The first two weeks were smooth sailing – nothing could stop me – and now is the time that the challenging part of the Challenge has kicked in. Here are my top five pluses experienced as well as top five pot holes I have faced on the journey so far:
1. A happier me
With healthy eating and exercise, I am a better person to myself and others. There is less negative self-talk floating in my head: it’s like clean eating has cleaned up my thinking. I have goals to work towards every day. Exercise actually gives me more energy to be a happier spirit around other people.
2. Unexpected support
I knew I would gain a support network from the THR1VE team when taking on the Challenge but I didn’t expect my friends and family to be as enthusiastic about this journey as they have been. I know they would support me in anything; but they are actually genuinely interested in what I am doing. Some have even taken on some paleo practices which means I have inspired people to make a change for themselves.
3. Knowledge gained
Just when you think you have read everything about diet and exercise, there is a whole new world of paleo out there to explore. It’s interesting reading different theories and noticing that there are different ‘types’ of paleo people: some eat dairy, some drink alcohol, some mix paleo with other types of diets and lifestyles. I’ve learned more about what is in my food and what is good (and bad) for my body. I used to think organic foods were for hippies but I’ve become so much more interested in buying things labelled organic, grass-fed and hormone-free.
4. New ways to move
At the start of this year, I was a gym person. Gym classes were my motivation: the people in my class would expect me to be there. Once in class, you can’t get out of it and can’t slack off. That’s how I got my butt into gear. Then one wintery day; my membership ended. I became lazy and made excuses for sleeping in. I was also too tired after work to do anything but cook and sleep. Now I get up at 6am with enthusiasm: I know I’m swinging those kettle bells and going for runs for myself and actually want to. I found motivation from within myself (I know that sounds cheesy) and don’t need to exercise in a group anymore. A month ago I didn’t think I was the running or home gym type! I still love to exercise with others but it’s nice to know I can motivate myself now.
5. Food, food, glorious food
I love cooking and with this Challenge I have been able to find so many amazingly delicious and easy recipes. I’ve learned you can make brownies out of sweet potato, make pancakes with almond meal and make creamy pasta sauce using avocado instead of cream. I hadn’t baked for a long time out of laziness or ‘lack of time’, and now I have to bake to if I want to have a baked paleo sweet treat! I realized how much I missed baking and trying new ways of cooking.
Also, I’m not deprived as I’m eating quality foods: no more calorie counting for me.
1. Sticky social situations
I’m half Filipina and that means food shows up in your face at every family gathering, mostly in the form of cakes or fatty-yet-delicious foods. I have started to bring my own paleo desserts to share at these events; which goes down a treat because all Filipinos appreciate extra food. Meeting up with friends at restaurants means trawling through menus trying to find suitable eats. I used to think people asking to alter their meals were over-the-top fussy: and now I am one of them. The solution at restaurants: you have to just be that painful person asking for a naked burrito with no cheese, black beans, rice or sour cream; and don’t mind that judging expression on the waiter’s face. I have found some pretty paleo-friendly meals: steak or salmon and salad or veg; skip the sauce and chips. Breakfasts are pretty easy but try to pick a place that doesn’t charge extra for everything apart from the eggs e.g. tomato, bacon and mushrooms. Dessert time, however, at restaurants can be a sad time. A safe bet is to have fruit or herbal tea and then treat yourself with homemade goodies another time!
2. Snack attacks
Eating wholesome breakfasts, lunches and dinners have been filling but I still get what I like to call snack attacks. I find it hard not to have an extra handful or two of nuts, or too much fruit. I also love Emma & Toms’ Life Bars and Luvju cacao treats but find it hard to restrict myself to one. Working on it!
3. Trying to be Superwoman
Cooking is fun and I am an organized person, but I find that if I slip a little and don’t get my groceries sorted on the weekend or don’t leave work on time; it can be a bit of a struggle to come up with a good home-cooked meal. I have got into the habit of defrosting meats during the day so I can get straight into cooking when I get home. If you are like me, you could find yourself feeling pressured to have the house clean, the dishes washed, make elaborate paleo home-cooked meals, get exercise in, be social and basically run your life perfectly. Sometimes we have to let go; and invest in a slow cooker (cooking green chicken curry in a slow cooker worked!) Or buy an extra Thr1ve meal at lunch and have it for dinner.
4. Facing temptations
I went to Floriade (for those not in Canberra, it’s a flower show) and had to smell fairy floss all day and watch people eat Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream. I walked past the nuts stall without breathing in the scrumptious aroma of sugar-coated French Vanilla Almonds and I didn’t even try the choc-mint fudge. I have a really sweet tooth so this was tough for me, but at the same time I didn’t want to eat those foods. I had a love-hate relationship with sugar that day. I’m glad I didn’t give in though because I feel better for not eating it. I look forward to my healthier sweet options that have more beneficial ingredients such as coconut (good fats) and cacao (less sugar, raw and organic). I know we are allowed cheat meals but I’m saving these for special occasions!
5. Grasping primal exercise
I would really like to be able to do a 15 minute session of sprints but so far when I try to sprint I feel like I’m moving in slow motion. It could be something to do with the spring winds blowing directly at me, but also I’m not used to running outdoors (remember, I was a gym person). I have to accept that I will get better in time and so far my sprints are more like an average run, and I try to jog when I feel like walking during my workouts. Josh has advised us to work out muscles to the point of failure but I am scared that I will break myself. I know practice makes perfect so I am working on getting stronger and getting my technique right.
Soon enough, Challengers, we will be 12 beasts taking Canberra by storm, won’t we?
– Abigail x