It’s been 4 weeks and 5 days since I started my Febfast health challenge. That’s 33 days of no alcohol, reducing my sugar intake and incorporating a new weights program into my weekly fitness plan. I know there aren’t 33 days in February, but that’s a teachers OCD, feeling more comfortable with a Sunday start date and a Friday end date. I must admit that when I weighed myself today at the gym, I was a little miffed that I’d only lost 3 kilos. I have stuck to it religiously. I work in a place that always has cakes on the shared staff table, and haven’t touched a single one. I have been quarantined with an infectious toddler (Hand, Foot and Mouth arrived in our home), and still managed to get to all my fitness sessions. Four Saturday nights have come and gone, and I have sat sipping tea after bubs has gone to bed instead of a decent red.
However, in spite of a measly 3 kilos in 33 days, I do feel stronger. I’m definitely more toned and I’m lifting heavier, which is great. Just as I thought, the physical aspect of this challenge for me hasn’t been a problem. I love getting to the gym and zoning out for an hour. If you are lifting, you cannot think of anything else, but the lift and the count. For me, it is the perfect meditation. So much easier for me to switch off doing this, then in the relaxation section of my weekly yoga class. I also get a real buzz out of running or HIIT classes. If I’m completely truthful, creating space for more fitness time is actually a reward, not a chore.
It was not too long ago that I stopped drinking for over 12 months. Being pregnant and demand feeding meant that alcohol was a no go for quite a while, so this aspect of my challenge was also not too tough. A couple of tantrum filled days at home definitely made me develop a thirst, but thank heavens for T2 and the so understanding and knowledgeable staff. They were able to recommend just the right beverage for the customer who requested a “ non caffeinated, fruity but not too much berry, chai style, but not too warming, uplifting but not sleep preventing, can be drunk warm, without milk but will also be great chilled” tea. Basically trying to translate my wine taste from grapes to plants, spices and herbs. Worth their weight in tea leaves those assistants.
Ever since I used “That Sugar Film” to introduce a unit on nutrition, I have been a little obsessed with the amount of the sweet stuff in our seemingly healthy mass-produced foods. A few years ago I was incredibly careful with my intake and had a Clean Eating approach. However, the convenience of buying muesli bars, yoghurt and sauces has taken a precedence. The ‘grab a sandwich and go’ mentality has replaced the once thoughtful and time-consuming lunch prep. It has required a conscious effort, not to avoid the cakes and chocolate, this isn’t the problem, but to read the labels properly to check on the hidden sugars and salt. The most recent recommendation is that under 400 mg of salt per 100 g is ok, but aim for under 120 mg. In regards to sugar, less than 3 g per 100 g is ok. 4 g is a teaspoon. When you can get some low-fat yoghurt that have up to 18 g per 100 g, it seriously makes me question how on earth they can be labelled as the healthy option. And don’t even start me on fruit juice – some can be as sugar laden as Cola. Finding anything ready-made without sugar in it is nearly impossible. The alternative is of course to make the time to prep food completely so that I know exactly what is in it. As much as this is difficult, I really hope that by bringing this back into my life, I might be able to impact Little M’s food choices as she grows up. We are lucky that we have a toddler who opts for veggies and fruit when faced with a variety of foods and as much as I am no cook, I am starting to try to involve her more and more in the food preparation at home. It is slow steps, with the odd failed attempt at toddler appealing treats, but it is at least a start to get back into the realms of managed nutrition.
Have the past 33 days been worth it? Absolutely. Would I do it again? Most definitely. Would I try to add, as a good friend of mine did, no sugar at all as well as no alcohol? No way! I may put a very high value on maintaining and improving my physical health, but I’m not that mad. Ice cream did replace the wine urge on a couple of occasions. And with no regrets either. Cheers to March, clink, clink.