Beginning tomorrow, I will be embarking in a new 30 Day Challenge, where I will follow a no-meat, vegetarian diet. Before I get into my reasons for wanting to try this challenge and what I hope to gain from the experience, I feel that I first need to provide an honest reflection of where I am as I begin this challenge.
I am a MEAT EATER. I revel in my omnivorous leanings and delight in making and eating steak, bacon, chicken, shrimp, and quite frankly just about any meat-based protein. In ‘preparation’ for my 30 day meat free diet, today I ate a cheese burger for lunch and Italian sausage with bacon laden loaded baked potatoes for dinner. I eat meat for almost every lunch and dinner. I hate tofu. Meals don’t feel complete without meat as a main course. And up until rather recently I would roll my eyes and the very thought of a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.
This challenge has also probably received the most criticism and divisiveness from friends and families. Some have been pretty excited and supportive but many have been less enthusiastic. My mom looked at me with a mild horror: “what will you eat??”… “you need to be awfully careful with your diet”. Others just looked at me incredulously “why would you do that???”
About 10 years ago I attempted to try a vegetarian diet. I lasted 36 hours, specifically 2 lunches, 1 breakfast, and 1 dinner. So there are a lot of potential hangups and pitfalls for me in taking on this challenge. But as I think about reasons for doing this, I have developed some pretty clear motivation.
Finding Inspiration and Staying Motivated
- Focused Food: I recently watched the documentary based off Michael Pollan’s book, In Defense of Food. I have never been a huge proponent of never, ever eating meat and his 7 words of wisdom “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants” resonates with me. There is value in eating well, in enjoying food and being mindful about what you eat. I like that principle and feel like that is a great tenet to follow as I begin this challenge.
- Improved Health: This tends to be one of the top arguments in favor of vegetarian and vegan based diets. The improved health benefits for plant based diets is widespread and pretty well documented.
- Lowered Carbon Footprint: To be able to personally make a small positive impact on the environment by reducing my personal carbon footprint is hugely motivating.
- Involvement and Support from Others: A few days ago, I was chatting with a co-worker and mentioned that I was going to be embarking on this meat-free challenge and she and her husband decided to join! I also have gotten some great feedback and insights from actual vegetarians and vegans, which makes me feel pretty optimistic.
- Internal Stubbornness: Most importantly, the desire to make it a full 30 days and commit to this challenge will be the final push in hopefully getting me through this challenge.
When I gave my mom, sisters and best friend access to my closet and complete autonomy over the outfits I would wear for the month, I didn’t go into the challenge with a lot of expectations. As I reflect on the last 30 days of new styles and fashion related adventures, I really enjoyed the experience and recommend it to others who want to see their clothes in a different way. Here are my biggest takeaways and discoveries from the month…
- Break up the Routine- My inspiration for this challenge stemmed from boredom. At the start of this challenge, my clothes bored me and I was always circulating through the same 10 or so outfits. Having new eyes to carefully examine the clothes I look at everyday was a fantastic way to revitalize a seemingly boring closet.
- Mix it Up! I have items in my closet that for one reason or another always get paired together. Admittedly, there isn’t really anything wrong with the pairings but they are also not very inspired. However, when my ‘special stylists’ saw these seem items- a pink striped cardigan, a brown tank top, a hounds-tooth sweater– all of the sudden they found new combinations I never would have thought of on my own.
- Pay Attention to the Details- It was really fun watching each of my ‘stylists’ take great detail combing through my closet, each harping on their own details that I personally had never really thought about. My sister really focused on what items provided the best overall palette while my best friend chose combinations that provided the best way to showcase complimenting colors.
- Revitalize Rarely Used Clothes- I have a gray pencil skirt that I have owned for years and have never really worn. My reasoning has always been that it doesn’t seem like me. My ‘stylists’ selected several outfits that featured this skirt and it pushed me outside of my fashion comfort zone.
- Re-evaluate What You Have- This challenge also revealed the clothes that I should probably say goodbye to. Having people look through your closet is pretty revealing, and over the years, I have developed blind spots to the clothes that I know don’t fit, look weird or that I just don’t like anymore. Having people less familiar with the backstory of my clothes revealed the clothes I no longer need to hold on to… Looking at you: acid-washed jeans, dress that I last wore 10 years ago and layered tank top.
- Accessorize! If I thought my clothes were boring prior to this challenge my accessories were even less imagined and creative. Perhaps the single biggest takeaway from this whole experience is how the right necklace or set of earrings can change an outfit.
Overall Challenge Enjoyment: 4 new necklaces and an infinity scarf (I have no idea what that means, but I liked the challenge a lot).
Would I Do This Again? YES! Just need some new willing stylists. 🙂
Tomorrow starts a new month and two new 30 Day Challenges! The first challenge is a fitness based challenge: 30 Days of Strength Conditioning. The second challenge is more of a new lifestyle challenge: 30 Days of Style Changes.
30 Days of Strength Conditioning
The inspiration for this challenge came as a direct result of my experience from Swimming Around Lido Key last week. After some post-swim reflection, I realized that while I was happy that I accomplished my ultimate goal of completing the swim, I felt a little disappointed with my overall performance.
When it came down to it, I felt pretty physically and mentally defeated by the ocean current. So this month I am looking to focus on a physical fitness challenge that will be spent predominately out of the water in the hopes that I have more physical strength to tackle future endurance swim challenges. For 30 days, I will dedicate myself to strength conditioning of my core, my arms and my back. Specifically, I have downloaded a 30 Day Ab Challenge, a 30 Day Push-Up Challenge and 30 Days of Arm Workouts.
30 Days of Style Changes
This challenge is a pretty big departure for me from a lot of the challenges I have done up to this point as the majority have been focused on new fitness routines, personal growth or diet. That being said, I have been really looking forward to this.
For the next 30 days, I will be changing up my style. I probably spend an average of about 4 minutes deciding what I am going to wear in the morning and it never really deviates much. This month I am mixing up what I wear and how I think about my clothes and overall style. I will be integrating new wardrobe pieces into my normal week of outfits, asking for new weekly ‘stylists’ and playing with new styles and clothing combinations.
To get me started, I have enlisted the help of my first two ‘guest stylists’, granting my mom and younger sister full access to my closet to each pick out a week’s worth of clothes for me. Their combinations of my clothes were unexpected and in many cases not what I would have put together for myself. It feels a little nerve wracking to go outside my clothing comfort zone but it should be a fun few weeks of new style choices and hopefully it sheds some of my self consciousness about what I wear.
This was not a very successful challenge. The month started great. I was motivated. Active. And I found a lot of great workouts
But then distractions abounded… Between the holidays, planning for our cross country road trip and packing my desire to workout reached a stalemate.
I will revisit this challenge later
Up next (in 3 days!) is my road trip from Florida to California. I will update on my adventure.