Friday, December 27, 2013

Healthy Lifestyle Challenge 2014

Christmas is over. Whew! Santa's arrival sure takes a lot of preparation on the part of the parents. Still, it was all worth it, the kids shaking with anticipation, the squeals of excitement, the joy of a dream realized. Even if that dream only involves Star Wars Legos. So, a job well done. But a job that left me a bit on the grouchy side. I hadn't exercised for five days.

Christmas made things difficult I didn't prioritize exercise - I hadn't been to the gym since last Friday - and when I tried, it just didn't fall into place. But now? I. feel. good. Isn't it amazing how exercise can turn a frown upside down?

The streak was broken last night when I got myself to the gym despite feeling tired and not in the mood to exercise. I started with a 3 mile run on the treadmill, in 29:29, and then did legs/shoulders/PT exercises. I could feel my body working, and it wasn't easy. I reviewed my workout log and saw I hadn't done legs/shoulders in 10 days (the last time I tried to jump-start my exercise routine before getting sidetracked by Christmas).

I knew that meant I'd be sore today (and tomorrow) for sure. I could avoid being sore by cutting back, scaling things down so as not to tax my muscles but I don't feel like doing that, I'm fine with being sore. It's a good kind of sore anyway, right?

I made it to the gym again today and the trip was powered by my two legs. I rode my bike, starting with a 50 minute loop around town that ended at the gym, followed by back/biceps/PT exercises, and then the 15 minute bike trip back home. It felt so good to be doing what I love. On the way to the gym I opted to ride up this super steep hill, one I avoided for years. As I was riding up I wondered how many people could get up that hill on a bike. Not many I bet, and more importantly, not me for most of my life. It was a good reminder that despite being off my best mark, I'm still way ahead of the fitness game.

But yes, I'm off my mark. And I have an uncharacteristic plan as to how to deal with it. I'm enrolling in a Healthy Lifestyle Challenge, a 28-day challenge through my gym. I know, I'm generally against this sort of thing but I've decided to give it a try for a variety of reasons.

First, I feel like I could use some serious focus in the eating department. This challenge involves journaling my food and exercise daily for 28 days. That's attention, alright. Second, I've been curious about the whole gluten-free thing. I don't think my body has a problem with gluten but I'm constantly hearing how much better people feel when they don't eat it so yeah, I'm curious. Third, I'm carrying a good 5 pounds of pure fat that I gained over these past few months and I wouldn't mind a jump-start to help them mosey along and off my body.

So, clean up the food intake, check out the gluten free things and lose a bit of extra fat. What's not to love? Well, I have an answer for that too. What's not to love is it may be a way of eating that I can't maintain for the long-term. And normally I am against any eating plan that is not sustainable. But I'm going into this with the knowledge that I may not keep this up past 28 days, but I have no doubt that I'll pick up some new, healthy knowledge, re-build some of my healthy habits that have weakened over the past few months and I'm planning to segue the motivation and positive energy I'll feel by having completed this into my ongoing normal maintenance routine.

Ok, so I mentioned gluten-free and you might be wondering what else this challenge involves. It's based on the Paleo Diet but it's not a strict observance of that. I know the challenge includes no alcohol and no caffeine. Wait, what? No caffeine? I can give up alcohol, but coffee? The jury is still out on that one. Yep, I'm planning to make this challenge fit my reality. And why not? It's my challenge, for me, not for anyone else, so I will tweak it as I see fit knowing my results may be impacted as a result. The biggest problem I have is I think I'll have to drink my coffee black. Ouch!

Ok, here's the rest of the deal:
  • Weigh in prior to January 5th (Can be emailed or a weigh in can be scheduled).
  • Keep a food and exercise log daily. This log will be part of a shared Google Doc and should include all food and drink with approximate amounts as well as workouts completed. Keeping a detailed journal keeps you accountable and will assist you in understanding your body’s needs.
  • Each participant will agree to do at least 3 workouts per week (either with a coach or on your own).
  • Final weigh-in must be documented by February 8th
So, want to join me? Since it's all done online you don't have to be a member at my gym or live locally to enroll. I'll be posting every day in January (I started that last January and really liked it) and I'm sure I'll post plenty of what I'm eating pictures. Since I have to log my food anyway I'll probably post that here too. If you want to join the challenge with me you can call the gym at (415) 883-9353 to register.

By the way, I don't have an investment in you doing this, it's not like I get a cut of your enrollment fee, but I thought there might be someone out there that would want to do this with me. You can share your progress/struggles/etc here or on my FB page and we can support and encourage one another. And, most importantly, make transitioning after the program a big part of the discussion. I won't be coaching you or running the program, I'll be a participant just like you.

Mark - Before/After, 65 pounds lost
Who will be running the program? None other than Mark, the owner of my gym. Yep, the same guy who featured me in one of his ads. I told you about his being inspired, at least in part, by me, to lose the weight (and who even blogged about it) and did it - he's lost 65 pounds and is keeping it off! Obviously I'm a fan.

Ok, that's all I have on this for now. Feel free to email me if you have any thoughts, questions, etc. I'm happy to kick the idea around with you if you like,


  1. I found by going wheat free I've not gotten a single migraine and I used to be plagued by them. Knowing that if I had the Christmas cookies or such I'd feel so awful (I have a gluten sensitivity but it doesn't show on a celiac panel), it kept me from much temptation. GF products (if done properly) contain a lot more fiber which lowers WW points, too. Hope you feel much better!

    1. Thanks Kristen, I'm very curious to see how it impacts me, I hear so many stories like yours. Great job!

  2. Michelle, I've been doing paleo on and off for over a year now. The hardest part is not giving up anything. Once you stop eating sugar and wheat you, or at least I, stopped craving them. The hardest part is losing that Weight Watcher mindset. On paleo you don't eat reduced fat anything. It's full fat or it's not at all. That was the hardest for me. For so many years I went for the reduced fat version of everything, switching to the full fat took a big leap for me. But once you get over that, the rest is easy. Also, watch gluten free products, a lot of them are not paleo. Good luck.

    1. I've been off the reduced fat thing for a while now, ever since reading Michael Pollan's books. I think the big thing for me with this challenge will be cereal, coffee, BEANS (I may still eat them, I mean beans, seriously?). Thanks for the encouragement!

  3. Yep, I'll join you...going Paleo isn't hard after the first few days of cold turkey on the crap foods...and I just finished a packet of disgusting chocolate candy which made me feel pretty lousy about myself so I needed this post from you. So for the record here, my start weight is 62.7kgs...thanks for the kick start on motivation!

    1. Hey there, Thanks for joining! Are you going to join the challenge through the gym or follow along with me informally?

    2. I'll be following informally, I'm travelling at the moment and will be for a few months yet so I'm just doing what I can....this is a tough time of year to do it for sure!


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