Are you ready for some honesty? Because this is a before and after story – without the after!
You know what I’m talking about. The “Success Stories” – you’ve probably read all of the great ones on this site already, and if you’re like me, you CANNOT WAIT to be holding up 20 (or 40) pound bags of rice with a big smile.
Can we just skip to that part? Cause here’s what I’m thinking right now.
I’m not really thinking, YEAH! THIS will be the ONE – after spending the last 39 years of my life (that’s right – my dieting history turns 40 in a year) trying to lose weight and get in shape permanently – THIS will be what works.
I’m more thinking, Okay, I can do anything for 28 days. Can’t I?
Is it a problem that I’m already thinking about the fact that the 28 days end the day before I go away with my husband for a whole week without our kids – and am already picturing myself with a fat glass of rose and some cheese and crackers??
Or that I’m terrified of going without coffee (do we really have to go without coffee?)?
Or that this challenge starts ON MY BIRTHDAY? A day when I have planned to go on a hike with my family, ending with my favorite birthday meal – which ends with nasty grocery store white cake?
There’s the honest part.
Are you scared too? Or are you just like I used to be – excited and super motivated by something new? Either way, we are IN.
Here’s a little bit about me – since I’m planning to update you as I head out on this transformation:
I’m turning 48 (f*&#! can we swear here?) tomorrow – May 28th. I’m a Mom of twin grade-school boys, and a freelance writer. Last year, after living in misery for a while, we chucked suburban life, big house, private schools, hellish commutes and corporate jobs and moved to Vermont. And life here is pretty great. Really great actually. And I have to admit, I sort of thought the misery weight (about 15 pounds) would just “fall off” after I was happy and sleeping better and less stressed out. And skiing 70 days, and walking up the trails next to my house.
Nope. I think at 48, there’s no magic “falling off.”
I should also say that I’m NOT that person who “was never into exercise, ate at the drive thru, and finally decided to change!” I’ve decided to change about oh, 39 times. I can tell you how many points are in 11 olives (green olives – black are more). I can tell you exactly what I should eat today. I exercise pretty much every day.
When I was 9 my Dad took me to Diet Workshop. I still remember that I was supposed to get down from 84 pounds to 75. I lost those 9 pounds I think, and gained about 100 pounds of anger and resentment. And yeah. It’s sort of been like that ever since. I diet (or “eat clean” or whatever you want to call it – but the purpose is to lose weight and it includes NOT including certain foods) and lose about 10 pounds. Then I gain back 15. I’ve been one 10-pound notch higher every half decade of my adult life, and now weigh about 40 pounds more than I think is ideal for me – and about 60 more than I did in my early 20s.
What IS different this time? I really REALLY want to get in shape – which includes taking weight stress off my knees and back, which bother me all the time – so that I can do the fun things my friends do here, like skin up mountains at night, bike crazy trails and hike to beautiful vistas.
So my goals? Are to take pressure off my knees and back to make exercising easier, so that I can train my body to be ready to take on challenges in order to enjoy them.
And of course, I’d like to keep up with my boys on skis. Yeah. That’s going to take a miracle, not a 28 Day – wait. I called it a 28 Day Challenge! And that’s NOT its name!
Yes. I’m ready for a transformation – of mind, mindset and body. And if 28 days can do that, now THAT will be a miracle!
Let’s DO this!
No. More honesty. Crap morning! It’s Day 2 here in Angryland, and as an annoying millennial blogger would say, I’m feeling all the feels.
Well, not all of them. I don’t feel good. I don’t feel happy. I don’t feel full.
If you’re doing this challenge – I mean transformation – you hear me. Yesterday sucked. Today sucks way less so far. Mostly because I LOST 3 POUNDS. I know, it’s all water weight, but still. At least the mother of all headaches, having to bail on celebrating my birthday (yeah, I started on my birthday. And anniversary. And a holiday.) and feeling so hungry that I was awake about 23 times during the night…at least all of those things resulted in three pounds I hope never to see again.
