Last month, Jeff and I embarked on the Whole Foods September Challenge. For me, it was a way to try to figure out what foods were still bothering me after going gluten and dairy-free. For him, it was a different kind of challenge. I’ll let him tell you about it…
I’ve been an active individual as far back as I can remember. I played every sport imaginable growing up and was outside in the summers from dawn until dark. In school I really latched onto baseball and ended up getting a scholarship to play at the University of Oklahoma and eventually signed to play professional baseball for parts of 8 years with the Chicago White Sox and Arizona Diamondbacks. I say all that not to brag but to point out that I’ve never really had to “watch what I eat” or really worry about working out because it’s always been a built in thing for me.
After retiring from baseball I didn’t want to “expand” like so many ex-ballplayers I knew. So I stayed active and fed my competitive side by running, hiking, playing basketball, and mountain biking. However, during the past year or so, I’ve really started to notice changes in my body due to some bad eating habits and a lack of a routine when it comes to working out. I work with some of the top athletes in the world but I was neglecting my own body as I would daily walk right past the state-of-the-art Diamondbacks minor league gym to go crush soda and pound candy in the coaches room. (I have one of the worst sweet tooth’s ever!)
The bottom line? I was sick of looking and feeling like I did all the time. I was also sick of reading all of these motivational quotes, getting inspired, and then doing nothing about my situation.
“To begin, begin.”
“Action always beats intention.”
“There is no diet that will do what eating healthy does. Skip the diet. Just eat healthy.”
“Your desire to change must be greater than your desire to stay the same.”
So when Alysa decided to do the Whole Foods September Challenge as a way to try to eliminate some of the foods that were making her feel bad, I decided to join her. I’ll be the first to admit it was more out of selfish reasons than out of just supporting my wife, although that was a major motivating factor as well.
I don’t believe in “diets” as they’re so difficult to maintain long-term but for the Whole Foods Challenge it was an elimination of sugar, bread, grains, dairy, alcohol, and all processed foods for 30 days. I knew going in I wouldn’t have to eliminate these for the rest of my life but I thought the challenge would be worth it and then at the end of 30 days I might incorporate certain foods once again while continuing to eat better overall.
Days 1-3 flat out sucked! I had no idea what an addiction to sugar I had. I had headaches the first 3 days and on the 3rdnight, I had the shakes as I was trying to fall asleep. That was a real eye-opener for me! It was the closest thing to withdrawals I had ever experienced. On Day 4 things started to change as I began to have a lot more energy and actually felt a lot more focused throughout the day.
For meals I basically ate a big salad with a ton of vegetables for lunch with either fish, chicken, pork, or steak and would snack on fruit, nuts, and Larabars. A LOT of Larabars! They’re one of the only bars that are made up of solely fruit and nuts without any processed garbage. They actually kept me full which helped out a lot. For dinner Alysa usually made some amazing meal from her repertoire. We had In-n-Out twice during the challenge which was nice. I was able to have a protein burger, double meat, lettuce, tomato, grilled onions, pickles, chili peppers, and no sauce. Unbelievable! We also had been avoiding potatoes and starches, but as fresh as their fries were, we were ok with the splurge.
As far as exercise goes, I am running in a Tough Mudder in February of 2013 with some friends and figured this was a great time to start training. In September I started running 3 times a week building from 1 to 3 miles by the end of the month. I also started doing some light 30 minute workouts the other 3 days of the week.
At the end of the 30 days I felt better overall, was more focused, had more energy, and lost 14 pounds. It was no joke and was very tough at times but it’s just one of those things you have to commit to doing if you’re tired of feeling like crap. I had gotten to the point where I was fired up at myself for wanting to do something for so long but had never put the action behind my intentions. If a guy like me who had a major sugar addiction could stick to this challenge for 30 days, survive, and actually endorse it, there is hope for anyone.
If any quote stuck with me at the end of the Whole Foods Challenge it was this one:
“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.”
What is your motivation?