30 Day Nutrition Challenge – Week Four & Final Thoughts
Well here we are, fast approaching the end of the 30 day nutrition challenge set by my local crossfit box.
There are technically still 2 days to go, but I will wrap it all up in this final part four blog.
Last week I was faced with a bit of an injury, which unfortunately only worsened over the past 4 or 5 days, limiting my movement/exercise. Limiting it to non-existent actually!
After a couple of trips to the doc and a scan to check things out, it appears I have a torn muscle in my back causing me a bit of grief with certain movements and deep breathing. It was decided I needed to completely rest it for a week and cross my fingers it is happier before I return to the doctor this week.
A couple of years ago I started running for the first time in my life, and after a break from it I have been thinking about taking it up again – there’s nothing else quite like that runner’s high you get when you cover a distance you didn’t think you could! But for now, I just need to rest and heal so I can get back moving in any capacity!
As far as my nutrition went last week, it was pretty good! There were a few deviations along the way (including an incredible Korean bbq lunch and perhaps a chocolate frappe one day!) but overall, I stuck to the guidelines as prescribed.
The further into the challenge I got, the more I realised that this way of eating is not something that I would want to pursue long term, and in all fairness, it was never designed for that.
I knew that signing up to this challenge would be exactly that – challenging!
The following three aspects were the ones I found most challenging:
1. The hard and fast list of ‘allowable’ foods.
Although it was quite extensive, I do enjoy having food freedom. If I have something special planned, I like to enjoy the food (and drink) on offer with no guilt about whether I am ‘allowed’ to eat it or not. I also prefer to listen to my body and eat when hungry, rather than having to eat a certain amount of food every day.
2. Plenty of carbs!
Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy my carbs, in fact I love them. Not every day, and not with every meal.
Sure, I eat some carbs every day (most often in the form of fruit and veggies), but most grains don’t seem to agree with me and that seemed to be the easiest choice during this challenge. You were encouraged to include a significant portion of carbs with each meal, and I found myself most often having potato or fruit to fill that requirement.
3. Low-fat dairy.
I’ll admit, I struggled with this recommendation, despite understanding why they chose to prescribe it.
Dairy and fat are two big nutritional topics that are up for debate often these days. Dairy? No dairy? Low fat dairy? Low fat anything? Good fats, bad fats. No fats. What should we be doing? I can’t answer that question, nor do I believe anyone can give a one size fits all answer to that question, but I would encourage everyone to research and experiment.
Keep a diary of what you are eating and how it makes you feel. Bloated, foggy, sick? Satisfied, hormonally balanced, well-rested? Personally, I am an advocate of moderate healthy fats such as olives, coconut oil, animal fat (from grass fed/free range animals), avocado, olive oil, etc.
If you tolerate dairy well, you could also include full fat butter, cream, milk etc. It keeps me satiated, reduces my inflammation and stabilises my moods.
By cutting fats during this challenge (combined with eating more carbs) I could feel a difference, particularly with inflammation.
On the flipside, there were some things I really enjoyed about this challenge.
At the start of the 30 days, I mentioned that I had become quite complacent with my nutrition of late.
This challenge was a great tool for making me more mindful about what I was eating, how much I was eating and when, and how it made me feel.
This was probably my biggest takeaway from the past 30 days, and something I am going to continue to be aware of. Less eating on the run mindlessly, more planning and making time to sit and eat peacefully, purposely.
2. Trying new things.
When given a list of ‘allowable’ foods including some things you don’t normally eat, of course you are going to experiment and try new things!
I enjoyed seeing some new things on my plate (even if they didn’t agree with me greatly) and creating some new recipes to share with my family.
3. Feeling GOOD!
Who doesn’t like feeling good? Within the first few days of the day challenge, I physically felt some benefits.
As previously mentioned, I have IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and some foods on this program don’t agree with my body. Despite all of that, overall, I certainly feel better than I did immediately prior to the challenge. By day 5, the bloating I had been dealing with more often than not for the previous couple of months literally disappeared.
Now I have no doubt that there were various factors that contributed to this, but none more so than reverting back to simple wholefoods! The days where I did experiment with rice, too much fruit or potato, bread etc, I found those symptoms quickly reappeared.
All in all though, over the past 30 days I have felt more energised, am sleeping better, and most days have less inflammation that I previously did.
So How Did I Do?
As you know, we have been earning and accumulating points throughout the challenge, and I set myself a mini goal of 100 points in the 30 days.
Week two was pretty much a wipe out thanks to our holiday laden with delicious, non-compliant, food (if you had more than one meal that didn’t follow the guidelines you could not earn any food points). I have also done a lot less exercise over the last 30 days than I normally would, again due to being away and my current injury, and certainly less than what I anticipated – but that is life, we will always have things pop up and challenges presented to us.
During week 4 I accumulated 30 points – a slight improvement on the previous week, but not quite what I was hoping for. Today I have added another 5 points to that, bringing me to a total of 86 points for 28 days. With two days to go, if I stick to the challenge 100% with zero deviations, I could earn an additional 14 points, bringing me to bang on 100! However, I’m still not allowed to exercise so, that won’t happen!
Regardless of the points earned, I have enjoyed doing the 30-day nutrition challenge.
I did find it challenging, and most importantly I found it to be a good tool for being mindful again.
If you are contemplating any changes to your lifestyle or eating habits, please do your research and remember that everybody is unique – what works for someone else to make them feel great, may not do the same for you, and vice versa.
Of course, if you have any questions or concerns, please speak to a health practitioner.
Above all, listen to your body – she knows the answers, and wants you to feel good!