Tag Archives: challenge

Resetting Expectations – Clean Eating Challenge

24 Feb

So I started this year out with a big goal of losing the baby weight, but not just that: getting my strong, lean, muscular body and energy back. Unfortunately I did not do measurements when I started so it’s difficult to track my progress that way, so I rely on two factors to tell me how I am doing. 1. the scale (my natural foe) and 2. the way my clothes fit – or don’t fit… So although I have kept up with my resolution to be a better stronger version of myself this year and hit the gym with consistency each week, there were definitely some times when I fell off the wagon with eating right. Like Valentine’s Day weekend when I fell off the wagon into a ditch on the side of the road then rolled into a lake full of dark chocolate covered peanut butter sea salt caramel truffles and cream puffs… and champagne… and steak… and ok, we’ll stop there. So with that being said (and done) I began my 10-day Clean Eating Reset Cleanse on the Monday after Valentine’s Day. I am on day 9 today.

I was first introduced to Clean Eating Reset Cleanse (the name I have dubbed it) by a good friend of mine, Amy who had been given it by a friend. Now compared to The Whole 30 my little reset is kids stuff. This is not a cleanse where you eat nothing for days on end and pretend like you wouldn’t murder your closest friend for a candy bar. This is not a juicing cleanse where you get nothing solid and am supposed to be ‘totally fine’ with that. This is a 10 day return to what is good and healthy and what your body is meant to consume. It is an elimination diet of sorts and that means it’s going to be hard, you are going to miss the foods that you eat all the time, the junk, the bread, the candy, the coffee, the alcohol, etc. You are going to crave them, your nose is going to linger as pass by the bakery at the market, the neighborhood Starbucks, heck, the burger joint your family is going to eat at that you simply does not coincide with your diet plan. I have done this cleanse twice, both with great success, I felt great, I lost weight, and I learned about what eliminating some food categories from my diet could do to help me feel like this all the time.

To help me with my goals, I set myself (silent) alarms on my phone as little reminders at different times of the day, like “make good choices” (keeping myself accountable), “your willpower is stronger than your craving” (for encouragement), etc. Sometimes you just need a little affirmation to help you get past that moment or hour of wanting something that you shouldn’t have. And because I believe in the saying “A goal without a plan is just wish” so I also made sure to make myself a meal plan on excel a couple days before I began the cleanse so that I would know exactly what foods I needed to buy and what I was going to be eating, this allowed me to think outside the box on what different foods I could eat and get some variety. One of the most important things to me is not getting caught in a situation where I don’t have any ‘cleanse friendly’ foods and either lose my mind because I am starving and cannot eat anything, or worse, eat things that are not in the plan. I was able to use the plan to effectively grocery shop in advance to be sure I had all the items I need on hand, since getting to the market after working all day and commuting with two kids under 5 at their dinner time, in the dark – is pretty much my nightmare.

Rules: Never: alcohol, dairy, caffeine, sugar, artificial sweeteners, processed food, wheat
Day Rule
1,2,9,10 Eat only: white meat, fish, beans, nuts, fruits, vegetables, & whole grains
3,4,5,6,7,8, Eat only: fish, fruits, vegetables, & whole grains

Here is a sample of my plan: Day 3:

Breakfast Hard boiled egg(s)
Lunch carrots/celery and plain hummus, banana
Snack natural popcorn- no butter
Dinner Oven baked salmon with roasted brussels sprouts

The original cleanse called for 20 minutes of low impact exercise- such as a walk each day, but I am working out in the gym with cardio and weight lifting as well as doing some videos of no-equipment workouts I’ve found online (thanks Pinterest!)  like this Bikini Belly Bootcamp video from Pop Sugar (fitsugar.com).

For me, the processed foods (i.e. bread and crackers), candy, cookies, and cheese were by far the hardest. I have offered the cleanse plan to friends who are interested in doing something more regimented than just ‘cutting calories’ but often they cannot part with their coffee or soda habits, my very lactose intolerant friend ironically cannot part with cheese for 10 days. I’ve found though that it’s not that your body cannot take the withdrawal, it’s your mind setting up limitations for you. Do I want a grilled cheese sandwich right now? O my, yes! But I know that this is a challenge I can complete and I will.

I know that I can live without these things that are not good for my body, I know that I can be a stronger, healthier me without them. I feel proud that I have not swayed, even though I was so tempted to (with my hubby eating all the remaining  truffles and my niece selling us 5 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies). I hope that you can take a challenge, this challenge perhaps and feel as good as I do.