Funny, this was what they chose to compare 3 pounds to. Maybe that’s why my head hurts…
I was so glad that Oonagh said to us this morning that today will be the hardest day of the 28, and we might be thinking, “what IS this? This is like the crap I left behind in high school!” because that’s exactly what I was thinking. I’ve felt like this before – but that was doing things like NutriSystem (packaged food including powdered yogurt – regular yogurt being so bad for you and all), the Cabbage Soup Diet (remember that one? Yum!), or the Eat-Nothing-For-A-Week-But-Hotdogs-VanillaIceCream-and-Beets diet (that was a REAL thing. And I did it.). The worst I’ve ever felt on a diet was on Atkins – all meat and cheese and no vegetables or fruits. Ewww.
So anyway, did you ever think you’d feel so excited about a pureed vegetable soup? It’s only about 10 hours away!! Will we make it?
So far, I’ve been pretty perfect. I’ll admit that I did use coconut water in my smoothie yesterday and a whole banana instead of a half. And I had my morning mojo cold this morning because PLEASE girl, it’s bad enough to get up to kids and husband having eggs and bacon and coffee (husband with the coffee, not kids) but to have to drink cayenne pepper and lemon and water HOT? No. Just no.
Okay, I’m done complaining (for today).
The smoothie was delicious, and the yoga was wonderful. The chia gel is brilliant and something I’d never thought to do before. I am giving myself over and trusting. I’ll admit that I really can’t imagine exercising right now, as going up all the stairs to take a shower this morning felt like a serious achievement, but so far you’ve been spot on about how we are going to feel, so I’ll trust that I’ll feel better tomorrow. And when I went to get dressed this morning and looked through my usual pile of “too small, too bright, too fat in that” t-shirts, I did think about how nice it would be to be able to wear those again. Maybe in 27 days?
So it’s Day 4 here, and I think the thing that has amazed me the most is how DEAD ON Oonagh and the fitfeelsgood team have been about how I’d feel each day. Days 1 and 2 were pretty bleak, and while at the time all I could think was “WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING?? Anything that makes you feel this bad cannot be good for you! ” Looking back, I now realize that being so sick for two days likely means that what I was putting in my body before was about as healthy as heroin – and the withdrawal symptoms prove it.
Everything started to improve with Tuesday night’s DELICIOUS fennel zucchini soup – that will be a go-to recipe for me forever – and Wednesday I felt great! Feel great today too, and oddly haven’t had the usual “end of Week 1 on a new eating plan” cravings. I would have characterized myself as a pretty healthy eater, so the extreme withdrawal surprised me. So does how good I feel today!
I will admit that I have had an insane work week and was in the car for 10 hours over the past two days, up at 4:45 and working til past 11 – that’s my excuse – because I haven’t done the workout yet. I did carry every last nine billion pound piece of my kids trampoline about 100 yards and somehow tetris’ed it into our minivan, and I took a great walk with my Mom, but I didn’t get to the circuit yet.
Luckily, my general fashion statement is “Ready for yoga at a moment’s notice!” so I’ll be ready once I can find the time (these posts take me under 5 minutes to write, but true, I could be doing planks…).
The one thing I need to master is creating more time. More on that when I have more time. Today’s post is about how GOOD THIS FEELS!
I might just start calling it a transformation after all.
Saturday at Scale
So I know that scales are #so1980s, but I have one, an old one, and I admit that I got on it this morning.
Eight pounds. 8. Eight. EIGHT!!!! It can’t be right. It’s too good to be true. It’ll probably come back and is just water.
But at the moment? I. DO. NOT. CARE!
Look, when I was 18 and dieting, I expected to lose five pounds the first week. But I’ve tortured my metabolism, been cruel to it, added having twins and thirty years to it. And I’ve tried LOTS of things, some might say EVERYthing – healthy things, cleansing things, Whole 30 South Beachy professional Nutritionist sorta things.
