September Challenge: Give Sugar a Swift KICK!

Hello Lovelies!

I know, you’re probably tires of everybody doggin on sugar like it’s the founding member of the apocalypse. I get it. BUT, I do have to point out a few key things that we may KNOW but don’t really let sink in. Come along for the rise and I’ll make kicking sugar a bit easier for you. Here are a few things sugar does to your health, mind and body:

  • Sugar IS a main culprit in processed foods and we all know we should be staying away from those.
  • Excessive sugar intake causes chronic fatigue
  • Sugar causes WRINKLES! Hello?!?!?! Step away right now…..
  • Sugar can worsen inflammatory diseases, such as arthritis or any itis really
  • Sugar is highly addictive (duh)
  • Sugar gives a quick high, followed by a crash…this is an instability in your blood sugar. Blood sugar directly affects hormones and hormones affect EVERYTHING
  • Sugar can cause weight gain or instability in weight which can lead to diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers
  • Cancer cells FEED on sugar…..yeah, sugar is the preferred nutrient of cancer cells and we all have cancer cells. Do you really want to give them unlimited amounts of nutrients?

So, am I just supposed to go completely sugar-free?!?!?!?!

Well, there’s a catch here. If you depend on products that are labeled “sugar-free” then you are inviting all kinds of other nasty chemicals into your body. Nature has some natural sweets that you can incorporate to keep your sweet tooth under control, and I’ll get to those in a bit. FIRST, 3 simple ways to tell if you have a sugar problem:

  1. You crave something sweet following dinner (or lunch, breakfast or snacks)
  2. You reach for your favorite sweet when having a bad day.
  3. You stuff salty foods down the hole like there’s no tomorrow. Believe it or not, salty foods do trigger the same response and many have a higher sugar count than you think.

Natural Sweeteners:

  • Fruits
  • Dates (these will make a GREAT sweetener for recipes)
  • Starchy veggies (hello sweet potatoes!)
  • raw honey (moderation is key here)
  • coconut sugar
  • rapidura (a natural form of sugar)
  • Stevia (if you dig the after taste)

Are you ready for the great CHALLENGE? Here’s what you need to know…

Studies show that we reach goals faster if we have an accountability group (who here LOVES Weight Watchers? That’s why.), so we’re going to create a LARGE group to kick sugar in the butt and out of our gut. You can come to this blog once  a week in September for weekly recaps and fun recipes. I admit, sugar has crept back into my diet and this is really just my selfish way of getting it out again :) So, here is what you do:

  1. Follow me on Instagram as that is where the majority of the posts will be. Don’t have an INsta? Neither do my kids. You can follow along on Twitter OR FB, but if you’re reading this then you probably already do.
  2. Take pics (I don’t care if they’re pretty!) of your sugar-free inventions, foods you’ve been shocked to find contain sugar, kids giving you scowling looks because you’re taking their sugar away, whatever! Tag me in your pics: @michellecfitness for insta @michellecfit for Twitter and HASHTAG #sweetenough #downwithsugar
  3. Commit to this for the WHOLE month of September! I promise you will feel so much better and have loads of extra energy.
  4. Don’t be stingy. If you find or come up with a great recipe, share it with us! You may even find yourself featured on the blog :)

It’s pretty easy right? We’re all involved in social media, so let’s use it to create a healthy wave! Commit to change and kick sugar! Who’s with me?

SHOUT IT OUT HERE!

Michelle

bears will kill you It’s not a bear….you can do this ;)

Sunday Share: Proud Momma

As I sit here this afternoon (I’ve been out ALL weekend due to sickness….not cool), I wanted to share a little story with you. Be warned, this story may seem like it doesn’t directly relate to fitness…but commit to the end and you’ll see.

THIS is my daughter Debbie:

Mom and Deb

Pretty cute kid right? We’ve been hanging out together for over 13 years now, the past 2 we’ve almost been inseparable. You see, at the tender age of 12 (ALMOST 13) Debbie has a story. She, like my son, attended public school for most of her formative years. In the 3rd grade, things began to shift towards a darker side. She would come home all moody and upset, not wanting to talk about her day. A couple of months into the 4th grade, this bright child had become shrouded in darkness. As many can guess, it was the ever-present bullying that was haunting my once shining star. When I finally got her to open up about it, it was more heartbreak than a mother can stand.

Physical bullying can be stopped. I taught both of my children how to land a well-timed punch that would send enough fluid to the eyes their attacker wouldn’t be able to see them across a room without their eyes watering. Verbal abuse, thoughtfully articulated so as to inflict the most amount of pain to the emotional and mental center, doesn’t respond so quickly. Pile onto it that the main abuser had once called herself “BFF” and you have a foundation for LASTING mental anguish. Trust me, I suffered through junior high and could pick them out of a line up to this day. Words leave deeper scars than any other weapon.

