Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Feeling Cleansed

So, preparation for that big test I talked about below was a great excuse to fall very hard off the Health Wagon. I justified bad nutritional behavior for several months as I studied, studied, studied. Chocolate donuts and Pepsi on the way to work at 5: 30 a.m.? Definitely! Decompress after working and studying with several beers every night? Of course! No time to grocery shop or cook? That's o.k., just drive a couple miles down the road and eat one of these delicious burgers! Need an hourly break from studying?...go buy a bag of candy AND a chocolate bar! Why not??

I very easily fell back into some bad habits...too much sugar, caffeine, and alcohol, and OVEREATING galore. Needless to say, my body was not thanking me for it. I had been feeling so unhealthy, really just disgusting, and was feeling like I needed to do something to get myself back on track.
Along with a couple friends, I've embarked on a 30-day "cleanse" of sorts. I'm not ingesting only lemon juice and cayenne pepper or taking any expensive, nutritional supplements, but I have eliminated a lot of things from my diet that were causing me to feel so unhealthy. I'm halfway through the 30-day challenge, and have successfully removed the following things from my diet:

refined sugar
white flour

That leaves me with whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, eggs, nuts, water, and herbal tea. That's literally all I've put in my mouth since October 11th. And I feel great!! What a good change this has been for me. I'm usually a very healthy eater, but I do have bad habits that I fall back into during times of stress or laziness.

This challenge has done so much for my mind and body. My energy level is more consistent throughout the day now that I am not drinking coffee every single morning. I'm sleeping well every night. I'm drinking LOTS of water. My skin is healthy. I've lost weight. I'm meal planning and cooking again, which I LOVE to do. I'm trying new, creative recipes which makes cooking even more exciting. I'm not overeating; I'm truly listening to my body, and stopping when I'm satisfied (not full, just satisfied). I'm spending a lot less on groceries. And most importantly, I'm sharing this healthy food with my family!

Some of my favorite dinners over the past few weeks:

vegetarian chili
homemade refried beans with roasted green chilis and whole wheat tortillas
minestrone with whole wheat pasta
spaghetti squash with mushroom ragu
acorn squash stuffed with barley, apples, and onions
roasted vegetables with whole wheat pasta
vegetable stir fry with brown rice
butternut squash stir fry with cilantro, onions, and coconut milk
mushroom barley soup
grilled veggie kabobs

I've also started having green smoothies again several mornings a week, which is a habit I'm really happy to be getting back to. Lunch is usually leftovers from dinner the night before. Snacks include cucumbers and hummus, hard-boiled eggs, and lots of fruit. My "dessert" most nights is a banana with natural peanut butter, a handful of almonds, and herbal tea.

I won't pretend that this has been easy for me. The hardest thing at first was to give up coffee. I didn't go cold turkey, though, because I've seen what that does to me (angry voices in my head, seriously). So I weaned myself off the coffee gradually. The thing that's been hardest to let go of over the two weeks is alcohol. I don't drink copious amounts of alcohol in one sitting, but I do enjoy drinking wine with dinner, or having a cold beer while I cook dinner. Lots of activities we do usually incorporate alcohol (concerts, band practice, football games, etc.)

But even though it's been hard, I'm so happy to be making these changes right now. It's amazing how much your nutrition affects every aspect of your life. Although I will probably start drinking coffee and alcohol again after the 30 days are over (I have to hold on to some bad habits!), and I will occasionally indulge in a cheeseburger or yummy dessert, I plan to continue eating mostly within these limits because I know how good it is for me and my family.

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