Weeks 2 and 3 of Leanne’s experience of the Own it Fit 6 week challenge. It’s interesting to read the mental changes that Leanne has towards food in week 2. In week 1, she felt as though she wanted to give up and week 2 is now embracing the change and also started to enjoy cooking in which she never had the desire to do before. In week 3 Leanne faced a big challenge of going to work a function and not being able to drink alcohol as well as being exposed to foods that were not listed as part of the challenge.
Week 2: “Do one thing every day that scares you” – Eleanor Roosevelt
I’m going to confess that I am not a cook. I have managed to get away letting the other people in my life make meals for me with the agreement that I will clean up after them. My parents both enjoy cooking, I have a very accomplished sister who is a chef & my boyfriend enjoys watching the food channel and cooking up yummy Asian dishes. It’s suited me fine up til recently. At some point during the last year I’ve begun to realise that whenever I have had to fend for myself I would simply reheat leftovers or order takeaway which is not ideal when one is trying to get healthy. One of my goals in this 6 week challenge was to learn to cook more dishes & make yummy but healthy recipes. Even though this goal may seem incredibly basic to some, I’ve always been fearful of what people will think of my dishes especially when so much of what we do as humans revolves around food (think special occasions & events!). In any case I was determined to try and now that the detox period had passed I decided that week 2 would be my first attempt at mastering the culinary arts.
At first searching for recipes with so many restrictions was not easy but once you know where to look there are a heap of great blogs/recipe sites on the net that will help even the fussiest of eaters (Google paleo recipes and see what comes up if you get stuck). Mel also provided us with a recipe booklet during week one which is loaded with basic and yummy recipes to try out for breakfast, lunch & dinner and she also included posts with more recipes in our closed group forum on Facebook complete with pictures. I started off with a variation of a recipe that I had only tried with assistance once before: Salmon poached in coconut water with sweet potato mash & steamed broccoli. Thankfully it turned out brilliantly and gave me the confidence to try a few more recipes out based on Mel’s recipe booklet. They were all simple and yummy (including a burger that used Portobello mushrooms as a bun!) and because of the variety of meals it didn’t feel like I was on a “diet” but rather it felt like I would have whipped up these types of dishes even if I was not on this challenge. In fact by the end of week two I was beginning to think that I might have missed something, the variety of dishes you can make is great once you got the hang of it.
By the end of week two I had begun to conquer my fear of cooking but I also noticed some other great benefits too. My energy levels were high and training was feeling much easier than normal. Appearance wise my eyes were whiter, my waist had lost a cm but one of the most significant changes was that my skin had improved dramatically – PCOS usually results in acne breakouts especially around the jaw line and mouth area (usually the only way to get rid of this is to go on a contraceptive pill such as Diane which has been known to have other side effects such as blood clots). Week two was definitely a lot easier than week one!
Tip for week 2: By the end of week two you will have a better understanding on the types of meals/foods that your body enjoys as part of the diet. It’s a great time to start experimenting with your meals and trying things that you maybe haven’t tried before. The worst that could happen is that you don’t enjoy what you make. My best discovery for week two wasn’t technically something I even had to cook – it was chia seed porridge for breakfast. Definitely worth a try if you get the chance!
Week 3: “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” ~Zig Ziglar
The arrival of week 3 of the challenge brought with it a flurry of events that proved to be a mixture of difficult and motivating. The arrival of one of my favourite and most stressful events of the year – The Signature Client Function – was first up on the hit list. Being an after-hours work event that I spend months organising each year there is a lot of emphasis on food, alcohol and socialising. There is also a lot of pressure to make sure that the evening goes completely as planned which I have in the past managed to deal with by downing a few pre-event cocktails to soothe my nerves. This year that was out despite the “encouragement” from my work colleagues who were fully aware of my diet and goals yet persisted well into the evening with comments like “Just have a night off, a few drinks won’t hurt” & “You look stressed, have a cocktail”. I also got a heap of questions from our business clients which mostly revolved around why I wasn’t eating the yummy but extremely rich canapés & sipping sparkling water rather than sparking wine. When I gave them the explanation they gave me a polite but puzzled look as if I had managed to grow two heads and they weren’t too sure how to deal with it.
If you’re planning on going on the 6 week challenge be prepared! It’s not just about having to motivate yourself but also fending off seemingly well-meaning, but ultimately damaging individuals who will try and corrupt you. When this occurred I found that referring back to the list of goals I set in my workbook on the first week was imperative and anytime I felt tempted I tried repeating them in my head. It’s important to remind yourself regularly why you are doing this in the first place or you’re likely to steer off track and bend to will of others. The good news is that although this will be hard at the time, once you have proved to yourself that you can resist and stay on track it will make you feel as if you are truly mastering the challenge and this will give you a great deal of confidence & positivity.
The second event of week 3 was far more rewarding & funnily enough easier than the client event despite the physical demands – the 9km Bridge run! Having done the City2surf earlier in the year I signed up to the bridge run with the intent to do better (I had stopped a number of times in the City2surf and this time I wanted to try get the whole way through without doing so). During the weeks leading up to the event I had been doing all 4 group training sessions with Own-it-Fit as well as one run around Centennial Park each week to keep the momentum which proved to be great for achieving my personal best. The aim was to get under 60 mins, I managed to run it in 53 minutes which was much better than what I had anticipated. I actually had energy to burn after the race which I can only put down to challenge diet. It was as though my body had become more effective at using its food as fuel and still had reserves in the tank. I also didn’t feel as exhausted in the days after – my muscles healed very quickly where I was usually I’m hobbling around for days after an event.
Running isn’t everyone’s thing and I know that for some people just the thought of running long distances would send them to break out in a sweat but the social elements of events like this coupled with the extra motivation really does help you stay on track. For me any event that combines some form of physical activity with a group or social element is always going to be worth a look for three reasons:
1. It gives you a goal to work towards which isn’t purely based on weight or appearance – sometimes it’s easy to forget that you’re also working towards achieving optimal health and that includes building strength & cardio fitness
2. Most of these events put things in perspective and give you a sense of community – whether you participate to raise money on behalf of a charity/group, or you watch as a guy in a wheelchair gets pushed along by the 80 year old who can barely walk but is taking part anyway – these things make you take a step back and be thankful that we are lucky enough to live in a country where we can take part in such great events
3. It’s fun! There’s nothing better than finishing the race whether it be your PB or not and seeing a crowd of people sitting back, relaxing and laughing. And it gives you great bragging rights over you’re not so fit friends!
Week 3 Tip: If you’re going to function whether it be a work event or a personal one there are ways to get around the food situation. One is to let the organiser know in advance that you have strict dietary requirements or spend some time studying the menu of the venue you are going to and plan ahead what you can and cannot eat. Alternatively you can always bring along your own food (provided the establishment allows you to). If your attendance is a last minute thing; speak to the waiter/chef and explain to them that you cannot have certain foods & see what they offer up as an alternative. It’s actually way more common for these requests to come through with the spate of allergies and intolerances that people have nowadays so don’t feel like you’re being a pain. In terms of motivation; recognising your danger situations and coming up with a plan on how to deal with it is always a good place to start. Some people swear by regular positive mantra’s or affirmations that help with keeping you encouraged. Just make sure that they are specific to you, repeating something that doesn’t mean anything to you on a personal level will not help. And always remember the end goal – what is it that you really want to achieve?
As Mel would say “It’s your choice – so Own it!”