During March and April, I shared via Orange Naturals blog one of the greatest transformational experiences, I have ever had. Not only was I reenergized through better eating, movement and mindfulness – I watched people around me tenaciously work to improve their health and transform their lifestyles! A group of family members and myself, decided to embark on a 35 day journey of no wheat, no gluten, no sugar, no dairy, no processed food and no alcohol! We committed to a whole foods lifestyle free of these ingredients, but also committed to moving our bodies everyday. We called it – The 35 Day Ultimate Lifestyle Transformational Challenge!
Just incase any of you out there are looking to eat better, drink better, sleep better, poop better, so you can feel and live better – today’s blog post will recapture for you the most notable moments from our journey. I will share the best tips and tricks you need to set yourself up for success each week, so that making change towards achieving better health becomes your reality.
For 35 days or more if you wish, follow the guidelines below:
The Food Challenge:
No wheat, no gluten, no dairy, no caffeine, no sugar, no processed foods, no alcohol.
The Movement Challenge:
To complete a minimum of five 20 minutes or longer workouts (continuous exercise) a week. That could mean walking, running, hiking, swimming, yoga, bodyweight training, weight training or a combination of any of the above. Just continuous exercise for a minimum of 20 minutes – five days a week or more!
The Weekend Bonus Challenge:
This bonus challenge required you to do 90 minutes of continuous activity, just like the weekly movement but longer (walking, running, hiking, swimming, yoga, bodyweight training, weight training or a combination of any of the above). You could choose this or you could choose mindful meditation for 45 minutes.
Points were given for each day you played by the food rules and completed the required movement! Points were lost if you deviated in any way from the agreement. Weekend challenges gave everyone a chance to earn extra points either by completing the movement or meditation challenge.
In the end, the person with the most amount of points won The 35 Day Ultimate Lifestyle Transformation Challenge! The entry fee was 100 dollars and an agreement, to be honest – and the winner would take all.
5 Things You Need to Know About Week One:
Managing cravings and sticking to the movement and food guidelines the first week, was like having a full-time second job! The first 3 – 4 days were the hardest and if eating whole foods and finding regular movement, is new to you – it will take everything you have to stay on track. Stick with it! I promise you it will all be worth it and in the end, you will be glad, that you didn’t cut corners.
- If you are a coffee lover and drink it daily this might be your biggest obstacle. If you can make it past day 3, the cravings, heaviness and headaches will gradually fade away.
- Substitute habits. I chose lemon water or apple cider vinegar in warm water first thing in the morning. I also sipped on water, organic maple syrup with freshly squeezed lemon and cayenne spice.
- Purchase whole foods! If earth made it you’re clear – if man made it beware! If it has a label on it, you probably won’t be eating it.
- Get chopping! Clean out your fridge and set up your kitchen to be chop ready. Have containers ready to pack lots of food and store extra chopped vegetables in the fridge.
- Be honest with yourself. This was meant to be a transformative challenge. Following the guidelines once and awhile won’t allow for real change. If you commit to the food and movement requirements, you will thank your future self!
Week Two: The Hunger Games
With week one behind us, we felt a little more confident heading into week 2. The elimination of caffeine (appetite suppressant) and increased activity levels made me one hungry girl! I needed to eat small protein packed meals frequently to stabilize my blood sugar levels, help fuel the day’s activity and keep me satiated. Making a conscious effort to drink more water also helped my energy levels. My biggest reason for wanting to kick my coffee habit circled around concerns regarding mineral loss and nutrient depletion. Maintaining or improving good bone health means being proactive about how your minerals are consumed, transported and hopefully absorbed in the body. I remembered this every time I felt like giving in and going for that cup a joe.
- Eat less more often – stabilize blood sugar levels and replace glucose stores.
- You will be hungry so be prepared! Plant-based proteins are preferred but aim for free range or grass fed beef when you do crave meat.
- Your body needs nutrients – what better time than now to load up on leafy greens and nutrient-dense foods to combat nutrient deficiencies. Explore different vegetables, spices and fruits you might not normally consume. Remember to eat fruit away from other foods for proper digestion.
- Get outside! For the weekend bonus challenges, I connected with others outside for a healthy dose of nature. 90 minutes is a long time to be continuously moving and what better place to do it than amongst the trees, where fresh oxygen supply is rich.
- Pay attention to your thought patterns! The meditation challenge offered us a chance to get in touch with the subtext of our subconscious. The language we speak to ourselves has a powerful outcome on our wellbeing. Awareness is the first step in finding real change.
Week Three: Growing Awareness
- Workouts don’t get easier but you do get stronger and you do start to feel good!
- There doesn’t have to be anything fancy about exercising or eating well – get the job done any way you can. If it means climbing the stairs on your lunch hour or squeezing in a late night workout in the basement – make movement and healthy eating a priority.
