May 17th, 2014
Somewhere around March 7 of this year, it occurred to me that I should probably clean up my act. This meant taking more vitamins (or just taking any vitamins to be precise), eating less beef-on-buns products, and exercising more (or just exercising in general).
I’d been feeling plenty run down, stressed, and bulky for several years, and I often cycled through periods of conscious health and detoxing, only to jump back on the eat-hamburgers, enjoy-the-wine, sit-on-the-couch-working-for-eight-hours train days later. Then, after a period of extreme exhaustion and ultimate burnout in late February, I knew that vicious back and forth had to stop.
What held me back slightly was that the nature of my work means I stare at a laptop for hours a day. Sometimes 12 hours. Sometimes 16. I try to optimize my working time during the kids’ school hours because I know that all getting-things-done bets are off the moment I pick them up and bring them home. This tendency means I’m loathe to take any time for myself from 8:30-3:20 because that is productive time wasted (I say in my mind). Also, if I don’t capitalize on every kid-free second I have to freelance, it means I’ll be taking my laptop to bed and working into the odd hours. Translation: going to the gym or popping in an exercise DVD took precious time I didn’t think I could spare. I always eat lunch at my computer, too, so chose simple edibles I could pop into my mouth with my non-writing hand, such as nachos and potato chip sticks.
Also, there was a general lack of restorative sleep happening, ill-advised relaxation methods such as Cabernet, and gravity pulling at my face.
So, after three days of thinking, on March 10, I decided to implement a 30-Day Transformation Plan I mishmashed together from Google advice and my own brain. I figured I would be bold and go big; and that I could do anything for 30 days, except sit in a spider den, and so I could probably live through less starch and more calcium.
I wanted to share what I did during this time because I truly felt more energetic and less nacho-y, and I always love to hear what people do to be better, and so maybe you will, too.
Here’s the breakdown:
I would do Jillian Michaels’ 30-Day Shred every day. This exercise plan consists of three levels, each lasting 20 minutes, and implementing a two-minutes-of-cardio, two-minutes-of-strength, and one-minute-of-abs interval training sequence. I rather liked the quick, get-it-done nature of the levels and felt sore afterwards, which my husband assured me was a good sign.
After week one, I added in 20 minutes of AMT training at my gym, which was essentially an elliptical/treadmill/stair climbing combo exercise helped tremendously by the fact that a large TV was situated in front of my face. I tried to use the AMT every day, but in practice, I did it every other day.
I eliminated sugar, most dairy, white flour, processed foods, and soy. To survive, I made these protein pancakes almost every morning for breakfast, learned how to make paleo crabcakes, which saved me for many a lunch, and bought enough dips from the farmers’ market to drown the taste of all the other healthy stuff I ate. I also bought those all-natural grilled chicken strips from Costco and dipped them in Thai sauce or chopped them into salads. Finally, hardboiled eggs became my best snack friend.
- Four Wholemega fish oil capsules
(for my heart and anti-inflammation)
- Two vitamin D drops (I’m deficient)
- A whole food multivitamin (because I should)
- A probiotic with every meal (for digestion)
- One biotin tablet (for hair and nails)
- One coenzyme Q10 (as an antioxidant)
- One niacin tablet (I’d heard it was a good detoxifier; but that “niacin flush” is gnarly)
All of the vitamin ingestion was complicated by the fact that I can’t swallow pills, and instead must chew them due to an unfortunate Thanksgiving incident when I was eight, so I went for liquid or chewable versions where I could.
I would do five minutes of meditation, and ask my husband “how was your day?” every evening.
To combat the downward pull on my cheeks, eyes, jowls, and neck, I compiled a daily facial exercise routine, some of which you can see here. I did these every day, faithfully.
I also added a product to my usual beloved Skin Authority skincare routine. The Resurfacing Accelerator is designed to exfoliate and “youthen” skin, which is a word I made up that should totally be a word.
There was zero wine in my 30-Day Transformation Plan, but lots of looking at it longingly.
(This awful pic shows me just before the 30-Day Transformation Plan)
(This similarly horrible pic shows me just after the 30-Day Transformation Plan)
(This ridiculously horrible pic shows me just before my tendons broke)
It turned out that 18 was my magic number because that’s the day I made it to with the plan. I completed nearly all of Jillian Michaels’ level two Shred, until something terrible happened to my hand and its tendons could no longer accommodate my weight resting on it from the five million planks I had to do. Despite this unfortunate appendage anomaly, I indeed felt firmer in places and my stamina rose dramatically.
I noticed a large energy shift for the better with the vitamins. I also observed that my hair and nails seemed stronger.
The meditation helped sharpen my focus somewhat when I could stay silent in my head long enough. I stopped asking my husband about his day after night three because I’m an awful person who was doing too many planks.
The best part of the transformation for me turned out to be the facial exercises. I really noticed a difference, and so did a lot of other people. I was told I “glowed” and looked years younger, which could have been the Resurfacing Accelerator, but I really felt that the exercises toned and lifted my face.
Giving up wine was a good thing. I slept better and that is wonderful for everyone concerned, said the crabby-no-sleep-getter.
Overall, I would do this again, except with less niacin and more “how was your days?” for my husband. Toward the end of the plan, I hit an exceptionally busy patch with work that derailed a lot of my routine. In the process, I observed how easy it was for me to get off course with a crazy schedule and realized that time MUST BE MADE despite it to be healthy. That was the most valuable lesson I already knew but needed to know deeper.
And that’s true for anything really, isn’t it?