Mind Over Mushroom Challenge, Day 9: Winds of Change?

I ate it all. And I did it one bite at a time. One slow, thoughtful bite at a time. You know what? It wasn’t that bad. I mean, I’m not a lover of breakfast and today’s meal was a mushroom-infused omelet so I had some things to overcome. It’s not that I hate breakfast – I just like other meals better. Sometimes I fast-track lunch and put it bright and early in the morning… I can have a pizza pie for breakfast and be quite content with that.

Mushroom Omelet for BreakfastSo today’s meal was starting with lowered expectations on top of lowered expectations. Which maybe is a good thing. The odds that things are going to be better are usually higher when you’re already skulking around the bottom of the barrel. Although that’s not necessarily the best way to look at things…

So. Things weren’t that bad.

Whereas before I couldn’t even fathom the idea of a mushroom coming anywhere near my eating facilities, now I’m buckling down mentally and forcing myself to eat them. I still say force because it is not easy… yet.

I actually believe that statement. I believe that it will become easy. For those of you have an aversion to certain foods (the mushroom is a popular one) you know where I started at and you probably don’t have faith in the statement, just like I didn’t 9 days ago. I thought I would be putting myself through hell for nearly a month and when it was over I would perhaps be slightly better off in that I would be able to control my gag reflex. What is happening is that it’s no longer primarily about controlling that reflex. While I still have issues and for the most part the process is not enjoyable, I’ve crossed over and am working at the core of the problem: the psychological issue. Although I have so very far to go… I’m getting there. (This might end up being a case of me getting ahead of myself – which I do quite often – and because I’ve had some more successful days as of late, I might be getting a little cocky. Without fail, I usually get taken down a few pegs whenever I get too confident in where I’m going challenge-wise.)

As much as it is about the mushrooms, it’s also not. I have realized how close-minded towards mushrooms I have been in the past and how that has become an ingrained part of my life. The things that seemingly comprise who you are, are everything from your humour and personality to your fears and dislikes and your universal truths. The thing about your universal truths is that it’s hard to get out of the mentalities that created them. It’s hard to change who you are. But it can be done. We will see if I can pull this change off.

…Meanwhile, my Mom is probably across the country-side muttering to herself damn kids. Whine and squeal and pout and puke when you tell them a mushroom is a piece of ham then turn around 15 years later and eat them every damn day.

Classic kid.

Today’s Fungus Feast:

Omelet: cremini mushrooms, eggs, spinach, flour, orange, red and yellow peppers, seasoning salt, garlic, cheddar, green onion.

Today I Failed

IMG_0630The Chin-Up Challenge Post Show

I have grown stronger, but I have not grown strong enough. I set out three months ago to do 10 chin-ups. Very quickly I realized this was a lofty goal and though I didn’t change it, I knew that if I could manage to do 1 chin-up, I would be happy with that even though it would still mean the failure of this challenge. This is the closest I have ever been to doing a chin-up, but I still did not do a single one.

Today I failed.

Those who have followed along won’t be surprised by this. Some might be: you might have thought I was improbably going to pull this off; you might have rooted for me; you might have seen a fellow underdog make an attempt at something; you might have even seen yourself in me about that one thing you want but have been too scared to try and have. I set the bar high and I went for it.

Today I failed.

This is the first challenge that I have failed and it’s important. It’s important because it’s easy to set goals that don’t push you or make you try harder than you have ever tried before. If you don’t fail – if you don’t fail ever – then you aren’t trying; you’re coasting. There may be nothing wrong with coasting, letting the status quo take you through your life, but if you want something more, if you want to be more, to accomplish more then you have to fail. Nobody likes this idea, but it’s true. If you keep coasting you will never know what you are capable of. There is greatness in you, but it’s up to you to find it. Whatever that may be.

Today I failed.

No one likes to fail and I am certainly no different. I don’t like being told I am not good enough, but I can accept that at this moment in time about this particular challenge I am not good enough. Perhaps I never will be, but perhaps, one day I will. That is entirely up to me. When you fail, it’s life asking you if you have what it takes to try again. It’s asking you do you care enough to try again? Are you strong of heart? And if that answer is no, so be it. That’s where you settle. That’s where you begin to coast. The thing about coasting is that you will always, eventually, come to a stop. It’s easy to give up. It’s easy to say this is the way it is. It’s easy to point to any number of obstacles and say it’s too hard.

Today I failed.

