By Josephine Atluri
In our last team blog, Meg, one of our trainers, shared some things she learned when she did the Healthy Body Blueprint food challenge led by Ray. Meg's lessons learned were great to read so I thought I'd also add on to the topic as I also participated in the challenge.
I'll be honest, I've always been hesitant to participate in any sort of food program because of my eating disorder history. It's not advisable to do any diets with that in your past. However, after every winter of "relaxed eating" as I like to call it, I always need to tighten up the eating in the spring to get that summer body back. I workout hard six days a week but unless I watch what I eat I can still gain weight! <sigh> That's my reality and I've learned to deal with it and plan accordingly.
I looked at Ray's food challenge and to me it seemed doable with putting me at risk for an ED relapse because it wasn't a counting calories diet. In fact there was a lot to eat, but it was a lot of healthy veggies and protein that was timed and portioned in a proper way. I wasn't weighing foods or using measuring cups for everything. The challenge actually was a great exercise in learning what correct portions were because that has always been a problem for me. Sure I eat healthy on my own, but I would never pay attention to the amount because it was all healthy food. But eating a crap ton of fruit a day does add up. Calories are calories after all, no matter how you spin it.
Anyway, I could keep going on and on but allow me to highlight my three lessons learned:
1. Eat mindfully. Since I had specific times to eat and specific things to eat, this challenge allowed me to slow down and focus on what I was eating. This mindful eating allowed me to enjoy my food AND not over eat. Too many times I'm on the go and eating in the car. Scarfing down food in a few minutes doesn't give you time to realize that you have eaten enough and hence you eat more than you necessary. So slow down. Think about what you are eating. Focus. Enjoy.
2. Remove dairy and sugar and you feel energized. Seriously. I am not yanking your chain. I've never removed both from my diet at the same time, but I somehow was able to do it and I felt amazing. I kid you not. This girl loves her coffee and by the end of this challenge, my afternoon venti americano was more of a ritual than a necessity. I wasn't bogged down by the sugar. And removing dairy helped my gut and skin.
3. Do this with friends. We did this challenge as a group. We kept each other accountable via group emails and posting on social media. Knowing that there were other people doing this challenge with me and going through the same things really made a difference for me. I don't know if I would have been able to keep to the plan if it weren't for the help of Ray and the other girls on the challenge. I felt like if I cheated I wasn't just cheating myself, I was also cheating the group that was working so hard. Accountability is key.
To summarize, I am so glad I did the challenge because I was able to fine tune my healthy eating. Don't be afraid to try something like this because you will surprise yourself with what you really can handle.