And since having kids, I have to accept maybe a pound a week. Which is hard – it’s hard to feel deprived, to give up Friday night wine (and I’ll admit, I REALLY wanted that glass last night after a crazy work and mom life week) and only see a one pound loss. And I’ll admit, I usually say “f#*@ it. I’m not killing myself for one pound. I might as well just live and eat whatever I want.”
Which is why I guess the new wisdom is to throw out your scale. And I’ll do that. I promise. Just not yet.
What’s the difference with fitfeelsgood? Stay tuned…
Vive la Difference
So I’ve been thinking a lot about what’s different about the fitfeelsgood 28 Day Transformation. OH, and I’m DEFINITELY calling it that from now on. Yes, it’s challenging, but primarily, it’s transforming.
For me – a lifelong dieter and a lover of exercise who has always been active but also seen her jeans size creep up year after year – here is what I think is different so far:
- One Day at a Time
So that’s a popular AA saying for a reason – it’s hard to think about an entire life without a drink, but just focusing on not drinking today? Doable.
And I think the same is true of this program. Why do I need to feel like I’m never going to have another donut or salty margarita or soft pretzel or – sorry I’ll stop – ever again?
I don’t. And with this plan I’m really looking at the food for the day and that day only. Every day is different, and while I do plan ahead, I’m really just focused on today’s goals and completing my checklist.
Speaking of the checklist, something about having that Morning Mojo (what you’ll drink first thing in the morning if you do this Transformation) helps set the stage for the whole day. I guess it’s like making your bed every morning – which studies show correlates with better productivity, better sleep and even sticking to a budget.
And there is a LOT to be said for the power of habit. Our minds can’t handle thinking about every little thing all day, so we automate most of what we do (for example, I bet you didn’t think this morning: pick up toothbrush. Run water. Set brush under water…you just did it). Making something part of a habit loop is a fantastic way to get healthier.
- Goodbye Scary Processed Foods
While it’s been really hot and I did grill chicken instead of cooking it in the oven one night, I think the food prep and cooking has been key.
In addition to getting rid of sugar and dairy, cutting out processed foods – and basically if it’s in a package, it’s processed – is incredibly important. Processed foods are not only filled with chemicals that my third graders can’t pronounce, they are also specifically created to be highly addictive.
Which would explain why on Monday night and Tuesday I understood why people need to be in a hospital for drug detox. And in fact, foods like Oreos light up the same area of our brain as heroin does. Yum!
As we have eaten more processed foods – and “fat free” foods, “healthy” foods, etc. – we’ve gotten much fatter. In fact, obesity rates across the globe have doubled since 1980.
Cooking for yourself, using whole ingredients that your grandmother would recognize (well, except the pea or whey protein powder) and being in charge of which ingredients you include, is key to being healthy.
And we all mean to home cook all meals. The 28 Day Transformation gets us to do it – and do it all the time.
The Coming Back
A great yoga teacher once said to me (about that hellish habit of thinking of the not-done-list when you are supposed to be meditating) “It’s not about the going away. It’s about the coming back.”
And she clarified that she meant two things: first, don’t worry if your mind wanders – just bring it back; and second, the actual practice of bringing yourself back was as important as just staying in the moment in the first place.
As I sat and did the Headspace meditation that Oonagh suggested to us yesterday (which contrary to what I’m about to write, I really liked), my mind sort of went like this:
Andy (calm british-y meditation guy): How does your body feel?
ouch my hip really hurts
i wonder if people will think i’m weird if i walk the whole train again
i need water anyway
it used to be the other leg but now it’s the right one
lordy it hurts all the way to my foot
my foot is basically numb
it’s probably spinal stenosis or worse
shit i forgot to call the doctor again
shit i forgot to fax that records request again
i wonder if the MRI will be covered by insurance
shit i forgot to call the kids’ old insurance about why they won’t cancel it
Gee. Are we feeling RELAXED YET??
