating little personal goals to strive for, the difference is now i’ll not be so focused on the “rules” that I don’t have any fun. Challenges are fun, and great ways to become a better stronger version of yourself, but you have to enjoy what you’re doing or else you’ll be miserable.
So ladies and gentleman. I had a great time doing my 6 week personal challenge, it was tough, there were tears, “Ah Ha” moments, and even a few shifted priorities, but I made some pretty big discoveries and i’m so glad that I did.
Tomorrow is a new day, be grateful for another day to smile, laugh, and feel love. Enjoy every minute, even if some of those minutes involve burpees or Bulgarian split squats. haha.