The abuse was going on because Debbie didn’t conform to the crowd. One girl stopped being her friend because she wanted to be friends with another girl who didn’t like Deb. Moms, isn’t it funny how the world truly has not changed? She was made fun of because of her body: called skinny and such (ok, that part has changed…) and her energy. Kids told her she was weird, too happy, retarded, stupid, dumb, ugly, and would basically never have a hope of being nearly as successful as her 4th grade counterparts already assumed themselves to be. Talks with the teachers simply lead to heartless apologies followed by even greater assaults once the teacher left the room….them denial when she came back. I started having lunch with Debbie during the week JUST so she would have somebody to sit with in the cafeteria. I would be lying if I told you the thought of pummeling underage children and their parents didn’t cross my mind every single time I sat down to eat…

Debbie knew that I homeschooled through high school and opened a conversation about the possibility to do so herself. After prayer and more prayer, we decided to give it a go. And that has made us completely inseparable for 2 years. She has gone to work meetings and boot camps, and she even got to travel overseas on a mission trip. She has played photographer, stylist and therapist from one time to another :)

mom and deb plane

We entered the home school decision always knowing she could choose to return at any point. She chose to return this year: 7th Grade.

Her reasoning was that she felt more sure of herself and that she could handle what came her way. She was covered in prayers and backed by my ever-present promise to be at the school within 5 minutes should anybody need to talk directly to me :)

The first day of school came and my bright child felt as though she might vomit. I couldn’t get her to pinpoint what was actually bothering her most until we were walking to the school. Her response was that she had just realized those very same children who had made it their job to cut her down would indeed be at this school. My advice? Hold your head high. You have changed and perhaps they have as well…..I mean, you never know right?

Well, the first day was pretty much the first day. The ones who did recognize her met her with the astute response of “What the **** are you doing here?” A junior higher’s propensity to curse still astonishes me. She would respond with “Going to school” and move on. A real breakthrough came with her first reading assignment. They were given a reverse poem and told to write one as well. She worked hard to come up with a poem that had to do with faith, since she believes faith is what has truly brought her through all the hard stuff. The teacher said she (and some others) had done the assignment wrong and they were just supposed to reword it. She came home down, but not defeated. She felt her point of view MUST be stated. After a late night of hard work, this is what she came up with:

 

Godless Generation

I am part of a Godless generation

And I refuse to believe that

I can change the world

This may come as a shock to you but

“God is real”

Is a lie, and

“Money will make me happy”

So in 30 years I will let God know that

He is not the most important thing in my life

My teacher will know that

I have my priorities straight because

School

Is more important than

Jesus

I tell you this

Once upon a time

God was real

But this will not be true in my era

This is an unholy society

Experts tell me

20 years from now, I will be sinning without consequence

I do not concede that

I will live in a country full of the Holy Spirit

In the future

An empty church will be the norm

No longer can it be said that

My peers and I care about Jesus

It will be evident that

My generation is unbelieving and unsaved

It is foolish to presume that

We believe

 

Unless we reverse it.

 

 

Which generation are you living in?

 

 

So, how can I possibly tie a fitness bow around this? My daughter does not workout with me. She has no desire to lift anything heavier than her cat. She doesn’t strive to be stronger than everybody else. She does enjoy hitting things though :)

It’s not the act of making my daughter move that creates unshakeable confidence in her…it’s the EXAMPLE I set before her. I am a very imperfect person, but I strive to live a life that shows discipline and dedication, not to fitness….but to my family and the values we hold. I strive to create an environment where I am honest with my children AND where they can feel comfortable being honest with me. I hope they will push their generation to hold one another up instead of tear one another down. Maybe this can be the generation that changes everything….but only if we realize they are watching us…

wonder woman

Work IT Wednesday: Shoulder Sculpts

SHAME! I am a day late, but your shoulders can probably still use a little workout right? :)

BTW, that’s my oldest adopted son Donovan :) We love him!

 

AFTER Your warm up (jump rope for 5 minutes and you’re good)

Upright row: 3 sets, 12-15 reps

Single Arm Clean and Press: 3 sets, 10-12 each arm

Lateral Raise: 3 sets, 12-15 reps

Rear Delt Raise: 3 sets, 12-15 reps

Overhead Press: 3 sets, 12-15

FINISHERS

Forward/back, circle front, circle back: 30 seconds each on one arm then the other

 

#IDEAWORLD2014 Recap….I survived :)

Hello Beautiful People!

I am finally feeling back into the swing of things since returning from California last week. Sometimes it takes a week, get over it.

While I would LOVE to share all the wonderful things I experienced, there’s a lot to cover over the conference itself so I’m sticking to the basics. Give it a read and PLEASE click on the sponsor links within the post so you can check out some of the super cool things I got to check out :) Let’s hit the highlights, shall we?

I MADE IT!