Then Andy’s nice voice said to let it go, and just bring yourself gently back.
Okay. Thanks Andy. I’m going to bring myself gently back.
Instead of beating myself up for not being able to stay perfectly on plan with each meal (I had to improvise and move stuff around) I think I will just
Let it go.
And if you had a bump or two, let it go.
It’s not about the going away. It’s about the coming back!
Day 10: Out With the Old…
You’re getting ready to go out. Do you:
- choose the new outfit you just shopped for on your way home from work in a desperate last minute attempt to find something cool, or
- bring out that old tried and true outfit that always gets you compliments, is actually comfortable and still looks good?
Of course you pick A. Your brain is wired to like what’s new so that you seek out new experiences, learn and are willing to try things.
Which is great for when you are in school or travelling. It’s not so great when you are trying to follow a fairly strict new eating and fitness plan.
Yesterday, I was hungry. Really, really hungry. My poor kids got Mary’s crackers (which are awesome and everything-free but not particularly kid favored) and a delicious local cheddar for snack, with some grapes and apples.
And GOOD LORD did it look amazing to me as I stared at my pile of raw veggies.
I will admit that I ate three crackers. With cucumber rounds on top.
What’s keeping me from full-out cheating is how awful I felt on Days 1 and 2. I do NOT want that to be for nothing.
But how to deal with a general feeling of I don’t want to do this anymore (when you’re still trying to make “this” the New Normal)?
Here’s what I did:
- Planned my treat meal. Asked what I’d like best in that moment of hunger – Saturday night, that’s what I’m having.
- Copied down the recipes and meals for the week. I know, it’s weird, but I like handwriting things. Just going over them distracted me – and because a lot of them are new, gave me that Happy New Feeling.
- This morning – and I know, Oonagh, I KNOW we aren’t supposed to do this – after I got the kids off to school, I let myself lie down with my audiobook and fall asleep for 30 minutes. I still got right up afterward and did my workout. But letting myself be so crazy (yes peeps, if you aren’t in your 40s with kids yet, THIS is living on the edge) and decadent felt so good.
If you’ve been on a lot of diets, there is a little high that you get from rebelling. So I decided to rebel in a non-food way because I know that for me, sleeping for 30 minutes on a Wednesday morning won’t lead to sleeping all the time. Eating the entire bag of microwave popcorn for snack on the other hand…
It’s hard to believe this New World Order turns two weeks old tomorrow!
If you are looking to feel better, sleep better, lose weight and get healthier, here is what feels miraculous so far:
- No dairy – I thought I’d really miss it. No cheese? No ice cream? No milk in my coffee? No cheese?! But I don’t. In fact, when I had the greek yogurt last week I didn’t feel great afterward. And I’m surprised by how delicious almond milk is in my coffee.
- No sugar – Again, I thought I’d miss it. Nope. And I think it was definitely the culprit in how awful I felt the first few days on this Transformation – more than the caffeine. I NEVER want to feel like that again.
- More water – drinking half my weight in ounces every day was hard at first – and I still need to be within running distance of a bathroom – but I feel so much better. My skin looks better. And it’s so easy!
- Muscle work – I’ll admit that in the world of working out, I have an 80s hangover. If it’s not cardio, it doesn’t count. Well, YES it does! Recent studies show that weight training even just twice a week is as effective at combatting depression as five weekly days of cardio, and prescription anti-depressants. Plus sore muscles feel good. Hello abs! Hello glutes! Hello hamstrings! So nice to feel you again!
- Greens – giant handfuls of baby kale in a smoothie are so easy. And hey! You! Yeah you in the produce aisle! Treat yourself to prepared veggies. I used to feel like it was a waste of money to buy the prewashed lettuce, the spiralized zucchini and the precut squash. Funny. Because I never felt like it was a waste of money to buy a box of brownie mix instead of making them from scratch. Go crazy! Buy the prepared veggies if it means you’ll eat more of them – and throw out less!