There are many reasons why – some are excuses, some are fact, and some are interpretations of commitment, dedication, and perseverance. But none of them matter. What matters is what comes next. When you go after something and you don’t get it, it’s not the end unless you let it be. You have to ask yourself, is this it? Do I quit? And I hope, whether it’s a trembling, uncertain whisper or a resounding NO, that you do not accept that it’s game over. Every time you fail and pick yourself up again, you are becoming someone who is more powerful than you were before. Don’t let disappointment or frustration make you forget that.

Today I failed.

Tomorrow I may fail again.

But that won’t stop me from trying.

Chin Up Champ Wannabe     IMG_0630

^ Day 1                                                                                         ^ Day 94






Workout 22: There is Always Tomorrow

The last lap is supposed to be the one where you don’t hold anything back, you give it your all, you push past what you thought you were capable of and sprint for that finish line like a formula one racer despite an empty tank that defies all logic.

I have to admit that things are wrapping up in a different fashion for me. It’s the season of winter sports and I have a heavy sportsing schedule which has put weight lifting on the back burner. I am getting a lot of cardio in, which is great, but isn’t going to lift me up and over that bar in just one week’s time. Just so you can see for yourself, this is how November starts for me:

Nov. 1: Broomball Team 1

Nov. 2: Hockey

Nov. 4: Broomball Team 2

Nov. 5: Broomball Team 1

Nov. 5: Hockey

Nov. 8: Broomball Team 1

Nov. 8 Broomball Team 2

Nov. 9 Hockey

Those aren’t typos on the 5th and 8th. That’s 8 games in 9 days… with some doubling up thrown in. And it doesn’t stop there.

As things have been busy (and look like they’re going to be staying that way) you can see why it takes me a few days to get a post up or my post is a bare-bones deal. There’s a lesson here, though, and it’s that timeless lesson about commitment. You choose your priorities and what you choose determines what is going to happen to you.

The thing is, we all set goals for ourselves – whether we write them down or acknowledge them in some way or not – and sometimes we meet them and sometimes we don’t. I had committed to detailing the journey of the chin-up challenge quest here on Exit Sideways, yet I’ve had to cop out on occasion, have fallen behind at times, or have let the details fall to the wayside. Although this particular challenge is about the feat of strength, what I do here is about more than that and when my other commitments or going-ons take precedence, it’s a different sort of failure.

But… such is life.

So, for the handful of you who follow along, I’m sorry I haven’t kept you properly engaged. There is always tomorrow. Whatever you challenge yourself to do or whatever you commit to, it’s okay if you don’t make it all the way with your follow-through. The point is that you tried and that although you can admit defeat, that doesn’t mean you’re done.

always tommorrow_edited-1
So long as you keep on trying.

  1. Partial assisted chin up
  2. Hanging leg raise
  3. Inverted row
  4. Bent over row
  5. Hanging leg raise
  6. Sit ups
  7. Dumbbell squat
  8. Chest press
  9. Dumbbell bench fly
  10. Push ups
  11. Tricep overhead press
  12. Turned out bicep curl

Raw Day 30: That’s a…. Wrap!

Breakfast: ½ cantaloupe

Lunch: Smoothie – 3 frozen bananas; 3 pieces of chocolate

Supper: 1 cucumber; 1 piece of salmon gravlax; 1 chocolate

So it has come down to this. The final day. The big finale. The last hurrah. Okay, first let me just apologize for the pun in the title. I didn’t even have a wrap today…


It’s been an adventure all right – from soaring highs, to fierce tummy-troll lows – but I’m proud to say I made it. I used the food processor more than I ever thought I would. I’ve been hungrier than I ever thought I could. And I’ve been happier than I maybe, possibly should. I dreamt of pasta and I salivated over eggs. I stood a little taller and I felt a lot better… I had one heck of a journey. So let me give you the run down:

Energy: It increased throughout, with some very dramatic gains at times. I also felt more excitement before games when it came to sports and greater strength during the games. There were also days when my energy was lower, but it would usually pick up again after I ate.

Confidence: This was a huge area of improvement for me. I felt a lot better about myself and as the days went on, I began to feel more and more like I could do anything. It also helped foster the feeling that I was someone who mattered… even though that really doesn’t seem like something that would be related to food!

Self-Image: This category goes hand-in-hand with confidence. This challenge sky-rocketed my self-image. I felt healthier, I was eating better, and I was proving I could do whatever I put my mind to. Again, I felt important. Even when the image in the mirror didn’t look noticeably different, the process of eating so healthy had the biggest impact on my mental well-being and I felt better about how I looked.

