Diet and Motivation.
I hinted in an earlier post that this could make it’s own entry, and here it is. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve had to cut weight for various things; fights being the obvious one. No one wants to lose a fight by default because they couldn’t make weight. I had one marathon where I was injured (getting hit by a truck will do that to you) but wanted to at least start the race. In order for that to be a remote reality, I had to take the final two weeks off of running. That was difficult enough, but I also didn’t want to gain tons of weight from suddenly not running and have an even more difficult time during the run. So I watched everything I ate and drank and actually dropped a few pounds prior to race time.
During those times, I found it easy to say no to alcohol, no to foods I shouldn’t be eating, get my sleep, etc. For some reason just losing weight so my pants will fit a little better or sticking to a diet just to see if it makes a difference, doesn’t give me the same impetus. I am healthy, I exercise, I look absolutely fine. And even though I’m not talking about starving myself or depriving myself of anything really necessary, it’s still a difficult mental exercise.
I thought about motivation a lot during the last fourteen days. When you’ve got a fight coming up, it’s easy. You train hard. You eat well so that you can train hard and you avoid the crap so that you make weight. You’re also busy, you’re training, you’re tired. You want nothing more when you’re done than to shower and go to bed. You also have an end goal: the fight. And usually you’re not the only one training for a fight. There are generally other fighters around doing the same things. It's encouraging to have a team.
“Get healthier.” Is so vague. Even though there was an end point (fourteen days), the tangible thing that you’re striving for seems so much more nebulous. Eat less sugar. Change up the healthy menu. Reset after the holidays. So on and so on.
With the marathon, I had a specific goal. I wanted to be able to start the marathon that I had trained hard all summer for and I wanted not to be in excruciating pain while I ran however many miles I was able to run. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t causing my battered body any further damage. Serious motivation. Eat healthy, don’t drink, do some gentle water exercise, stretching as you can, keep up with the physical therapy. (I ended up being able to finish the marathon in 4:07, much to my -and everyone else’s- surprise, with the aid of borrowed compression pants, lots of rest, support and advice from pros and constant stretching during the race.). Still, the stakes were hugely high.
Wanting to avoid potential cancer in the future by cutting out Splenda in my coffee? I mean, yes, that’s important and laudable, but… It lacks the immediacy that makes it ultimately high stakes. And who knows if I will or will not get cancer someday anyway.
Even something like looking good in my wedding photos (my motivation through last winter) was more tangible than the less shallow health goals of this winter. It also has the glow of happiness about it and the endorphin boost that automatically comes when you have something exciting to look forward to. Every time I got on that treadmill for another grueling round of interval sprints, I could turn on my headphones and imagine what my first dance might be like, what my guests might do or say, anything that could possibly happen and it was all happy and fun. Every time I packed a healthy salad or made a low calorie slow cooker meal I could imagine my wedding cake and alllllll the champagne that was going to be mine mine mine.
For the last fourteen days nothing really stretched before me but the possibility of no sugar in my coffee forever and liking it. Less cake forever. No booze for two weekends. Maybe dropping some pounds before my honeymoon (but I would look fine in the bikini even if I didn’t drop any so…) and learning some new healthy recipes. All pretty bland stuff.
So what helped?
Having someone go through it with me was immensely important. Dean and I managed to commit and it kind of felt like we were in the trenches together, wading through this miasma of bread stuffs made of rice and milk made of nuts together. When one of us had a weak moment, the other was usually able to be encouraging. (Fortunately, our weak moments were vastly different, which probably also helped.). We also discovered some things we really enjoyed doing together and the whole thing became a great bonding experience.
Starting on the Monday of a really busy week helped. This may just be me, but having all of my meals laid out the Sunday before and having nothing to do but reach in and grab helped a lot. We were also so busy opening the show and getting back into the swing of work after the holidays that we were pretty much just ready to go to bed when we got home. I was happy to just eat what was prepared, get through my day, read a few chapters in my warm bed and then drift off to sleep. That made the first five days easy.
Results. It helped to start seeing results right away. I began to feel a difference in my piriformis right away, within the first week. I saw the scale dropping after three days. My clothes started fitting better after the first week. My skin started improving after days. I felt AWESOME pretty much every day. I’m sure everyone will feel differently and have different results, but that’s what I experienced.
Being completely fascinated by the process both inside and out. It was so interesting to me to watch how I reacted to the parameters of this cleanse and to parse out the 'why's.' Why do I feel like I need this right now? Why is this so important to me? Etc. It was also interesting to see the differences in how Dean reacted and how I did. Things that were difficult for Dean were completely different than things that were hard for me. For instance, he REALLY hated that apple cider vinegar shot in the morning. So much that one the weekends he didn't want to get out of bed. After the first couple of days it didn't bother me at all.
The completely unexpected benefit of my piriformis giving me less pain was HUGE for me. I understand that not everyone would have that experience, but for me at least, it was an indication that changes were REALLY happening beyond just losing a few pounds. I was a pretty healthy person before this cleanse. I tried to eat well, I exercised every day and even had a good alternating schedule of strength training, cardio, yoga, etc. I didn’t expect huge results, so it was amazing when I got some.
I think some lifestyle changes have been made for me and that was pretty much my goal here. We'll see what happens going forward, but I'm hopefully that, at least mentally, it will be easier from here on out!