Thank you for putting the time and effort into the S.M.E.R.F. challenge! I truly enjoyed the “challenge” as a progression with the foundation of no sugar/processed foods. I truly believed prior to the challenge that I was eating very healthy, but could use some increased accountability. However, I learned there were several changes that needed to be made to improve my health and wellness.
First, I learned that I have an emotional attachment to my coffee creamer (and the one beloved cup of coffee I have each day). In addition to one nightly piece of chocolate (dark, of course) that was very challenging to give up! (both of these items can be held accountable for missed points in this segment of the challenge). I did try four different varieties of “approved” coffee creamer during the challenge and found that there are alternatives for creamer if you are diligent.
Next, intuitive eating was by far the most challenging for me. I often eat breakfast hurriedly while packing my lunch, listening to audiobooks, letting my hair dry, feeding/watering the dogs, cleaning the kitchen (talk about not paying attention and letting myself “feel full”). Same for lunch: eating while typing notes vigorously. Dinner: Mike works nights Monday-Friday, so I eat alone. For the past year to avoid feeling “lonely”, I am often eating while chatting on the phone, cleaning, finishing e-mail responses, researching parenting/birthing/babies and/or finishing my notes from the workday. Seriously, this was the most eye opening portion of the challenge. I truly *never* “enjoy” an actual meal during the work week. I eat out of necessity and typically as quickly as possible to move onto the next pressing task.
Sleeping 7-8 hours was difficult. Since I was a college athlete my primary sleep schedule has been primarily 12 p.m.-5:45 a.m. And (refer to above) I started attending 5:30 a.m. classes, waking up at 5, in order to get more accomplished at home prior to going into work. The challenge helped me bring awareness to prioritizing evening tasks and creating a bedtime ritual to get myself into bed earlier. Ultimately, sleeping 7-8 hours certainly made me feel more patient and productive during the day.
Meditation/breathing. I LOVED the youtube videos and education on breathing/meditation. I even used the breathing 4-7-8 breathing technique on the plane back from New Jersey this weekend! I am certain there was a small foot jamming into my rib on the return flight. Naturally, seated in the middle seat with turbulence to boot, I was uncomfortable and getting anxious not being able to stand and move. To complicate the situation, my I forgot to download my newest e-book, so I was stuck without entertainment). I meditated and focused on the 4-7-8 breathing and felt “in control”. Normally that experience/anxiousness would have permeated the entire rest of the day (causing angst for those in my company, poor Mike), but I was calm and had a lovely rest of the day. Just. From. Breathing. and controlling my thoughts. Wow.
To end on a positive note, my favorite part (and easiest) of the entire challenge was eating 5 fists full of veggies/day. I love vegetables! Seriously. Also, when I missed my servings of veggies on weekend days I felt the difference. Pregnancy comes with a host of new symptoms (slowed digestion/heartburn/increased edema/etc) but when I met this portion of the challenge, I felt wonderful!
Furthermore, I may not have lost weight, but Mike lost a total of 12 pounds from joining me in the challenge! As for me, my OBGYN is pleased with the gradual weight gain during this pregnancy and final trimester. Plus, all of these changes only help to ensure the health and well-being of Baby Z.
I just would like you both to know how much we appreciate the forethought, planning, creativity, and encouragement you provided for, and throughout, the challenge! The S.M.E.R.F challenge is certainly one I would participate in again. Thank you!