I decided to end my Clean Food Challenge after a week instead of ten days. When I did the original challenge, it was only a week long. For some reason, I thought doing a ten day challenge this time would make me feel even "cleaner." However, once I hit the one week mark, I decided that I was ready to be done. Any longer, and I think I would have ended up feeling burned out and negative about the experience. Instead, I'm ending the challenge feeling great about my success and more mindful about my body and what I put into it. Like last time, I'm not going to deny myself any foods, but I am going to pay closer attention to what I'm eating. I have come to realize that I have a pretty significant sugar addiction, and I need to make sure I don't let myself eat too much of it. I firmly believe in eating everything in moderation and still plan to enjoy sweet treats occasionally, but I have to remember that "occasionally" is the operative word. I'm also going to make sure I try to avoid refined sugar as much as possible and use alternatives that are more natural. Other than sugar, I'm ready to introduce the other "restricted" foods back into my life. I don't believe in complete deprivation, and have no need to eliminate entire food groups from my diet. Obviously, if I had food sensitivities or dietary choices (i.e. vegan) that required the elimination of certain food groups, I would do it. But, I think a healthy diet should contain a lot of variety and moderate amounts of all of the food groups.
Now that the challenge is over, I'm ready to move to the next phase of Operation: Summer Damage Control. I'm ready to add new forms of exercise to my routine so that I can improve my fitness and keep myself from getting bored. As a runner, I consider myself pretty fit. However, what I have come to realize is that running (and the occasional elliptical session) isn't enough to keep my body fit. I need to incorporate other forms of exercise so that I use all of my muscles and improve my fitness. So, I spent the past week reading through other blogs and thinking about the kinds of exercise I want to add, and I have come up with this:
Running: 3 - 4 times a week with at least one of the runs being a long run of 7 - 10 miles
Cross Training: 1 - 2 times a week - alternate between swimming, spinning, and the elliptical
Strength Training: 2 - 3 times a week
Yoga/Pilates: 1 - 2 times per week
I'm going to start out with this plan and see how it works for me. Having it written down will keep me accountable and, hopefully, more likely to be successful. It will require some changes in my schedule to make sure I fit everything in, but I'm positive it will be worth it in the end. I know that the addition of these different exercises will help me improve my fitness, make me a stronger runner, and most importantly, keep me healthy and grounded.