Thank you Oonagh and the Fit Feels Good team – it really DOES feel good! Here we go with week three!
Day 15? 16? 17?
As I started to write this, I realized I couldn’t remember what day of the 28 Day Transformation we were on. And it was a great moment for me! It reminded me of when I lived in Italy, and after leaving a store, complained that the Italians always spoke english to me. My friend looked at me funny and said, “Lisa. They were speaking italian to us in there.” I had finally stopped translating in my head! Was THIS what fluency was??
So today, I won’t say I feel fluent in this new way of planning, shopping, cooking, eating (and not eating) and exercising, but I certainly DO feel closer to this being a lifestyle change rather than “almost over.” And that’s a huge win for me!
In the past, as in the past 30+ years, I would constantly make charts that looked like this:
They were always finite, and there was always an event at the end that I wanted to look good for. And after which, I would EAT AGAIN! I’m embarrassed to admit that my journals over the years are FILLED with pages that look like that photo above.
How do you change your thinking? You just do. It’s not 28 days and over – it’s 28 days and then a little easier. I’ll be better at it by then – and maybe less perfect (not that I’ve been perfect but I’m pretty sure no one on the entire earth is perfect) but I’m thinking of it more like quitting smoking, or never drinking Gatorade again after learning about the chemicals it contains. I just don’t smoke. I just don’t drink Gatorade. I know it’s not exactly the same – no one is offering me cigarettes all day (or ever) or Gatorades at every meal. But I think it is possible to just think, “That’s not how I eat.”
Another clue that this time is for keeps is that on Monday, I did something that scared me – I mountain biked with friends who were WAY better at it than I was (as in, one had raced and won a lot of those races, and the other is in the video below), on a single track that I know was easy for them but to me was like being a beginner skier on a black diamond run. I was really afraid of falling, and of getting hurt.
And I fell. And I got hurt.
In fact, I fell off a bridge, and dislocated my shoulder. Didn’t know it was dislocated for a day (and sleepless night). It’s better now, but I’m definitely not exercising yet (except walking).
At first I was really upset that I couldn’t do the exercise, but Oonagh was really supportive and suggested focusing on food and sleep, and healing. And then I found out that we have lifetime access to her amazing workout videos! So I can do them when my shoulder has healed.
My takeaway was one of motivation rather than frustration – I want to get better so I can get back to exercising, and I want to practice biking so I can jump rocks:
(and that rock was a LOT steeper than it looks in that video!) and if not keep up with my friends, at least not need an ER visit if they are nice enough to ever invite me to join them again.
All in all, it’s a great metaphor for life: we fall off the bike. We do what we need to do to get back on the bike, and make it less likely we will fall again. We get back on the bike and keep riding. We fall “off” our new eating plan. We get back on our new eating plan. That’s not Day 13, or 18 or 28. That’s life!
If you had told me three weeks ago that I wouldn’t be tempted to take down a bag of Goldfish or chips and two (large) glasses of wine on a Thursday night, I’d have said
Well, without the mustache, but yeah, I would NOT have believed you.
If you’d told me that I could look at a new way of eating – a way that honestly I knew pretty much all about already – and truly believe that was how I’d eat from now on, I’d have said
I was definitely a skeptic. I was jaded by decades of dieting, of starting to “eat clean,” of “lifestyle changes” and new routines. That never lasted past the “new” part.
And then, last night my son said “Are you still on your diet Mommy?” And I said “No honey. This is just how I eat now.” And I meant it.
Was I tempted by the amazing cookies and brownies on the table last night? Yes. Was I tortured by them? No! Did I resist them in front of everyone and then scarf down three on my own after everyone was in bed? Nope. Did I even think about doing that? Nope.
I feel like the sugar monster is truly dead. (And by the way, if you’d asked me if I liked or was tempted by desserts I would have said no, I have a salt tooth, not a sweet tooth – yeah, wrong.) Eating rice or pizza on my cheat meals has made me feel lousy – enough so that I’m really not tempted to go back to that place again even on a “cheat.”
