Tag Archives: 24daychallenge

When things don’t go according to plan…

I knew my latest 24 Day Challenge was going to be different when, as I was falling asleep at the end of Day 1, I realized I didn’t take the before photos. I did the before measurements, but not the photos. Oops #1.

It would not be the last Oops of this challenge. If you’ve been following my health journey the past year, you know that typically, I lose about 6 pounds over 24 days of eating clean, avoiding processed foods, exercising and taking supplements. You also know that I don’t even take all the supplements suggested by the plan. Since I take synthroid every morning to boost my thyroid gland, I don’t take the thermogenics in the package (in fact, I order my items separately vs. the pre-packaged set)… I don’t need even more tweaking of my gland, thank you very much!

This time around, I lost 3.7 lbs. And I’m pretty darn happy about it.

Why, you ask? (After all, it’s not what I thought I would do!) A few reasons:

  • First, I figure if I wasn’t journaling what I ate during this time, and trying to eat clean for the most part, I likely would have GAINED at least 3 pounds or more.
  • 3.7 lbs loss over 24 days is about a pound a week. It’s well known that anywhere from .5 to 2 lbs a week loss is healthy.
  • I didn’t entirely stick to the plan. There were days I was at an event and allowed myself a glass of wine. There were meals I was served where I didn’t have much choice in the food, so I had to eat white bread or other no-no items for the challenge. And Friday the 13th was just a really stressful day, so there was wine and fried fish that night. And I got right back on track the next day.

I share all this because I know I’ve had other friends do this challenge, or similar challenges, and maybe your results weren’t what you had hoped they would be. But, progress is progress, and I feel learning something through it is the true goal, not the number on the scale. I was reminded journaling keeps me accountable, and going far over the calorie count I’m supposed to attain definitely affects me.

Most importantly, I learned that truly, I should try and stick to this level of eating clean and exercising as much as I can, whether I’m on an official challenge or not. Just like a muscle that weakens without use, nutritional balance can easily go out the window and is trick to get back on course.

So, who’s ready to challenge themselves to a healthier LIFEstyle?

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15 weeks of a healthier me…

… looks like this! I have maintained a loss of 7.1 lbs, 6.75 inches and 2.2% body fat since my first 24 Day Challenge started 15 weeks ago. However, I’ve backslid a teeny bit these past few weeks (but the vacation was well worth it!). So, I’m rebooting today. 

So if you notice me without a drink in my hand the next 24 days, it’s because I’m working to get to my healthy goal. I’m pretty close to where I want to be to feel comfortable in my skin. And if I can do that by my birthday at the end of August, big bonus!

Top 10 lessons learned

I got a lot more out of my 24 Day Challenge than just pounds and inches lost. I gained a greater appreciation for how my body works and reacts, lessons that I plan to draw on post-challenge. 

So what did I learn? I’ve developed a Top 10 list!

1. Breakfast is important. For the first 10 days of the challenge, my goal was to eat a protein, a complex carb and a fruit for breakfast. I ate a LOT of eggs during this time! In fact, I wasn’t used to eating so much food…some mornings I had to spread it out over the course of the first few hours of the day. 

For the last 14 days, my breakfast (except on Easter, and Good Friday when I fasted) was a meal replacement shake, and I usually had fruit or a nutrition bar mid-morning. Either way, still more than I usually would eat in the mornings. I’m not a breakfast skipper, but a breakfast skimper. I learned quickly filling up in the morning makes staying satisfied during the day easier.

2. Balanced meals help keep you satisfied. The goal of each meal on the challenge was a protein, complex carb and fruit or veggie. I noticed that I really had to think meals through! Before the challenge, there were a lot of times I would hit two of the three. But again, the more I stuck with this, the more filling I found it to be. 

3. Reading labels is worth the time it takes. On the challenge, one is to avoid added sugars and sodium, and eat minimally or non-processed foods. For me, that meant checking a lot of labels and skipping ones with enriched flour (yes, even enriched wheat flour is not as good!). I’m already mindful of sodium levels in foods and was used to skimming ingredient lists to avoid high fructose corn syrup. More careful review was another step but I think a big one in my success. 

4. Planning ahead is key to success. I thought through each day’s meals in advance. If I knew I had a meal out for work, I would look at the menu online before heading out and narrow down my choices that would fit the challenge. I shopped ahead on weekends to keep the right foods in stock (and became a fan of Sprouts!). And I made sure to pack extra fruit and nutrition bars each day for snacks. It took time, but it was worth it as I had no excuses.

