30-day Challenge(s): Months 1 & 2

While looking through my (somewhat ridiculous) “I would like to try/improve/etc.” list, I decided to make 2016 the year of the 30-day challenge. I figured it’d be a great way to knock some of those experiences off my list and well, it’s only 30 days. I can do anything for 30 days…right? Well, theoretically. (smile) If nothing else, I hope to learn a few things about myself along the way – and, who knows, maybe pick up a few positive habits as well!

Coconut Lemon CakeJanuary – Low Sugar

Originally January was supposed to be a sugar detox month – 30 days of no sugar. Yeah, really didn’t think that one through very well. Coming off the holiday sugar rush, giving up the good stuff cold turkey (ha) just didn’t happen. So I decided to modify the rules a bit and go “low sugar” instead, cutting out any excess sugars instead – candy, cake, cookies, all-the-good-stuff-that-makes-life-worth-living, etc.

It was still really hard – way more difficult than I expected / than it should have been. I mean I thought I just liked dessert as much as the next person, and maybe I do. But if January is anything to go by then the average person likes dessert – a lot. (smile) It was really eye-opening to see just how much of the sweet stuff I consumed in a day – both in extras (candy, etc.) and in regular foods. I had no idea how much sugar was naturally in whole foods even. Turns out it’s everywhere! Of course some of it is better than others, and figuring out what was what was actually pretty interesting.

I had hoped that going low sugar would help me feel better – I admit I’d been starting to really feel the effects of over-indulgence – but overall I felt the difference was pretty minimal. I was mostly just grumpy from telling myself “no” all day / feeling guilty if I did it anyway. (Needless to say, I don’t do well on typical diets either.) I used MyFitnessPal to track my foods and to keep tabs on my sugar intake. I found this worked really well –it was particularly fascinating to see my sugar intake on a graph for the month. You can definitely see the cheat days (grin).

So, did I retain any good habits after my 30 days? I think so. I’ve noticed that I definitely don’t consume as many sweets as I once did. I’ve also switched almost exclusively to dark chocolate to satisfy any cravings. A little of that goes a long way for me and it’s relatively healthy. I don’t find myself craving sweets as much either – funny enough once I stopped telling myself that I couldn’t have something, I stopped wanting it. I am a contrary soul… And you know what? I do actually a little feel better. So overall I declare this one a success!

Hieroglyphics Trail, Superstition MountainsFebruary – Mindful Movement

As February was the shortest month, I figured it would be prime for the movement challenge. (Although I ended up picking up the extra day in January to make a full 30 – go me!) I decided to go for a minimum of 15 minutes of purposeful movement (walking, yoga, dancing around like a headless chicken, whatever struck my fancy that day, etc.) and/or 5,000 steps on the FitBit. The idea was that I not only moved but I did so in a way that was purposeful, pulling my head out and actually noticing the world I was moving around in.

Having been in a relationship with my FitBit for some time now, I’m well aware that I don’t move around enough during the day. 5,000 steps a day is only half of the recommended 10k, but it’s still just under double what I normally average so it seemed reasonable. I’m happy to say that I met or exceeded that particular goal most days (for an average of 66% – don’t judge). I did hit the 15 minute goal each day though so I feel that the month as a whole was a success.

As for the mindful part, I found that to be particularly fun / interesting. I tried to take time out of the day to really look around and notice my surroundings – to break focus from this computer screen or to drag myself out of my own head in order to see the wildflowers that were already blooming or just how beautiful the sky was on that day. It was nice to step outside of myself for a portion of the day and remember that it’s a great big beautiful world out there!

I’m not sure how much of this one will stick with me going forward, but I really hope to remember to take notice more often. Maybe I don’t really like roses (or smelling them), but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other flowers to sniff – even here in the desert!

black cat on purple blanketUpcoming: March – March Photo Madness (Follow along or JOIN IN on Instagram!)

P.S. I don’t have topics picked for every month yet, so if you have any suggestions please let me know!

13 thoughts on “30-day Challenge(s): Months 1 & 2

  1. Well done Meredith!!! It sounds like you did really well on your low sugar intake for January, that’s a real hard one to do if you like your desserts and sweets etc. And you seem to have gained quite a lot from your fitness February – it’s something I keep saying I must do, just to go out first thing each morning for a half hour brisk walk, it really does set you up for the rest of the day 🙂

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  2. These are great challenges and well done you for hitting your goal 66% of the time. I tried similar, in fact, in February but fell off the wagon. Decided today I would start again, recharged the fitness bracelet, updated My Fitness Pal….and then went out for a business dinner and blew the whole thing. 🙂 Tomorrow. Tomorrow I will start again. And I’m starting with trying to hit 5000 steps a day too. On holiday that’s no problem but not so much on days when I’m tied to my desk at work. Oh well, every little bit helps I guess.

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    • “I shall begin again tomorrow.” I’ve found that mantra to be the best balm to guilt, especially with these types of challenges. (As opposed to the “there’s always tomorrow,” which is the version I may or may not use to justify procrastination 😉 )
      I’ve found the 30-days to be a good amount of time, especially given my pick-it-up and put-it-down attention span. And it’s def brought an awareness that I consider a win! I totally feel you on the step thing – you never realize just how much you don’t move on office days until you have a tiny gadget to point it out! It’s definitely made me reconsider what I want out of any future jobs.

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  3. It’s a great idea! Whatever happens with your sugar intake, this has probably made you a lot more aware … and that in itself is a good thing. I’m not much into snacks or sweets … but then I got to taste some popcorn, of all things, in Costco. They have cheese taste, and are named G. H. Cretors. Bought a big bag, and got totally, physically hooked to them. I’m the kind of person who can’t do anything in moderation, so I started eating them every night. They sell them in the aisle in the grocery store, where they keep all that healthy, natural, organic stuff. I just looked at the bag, and saw how much cholesterol, sodium and whatnot they contain … I must shape up. So typical, when I take a real liking to something.

    What a handsome cat!!!

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    • These challenges have been a learning experience so far – but definitely in a good way. Like you said, if nothing else they’ve brought an awareness of habit and there’s a lot to be said for that! Although sometimes knowing too much can be a bit depressing (the serious downside to reading labels – particularly on favorite foods – is knowledge).
      And Sadie thanks you for the compliment! 🙂

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  4. I am impressed! I have the sweetest tooth in the family, so it would be hard for me to give up totally. But I have tried to cut back. There is just so much sweets out there! I need to get more movement too and not just with my fingers on the keyboard 🙂
    OH Love the pic of your cat 🙂 🙂 Is he named Lucky!

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    • The sugar thing was definitely a challenge, but the upside (-ish) is that I’m now much more appreciative of sweets! Now I take my time in choosing and indulging rather than just grabbing whatever may be nearby. I’ve found this results in less intake so I’ll take that as a win 🙂
      That furry beauty is Sadie – believe me, we went through all the best names for a black cat when I got her, but Sadie stuck!

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