It all started with an Instagram post. 10 Day Back to Basics Challenge (#10dayB2B). Steph/@getting_2_goal over at Light Bites Done Right is one of my absolute favorite Instagramers. She posts beautiful pictures of real food, and talks about her weight loss journey. So when she posted the idea of a 10 day challenge, I was immediately intrigued.
The ‘what not to eat’ list was short, and looked simple enough.
No ‘white’ bread, pasta, potatoes, added sugar (white cane sugar)
No artificial sugars/sweeteners
No deep fried food, like chips, breaded and fried chicken or fish
No chocolate or candy
No cakes, cupcakes, cookies
Add in a couple of good, healthy ‘to do’ items.
Drink at least 64 ounces of plain water a day
Eat 5 servings of fruit and veggies a day
The idea was that people that wanted to would all do it together, for the same 10 days (9/22-10/1) and share pictures on Instagram using the hashtag above. (If you want to see all my food pics, of which there were MANY, you can check out my Instagram).
Having tried, and miserably failed, at Whole 30 earlier this year, this looked doable. It was only 10 days, after all, and this was far less restrictive. Grains were still fine, as long as they were whole grains. Sugars were not forbidden, just limited to less processed sugars like honey, real maple syrup and turbinado sugar. Dairy was still very much an option, which meant not trying to make ‘compliant’ coffee creamer out of strange ingredients. It also meant cheese was still an option, which meant less of me crying my eyes out. All good things.
I decided to do it. I found recipes that would work with the program, and made a shopping list full of healthy ingredients. With some sadness, I pushed the bevy of delicious, but highly processed, pumpkin flavored items I had recently purchased to the back of the cabinets. They’d still be there in 10 days.
From day one, I saw two similarities to Whole 30. I was going to do a lot of label reading, and I was going to spend a lot of time cooking my own food. That didn’t deter me. Whole 30 had already opened my eyes to just how many food items contain added sugar, and I really love cooking. So, I knew I’d be fine. This would help get me out of the cookie aisle and into my kitchen.
As I’m writing this, I am at the end of day 9. When I say that I have stuck to nothing for 9 days in a damn long while, I’m really not exaggerating. My Weight Watchers pattern has been pretty steady since rejoining in May; two or three days on, a week off, one day on, two weeks off, etc. And since May, I was down 3 pounds. Which hey, it’s down 3 pounds! Except no.
So, let’s be real. The main reason I embarked on this challenge was weight loss. I thought this could be the jump start that my floundering Weight Watchers efforts needed. A little push in the right direction. 10 days to give me a nice loss on the scale, and maybe get me out of the low points prepared food rut I’d been in.
It was so much more than that.
Physically, this challenge has been incredible for me. My taste buds are already adjusting to less sugar, and things the used to seem not nearly sweet enough taste fine, good even. I no longer feel like every night has to end with dessert. I pack plenty of food for work, so I’m not constantly hungry and searching for something. I’ve discovered how much more satisfied I am when I eat real, whole foods. Not full, satisfied. There is a difference. Not that I’m going hungry, I’m not. But being satisfied, for me, comes from things like having a smaller amount of full fat sour cream on my taco salad, instead of a lot of light sour cream. Label reading showed me that light sour cream is full of additives, things my body doesn’t need.
I have more energy, because I’m eating a balanced diet of good proteins and whole grains and plenty of fruits and veggies. I’m still tracking all my foods and counting my points, and this works well with Weight Watchers, especially considering the meeting last week was all about eating power foods. My skin looks better. I’m sleeping better. I feel better. I feel lighter. Oh, and as of my Weight Watchers meeting last night, I am lighter. By 8.8 pounds. (Booyah!)
But those things were probably pretty predictable. Physically, if you are eating less crap, you should feel less like crap. Not rocket science, right?
What I didn’t expect was the ways this would impact me mentally. I didn’t expect to feel so much more hopeful that I could actually lose this weight once and for all. I didn’t expect the feeling of being in control of my diet, and my body, for the first time in a long time. I wasn’t anticipating how much this would change my feelings about food, about what I put into my body, and the direct correlation that would have to how I feel about myself.
I’m proud of myself for sticking with this. On some level, I don’t think I believed I would be able to do it. But that’s part of what got me here, anyway. Not believing in me, and in the fact that I can do anything I put my mind to. But I did do it. I even got through a birthday celebration for my husband at a Chinese restaurant. I passed on cupcakes. I did that!
Credit where it’s due, there is definitely another factor in my changing attitude towards food, towards myself, and in my changing behaviors. I’ve been working with a nutritionist for the past couple of months, one that specializes in eating disorders. She’s really helped me to see how disordered some of my habits and patterns of behavior are. She’s helping me learn to look at things in a less black or white manner, helping me understand that there are grey areas, that overweight does not have to equal unhealthy, that small changes will make a difference over time. Had I not already been working with her, I don’t know that I would have been in a good enough mental place to do this challenge.
I’m glad I was.
Tomorrow is Day 10, and I’m going into it feeling strong, and not a bit nervous about what happens the next day. A few people have asked me if I’ll stick with those guidelines longer. I thought a lot about that, and the answer is… no. Not all of them, all the time, anyway. I mean, no alcohol forever? Not reality. No cake or cookies ever again? Nope. I would, and plan to, repeat the challenge again, probably a few times a year, as a means of making sure things stay in check. But permanent? No.
With the exception of artificial sweeteners, which I can vehemently say will never cross my lips again (my nutritionist will be so happy), I will integrate those foods back into my diet, in a much more occasional manner. Because this wasn’t supposed to be a forever thing, really.
It was about getting Bec back to basics. Mission accomplished.