As you might recall, about a two years ago I did my own P90X challenge with some pretty good results. Of course, I didn’t actually change my diet, which actually makes a big difference if you want to really see results from the program. This year, both of us decided to do a 90-day challenge. We’ve completed week one of our new plan to exercise daily and to be more intentional regarding what we eat and already I can tell, it’s going to be a long winter.

Here’s our plan:
– Do a modified version of the P90X 90-day work out (Lean version. Running and swimming instead of kenpo and cardio workouts)
– No red meat, fried food, or beer for three months
– Reduce sugar intake (candy, soda, desserts)
-Eat fruits and vegetables to our heart’s content
– follow the p90x suggested nutrition 3 phase plan (1st month: fewer carbs, more protein. 2nd month: re-introduce carbs on a limited basis. 3rd month: a balanced diet).
-We are free to celebrate on holidays

The winter months in the northwest provide a cold and wet environment, a rich (insert sarcasm here) wonderland to retreat to warm, dry houses, non-activity, and holiday feasting. Don’t get me wrong, we aren’t training for a marathon (which we have no plans to ever do) and we will not miss out on the holiday treats (last year my in-laws made  AMAZING chocolate marble boxes). What we are simply trying to do is to fast, to gain control of parts of our life that can unintentionally get out of control, and to exercise the true gift of life, which is Choice (more to come on this another day).

Those of you who know me know that I am a “feeler.” I am emotional and very aware of how I feel (a blessing and a curse). On a day-to-day basis, I do what I “feel” like doing. I know this sounds ridiculous because we all do that. If we are hungry, we eat. If we are tired, we sleep. However, for me, when I crave, I try my best to resolve those cravings. Take, for example, truffle French fries from Jade Restaurant (where my brother works). I eat these things as if I will never have them again. I devour most food like this. I tend to eat too much, and too much of a good thing can be hazardous for my health (especially when you enjoy fried food, beer, red meat, sugar, etc…). It’s not that truffle fries are inherently bad, it’s that I’ve come to the hard realization that when it comes to food, I often have little control. I let my cravings control me.

Ironically, when it comes to exercise, it’s the exact opposite. Most of the time I am not excited to work out. Michelle is usually up and at ’em when we run in the morning. I would much rather stay in the warmth of the covers instead of run in the wet wintery weather (to be fair to Michelle, she would too, but she is much better at motivating herself). Exercise goes against my natural inclinations. I would much rather lounge around than to physically exert myself. Having completed p90x once already and having run half-marathons (things I would never have thought I could do  before), I know it takes a lot of effort, time, and- in some ways- pain to accomplish these things (none of which sound as good as relaxing and eating truffle fries).

And this is what leads me to our plan to fast. Fasting has always been a foreign concept to me. I have always seen it negatively. Why would someone withhold themselves from things they enjoy? More importantly for me: I could never finish a fast. Take Lent for example. I would say: I won’t drink soda for forty days- and I wouldn’t last a week. I once tried challenging myself and a friend to do 50 push-ups and a 100 sit-ups each day for a month. I lasted a week and a half while Cory (because of his competitiveness and awesomeness) completed the challenge.

I couldn’t complete these challenges because, one, it was too easy to fail, and two, I didn’t have self-control and self-determination/belief. When I met Michelle, I couldn’t even run a mile or two. Through her patience and wisdom, I learned that I didn’t pace myself, that you can’t run 13.5 miles if you can’t run 1. It was about the little victories. Do a short distance that’s possible to accomplish. Start adding more miles. Start running more often. The little victories turned into bigger ones. Now I can say that I’m a runner (words I thought I would never write).

Fasting is about gaining control of your life instead of letting your cravings take control of you, starting with little victories to accomplish your overall goals. During this season where non-activity and feasting usually reign in our lives, we are intentionally choosing to do the opposite. It doesn’t have to be about food and exercise. It could be anything in your life that you feel you don’t have the best control of.

So if you could, please keep us accountable for this challenge by asking us how we are doing. Please note that if you make something that is deliciously fried and we decline, it’s not that we are trying to offend you, but we are trying to do something intentional and out of the ordinary (unless its a holiday). Support from family and friends is incredibly important with challenges like these and we all need challenges like these to remind us that we do have choice and control over our lives.

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