Sweat, Rules and Endless Nit Picking: Evelyn’s #50DayWellnessChallenge

Yet another email from Lisa with a short list of 250 questions to answer regarding the outcome of my personal #50DayWellnessChallenge plus a request for corroborating photos or even a slide show of my progress.

As Wally Lamb would say, “I know this much is true.” If you do not enjoy the wellness protocol you have chosen, it is probably not doing you much good. “Funnily enough,” as my sister would say, there is evidence to suggest that exercise will only reduce the detrimental physiological effects of stress if it’s something you actually enjoy doing. If, for example, the whole time you are doing your chin ups you are resenting that you are not snuggled in your warm bed with your smugly amused husband, you can probably forget the longevity benefits associated with physical exercise. To quote Robert Sapolsky, “Let rats run voluntarily in a running wheel and their health improves in all sorts of ways. Force them to, even while playing great dance music, and their health worsens.” (Sapolsky 2004, p. 401)

But (sigh) I digress. Lisa wants to know in 25,000 words or more how I actually did with my wellness challenge.


1. No white, brown or added sugars or artificial sweeteners of any kind  in my diet.

I had fun with this. It got me reading labels again such that I had to find a new favorite salad dressing. Most bread is made with sugar (because that sugar & yeast thing is so important to rising). Most packaged foods and the obvious baked goods were all out of my diet until I ran face first into Pat LeBlanc’s homemade pumpkin pie and Sandy Mack’s blueberry and coconut cakes. That was the beginning of the end for ‘no sugar Ev’ and by today’s date I’m reduced to refusing desserts a couple of days per week. I am, however 10 pounds lighter and feeling rather smug that my ancient ski suit fits.

2. Climbing my staircase twice with each use.

This was fraught with hazards because I kept changing my mind on the rules… could have used a fitness coach here. See my previous post for the details but for all the complications, this too went really well until I caught a cold from my grandchildren, the Prince & Princess of Day Care Pestilence. The studies are clear that aerobic exercise is associated with better health benefits than anaerobic. Certainly I have better wind and the stair climbing probably also contributed to my weight loss. Now I only think about resuming this activity and someday I shall… I’m almost positive.


3. Meditation – arghhhhhhhhhhh

Like exercise, studies show that when this is done on a sustained, regular basis there are clear health benefits (Sapolsky 2004, p.402) but probably not if you feel like a bug trapped in a bottle the whole time. Probably not if all you can think about is the cramp in your back, the numbness of your arse and the degree to which you want to open your eyes and get on with your day. For me it’s no fun to do alone. I need a guide to really enjoy meditation sessions and preferably a whole group of like-minded, numb-arsed individuals around me. I think I managed five solo meditation sessions in total. Give this one an epic fail.


Report card

Evelyn is a sweat, rules and endless nit picking kind of woman who tires easily with routine and is easily distracted. However, she is 10 pounds lighter and can climb a bunch of stairs without puffing. Too bad she didn’t complete the  whole 50 days but “funnily enough” she seems to be fine with that.

Sapolsky, Robert, 2004, “Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers“, 3rd edition, St. Martin’s Press, NY

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