There is no magic button to becoming well. It is a way of life.
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I have been erroneously calling the last six weeks a “diet challenge,” but the fact of the matter is that it was a lifestyle challenge. I have to give tremendous credit to the amazing Dawn Marie Angus, for developing this rather brilliant program — whom I absolutely hated six weeks ago in multiple moments of desperation for a simple slice of bread with butter. I got her permission to share the details of the challenge in this blog, and I invite you to check the whole document in the link below. The principles are pretty well described therein, along with the “game” aspect of it — the overall idea is to rack up enough points to win something. My husband and I did score a T-shirt, but what I gained was really worth so much more than even he monetary value of first prize. Here is a brief synopsis of what I learned, to be discussed in more detail in upcoming entries:
- Eating “clean and healthy” in our society is an uphill battle, but definitely worth the climb.
- Having a measurable target for hydration heals a multitude of ailments.
- Using points and rewards yields results.
- Leaving room for “cheats” (what I prefer to call moderation) makes the program sustainable, so it can go from being a challenge or contest to becoming a way of life.
I actually had considered myself rather healthy to begin with. So about halfway through, I was positively shocked to discover myself undergoing a serious paradigm shift. I got leaner and trimmer than I have ever been in my entire life. My mind was sharper and clearer, my hair stronger and longer, my (at risk for providing a little too much info) GI tract more regular… than ever. So I find myself actually wanting to stick to the program. And it dawned on me (so to speak) that no matter how many letters I have behind my name, I still have a lot to learn about what it really means to be healthy.
The funny part is that sometime during the first week of taking this on, I was desperately hungry because there was nothing in the house that was allowed that I even felt like eating, so I didn’t bother eating anything… and doused in starvation, I went to the grocery store determined to buy pretty much anything and everything I could find that fit the rules. After a heartbreaking cruise through most of the aisles, I resorted to a new set of staples which are likely to become a permanent part of my diet:
- Dried fruit with no sugar added (hard to find but raisins work, and I developed a taste for them!), unsweetened shaved coconut, and raw nuts (almonds are available almost anywhere and very affordable although my favorite is cashews) with a pinch of salt. I throw this together in my own preferred proportions and it is just as munchable as crackers, chips, or cookies.
- Greek grape leaves (“dolmas”) are a great quick lunch. Filled with rice and drenched in olive oil, this feels like a wonderful indulgence without cheating.
- My favorite breakfast: one banana, about 3/4 cup of unsweetened almond milk, and a handful of frozen berries of choice, after a quick spin in the blender. This 3-ingredient smoothie tastes like ice cream and is quite filling. Plus, if you rinse the blender immediately after, it cleans up really easily even without soap, ready for a new smoothie the next morning!
There’s more to learn, so check back in! In the meantime, if you want to live better and not just feel but BE healthier, consider the Paleo Schmaleo challenge. It isn’t a fad, it is a return to health as it was meant to be.