Ideaworld 2014 banner

I have the picture to prove it. Ideaworld #blogfest started Thursday morning and I took my seat in the back. Thursday and Friday were probably the MOST fun days (that’s a WHOLE other blog post people), but my favorite parts were actually the brands. You see, during Tweet breaks (don’t fight it, it’s totally a thing) we were introduced to the brands who were sponsoring Ideaworld and making everything possible for our betterment and education….and they were giving us plenty of free swag. Word to the wise: you want my life, be willing to work as hard as I do.

REEBOK: King of swag

Here’s the funny thing….I’ve never really been a Reebok girl. I think I always associated them with the old-school aerobics instructors in tights and high tops….eeeewwwww. Reebok has totally redeemed themselves though! they’ve successfully been through an awesome rebranding (complete with new logo) and they were a fierce presence at the conference. I scored a bag, tank, water bottle and towel the very first day! That night, I got me some shoes :)

Ideaworld Reebok

I’ve already been asked about the shoes since being home and NOBODY believes they’re Reebok, BUT they are…Reebok One Cushion to be exact. Go get you some…you will not be disappointed.

Ideaworld Reeboks

UNDER ARMOUR: Still the coolest :)

I am a geek to no end, and I’m OK with that. Under Armour’s own Shauna Harrison @shauna_Harrison was there to talk about the newly launched #IWILLWHATIWANT campaign, and you’ll be getting more info on that very soon. BUT first, check out our flex off:

Ideaworld 2014 under armour

Yeah, that happened….

OK, so UA also gave bloggers a brand spankin new UA39 (the BEST of the best in heart rate monitoring and other super techy stuff). I’ve been keeping track of all of my workouts and performance outputs during each one. As you know, I vary workouts since I have exercise ADD and it’s been awesome to track on this sweet little device.

Ideaworld Under Armour UA39

That was a 450 calorie leg day :)

LORNA JANE: The SWEETEST smile at Ideaworld

If you have yet to meet Lorna Jane Clarkson and her FABULOUS clothes, you really must get out of Academy more. I was gifted with a super awesome tank top AND the ability to hear Lorna Jane speak on how her boutique clothing line came to be and what the philosophy of her company is. I was inspired to say the least and even picked myself up some more goodies at the Lorna Jane booth :) I fully encourage you to check out movenourishbelieve.com for blog posts, health tips, workouts and more on fun healthy living.

Ideaworld Lorna Jane

Are you tired of pics of my swag yet? OK, I’ll stop :)

I try to keep the posts short enough for my attention span, but I do need to show some love to some of the other sponsors. I don’t get a dime for you to click on these! I’m just trying to share what I experienced with you :) So check the links below for people who are all too willing to help you achieve the fit life.

Fit Approach

AMRAP Nutrition

Kooshoo

Aspen Yoga Mats

Fivesse

You’ll be seeing reviews on a LOT of these products soon…and just in time for Christmas :)

Before I sign off, I would love to point you in the direction of some gifted bloggers who made an impact on me last week. I don’t consider myself a true blogger, more like a fitness pro who has a blog. These guys are at the top of the blogging game, so enjoy!

http://thrivepersonalfitness.com

http://sportswithoutinjury.com

http://powercakes.net

 

 

 

 

 

WORK IT WEDNESDAY: FREE Total Body Circuit

Grab some weights (8-15 pounds should do) and a little space for total body toners :)

#IdeaWorld #Blogfest here I come…yikes

Hey ya’ll!

I am writing from my office upstairs while my self-tanner tries to feel a bit less tacky…:) Hey, it makes me feel better.

The past few days have been filled with hustle while we get ready for the next week. What’s happening? Thank you for asking! A few months ago I was chosen as one of the featured bloggers for the very FIRST annual #blogfest at the Idea World Fitness Convention in Anaheim, California. I have put together my presentation and will eventually practice…those who really know me totally know I’ll fly by the seat of my pants. During this time my family will spread out among the states and I will be forced to do something that strikes fear to the very center of my little heart: SOCIALIZE!!!!!!!

introvert Audrey

I always loved Audrey. She was an introvert and lived to be a ripe old age! Coincidence? I think not, just saying….

OK, so I am an introvert. Wait, huh? Yes, I know. I give speeches and talk in front of large crowds without too much trouble. As a matter of fact, the presentation itself has hardly crowded my thought process at all. It’s the fact that during this convention there are actual gatherings of people. This drains me of all energy and I’m pretty sure I’ll be laid up in bed for several days upon my return home.

So, what’s the problem?

My introversion has caused me to miss many an opportunity and many a party. People who don’t really understand the whole introvert thing (I like the people in books far better than those in real life at times, lol…but really) tend to think this is something one can just “turn off”. Not the case for such an odd issue. In reality, the age of technology seems to have made it easier to be an introvert. That is, until one actually has to go out and do something.

