I am on my last day of a 21 day challenge that I was doing with my daughter , that suggested that we not eat "junk food" for three weeks straight. I also gave this challenge to a few of my friends and everyone seems to be doing quite well. The specifics were really pretty obvious. If it wasn't a fruit, vegetable or healthy protein, don't eat it. No chocolate, no chips, no donuts, cookies, cake. No candy, no white bread, no pop, alcohol, or fast food. I went through withdrawals from the sugar the first two days, but then it really was not that difficult. It was the candy. I love chewy candy, and it took everything in me to not cheat, especially on my run days. Swedish fish are my fuel, so I tried to justify it in my mind, but I held up, and did not eat ANY candy for the entire three weeks.
Wait...that is not entirely true. Today, after my daughter that is doing the challenge with me, finished performing her repertoire for her grade 8 piano exam, we toasted with two Lindor truffles, on the drive home. We both smiled, and then complained at the same time, "it's too sweet"!!
I share this because I am not a big fan of "dieting". It is so frustrating to watch people starve themselves, or eat things that are so far from what they might normally enjoy. It is usually a quick fix.. I need to lose 10 pounds fast, but I have no intention on sticking with this for the rest of my life. Those are the diets that drive me nuts. I say to people all the time that it is a lifestyle change. It involves all areas of your life, and not just the food you eat. You can try to limit carbs or increase proteins. You can do the Paleo thing, or be a vegetarian, but I'm sorry, if you are not getting enough rest, or if you are stressed, if you aren't physically active, or work is driving you crazy, you will not see the results you might want to see. It all has to work together. it all has to be in balance. I so wish I had it all together.
I don't get enough sleep. I am up early every morning (just after five am), and I usually don't fall asleep before eleven at night. I never sleep sound, and I blame that on the fact that I listened for waking babies for so many years. That and my Bear, who snores every night. I rarely get 4-5 good hours of sleep and that is not nearly enough.
The stress part of it comes with the territory of having seven children, and just doing my best to keep on top of things. I think I deal with that fairly well, but yes, I do get stressed. Every once in a while, I send Barry a text saying, "I'm done". The kids aren't helping, the house is a mess, we need more money, I'm tired of working...so I'm checking out. It's hard somedays, and I feel the pressure of bills and meals and laundry and teenagers. So yup, stress is part of my day too.
I am always challenged at work, but that is a good thing. I work with children, and every day is an adventure. I never really know what I'm going to get to experience at any given moment. That's just the beauty of children. And I love my workouts, so I think this part of my lifestyle is where I want it to be. I have a passion for bootcamp, and running, I really enjoy working out on my elliptical. I just feel really great after I push through and sweaty training session. And the food part of it, well...this is part of the reason why I did the "junk food" restrictions for the 21 days. Everything in moderation....that is what I have to remind myself. I have lots of room for improvement.
So how can I talk about balance, and be so out of balance myself? It's similar to how a teacher teaches but doesn't know everything, and should still always be willing to learn. I am always working towards a healthier lifestyle, and I want that for everyone that asks me questions, or looks to me for inspiration. But I want to be real with them and let them know, that I am always working on things just like they are. I'm not always on a diet, I'm not striving for perfection, I'm just doing my best to find my balance in all the areas of my life. My areas include family, work, church, fitness, sleep, stress, food, and probably five or ten million more things :) Figure out your areas, and lets try to find balance together.
So celebrate with me, not because I made it through the challenge without many cheats, but because I have seriously made some lifestyle changes because of the restrictions that I had during this time. I have lost many of the cravings that I might have had, and I don't have a bag of Swedish Fish in the pantry to gobble up after the challenge is over. I have found a balance when it comes to the junk that I might have considered a treat, and my body thanks me for fuelling it with more natural foods like dried fruit and organic honey. Cheers (with a Lindor truffle), to finding a bit of balance!!