Monday, March 18, 2013

One-Week Challenge

Very often we get into daily habits, and we don't even realize our routines unless someone else points them out. I haven't lived at home for about seven years now. And, I haven't lived in the same city as my parents for about four and a half years. As a self-labeled health nut, when I go visit my parents, I notice little habits they've created for themselves through the years. They existed when I lived at home, but I wasn't aware of them until I was able to see things from an outside perspective. 

The longest standing habit that I noticed was my parent's consumption of soda. Growing up, we had soda at dinner. Dad and I always had regular, caffeine free. Mom always had diet. I stopped this routine in college, when I was on my own and able to develop my own eating habits. I chose water instead. I'm so glad I got away from this nasty little habit, especially with all the developing health buzz through the years about these sugary, artificial beverages. But, when I visit my family, they still have soda at dinner, and sometimes lunch. While their soda habit is actually pretty normal for the average American, I can't help but wonder how their health would be positively effected if they quit this sweet and bubbly daily fixation.

Added to the soda, we have coffee. I began to drink coffee occasionally in college. After I graduated and lived with my parents again for a short time, I enjoyed a Thermos of mom's coffee in the morning on the way to work. It was completely irresistible, especially on cold mornings. I love the smell of coffee, and she added a sprinkle of cinnamon to the grounds so the aroma was even more inviting. When I moved into an apartment by myself, I found it wasn't always easy to wake up early enough to make coffee for myself, and I eventually stopped the daily habit. After a few scary caffeine withdrawal headaches, I decided to keep coffee for "special treats" only. To this day, I try to keep the caffeine consumption to a minimum. Long story short, I get a more positive energy boost from a short walk near the agency windows (sunlight), a tall glass of water, and a piece of fruit.

My mother recently expressed interest in developing better eating habits. After a small happy dance, I started to think of easy ways she could incorporate more healthy choices to her daily life. (Ask LaLa for healthy habit advice and ye shall receive!) I thought it would be fun to challenge ourselves for one week. I thought of a challenge for her to do for seven days, and she thought of one for me. 

Thinking of my mother's caffeine routine, I wondered how she could do without it. I know she still brews that inviting cuppa every morning, yet I know she also has the diet soda at dinner, and sometimes an artificially sweetened latte or a diet soda at lunch. What if she only had her morning boost? My challenge to my mother was to quit the caff all day except for the morning. But rather than cut her off of cup completely, I gave her suggestions to replace these artificial beverages with something more clean and natural. 

My challenge to mumsie:

Stop the afternoon coffee and have a cup of herbal tea. My mom is used to sweetening her coffee with Splenda, and having diet soda, which is also sweet. Unsweetened tea can be a bit of a change for someone who is used to sweet beverages, so I limited her to one teaspoon of agave nectar. 

Afternoon and evening
Replace the lunch and dinnertime soda with lemon water. Room temp water with a hefty squeeze of lemon aids in healthy digestion while quenching thirst. In larger doses, caffeine can dehydrate your system by causing liquids to pass through your body more quickly. Also, the sweet taste of soda can make your body crave more sweet things later- diet soda or regular. A clean glass of water with lemon is just better for your insides than artificially colored and flavored carbonated beverages, sweetened with sugar or aspartame. 

Mumsie's challenge to me:
Edit your brother's senior photos, already! One photo per day. And, call your grandmother more often. 

My results:
Yes, I can do this! I knew I had a busy week, with events scheduled almost every night, (I'll get to more of this in my "reflections" section) so I decided to hit the ground running on Tuesday night and edit about eight of his photos. Cheating? Perhaps. But I got a lot done, more than just the photos my mom picked out that she liked. And the week after, I still edited more, because I wanted to. Sometimes I forget how much I love editing photos on my own, outside of work. I need to remember that just because my work day is done, my creativity is not. 

As far as calling grandma, I try to do that already, but I always think I could call her and my grandfather more. They are pretty amazing people and always seem to have a joke to crack or something nice to say, even if their week is filled up with doctor appointments. 

Mom's results:
(This is a direct quote from an email she sent me about the challenge.)
"I like not having soda all the time, it helps with the sweet cravings. I will continue to have it once in a while, but not as much as I did. As for my coffee...I can't say that I will continue to not have it in the afternoon but I can say that I will think 'tea' first if I want something. It's a rare day when I have more than 2 cups in the day." 

My reflections on both of us
As for my mother, and most every other person in the US with soda and/or coffee being a part of their daily lives, it is difficult for something so normal and comforting to be taken away. I was hoping this challenge would make her see that she doesn't "need" it, rather, she "wants" it. I think she partially understands that now, but it is a journey, for anyone, to change the way they view what they consume. One week is just a kick-starter. We have a long way to go.

As for me, oftentimes I come home from work, flop on the couch and wonder what I'll do for the rest of the night. I like to usually try and schedule things after work so I don't flop on the couch and stay there. My "challenge week" happened to be full of events, including spending time with a good friend who was visiting from out of town. It also included zumba and yoga, and the gym. (Regularly weekly scheduled post-work events are usually fitness or friends related!) Rather than cancel my plans with anyone or any class, I worked around them. I find that if I try to focus on one thing in my life, I get way too consumed with it, and forget about all the other things I was excited for in the first place. I managed to retouch more of my brother's photos than we originally planned on, as well as go to the gym and see my friend. So, as this was a rather small challenge for me overall, it really taught me a lesson on balance. Just because one big thing comes up doesn't mean I need to neglect all other things.

1 comment:

  1. The biggest take away from this was to be aware of what I was doing. Yes, I am a creature of habit. Now, I enjoy my water at lunch (sorry though, it's cold and without lemon!) Today I downloaded this totally cool app that tracks what I eat, allows me to find items by scanning UPC..all very simple, which is what I want if I expect to use it. This also makes me stop and think. Even if I know I will go over my goal for the day, at least it is a conscience decision. And, chances are, seeing there in front of me will keep me from going over too much! I've also employed the 'wait 10 minutes' when I think I want something. Most of the time the 'want' just gets forgotten about. I have a lot on my mind at this point in my life, a lot of changes and unanswered questions. Maybe if this is the one thing I can control, I'll feel a bit better.