- There will be sacrifice. You may not get invited to that 40th birthday party because your friends heard you weren’t drinking. If you do, then don’t lose sight of your goal. You have been working so hard – don’t give up now.
- Connecting with like-minded individuals can be motivating and inspiring. Stay connected! Beginner or advanced – everyone needs support!
- Daily habits make up your lifestyle! A simple yet key fact – don’t forget this. Our daily actions, language, and thoughts all impact who we become. Remember also, to be flexible and forgiving towards yourself. Take time to praise yourself on how far you have come.
Life Enemies: Sugar and Stress
After week three, participants collectively noticed positive changes. It was pretty much smooth sailing for the last week. Coffee had been long forgotten about. Cravings had subsided. There was a glow in each one of us that hadn’t been there before. Exciting recipes were circling around the group and there was a positive buzz in the air – mainly because we were all feeling so good.
Every member of the challenge had their own physical, mental and emotional obstacles to overcome. You will too if you decide to make a lifestyle change! One of the best parts of this challenge was hearing stories about each-others journeys along the way. I watched some of my family members transform and I was as equally inspired as I was proud.
There will never be a “good” time to commit to a transformational challenge. The bottom line is, if you want to create change in your life – you have to commit daily to see results!
In any environment making changes can be tough. Usually, it’s social events that make long-term habitual change, difficult for people. If you have a wedding to go to, a bridal shower, a birthday party, a holiday event or work gathering, it can be hard to stick to your commitments. As mentioned before, sacrifice is definitely a key element in being successful. In those tough moments, I remind myself to invest in my health now or pay later! I also remind myself to be creative by exploring different kinds of social outings like outdoor activities, healthy potlucks, dance classes, walking groups, hiking trails or cycling in a group.
We all agreed in the end, that indulging sometimes in foods we didn’t eat on the challenge, would be okay. And that moderation would be key in reintroducing some of these foods back into our lives! After all, it isn’t what you eat some of the time that affects your health, it’s what you eat most of the time that does! It is also what you drink, think and do most of the time. It all adds up.
It certainly doesn’t have to be this transformational challenge, but if you want to make some healthy lifestyle changes – I encourage you with an open mind to go for it!
Maybe you start out eliminating the foods and drinks you know are causing you harm. Pick one thing and try to let it go for five, ten or fifteen days. Gradually working your way up to eliminating it most of the time. Over the course of a year try this several times and see how you feel afterward.
Sugar and stress are by far the worst enemies of our immune systems. They hinder our health and speed unwanted conditions and disease in the body. If we can manage intake and levels of these elements, you will be by default, living a healthier lifestyle. That is what The 35 Day Ultimate Lifestyle Challenge is all about – creating a lifestyle that 80% of the time is free from this deathly duo.
I know that after completing this 35 day challenge, I felt a huge difference in energy levels. I had no brain fog, I was having regular bowel movements with no signs of a troubled digestive system and my skin was looking and feeling better than ever.
The Final Radish: Who got all the money?
What I loved most was seeing some family members and friends who had joined, find better health and a new sense of themselves. Some of them had never committed to something like this before and reached personal fitness and health goals.
Everyone made a solid effort to clean up their lifestyle through eating well and moving our bodies every single day, so in the end, we decided to all take back our $100!
We put the money towards a large celebratory family dinner. We had an abundance of nutritious whole food based dishes, made by all that were gluten, wheat, dairy and sugar-free. We celebrated with some red wine! Relishing in each sip, we enjoyed the new taste on our palate. After our nutritious meal and delicious wine, we embarked on a long walk down the road to get the blood pumping and move our bodies once again!
It was an amazing journey that I will never forget, I was proud of myself and inspired by my family and friends. More than ever I knew that good health had to be earned, daily, weekly, monthly. Our daily choices would untimely shape our lifestyle and contribute to our overall well-being and longevity. The work was worth it!
I reminded myself at our celebratory dinner, that the most important things in life, are not things at all and that good health meant being able to enjoy time with the ones I loved!
Let your awareness start to expand this month and make a healthy lifestyle change that you have always wanted to make! In honour of National Nutrition Month, I embarked on The Ultimate 35 Day Lifestyle Transformational Challenge again this past March and am planning on doing it again fall 2017!
I wish you all a nutrient-dense spring and summer – full of good food, lots of movement and well being for you and your loved ones!
Incase you missed it check out:
- Week #1 in The 35 Day Ultimate Lifestyle Transformational Challenge: Chop Chop Chop
- Week #2 in The 35 Day Ultimate Lifestyle Transformational Challenge: The Hunger Games
- Week #3 in The 35 Day Ultimate Lifestyle Transformational Challenge: Growing Awareness
- Ever gone gluten, dairy, wheat or caffeine free? Comment below, we want to hear all about your experience!
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