fitness health motivation nutrition

I’m on a diet

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

The words you never expected me to say, right? – “I am on a diet.”

If you take what the dictionary says a diet is, “A special course of food to which a person restricts themselves, either to lose weight or for medical reasons“, then you can say that I am on a diet because I’m not eating certain things right now, although I’m not doing it to lose weight but rather for well-being reasons.

In fact I’m doing the Whole Life Challenge with a group from my Crossfit box.  The challenge involves 7 elements, food being just one, but because people really like to get ‘serious’ about food, it seems that that’s the main thing people agonise over and focus on the most.

Didn’t get at least 7 hours of sleep – no problem.

Had a donut that a colleague was waving in front of my face – oh my god, I’m such a failure, I no longer have full points, what is the point of all this, I quit!

Nobody knows you as well as you do

I struggled with this challenge for the first 2 weeks because I’m on the strictest level with no grains, sugar or dairy allowed. Now that we’re into week 3, I think I’ve had an epiphany.

This challenge, just like life, or just like any other lifestyle change that you’re trying to implement in your life, is not about getting the perfect score at the end of every single day.

It’s not all or nothing, it’s learning to think in a different way about the choices you make. It’s about observing your body and learning how your choices affect your wellbeing while being fine with choosing things once in a while that you know affect you badly but you make that choice anyway because for example it’s your birthday and you want to drink and eat cake. You would not be a normal human being if you didn’t do that.

Trying to change habits often goes like this for people, me in the past included: you decide to change a million things at once but when you ‘fail’ at one little thing, you abandon the whole thing. I read once from somewhere that it makes sense just as much as this: you drop you phone and the screen cracks a little bit. Instead of picking it up and seeing how much of it is still intact and that the crack is fixable, you take a hammer and smash it to bits because it’s broken anyway.

I am now choosing to lose a few nutrition points every day to rice and oats. No plan, no coach, no ‘influencer’, no diet knows me as well as I know myself. My digestion seriously struggled for the first two weeks with just eating meat, eggs, veg, fruit and nuts. I need some simple carbs in my stomach and very little nuts and dried fruit.

I am choosing to lose these points without thinking ah f*ck it, I can’t keep a perfect score so I might as well stuff my face with cake every day.

I am choosing what’s best for me nutrition-wise and focusing on the other habits of the Whole Life Challenge:

  1. Exercise
    Only 10 minutes a day is required for this challenge. It’s far from a crazy amount, it’s doable for everyone.
  2. Mobilize
    Only 10 minutes a day is required as well. That means holding 5 stretches 2 min at a time and you’re done.
  3. Sleep
    You can set your own sleep target but the idea is to set it a bit higher than what you tend to get. I’ve set mine to only 7 hours but I often get 7.5 during the work week and during the weekend I can sleep 10 hours at a time :) Sleep is often so overlooked in wellbeing but remember this: everything you learn and everything you gain (muscle, fitness, etc.) you gain while you sleep. No sleep – no gains.
  4. Hydrate
    Similarity to sleep, you can set your own hydration level as no one else can determine how much your bladder can handle and how much your body needs to feel well. I’ve set mine to 2 litres.
  5. Lifestyle
    This part of the challenge changes every week. It can be reflecting on goals and achievements every day or meditating for 10 minutes a day.  It’s a good way to try something new in your life and see if it has a positive effect on you and might be something that you want to continue on doing. I personally struggle with meditation because my brain is in racing mode at all times, but at least I’m sitting still for 10 minutes a day and giving it a go. Remember, the aim is not perfection, the aim is learning.
  6. Reflect
    Writing down at the end of each day what went well and what didn’t and what you’ve learned. This makes you reflect on your choices again, but the main thing here I think is to not beat yourself up over what you think didn’t go ‘to plan’. It’s just reflection without judgement. Life is complicated and like I said – nothing in life is about a perfect point score.

Last week when I was bloated beyond belief and struggling with energy, I was 5 minutes away from posting into our group reflections log – “Over and out. I’m done.”

I slept on it though and drafted most of this blog post in my head and I am definitely not done. I have learned a lot in 3 weeks, both about myself and about other people as well (we can all read  teach other’s reflections ;) and I’m looking forward to learning more in the 5 weeks remaining.

The main message for now is:  it’s ok to follow a plan or a coach but no one but you knows what is best for you.

Learn to observe what happens to your wellbeing when you make the choices you make and learn to sometimes make ‘bad’ choices because a human being needs to have crazy fun sometimes too and that doesn’t mean you’ve fallen off the wagon. There is no wagon. There are just your choices and you being in charge of your life – consciously and with awareness, patience and kindness towards yourself.

Over and out. I’m not done.

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