Nutrition Challenge Success-Mike F.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” -Aristotle
Never would I have predicted that I would constantly read nutrition labels before I take a bite of food, much less become a Paleo disciple. Never before did I realize that simple food choices that become habits can reset mood balance, helping one combat his demons – be it anxiety, addiction, whatever.”Eat whatever but workout furiously” was my motto prior to my arrival in Hawaii in May 2014. As a college athlete, that attitude always worked. Yet as I made my way through medical school and worked through an exhausting general surgery internship that often required over 100 hours a week at the hospital, keeping the level of fitness I identify with became increasingly difficult. Even with working out twice a day during Navy dive school, I wasn’t seeing the fitness gains expected for the amount of time I spent exercising. I already knew what the solution was: diet.
So when I arrived in Hawaii last May, I jumped into a nutrition challenge at CFO. I wasn’t mechanically prepared (i.e., I had no kitchen and was still living in hotel rooms) or mentally prepared for the lifestyle change. After walking away from that initial challenge, I started working with Courtney one on one once things settled down and I found a place to live. I still wasn’t quite prepared for full-tilt Paleo as she and I agreed that my most pressing issue was simply to start cooking – I was still eating out every single meal! The fall came and went with a surgical setback but also with self-analysis through food journals inspired by Courtney. I started taking small steps in the right direction – cutting out Red Bull, Diet Coke, energy bars, etc. After the holidays passed, I decided to stop making excuses for myself and to join the 2015 Winter Nutrition Challenge.
I found a website that gives weekly Paleo recipes and fought through the pain of improving at cooking. I have three quick points about my experience during the challenge itself. First, the more I cooked, the faster things went. I’m still not where I hope to be as far as cooking prowess is concerned, but my transformation is a marathon (not a sprint). It’ll be a useful life skill. Next, cutting out sugar was odd at first, and I definitely had the cravings for sugar-rich dressings and marinades. Yet after several weeks, the cravings left and my energy levels increased. No longer did I need a Red Bull and protein bar before a workout. Finally, after the good habits were formed, this diet became easy! I simply avoid the foods not in line with my plan and load up on those that are. Continuing the diet is not strenuous like I imagined it would be.
As far as the benefits are concerned, the numbers speak for themselves. I officially lost 12 pounds and 3% body fat over the six week course. Since then, I’ve lost another six pounds and (per military backdoor math) another 1% body fat.
It’s fascinating what else changed besides my body measurements. The energy levels, mood reset, and confidence gained with this success put me back in my life’s driver’s seat, with it no longer being controlled mainly by anxiety from past disappointment and future uncertainty.
We are what we repeatedly do. Beating this challenge with healthy habits can lead to more than an excellent physique; it can lead to a better life.