Sunday, December 7, 2014

My Reflections on completing my latest challenge!

So yesterday was my FINAL day doing the 'Four weeks to Fab' program by Rita Catolino and I wanted to write about it while it was still fresh in my mind. This was an intense 5 weeks, and anything this intense is going to have it's peaks and valleys, and I think because of the difficulty, it makes the experience that much sweeter and fulfilling. Anytime you tackle something that requires a great deal of dedication, discipline and hard work you learn a great deal about yourself - your strengths and weaknesses. I have to say that I'm incredibly proud of myself, I'm inspired and rejuvenated, and I feel on 'fire' with ideas. I think every woman/mother should have an experience that forces themselves to set a moment in the day aside for them. This program forced me to plan my exercise (and fit it into my family schedule) and plan my meals (which often differed from what the family was eating) and in the end I grew stronger because of it (thus instilling the importance of looking after oneself. Ok I'm rambling, but here is a summary of what I learned, experienced, or was simply reminded of:
1. Sugar is the MOST addictive substance known to man. I was not eating a high sugar diet prior to the program, but removing all desserts and sweet things was HARD. We run to sweet flavors for comfort, and this habit is a hard one to break. One thing I didn't plan on seeing was how great my skin looked by the end - no hormonal breakouts, no dull complexion - my skin was glowing if I do say so myself, and I'm pretty sure it was 95% from removing sugars (in the form of sugar, grains, fruits, breads, pastas etc). And yes, cutting sugars (in all forms) helps with weight-loss and puts you in fat-burning mode, when replaced with protein and healthy fats!
2. I was reminded that it takes more than a few days to break a habit and retrain the body. To be precise, it took a good 3 weeks to stop craving carbohydrates....3 WEEKS!! I realize now that often patients that struggle with giving up gluten/dairy/sweets may be giving up too quickly, and it's up to me to remind them that it can take 21 days!
3. PROTEIN provides consistent energy. We need it routinely throughout the day. Most women don't get enough, and even i was not getting enough.
4. WATER is awesome. You need to drink it, lots of it. BUT you can make it into tea. I drank tonnes of rooibos/green/white/herbal tea to total 3-4 L of clear liquid daily. My skin looked great and I had energy. Your bladder gets used to it, but yes you will be making trips to the loo more than you're used to!
5. Lifting weights is an amazing workout, that propels your metabolism to new levels. Working your large muscle groups (like legs) burns a tonne of calories, and forces the body to look for fuel - this allows you to eat more carbohydrates without it landing along the waistline!
6. Not all carbohydrates are equal. Gluten-free grains and sweet potato don't cause inflammation in the body like wheat, pasta, bread, crackers and excess fruit do. Your body looks and feels better with the first choices, and your energy stays consistent.
7. Everyone is an individual. Not all diets work the same way in every person, and there's no ONE diet that's the best/perfect one. Although we know a lot about healthy diets, we still need to consider how the person feels on it, and support them or modify the diet to meet their needs (I for example struggled with removing all seeds, and had to use them as fiber to offset the effects of so much protein). I found the balance and all was good!
8. When something is important to you, you'll make the time for it, plan for it and incorporate it. No excuses. I had to get creative - wake up early, plan the night before etc. It means bringing the family on board so that they know your goals and what you're trying to achieve. It makes them more understanding and supportive.
9. You need support. Although I help others on a daily basis, I would have never 'coached' myself through this challenge. It's always nice to have someone to lean on, and someone to throw ideas off of.
10. If you think you know everything, then your life is going to be boring. I love to learn from others, and get a different perspective on things. My perspective on nutrition comes from a naturopathic perspective. By reaching out to someone who is an expert in THEIR field (fitness), I've taken my knowledge to a new level, and have gained AMAZING experience that I can now share with others. NEVER stop learning!
11. Feeling STRONG gives you confidence, inside and out. It's a step towards something bigger for many people - I saw this transformation in the other women doing the program, which brings me to my final point...
12. Surround yourself with people who raise you higher...that cause you to think bigger, to reach for your goals, and who cheer you on while you do it. This is imperative. This may be family, a friend, or a stranger you met doing the same program! Find those people, and you will succeed.

I feel very fortunate to do the work I do, and I can't stress enough how much a healthy lifestyle plays a role in your overall health.  There's day I feel that I should just call myself a lifestyle coach because that's how important it is. I would love to come into everyone's kitchen, stock their pantries full of healthy foods, and tell them all about the importance of moving their bodies. Maybe one day I will:)
But for now, I'm left with many new ideas, and the creative side of me is already concocting a new program for the many women who's lives I want to touch - for all the moms that want more energy and to look and feel fabulous. I can't wait to see where my ideas take me, and I'm hoping to share them with you in the near future!

Dr. Anna Falkowski HBSc, ND
Naturopathic Doctor, Clinic Director
Twitter: @NaturoDoctor
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