Posted by Jeff Knight, coach of Team Rogue El Jefe, program director of Marathon High and running nerd (mostly nerd).
Its official. I think I’ve become healthier. Like, I-like-real-healthy-food healthier. As I mentioned last week, I
am thought I was a pretty healthy eater. Apparently I wasn’t. YOu know….That whole reference point thing.
I realized this during week number two of the Mel’s Meals 21-day challenge. You see, my wife was doing the 21-Day challenge with me. At the beginning of week #2 she got sick. Like all she ate was soup. As a result, the ready-to-eat deliciousness began to back up. Really back up. So, she emailed Mel to pause her program-which she did-and I took the rest of the food to work at Rogue. I figured between the handful of emaciated, professional distance runners (and trail nerd) that work on the shoe floor that the food would be gone in no time. Turns out I was right but in the process I learned something.
If you read my blog last week, you know that this is indeed a challenge. Mel’s Meal uses real, non-processed, wholesome ingredients. That means that all the little diet-vices were removed. Adios sucrose! Anyone that has dieted (Disclaimer: Although the 21-Day challenge shares similarities with a diet, it is not a diet; it’s much more) knows how it goes. Let me explain through an illustration:
Day 1-3, you feel like a mix between a badass and a martyr. Your internal spot line is shinning bright and directed right on numero uno. Since you committed to some novel thing that it should totally be accompanied by an angelic chorus and trumpets.
Day 4, you’re conflicted. Part of you is all in, part of you is all out. You’re like a pressure cooker or a tea kettle thats about to boil. One small misspeak and you’re punching Erik Stanley in the mouth.
Day 5-9, miserable. You question life. Religion. Even running. Its bad.
Day 10 and on, equilibrium. All the work you’ve been doing comes the norm and its in the most anti-climatic way. One day you wake up and eat breakfast, lunch and make it to dinner before you even notice you’re eating healthy. It’s weird.
Honestly, all these feelings and moods aren’t related to the food or anything. It’s more about what the foods don’t have. You see, Mel doesn’t dig salt and sugar. So when those are removed, you notice. As a result, I think the whole mood cycle was more related to my (“step 1: admit your addiction”) salt and sugar addiction. And by “my” I mean “all of us. But you know what, that’s what is so beautiful about doing the 21-Day Challenge. You reset the pallete. You reset your taste standards. You kick the bad habits.
So back to the experiment. After everyone was trying the meals I’d brought up to the store, their responses were similar to mine the first week. “It tastes kinda bland”, “It could use some salt or something” and so on. But what is really CRAZY is by that point I didn’t even notice. The meals no longer taste bland or “saltless”, they just taste normal. What I learned is that I had a new normal. I’m not all excited about a meal or dreading a meal. I simply enjoy the meal like I would any other meal.
That is the number one reason why I am glad I did this. The 21-Day Challenge has allowed me to pass on the salt and break the sugar cravings. As a result, I can now REALLY eat healthy (not healthy with a “pass the salt”). Sure there were other things about it that were cool, like I never once felt bloated or gassy during a day when I ate only Mel’s Meals or the fact that I felt pretty f&$king fast when putting the good fuel into the tank. And, like I said, it just became routine. It just became normal. Its like our running. 10-mile long run? To us its not big deal but to our beer-drinking and wino friends its like you just ran to Dallas and back. That’s what is so special. Thats why this is more than a diet. You see, its not the weightloss or anything else. Its the new…I dunno…mouth?
So do I want to do it again anytime soon? I can happily say “No”, not anytime soon. Would I recommend to people absolutely. Even the people not looking to lose weight or any of the knee jerk reasons that people decide to do something crazy like deprive themselves of the things they love (my sweet, sweet NaCl). There is just something about reestablishing ourselves, making that new status quo, that becomes so much bigger than our other motivators. The subtle things.
And with that…bring on the turkey, ginger bread houses, and candy canes….just hold the salt.