The Whole Foods 28 Day Engine 2 Diet Challenge went by in the blink of an eye! Here are some photos from our graduation and Pot Luck. I highly recommend participating in one of these challenges if you get a chance. I know that our Whole Foods at Cedar Center in University Heights, Ohio is not only planning on running more 28 day challenges but also continuing to provide support and encouragement for the graduates of this challenge. Go Whole Foods!
Yesterday was our “graduation” from the Engine 2 Challenge. Wendy asked if I’d be interested in guest blogging about the experience, and while I don’t have a sensational story with impressive “before and after” results, I do feel like the past 28 days have changed my life.
Just a little background information: I’m from the south, a land of meatloaf and gravy, extra ranch dressing, more salt, fried chicken, fried cornbread, and fried okra. Fortunately for my arteries and cholesterol levels, I grew up in a home that wasn’t afraid of garden fresh vegetables and “well balanced meals”. But I moved out when I was eighteen and started making my own food decisions. In the first few weeks of independent living, I concluded that one of the greatest things about being an adult was the ability to eat whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. Ice cream for breakfast? Delicious! Macaroni and cheese with hotdogs for five days in a row? Sounds good! Ordering a box of ten crispy chicken legs from KFC to share with a friend while watching a movie? Yeah, I did that too. So it probably isn’t a surprise that I was overweight. Throughout college I felt mostly “blah” all the time. Not awful, not great. I still thought I made fairly responsible food decisions because I ate more healthfully than most of my friends. I didn’t eat McDonald’s or excessive amounts of potato chips and I liked broccoli and asparagus. But I was wrong.
Fast forward: I moved to Cleveland in 2006, I started exercising more regularly because a friend asked if I wanted to be her “gym buddy”, she moved away, I gained back the weight I’d lost, then I joined a running group because my friends were getting together on weekends for running and brunch. And I love brunch. But I was an awful runner. I couldn’t run a mile without stopping four times to catch my breath. I hated it. But I kept doing it because I didn’t really have anything better to do and I was losing weight again. So two years later brings me to a few days before the Engine 2 Challenge. I could drop whatever I was doing and run a 5k, I could probably run a slow 10k. But I had reached a plateau. I felt better, but I still didn’t really feel great.
I heard that Wendy was doing this Engine 2 Challenge at Whole Foods. I was really interested. I’ve been a meat eater my whole life mostly out of convenience (or laziness) and less out of a strong desire for meat. I don’t require meat at every meal and rarely eat red meat. On two separate occasions I’ve lived with a vegetarian and have always been vegetarian/vegan sensitive. So to tell you the truth, this challenge wasn’t too far outside my comfort zone. And like I said, I grew up in a vegetable friendly home, so I just had to reach back a few years to find some yummy kale soup recipes my mom used to make. Plant strong. I can do this. It’s only 28 days. But what I wasn’t prepared for was falling in love with this way of eating and thinking about food. The week before the challenge, I transitioned from meat eating to being vegetarian. When Day 1 of the challenge came around, I was ready to make the easy transition to being vegan. At the end of the first week I already felt different. Was it psychosomatic? I don’t know, but I felt different. I really felt “cleaner”. I felt like a thin, imaginary layer of slime and grit had been peeled away from my skin. I felt great. For the first time, maybe ever in my life I feel healthy and wonderful. I feel like my insides are smiling. This was the right decision for me.
I have a feeling I lost a few pounds during the Challenge, but over the past two years I’ve lost about twenty-five pounds total and have maintained my lowest adult weight for six months or more. The last time I went to the doctor was the first time I’ve ever heard a doctor say, “Well, you’re weight is good.” instead of, “Well, you’re a little over weight.” I’ve been asked by friends what I’m going to do now that the Challenge has ended. But it hasn’t ended. For me, this was an amazing educational experience. And like all great moments of enlightenment, my way of thinking, my way of viewing food and what I put into my body has forever changed. FOREVER. Now, I’m not going to lie, I might occasionally eat something that has a little olive oil. I might even savor a tiny sliver of manchego cheese on a whole grain cracker if I really, really, really feel like it. But the important thing is, I have learned how to eat well and I love doing it. I LOVE IT! And I don’t want to go back to eating like I did before. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life just feeling “okay”.
I’ve always heard that it takes 21 days to form a new habit, but even an additional seven days of low fat vegan eating went by way too fast. I feel like I’m just getting started, like this is just the very beginning, and I am so excited about the things to come.
Thanks for sharing your story Lindsay!