Weight: As is to be expected the needle on the scale dropped. Oh, who am I kidding? This is the 21st century. The digital number on the scale dropped 12.5 pounds in the 30 days with no extra exercise outside of my regular sports commitments.

Mood: Much more light and care-free. I was able to shrug off incidents easier rather than let them weigh on me, although it was not so for the entire process. As with everything, there was a certain amount of fluctuating, but the overall trend was towards greater happiness and general well-being. I would occasionally get little flashes of anger, though they would dissipate very quickly. And when I was hungry (you know the kind… hungry hungry) I could be a feisty little demon, but again, I would recover quickly once I put some food in my empty cavern of a stomach. Overall, my mood got better with each day as I learned how to eat, how to not let myself get out-of-control hungry, and as I succeeded each day.

Hunger: About 2/3 of the way through my body finally figured out what was happening to it and I didn’t have any more monstrous days. I still needed to eat regularly and meal-missing was a definite no-no, but otherwise it wasn’t really a problem by the end.

Cravings: These fluctuated fairly consistently, with the last couple of days being pretty intense. When I take on a challenge and set the parameters I generally don’t think about what else could be and, instead, focus on the task at hand – which allowed me to put most thoughts of cooked food out of my head so the cravings weren’t really too difficult to navigate in the thick of the challenge. The dangerous times were when I was hungry and the smells of delicious cooked food were wafting to my olfactory cells. With the last couple of days, however, I believe it was knowing that I was near the end so I could let myself start thinking about cooked food again… which very nearly did me in!

Despite the general positive vibe all of the above gives off, I don’t want to leave you with any illusions. This was a hard challenge. It took a lot of dedication to see it through to the end, despite all of the benefits I received along the way. I always had to be prepared – to run out of food was disastrous. I had to spend a lot more time in the kitchen. I had to be strong-willed and give up all of my favourite foods (though I now have a few new favourites.) I had to learn how to eat in a new way because, really, it’s still kind of an odd thing to eat 3 bananas in a sitting or an entire cucumber or half a cantaloupe.

Although I may have known that what you eat impacts every aspect of your well-being, I didn’t fully appreciate what that means. Having done this challenge, I can easily say your life will be better if you eat better. Significantly so.

Raw Day 29: Monotony Strikes!

Breakfast: ½ cantaloupe

Lunch: Salad – 1 head of romaine, 1 tomato, ½ red pepper, 1 avocado, 1 c. walnuts, 1 c. sun-dried tomatoes, cilantro,

Supper: 1 piece salmon gravlax; 1 c. of leftover salad; 1 chocolate from V-day

Well, well, well. Here we are on the penultimate day of the Raw 30 Challenge. That clock is ticking down, my stomach is grumbling and there’s a bit of sadness in the air. It feels like I just started this challenge last week and already I’m shutting that door. Oh, how I hate goodbyes…

Now, I will admit that my excitement is waning, but that’s only because I’ve hit a rut of monotony. Will it be the smoothie, salad or gravlax? The odds are good – 1 in 3 chance you’ll guess right! Ah, but seriously, more variation would be wonderful, but that takes time and more expansive ingredient lists. I’ve always been a big fan of simple recipes with few ingredients that don’t take very long to prepare. So that has really made this challenge, well, that much more challenging for me. If I had a chef loitering in my kitchen, willing to make me whatever my heart desired, well then this raw food thing would be a lot more long-term plausible for me.

For those of you who’ve been following along and think you want to embark on this lifestyle of eating raw, there are a few things I’d like to say to you. First, those who eat this way choose it for many reasons. Find what yours are and then adapt it to those reasons. Lots of people who eat raw, don’t do it 100% of the time, so if you’re on a mission to just eat better, don’t let a cooked meal get you down. Some people are hard and fast “only-raw” eaters, some are 2/3 raw, and others just eat however they want. You decide how you want to do it.

Also, there is the idea that raw food means none of the nutrients have been cooked away and, while this may be true, it’s also been said that raw food people generally feel so much healthier not necessarily because of the uncooked aspect, but because of the huge amount of fruits and veggies in their diet. Think about it. If you’re entire diet is made up of 95% fruits and vegetables, then you’re going to be one healthy person!

Whatever you do, don’t be afraid to try something if you’re interested in it. Don’t be afraid to fail. Everyone does. (The first time I tried to go vegetarian, I failed after 6 days!) If you need some encouragement, just drop me a note!