My April Experiment
Health and Wellness is a continuum. It is not always black and white, what is healthy and what is not. What one person considers to be a healthy way of living may be viewed as unhealthy to the next. Level of knowledge, skill, genetics, normal activity levels, goals, predisposition, body size and type all play a part and healthy is subjective to a certain extent.
What if the healthy habits you are choosing aren't actually helping you achieve your goals? What if those seemingly innocuous habits that you think don't hurt are harming your chances of weight loss and feeling better about you? Or maybe they don't matter at all.
That is what I want to find out.
For the month of April I want to live by some popular ideas of what people think are acceptable healthy habits to see how I fare in physical, mental and emotional health.
My weight, wellness, activity levels and general happiness with how I am going has been stable for quite some time. My weight, for well over two years, current activity levels for roughly a year with no adverse effect on my weight and wellness / happiness about the same. Life is fairly routine and repetitive for me so I feel like I am in a good position to try some of these habits out. So what are they?
One or two alcohol free days a week with no more than 2 standard drinks a day - Australian alcohol guidelines for women.
Plenty of fruit and vegetables but probably more fruit and vegetables, 5 and 2 but more like 5 fruit and 2 veges.
Healthy main meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Snacks and treats are packaged because of time constraints
Chocolate treat after dinner most nights
Healthy fruit juice
Coffee everyday, sometimes with a treat.
Water every day but only one liter because that second liter is hard!
Watch what you eat during the week but the weekend splurge is ok. Yolo.
Always eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, but it is ok to skip lunch sometimes.
Choose healthy takeaway.
Enjoy your dinners out and choose dessert if you want it.
Enjoy sauces and condiments, just not too much.
Stay on autopilot, you don't need to think of what you are doing.
Low sugar option for cool drink is a better choice than full sugar soft drink.
Workout when you feel like it.
Stay up late, but be in bed before midnight.
No portion control.
No vision, goals or plans, just a general idea that you want to be healthy.
I found myself enjoying this new found freedom in my healthy habits a little too much and I had to keep reminding myself that this was an experiment of healthy habits, not reckless abandonment. I thought that drinking alcohol would be a hard habit to get back into because I don't really enjoy drinking that much anymore so I was really surprised to see it was game on within about 2 days. Seriously, it is true what they say, old habits die hard and after 2 years of only drinking on special occasions it took less than half a week for me to be looking forward to and enjoying an evening drink, which is quite concerning. Now I wonder if it is going to be hard to give it up again at the end of the month.
Surprisingly, there was no weight gain or increase in body measurements. I would have put money on the fact that there was weight gain, even if only a small amount. My clothes were tighter and by the end of each day I'd lost my definition. On one particular day I went through three wardrobes and a suitcase full of clothes to find something to wear to lunch. I settled on leggings and a long flowing top with no discernible waistline, the uniform of choice in my bigger days.
My boobs blew up a cup size, my skin broke out on my face, I was tired and irritable. I found it particularly interesting that when I voiced these symptoms in an Instagram post, people immediately assumed I was pregnant. (I am not pregnant) It is interesting to me that even though I am actively pursuing a diet containing extra sugar and additives and preservatives found in packaged foods and alcohol that everyone's immediate assumption of cause was pregnancy and not the change in diet. With girls reaching puberty earlier and the increase in unexplained fertility issues of women in their prime child baring years it concerns me that symptoms for an increased consumption of sugar and packaged foods mimics the hormonal changes seen in pregnancy. I have some further suspicions on this subject matter that I will share once I've had the chance to test my theories further, but it is definitely on my radar of concern.
The most surprising thing for me in week one was the lack of weight gain (I am positive it will catch up with me eventually) and how easy it was to start drinking again. Addictive personality at work right there!
The digestive issues continue to be a problem into week 2. Bloating, burping and smelly farts are plaguing my house as well as becoming more and more irregular as the days go by. I am used to working like clockwork in that department so it has been an uncomfortable and unwelcome addition to the experiment. My energy levels have decreased dramatically. I am still managing workouts but that is more to do with working out with others than me having the motivation and energy to get off my bum and do it on my own. I'm staying up later each night and then subsequently waking up tired and lethargic, I've even had a few naps during the day just to get me through and I am also relying on coffee to help me feel like doing anything.
I've gotten into the habit of skipping lunch a little too much which tends to throw out all my other eating habits. Skipped lunch = snacking on the bad stuff of an afternoon and then eating too big a dinner. Habits that I was guilty of 3-5 years ago.
Stress and anxiety levels have increased and I've noticed I am clenching my jaw again - something I worked hard to reduce and will take lots of mindfulness to deal with again. I don't feel like going out and being sociable because I just don't have the energy. Self doubt and self limiting beliefs are popping up more often.
The breakouts on my face have creeped down to my neck and I am using more product - skincare and makeup than I was before to try and hide the dull skin and blotchy tone. A friend even commented that I was not looking as good and that I had lost the sparkle in my eye. I feel old! I feel every bit of my 37 years.
and... weight gain. It happened. I am up 800 grams from my original weight and I am curious to see how far it will go over the next two weeks...
Stay tuned xx