Normalcy is such a funny concept. After having gone on many weekend trips since the start of my school year (San Fran, Boston, Montreal), I feel like I have lost some of my “normalcy” in regards to food and fitness. While I don’t regret a single second of any of my out-of-town (and thus out-of my-usual-routine) adventures and feel extremely fortunate to have been able to partake in them, I don’t like the unsettled feeling I have had since early September. In other words, I just haven’t felt like my “normal” self!
I turn 32 in less than one week, and I am determined to feel like my old self again. The question is, what does that even mean? After some long, hard thinking, I realize that I have let go some of my healthier habits due to work stress, what seems like constant weekend traveling, and the “just get through the day” mentality I have been fostering lately. I am determined to bring back the “healthier” mind-set I enjoyed over the summer, especially since I am celebrating a birthday soon and I want to bring in 32 with a bang!
I thought about completing some sort of 30 day challenge to refocus my energies on feeling and being healthier. I toyed with the idea of going vegan for 30 days to see if my energy levels or mood improved with the absence of dairy. However, I realized that though it is perfectly possible to consume more than enough protein on a vegan diet, for me, I know I would struggle with it. I tested the waters by eating vegan on Tuesday and Wednesday, and just as I expected, I felt even more tired than usual! Personally, Greek yogurt and cottage cheese are such necessary protein staples in my diet, that I feel like trying a vegan diet may produce results that are opposite to my goals. Again, in no way, shape, or form am I suggesting a vegan diet is in any way protein-deficient. All I am saying is knowing myself, I would have difficulty consuming enough protein if I were to cut out all dairy. Therefore, the 30 day vegan challenge just can’t happen.
Instead of concentrating on a single specific goal, I am going to challenge myself to do some general things on a more frequent basis over the next month.
By setting a strict schedule, I know I will set myself up for failure. So instead, I am going to push myself to do the following more often than I currently am over the next 30 days:
1) Increase the nutrient density and variety within my daily meals by including more nutritious foods that I don’t always consume on a regular basis.
In other words, add more healthy “food diversity” in my life! I have a tendency to eat the same thing for all three meals everyday, and while it is good to eat what you love, I still think I could do a bit better mixing things up so that I obtain a broader range of nutrients on a daily basis.
2) Exercise 6 to 7 times a week, but making sure to vary the intensity levels so my body can heal and rest appropriately. Lately, I have been letting my post-work tiredness get the best of me and have been skipping out on some of my workouts in favor of parking my behind on the couch. That is not good. Even if I am tired, I need to get to the gym because I know I will feel better afterwards no matter what. I have to remind myself too that it is OK to only do a short cardio sesh and call it quits– not every day has to be a two-hour gym obligation! I have a bad habit of not exercising if I think I won’t be able to do “a lot.” I must keep in mind even a little is better than nothing!
3) Reduce, but don’t eliminate, dairy and sweets. I have been so indulgent almost every weekend since September began. Not that indulgence is a bad thing, but I think I have been going overboard– especially on the ice cream and other desserts!
While some dairy gives me energy, the wrong kind (think processed and sweetened) gives me tummy trouble and in fact makes me feel a bit jittery, almost like if you drink too much coffee! I plan on being more conscious of my sugar and dairy intake, and will make concerted efforts to limit sweets while still partaking on occasion!
I think the above three goals are attainable and suitable for what I can handle right now. Instead of having to do a certain thing every day, instead, I will try to increase the frequency of the above behaviors and habits over the next 30 days. If I improve even slightly in the above-listed categories, then I can say I successfully completed the challenge! I look forward to experimenting with my food and workouts in order to say, in 30 days, I made it through!
Are you currently pushing yourself towards a health-related goal?