Never Fear a Good Challenge


This cookie photo courtesy of Cinnamon Productions, Ladera's best bakery and writing spot.

(Article published in OC Register on Friday, January 17)

Happy New Year! Well, I guess so. I’m on a diet and it’s hard. Like many, I spent the period from early-October (when Halloween candy hit the shelves at a low cost) through January 1 (when greasy food hit the spot from the eve’s festivities), eating whatever and whenever I wanted. Most of that three month period of indulgence has landed around my waist and it’s time to reel it in.

This year, one of my dear friends inspired me to join her with a two-week healthy eating challenge. There’s a book, a Facebook page and a support group to make sure we are successful. I’m sure at the end of it, I'll be one of the success stories but right now, this is how I feel: HUNGRY.

Though I've cut my intake of calories, I’m really trying not to starve myself. Something that's become very clear to me is that my need for food is psychological and it’s causing a very physical reaction in my body: cravings, hunger pains, heightened sense of smell (I swear I can smell the cookies from Cinnamon Productions a mile away), and crankiness. My poor family. I’m safest to be around pretty much only when I’m sleeping. My kids have been fairly warned and are being as sweet as sweet I might take a bite.

In all seriousness, I’m told these symptoms are completely normal and will subside by week two or three, if I make it that far. When I complained about the diet to my mom recently, she asked why I felt compelled to suffer through it. That gave me pause to think. Why am I depriving myself? Why am I allowing the desire for what I can’t have affect my moods? Why do I need to adhere to the diet’s rigidity? (Love protective mama!)

But then I asked myself, well, why not? I’m the one who got myself into this position: addicted to sugar and craving carbs, not to mention the extra pounds of padding I've added around the middle. I'm the one who's moody because I can't have what I want when I want it. I'm the one whose self-indulgence landed me here. So I really am the only one who can change my position and perspective, and that takes work.

I may not enjoy every step of the way and I may growl on occasion, but I will appreciate a healthier me when I get to the end of this challenge, and I'll be proud that I did something good for my body. Isn't that what every challenge is about: hard work, good results and a rewarding sense of accomplishment?

As you evaluate your plans for the rest of the year, don't shy away from the tougher jobs that take more of your effort to fulfill, for they are well worth the work. They humble us and help us grow. Whatever your challenge may be, stay the course, and don't forget to celebrate at the end of the race, preferably with something sweet. As for me, it'll be a CP chocolate chip muffin and a Diet Coke. I can't wait!


Holly and Jenn

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