The Challenge that Started It All
Back in March, my amazing mom-friend, cross fit coach and chiropractor, Dr. Nichelle Gurule who focuses on pregnancy and post-partum health (if you’re in the Boulder area, check out Gaia Health– and, why yes, that mom and baby on the website likely DO look familiar 😉 ) organized a month-long quest dubbed “Mamas on a Mission.” It was an opportunity for fellow moms to support and encourage one another to eat clean, be more active and devote more time to self-care.
Before this, I thought I was eating clean. But this challenge made me realize how the token phrase “It’s okay in moderation” was my go-to justification. Eating dessert any time I had a healthy dinner? That’s the “moderation” I was telling myself was healthy. The hard truth was that I was addicted to sugar. Nichelle put it best: When you think you can’t possibly give something up (sugar, chocolate, bread), that’s a sign of addiction.
Each time us moms accomplished one of the challenge’s tasks– such as trying out a new healthy recipe, going the entire day without any processed sugar or getting in a legit workout– we would post about it on our private Facebook page and then award ourselves a point. Nichelle even gave us a packet so that we could track the various tasks we completed each day (my type-A obsession with checking boxes LOVED this).
This challenge was so inspiring and so motivating that it made me want to do it every day beyond the month. I loved seeing other moms’ “check-ins” and all the encouragement that followed. I had never before been a part of such an empowering community where women genuinely cheered each other on. Yes, it was competitive, but it was as though we all knew that our biggest opponent was ourselves. We truly wanted each other to succeed.
After the first challenge, I continued living sugar free for a few days… And then my husband suggested ordering pizza. And then I went out for drinks with some friends. And then there was our vacation to LA. And before I knew it, I was back on the sugar train.
I realized that as much as I thrived on the sugar-free lifestyle, I needed to stop approaching it with an all-or-nothing mentality.
Currently, I just finished up the second round of this challenge. I’ve regained my momentum and motivation. I have a renewed focus, and I also ran 50 miles in 28 days– a personal physical goal of mine. This time, I approached it a little more realistically. Have I had a couple of nights where I wasn’t completely sugar free? Honestly, yes. Compared to the last challenge where I went 28 straight days without sugar, I did have a couple of evenings where we went to a football game or were at a party and I had a glass of wine (okay, fine, two). Or a slice of pizza (okay, it was three. And, if we’re really being honest here, I enjoyed every bite).
BUT… here’s the difference. Knowing I’m going to have dessert or a glass of wine gets me to think differently about the start of the day. Rather than approaching it as a “cheat day” where I can eat crappy all day long, I aim to eat two clean meals before I hop off the sugar-free train momentarily.
In the long run, I see this being more realistic for myself and am hopeful that this approach, along with this blog, will encourage cleaner eating for the long haul.
Thank you, Nichelle for being an incredible inspiration, coach and friend. Also, thank you to the wonderful Victoria Pane for the amazing recipes (check out her delicious, healthy meals at Healthy Plan Meal Site) and to all the #mamasonamission for the encouragement to keep going. This community has been, and continues to be, a beautiful, life-changing gift.