WEEK TWO: The Hunger Games
The movement commitment in this challenge, set our challenge apart from other cleanses, fad diets, detoxes and elimination diets. It meant being active pretty much every day! Activity level in participants ranged from beginners who chose fast paced walking for their 20 minutes of movement, to advanced individuals who chose high-intensity HIIT workouts for 20 – 40 minutes.
In all cases, participants seemed to experience hunger far more intensely the second week. One participant ended up eating his whole healthy lunch, that he had packed for the day, before 10 am! He joked afterward that he felt like a starved hunter – during his actual lunch break he ran out to grab an entire organic chicken from Farm Boy!
I consumed as much plant-based proteins as I could but my body really craved animal protein too, which was unusual for me. I opted for mostly free range chicken, turkey and organic eggs to keep me satiated. For sides, I found myself loading up on veggies like organic carrots, cabbage, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, broccoli, Brussel sprouts and a ton of organic green peas in my salads. My hunger dissipated as I fuelled with some extra animal protein and healthy vegetables.
Amino acids, b12, zinc and iron (found in most animal protein sources) are some nutrients needed for proper liver function, as well as proper muscle tissue repair and energy metabolism. Maybe levels of these nutrients and minerals were low and my cells were intuitively screaming for animal flesh?
I chalked up the ‘hunger games’ to the increased activity level and the elimination of caffeine – after all, it is an appetite suppressant. 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.
By week two, with no caffeine in my diet, I did feel pretty rested in the mornings which was great! My energy level usually lasted until late afternoon so I wasn’t tired for evening workouts. I still needed to eat small protein packed meals frequently to stabilize my blood sugar and to help fuel the day’s activity. Making a conscious effort to drink water was important for energy levels and workouts too! As long as I had enough snacks prepared, I could curb cravings and unsatiated feelings with a lot of healthy whole food. Plus, I wasn’t freaking out like I was the first week – by the end of week 2, this Katniss wasn’t about to be defeated by cravings, foggy brain or low energy levels!
The weekend movement challenge was tough! This was a bonus challenge that 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.
I choose the 90-minute hike for my first-weekend challenge so my Saturday was dedicated to the outdoors. When you have other commitments work, family, a business etc. 90 minutes dedicated towards hiking seems like an eternity but that was the experiment and I was curious about the results. Some weekends it meant getting up earlier or staying up a bit longer to complete the bonus round. On weekends that were busier and time was limited, I chose to complete the 45 minutes of mediation rather than the 90 minutes of movement.
The meditation challenge was defiant in a different way. I was tired after 90 minutes of movement but sitting still for 45, meant getting reacquainted with the language of my subconscious – and this was a scary thing. I had practiced sitting meditation before so I wasn’t brand new to the idea, but it had been a while. I was amazed at how fast the 45 minutes went by and was reminded of how liberating clearance of thought patterns could be. Meditation always reminds me of this quote, “rule your mind or it will rule you” – Buddha
Because this was a lifestyle cleanup, mastering our minds and cleaning up our thought patterns was work worth doing too! Just like we were taking time to workout, attention paid to our conscious and subconscious mind was also beneficial. Cultivating self-awareness and maybe altering some old behavioural and thought patterns could ultimately mean, not just spiritual but mental, emotional and even physical growth! I enjoyed the reduced levels of stress those 45 minutes gave me. I was proud of myself for choosing to sit in silence and I did feel focused, present and calm afterward.
Most participants chose hiking, or long walks and made it a family and friends event on the weekend. If you had little ones or teenagers this was a great outing to enjoy with other families and friends. We all agreed that the weekend bonus challenges became the highlight of the transformational challenge! Some participants got together and hiked as a team and it was a nice time to catch up and talk about how each of us was managing. Stories and recipes were shared and discussions about foods we missed and didn’t miss, made for a fun, positive and motivating experience!
Reaping the Benefits
By now meals were getting easier to prepare, recipes were circulating in group messages and everyone was coming up with new dishes, drinks and smoothies each day!
The end of week 2 marked almost the halfway point in our challenge. There was no turning back now! We were more motivated than ever. The beginning of week 2 brought on hunger and chaos, but we fought hard to curb cravings and balance blood sugar through frequent meals and movement. Heading into week 3 we were on top of our game, feeling good and noticing results!
Stay tuned for Week 3 of The 35 Day Ultimate Lifestyle Transformational Challenge: Growing awareness