My One-Month Challenge: DOWNSIZE ME (Part 2)

Today’s soundtrack is Delirious?: Mezzamorphis, an album that I associate with youth group in the early 2000s.

Part 2: CONCLUSION
Monday, July 15, 2019

Note: Before you read this post, if you haven’t already read Part 1 of my one-month challenge, read that first!

Here we are! I made it! 28 days without burgers, pop, or jalapeno Cheetos. I stuck to my plan and survived off of mainly vegetables, chicken breast, and water. Here are my findings:

  1. Successes
    • BMI dropped:
      • I lost 6% of my body weight. According to the NHLBI BMI calculator, means that I’ve moved from “obese” to “overweight”!
    • Extinguished caffeine dependency:
      • Before, I would get headaches if I wasn’t drinking sweetened caffeinated beverages throughout the day. Now, I can get away just fine with only half a cup of black coffee in the morning.
    • Regulated energy levels:
      • For years, I’ve struggled with the “energy roller-coaster” – I either have too much, to the point of anxiety, or too little, to the point of falling asleep as soon as I get home (being a dad of three kids under the age of 6 might have something do with this). I’ve noticed in this last month that my energy levels seem to have been leveling out more and more.
    • I feel better!
      • I know that this is entirely qualitative, but it’s gotten to the point where I look forward to stepping on the scale instead of pretending that it’s not there at all. My wife has been complimenting me on how much flatter my stomach is looking. My body has had a much easier time with digestion: whereas before, I often dealt with cramping and bloating, I haven’t felt bloated or gassy at all in this past month.
  2. Challenges and Observations
    • Unexpected changes in plans
      • A few times, I ran into situations where I was out for many hours without access to food. It wasn’t feasible to just not eat at those times, so I had to get creative:
        • I found out that I could buy individual poached eggs, bags of apple slices, and grilled chicken pieces from [most, not all] McDonald’s. Their chicken is overcooked and dry, but it fills you up pretty quickly. Their eggs and apples are great, though. If I was near a grocery store, I would buy blueberries and either unsalted cashews or unsalted peanuts; veggie platters were another decent choice, but were costly with no protein – and the dressing wasn’t part of my diet, so I couldn’t eat that.
    • Kicking caffeine
      • It only took about a week to kick the caffeine dependency, but I quickly learned that it was better to ease off of it slowly by substituting black coffee and unsweetened tea for all the pop and energy drinks than to go cold-turkey. The headaches and crankiness were just not worth it to me.
    • Hanger
      • During the first week of this diet, I struggled (and my wife will attest to this) with hanger and cravings. I attribute this to my body resisting the changes that I was making: significantly decreased calories, potatoes instead of breads, reduced caffeine, and fruits as my only source of sugar. Once my body adjusted, though, I found that I could fill up on raw cauliflower and broccoli, where before, I would have had a hard time eating enough of it to make a dent in my hunger.
    • Cost
      • Eating naturally is more expensive, straight-up. I made sure that my meals used the basic Canadian Food Guide ratios: 2 parts vegetables (primarily broccoli, cauliflower, celery, and carrots), 1 part protein (chicken or cheese), and 1 part grains (in my case, potatoes). For snacks, I ate cheese or unsalted nuts with fruits (melons, berries, bananas, and apples). All of that added up. So even though I wasn’t spending money on pop any more, my grocery bill was significantly higher than it had been: because I wasn’t filling myself up on breads and cheap processed meats, I had to buy (and prep, but I’ll go into that in the next point) lots of food.
    • Pre-Planning
      • When I got home from work and was hangry, if I hadn’t prepped my food the night before, I couldn’t just slap a sandwich together or microwave a Chimichanga. I learned that it takes ~ 40 minutes (including preheat time) to cook a chicken breast; washing and chopping vegetables and fruits can take some time, too. So I quickly got into the habit of spending some time every night prepping not only enough food for breakfast and lunch the next day, but I would also set aside some extra for snacking on while I was prepping dinner. This really helped to kick the cravings!

MOVING FORWARD

So what’s next?

Well, I can’t lie: I’m really excited to eat a huge burger covered in spicy BBQ sauce while drinking a cold root beer. But I don’t want to live off of burgers any more. I recognize now that I can still eat those foods that I love – but only as treats, not as everyday meals. Man cannot live on burgers alone. So I’m going to stick with this diet of only unprocessed foods on weekdays; on the weekends, I’ll maybe make myself a breakfast wrap with hot sauce on it, have a sandwich for lunch, and enjoy some tortellini with my family for dinner. I’m also going to start incorporating more exercise into my life so that I can bring my health to the next level.

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