Unofficially, I consider Monday the day of the week to check in with you, my readers, and let you know how my current 30-day challenge is going. I hope you will reciprocate and share with me, as well. I like to share with you what I am seeing and learning as I progress through the month in hopes that I might encourage you in your challenges.
This month, my challenge is to eat at least three servings of nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables a day. As I stated on Day 1 of the challenge, I am trying to raise my standard of eating. I have been doing some rich reading of late on the subject of brain and body health, and I have realized that there is a way to “eat to live” rather than living to eat. The most obvious way is stated in my challenge: go for nutrient-rich foods. The easiest way to identify nutrient-rich is by the deep colors, such as spinach, strawberries, oranges, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, etc. There are some foods that are not so colorful, but still are high in antioxidants like cauliflower and green cabbage and pinto beans. These are the kinds of foods I am focusing on inserting into my diet.
Another thing that I have learned in this process of trying to identify “nutrient-rich” is that olive oil isn’t just better for you than the other oils, it is actually very good for you, and it is also rich in antioxidants. The plan is to wean myself off butter and to use olive oil (extra virgin) instead.
So how am I doing with this challenge? Well, I regret to say that I am not batting 100% this month. Maybe 95%, though. Why? Because it takes a lot of forethought and preparation to eat mindfully (as opposed to mindlessly). I ran out of groceries after the first week (ran out of the good stuff) and had to scavenge around to find something fairly healthy. However, I was only in this state for a day or two before I made a trip to the grocery store to stock back up on “colorful food.”
That’s the downside report; now let me tell you the upside. I have eaten a lot less red meat this month (which was a by-product I was hoping for). Also, even though I have broken the chain a day or two, I have still eaten more vegetables than I normally do. So there’s serious improvement.
The most exciting change I have noticed thus far is the other night when I attended a party where ribs and smoked pork were the featured entree. I had not had my three servings of fruits and veggies that day, so I scanned the table full of food quickly and noted that there was a beautiful green salad, some broccoli, coleslaw and a veggie tray. I normally skip all that kind of stuff and go straight for the meat. However, staying faithful to my challenge, I first loaded up on the good stuff and added a couple of small slices of meat to my full plate. I was pleasantly surprised at how satisfying “the good stuff” was to me. I did not pig out on the meat—or anything else, for that matter.
Also, I realize how I enhanced my probability for success by stating my challenge in a positive rather than negative light. Instead of stating something like, “I will not eat sugar” or “I will not eat red meat,” and instead stating what I would eat, it changed the whole dynamics of the way I approached the table at that party. Instead of focusing on what I couldn’t or shouldn’t eat, I focused on what I had to eat (to meet my challenge for that day). Thus, I pretty much filled up on the wholesome stuff and just dabbled in the not-so-wholesome. I highly recommend this positive approach to those of you are considering a 30-day challenge. Figure out a way to state your challenge in positive terms—what you will do rather than what you won’t do.
Again, I am impressed with the effectiveness of a public 30-day challenge. Had it not been for the challenge, I would not have made the choices I made at the party. But after making them, I realized that they were gratifying—which will help me make the same kinds of choices later on when this particular challenge is past. And that’s what the challenge is all about—to develop a habit that will stick with me after the challenge is completed.
How are you doing on your challenge?