Going 30 days clean
By News and Features Writer Sam Bailey
Think you could hack 30 days without coffee, sugar, alcohol and carbs? WF’s Sam Bailey tells us how she made it through alive - and even ended up loving it!
If someone said to me a while ago that I could live a day without coffee, I’d probably have laughed in their face. ‘Me? No coffee? I’d rather die!’ I’d say. But then when the 30 Days Clean Challenge by Flow Athletic came a knocking, little old stubborn me became somewhat intrigued to give it a go!
The premise of the program run by boutique gym Flow Athletic is to spend a month getting your body back to its optimal health, which ideally means following their program of gyming five times a week and eating as naturally as possible (read: cutting all processed foods) so yes no coffee, alcohol, carbs or sugar. Admittedly I’d had a few rather big weekends partying prior to the challenge and realised it couldn’t have come at a better time, I was craving to give my body a break (not to mention it was winter and I’d already kissed my social life goodbye for a month long hibernation) and so starting the challenge gave me the perfect excuse!
While I thought I’d never get through it, I made it, and I have felt pretty damn good since. While I don’t think you need to be crazy strict about cutting all of the above (because let’s be honest, life wouldn’t be nearly as fun) I think you can only benefit from a clean living lifestyle and would honestly recommend to anyone to give it a go.
Here’s what I learned along the way:
1. Don’t swap one vice for another
When it comes to bad foods, there are lots of s words to be wary of – sugar, salt, saturated fat being the top three. So even though I knew off the bat that sugar was a no-go zone, somehow in my mind I convinced myself all else was up for grabs. So when 3pm came calling and no chocolate was allowed? No worries, I’ll just have salted popcorn instead. See the problem here? Because sugar was banned, salt was became my new best friend. Not ideal, but hey, Sarah Wilson from I Quit Sugar recommends switching to cheese as a way to wean yourself off cutting sugar, so if Sarah says it…*Disclaimer – unless you’re like my mum who believes a whole wheel of brie cheese in one sitting is fine because it’s not sugar.
2. It’s okay to cheat within reason…
Now before you start thinking I completely cheated the system, let me explain what I mean. When it comes to cutting food groups, I think there should be slight exceptions to the rule, i.e. fruit. When chocolate and cake is off the menu, one of the best go-to snack options is fruit. Yes fruit contains natural sugar, but overall I think it’s nutritional benefits trump it’s sugar content, so yeah I ate fruit. No biggie. This went for caffeine alternatives too. When dealing with coffee come downs, green tea became my new BFF. Yes it has a small amount of caffeine, but hey sometimes you just need something to wrap your hands around of a cold morning (and a little caffeine never hurt anyone!).
3. There’s never a good time to start…
While I think this saying comes from a good place - you know the place of motivating people to get moving and eating healthily today not tomorrow, I have to disagree on this one. There definitely is a good time to start and it’s not when you know the month is filled with social festivities – like mine was. Yep, over the 30 day challenge I endured 3 x goodbye lunches/dinners/drinks, a baby shower, a birthday, a happy engagement arvo tea, a catch-up-with-the-girls dinner and my favourite one of all – ‘the day ice cream showed up to work day’ (*fyi - this NEVER happens). Feeling my distress? It was by far the biggest test of my will power, but I am proud to say I made it through…even if salted popcorn and cheese was by my side the whole way. So lesson being, if you know you have no social occasions coming up, start then!
4. Motivation is paramount
Having a few tools and tricks to get you through is a big help. For me, there was two main motivators – good music and the fundraising aspect. When you’re bleary eyed and dreaming of coffee that you can’t have, there really needs to be something getting you out that door. Good beats are my new energiser- I love the Monster iSport headphones – they make you feel like you’re in your own silent disco. Music seriously made the difference between me choosing savasana (corpse pose) before class (read: staying in bed) or a savasana after a flowing vinyasa sesh where a moment of rest is well earned.
My other major motivation was the fundraising side of the challenge - all proceeds raised went to Beyond Blue. The charity is not only one I’m passionate about but knowing people are giving you money for your efforts keeps you on the straight and narrow – why cheat when you can give so much back (and it will only benefit you anyway)?
5. Being healthy full time is actually awesome!
It probably goes without saying, but being healthy is pretty damn addictive. Other than the two-day caffeine headache at the start, there was no down side to sticking at a clean living lifestyle; it was only gives ‘feel good’ benefits. I now feel lighter, my tummy is less bloated, I have glowing skin (or so I’m told), I have more energy and just generally feel better about myself. By investing in my body and health it has helped my body confidence and boosted my spirits *yep I may be mentally high fiving myself! I won’t lie though, the first coffee I had on day 31 never tasted sweeter. But as for the actual sweet stuff? Happy to take or leave it! Bring on the clean life!
For more on 30 Days Clean, check out Flow Athletic.