I began the CoreLife Challenge exhausted.
I was overwhelmed and “crispy” – my word for being in a short-tempered, negative, irritable state. I was sleeping like crap. My exercise was crap. And I ate mostly crap.
My lifestyle reflected the crappiness: eating once a day, hitting the easy button with unhealthy choices, and a low emotional state. I felt like a failure in all areas – work, home, personal life. Obviously, I didn’t have the energy to deal with real life, much less a pre-diabetes diagnosis. So, when I was approached with this CoreLife Challenge, I had no place to go but up.
Did I achieve success at the end of my CoreLife Challenge? Well, if you only use typical measurements, like weight, then no.
But I am my own success story, and here’s why.
I measure success by how I feel. I’ve found the scale, the size industry, and my mirror lie to me. I’ve found other ways to figure out if I’m succeeding. Eating at CoreLife Eatery six days a week was not easy. I live about 20 minutes away and am a busy person…just like you. So it was a commitment. This commitment was totally worth it. Why? Here’s a list! Maybe something will strike a chord with you:
I’ve always craved high-carb, chewy foods. Bagels, pasta, pizza… you name it. I find the texture insanely satisfying. And, the more I ate, the more I craved! We’ve all got our drug of choice. What’s yours?
During my 8-week CoreLife Challenge, my taste buds changed. I began to develop a taste for unadulterated food. I needed less and less dressing, began to choose the unsweetened tea over lemonades, and stopped having a post-lunch sweet. My salad became something I craved. It was a natural progression. Making a good choice for lunch made making a good choice for dinner that much easier. Suddenly, I had a good habit.
Sleep had been elusive to me for over a year. I tried a lot of remedies, finally chalking it up to being a woman in my 40s. I own a business, have a family, and was under a lot of stress. Like you, maybe?
I was constantly waking up at 1:30 AM. Restless nights led to panic because I couldn’t fall back asleep, even when I knew I had to wake up in just a few hours.
Stress was clearly causing the sleeplessness. Plus, stress keeps fat on your body. Slowly but surely, I noticed I was sleeping through the night after eating better! Anyone who has battled insomnia knows the victory of a full night’s sleep.
It makes sense that if you’re exhausted, you have no physical energy. However, it wasn’t just my body – my mental energy was also zapped. Interested in very little, I was crawling over the finish line at the end of every day. When I have no energy, crabby is my default mood.
Very soon into clean eating, I noticed increased energy. I’m not just talking about having the energy to power through a workout. I’m talking about having enough energy to make it through the evening, dinner, clean up, and even some laundry folding.
The energy to not snap at my kid for asking me questions. The energy to have a conversation with my spouse. Imagine that. It is possible!
It’s not just the crabbiness. I mean the ups and downs of everyday life. Navigating them felt like being on a ship at sea.
Exhausted, without energy, and snippy, I could have ALL the emotions on any given day. Anything could set me off. I noticed pretty quickly after starting the CoreLife Challenge that my emotions became easier to manage. I was just…calmer.
- Skin/Hair/Nails: Oy vey. I must have been very nutrient-depleted. My skin looked grayish, and my hair was awful. Dry, thin, and lifeless. It took a mental toll to look at myself in the mirror because once the life started coming back to my skin, nails, and hair, I started to feel more confident. Like I’d somehow gotten my old self back – pink skin and growing nails were the first physical manifestations of the lifestyle changes.
- Clarity: Ever feel fuzzy in your brain? Like you can’t believe the decisions you’re making, or the words you cannot find, or where the hell you put your keys? I was unfocused at work and home. It was nice to have my brain turned back on.
- Clothes: Nope, my clothes are not hanging off me, but that wasn’t my goal. I wanted my clothes to FIT again. They were so tight going into this! I was uncomfortable in my skin and in my clothes. I didn’t want to have to buy a whole new size-up wardrobe, and I was thrilled that my current clothing started to fit again.
- Lifestyle: Choosing a healthy lifestyle is not easy. It requires planning, making good choices, and sometimes saying no (okay, a lot of times). For years, I could out-train my diet; exercise to maintain my weight. But that is no longer the case. This was a lesson I was required to learn the hard way. I no longer can outrun my fork.
This is success.
Beyond the weight aspect, I appreciate having to do all this hard work. It taught me what I’m capable of. It has made me disciplined, and I like who I am and how I feel SO much more now. Food planning, eating well, working out, and making good choices daily makes me feel empowered, confident and happy.
I know this is a continuing journey that requires vigilance. I remain human, and sometimes I get pulled to go back to my old ways. But those choices occur less and less. When I want to make a questionable eating choice, I think about “15-Minutes-From-Now-Jen.” She is going to regret this choice. And I want to love “Tomorrow Jen.”