Healthy Living Challenge: Healthy challengers literally burn bad habits

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Saying no to the after-party and getting some sleep have had their perks over the past five weeks.

Reflecting on the healthy student challenge, making my health a priority did have drawbacks, but in the end, new habits have become valuable.  

It was difficult to do a complete overhaul in conjunction with the new semester starting. As the challenge progressed, creating habits became easier.

I have to say the first two weeks were the hardest because of the adjustment to my lifestyle and my attitude. I felt quite a bit of guilt when I didn’t eat well or missed a workout.

My insight: During busy times in one’s life, try incorporating one or two new practices into the daily routine. A complete routine overhaul might be more realistic during the summer when there aren’t so many schedule demands.

I’ll keep up the habit of having calming rituals at night, like sipping on herbal tea flavored with erythritol and painting my nails. By also making sleep a priority, I noticed more mental clarity throughout the day.

I will also continue saving my wine for the weekends.

Exercise became a soothing way to de-stress, so I plan to keep up on making it a priority. I ended up preferring to workout outdoors and in the sunshine opposed to the gym.

In hindsight, I wish I would have gone with the “If It Fits Your Macros,” or IIFYM eating plan. IIFYM is based on meeting daily macronutrient goals centered around protein, carbohydrate, fat and calorie intake. Basically, you can eat whatever you would like as long as your “numbers” are met. 

It came to the point where I was a little obsessive about only eating natural foods. I do believe it is smart to keep food as clean as possible, but having a little leeway with a busy schedule would have takensome of the anxiety away. With this eating plan, I would have been able to legitimately eat my sneaky hamburgers and fries.

My insight: Food preparation did help. One easy food-prep was to bake two or three sweet potatoes at 415 degrees for about 45 minutes. Then, I would cut the spuds in half and refrigerate. In the morning, I re-heat and top with cinnamon and honey. Just don’t forget you are cooking potatoes and leave them to bake overnight, like I did. Twice.

Did I accomplish my goals? Yes and no. As an insufferable perfectionist, I would have to say no because I wasn’t going at 100 percent all of the time. Slowing down and taking time out to consider my health was a goal I did accomplish. 

In the end, the healthy student challenge ended up being the challenge to slow down: The challenge made me take the time to really consider where my (lack of) healthy habits where and what I wanted to change.