Toasting the January Challenge

Sample salad from the AIP diet.

What a Difference Coffee Makes!

Wrapping up my January Challenge is a little tricky since I ran out the door this morning for my week-long vacation and forgot to take my body measurements to see what changed, if anything. I hope that after a month of being on a strict, healing diet, there were at least some changes for the better!

Without that information, I am left to analyze how I feel after doing it for a month.

Going into the month, I had many expectations about the elimination diet and all it entailed. These included:

  • Feel amazing (once I got past the sugar cravings of the first two weeks)
  • Lose weight
  • Find new delicious recipes and meals
  • Sunday afternoons = cooking days
  • Start healing
  • Unsure about traveling to Austin (my only trip until the end of the month)
  • One month won’t be enough
  • Hate life. Hopefully it would be easier a second time

What I Learned

Change in perception. I have started to look at food differently. For nearly all my life I’ve been overweight. After trying diet after diet, exercise program after exercise program, and really just eating food because I have to, not because I like it, I have now started to look at what I eat asking myself the question, “Will it help heal me or will it hurt me?” Other than a few drinks in Austin, all month I have been able to say everything I’ve eaten this month was with the intent to help me heal. While I’m not at the point of eating organ meats or drinking chicken broth daily, I make better choices. While it takes a lot more time and it drives my friends crazy, I now know I can do it.

How to Travel. When I started out January, I thought I would go shopping on Saturdays, and spend Sundays cooking for the week. Then more shopping and cooking would happen mid-week. I mapped out my workouts and my routine for the new year. I was ready to go.

Then I was promoted at work. With my promotion came frequent travel. Suddenly I was traveling more than I was at home. The two trips for fun I planned months ago added to the travel challenge. This month, I have spent 15 of 31 days away from home. The change forced me to adapt and learn to control as much as I possibly could when I’m away from home. Did I do the 100% compliance? Other than the sugar in the salad dressing at one dinner, it would have been. At that moment though, I was too tired to remember to ask about it when I ordered.

Find a balance. I’m feeling better, health wise, but suddenly I’m noticing other things as part of the healing that I really need to get a handle on:

  • Sleep – apparently I’m too old to function well on weeks of 4-6 hours of sleep/night. This will be March’s challenge and I’m not looking forward to it.
  • Consistent workouts – Must. Do.
  • Stretching/yoga – Too much time spent sitting, cramped into airplane seats, and sleeping on different beds is making it apparent that I have to make this a priority.
  • Working long hours
  • Seeing friends – I miss them!

It’s easier the second time. It really is, I knew what to expect and knowing how great I felt the last time made it easier to stick with it without the frustration.

Misery loves company. Strength in numbers. A few people in my family were doing the Whole30 so we had a private Facebook group that helped keep us all accountable. Staying with my cousins on my first trip of the year made the experience exciting and fun as we found an awesome restaurant in Berkeley and explored making new meals and food together.

Better resources. In the year since I tried this last time, there are better resources and more books that offer a wider variety or recipes, food to order, and explanations. Information on recommended travel food saved me. Last time I found myself researching and reading about how respected bloggers hated doing the AIP diet. This time my research proved to be positive with outcomes such as new snacks, delicious ways to cook cauliflower, and more.

Coffee. Seriously, allowing myself to drink coffee this time made everything else tolerable. I never want to go without again. Said the addict.

Just because it’s free doesn’t mean I need it. More people offered to buy me drinks, or put drinks in front of me than any month I can remember (minus the ones spent with my ex, the mixer of amazing drinks). I’m looking at you flight attendant offering to pour me glasses of red and white wine! I know it’s blasphemous turning down free alcohol, but right now I’m not quite ready to start drinking. I’ll save that until I have dinner with my friends in Hawaii.

Support from friends and family. My friends and family are amazing. They still invite me to dinner. If we go out, they let me pick the restaurants to make sure I can eat. If they make dinner, I get texts asking what I can and can’t have. I truly appreciate the effort they make for me, and know how lucky I am.

Last words

The January Challenge will continue throughout the next few months. It’s hard and not what I want to be doing, but I need to keep it going. I feel great, and while I will be drinking for the next few weeks, I’m still going to continue to vigilant about food and start completely over again in a few weeks. Then hopefully I will be able to properly test food into my diet to see if it bothers me or not. I won’t lie though, it was fantastic to hold up a glass of red wine to toast my fabulous friends I haven’t seen in a long time.


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