November has (finally) come to an end! Tomorrow, I can once again partake in the convenience and enjoyment of restaurants, and I. Am. Ready.
Despite my eagerness to enjoy some sushi, or a burrito, this month has been incredibly rewarding and a great shove in the right direction. It vaguely reminds me of the time I gave up cheese for Lent, however this time I did not seek out artificial cheese.
As I reflect on the past month, some great strides have been made in my habits and health – the whole point of the exercise. Here are some lessons learned, habits formed and general notes.
1.) My meal planning got better. I don’t mean. Specifically, my groceries did not spoil before I got to them. When your only option is what’s in your kitchen, you find yourself going for the things you don’t want to go to waste. Before, if I knew all I had in the fridge was some broccoli, OF COURSE anything else that I can pick up on the way home sounds far better, and allows me to convince myself it’s more convenient.
2.) My grocery bill went up. Way up. I found that I went to the store every 2-3 days. I like this more. It meant that I finished the broccoli before I purchased the cauliflower. It meant that I never had to eat out, because at the very minimum, there was a lean cuisine in the fridge. See – take away your options and you will find another way….
3.) It takes a tremendous amount of willpower. ‘Nuff said.
4.) It can get a little awkward on a date. Thankfully (or depressingly), I only had one date all month. We had beers instead, which kept the date casual.
5.) It’s empowering. Taking on this challenge felt like removing training wheels, cutting the umbilical cord, or moving out of your parent’s house. To say I don’t NEED that food was so different than I can’t HAVE that food. To want something, but recognize that it’s impractical for whatever reason, and not get it, makes me feel like a grown up.
6.) It’s totally doable. I challenge you to do it for just one week.
7.) It can make you ill – like if you’re locked in a conference room full of fragrant sandwiches. Yes, this happened. We had a company meeting over lunch. Deli sandwiches and chips were brought in and the doors were shut. All I remember is how strong the smell of the sandwiches was, and how odd it is to be slightly hungry (it wasn’t yet my lunch time), be exposed to food both visually and through scent, and to not eat. It made me feel like one of Pavlov’s dogs. I had to excuse myself, throw up in the rest room, and then I felt fine. This never happens to me.
8.) There were definitely some loopholes to look out for, such as drinking out (beers, milkshakes, starbucks), grocery store prepared items (roasted chicken, prepared chicken/tuna salads), and there was plenty of grey areas (chips & salsa, cookies, cupcakes).
9.) This one is the most important. It really encourages healthy habits, such as cooking your own food, knowing where your food comes from, and planning your meals. There were more than a few times, particularly when I left work really late, where I wished I could pick up some food on the way home – nights when I left work 2-3 hours before I was supposed to go to bed. But, it was a lesson in preparedness. Even as I write this, I can recall reading this sort of tip in any slew of weight loss articles – “have healthy snacks all around you,” “keep the following in your pantry at all times….” Only now does it really resonate with me. WHY on why did it take so long?