I am so proud of the 30 Days of Health Challenge and of all the women who participated in it. I couldn’t believe the overwhelming interest and how many ladies actually signed up and really committed. The challenge was to have no refined sugar, a salad everyday and exercise for at least 30 minutes daily. The girls had to send me 3 pictures everyday of their exercise, salad and sugar substitute to show their accountability to the challenge. We also had a group thread where we would share recipes, difficulties and successes. The pictures were so motivating and beautiful that I know I am going to miss the 42 pictures I received everyday. I wanted to include everyone interested in the challenge but could only manage 14 women and all the pictures. So, I had some girlfriends do the challenge alongside our challenge managing their own pictures for the 30 days and it worked out great.
The idea of the Health Challenge came from Lisa Sinclair and I talking about our 30 Days of Fitness Challenge. We enjoyed the challenge so much we were discussing what we could do next to start the holiday season feeling healthy. We chatted about doing something similar to the fitness challenge with an added component that would make us think about our eating habits. We thought no refined sugar would be a relevant and meaningful part of a health challenge, especially because there is so much talk about how bad refined sugar is for us and our children. I also wanted to see for myself if cutting refined sugar from my diet would make me feel healthier and have better focus. Thinking back to setting the guidelines to the challenge makes me laugh because I was so delusional that cutting refined sugar would be easy. Therefore, I needed to add another component of difficulty – a salad everyday. I often skip having healthy lunches and grab things like kind bars and/or handfuls of snacks like chips, berries and slivers of cake or sweets. Believe me, not healthy handfuls. So, bring on the green salads to the challenge, even though I hate taking the time to make them. Finally, the most important part of any health challenge for me includes exercise. Exercise is my stress reliever and getting involved in the fitness community has introduced me to a wonderful, fun and supportive community I love. I always feel my healthiest after a workout. So the guidelines to the Health Challenge were almost complete. Then came up the question of alcohol…for some this was a tough one. No wine and only alcohol with zero sugar was decided as a rule to limit alcohol consumption. I couldn’t believe I still had participants. 😉 All parameters set and with that the Health Challenge came to life with some remarkable ladies!
So the challenge begins and I am shocked at the amount of sugar in everything – my coffee, my oatmeal, dressings, yogurts and the list goes on. I am feeling deprived and hungry. Oh ya, I also cut out any artificial sweeteners, which meant, no diet coke or gum. It’s getting worse, eating a lot of nuts and seeds which really aren’t my favourite but at least it’s something to snack on. Blah! Grocery shopping takes longer with all the label reading and I am feeling super high maintenance when eating out and constantly asking “Is there sugar in this?”. I eventually decided to skip foods like bread that might have sugar in them and stick with what I know is sugar free. Not going to lie, sugar free especially in the beginning of the challenge felt like a strict diet compared to my regular eating habits. When traveling to PEI during the challenge, I felt angry that I couldn’t just order a pop or food on the plane, instead I had to pack sugar free snacks with water until I could sit down to something healthy. I was constantly feeling hungry, and I am not sure if it was because I was hungry or because I knew I couldn’t eat whatever I wanted. Then about two weeks in, I was getting into the groove and the no refined sugar didn’t seem bad at all. However, the last few days with Rob’s Birthday there were so many chocolates and sweets in the house, I was seeing treats everywhere – back to being hard. 🙁
Not sure if I will stay 100% refined sugar free but will definitely cut a lot of it out. I didn’t really like the feeling of depriving myself and don’t necessarily feel healthier than I did. However, I do feel good. I also had a weird allergic reaction over the sugar free time with eczema like hives around my eyes and lips which stressed me out. Most of the doctors said it was not related to the sugar free diet but it didn’t matter as it tainted my feeling of healthiness. All that aside, I am so proud of myself for not cheating and staying with the challenge. Fitness and salads daily were much easier for me and really enjoyed getting them in. I lost a few pounds and when I did go out in the evenings for dinners or late meals, I noticed I never felt like I ate too much and always felt good in the morning. My first sugar treat was some brown sugar on my oatmeal and a big diet coke with my salad. Surprisingly the added sugar and pop didn’t really taste as amazing as I imagined it would. I do believe my taste for sugar has changed after 30 days and that in itself is success. All in all, it was definitely a fun and difficult challenge for me. Having the other 14 ladies motivate me through it was the best part!
I got all ladies who completed the 30 days to do a little blurb about how they felt after The 30 Days of Health Challenge. Some of them actually made me tear up as it is a huge change for their overall being. This was so fun to be a part of an such a wonderful group of women.
The 30 day challenge surprised me. The exercise was easy as I have a dog to walk and consistent yoga practice. I love to eat salad – I just don’t like making it. Perhaps 30 days of making salad would change that (or make me dislike it more). Eliminating refined sugars was surprising. I didn’t realize how many places I was consuming them. My snacking changed a lot ! No more flavoured yogurt, no more handfuls of chocolate chips, no crackers, bye to a lot of cereals. I made a lot of vegan treats for my girls as they don’t have refined sugars and are made with more wholesome ingredients. My skin looks better. I didn’t have PMS. And I lost those last 5 pounds without feeling like I was on a diet. Although I’m looking forward to a dish of peppermint ice cream and a rum and egg nog, I think my eating habits are forever changed. I’m going to miss being accountable to the group!
