Curiosity is my passion, and learning, experimenting, failing, and succeeding are always part of my day.
I’ve done a lot of experimenting with different challenges, and most of the challenges I’ve completed haven’t been published yet. Don’t worry though, I will get around to sharing the details soon!
These are probably the three biggest lessons I’ve learned in 2017. Some may be obvious, but the hardest part is putting these lessons into practice. It takes lots of discipline and effort, but the results are always very rewarding.
Challenges Are a Great Tool
As I started 2016 with the 20 No-Sugar Days Challenge, I came to realize how these challenges are a great way to fuel my curiosity, and experience the changes and benefits that a new habit can bring.
You may read a lot of good books, or do some workshops or courses, but all that knowledge is nothing without action. It’s not enough that you know what to do, you have to actually do it!
There are dozens of diets you can follow, and various step by step programs you can use to help you transform yourself into someone healthier and fitter.
But, in my experience, I find that you get better results from short, extreme periods, where you set a few simple rules and stick to them strictly for just a few days. In other words, you challenge yourself.
I say extreme because, if you want to see the effects of eating no added sugar, you need to remove all the added sugar from your diet for a period of time.
If you only reduce your sugar intake, and don’t cut it out completely, you won’t experience the benefits of removing sugar from your diet. You’ll do all that work and not get much in return, and no one wants that.
Since most challenges only last a week or so, you can go all-in, tough it out, and get much better results in a lot less time. It’s like a boot camp!
Whenever I start one of my extreme challenges, I make sure I tell my friends about it so they know what I’m doing. That puts a little more pressure on me to make sure I stick with it. That way, if I quit early, I’ll end up letting not only myself, but my friends down too.
Instant Pleasure Vs Long-term Feeling Better
After the no sugar challenge, I started a one-week low carb diet, which I extended for a month. By removing refined carbs like pasta, rice, white bread, French fries, processed food, and alcohol from my diet, I realized how much energy this kind of foods take out you.
As much as I like white bread with butter, I’ve learned that, with this challenge, eating white bread makes me bloated and less energetic. The same thing happens when I eat pasta. I do love a carbonara, but when I think about it, I remember how tired and sleepy I feel after eating it.
This is exactly the same thing that happens when I eat sugar. Every time I eat ice-cream, chocolate, or cookies, I experience instant, intense pleasure, but then I feel tired, lazy and depressed for hours afterward. Those few minutes of pleasure are not worth the hours of low energy, poor focus, and moodiness that followed.
The main problem is that these kind of foods, called bad carbs, are very complex and heavy, making them hard to digest and turn into energy for our bodies to use. That’s why they leave you feeling so tired.
When you eat fruit or raw salad, digestion is much easier. That’s because fruit and vegetables are much easier to break down into simple sugars, so our body doesn’t need to work so hard to get the work done.
To break down and digest bad carbs and high sugar foods, our body spends so much energy on the digestion process that you run out of energy for other tasks. That’s why you feel sleepy, tired, unfocused, and suffering from brain fog.
I’m sure this information is nothing new, but maybe, like me, you never really thought about it much before.
As much as we love French fries, white bread, pasta, cookies, ice-cream, chocolate, it’s important to understand that these foods take more energy to digest than they provide.
The few moments of pleasure from eating too much ice-cream is not worth the many hours of sadness, frustration, and running out of energy.
After becoming aware of this, I started to reduce the amount of high sugar foods and bad carbs in my diet. I was curious about what would happen, and it wasn’t easy for the first few days. But, I soon found my energy levels increased as my body no longer had to work so hard to digest those unhealthy foods.
People eat healthily and exercise for different reasons but, no matter what your goal might be, we all share common problems and issues on our journeys – more than you might ever realize.
10 years ago, I decided to focus on the things that added a positive value to my life and well-being. That meant sacrificing instant pleasures and looking for the long-term improvements instead.
It’s not easy, and some days are very difficult. I have even lost my way now and then, and gone off track for a while. However, I soon remembered that the path I was on was the one that would help me reach my goals, so I soon got back on track and stuck with it.
I’m naturally impatient and am often very anxious for results. I have to remind myself that getting healthier and fitter is a process and that I must always be patient.
Quick fixes don’t often work, and you need to be dedicated and consistent if you want to reach your goals. You will get results, but only if you keep on going. Winners never quit, and quitters never win!