Do You Approach Challenges With A Goal Date In Mind?

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halloween-candy-ecards-someecardsIt’s almost candy time! The other day The Kid and I were grocery shopping. I was loading the groceries into the cart and The Kid asked me if I ever drank anything but water. I stopped and thought for a second and realized that I rarely do. Well, besides my daily coffee of course. I haven’t gone insane. I am 99% coffee powered. I do drink that and the occasional tea.

I don’t drink soda or diet soda, and I don’t drink juice or things like Crystal Light. It was kind of surprising once I gave it some thought. I don’t feel deprived with just water. Even when I’m out and can order anything I want, I still stick with water. Sometimes if I’m feeling fancy, I opt for the lemon slice. Pinkies up! 😉

So how did a former fast food and sugar junkie break the habit? The real turning point for me in both eating and drinking was doing the Whole30 Challenge almost a year ago. When I first started the challenge, I approached it with the mindset of “It’s just 30 days. I can do anything for 30 days.” I used to do things like this all the time when starting “a diet.” Have you ever found yourself doing this with healthy eating or exercise?

I’ll cut my calories so I can lose 10 lbs and then I can eat whatever I want. I’ll workout like crazy until I’m in shape and then I won’t have to exercise every day. The scenario might be different for you but the underlying logic may be there. About halfway through the challenge, it just clicked somehow and I realized that was the wrong way to think. If it was worth it to undertake a healthier lifestyle for 30 days, it didn’t make sense just go back to the way things were because I reached the end.

The first week or so was pretty hard. I had cravings and missed a lot of the foods that I chose not to eat for the 30 days. Those cravings slowly but surely lessened and by the end, I didn’t even miss them anymore. The hard work was at the beginning when the cravings were bad and new habits were being formed. Once I was over the hump, it was pretty much done.

It wasn’t worth it to go right back to old ways and have to give it up again later. I’d worked hard and come so far. It’s almost like saying I’ll give up smoking for 30 days and then I’ll start smoking again. It didn’t make sense. I made a conscious decision at the end to just keep going. No more artificial sweeteners, no more sodas, juice, junk and so on.

I did introduce the occasional reward meal back in but it’s a meal once a week or so. It’s not a reward day, eat everything I can in one meal, or a junk food fest. It’s one meal that has more calories than normal and a small dessert if I want one. No restrictions within reason. I’ve noticed that the foods I get excited about now are different than before.

I used to look forward to a fast food hamburger, fries and a shake as a reward meal. Now I want something high quality like a fancy steak and grilled veggies, or a real hamburger loaded with avocado, pickles, and veggies. I don’t want a faux kreme filled cupcake with preservatives and chemicals. I’d much rather either make my own with real ingredients or buy one from a fancy bakery. The taste is so much better when it’s real food.

If you typically approach a healthier lifestyle with a temporary mindset and an end date, try giving it a more permanent thought towards changing your health. It doesn’t mean 100% strict eating forever, but you might just find that you’re satisfied and happier with the new way the majority of the time. Trust me, I don’t think this realization is more shocking to any one than me. 😉

I realize the Whole30 Challenge is pretty radical and extreme for many people, and I’m not saying that is the only route to take. I do highly recommend giving it a try because it encourages whole foods, no preservatives, no junk foods, no artificial sweeteners, etc. Another one that I recommend is the 100 Days of Real Food. Neither challenge is geared specifically to weight loss but towards making better and healthier food choices in general so that you can sustain the new habits for life.

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