I wanted this summer to be THE summer…the summer that I got my body back. Here I was at 40 years old, 3.5 years post-partum and STILL using my kids as an excuse as to why I couldn’t lose weight:
I’m too busy to exercise…
I don’t have time to cook and eat properly…
Pregnancy at a late age is hard…
I spent the first weeks of the summer trying to lose weight – I restricted calories and/or added mileage and became increasingly frustrated as none of it worked. I’d gotten to the point where I had resigned myself to the fact that I’d be perpetually fat until my kids were old enough to watch themselves while I worked out, but then I saw all of the moms around me who have rockin’ bods and wondered what they’re doing that I wasn’t.
Then I caught wind of the fact that a local, very respected, nutritionist was running another session of a 28-day group detox program. I should say that I was skeptical because I didn’t believe in detox programs – I mean, I understand that eating crap has downstream effects, but I truly didn’t believe that 28 days can reverse 40 years of crappy eating. However, I knew that I needed to go through a process of self-discovery in order to understand what it was that was holding me back. I also knew that a leader guiding me, and the guilt of paying an actual fee would give me some accountability. It was now or never.
And so, this post is to talk about everything I learned throughout the 28 days. For me, the transformation was more about what I learned than how I felt, and this got me to where I needed to be.
First things first. How did I feel when I was done? Unlike some of the participants in the program, I never had an epiphany where my body transcended into some state of nirvana. On the flip side, I never experienced any of the common negative side effects other than hunger and dead-legs while running (which I know happens when I restrict calories). In fact, I didn’t really feel much different than I did before I started the program. But I learned a LOT about what I can be doing differently:
1. Be wholesome – this detox program focused on the elimination of sugar, gluten, caffeine and dairy, and the maintenance program encourages you to keep as many of these going as is practical. It also encourages you to go back to basics. I personally know that restricting those items from my family is not practical but getting back to basics is easy. Instead of buying something, I owe it to my kids to take a little time to make things from scratch, the good-old-fashioned way.
Compare this. My kids LOVE sugar cookies; the treat that has all of the ingredients (ex. caffeine) that we were encouraged to eliminate. I am not going to remove this from their diet, but I have the choice to make versus buy.
If I MAKE a cookie, this is what I know goes into it: flour, baking soda, sugar, butter, vanilla and eggs. All basic ingredients.
If I BUY cookies to make (refrigerated cookies), this what goes into it: sugar, flour, partially hydrogenated soybean or cottonseed oil, water, wheat, protein isolate, eggs, baking powder, salt, artificial flavor. Yikes. Convinced yet?
2. All foods are not created equal – I’ve known this for a while but needed to see and hear it from others. It’s ok to give yourself leeway and to have things that you might consider “forbidden fruits.” However, if you’re going to use your allowance, are you going to waste it on something that’s not really worth it? Be choosy about where you spend your treats and make it count. I loved this example: it’s ok to eat bread once in a while, but if it’s dry, bland and cold, is it REALLY worth it?
3. Be practical – like life, there is no textbook way of how to be successful at being healthy. A program can be prescriptive, but you will not descend into toxic hell if you do not follow it perfectly, nor is it an all-or-nothing proposition. My personal situation made it so that some of the program guidance didn’t fit in with my schedule. I worked with the nutritionist to figure out the best practical approach to doing this program and it worked. Without it, I would have definitely quit mid-way.
4. Eat smart and exercise efficiently (AKA excess calorie deprivation is never a good way to go…) – early in the program, I lost weight (slowly) but my workouts suffered – I had the sh*ttiest runs that I’d had in a LONG time. My legs felt heavy and weak, and even walking was a chore. When I added (significantly) more calories, the dead legs were gone, my workouts improved, and I lost weight faster – my time spent pounding the pavement or on the treadmill became so much more efficient.
5. Sleep is more important than you realize – our program did NOT focus on sleep but it was a tangential side effect. Because early on, I had dead legs, I decided to skip my early morning workouts, opting instead to sleep in and do something a little more low-key later in the day. Like the added calories, I found that by getting a little extra sleep, my workouts were much more efficient and my days didn’t drag.
So, yes, in the end of the 28 days, I lost about 10 lbs (I still have a LONG way to go), but the bigger benefit was what I learned about myself and about what I was doing. In addition to the above, I learned that calorie-deprivation or running alone does not work for me – it is the balance of both food in/exercise out that will help me to be successful in the end.
[Please note that I was not paid to endorse the detox program. This is an account of my personal journey.]