Essays and Short Stories Friday, January 30, 2015
Earlier this year, I listed down 15 things I'm determined to accomplish this 2015. It's the 28th now and so far, I've managed to keep true to all of these. I'm going to say it: I'm now a morning person! I thought it was never going to happen but it did. And it's awesome!
At any rate, probably the biggest thing I wanted to change were my eating habits. That's why I decided to swear off Soda for all eternity. I also wanted to get back into shape. It was, thus, good timing when, upon browsing my Facebook news feed, I saw a post by my friend Joseph about the No Junk Food Challenge. And then I thought: The Universe has spoken! Naturally, the challenge was accepted!
So how does the No Junk Food Challenge go? Here are the rules:
So how does the No Junk Food Challenge go? Here are the rules:
As you might have expected it, it wasn't easy. In this age, basically everything is junk food. But like I always say, 'pag gusto palaging merong paraan (if there's a will, there's a way).
At any rate, my challenge began on January 7, and it ended on the 28th. Did I fare well? Yes. Yes, I did. Can I get some love?
(Thank you for the applause and the cheers. Right back at you.)
Well, through the course of my 21-day No Junk Food Challenge or NJFC, plenty of revelations had come to light. And in order to commemorate my triumph, I shall list them here. So, without further ado, in no particular order, here are the bits of "wisdom" and changes I've acquired from the NJFC.
21 Epiphanies from the 21-Day No Junk Food Challenge
1. You’ll never truly know the extent of your unhealthiness until you stop eating junk foods.
Before I decided to embark on this quest for a healthier me, I was blissfully unaware of my dependency on junk foods. There are days when meals consisted of nothing but Cream-Os and grocery-bought cupcakes. And if I did eat a proper meal, I'd always grab a chichirya or a Hany as a dessert. More than once, I had a whole bag of Cheetos for dinner. On weekends, I'd eat two cheeseburgers for snacks. My eating habits were disgusting. (Come to think of it, that explains why I became such a flabby dork.)
It was no surprise then that the first few days were excruciating. But I kept my focus. I wanted to regain the firmness that I lost from all the bad food choices.
2. There is such a thing as Sugar Withdrawal.
Sugar is a drug. I know that now. Because day three into the NJFC and I dreamed of Cream-Os. I had two other food-related nightmares after that. These involved an ensaymada on one and chocolates on the other. They were haunting me even in my sleep. Also, on the first week, I literally felt my body trembling at the sight of sweets. A couple of times, I've said through gritted teeth, "MUST. RESIST." Out loud. In a strange voice that reminded me of Sesame Street's Cookie Monster.
Although, rice isn't really a junk food, I was aware of its high sugar content. I'm referring to the plain white rice, by the way. The staple food of every Filipino. The problem is we Filipinos don't really consider it a lunch or a dinner if it doesn't involve a perfectly cooked white rice. But I decided to have as little rice as possible just to see if it can be done. And it can.
4. You’ll become more creative.
I've experimented with oven-baked tuna which, by the way, tasted wonderful. I've cooked Spicy Tuna Pesto which was not bad. The entire experience forced me to cook my own meals which is great because cooking a proper meal once a week is part of my New Year's resolution. Way to hit several birds with one stone.
5. Corn will be your new best friend.
Since my food choices are incredibly limited, I've looked for alternatives to the white rice. Something that'll give me the same level of fullness without the added sugar. I've read plenty of articles that in some parts of the Philippines, instead of rice, corn and kamote are the staple foods. So, I seek out corn. I love corn to begin with. Although I do prefer the yellow variant to the white variant (which is healthier). Corn played a substantial role in the last 21 days.
6. There is more than one kind of lettuce.
My meals are mostly salads. And because of this, I've learned the many names of the lettuce. You have Iceberg, Coral, Romaine, and, um, Baguio.
7. It takes 10-15 minutes to get a perfect hard-boiled egg.
I want my meals to have a little protein so my go-to were tuna and hard-boiled egg. I didn't want to put the eggs of my father's pet chickens to go to waste so I mastered the art of the perfect hard-boiled egg.
8. “Salad dressing” is a generic term.
Just like with lettuce, I've come to know the different kinds of salad dressing. You have Thousand Island, Caesar, Asian, Vinaigrette, and my favorite: Ranch.
9. You’ll appreciate the humble turon.
I still wanted to have something sweet. So when I wanted to have something more potent than plain fruits, I'd have a turon.
When your lunch is composed of veggies and fruits, you'll feel full enough to forego desserts.
11. Sometimes, you’re just thirsty.
Everytime I felt like grabbing an apple after having a salad, I drink two glasses of water. And the feeling goes away. Dehydration can often be mistaken for hunger.
12. Early to bed, early to rise, makes you less inclined to feel hunger pangs.
In conjunction to the NJFC, I've also started sleeping earlier and getting up earlier. And I've found that when you're well-rested, you're less likely to cram food into your mouth.
13. Breakfast can really go a long way.
I'm not a fan of breakfasts but now my days start with one. Because...
14. A steady flow of energy will surge through your veins.
I'm now stuffing food into my body that my body can actually use to make me function better. The energy I get from my healthier meals are more stable unlike the rush I get from sugar which tends to leave me more sluggish after the "high". There are no more "crashes".
15. Not working out will seem wrong.
You're eating healthy so it's only natural to exercise. I stopped using my motorbike in my daily commute and went back to riding public transport and walking to places. I also ride my bicycle as much as I can to get my dose of cardio and do curl-ups and 60-second planks because they make me feel good about myself.
|Everyday. For at least 10 minutes.|
16. Running out of breath now only happens when you do intense activities and not everytime you get up from bed.
Because I now do regular exercise, I don't get tired doing tasks as simple as getting up from bed. I now can run through a flight of stairs without breaking a sweat. My legs no longer feel like jelly and my arms seem not to jiggle as much.
17. Dump Syndrome can get worse.
I poop easily, ok? I'm not complaining, don't get me wrong, but drinking lots of water and having a digestion-friendly diet tends to triple your trips to the toilet.
18. You’ll get support when you actually tell people what you’re up to.
There was a time when I don't want people to know that I'm on a diet, so I gorge down food when around friends then hate myself when I go home. This time it was different. I told those who are closest to me what was going on and the support I got was amazing. My sister bought me vegetables and fruits. Even my dad included more fruits in his groceries. My colleagues stopped insisting that I eat rice. They even took the time to explain to me that lychee jellos don't count as candy. Dennis provided the pep talk and the pats in the back each time I told him how I turned my back on certain temptations. Even my nephews ask me whether or not I can eat something before offering it to me.
19. You’ll become a trendsetter.
Telling others what you're doing will most likely inspire them to do the same, especially if it can make them better. Take my friend, Cat, for example. I told her about the NJFC when we were making plans for a get-together and she had decided to take the challenge as well. She even told me I could choose where we will eat. My sister had also started eating healthier. And one of my nephews, JC, told me that he stopped eating chips for recess.
20. You’ll get used to it.
I can't imagine going back to my previous eating habits. Even now that I've successfully finished the NJFC, I still continue my routine. There are four pieces of ensaymada in the fridge as of this moment and I haven't even given them a second glance. The thing I miss most though? Popcorn. And I'm postponing eating it until I can share it with Dennis. The thing is, my bad habits are now good habits and wouldn't it be a shame if I just revert to shoving garbage into my body? I'm used to not eating any rice and having a salad for breakfast and dinner. I'm used to being healthy. And the only thing I want right now is to become healthier.
21. At the end of the day, you will be extremely proud of yourself.