If you’ve been following my page you’re aware that my husband and I had challenged ourselves to clean up our eating habits. If you’re new to my journey, let me give you a quick recap:
Our June Challenge was to get back to a healthier lifestyle. We had gotten too comfortable with eating “conveniently” after our little one was born and unfortunately it was stopping us from reaching our goals. For the month of June we followed a 90% paleo diet. We had a couple planned exceptions … one being the organic raw meal protein I use (it contains pea and brown rice which are not considered part of a strict paleo diet). We had once weekly cheat meal dates – that were planned in advance – and we gave ourselves a few cheat allowances (to include 4 glasses of wine and one coffee outside the home per week).
Now that the month is over I want to share a recap of my biggest tips/takeaways:
1. Plan, plan, plan.
I can honestly say that meal planning is what kept us running. There are different levels of meal planning. We have done the weigh, measure, and count every single thing before it goes in our mouth type of planning before. This time we just focused on dinners. Our schedules are opposite but we can always count on having dinner together. We used this as our pillar. By having this one meal together every day, we were able to keep each other on track.
When I mention meal planning to people, they typically already get overwhelmed. Meal planning isn’t the same as meal prepping. It doesn’t always have to consist of tedious measurements, long lists, or an entire day of cooking and sorting veggies. As parents – especially of a little one – it is pretty much impossible to find a chunk of time big enough to allow us to meal prep. While meal prepping can definitely make day time eating struggles easier, its not always realistic. However, meal PLANNING is. Our meal planning meant that every Sunday I looked in the freezer, fridge, pantry, and at the list of things on deck to be delivered in our Imperfect Produce box on Monday. I brainstormed yummy meals and wrote up a menu for the week.
By having this plan before the week even started, we both would see the menu, agree on it, and execute it. As they say, failing to plan is planning to fail. When we didn’t have dinners planned in advance it was a circus. If I was rushing in the morning or running too many errands, no meat would get defrosted and we would fall back on whatever we could quickly heat. If the person in charge of dinner for that night was tired, we would give in to ordering out. There is something about a written plan that just makes you more motivated to stick to it.
2. Find a way to implement things you enjoy.
When all we do is restrict, it gets overwhelming. Think about a child. When you tell them “no” or “don’t” it sparks their curiosity. “Don’t touch that” often means let me try to touch it and see why I’m not supposed to. Unfortunately, our society fosters unhealthy relationships with food; relationships that reinforce this same type of negative behavior. When we tell ourselves we “can’t” have something, it often becomes the one thing we want. Like why is it that I rarely eat cookies but as soon as I can’t have desserts all I want is a warm chocolate chip fresh baked gooey taste of deliciousness?! Ugh
So how do we beat this?
There are two things that we have found helpful. The first is by having fun with the things you can eat. Changing eating habits doesn’t mean going from pizza to baked chicken and steamed broccoli. It means finding HEALTHY, clean alternatives to things you enjoy. What types of food do you like? What recipes spark your interest?
If you love chinese take out, try finding a clean stir-fry recipe. Use cauliflower rice, mix in fresh veggies, and whip up a homemade sauce… Like our go-to paleo faux-yaki sauce. If you’re a pasta person, make a simple homemade sauce to toss with some zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash. Make sure you are planning meals that you are excited about. Think about what will keep you looking forward to these dinners, not dreading them.
The second is planning times that you can indulge and enjoy – guilt free. Its not realistic to think we will never have a moment of wanting to indulge ourselves. Whether its a Friday night out, a Wednesday morning driving by Starbucks and daydreaming about a cloud macchiato, a birthday party with a BOMB looking cake, or a holiday get together with your favorite sausage bread… There will be days and moments. Know this, acknowledge it, accept it, ALLOW it, and move along.
For our challenge this month, we kept ourselves actually WANTING to eat well because we let ourselves enjoy a few pre-planned moments. We had a cheat meal together once per week. Doing this also opened the door for finally going to restaurants and places we’ve been planning on trying for months. When we knew we were good every other moment of the week, cheat meals became more exciting, more special. It wasn’t just another Favor order. It was a planned trip to somewhere we hadn’t been before. It was an experience. We also accounted for a couple of our favorite things – coffee and wine. We decided what would be an appropriate allowance of these things; keeping us on track for hitting our goals but allowing us to have a small treat on occasion.
Life is not just about restriction and rules. Its about balance.
3. Stop dieting. Start changing habits.
Diets don’t work. Period.
Dieting, as we know it, is restrictive eating that is done for a period of time. It’s usually on such an extreme that it is impossible – and not intended – to maintain. The problem with this is that we diet and then fall immediately back into our old habits.
While we did refer to this as our “June Challenge”, it was never intended to be something only done for a month. We had goals and we needed something to kickstart those goals. The best goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and TIME-SENSITIVE. When we don’t attach a time to our goal, we are less likely to reach it. Think about any task you’re given. I mean if I see a pile of laundry I know I can do it today… ORRRR I can stare it every day for a week while it builds up more… But if I see a drawer with zero clean sports bras and a workout scheduled for the morning, I go do laundry.
We both weighed ourselves the morning before the challenge started. We discussed our ultimate goal weights and also our REALISTIC goal weights for this month. By putting the month timeline on this, it seemed less daunting. We had a month to get back to good habits and see the difference in made in our lives. It was fun to have a “challenge”. It was fun to map out the month. But the difference between a diet and a habit change is that even though its now July 1st, we aren’t done.
We had such a successful month.
Back in January I had unofficially set the goal of losing all my baby weight by 9 months… By unofficially I mean I, in a casual conversation, told my sister that’s what I wanted to do but never committed to it as a firm goal because I was scared of failure. When I was still sitting 10lbs heavier at the end of May I need something needed to change. That’s where this challenge came in. Now I can happily say…
I am officially F I N A L L Y back down to pre-pregnancy weight! *insert dance party here*
An 11lb weight loss over the last 28 days.
But that’s not even the best part. The best part is how I feel. My energy is better. My focus is better. My mood is better. My sleep is better. My overall self is SO MUCH BETTER.
Here’s to continuing on this journey of health.
Here’s to reaching goals and setting new ones.
Here’s to embarrassing good habits and lifestyle changes.