40 Days and 40 Nights of Rules for Healthy Living

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

I was worried this would happen, and it has. Last summer and fall I was on fire with my new low-sugar, low-carb lifestyle. I was exercising more than ever and I felt great about my body and myself. I finished an Olympic distance triathlon. I lost a few pounds. I even started dating a wonderful, attractive, awesome guy, and I don't think it was a coincidence that love snuck in when my confidence was at an all time high.

Just after Christmas I left for a three and half month field season in Antarctica, the first month on a research vessel, the second two at Palmer Station. This was my third trip down, so I knew what I could expect in terms of food and exercise options on the ship and onshore, so I tried to mentally prepare for the decisions I would have to make. "If the prepared meal is not something you want to eat, don't. Focus on whatever veggies are available (if any) or stick to the almonds, peanuts, and yogurt that are usually available." And, "don't eat the cookies. You know you can't have just one and the supply is literally endless. One cookie eventually ends in you alone in your room with a pile of them, eating yourself sick."

This plan works sometimes, but I can't seem to get it to stick always. Last night was a perfect example. I had been eating well all day. I did a 20-minute audio yoga class with the group like we usually do before dinner. Dinner was fried fish or fried chicken, and french fries. There were no vegetables in sight. There was, however, a giant chocolate cake next to the buffet line. I had a split-second thought that I should scrounge something healthier from the leftover fridge instead, but I didn't want to hurt Fran's feelings so I got a small portion of fried dinner. And that left me craving cake. And that left me craving more. By the end of the day that started so well, I'd had three slices of cake, a scoop of cookie dough, and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

I know how to make the binging stop. I've been through this so many times before. The solution for me is to cut out sweets entirely. I'm like an alcoholic with sugar, one serving leads to 10.

Today is Ash Wednesday, the perfect day to start my sugar fast. I'm not religious in the slightest, but for the next 40 days, millions of people around the world are giving something up, so I'll join them. If that's not motivation enough, in 39 days Chris will be waiting for me at the Newark Airport and I want to look and feel just as great as I did (if not better!) when I left him in December.

Rules and daily goals for healthy living:
- No sweets (Nope, not even one. It's 40 days - you'll live)
- 2000 calorie limit (This one's a goal, not a rule. Sometimes when you're running a lot, it's just not enough, and that's okay - don't let a high calorie day derail you)
- 64 oz water a day (It makes you feel good and it curbs your appetite)
- Floss (It's amazing how much healthier this makes you feel. It doesn't really make sense, but go with it. It's good for you)
- Run around Oahu by the time you leave!

Don't feel guilty or embarrassed to go into the leftover fridge at a meal. Eat what you need to to stay physically and mentally healthy.

40 days is nothing. Ready? Go.

Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.

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