I’m not sure that my “after” picture will look that different after 28 days, but I do know that if there was a brain scan that showed different thinking, mine would look COMPLETELY different than it did 21 days ago.
And that will be the best transformation of all – because it’s one that will last past 28 days.
Day 29 – and beyond!
If you’re thinking about doing the 28 Day Transformation, let me tell you, 28 days is like the blink of an eye! I can’t believe it’s been 28 days!
And the very BEST – and most unexpected – part? It doesn’t feel over. So I’m not posting an “After” photo yet. Because it isn’t “after” – it’s ongoing.
I’m on vacation today – first time in a long time that my husband and are without kids – and as I said on Day 1, I thought I’d be sitting here eating butternut munchkins right now (do they have those in Canada? I hope not for your sake).
Instead, I’m enjoying a smoothie with lots of spinach, and a cup of coffee (I did not give that up) with almond milk.
Not what I thought my Day 29 breakfast would look like! And fitting that we are staying at a wonderful apartment owned by Canadians – who also own a Nutribullet!
So, here is my summary after 28 days:
– It’s NOT a diet. I swear to all that is holy, it’s not. The first few days I really did think it was. Maybe the first week. Or two. But now? It’s just how I eat.
– I feel better, have more energy and am sleeping better. I had pasta for the first time in 27 days on Saturday night, and I felt so awful that I will avoid it at all costs.
– I have lost 12 pounds, 9 inches (which I think would have been a lot more if I had been able to do the workouts) and a whole lotta BAD ATTITUDE.
– I actually really, truly love eating this way. Last night we went out to dinner and I had a quinoa veggie taco bowl (without the taco) that was seriously one of the best things I’ve ever tasted. I realized as I ate it that 29 days ago I would have ordered the fish tacos with beans and rice (and felt like it was healthy because of the fish).
– I don’t miss cheese. I don’t miss ice cream. I don’t miss sugar. I’m not lying!
– The first few days are HARD. Just tell yourself at every moment that it will. Be. Worth. IT.
– I got injured a week in (double whammy – knee and shoulder) and couldn’t do the workouts. A big part of the reason I’m joining the alumni group is to be able to do workouts once I get the OK.
– I didn’t have time to cook every one of the meals. But again, since I’m not thinking of this as a finite “it’s over” sort of thing, I know I can go back and try the ones I didn’t get to (and subbed a salad for).
– Drinking is not my friend. I loved a cold glass of rose as much as the next girl, and still do. But it has become very clear to me that even one glass of wine triggers my old bad eating habits, and while I’m not ready to give up drinking forever, I do think I will save it for special occasions.* (*No. Tuesday is not a special occasion).
– I NEVER want to feel as awful as I did on Day 2 again. That was a scary wake up call to how I had truly been eating and living (rather than the way I had been telling myself I was living). That fear will keep me a changed woman – I hope.
THE CONTINUING WORK
– I still need to work on drinking half of my weight in ounces of water every day. My treat at the end of the the 28 days? Not a pizza like I thought it would be – a new water bottle. I know the kind I really like now (not too many parts to clean, wide mouth for ice, lightweight, fits in car cupholder) and I’m getting myself one today!
– I need to keep working on developing patience. I want to be all the way fit and carrying around less weight right NOW. One of my goals for the alumni program is to learn patience and to stay in the moment. Actually, that’s one of my goals in life!
SO, in summary:
If you are wondering whether the 28 Day Transformation is worth it – and I will admit that before I started it, I was SURE it wasn’t – IT IS.
Commit to it, take the time to shop and plan, and be ready to be amazed.
Thank you Oonagh, thank you to my friend Melody who signed me up, and thank you to the whole crew at Fit Feels Good!
 If you want a good read on this topic, check out The Power of Habit. http://charlesduhigg.com/the-power-of-habit/