Back to Basics: Nutrition Update

My chalkboard water tracker (Ellie helped me color in the water glass) and also my iron tracker - no fancy gadgets here!

My chalkboard water tracker (Ellie helped me color in the water glass) and also my iron tracker - no fancy gadgets here!

I have officially made it through my 4 month back to basics “challenge” 🎉🎉🎉 where I was making an effort to focus on the things that make me feel like a whole person. Which means… it’s time to do an update on my month of focusing on nutrition! If you’re curious, you can check out my other posts in this series. My initial post is here. May was all about sleep, June was all about meditation, July was all about movement, and August was all about nutrition

How did nutrition go? Really well! I set small goals that felt manageable which resulted in me following through 99% of the time (and continuing to meet my nutrition goals into September). Early in the month, I also did a reset with our daily routines, which helped get me back on track with sleep, meditation (taking Lynn Curry’s meditation course helped too), and movement. During my month of nutrition focused goals, I was consistently sleeping, meditating, and moving... which is a nice way to bring everything to a close.

Here’s how I did with my goals:

Limit alcohol to 1 day a week: Yes! I actually didn’t drink at all (which, as someone who loves beer during the summer and champagne anytime, I was honestly surprised about). I started off the first week with no alcohol and then every week after that I just wanted to see if I could continue the trend, so I kept going... and have continued to do so. I did have a sip of Mike’s beer on September 1 (after the challenge was officially over), but other than that, no alcohol since July. We were social, which is usually where I run into trouble, and it was fine. Interestingly, there have been a number of things going on with me that, in the past, I had attributed to alcohol (joint pain, headaches)... turns out, those things still happen when I’m not drinking, so that’s helpful to know.  

Start off with 8 glasses of water a day and reassess once I see how this feels: I ranged from 8 to 10 glasses (~10.5 oz per glass) of water a day depending on what was going on. Out of the 31 days of August I had 8-10 glasses of water 30 out of 31 days!! I only missed 1 day, where I had 7.5 glasses (so not a huge departure). We were driving home from a trip and I eased up on my water intake for the car ride, which then had a ripple effect later in the day. At the beginning of the month, I was surprised by how difficult drinking 8 glasses of water a day felt (I thought I was already drinking about that amount... turns out I wasn’t, ha!). There was definitely an adjustment period in the beginning where I felt kind of uncomfortable, but after a few days my body adjusted (I guess) and I started to notice I was thirsty if I wasn’t drinking that much. Super hot days or when I was really active were a lot easier to drink more water. I also found that it was easier to drink more water during meals or with a snack. I found that in order to drink between 8-10 glasses a day I’d need to have a glass/water bottle with me at all times. I’m drinking from when I wake up until shortly before I go to bed. I have been getting up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, so I’m working on trying to drink more earlier versus later in the day. 

Homemade special treats 3 nights a week: I mostly met this goal. I didn’t have any actual treats until the last week of the month when we were on vacation. Our airbnb host gave us a few slices of homemade carrot cake... I thought, you know what I’m not going to refuse a homemade slice of cake 😋! And... we also brought supplies for s'mores on vacation with us, I’d already had the carrot cake so I thought why not? Ha! Neither of these things were homemade by me (I’m not about to make marshmallows or graham crackers or chocolate). Were they worth it? Meh... the icing on the carrot cake was delicious... but it had walnuts in it (which I’m not a fan of, so while it was good, I was a little regretful that I’d “broken” my promise to myself). The s’mores were good... but I don’t know that they warranted a break. Also, after the cake, I got a pretty bad headache... so it was a good lesson in being really thoughtful about my food choices/keeping commitments to myself. Other things to note... during the first week, I had pancakes for breakfast (which lets be honest, is really just dessert for breakfast, ha!). I didn’t count that as a treat, but I definitely think these fall into that category for me. And then the last week of the month when we were on our trip, they had a Belgian waffle maker... we had waffles every morning we were there... soooo... again, technically a breakfast food, but really should be a dessert. However, in comparison to all the treats I was eating before, this is much improved. 

My key takeaways from my month focused on nutrition are…

Small manageable goals are the way to go. Drinking water and putting constraints around what I’m eating (that don’t feel too restrictive for me) really helped this month feel doable. 

Setting constraints around what I’m consuming helps with being thoughtful about the food choices I make: With alcohol and sweets I’d pause before consuming and think, is this worth it? Is this something I really truly want? And what’s my reason for wanting to eat/drink this? Prior to this month, I wouldn’t think about it, I’d just eat or drink, but pausing allowed me to only consume things that I really wanted to eat/drink... which leads me to my next point...

Thinking about why I’m eating/drinking was insightful: Beyond, I’m thirsty or I’m hungry, I thought about why I wanted a beer vs. water or a cookie vs. throwing together a small snack. It all boiled down to how those things made me feel (or didn’t make me feel) vs. meeting an actual biological need. 

And... sometimes, I’m still hungry. I also noticed that, especially after dinner, I’d want to reach for a sweet because I was still hungry. An easy fix for that, eat a little bit more (with water) or wait 15 minutes and see if I still felt hungry (usually I didn’t). 

I love breakfast sweets 🧇: After thinking about what kind of sweets I really like, I kept coming back to breakfast sweets - pancakes, waffles, scones, cinnamon buns, they’re all so. good. In the future, I think these will be the things I make for myself on occasion and say no the rest because they aren’t worth it (for me!)… other than ice cream, ha!  

What will I keep and what will I toss?

I’m planning to keep pretty much everything. Continuing with the water and the alcohol and limited sweets. Moving forward I want to start paying more attention to sugar in sauces that I eat (like the sriracha I put on everything...). I’m really happy that I decided to embark on this “challenge” at the end of last school year, and now it’s carrying me into the new school year. I feel like I’ve got a solid foundation to start off the year with some habits I’ve been wanting to build for awhile but just haven’t been able to be consistent with.