No-Fun November basics

No-Fun November

Are you in need of a tune-up?  Feel anxious about the upcoming holiday eating frenzy?  Perhaps a bit sluggish from the Halloween sugar bonanza?  Then I have just the thing for you!  No-Fun November.  Yay, right?!?  Perhaps better known as Nourishing November (but that’s too nerdy, imo), this 30 day clean living challenge will get you all glowed-up, just in time for Decadent December.  (American friends, you have my permission to wrap this up in time for thanksgiving!)

This is intended to be a fun-ish 30 day challenge.  Always consult with your doctor or medical professional before starting any new exercise or dietary programs.

I’ll begin this by saying that I am not a medical professional, functional nutritionist, and am currently not a practicing fitness professional (although I once was one…), so please take this on at your own risk.  That being said, this program is designed after many years of working with many professionals trying to resolve my own chronic health conditions, much research and experimentation.  It’s a little bit Wild Rose Detox, a little bit Wahls protocol, a little bit from my yoga background, and a whole lot of common sense.  The No-Fun November program is as much about say YES to nourishing practices as it is about say No to the more decadent aspects of food and living.

So lets begin.

Step 1. Food

What should you be doing?  Begin by aiming to eat six to eight cups of fruit and vegetables per day.  This is a lot of fruit and vegetables.  Like so so many cups, it can be really overwhelming.  If you body isn’t used to this, it may stress and overwhelm your digestive tract (ahem), so start slow, and work your way up over the course of the month.  Given it is cool and rainy November (at least here in the northern hemisphere – Aussie friends, please ignore this next bit and go for raw veggies if you like), I would recommend that the majority of these are cooked.  Think stews, soups, sautés, and stir-fry’s.  Two or three cups of greens sautéed ends up being less than a cup of cooked greens, so winning!  Smoothies are great to get those numbers up, but again frozen fruit can be quite hard on a gut in early winter, so use only as needed.  This program involves a lot of cooking, and well, that can be not a lot of fun after awhile.  Sorry, not sorry. (Helpful hint – find your favourite asian or mexican spot, order double meat, double vegetables, and no rice/carbs).

Aim to consume as many different fruits and vegetables as you can – could you get the number of different plant foods you eat (including nuts, seeds, herbs, spices etc.) up over 30?  Maybe even 50?  From a daily perspective, aim for six to eight cups to be made up roughly with one third greens, one third multi-coloured fruits and veggies (carrots, berries, squash etc.), and one third from what I think of as the “roots and toots” group (veggies with high sulphur content, like onions, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts).  A great cheat from the Wahl’s protocol – one clove of garlic equals one cup of sulphur-rich vegetables.  Yay winning! (You only get to use this cheat once per day, and please cook or roast the garlic, don’t eat it raw).

Now the hard part.  No processed sugar, dairy, gluten, alcohol, or highly processed food.  If it comes wrapped in plastic and inside a box, or in a foil lined bag, it’s going to be a no.  No-Fun November, gotta love it!  You are allowed to have your caffeine in the morning, but switch your sweetener to a natural sweetener, and your creamer to plant-based.  I’d personally recommend eliminating caffeine if possible. (Hot tip – going caffeine free makes you smell better.  Try it, you’ll be amazed how much less BO you have!).

No-Fun November basics
The fundamentals of the No-Fun November Plan

Step 2 – Mental Health

The basis begins with good sleep.  It is so so important, and I am so bad a practicing good sleep hygiene. So for me, one of the hardest parts of No-Fun November is going to bed on time.  For me that is 10 pm, but whatever works for you.  Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep per night.  Turn off your electronics two hours before bed.  Then we add (I love the saying YES part of the challenge) a meditation practice or breathwork practice if you don’t already have one.  Seven minutes per day will change your brain, and I am certain that you can carve out seven minutes.  If you’ve never tried meditation before, I highly recommend downloading an app (Insight Timer is my favourite).  Try all the different types – Loving Kindness, Mindfulness, Yoga Nidra… there are so many to choose from.  Keep trying different teachers and different styles until something sticks.  And yes, in the beginning it can be boring as f&ck, but stick with it, it works.

For the month, I also want you to challenge yourself on the sticky yucky parts of our mental health.  No whining, no complaining, no gossiping…whatever your schtick is, lets see if you can lessen the grip of those less desirable behaviours.  Let’s work on awareness and mindfulness in our thoughts, words and actions.

Step 3 – Physical Health

This last one is about exercise, but so much more than that.  Aim to move your body for at least 30 minutes a day, at least six days a week.  Some days this might be a power hike, and on others, it may be yin yoga in front of the TV.  Learn to listen to your body, and how it feels like moving.  Can you make this fun?  Instead of saying “ugh, I have to exercise”, ask yourself this “how can I go and have fun today?”.  Take the kids to the pool for a swim, meet with a friend for a walk, try an apple fitness hip hop class. (Have you seen me, a giant angular white lady, try and move like LaShawn??? It is awesome.  My kid laughs and laughs and laughs.).  Like the food challenge, I encourage you to see how many different types of movement you can try this month.  If you are a runner, try adding pilates twice a week.  Weigh lifting junkie?  Add a yoga flow class.  Solo hiker? Try dropping in to the local rec centre for pick up basketball.  Stretch yourself, both mentally and physically.

So that’s basically it.  There are no No-Fun November police, so if you slip up, no big deal.  Get right back in the game and see what you can accomplish.  Try not to take yourself too seriously.  The goal here is to glow from the inside out, to try new things, and to go into the crazy season feeling refreshed, nourished and ready to have a good time.