Healthy November Challenge

img_6899-editI announced on Facebook last week that I am making this month “Healthy November.” I set myself some rules, and am posting my progress, struggles and tips. If this sounds intriguing to you, come join along!

November is the beginning of holiday parties, comfort food, and hibernation. Some of this is thanks to daylight savings, post-marathon recovery (for runners), sweater season, and often holiday parties and the feasting that seems to never stop once we hit Thanksgiving. Statistically, Americans pack on those most pounds between Halloween and NYE. I decided that instead of embracing those desires to stay inside and eat cozy food, I would make the month of November the opportunity to reboot my relationship with food and hopefully hit December with a bit more self-control and in better shape than most years.

Therefore, I have given myself some nutritional rules and guidelines for November. I am giving myself a few “cheat days” – Thanksgiving Day and the weekend of the Philly Marathon. I figure it would be too cruel to give up Thanksgiving, and I need to be properly fueled for my 26.2 mile journey on November 23rd.

My rules: Nothing out of a box. No artificial sugar – the exception being GU for mid-run fueling. No grains, bread, pasta, pasta, pancakes, or rice – the exception being oatmeal. No chocolate, ice cream or beer. No juice – unless it’s V8. I CAN eat – all the fruits and veggies I want, dairy (but no ice cream!), beans, meat, nuts, wine, hard liquor, coffee – and that’s it.

So far (it’s been less than a week!), I am doing great. I miss my many carbs, and have to plan meals and shopping. Eating out is a challenge, but not impossible. I am finding it hard to get in all my calories, so weight loss may be super easy. I try to get some protein in every meal. Greek yogurt has become an even more important ingredient in my daily diet. Avocados, olive oil and peanut butter have been my source of fat. I find myself sometimes itching for a sweet snack, but otherwise my cravings have been few and far between.

I encourage you to make your own “rules,” and follow them. Find modifications for the month that can work for you. Then stick to it. Write them down so that they are clear. Take it a day at a time. It can be overwhelming to think about an entire month without a bagel.

A few tips: when shopping, stock up on lots of fruits and veggies. Avoid most aisles in the grocery store. At home, prepare a few homemade soups and keep healthy snacks handy. Budget a little extra time to wash and slice fresh food, and to cook. Find foods you really like that fit into your rules and eat them often. This isn’t a diet, so much as a temporary “reboot month” – so you aren’t giving up anything forever!

My goal is to get to December feeling good. I hope to feel a bit more energized, strong and perhaps without the few extra pounds I seem to find between Thanksgiving and New Years. I am sure I will still bake lots of goodies in December (I always do!), but I am hoping I won’t be tempted to graze on them the way I have in the past. I want these cold and nasty months to be the opportunity to continue improving health and fitness – not to take steps backwards. With any luck, I’ll get to 2015 in better shape than I currently am (weight training – let’s do this!), and faster than I currently am (goodbye Ultras, hello 5Ks and Half Marathons!), and nutrition is a huge part of those training goals.

Feel intrigued and want to join along? Come join me and let’s do this! You have everything to gain and nothing to lose!

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