Here are some of the meals I have made:

Baked eggs with sauteed spinach, garlic, & red bell peppers.


Oven baked salmon with roasted Brussels sprouts and a quinoa vegetable pilaf.


Chicken seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic powder and cayenne powder sauteed with green beans.



The Good & The Bad

17 Oct

Sometimes I feel like I can be thoughtless leading to wasteful with food, I will buy things and not be as mindful as I should be of expiration dates to be sure I use them before it’s too late.
This week I decided to just buy the non-food items I needed like paper towels, tooth paste, etc and to cook out of only the items in my pantry and refrigerator. This is definitely not my normal routine, but I was able find a couple things to make like homemade spaghetti sauce with pasta and meatballs (I had dry pasta, canned tomatoes, an onion, a jar of crushed garlic, peppers, dried herbs, and frozen turkey meatballs). I made my Spicy Cowboy Taco Bowls as well out of only things I always have on hand, grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup which I added alphabet pasta to. This was a challenge for me because I’m so used to going out and spending a good amount of money on groceries, making midweek trips to get items that I just thought of, and it also got me to avoid defaulting to take out when days get a little too rough.

Food safety is super important to me, I am always trying to make sure that I am not cross contaminating anything and being sure to clean my kitchen thoroughly to avoid bacteria infecting the things we eat or touch. I regularly check out pins on pinterest or articles on yahoo about food safety to make sure that I am keeping my family safe. I was reminded by my coworker, Jenn that to check expiration dates on not only my fresh foods and drinks but also my pantry items, like canned foods, boxed foods, and mixes. This my sound dumb but I didn’t realize that canned goods really went bad because well, they were canned and therefore shelf stable. Tomorrow is trash day for me so I thought it would be a good time check on the expiration’s that I had in my house. Besides some apple jalapeño sausages, deli sliced havarti (which somehow froze in my fridge’s meat bin), and some lemons which had gone bad I was completely surprised at how many items had surpassed their time. I realized that when I’m menu planning I rarely look at expiration dates, I just see them in my fridge assuming they are fine. Also that I definitely have used ingredients in the past 6 months like my ketchup which expired mid 2012.


My most expired item? A can of soup that expired in August 2010. Oy. I made sure to rinse and recycle all items I could. I think the biggest realization I had was that I have been using a lot of expired condiments without knowing it. I am now going to make a point to go through my fridge and pantry regularly to be sure that all my food items are safe for consumption and I’m not putting my family at risk by cooking with them. I’m not going to lie, my fridge is pretty empty now and I need to restock a lot of things, off to the market I go!

The Veg Project: week one

23 Mar

Week one of the Veg Project was actually a little tougher than I originally thought it would be. I thought since I was already making meatless meals for dinner often and choosing veggie burritos over chicken there would be little to no temptations to go down the meat path, but it was hard.
I have grown accustomed to making many meat filled meals that have become staples in this house, so grocery shopping was strange as I found myself going toward the meat counter or starting to reach for the turkey bacon. I quickly remembered to steer away. When browsing Pinterest (one of my favorite past times) I would see a recipe for chicken tortilla soup and think, ‘oh I have to try that… Oh wait, I’m not eating that.’ I was especially challenged going to a local restaurant for a meeting with a lender friend and two of my work associates. We went to a restaurant that I go to often, except I have only even eaten chicken lettuce wraps, chicken tortilla soup, or a chicken stir fry. Knowing I didn’t already have a veg standby lined up I thought it was a good idea to check out the menu prior to leaving for the restaurant. I was having a particularly difficult time picking something, but I settled on a couple options and ended up with a roasted veggie lasagna that was amazing! It’s crazy how ingrained my eating habits are, how automatic it is for me to think ‘hmm I’m hungry, I want a chicken taco.’ But I know it’s just something that I need to retrain my brain to do.
Now it wasn’t all bad, there were a couple easy moments this week like eating at a couple burrito places which offer delish veg burritos and making some great meatless meals which included veggie burgers with spinach and raspberry salad, baked salmon with roasted Brussels sprouts, and spicy corn, peppers, jack cheese stuffed portabello mushroom caps with roasted sweet potatoes. This change of diet has been made easier since my husband has gotten on board. He is not participating in the Veg Project (he’s not converting to be a pesco-lacto-ovo vegetarian) but has been completely fine with me cutting meat out of our dinners and been supportive of me when I had challenging moments.
I have also checked in with my Veg Project buddy and she said she’s feeling good and thinks that the meat free diet is actually helping her with her digestion. Most people don’t choose to go cold turkey when giving pretty much anything up, but I know myself and I know that if I am still consuming the thing I’m giving up that it can be a very slippery slope and I won’t succeed. So cold turkey it is!
Week one: done and no cheating (brownie points!).