My name is Jen and “I Love Candy” so it should come as no surprise that I was apprehensive to take the 30 day challenge of no refined sugar, daily salad and exercise. I worried that I wouldn’t succeed and that I would give in to temptation – and that’s why I had to do the challenge. Thirty days later and I am proud to say I took classes in pilates, dance, yoga, barre, and circuit training, looking at candy and eating salad all the way through the 30 day challenge. Staying committed to the challenge was not only personally rewarding, but I feel that it benefited my family; my son watched me make sacrifices and feel good about them. As far as my physical changes that I noticed, I noticed mostly positive, slight weight loss and feelings of strength. The biggest change I noticed was mental; I felt an overall positive mood shift, I am not sure if it’s a reaction to the lack of refined sugar, increase in physical activity, balanced eating through salads, or psychological effect of feeling proud of staying with the commitment. I’d prefer not to analyze the change, but enjoy it. In the end, this challenge has provided me with numerous layers of fulfillment and now I am going to celebrate with a… salad ;-).
Looking back on the past 30 Days I am so happy I participated in this Health Challenge. There were definitely many ups and downs, but overall it has been an incredible restart button for my overall health, stress and wellbeing. Sugar for me wasn’t the biggest challenge, except for giving up wine, and I find now I really don’t have a craving for alcohol like I did before. I am still shocked how much sugar is in almost everything, so it has taught me to read the labels. I did find fitting in a salad a day a little challenging when you work, however I did it and I feel it really improved my skin.
The biggest challenge initially for me was the 30 mins of exercise a day, fitting it in my schedule and doing it. I chose to do my workouts at 6:00am before work and most days all I wanted to do was sit on the couch and drink my coffee; going out when it was dark & rainy wasn’t appealing. That being said I did it and I am pleased to say my 30 days of consecutive exercise has now become a habit (and mentally uplifting) and I am now going to make it a fabric of my day, rather than an option. I have finally started to see some results with my body shape, losing 5 pounds and my clothes are somewhat looser, though I know I have more work to do.
Overall I have to say I feel less stressed, more energized and mentally in a better space, which is probably what you should expect. It wasn’t easy (and I slipped a few times), but staying committed and accountable to Jody each day was what got me through. I also learned for me it was important to go slower and focus more long term rather than for the short term fix. I do plan to continue with regular exercise after this Challenge and will definitely be more dialed in with my eating choices (but i will have the occasional dessert or too as well). I am really pleased I have reached some of my goals and I am inspired to keep going. Thanks Jody for everything you did in helping me with my health transformation. XO
I like a good challenge (heck, I challenged myself to blog for 365 consecutive days, so I was up for the challenge!). This challenge was no exception, and I learned a lot over the last 30 days. My top 10 list includes:
I figured out that I’m quite competitive. Or maybe just an extreme rule follower. But there was no way I was going to not finish. To not follow the rules would be so wrong. And therefore this challenge was perfect as it made me accountable every single day. No getting away with anything!
I found out how truly addicted to sugar I was (although once an addict always an addict!). I quickly realized how often I reach for sugar to give me a pickup.
I was also astounded by how many things have sugar in them. I really hadn’t checked my ingredients very much in the past. I always look for gluten being a celiac, but never looked at the sugar. Scary!
I found exercising 30 minutes a day absolutely wonderful for me. I don’t make time for it the way I should, but when you have to send a photo of yourself actually doing the exercise, then you miraculously find the time. Albeit a few times it was past 10:00 pm before I found the time but I still did it.
I found that taking away the sugar and adding in the exercise meant that I wasn’t crashing up and down throughout the day. I stayed consistent with my energy and felt way less fuzzy. I think I look much better and my stomach and head feel much better. I have had less headaches (after the first couple days) than I normally do, which was a pleasant surprise.
I still don’t like salad. I don’t know what it is. Well, it is lettuce. It is not that I don’t like lettuce. I just feel ripped off when I eat a salad. Strange, I know. But I started getting creative with my use of greens. Lots of spinach or kale in my smoothies! And eating kale salads with lots of bits but lots of good greens too.
I found out that I really like to treat myself. And sugar is my go to. I worked hard today – where is my chocolate bar? I worked out – where are my cookies/ I finished a project – where is my chai latte/ Over the top I had become!
I am happy to report that I actually can survive without a chai latte a day. And while not having all that sugar every day was important, the money I saved will help my sons go to university!
I learned that as much as a complain about my weight gain this last year, if I’m not willing to do something about it, then it won’t just go away. Add a little exercise and take away some sugar and voila, weight loss. Very motivating to keep many aspects of this challenge continuing!
And finally, being part of a group was really fun and encouraging. Fun to know there were others also suffering the way I was!
Thank you so much for organizing us Jody. It was just what my body needed!
It was perfect timing for me to embark on livinghollisstyle 30 Day Challenge.
