As a Les Mills instructor, we receive new educational focuses every three months along with our new releases (music and moves!) Some of the educational focus is on the specific program and moves. The rest varies: nutrition, how to make your classes even better, pregnant members, etc. One thing that has caught my eye is their 21 Day Food Challenge. I’ve watched the video plenty of times, read the information and thought about trying it. But… I was scared! It is essentially a 21 day detox. It is low carb (the scary part for me!) with an emphasis on eating 5 small meals a day (protein, fats and lots of greens) for JUST 21 days. This means no starchy veggies (sweet potatoes, fruit, etc) during the 21 days. It is meant to be a challenge! You can read the entire information PDF here. The video above has most of the same information.
Most of the year, I eat fairly well. I drink my green smoothies, I try to eat clean andM I exercise. However, if you know me or have read my blog in the past… you know I’m not a fan of meat. I’ve eaten almost completely vegan and mostly vegetarian in the past, but it ends up being very processed. I get lazy. I get sore from my workouts.
I’ve been eating eggs, chicken and seafood for the past year. I’ve eaten it in the past, but it’s just not my favorite! Give me bread and cheese anytime! (I try to limit the cheese… dairy doesn’t like my stomach!) So when I looked at this 21 day challenge over and over, I knew I would have to keep up with the protein. Surprisingly, that hasn’t been the tough part. Getting enough greens is the hard part! What a shocker! I love vegetables… but when you are eating them all the time without any carbs it just gets tough. Especially since it is freezing outside!
So here is the typical day (I’m currently on day 12!! woo woo!)
Meal 1: egg scramble (2 eggs + egg whites + onions, peppers, spinach, etc + coconut oil in pan for fat) OR protein pancake with a little almond butter (hard to eat veggies with that one!)
Meal 2: salad + chicken, egg salad, or turkey deli meat + avocado, nuts, etc. OR dinner leftovers (usually lunch time because of work)
Meal 3: Something quick at work around 2-3 – veggies and guac, nuts, extra stuff from lunch
Meal 4: Chicken, shrimp, fish, etc + greens (salad, sauteed veggies) + fats (coconut oil, avocado, etc) (usually my dinner)
Meal 5: Protein shake 10 minutes after teaching class at the gym or working out at home. If I don’t work out, another small meal.
PLUS: Lots of water (about 1/2 your weight in oz) and no food 2 hours before bedtime.
The water has been easy. I have a 30 oz bottle I take to school. I try to get at least 2-3 down a day. I’ve still been drinking coffee in the morning with a little coconut milk creamer. Sometimes tea during the day or at night.
The Les Mills Food Pyramid (for after the 21 day challenge)
My exceptions: I’ve been sticking to it pretty well. Of course, there have been a few minor changes. I’m not worried about them. I had just a little rice noodles in my coconut soup I had from a local Thai restaurant last weekend. I had chicken and veggies too that night. I’ve been using almond milk in my protein shakes. I’ve been using a little coconut milk coffee creamer in my coffee (So Delicious brand). Tonight, I’m going out for sushi. I’ve known about this all week, so I’ve been really trying to stick to the plan. I’m going to try to eat a salad or soup before the sushi begins. I’ll try to stay away from the fried stuff, but I’m going to have rice. It will be delicious. My birthday dinner will be on day 19 and I’m going to take it easy… but enjoy it.
Protein Shakes: I’ll admit it. I was using junk. Target brand whey protein. Mystery ingredients, artificial sweeteners. Before, I was using Tone It Up’s Perfect Fit protein (brown rice protein). It tastes GREAT, but it’s kinda expensive and I don’t think I recover as well with the vegan protein. I was scared to try whey because of my weak stomach when it comes to dairy, but it has been fine. Les Mills came out with their own protein: Good Protein. You can order a free sample of the chocolate and vanilla here!! It is very expensive, but the taste. Oh my gosh – the taste is SO GOOD! Chocolate was my favorite. HOWEVER… I tried this twice and it made my belly bloat soooooooo much. I seriously looked pregnant. It was upset too. This protein has whey AND casein. I think the casein was what upset my stomach. So this stuff might work for you if you don’t have lactose issues!
I just finished my mystery ingredient Target brand whey. I got Hammer brand chocolate whey to try. Good ingredients too (sweetened with stevia and only 6 ingredients total). I hope it tastes good!
The tough stuff: I had a slight meltdown on day 2 in the afternoon. I was home early from school (snow), hungry and craving the bad stuff. I made a protein pancake and tea and felt better. I realized that 2-4pm is my tough time. My energy was crashing at that time for a few days, but got better. By day 3-4 I was feeling better in the afternoon.
The cravings have pretty much stopped. I can’t imagine how much sugar I was probably taking in, between actual sweets and crap carbs. I still miss chocolate and grains. I will try to control how much I actually bring back into my diet after day 21. I feel so good…I’ve lost 6 lbs! I will probably start with quinoa on day 22.
Workouts: I have NOT been running. At all. December 1st was my last run!! (EEK!) I’m not sure I could keep up with teaching classes AND running while on this food challenge. It’s also super cold out so I’m not in a rush to start running anytime soon. I’m not signed up for a race this spring, and I’m ok with it! I’ve been teaching and practicing at home: BODYPUMP, CXWORX and BODYFLOW. I’m getting ready to film my BODYFLOW soon to become officially certified!