Above is one my favorite summer salads: tender baby spinach, tart & fruity raspberries, dry roasted slivered almonds, & tangy low fat honey mustard dressing. Totally refreshing!


The Veg Project

22 Mar

Something that you should know is that I have not eaten pork or any other pig related products since I was 11 years old. Miss Piggy was simply off the menu, which was a far cry from the little girl whose favorite sandwich was ham & cheese her whole life. When I was on the verge of turning 16 my high school tennis teammate, Miss Ashley told me about how she was a vegetarian and all the virtues of it. It sounded like something that I wanted to try, so I bought myself a book on being a teenage vegetarian and gave it a go. I was what is called a ‘pesco-lacto-ovo’ vegetarian, meaning I ate all fruits, veggies, beans, grains and also fish, dairy, and eggs. I felt fantastic, I was eating so healthy, very versatile meals. I had limited the sugar intake I was having and cut down to about one soda a week (which is kind of a big deal to a teenager). I was also very active since I was playing high school tennis and was involved in a lot of other activities so I was leaning out and feeling fabulous. Then came the following summer and my biggest temptation was confronting me almost daily: bar-be-que… I love BBQ, it is one of my favorite things in the whole world. Everything about it reminds me of childhood and summertime. I gave in. I began eating meat again.

It wasn’t until I was 23 that I decided I wanted to stop eating red meat again, although I was still eating poultry. I had realized that my body wasn’t processing red meat very well, I was feeling sick after every burger, steak, or beef taco. It wasn’t fun and clearly my body didn’t want me to eat it. Again, I felt more healthy after giving up another form of meat. That was until I got pregnant and it became difficult to find options of things to eat since so many foods are off-limits while you are pregnant and at this time I didn’t have a lot of time to cook. I started eating meat again and my junk food intake increased greatly. I started feeling really gross all the time after I ate out and guilty too because I knew the choices I was making were poor choices and were destructive. It took me an entire year to start working vigilantly to lose the weight that I gained pre-pregnancy and throughout my pregnancy and one of the things I did was reduce my all over meat consumption. I lost 22 pounds in 3 months through eating right and working out religiously. It has now been 9 months from that time and I have managed to keep the weight off, but I have felt myself slacking in the working out department and have lost some self-control over eating ‘bad’ foods.

So that leads us to last week. Now my girl friends are meat lovers, major carnivores really. These girls have books about bacon in their kitchens, eat bacon ice cream and candied bacon, once a bacon cupcake, meat is their lives. I once watched one of them eat a Tomahawk steak that was about 30 oz. Then Vegucation happened to one of them. What is Vegucation? It is a documentary about a challenge taken on by 3 individuals to become vegan for 6 weeks and learn about veganism that is arranged by a vegan convert Manhattanite. She decided that night that she wanted to try to be vegan for 6 weeks (taking a similar challenge as the participants in the documentary). Then I get a text from my other girlfriend who happened to watch the same documentary a couple of days later saying that “[she] isn’t going to eat meat today” to which I ask why? (as this was out of the blue). She goes on to tell me that she saw the documentary and realizes that she needs to cut down her meat consumption for her health and also because of feeling guilty for what she saw in the film. She knew she couldn’t go completely vegan (knowing your limitations is important!), but she wanted to do something, so I helped her come up with a plan. I told her about what I did when I was a vegetarian in high school, which is kind of funny because she was my bestie in high school too and totally ate with me all the time and was on the tennis van with us when Ashley first told me about the virtues of being a veg. She said that she thought she might be able to do that but she didn’t want to make any kind of proclamation of change that she didn’t know she wouldn’t fulfill so she committed to three weeks and then she would see how she was feeling. I told her for solidarity I would do it with her to help her out (and all the other wonderful virtues mentioned above).

Now being a vegetarian at 28 is a little different for me that being a vegetarian at 16, first off, I have a car and I have money to eat out whenever, and where ever I want. I also have cooking skills that I had not previously had and awesome meat filled recipes that I make regularly. I also am married to a meat-eating man and cooking is definitely for two. So I know that this will be a challenge.