Thursday, December 15, 2011

Resolutions

Well, it is that time again. The time when everyone becomes overwhelmed with holiday shopping, countless office parties,  uber amounts of sugar-laden treats and the stress of wrapping up the end of another year.  The thing I love most about the end of the year is the perception that you can start the next year resolving to be a better person. Every year at this time I start to make my long list of resolutions for the coming year. The list almost always includes some sort of fitness goal, finance goal, career goal, and character building goal. The list tends to be very ambitious but it makes me feel accomplished to just get these things down on paper.

But I have decided my approach for 2012 will be different this time. I will not create an ambitious list of resolutions that will probably be forgotten by February, rather I am going to take things I did in 2011 that I enjoyed and made me feel better and do more of them in 2012!

One of the things I did in 2011 that truly changed my outlook on food and fitness is adopting a diet with "real food". Real food?? Yes, real food! Food that is natural like meats, vegetables, and fruit. Foods that are nutrient dense, minimally processed, with lots of naturally occurring vitamins and minerals.  I threw out attempts of calories counting and focused on foods that would help me maintain a heathy metabolism and reduce inflammation within my body. So what did I eat?

  • Lots of eggs 
  • MEAT! Beef, chicken, turkey, etc
  • Fruit 
  • Vegetables
  • Almonds
  • Fat Sources (olive oils, coconut milk, etc)
What don't I eat?
  • Grains
  • Pasta
  • Milk
  • Soy products
  • Processed/added sugar
  • Anything processed..
Now this might seem extreme for people that know me well. You know I love food and that my "death row" meal consists of homemade pasta and roasted tomatoes accompanied with a large side of fresh bread! While thinking of this meal still makes my stomach hungry, I haven't had this meal in over 6 months and would probably now pick a big hearty salad if given the choice between the two. 

This all started over the summer when I enrolled in the CrossFit South Arlington Nutritional Challenge.  While I was confident I could do anything for 6 weeks, I am a chronic dieter that has failed at any diet that restricted my favorite foods.  I tried Atkins for 5 days, have never made it past the first phase of South Beach, and was a vegan for 4 days. My track record was dismal. 

Before I agreed to start this nutritional challenge, I did my research.  I read countless blogs and the evidence was everywhere...our bodies need real food, our bodies thrive off on nutrient dense food! 
This nutritional challenge that I was about to embark on is based on the Whole9 Nutritional Program.  Whole9 is not a "diet",  rather they stress eating as much as needed to maintain strength, energy, activity levels and a healthy body weight.  

So after spending the first half of 2011 with some sort of illness, being diagnosed with seasonal asthma, and failing to meet any of my fitness goals, I know I needed a serious change. Not just a diet to lose weight but a wholesome approach to becoming a healthier person. I knew this challenge was something I couldn't pass up and owed it to myself to at least give my all-out effort to complete. 

I will be honest in saying this was hard! I spent the first week with sugar withdraw symptoms, the second week I had to fight to stay upright in the evenings, and by the third week, I was starting to feel normal again. By week 4, the changes started surfacing. I was falling asleep easily at night and waking up feeling energized, I had a great amount of energy all day, and recovery from my workouts was getting quicker. By week 5 my allergies were disappearing, any food cravings were eliminated and none of my clothes were fitting any more. By week 6, I was reaping all the benefits of this program! No allergies, no asthma, the best sleep of my life, high energy, and had dropped 20 lbs! 
And my workouts were also improving, my runs were getting faster, my knee pain had disappeared and my endurance was increasing! 

At the end of six weeks I had figured I would run out to the local pizza place and inhaled a large pizza all by myself and be back to my normal ways, but I love the way I am feeling too much to ever go back to eating the way I used to. (Disclaimer: The day after the challenge ended, I did go out for pizza and paid for it dearly the next day...ouch)

While I admit to having non-Whole9 food occasionally, especially during the holidays, I am quickly reminded how bad unnatural food makes me feel and I always go back to eating clean. 

I never realized just how much control we have over the way we feel! Sure some things are uncontrollable, but we contribute GREATLY to the way we feel inside and out.  You have the power to change things and invest in giving your body the best it deserves. GOOD, CLEAN, NATURAL FOOD!

So I resolve in 2012 to continue to eat as clean as I can! The great thing about resolutions is that you can make them at any time. Don't wait until the end of a year to resolve to eat better and become healthier, start now! 

Check out the Whole9 blog for an amazing amount of great information and a community of people that are supportive of helping you live your healthiest life. 




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