I hadn’t done any exercise consistently in a couple of years, was feeling sluggish and definitely not as healthy and energetic as I like to be.
Jody’s challenge came across my desk and I knew it was the right time and the right thing to do!
I happily “signed on” and now 30 days later – I am proud to say that I am “back on track”
Overall I enjoyed every day; I did not find it difficult and I am now so much more aware of the importance of the following:
1) eating a large green salad daily
2) eliminating sugar
3) exercising regularly
What I truly appreciated most about the challenge was that it forced me to examine all my bad habits and my wish to live a long healthy life
The challenge propelled me to get a full assessment by a professional trainer at a local gym which resulted in me committing to personal training sessions three times a week for one full year. I am particularly thrilled that this challenge inspired my husband to get on board with me..and now the two of us have gotten back to eating clean and working out three or four times a week at the gym. We are also enjoying long walks and looking forward to getting back out on our bikes.
I have a long way to go ..but without this challenge who knows if I would be where I am today.
Healthier, happier and more fit than I was 30 days ago.
Thank you Jody from the bottom of my heart.
A challenge is meant to be… challenging. And that it was for me. I often refer to the “sugar train” as a runaway locomotive that I can’t get off. But I did. I had a sugar hangover. I had a headache and the blahs, I felt resentful, hard-done-by and deprived for a week. Add to that: everyone and their dog seemed to know that I was on a no-sugar, green salad, 30-minutes a day exercise challenge. I was defensive in my agitated, sugarless state.
But it did get better. A lot better. I spent more time outside. I thought about what I was eating. And I lost a few pounds. I still hate reading every label and I will add things like mayonnaise back into my life – not a lot of it – but just sometimes. My low self-esteem multiplies exponentially when I don’t exercise, so it was really good to get back to it everyday. I added a little more to my personal challenge by promising myself that I would sweat every day and that I would do some sort of batwing prevention (arm exercises). Did that.
Tired of photographing my food and having to explain it to the people with whom I am eating is over. No longer wishing there was a creative way to photograph yourself exercising, as one can only look at so many photos of my pink runners, because that’s over, too. I still love salad, but I really like salad prepared by someone else best! Snapping pics of the substitutions got harder and harder and I got lamer and lamer. Dry rice cake anyone? 30 days is a long time!
But I liked it. I actually really liked it a lot. I loved the challenge piece. I loved the smart choices piece, the salad piece and the photographing everything piece. But most of all – I loved getting back to the exercise piece. I feel stronger, healthier and well. There’s a great feeling of accomplishment and healthfulness.
Congratulations to all the women who tried really hard to tackle this challenge and especially those who did it! Thank you, Jody, for your challenge, your enthusiasm and your support on this little journey. Where will you take us next?
The last 30 days have been quite a journey for me. Not knowing all the information before getting involved I decided, once filled in, I would jump in with both feet! The first week was so hard mostly just getting use to the lifestyle change and also the sugar!!! I truly am addicted to sugar and the withdrawal symptoms were severe; the usual headache, shakes and general fogginess! But once these subsided, I started to feel energized and excited that I was doing this! The pictures really helped as it kept me in check and accountable to someone! It was also great knowing, we were all going through the same thing!!! Jody, you did a great job of encouraging us and letting us know we can do this!!! Surprisingly, the 30 days went quite quickly. I am going to try to keep this up and really be aware of what I am putting into my body. Not only that but, moving my body for at least 30 minutes a day…. Not that hard to fit in!!!! Thanks Jody!!!!
I decided to participate in the 30 day challenge because I needed to press the “reset” button on some habits I was forming. It gave me the opportunity to look at some habits I had started to create over the last couple of years (i.e. a sugar “fix” in the afternoon, skipping the salad portion of our meals etc) and be more intentional about the choices I was making. As a result I feel much better and more importantly I have incorporated some new healthy habits back into my life.
As a lover of sweets and with a busy on the go lifestyle, I knew this challenge was going to be difficult. I wanted to test my body’s ability to control and hopefully lose the craving for the bad white stuff. I love a challenge where health and fitness are concerned, and made every effort to not only remove sugar from my diet but to replace it with healthy “real” food options. Removing sugar and fructose and the craving for something sweet was really difficult at first but it DID get easier. The excercise component was the easiest part for me as it was already part of my daily routine. Do I feel better? Physically, no. But I am proud of myself for following the rules right to the end and fighting the addiction. I plan on reducing my refined sugar intake as much as possible for everyday food choices from now on. And that in itself makes this challenge a sweet success for this (reformed) sugar junkie.❤️
Laurie Anne Faulkner
I think the 30 day challenge really helped me make sure that I did some exercise every day and made me get away from my desk which is good for me. Leaving my desk, I got up and did stairs every day! I’m sure I’ve taken off at least 8 pounds 🙂 The photos made me have to be accountable but in a fun way. The 1/2 hour of exercise that was my choice made it doable for me unlike being forced into something like a class or boot camp that is not flexible no matter the weather or my work schedule. Being self employed I never know when I will be needed. The food photos are fun too and again make you commit. I would do it again and may just keep sending you photos Jody! Thanks for motivating! Laf