January.  It’s a hell of a month.  The Christmas festivities, partying, and overeating with friends and family seem like a distant memory as we all return to work and reality; and that early pre-Christmas pay cheque just doesn’t want to stretch to the end of the month.

Aside from that, January is also a time for reflection and goal setting for the coming year.  It is a time when we promise to rid ourselves of bad habits and replace them with positive changes.

The most common promises we make relate to love, business/work, and our health and fitness.  This is the year I find love; this is the year I start my own business; this is the year I run my first marathon; this is the year I finally get my perfect beach body; this is the year I give up chocolate.  Sound familiar?

New Years Resolutions: Easy to make, hard to keep.

Unfortunately, for most of us, January is also the month when most New Year resolutions or promises are broken.  Gym memberships recently bought are discarded, running shoes hidden away because it’s too cold to run outside, and the doors to the chocolate cupboard are flung open and its contents gorged.

Having worked in the sports industry for several years in different roles I’ve seen this story repeat itself year on year; and for at least two of the above have fallen victim to a serious lack of willpower (not one of my superpowers) and self-doubt and given up too early on my own promises in the past.

But in doing so I (eventually) learned a valuable lesson.  The reason I was giving up was that I had my goal setting all wrong, especially when it came to health and fitness.  Instead of having a plan of how I would reach my goals over a set period of time, I jumped headfirst into everything and expected to see instant results.  Naturally, this did not work and I would pretty quickly become disheartened and fall victim to temptation.

This year, however, I’m doing things a little differently.

Through the Crossfit box I started attending back in the summer – Reebok Crossfit Duna; seriously, go along for a visit if you’re ever in Budapest – I’m taking part in a 28 Day Nutrition Challenge to help kick-start the year and improve my general health and fitness.  The Challenge is Paleo-ish (although not 100% Paleo) in that involves eating REAL food, healthy whole foods, and lots of fruit and veg.  The emphasis is on nutrition and the permitted foods allow for a good balance of carbs, protein, and healthy fats.

What the Challenge does not permit is processed foods, alcohol, refined sugars, bread, or dairy.  For someone who loves cheese toasties and chocolate, not at the same time I must add, the challenge is doubly hard.

An example of the kind of meals I’ll be eating throughout this Challenge.

So why am I doing it when I’m so prone to giving up on these kinds of things normally?  Well, simply put, because I know it’s good for me.  My diet pre-challenge was decent but it did include a large amount of cheese and taking the easy option more often than I care to admit, which very rarely leads to a healthy choice.

I wanted to make changes but was not really prepared to push myself to do it but by signing up to this Challenge and being accountable to my fellow Challengers through daily picture posts of our healthy meals, I am compelled to keep at this.  And so far I am loving it.

The Challenge began on Monday 8th January, and just over one week in I am already beginning to notice a difference for the better; although the first few days were quite tough and I was done in by around 8pm every night.  Now, however, I feel like I have a lot more energy, I am recovering from workouts quicker, and I feel leaner and better about myself.  Most importantly, I also feel happier.

I have learned about the benefits of meal prepping, thus avoiding lunchtime temptations at work when I’d previously not always made the time to make lunch the night before. I’ve introduced a lot more fruit and veg into my meals and snacks, and am even eating more food whilst on this Challenge than before.  However, as it is now all healthy and nutritious, I’m not putting on weight and, if anything, am in better shape already.

Pre-prepared lunch and snacks for a day in the office, and not a chocolatey temptation in sight.

If I’m being honest I have not really missed any of the ‘naughty’ foods I used to eat and although I know I will reintroduce them post Challenge I have no intention of doing so to the same level as before.

Through planning, accountability, and making my goals longer-term I believe I am more likely to succeed with them and hopefully this will be the first of many goals I am able to tick off as 2018 progresses.

The Challenge Explained

Permitted Foods

Example Eating Plan

If you would like to start your own 28-day healthy eating challenge drop me a line and I’ll pass on the fabled list of permitted foods.

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