Saturday, March 2, 2013

30 day challenge for March

Belly dancers are strong and fierce! Rarh! Skirt Full of Fire and Fire & Gold Bellydance performing "Jednou." Photograph by Pedro Romano.

I'm doing something very unlike me this month... I'm going on a diet. Ish. Jolie challenged the troupes to join her on a 30 day Eat Clean, Train Mean thingie for March. Out of solidarity and a desire to shake myself out of some bad habits, I decided to get on board... with my own modifications. I'm not a big fan of super-restrictive diets. In general I don't like being told what to do, and I really don't like to be told what to eat. And at this point in my life, I don't feel like I NEED to be on such a strict diet. I'm pretty healthy and I only need to lose a small amount of weight. But I do feel like I could eat healthier than I have been.

In general, I tend to eat right. I gave up soda a long time ago (occasionally I'll indulge in a gourmet root beer, cream soda, or ginger ale, but it's rare), I don't eat fast food if I have a choice, and I drink alcohol less than once a week. I also generally avoid fried foods, red meat is a rare indulgence, and I prefer multigrain bread over white. But I also have a few vices. I'm pretty sure my entire mouth is full of sweet teeth. Chips and salsa are an addiction for sure. And when the weather is cold, I love me some grilled cheese and soup. Or pizza. Or a quesadilla. Or a loaded baked potato. Basically any sort of carbs topped with melted cheese. I consider these to be fine in moderation, but I have not been moderate this winter. So it's time to cut myself off and force myself into a healthier mode.

That said, I don't want to go on a diet so strict that it inconveniences Chris (he's supporting me, but not joining me), nor that prevents me from eating out (something we do often due to busy schedules). I need a diet that is practical and still allows me to have some things that I enjoy. So starting yesterday, here's what I'm trying to do:

1. No more carb and cheese meals! I can have carbs, and I can have cheese as a garnish, but there will definitely not be any bread bowls full of baked potato soup.

2. No cupcakes, cookies, or other baked treats. This one really makes me want to cry. I love baked goods, but I know they're bad for me, so we have to take a break from each other. That said, I'm not giving up sweets altogether. I will be eating dark chocolate covered dried fruit or nuts, in moderation. Because life without chocolate is not worth living.

3. No chai lattes or hot chocolate. The fact that the weather suddenly warmed back up will make this one a lot easier.

4. No potatoes. This will force me to choose sweet potato fries or a side salad over delicious, delicious french fries. Honestly, I love sweet potatoes anyways, so this isn't a huge sacrifice.

5. Whole wheat whenever possible. No white pasta or white breads. I'll also be getting brown rice over white rice when possible.

6. More fruit and veg! Fresh when possible, but also frozen or cooked or whatever. Smoothies for lunch, salads with dinner (or for dinner!), fruit as a snack. Hoping to hit some farmer's markets for a little fresh produce from time to time.

7. Water, water, water. I live off of tea when it's cold. I need to hydrate, especially if I'm going to be training harder. At least one 16 oz bottle of water per day, no matter what else I am drinking and doing.

8. Cheat, but cheat wisely. One day per week I will throw these rules aside for a special meal. After all, I am going to Ren Faire this month and our anniversary is coming up, so I'm going to let loose a couple of times.

And that brings us to the "Train Mean" half of things. Oh yeah. Now this I can get behind! I used to do CrossFit when I first started dancing, and while I found the high cost and semi-cultish atmosphere a bit offputting eventually, I do sometimes miss being a total freaking badass (a badass who still couldn't do a pullup, but whatever). I don't think I'll be doing that level of training, but I do want to work hard to make up for a winter of sloth. My workout plans:

1. Really buckle down and do Couch to 5k 3x a week when possible (I'm vending at WWWC for three days next weekend so obviously I won't have time to run then, but otherwise, no excuses unless I am sick and can't breathe). Take corgis for brisk walks around the neighborhood on non-running days. Corgis love walks!

2. Finally do the lower body conditioning videos on Datura On-line. Maybe some arm and ab conditioning too, if I have time.

3. Get back to drilling at home. I have not been practicing much and my technique is suffering because of it. My troupe and my audiences have certain expectations of me and I want to exceed them!

4. Stretching. I've made some progress but my hips are still stupid tight. Honestly, right now this is even more important than building strength or losing weight.

There's also an optional mental/emotional/spiritual improvement aspect to this challenge. My goals on that front:

1. Get back to daily dance journaling. I failed on this yesterday, because I was exhausted by the time my guests left, but I want to get back to recording my thoughts and also using my journal to work on my self esteem.

2. More time for fun. Didn't I already set this goal at the new year? Yeah, haven't really been sticking with it. My life is all work, work, work, or being lazy on FB. I need to dance for fun and create just for the sake of creating, and maybe go out and do some fun things.

3. Spend more time with friends. I've been a little anti-social lately. I wasn't even particularly excited to see my gem show friends, and that is weird for me.

My over-all goals for this 30 day challenge:

1. Force myself out of the bad eating, non-exercising, and being antisocial habits that I fell into over the winter.

2. Be super-supportive of my troupemates who are also participating in this challenge.

3. Lose a few pounds and increase lower body flexibility.

4. Emerge from this month healthier and happier than I entered it.

5. Figure out which changes I want to keep in my life beyond the end of March.

I'll post occasional updates on my progress. Wish me luck!                        


  1. Best of Luck AJ! This sounds amazing. You got this. I'm looking forward to hearing how it goes.

    1. Thank you, Gina! You are always so encouraging, I love it :)


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