The 21 Day Challenge – Results and Next Steps

 

It’s been 3 weeks since I decided to undertake the 21 Day Challenge; 21 days of no carbs, no sugar, no alcohol and every day workouts. All in all, it was tough at times but I’m glad I pulled through. Here is how it went:

The Results

The point of this 21 day challenge wasn’t to lose a certain amount of weight, but rather to force myself to think differently about nutrition and exercise and create a clean slate on which I can build a healthy routine and good habits.

In that respect it has been a big success. I managed to resist even the biggest cravings, I’ve gotten used to cooking healthier dishes and most importantly, I’ve started paying attention to what is in the food I eat. I also stuck to my goal of going to the gym every day with only one break day a week; something I plan to continue.

Even though the primary goal was to change my mindset, I did manage to lose 6 kg in just 3 weeks (going from 104.3 kg to 97.9 Kg). Getting under the 100 kg mark is definitely an added bonus, which brings me almost 1/3 of the way to my end goal.

On top of that, lifting weights every day has definitely made a difference. I’m comfortably lifting about 30% more than I was at the beginning and I can see the impact it’s beginning to have in overall strength and muscle development.

I also noticed that throughout these 3 weeks I spent significantly less on food because I had to seriously cut down on snacking and didn’t have many options for eating out or ordering in.

All in all, I’m glad I pulled through. I saved some money, I lost 6 kilos, I learned to appreciate what is inside the food I eat and I’ve started to develop a much healthier attitude towards food in general.

All that being said, I would not recommend this as a diet for weight loss. A total lack of carbs and sugar sometimes drove me to eat other unhealthy foods that are rich in fat and I’m sure it will be even healthier to have a little bit of carbs in future but a better balance all round with more focus on calories.

Biggest Challenges

I expected sugar to be the hardest craving to overcome as I’m a big sweet tooth, which probably accounts for a huge amount of the calories I usually consume. Surprisingly, I handled the sugar withdrawal better than expected. The carbs however, were a different story. Meals often felt empty and unsatisfying without bread, pasta, noodles, crackers, rice, couscous, quinoa or potatoes, especially as I don’t actually eat that much meat. Broccoli and cauliflower rice and zucchini noodles were a decent alternative sometimes but other times they didn’t really cut it.

Cutting back on alcohol was pretty easy, but I already hadn’t been drinking too much lately so it wasn’t a major change. The main difficulty was when making plans with friends in the evenings. I definitely look forward to having a night out with a couple of beers soon!

Next Steps

The biggest impact this challenge had was that it showed me how much crap I was actually eating before. Snacking is definitely my biggest vice so I will try to keep snack foods to a minimum. Now that I’ve gone cold turkey for 3 weeks, it will definitely be easier to have a balanced diet with only moderate amounts of carbs and sugar.

Forcing myself to go to the gym every day definitely got me into the rhythm and I am actually developing a positive habit of it. It was a pain in the ass when I was ill one day, but I’m glad I went anyway. I plan to keep going at least 3-4 times a week and start documenting my progress more carefully

I also think that from now on, I will eat carbs and sugar again, but I will pay close attention to how much. Maybe I will set daily or weekly limits…it’s easier to make rules than to trust my own judgement.

The best thing about the 21 day challenge is that I now know that I can go without all these foods. Just knowing that makes it easier to cut down and moderate how much I eat. The end game is still to get close to or even under 90 kg so I am just over 1/3 of the way to my end goal!

For anyone who has let themselves go and wants to make a proper change, I think that this a great way to get back into the rhythm!

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