The Popcycle 30 Days To Summer Challenge: Acheiving ultimate health and wellbeing by re-establishing positive habits in eating and exercise…

I am now in week 2 of the Popcycle 30 day challenge and I am starting to think that my eating habits have already changed.

It is something I have joked about in the past, but my relationship with food has always been a bit of a strange one, and it has only been in recent months that I have come to realise the health impacts of poor nutrition.

I don’t eat meals. I snack. I’m too busy to cook, and a typical day might go like this:

  • 7.30am: Latte (shot of espresso with frothy semi skimmed milk)
  • 10.30/11am: Another latte, perhaps a cookie to go with it.
  • 2pm: Latte, slice of cake/donut/chocolate bar
  • 4pm: Latte
  • 5pm: I might snack on Molly’s left overs (couple of mouthfuls of pasta)
  • 8pm: Bowl of cereal (or something strange like a box of popadoms)

I might fit in a piece of toast too. I don’t eat fruit. I don’t drink water. I get my β€˜calories’ through sweet treats.

My health has suffered as of late and I have self diagnosed myself with stress (its crazy what stress can do to your body). I did a bit of research, and found that when you are stressed, your adrenal glands produce cortisol. Excessive usage of your adrenal glands can cause irreversible damage and have subsequent consequences on your mind and body.

This release of cortisol is part of the fight-or-flight mechanism, which historically, we would have used for hunting etc, but the strains of modern life now have us producing more cortisol than our bodies were designed for.

Cortisol also increases you blood sugar levels, so I was interested to see if eliminating sugar from my diet would help with my symptoms (headaches/dizziness/fatigue).

Included in the first ever 30 Days To Summer Challenge by Popcycle,  is a food plan, a schedule for classes and catch ups, as well as access to a private Facebook group so participants are able to inspire and motivate each other.

Before we started the challenge, we had a meeting with our nutritionist, Giuditta Del Vecchio, who explained that our aim is to understand the impact that food has on our bodies, to eliminate sugar, reduce cravings, and to make long term changes to our eating habits.

We would also be eliminating caffeine (including decaf, which is full of chemicals) and alcohol from our diets as these increase cortisol production too.

We were only to eat β€˜good carbs’ (no bread, pasta, or potato), and we were to avoid β€˜gluten free’ products because they contain a lot of additives and sugar. We were also to avoid dairy (my favourite).

This all sounds a bit dull doesn’t it? NO FUN STUFF. But to be honest, I was quite excited about how it would change my wellbeing. It turns out that I have never eaten so much food in one week, all of which has been SO tasty, and I am even beginning to ENJOY exercise!

 

THE CHALLENGES 

  • Planning. Although I plan which meals I have on what day, I have struggled making sure I have food available for a quick and easy snack (aside from toast or cereal!) It’s the time issue, I don’t have much spare. The best trick is to ensure there are always left overs in the fridge to ‘grab’ when needed.
  • Knowing what I am ‘allowed’. The other day I had a meeting in a coffee shop, at lunch time. I couldn’t eat or drink anything from the menu (or I didn’t know what I could/couldn’t eat or drink). I ended up having a ginger tea, followed by a fresh orange juice.
  • Laziness. Finding the time to cook.

 

THE SURPRISES 

  • I haven’t really had any cravings. On day 7, I allowed myself a little treat in the form of a cupcake (at a children’s birthday party), and I only managed 2 bites because I found it too sweet.
  • We had our body composition readings at the start, and I was pleasantly surprised. Like most people, I have body confidence issues and my readings were a lot ‘better’ than I thought they would be, which made me realise how important it is to not only understand our own bodies, but to understand what is ‘normal’ too.
  • The food has been delicious.
  • I look healthier (I’ve even had the ‘glowing’ compliment a few times)
  • The other day I had a headache and I would have normally had a bowl of cereal (easy) and gone to bed (I couldn’t be bothered to cook), but I made myself cook a spicy chicken salad and I felt so much better for it.
  • It has only been a week, but I have so much more energy and my headaches/fatigue has almost gone. In fact, I spoke to my Dr today and told him about my meal plan, he said that it is becoming increasingly common for patients to improve their own health through nutrition, but ‘medical knowledge’ of diet and nutrition is not advanced enough to be used as treatment for medical conditions. Could you imagine how many symptoms/conditions could be related to nutrition? And how much less strain the NHS could be under if people fully understood the impact that food has on our bodies?
  • Most importantly, my attitude has already changed. Instead of looking at something sweet and thinking ‘yummy’, I am thinking how rubbish it will make me feel, or how much rubbish it contains. This is something I never ever thought would happen. My dentist will be pleased.

 

 

We are also doing 3 exercise classes a week, which have been great. I love the variety and I am enjoying the feeling of sweat running down my face! So far, we have had a mixture of Spin, Pilates, Boxing, Barre, and HIIT training. Not only do we have our own timetable for participants of the 30 day challenge, but we are given unlimited access to all classes, which take place at the beautiful Popcycle studio in Bayham Hall.

 

 

 

 

 

Having the support of the Facebook group has been great, and it really motivates you. We are all in this together, so we can share our experiences and discoveries. You also feel like you would be letting everyone down if you cheated!

 

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I have already noticed a difference in my health, and I have also noticed a difference in my waistline, after all, I am now eating proper meals! I am looking forward to seeing how my body will change (inside and out) but I am most of all looking forward to strengthening my relationship with food, so that I can teach good eating habits to Molly.

This might be the best thing I have ever done…

 

Here are some of my favourite recipes:

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Paleo Bread

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Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chilli

 

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