Heading into 2014, I challenged people to cleanse things from their lives that were detracting from their health. By joining the clean14 challenge, I asked folks to share what they would cut from their lives to contribute to increased health, wellness and ultimately happiness. For me, the list was short but powerful:
- Processed Foods
Coffee was tough as I had sleepwalked (pun intended) my way into drinking 2-4 (seriously) cups of coffee per day. We had a Keurig at work, and I had an increasing amount of time on my hands, so I passed the time by making coffee mindlessly. Next thing I knew, I was dependent on it, and was an irritable zombie who would fall asleep at 10am on the weekends since we don’t have coffee at home. I cut it out in November of 2013 to get a little jump on the process because of how bad things had gotten. I went cold turkey. Sort of, which brings me to number two on the list.
Soda really meant diet soda as I never drink regular soda. I have had a bit of a long term relationship with Diet Pepsi, and really craved the taste of it (especially over ice). In addition to my coffee, I was having 1-2 cans of Diet Pepsi a day (again, not on weekends), only fueling my caffein-dependency, not to mention all the lovely chemicals that come along for the ride. I stopped drinking it in December of 2013, and weened myself totally using Zevia, a stevia-based soda for sale at Whole Foods. By January 1st, I was soda-free, and continue to be as we approach December 31st.
Processed foods is easy in principle, but tough in practice if you travel or eat out much. The reason is that you don’t really know if you’re free of it or not, but I did my best. I didn’t buy it, and tried to order things that came as whole food items (e.g. not ordering a deli meat sandwich, but getting a chicken breast sandwich instead to avoid the chemicals and preservatives most deli meat has). Do I miss Cheetos? Yeah, I guess, but not really.
Alcohol was super easy to quit. I have never really been a drinker, and was down to 3-4 glasses of anything (wine or beer) a year (seriously). My wife doesn’t drink either, so there was no peer pressure questions like, “Do you want a glass of wine, too?” Have I gotten some comments from people? Sure. I went to an alumni event for the consulting company I worked at, and one of the senior partners who is quite a wine connoisseur (amongst other drinks) gave me a lot of jabs and comments about not drinking and how he’d never do that. Good for him. I was perfectly fine with my water and not feeling crappy later or having more chemicals for my body to process when it should be using its resources to recover from my latest workout and get me stronger for my next one, thank you very much.
So what happens now? What about 2015? We’re going to keep it going. As for me specifically, I will say that coffee is back in my life (I made it a year, though not quite through 2014). What I won’t do is get to a place of dependency or mindless consumption again. I might have 3-4 cups a week rather than a day, and even that is on the high side. Barring that, the rest of the list will stay out of my body.
What about you? What are you eating that you know you shouldn’t? If it’s hard to give up, that’s more of a reason to do it, and do it via a challenge because the visibility and formality of it can bring structure and purpose to help you get through it. Comment here, join the challenge, and let me know how you will enlighten.your.body.