freedom challenge, quit junk food, quit caffeine, healthy body, eat well

About a month ago, our team here at ChakraSiddh put our heads together to think of something new that we could do for our 71st Independence Day. The idea was to reconsider our understanding of freedom and what it means to us. After much thought, we came up with the #FreedomChallenge.

Hindu philosophy talks about Moksha which refers to liberation or release. It involves one’s freedom from ignorance. This ideology became the foundation of the #FreedomChallenge. We have the freedom to not make bad decisions, so why do we still continue to do so?

One of the major areas where we make bad choices is in terms of our food. Surrounded by a bazillion fast food chains and street food shops in every nook and corner of the city it can become pretty hard to make healthy food choices. Just like food has the ability to deteriorate our health, it also has the ability to heal our body. Eating the right foods can help you build your immunity, reduce pain symptoms and keep a sustained level of energy throughout the day.

vegetable, fruits, healthy eating, chakrasiddh, freedom challenge

With this experiment we added a new twist to the term of freedom which is a far cry from its political meaning. We decided to focus more on the freedom of choice. We have the choice of picking what we eat unlike the less fortunate. Eating right has a direct relationship with better health.

We are not always conscious of our choices and fall into the vicious cycle of making bad choices and building a negative self image. What better way to celebrate your freedom than by liberating yourself from your vices and taking a huge leap towards a healthier lifestyle and a positive self image. Every person who decided to participate would have to go cold-turkey on any one of their vices for an entire month. Through this experiment participants finally get a chance to break a bad habit.

We asked a few of our participants to share with us their experience of taking the #FreedomChallenge. We asked them to answer a few questions and explain how the challenge panned out for them. All participants volunteered at their own free will, with the aim of putting themselves to the test. The following stories are the real-life experiences of Palak, Vasudha and Swarnim who aimed to gain control over their eating pattern.

THE FREEDOM CHALLENGE

What did you decide to give up for the #FreedomChallenge? Why did you decide to do this?

P: I decided to give up junk food for the challenge. This included any store-bought food like rolls, pastries, street food etc. I had recently fallen sick with food poisoning and the doctor recommended that I eat only healthy and hygienic food. So I thought it would be a good chance for me to try to stay away from junk food for as long as I could.

no junk food, quit junk food, junk is bad, helathy body, siddha, chakrasiddh

V: I’ve always had a sweet tooth, so much so that I hardly had teeth as a kid! Taking up the #FreedomChallenge was extra motivation to make the choice of staying away from sugar and it gave me more of a reason to stick to my decision.

S: I decided to give up Coca-Cola and other similar caffeinated drinks for the challenge. Well I did it because drinking too much of it made me dislike the taste, but I couldn’t stop. Caffeine used to make me feel full faster and I never used to eat as much as I should because of it. The challenge was just the push I needed.

Did you do any kind of research before or after starting the challenge?

P:Not really. Everybody knows that junk food is not good for you. I have been meaning to reduce the amount of junk food I consume for a long time now. The timing of the challenge and falling sick made me realize that it was the right thing to do if I wanted to take care of my health.

coffe, coffee lover, health, anti-oxidant

V: For a few months now I’ve been reading about the benefits of sugar abstinence. I discovered that sugar is a silent killer and is also the cause of major diseases and disorders like diabetes, heart disease and obesity. I wasn’t ready to consciously sabotage my future health after acquiring all this information. So I decided to make a serious change to my lifestyle.
S: Not really, I just didn’t like what it was doing to me and I wanted to make a change.

V: For a few months now I’ve been reading about the benefits of sugar abstinence. I discovered that sugar is a silent killer and is also the cause of major diseases and disorders like diabetes, heart disease and obesity. I wasn’t ready to consciously sabotage my future health after acquiring all this information. So I decided to make a serious change to my lifestyle.
S: Not really, I just didn’t like what it was doing to me and I wanted to make a change.

Did you ever feel tempted to quit at any point during the challenge?
P: Yes, many times. There is a pani puri guy who is stationed right outside my place of work. It was quite difficult for me to not feel tempted. Initially, I would feel extremely low, but then I got used to it. Also when I went out with my friends and they would all order pizzas and desserts. It was quite hard not to indulge.
V: Yes, and I almost did…
S: I was pretty determined. Yes, walking into a McDonald’s and not ordering a coke on the side made the meal feel incomplete, but I still did it. My friends and family were super supportive throughout the whole thing. They were excited that I was quitting caffeine as they were not happy with my habit too.

Did you have any moments of weakness? What were they, when did they happen and what did you do about them?
P: Yes, I did actually. One weekend I was trying out this new Chinese place, I guess I just got caught up with the place and being out with my friends, that I ate the spring rolls we had ordered. Well I ate like three that day. And another day I had pani puri on my way back home from work. I was just too hungry.

