Why I’m doing a 21-day health and fitness challenge
Last month, I turned 51. Elijah was ill in hospital and I was eating my way through a serious amount of comfort food in response to all the stress and uncertainty.
The morning after my birthday, I woke up with a renewed sense that it’s time to focus on my health and wellbeing and shift some weight. I wrote a list of things that were playing on my mind:
- I eat when I’m stressed or unhappy
- My hair is thinning (flippin’ hormones!)
- My skin is patchy and gets worse when I’m stressed
- I’m not happy with my appearance
- My belly looks pregnant
- My weight is having a serious impact on my joints, which are already problematic because of having Apert Syndrome
- Every day I wake with more stiffness, aches and pains
- I have Type 2 diabetes and will end up on medication if I don’t lose some weight
- I have non-alcoholic liver disease
- Gastro reflux
Above all, the biggest takeaway is that I WANT TO FEEL BETTER IN MY OWN SKIN.
Looking at the list, I found myself feeling focused, determined and invigorated to take control. I realised that it’s completely within my power to put change into action and improve my health, fitness and wellbeing.
But where to start?
Resetting my habits with a 21-day challenge
I found a health and fitness challenge online that combines healthy eating with a 21-day exercise programme. I’ve taken part in these kind of challenges before but have never quite seen them through to the end.
I’m determined this time will be different.
The aim of the 21-day challenge is to kickstart a change of lifestyle, including better food choices, healthier portion sizes and more daily activity. During the three weeks of the challenge, I will be having two nutritionally-balanced shakes a day, two snacks, two litres of water, and a healthy cooked meal packed full of fresh ingredients. I’ll also be following the daily workouts whenever possible.
The reason the challenge approach appeals to me so much is that there’s an online community of people who are doing the 21 days together. Every day, we’re encouraged to post pictures of our meals and chat in the community about how we’re feeling. There’s a sense that we’re all in it together and cheering each other on, which is fantastic.
My Green and Lean plan
Something I’ve realised is that, in order for the challenge to make a difference, I need a plan, especially when it comes to knowing what to eat. My life is hectic and it would be so easy to lose focus, especially on weekends when Elijah and I are at Charlton Farm for respite, or if Elijah has to suddenly go into hospital (fingers crossed that won’t happen!).
With this in mind, I went back to the Honestly Healthy Green and Lean cookbook that I’d purchased some time ago. This is packed full of nutritious vegetarian recipes that, as a foodie, I love eating. But the real gem is a weekly shopping list that lays out clearly what I need to buy. I can’t tell you what a relief it is to walk into the kitchen and know that I have everything I need to make a tasty meal that will nourish my body.
Mood, mindset and measurements
I’ve decided to keep a diary to chart my progress through the 21-day challenge, especially my mood, mindset and measurements - keep an eye on the Elijah’s Hope website as it’s destined to turn into a blog post!
I’ve been thinking a lot about my relationship with food as a source of comfort. How funny that we often see sugary desserts and heavily refined carbs as ‘treats’ and yet we’re not treating our bodies well when we eat them too often.
I know I need to challenge my habits and focus on kinder, more effective methods of self-care.
I feel that, like me, the world is primed for change at the moment. There finally seems to be a shift away from the misery of yo-yo dieting and one definition of beauty to something infinitely more balanced and respectful to our bodies. Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes – the key is to be as healthy, both physically and mentally, as we can be.
At last, we’re beginning to embrace cultural diversity, disability, mental health, etc. within what it means to feel good about yourself. This resonates with me – I’m ready to feel content within my own skin.
I will enjoy this 21-day challenge because it’s all about hitting reset on your appetite and eating consciously without banning specific foods. There’s no sense of deprivation or of extremes – instead, I like the message that everything is fine in moderation.
I also believe this challenge will fit in well with my busy life. The virtue of the plan is that you can choose which meal of the day you want to have as your cooked meal. Different options will work on different days. I also prep my shakes first thing in the morning so that I can just grab one for my other two mealtimes. When you never know what the day will bring, convenience and reliability are everything.
So, there we have it. Wish me luck! I’ll let you know how I get on later in the month. And, of course, give me a shout if you’d like to know how to join the challenge yourself.