For those that haven't read my previous entries on this program (you can find them listed at the bottom of this one), the 120 Days Challenge is a self-study workbook that our own reviewer Vanessa Hartmann has written. It pulls together a lot of the principles and practices she uses as a Life Coach and reinforces them through daily doses of information, inspiration, food for thought and mini-challenges to try on lifestyle alterations to see how they might work for you.
Each day offers these little gems in the areas of Mind (a one word theme for the day), Meal (eating related guidance), Move (activity related guidance) and Mantra (a statement of encouragement and inspiration).
There is no solid outline of 'do this, this, this, that and get this result'. Instead, the reader is encouraged to listen to their own body and attitudes to uncover the relationship between what we eat, do and think and how these things make us feel. So each person will eventually be writing their own journey, not simply following Vanessa's. What is right for me may not be right for you, and what you need to focus on my be very different from my own set of challenges and goals - and the My Life Balanced program accomodates that.
As I am moving firmly into the last quarter of my journey with the My Life Balanced: 120 Days Challenge, I want to talk about how it tackles the subject of food and nutrition.
A few of the things I've taken away directly from the daily work with this program are:
- Starting the Day Well. starting the day with a glass of water and fresh lemon juice, which supports the immune system, aids digestion, and has other benefits. I find it to be both refreshing and hydrating after a night of sleep, and while I still enjoy my coffee after, this has become an enjoyable wake up routine for me.
- Probiotics, probiotics, probiotics. I already understood intellectually that it was a good idea to incorporate lacto-fermented foods into my regular diet, but the continued reinforcement and explanation of benefits to my digestive system (which is a wreck from longterm rheumatoid arthritis treatments and the development of GERD) has led me to make sure to always have good quality plain yogurt and fermented veggies on hand - and the frequent reminders keep me focused on actually eating them. As a result of this and paying attention to how foods impact the way my body reactions, I have experienced a great reduction in episodes of severe acid reflux, and when it does happen, I know why.
- Reduce Processed Foods. Nearly complete reduction of heavily processed foods and reading labels thoroughly. These are things I already was striving for, but 'life circumstances' had caused a lot of compromise to slip in, with noticeable impact on my eating habits. The biggest thing I have noticed is that when I avoid these foods long enough not to feel dependent on them (not just the easily definable 'junk foods' but also various packaged meal helpers), when I do eat them they don't even particularly taste like food, and definitely don't taste good. But if I let myself continue to eat them I lose that sense of taste, I start craving them and the cycle begins all over again. Real food just tastes better, creates a better sense of satiety, and is a lot more interesting. That it's actually also really good for you almost seems like a nice side effect.
- Satiety. This has become my standard for what is good for me to eat - it fills the desire that leads me to eat, so there is no temptation or need to eat a lot trying to 'fill the hole'. When I find myself overeating something, I also notice it's a food that tends to make me feel not particularly good after. When I choose what's right for me, a sensible portion size makes me feel satiated, not 'full' and I have no thought of hunting down something else to nibble on. That awful 'oh why'd I eat all that?' feeling just never happens after a good meal full of variety and taste that is composed of foods my body needs. I have decided it's far less important to try to minimize portions of things that don't satisfy me (which leads to wanting more), than it is to choose the right foods for me, and letting that sense of satiety tell me when I've had enough, and stopping when I hit that point. It's almost always less than I think I'm going to want.
And sometimes it can't be much helped - yesterday, I spent the day out handling some medical issues, in an area with limited options for good choices, ate more of what wasn't a great idea than I should have, and paid for it. Next time, I will remember that and make better plans for how to deal with a long day and the need to eat without resorting to the fast food options that seemed the most convenient choice at the time.
I still have a long way to go but that's because the journey is lifelong - there is no place to arrive, just the journey itself.
I have come to believe there is no one magic nutrition regimen that fits everyone - I'm on board with the philosophy of reading your own signals and ignoring what your body is telling you. What is right for now may not be right as your body continues to age and change. You also need to be flexible when you are undergoing a particular challenge to your health. So adaptability and awareness are going to help you a lot more than a list of rules.
What the My Life Balanced workbook provides are signposts along the way pointing out interesting scenery and travel tips. If any particular opportunity is not for you, let it go. But it's worthwhile to check out the ones that challenge you to veer off your beaten path a bit, just to see if you like what's there.
In the end though, it's your own journey and what you make of it is up to you alone.
Previous Posts in this Series:
My Life Balanced - Introduction to a New Series
My Life Balanced - 1st Progress Report
My Life Balanced: 120 Days Challenge (Heavy on the CHALLENGE!)
My Life Balanced: Meditation & Mindfulness