The Challenge
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Beware the Ides of March

It has been some time since I’ve embarked on a thirty day challenge.

The most recent one, to give up my very favourite drug, sugar, in all its forms, saw a massive shift in mindset and in social behaviour, as well as my physical and mental health.

A previous challenge saw me really pushing the boundaries of whatever comfort zone I had lulled myself into, where I embarked on a form of exercise every day for 30 days. The biggest change was the shift in the question I asked myself; no longer was it “should I work out today?” to which the answer was usually an easy peasy “nope”, but now “what should I do today for my workout?”


While the parameters and rules may seem “extreme”, “unnecessary”, “too much” and even “unhealthy” (all words which have been thrown around in response to my challenges), they are nevertheless what I require, and what works for me.

I write this upon the culmination of dinner, a generous bowl of spaghetti adorned with butter (easily the second best ingredient in life, after sugar of course) and truffle salt (i.e. the elixir of pleasure). I polish off the plate, easily able to eat another, before making my way to the almost-empty bag of Kit-Kat treats (I blame Ashley at first, but it’s really Kourtney who deserves it most). I eat one, then another. Then there’s only one left. It would be rude to leave it in there on its own. I eat it too.

With Charlie‘s departure, my Modern Therapy is off-track. There’s no-one to remind me to be moderate and reasonable, and while I can imagine her words, it’s too easy to block them out with the sound of a bar of chocolate unwrapping, so I do.

While I feel happy, and food makes me undeniably happy, it is also time to acknowledge my too-tight clothes, my rounder face, my lethargic energy levels and borderline-step-away from a depression of sorts. “This is the biggest I’ve ever been,” I fearfully tell Gida over FaceTime. “I thought about cancelling my trip to Beirut on Thursday; they will  no doubt tell me how fat I am…” – our family has never been shy about sizing us up upon arrival, weighing in on our, well, weight. Their own special way to express concern and love.

While I have in recent days tried to convince myself that I ‘know what to do’ and ‘just have to do it’, citing other priorities, other distractions, other excuses, at the stroke of midnight, I make a silent pledge.

No icing no cake,” I tell myself. Totally doable, after all, I’ve conquered it before. But this time a little different; I’m letting fruit back in (yes, wine is a fruit! but Nutella is not…)

Thirty Days of Fitness,” I add. Why not? It can only be a good thing. The new rule is 4 times a week. All things in moderation.

“I like ice cream a whole lot
It tastes good on days that are hot
On a cone or in a dish
This will be my only wish
Vanilla, chocolate, rocky road
Even with pie, a la mode.”

– ‘Ode to Ice Cream’ by Vada Sultenfuss (from the iconic movie, My Girl)

The hardest goodbye of them all will be to my beloved ice-cream. I can easily say that I’ve never regretted a cone, never lamented a scoop, never resented a sprinkle. It is a sad day when one bids farewell to a thing that brings nothing but pleasure.

But I’m an adult, and know I have to do this right, or not at all.

While March 16 seems at first less ceremonious or poetic than I would like, it it brought to my attention that it is auspicious after all, coinciding with a historic period: the Ides of March. While the death of Julius Caesar was tragic, it also brought forth change, marking a transitional period in history, from Roman Republic, to Empire.

What’s good enough for the Roman Empire is good enough for me.

“What’s for breakfast? Where will I work out tomorrow?” I ponder, considering the ‘Save to Draft’ button over the big, blue, inviting ‘Publish’ one.

“I can do anything for 30 days,” I remind myself, and vow to pick up an avocado or two on my way to work tomorrow. You can’t go wrong with guacamole.

Serene Touma is chief storyteller, and founder of A-Coterie, inspired by the engaging stories and experiences of the wonderful, smart, paradoxical, opinionated, loyal, intriguing, free-spirited, driven, and inspiring women around her.

Serene is also a huge fan and passionate evangelist for 30 day challenges that create and break habits.



1 Comment

  1. ardenashley8 says

    I am so supportive of this and love the integration of fruit. Long term solutions not quick fixes. I am excited to be doing it with you (same same but different).


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