The 21-Day Challenge: My Journey

The following was written by Maria, a busy mother of three living in Dubai, who's wellness journey began with us in February this year.


I was always the thin and slender type. Not size-zero, but someone who could afford to wear short skirts, tight tops, skinny jeans and high heels, and feel good about myself. During my first pregnancy, I flaunted my bump in bikinis and horizontally striped maternity dresses, the staple wardrobe of any mom-to-be (don’t even remind me!). Note to the so-called designers behind those ‘creations’ – whoever thought that horizontal stripes would be flattering on an ever-expanding belly, think again! But apologies, I digress …

Fast-forward five years, five pregnancies and three babies later, those form-hugging dresses began to look a little less flattering. A muffin top here, varicose veins there – you get the picture. Luckily, my height and constitution allowed me to (somewhat) hide the extra pounds. I wasn’t my old self, but surely I didn’t look that bad? Or did I? If you’re stuck in a mommy rut, you know where I’m coming from. As luck would have it, a friend’s post about her amazing transformation with Kerry’s 21-Day Challenge caught my eye, becoming the catalyst for my own wellness journey and weight loss. Reflecting back, three factors played a part in my successful outcome: the realization that I needed an ass kicking, the Covid-19 lockdown, and ultimately, my (interim) results.



The ass kicking

Not necessarily one of my proud moments, but I came to a stage in my life when my old wardrobe didn’t fit, the thought of going shopping became a chore, applying make-up was no longer a necessity and bad hair days became the norm. I. Just. Didn’t. Care. I was a mom of three kids below five. Was I depressed? No. Tired? That would probably be an understatement. My usual dieting and occasional exercising weren’t effective enough, and somewhere along the way, I’d simply lost the motivation. I needed a change, a drastic one, and Kerry’s 21 day challenge ticked the right boxes. No dairy, refined sugars or any kind of processed foods for 21 days. Farewell Greek yogurt, Weetabix, the occasional jellybeans I’d sneak from the kids, caffeine (for the first week - my self-proclaimed lifeline), Caribou muffins and a whole load of other ‘nasties’. Even for a relatively healthy eater life myself, this was a whole new level.

The Lockdown

Ironically, the Covid-19 lockdown played out to my advantage. For one, with the whole world seeming to fall apart, my diet was the one thing that I could control. If I was to make any changes, now was the time. Secondly, as social distancing and an enforced curfew became the new norm, our (frequent) dining-out was completely taken out of the equation. Who remembers those school runs with a mandatory coffee and muffin on the go from the school café? Or two restaurant visits – lunch and later coffee (with dessert … yes, please!) – while out and about at the mall with the family? And I’m not even going to talk about socializing during the weekends … I’ve actually had the time to hone my culinary skills over the last couple of months, becoming a bit of a cooking machine in the kitchen (who’d have thought?). I’m not going to pretend that I enjoy it, but I do love to eat. A veg-heavy diet requires more prep, especially if you, like me, appreciate variety, but fitting into those skinny jeans is so damn worth it!

Results

Losing the extra inches and seeing the scale move downwards was, and still is, a huge motivator – so much so that I’ve even revised my initial goal after having reached my original target weight. This is the third round of the 21-Day Challenge and I’ve shed 10 kilograms in a span of two and a half months (thirteen kilograms if I’m talking post-lockdown). If you haven’t seen me in a while, I’m a brand new (or old) me. I’m not hungry, I (mostly) don’t have weird cravings, I feel energized, my skin’s clear and I can fit into my wedding dress. These are definitely motivators to keep me going.



What next?

Is this the end of my wellness journey? No, and I have a further one to two kilos to go. I’ve also realized that there’s no final destination. From now on, this is just my way of life. Will I ever eat dairy, ice-creams and cakes? Absolutely! As far as I know, I’m not intolerant to anything. I believe in a healthy balance, the 80/20 rule. Life’s too short to deny yourself the little joys … But if anything, this little journey has been a great learning curve and a little reminder of what I’m capable of achieving if I just set my mind to it. And, of course, my plate will never look the same again. Pile on those veggies!

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