V: The challenge wasn’t without hiccups – I did end up eating a piece of cake in the first week – it was a cousin’s birthday! And another time, I forgot to mention ‘no sugar’ while placing an order for a watermelon juice. It was in the second week of the challenge that I got somewhat accustomed to drinking juice/tea or anything else without sugar.
S: Yes, well I slipped up twice. Once on my cousin sister’s birthday, it was her treat and I couldn’t refuse. And the other time was at a friend’s birthday, it just felt a little weird to be in a social situation and not do what everyone else is doing – like drinking a Coke.

What changes did you make to stick to the challenge?
P: I had to stop going to the restaurants I would normally visit during my lunch hour. I bought a bunch of healthy biscuit packets and would munch on them after getting back home. Instead of eating pani puri everyday after work I would have a fruit bowl. I added green tea to my daily diet. Whenever I had the craving for junk food like rolls or something like that I used to have fruit juices or green tea.

blueberries, juice, health, freedom challenge

V: I stayed away from refined sugar, chocolates, cakes, doughnuts, juices/milkshakes with sugar/artificial flavour, dry fruits (not including nuts) and desserts. When I was craving for sugar I would instead eat some fruits like banana, apple, avocado, litchi, watermelon, strawberry, pineapple or papaya.
S: First, I stopped buying aerated and caffeinated drinks. Then instead of ordering a glass of Coke with my meals, I would choose a fruit juice. Every time I felt like having some sugary drink I would have a fruit juice instead.

What changes did you notice in yourself?
P: I lost about 2 kilos which made feel really good and reinforced the point of the challenge for me. I have become more conscious about the things I put into my body. I’m trying much harder to adopt a healthier lifestyle. I did not notice any changes in my moods or anything like that. I just felt a bit better about myself by the end of it.

biscuits, health, freedom challenge, chakrasiddh

V: It was interesting to note that during this time, my body adjusted to a sugar-free diet. I started to hate the taste sugar in juices. In my observation staying off artificial sugar has not only helped shed a couple of kilos, but has also made me less distracted. The frequency of my sugar cravings has also gone down drastically. I also observed a drop in my appetite – I was less hungry, and even when I ate I’d feel full faster. I’ve heard sugar abstinence also helps clear out your skin. I didn’t observe any major changes on this front, but then again I’m not acne prone, so it wasn’t really something I was watching out for.

S: My appetite has increased and I don’t feel like I need caffeine to alter my mood anymore. I don’t turn to caffeine for energy like I used to. I get better sleep and my skin has also cleared up quite a bit.

Would you do it again?
P: Definitely. It’s not like once the month was up I immediately went back to my old habits. I was very particular about not giving in. I’m still sticking to my newfound dietary preferences, post the #FreedomChallenge.
V: Yes for sure. It’s the first time I’ve seen this effort through and it feels great to know that I can give up a vice, if only I set my mind to it.
S: Yes, of course. I try to stick to it as much as I can even now.

4 Tips to Break a Bad Habit

1. Accept that you want to change a bad habit:
The first step to breaking any bad habit is acceptance. All three participants admitted that they have a problem that they wanted to fix or change and made the conscious decision to make a difference to change their lifestyle. You have to admit that you have a bad habit and once you do, it will make it much easier to figure out the next set of steps that you have to take to nip the bad habit right in the bud.

fruit juice, freedom challenge, chakrasiddh, healthy eating, eat well

2. Don’t give up if you falter:
The first week is always the hardest, whether you are trying to break a bad habit or trying to start a good one. You might unconsciously just have a bite of chocolate when you are trying to quit sugar or you might just have a cup of coffee in the morning when you are trying to quit caffeine. It’s important to remember that it’s okay to falter once in a while, especially when you are making big lifestyle changes. Do not get de-motivated if you fail. Keep going and be forgiving of yourself.
3. Let your own success motivate:
From the experiences of Palak, Vasudha and swarnim, it’s obvious that the positive results that all three of them saw in themselves, made them persevere harder to stick to the #FreedomChallenge. They were so happy with the results that they didn’t immediately quit right after the challenge, and made the decision to incorporate the challenge into their daily lives. It won’t be easy but staying focused on your goals can help you achieve wonderful results.
4. Don’t give into social pressures:
Just because you are going to make a huge lifestyle change, don’t expect everyone around you to do the same. You should be able to say no when you are in social situations. It will be hard refuse cake at a birthday party or not order coke with your fries at a fast food joint, but these are conscious choices that you will have to make. Your decision is for your own personal health and happiness. You’re friends and family who were there for you before you decided to make the change will still be there for you whether you succeed or fail in your efforts.

You can achieve anything that you set your mind to. Any change that you desire to make to the way you live your life can be achieved if you set your mind to it. It won’t be a piece of cake (no pun intended), but the results will feel just as sweet. If you wish to try a similar experiment or have already been doing so, feel free to tell us about your journey on our Facebook page or leave us a comment below.

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