This morning I woke up and my mind was full of a personal challenge. As the day progressed, I couldn’t get it out of my head. I just have to do this challenge. I am going to take my health and fitness to a new level. I’m imposing a difficult 28-day challenge on myself. I’m a bit worried about sticking to the plan, but I just have to try.
Deep down, I’m sure I know the path I’d like to take but my mind is just too accomplished at finding excuses not to take it. Setting a 28-day challenge is like saying to myself “come on, take this path or else!”.
The background to my 28-day challenge
Just under four weeks ago, I had a hernia operation (T2000 inguinal hernia repair). I’d had a hernia for a while but never had anything done about it or even had it checked (some would say I’m hard-headed with some justification). Then recently, I had it checked by a doctor because it was just starting to annoy me and, before I knew it, I was in hospital having the op.
Today was the first day I’ve done a full yoga session since the operation. And I was able to do a full, controlled yoga headstand. I’m feeling good. In particular, doing a yoga headstand (where the head and the two elbows act like a tripod) makes me feel really good, partly because I had to work for months to get to the point where I could do one. They need a lot of core strength.
So why do I need a 28-day challenge?
Ever since I’ve lost a lot of weight, everyone says I look good, look thin (even too thin!), but I’ve always held whatever fat I do have right around my belly. This is not a good place for a man to store fat. I’m not so worried about that, but I’d like to feel a bit leaner yet muscly and strong, especially around the abdomen (which would also be good to avoid a similar hernia on the other side). Some parts of me don’t want to do what’s necessary to achieve this, hence I feel the need to challenge myself.
My 28-day challenge
Here are the points I plan to stick to for this 28-day challenge;
- Eat only vegan and organic
- no exceptions – do not eat if there are no vegan, organic options available
- Zero alcohol
- zero! – that will be hard
- Never munch
- get out a plate, place the food I want to eat on it, be thankful for it and eat it slowly – never eat without doing this
- Never eat until I’m uncomfortably full
- this is an old habit of mine
- put space around my food – eat a plate carefully, then have space, be thankful, ask myself if I really need any more
- Do a full yoga session every day!
- at least 30 mins
- Do two long walks on the weekends
- no matter the weather
- Do one long walk during the week
- even in the dark
- Get at least 7-hours sleep per day
- that’ll mean going to bed early
- Meditate at least twice a day
- morning and evening, minimum 15 minutes each
- Clean bad thoughts out of my mind and release stress
- avoid watching the news
- when bad thoughts enter my mind, recognise them and let them go
- replace them with good, positive thoughts
- laugh every day
Progress on my 28-day challenge
Today, Saturday March 21st, 2015, has been a great start to the challenge, yet they are obviously easier at the beginning. Eating vegan is not a problem because I’d become vegan in recent months (explaining this choice requires another post). Eating organic is very important because it helps keep artificial pesticides and fertilisers out of my food (and my body) and eliminates genetically modified substances and unnecessary artificial chemicals like preservatives and colourings.
It’s going to be very hard to stick to these rules if I find myself in a standard social situation where everyone else is drinking alcohol and there are no vegan, organic food options. How would I handle that? I don’t know.
But this is really why I need the challenge. I find it too easy to justify why I can’t do what I know is right. Well, that stops with this 28-day challenge. I’m giving myself an ultimatum – at least for 28-days. It’s not forever.
Many of the other rules will require a lot of discipline. I find it all too easy to avoid walking, avoid yoga sessions, cut down on my sleeping hours. Well now I have rules and I’m challenging myself to keep them. Can I do it? I hope so.
Day 1 of the 28-day challenge has gone very well. But it’s a Saturday and more relaxed than normal. I expect tomorrow will be fine as well but then it will get harder during the work week.
I’m looking forward to this 28-day challenge, and I’m going to try hard to achieve it. I’ll post some updates in this blog as the challenge proceeds.
Does anyone have an words of wisdom to help me with this challenge? (and yes, if you have some wise-cracks, give it your best shot!)
Day 2 – Went to bed early last night and didn’t wake up for 9 hours! Guess I needed the sleep. My mind is already looking for excuses not to do these things. Had to push myself to do yoga and meditation – glad I did. Did a 1 hour walk yesterday. Will try for longer today.
Day 8 – Still going well. Some small failures though;
1) I realised that the frozen berries I was putting in my green smoothies were not organic – cut them out now
2) Didn’t quite get 7 hours sleep on two nights during the week
3) Didn’t get a “long” walk in during the week, but I did one 30 minute walk and three 15 minute walks
Everything is else is good. Keeping bad thoughts out of my mind and releasing stress is a big task!
Eating strictly vegan and organic and not drinking alcohol basically eliminates going out for a meal. Three more weeks won’t be easy, but I’m still committed.
I can feel my body getting stronger from the consistent yoga and the long walks and, of course, the highly nutritious food.
Day 14 – all is good with my challenge. Here’s a brief update on each of the points.
1- vegan and organic – no problem – just can’t eat out normally
2- zero alcohol – no problem – but have to say no to people sometimes
3 – never munch – pretty good, but if I don’t think, I fall towards this by default
4 – never uncomfortably full – haven’t felt that way for two weeks
5 – loving the yoga sessions every day – getting stronger
6 – weekend long walks – loving them
7 – long walk mid-week – failed – replaced with a few short walks
8 – 7 hours sleep – very good – a little less a couple of times
9 – loving the meditation every day (twice a day, at least)
10 – clean out bad thoughts – sort of ok – I’ll give myself an average mark here
It’s really the social situations that are the hardest to deal with, and those pesky bad thoughts that keep coming back. Thoughts like, “I’m not good enough”, “This challenge is stupid and everyone thinks I’m stupid” and “No matter what you do, you’re going to fail”.
Looking forward to the next two weeks.
Today is the last day of my 28-day challenge. How did I go? Here is my self-assessment for the 10 point with a mark out of 10 (1 being bad and 10 being perfect);
Goal 1 – vegan and organic – score 9
Goal 2 – zero alcohol – score 10
Goal 3 – never munch – score 4
Goal 4 – never uncomfortably full – score 7
Goal 5 – full yoga session every day – score 9
Goal 6 – two long walks on weekends – score 9
Goal 7 – one long walk mid-week – score 3
Goal 8 – at least 7 hours sleep every night – score 8
Goal 9 – meditation twice every day – score 9
Goal 10 – clean out bad thoughts – score 6
I feel great having done it and there are a number of things I want to take forwards into my normal life. I struggle the most with over-eating and munching. I didn’t do a good job at putting space around my food. Also failed at getting in a long walk mid-week. The weekend walking has been great. It’s interesting that going without alcohol was the easiest of all the goals.
I now know what it’s like to eat 100% organic. It’s not so easy, but it’s possible. And I think it’s good for the whole planet, including us.
I assume my body is very much detoxified compared to where it was 4-weeks ago. My biggest source of toxins now is my mind. The bad thoughts and the need to munch. Munching must be a reaction to some fears. Fears I don’t need and fears I choose to dispose of.