People often ask me what the point of these challenges are, especially since I’m already a pretty picky person and it just limits my eating even more. I’ve thought a lot about the answer and it really comes down to helping me realize what I am capable of living without. You see, each of the items on my list were all things that I swore I couldn’t live without for a week, let alone a whole month. With each successive challenge, I was able to remove the shackles of that particular food group from my eating.
As people go on “diets” or other restrictive eating programs, it seems they identify a couple of foods that they enjoy and are also within the parameters of their current eating regime. These foods tend to become the crutch that helps them survive the timeframe of their restrictive eating, so often it becomes a sad trade off where you don’t get out and experience new foods, but instead just stick to what you know. Often times, the over dependency on certain “healthier” foods might actually make those foods work against you. This is something I discovered early on with my first no sugar/no flour challenge when I leaned too heavily on white potatoes, French fries, and corn so my results were minimized.
As I built up my confidence with completing the first challenge, it gave me the courage to eliminate something else in addition to sugar and flour, so white potatoes went. Then after a few months, I once again wanted to challenge myself and added corn and corn based products, simply because corn tortilla chips were becoming a part of my weekly eating routine. So corn was added to the list of no-no’s and still survived without it.
For over a year I was able to balance my intake on corn and white potatoes, but as I looked at my diet I quickly realized that cheese was filling in the void left by eliminating those other foods. Up to that point, I felt that cheese was never going to be something I could live without, which made it a perfect candidate to go. To my surprise, chees was easier to give up than sugar and flour, so the first three weeks breezed by. Near the end of May though, cheese sought me out as an ingredient for a meal or two and I ended up eating it instead of seeking out something else.
I don’t consider the month a failure though for a couple of reasons. First, I’ve realized that cheese doesn’t need to be such a big deal in my life anymore. I don’t need to sprinkle it on all the foods I did previously, and I’ll still live without having a block to slice up when I need a quick snack. In fact, I realized that by not having cheese at those “snack” times, I really wasn’t hungry at all and didn’t try to use another food to fill the gap. This was the equivalent of me reaching into my daily eating and removing close to 1000 calories a day, but not replacing them. The results from this month have been wonderful on my waistline. (If you think 1000 calories of cheese is a lot, take a look at the portion size and you’ll see how fast someone can get there in a couple of meals.)
So once again, the education about my capabilities is reinforced and I realize that I’m able to do more than I imagined I could. This message is really what my book and continuous challenges are all about, encouraging you to tackle one month just to see how it impacts you. People are always quick to say what they can’t live without, but they just go off of what they know and not what they want to test. I know you can make a change for at least a month, maybe more. I hope that one day you’ll realize the same thing and that the day comes soon.