Torey here!! Recently, I decided to do the 30-day Water-Only Challenge where I cut out all liquids (including coffee) other than water from my diet. I did eventually cave and allow unsweetened green tea early on to deal with headaches from lack of caffeine, but I was able to stay the course and avoid everything else. This will be the first of many 30-day challenges that will help expand my experiences with nutrition, fitness, and promotion of wellness. That being said, lets jump into it! Here is what I learned from the past 30 days!
- Keystone Habits. For those of you who haven’t read The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg, a keystone habit is a habit that has positive impacts on other habits. To put this in context, once I started putting my focus into drinking solely water for the month I saw positive changes in other habits in my life. I found that it was easier to say no to eating out. I was working harder at the gym. I started stretching more at home. The extra focus put into this one aspect of my health seemed to overflow into others.
- I was drinking very little water before. Retrospectively, I realized that whenever I had a chance to grab a drink I would usually run straight to coffee. I really wasn’t drinking much else. As such, when I finish this challenge I will be more aware of the amount of water I consume and make sure I’m having at least a couple of glasses each day.
- I was spending more than I thought on drinks. I am not one to routinely splurge on fancy Starbucks drinks, but I was still regularly buying my coffee. I was spending an average of $2.50 on my coffee on my trips to Starbucks and I would estimate that I was buying approximately 3-4 cups per week (especially at the hospital where they have a Starbucks in the food court). Over the month, that adds up to between $30-$40, with that number being upwards of $50 on inpatient weeks. I used to tell myself that I was fine because I was buying a small regular coffee, a much healthier and cheaper alternative than the fancy, sugary drinks. However, that still adds up, and it was a good reminder that I can be more responsible with my student loan money to minimize my student debt going into residency.
- My dependence on coffee is real. Cutting out coffee was HARD. I cheated a little and spread out some caffeine pills and tea to ease the headaches (after all this challenge was cutting out other liquids not caffeine specifically). While I don’t plan on quitting coffee anytime soon and don’t see a particular reason too, this challenge showed me exactly how much caffeine I was having and that maybe I depend on it more than I’d like.
Overall impression: I feel GREAT! Like I mentioned before, multiple things change in my life other than the just drinking water. I made more time for the gym, I was more productive at the gym, and overall I was eating out less. All this lead to me feeling healthier and more health conscious, and I attribute all these changes to secondary effects from focusing on just drinking water (keystone habit). I think that this showcases that the process of living a healthier lifestyle is a series of steps. Focusing on one thing at a time makes change easier than trying to do multiple things at a time!! Over months (or years) you can accumulate these small changes and they will make a big difference in the long run.
It’s my hope that what I’ve learned from this month will stick with me and contribute to an overall healthier lifestyle! In combination with future 30-day challenges, I’m excited to see how things look a year from now.
If you have any ideas for 30-day challenges in the future, comment below!