5. It’s hard to eat out, especially on a whim. There were times I found myself without a dinner plan. It is hard to just “run and grab something” when you are trying to find healthy, non-processed, non-fried options (especially non-meat options on Fridays in Lent!). I’ve learned my fallbacks are grocery stores like Whole Foods and Mediterranean restaurants.

6. Try new things. I had quinoa for breakfast. I had tofu as an entree. I rediscovered couscous. When you are limited to whole grains, it cuts some options out. I had to get creative or I was going to eat a lot of oatmeal and brown rice!

7. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. For the most part, I stuck to drinking 80 oz. of water a day (aiming for the half my body weight in ounces). The days I didn’t, I could feel a difference. I felt puffy, and my face was redder. Also, this is just water…I didn’t count the water I was mixing with my Spark.

8. Staying active makes everything easier. I will admit I didn’t work out as much as I would have liked while I was on the challenge…maybe a little more than half of the days. On the days I did, I had plenty of calories to enjoy a bedtime snack while staying on point. The other days, it was hard to keep to the calorie goal on My Fitness Pal. I went over. It happens. 

9. Alcohol adds up. I didn’t have a drop of alcohol on the challenge. I was fortunate to only have a small handful of opportunities where I had to pass up a drink (I picked the date of my challenge start purposely around that). But I know that even wine or champagne (lower calorie options) add up. So I’m aiming for 4-6 glasses total a week, still less than 1 glass a day (which seems to be the healthy consensus for women).

10. Sacrifice makes splurges better. I gave up a lot of my loves for the sake of the challenge. It didn’t say I had to give up coffee, but I did since Spark has caffeine in it. I appreciate my morning coffee now and can keep it to one cup instead of the two I used to have. It’s easier to enjoy one drink at a happy hour now and savor it. And after giving up bread for Lent, boy did I enjoy getting to have whole wheat bread back in my diet!

Absence does really make the heart grow fonder, and on the rare occasions I’ll allow myself something fried or otherwise indulgent, I will enjoy it and then put it back on the back burner.

The main point is that I’ve found a way to deal with the daily temptations of an American diet. I won’t always be perfect. I will slip. I will allow myself treats. But I feel so good eating the clean way that I’ll definitely be a LOT more mindful of sticking to it.

This means queso and ranch dressing have moved to the treat list 😉

PS-Give me a shout if you’d like to give the Challenge a try. Happy to coach you through it!

Final 24 Day Challenge Results (4/24/14)

The best part is you can really see the difference in my face!!

Weight: 152.8 lbs (down 5.7 lbs)
Body fat: 33% (down .2)

Chest: 35.25 (down .75)
Waist: 29.5 (down 1.5!)
Hips: 38 (down 1)
Thigh: 22.5 (no change)
Calf: 14.75 (down .25)
Arm: 12.25 (down .25)

Total loss = 3.75 inches

# pushups in 24 secs: 15 (up 2)
Overall energy level: 4 (scale 1-5, up 1)
How well I sleep: 4 (up 1)
Overall feeling of wellness: 4 (up 1)

Whole Foods saved me!

I almost failed today. More accurately, I totally failed to plan dinner tonight. This was a challenge due to many considerations:

  • I can’t eat meat today. (It’s still Lent for one more week, y’all.)
  • Sandwiches or and the like are out too. (Because I chose to give up bread for Lent, by far my toughest Lenten pledge EVER. Yes, tougher than the year I gave up booze.)
  • I’m on Day 12 of the 24 Day Challenge. (This means I should be avoiding fried foods, added sugars and sodium, and creamy sauces.)

It’s not terribly difficult to follow the challenge’s suggestion for a healthy protein, complex carb and fruit/veggie at each meal when one cooks at home or plans meals ahead. It would have been pretty easy to give in and just pick up an “easy” option that didn’t follow my three stipulations. But, I already had a little hurdle yesterday with a work lunch featuring really limited menu options … which resulted in me eating a little non-whole wheat spaghetti for the sake of having SOME carbs and being polite 🙂

After searching Yelp and Foursquare for ideas and coming up pretty empty, I remembered I live near a Whole Foods. Surely, I could cobble something together here.

And I did! The Sweet Chili Grilled Tofu was tasty (flavor makes all the difference with tofu), as were the Chipotle Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts and Kale Slaw. Plus, I have enough left for lunch on Sunday pre-personal training.

Estimated 354 calories for the meal and cost about $7.50 ($15 total). Not bad for a “night out!”