Tuesday, March 1, 2011

From Merced, CA

We really love hearing about your experiences participating in the challenge! If you are interested in sharing your thoughts or sharing your story feel free to email us and we can post it on the blog (if you dont want it posted just let us know):
Jessica Cromar says:
"I have been striving for balance, focus, and accomplishment for well over a year since I received my demanding calling as Relief Society President while still raising young children. I often felt controlled by circumstance and not able to give sufficient time to many parts of my life. I would let the most important things fall to the wayside while the demanding tasks overtook my focus. I was ready for a change but needed the motivation to make a start. I recognized that the challenge goals fit the bill for improving my life in critical areas that were lacking. My biggest hope in participating in the challenge was to master my appetites and prove to myself that I am in control of my choices.

I did it! With PERFECT POINTS! I proved to myself that spirituality, health, and service are attainable everyday and that I feel GREAT when I reach these goals. Immediately in week 1 I felt confidence and peace from organizing my priorities and sticking to them. I learned so much about myself in the last 8 weeks and made so many changes. The challenge impacted me in every area of my life: physically, spiritually, emotionally and mentally.

Physically, I lost about 13 lbs by simply controlling sugars in my diet and doing light to moderate exercise for 45 minutes a day, 6 days a week. I dropped a pant size and I’m back to my pre-Emily weight! I have built up strength and tone in my arms, abs, and legs. Exercise was one of the more challenging goals during the 8 weeks, but I found that if I did part/all in the morning before the kids were up or during Sam’s first nap that I was able to fit it in. I made an effort to get up 30-45 minutes early so I could be sure and get my scripture reading and exercise in. It didn’t always work since they baby gets up pretty early but it was a test of my resolve and dedication to these priorities. Sometimes I would even involve them by walking together or bike riding. I LOVED setting an example for my kids that exercise is important. Before the challenge, I’m not sure Emily knew the word exercise or ever thought that mom did exercise but now she expects to see me do it every day! I am used to planning my daily food more and my go-to snack foods have changed from cookies and cereal to carrots and whole-wheat muffins. In high stress I still want cookies though! I feel more energetic and content with my physical self when I know that I have made some effort to eat healthy and exercise that day.

Mentally, I love that the 11 goals are burned into my brain after 8 weeks. It was hard to remember them the first few weeks, it took a lot of concentration and checking the reminder posters. But now I feel they are a natural part of my thought pattern and I hope I can keep it that way! I even found that I was thinking more about other goals and how to incorporate them into the day simply by practicing with the challenge goals. I am much more aware now of the food I eat and the nutritional value it holds. I think about my time and how to use it to fit it what I need to accomplish. The challenge was easy in that way for me because I am very structured and like to have a plan.

Emotionally, it feels so good to conquer myself by living healthy. I feel I have overcome an inner belief that was holding me down. Before the challenge I think I really believed the excuse that it is too hard to control my appetite and find time to exercise. Even when I began the challenge I thought to myself, I don’t have to be perfect in it, a few mistakes here and there don’t matter. But then I realized that if I wanted to get the most out of the challenge (including a cash prize!) I needed to live it all the way. Each day of the challenge I woke up feeling focused with a plan because my priorities were already set and I found a way to make them happen. Even days when I felt sluggish and tired I still had to accomplish these goals and when I did, could go to bed with a sense of accomplishment and pride. I felt more peaceful and balanced because I was really putting first things first and then letting the other daily tasks fill in around my top priorities. Now I know: It is NOT too hard to be healthy, I am NOT too busy, and I am happier when I do it!

Spiritually, I feel more happiness completing my RS work because I remember each day that it is SERVICE, not just work. Duh, but sometimes the day in-day out to-do list feels pretty burdensome. I feel more in tune to the spirit by reading my scriptures and writing in my journal every day. I also feel less influenced by Satan because I am actively controlling my appetites and body – two areas that I didn’t really practice self-restraint in before. I believe practicing self-restraint in any area of life carries over into strength to overcome temptation. My new years goal that I chose to work on was to pray more fervently, listen for the promptings of the Holy Ghost, then act on those promptings. Every week I have found big and small opportunities to practice and recognize my efforts to listen to the voice of the Spirit. The more I practice, the more I am aware of these quiet promptings.

I am so grateful to have had this experience. I will be happy not to have the pressure to

be perfect in my points anymore - there were some nights I was exercising at 10pm or drinking one last bottle of water before bed just to get it done! I do plan to continue tracking my progress on my goals through a tracking sheet because it helps me feel more accountable for my choices. I hope I can retain these lessons and maintain my commitment to ALL of the challenge goals (though slightly modified). My post challenge goals:

1. 8 hours sleep (modified from 7 hours)
2. 30 minutes exercise, 5 days a week (modified from 45 minutes, 6 days a week)
3. 8 glasses water
4. 2 fruits, 2 veggies/day
5. Only 3 foods that include refined sugars or white flour (modified from no sugar or white flour. I’m not completely sure about this goal. This will probably the most challenging area to continue with but I do want to make some effort so this is my first attempt.)
6. Occasional junk food, soda, fast food (modified from none, this goal isn’t too hard, since I didn’t eat that much of it before)
7. No eating after 8:30 pm (modified from 8 pm)
8. Write in journal everyday
9. 15 minutes scripture study each day
10. Act of service everyday
11. Continue with setting one extra goal and tracking my progress on it"

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