Hey ladies! Happy 2015! I love a new year! So many possibilities and opportunities for change. I’m pretty excited for the Fit for Life Challenge. It is great opportunity for everyone, myself included, to reach new goals. Some of you may not know this, but once upon a time, I was a food challenge WINNER! In fact, I was the very first food challenge winner (just barely beat Coach Mel). It must have been about 2.5 – 3 years ago now. What you also may not know is that I wasn’t very food challenge savvy! It took a lot of effort in order to take home the gold. I was still in the first year of a relationship which means I was eating out all the time. I also thought cooking healthy meant having brown rice and frozen veggies….every single night. Protein? Ha, yeah right. I was seriously lacking knowledge on what was truly healthy. And obviously no more than 1200 calories because at some point in our lives, 1200 calories became the set amount of calories for all women! Hmmm… I look back to those time and think how far I’ve come. I owe so much of this to Kerrie and my very first food challenge. Each day, I logged my food into MyFitnessPal and I turned my log in every week. It became apparent early on that my eating habits needed some revamping. I upped my protein AND my calories significantly and I trusted my coach to guide me in the right direction. After 6 weeks, I lost 3% body fat!!! Not only did I see major differences in my body, but I felt stronger and more confident after 6 short weeks. The best part for me though is that I didn’t just revert back to old habits after those 6 weeks were over. I continued to evolve over the years. Now, I easily take in 100 plus grams of protein and 1600 plus calories every day and I’m not getting bigger! I’m just fueling my body for intense workouts. I learned long ago that 1200 calories just isn’t enough food for me given the intensity of my workouts. You will plateau if you’re not eating enough. Here is another awesome post on the 1200 calories per day myth!
The secret to my success was dedication. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. You need to be dedicated to making healthy changes in your life if you expect to lose or maintain weight, get stronger, and build endurance. If you’re married or in a relationship, I recommend stressing the importance of these healthy changes to your significant other. It will help to have someone on board for the ride. Accept that it will not be easy at first, but it gets easier and your tastes will change. For example, when I first started KFIT, I used to order coffee with cream and sugar. I didn’t specify the amount of cream or sugar but from my understanding, they put a crap load of sugar in coffee at Dunks! I was taking in over 200 calories from my morning coffee alone! (Now, I’m not saying we should get hung up on calories, but if a drink is over 200 calories, I think there is a problem!) So when the food challenge rolled around, I realized that I needed to change my coffee habits. I mean I was starting my day, first thing in the morning, with unhealthy habits so I knew it needed to change. Initially, I just started ordering my coffee with milk and 2 sugars. Then I dropped down to skim milk and 1 sugar. Then no sugar. It is going to sound weird but I started brewing cinnamon in my coffee at home. I just started trying different things and before I knew it, I was drinking coffee with skim milk and cinnamon. Now, I drink my coffee with only soy milk, no sugar and I fully enjoy my morning coffee. I’m not choking it down. As my body has adjusted to a healthier lifestyle with less processed sugar, my tastes have changed so much that I only want milk in my coffee at this point.
I also gave up alcohol 100% for 6 weeks. This seems so daunting to me now because I’m at a different place in my health journey. At the time, I needed to eliminate my vices and focus on learning new habits. I’m not saying you need to quit drinking to be successful, but we all need to be mindful of our weaknesses. My goal is to cut back to once/week. I’m not eliminating alcohol altogether, but by limiting myself, I will be more likely to reach my personal goals.
Here are some other tips to be successful.
- Be open-minded. Try new things even if it puts you a little outside of your comfort zone. If you don’t like it, at least you can say you tried. I tried spicy mustard in tuna fish instead of mayo and I love it! I’ve subbed greek yogurt for sour cream and it works for me! Spaghetti squash and zucchini instead of pasta? Love it! Oats in a jar? Not so much. But at least I tried it and now I know, cold oatmeal just isn’t for me.
- Stay POSITIVE. I cannot stress this enough. If you go into anything saying to yourself that you can’t do it, then guess what, you won’t succeed. Go into a food challenge with an open-mind and tell yourself that you’ve got this! Stay positive and good things will happen.
- Rid yourself of CAN’T. So often we hear “I can’t give up wine” or “I can’t give up sugar in my coffee” for 6 weeks so I just won’t participate in the challenge. We need to re-think the way we go into things. Of course we CAN give up these things, we just don’t want to. Instead of saying you can’t, change your perspective and say “I can give up wine 5 days/week.” “I can cut back on the amount of sugar in my coffee.” Can’t is just a reflection of fear. We’re all capable but we’re fearful of failing so we just say we can’t. I’m just as guilty as the next person so this is one of my personal goals!
- Clean out the cabinets. I love salty snacks. I could eat a bag of chips any day of the week so I avoid these distractions by eliminating them where I can. I don’t buy this stuff and I keep my cabinets clean of crap. I can’t change the fact that there are vending machines at work, but I control the places I can.
- Trust your coaches. It is SCARY to be told to increase your calories because we’re so warped into believing that 1250 calories is the key amount to losing weight, but trust me when I say, we’re here to help you! If your coach tells you that it will help you to reach your goal to increase your calories or your protein intake, stay open-minded and trust us!
- Be honest with yourself. At the end of the day, this is your journey. Kerrie, Mel, and I are on our own health journeys and we have our own personal goals. We are certainly here to help you, but you need to be honest with yourself throughout the process in order to grow.
- Be honest with your coaches. This ties into trusting us. Be honest on food logs. We’re not here to reprimand anyone! If I hadn’t been honest on my first food challenge, I probably would have never learned healthier habits.
- Be realistic. Is your goal to lose 20 lbs? Well it may not happen in 6 short weeks. But it won’t happen at all if bad habits don’t change. Starting today will help you eventually reach that goal but be realistic with expectations.
- Bounce back. So you had a “bad” food day? Bad days don’t define us. The truth of the matter is we’re not expecting everyone to eat clean 100% of the time. I know I don’t eat clean all the time. I still consider myself a healthy eater even if I indulge in pizza and beer. Just don’t use it as an excuse to give up either. Pizza today shouldn’t turn into a downward spiral of cheesesteaks and French fries for the rest of the week.
- Plan and Prep. Let me say it again, PLAN AND PREP!!! Figure out what you’re eating for dinner for the next 5 days. Write it down, figure out all your necessary ingredients, and then hit the food store. Take a couple hours on a Sunday to prep the things that you dread. For me, I hate chopping veggies. Yes, I know this makes me sound lazy, but it is just a cumbersome task for me so I chopped a bunch of veggies on Sunday and now I’m all set for the week. I also plan to have the same breakfast throughout this week and I’ll switch it up next week so this makes planning this one meal a little easier.
Last but not least, find what works for you! Maybe Sunday prep isn’t conducive with your Sunday schedule, so find a day that works for you. Or maybe everyone at the gym is raving about chia seeds but it just isn’t your jam. That’s ok! Again, this is your journey and you need to find healthy options that work for you.
Good luck on the challenge! I’ll be doing it along-side you ladies so feel free to hit me up with any questions. You have nothing to lose but inches and weight but what we gain from the experience is priceless. Yes, this sounds corny, but I’m telling you, my first food challenge ended up being life-changing for me!