Sunday, April 21, 2013

Confessions of a Backslider -- Guest Post by Gennith Johnson

30 Day Mediterranean Lifestyle Challenge

Gennith is ASHA's Associate Director, Health Care Services in SLP. She's been an active participant in our fitness classes and enthusiastically participated in our challenge -- not without facing a few hurdles along the way though. I asked Gennith to share her story.

Gennith at her first Cherry
Blossom 10 Miler April 7, 2013
I am always searching for the latest and greatest when it comes to health and wellness. I consider myself adventurous and eager to try new things. When I first heard the news of the 30 Day Mediterranean Lifestyle Challenge at ASHA I was intrigued and ready to get on board. I read the New Sonoma Diet Book, attended the cooking demonstrations, cleared my pantry and purchased lots of new “power foods”. Equipped with an arsenal of information and a great support system I was ready for the challenge. I learned so much about preparing different foods, and found myself loving the Sonoma Diet recipes. I gradually started to notice a change, I had more energy, clothing fit better and I felt great sense of accomplishment for sticking to the “plan”.

Then it happened…during Wave 2 I travelled to New Orleans for a wedding. In one three day weekend, I unknowingly traded my Mediterranean Lifestyle for the “good stuff”. I found myself rationalizing that seafood gumbo was not exactly “processed” and there was absolutely no way I could leave a wedding reception without “tasting” every dessert. I returned home, and had subconsciously thrown in the towel. The damage had been done. I noticed some of my favorite snacks and old habits had returned and I was back to my same old routine.

After my backsliding experience, I got back on track. I started Wave 1 of the Sonoma diet all over again. I needed a fresh new start. I think it is important to remember when we attempt to make lifestyle changes; we may not always have the desired success on the first attempt. I’d like to share Health Magazine’s Tina Haupert’s five tips for getting back on track:

  1. Don’t dwell on the past -- Instead of dwelling on the mistakes I made in the past, I focus on the future. For me, the most important thing to remember is that those pounds gained are not permanent. With some strength, self-discipline, and hard work, they’ll come off. 
  2. Create a plan of attack -- Creating a plan of attack with regard to my eating and exercise routine makes me feel in control. I start by planning my workouts for the week by scheduling them in my calendar. I’ll usually pick a couple of group exercise classes at my gym and schedule them like appointments that I cannot miss. Searching for nutritious recipes online and planning a few healthy meals also boosts my motivation to get (and stay!) on track. 
  3. Read health blogs for inspiration -- When I’d rather sit on the couch than go for a run, I read some of my favorite health blogs for inspiration. I almost always find a recipe, new workout, or some words of advice that make me want to change my tune. Seeing others at their healthiest and happiest motivates me to think back to a time when I felt strong and fit. This always gets my butt in gear! 
  4. Make a change now -- Instead of waiting to start a diet or new exercise routine on Monday, I make changes right away. I throw on my sneakers for a workout or plan my next meal to include lots of fresh produce, whole grains, and low-fat protein. Jump-starting my motivation right away keeps me from falling further into bad habits that got me off track in the first place. 
  5. Be patient -- Weight loss (and even maintenance) includes many ups and downs, so it’s easy to forget my successes. Instead of obsessively checking my progress on the scale and realizing it hasn’t changed as quickly as I’d like, I focus on the progress I’ve made off the scale. For instance, I recently have been incorporating more veggies into my meals. I’ve tried a bunch of new recipes and found easy ways to load up my diet with nutrients. Remembering my successes at times when I need them most gets me back on track (consistency is key!) so I see results. 
This week concludes the 30 day challenge. Since February, I am happy to report that I have lost 2 inches off of my waist, experienced a decrease in percentage of body fat and and BMI. I also had an improvement in my blood pressure reading and lost and gained a few pounds along the way. I cannot help but wonder what kind of progress I would have made if I was committed for the entire duration of the program. I am thankful for the experience and to ASHA’s Wellness Team for replacing the candy jars with fruit and nuts. This made my afternoon visits to HR much easier! I am looking forward to incorporating a few lessons from the New Sonoma Diet into a more permanent lifestyle change.