“If It Doesn’t Have a Mama” March WRAP UP!

March 30, 2010 at 9:29 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

On March 1st, I began a challenge to transform the way I looked at the food I was eating.  I was unhappy consuming food with ingredients I couldn’t pronounce and didn’t recognize.  What did it say about my personal responsibility of feeding myself if I was eating all these unknowns?  How were they affecting my body?  How could I change this?

The answer came in the form of the “If It Doesn’t Have a Mama” March challenge.  In the simplest terms, I used the adage “if it doesn’t have a mama and it didn’t grow in the ground — don’t eat it!”  I wanted to return to an eating style that relied more on whole, fresh foods and less on processed products.  I wanted to be a Retro-tarian.  Out went the freaky fats, the unidentifiable oils, the chemicals and preservatives.  I posted pictures of what I ate, what I avoided and how I managed to survive the month.

Here are some highlights if you missed the month:

🙂 I realized I was going to have to start paying more attention.  I was looking at labels now, not for their nutritional stats, but for their ingredients.  This was a swap!

🙂 I baked my own bread when I realized my usual whole wheat was an offender.

🙂 I ate at a restaurant, but not before doing a little sleuthing and making some awkward phone calls.  By the end of the challenge, I wasn’t even phased at eating out — I knew how to handle it and how to demand I be fed what was right for me.

🙂 I imposed upon my mother to make an all natural birthday dinner that would fit my challenge, and she did so because A) she loves me B) she is awesome.

🙂 I pondered the legacy of recipes.

🙂 I fell off the wagon — in the name of friendship.

But I got right back on and finished the month strong.  Keeping in mind this was NOT a scientific study, I am NOT a nutritionist or dietician, and we could argue a bunch of different variables: here’s what I learned.

Snacking and Hunger

This challenge changed the way I snacked.  It used to be I would come home from work and inhale whatever I could get my hands on while I was making dinner.  I was hungry, it was available, it was a match made in heaven.  When you actually have to stop and think about what you’re eating, you snack less.  When your choices are fruits, veg or cereal, you tend to think: eh, I can wait until the next meal.  At least, that’s what happened to me.  I realized my “hunger cues” were a little false.  Given the opportunity, I could hold off until dinner was made.  I kept up with my tra-dish-ional 4 o’clock yogurt snack at lunch, but soon realized eating the regular yogurt instead of the lite kind filled me up better.  I no longer got hunger headaches.  I would suffer a hunger headache at least three times a week, almost always at the same time.  That’s how my 4 o’clock yogurt routine started — I thought I was staving off an even bigger headache.  Well, sort of.  I was just fighting the problem with a weak instrument — although eating plain vanilla yogurt for a month got a little boring ;).

At first I was a little tough to not snack in group settings (at a friend’s house or at an event).  I got used to it.  I would eat what I could and avoid what I couldn’t.  Sometimes, I slipped a bar or an apple in my purse just in case.  I didn’t miss ANYTHING by not eating that food.  I was still there, my friends were still there, fun was still had.

Energy Levels and Appearance

You all are aware (at least I hope) that I’m training for a half marathon.  This means I am active in some capacity at least 5 days a week.  I was interested to see how this eating style would change my energy levels.  I am super happy to report that I had great energy this month.  I would go so far to say that it was a high energy month.  I felt more energized during the day, rarely had an afternoon slump (which usually proceeded a hunger headache) and tackled my training with gusto.  *cue triumphant musical theme*  I know, it sounds a little hokey, but it’s true.

On the appearance side of things, I didn’t think much changed.  My hair, skin and nails looked the same as always.  This I expected.  Usually, the introduction of healthy fat creates a difference in those things, but since there wasn’t much of that going on (I ate my share of healthy fat pre-challenge), not much change.  At least in my eyes.  In weeks 3 and 4, I received about 4 or 5 compliments from people I hadn’t seen in a while.  They all used the same word — “glowing”.  They wanted to know what I was doing differently.  Not one to brag (I feel a little snooty even typing this now!), I didn’t want to blog about that.  But the fact that they all used the same description made me wonder if it was because I was fueling my bod with whole, fresh foods.  I believe what you put inside is reflected in your appearance outside…

Weight and Budget

disclaimer: If you suffer or have suffered from disordered eating and you know that discussion of weight and weight loss is a trigger point for you, please scroll through this part.  I respect everyone’s different feelings on weight and do not want to be the trigger for any kind of unhealthy habits.

That said, I know you’re wondering about my weight.  I did keep track from week to week how my weight was changing (or if it was changing).  I thought for sure by cutting out fat-free foods (unless they were fat free by the gift of nature), I would gain weight.  I was ready for it.  I steeled myself each time I stepped on the scale.  Here’s the thing: I actually lost a little weight.  Just about 2 pounds.  Now, please, don’t go thinking this challenge was about weight-loss, because it wasn’t.  It was about feeding myself right.  I ate things that were previously on my no-no list: REAL maple syrup, REAL butter and put olive oil in the pan before almost every egg I cooked.  Let’s remember, I was also training for a half marathon at the time, so the weight loss is possibly attributed to my running.  However, I feel under normal circumstances with a healthy, active lifestyle, eating these REAL foods would not cause me weight gain.  I exercised portion control and enjoyed the food for what it was — REAL.

In terms of budget, I predicted I’d have more trouble sticking to usual amount of food money.  We allocate about $280 a month for groceries.  That’s just for the two of us.  I was pretty prepared to “owe” ourselves money in our budget for this challenge, but it didn’t happen.  Sam was not really participating in the challenge, so where we would have been buying food for both of us to consume, now we were buying different things for different people.   I was able to still shop sales, buy foods I could eat and swap out for alternatives when necessary.  I think this shows you can eat healthy on a budget.

So there you have it.  I’m still trying to decide how I proceed from here, now that I’m not doing the challenge.  Do I keep up this lifestyle? After 29 days, could I really even stop if I tried? We’ll see.  I just know it was weird not taking a picture of my breakfast this morning for you guys ;).

Did I leave anything out?  Any questions I didn’t answer that you really wanted to know?  Ask away!

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