How deep does this really go?

introvert

Well, let’s just say I tend to schedule ALL of my errands at once just so I can limit those pesky social encounters. Oh, and apps like BUFFER have made me SO happy! I don’t even have to be social on social networks anymore! Have I told ya’ll I have issues?

Yeah, so I did decide that THIS YEAR I would do more things that frighten me….socializing has won out. I now get out of my hobbit hole a few times a week and purposefully engage with others while out and about. I also signed up for this big ole convention AND I am participating in a scavenger hunt where people I don’t know have to find me! This is craziness at it’s very core people.

Large runs and fitness events don’t scare me. I’ve spoken and taught to large groups of people. NO WORRIES! It’s the more intimate places where people actually want to “get to know you”. Perhaps I feel enough people know me. Maybe my friends list is full. I’ve tried for years to figure this out. I mean, I’m far from boring. I’ve traveled the world, I fight and teach boxing, I’m involved in anti-trafficking movements, and I am a deeply passionate person when I get all kinds of riled up about something…..I just don’t give myself enough opportunity for others to see it.

So, I ask for your thoughts and prayers as a head forth into the social arena. If you’re there, say hi. If you’re an introvert like me, wave from the corner! I understand that!!!!!!

The challenge I have for you is twofold: understand who you are first, then understand that YOU can change the things that place limits on you. One little lunge at a time….stepping is so boring:)

Train hard ya’ll! I’ll see you when I get back.

Michelle

#blogfest2014

 

#workit #Wednesday Superstrech

If you’ve been working out consistently, you are probably in need :)

Product Review: Marika Magic Slimming Capri

Happy Monday Lovelies!

I have another product review for you, and this one is for the ladies :)

Marika, that FABULOUS yoga pants company (OK, they make MORE than yoga pants, but their yoga pants rock) has asked me to review their Magic Capris. UM, yeah! I love pants :)

marika capris

PSSSST!!!! Love these pants? Get them for 30% off with this code! MM30

So, let’s first get the dirty deets on this Magic Slimming pant:

These capri’s will keep you looking slim; features inner power mesh lining along the thigh area and contour seaming for a slender look. Coordinate with your favorite top or one of our tummy control tops for added support.

19″ Inseam
Fitted
4″ Flat waistband
Power mesh lining on thighs
Contour seaming for a slenderized look
Coolmax gusset
Body: 89% Cotton, 11% Spandex
Power Mesh: 86% Nylon, 14% Spandex
Gusset Lining: 47% Coolmax Polyester, 47% Polyester, 6% Spandex
Now that we have established the pant itself, how about a little opinion?
I have to be honest, when I first slid them on I was a bit concerned with the higher waist. Please note, I dig like sweat pant waists OK. It’s not that the waist is extremely high, it’s just my own personal issues.
After looking in the mirror, I forgave said higher waist though! Now, many who truly know me can attest to the fact that I probably don’t need a ton of slimming in my hips (don’t roll your eyes at me!) and that I have hardly any butt to speak of…so here’s what was so great: I had a butt! Glorious day, they are MAGIC pants! So, aside from a butt, what else?
These pants have panels to help create a streamlined effect to the hips/thighs/booty. Are you buying them yet? Cause you should just for that reason.
The fabric is cool (literally, it helps to keep you cool) and nice enough to wear in public. Meaning…you can’t see through it like some other pants (just make sure you get the right size people! Spandex can only stretch so far…). So, you can throw on a cute little top and take to the grocery store without looking like you didn’t even try to look nice. You look stylishly athletic….even if you don’t workout.
To top it all off, performance is great. I wore them for yoga, weight training and just walking about and they DID NOT MOVE. If you’re an avid “pants adjuster” you totally get why this is so important. No picking or adjusting needed, just straight up performance pants.
Marika has a WIDE variety of pants and other stylish goodies available HERE, so go check it out ;)
Happy Shopping!
Michelle
Don’t forget to take advantage of your 30% off code! MM30 Good through August 31,2014

#WORKIT Wednesday! Free Workout for you: Tank Top Arms

Arm B&W

Ah, the arms…..the most naked part of the human body. Our arms carry groceries, babies, bags and purses. They push strollers, shopping carts and even buttons.

Arms are involved in just about every aspect of life, yet most women leave them untrained and complain about things such as Bat Wings, Chicken Wings (which are tiny BTW) and flappy things.

Have no fear! I have an arm toning workout that can be done in MINUTES and have you ripping the sleeves off your shirt in no time….OK, maybe not THAT, but you get the point.

What do you need?

Dumbbells that CHALLENGE you. That means your last rep better be a struggle. I usually use 15-25 pound DB’s, but I’ve been working on these things for a few years now.

A padded surface (you know what that means right?).

Some really great music. Never underestimate the power of the playlist.

A great attitude…..that WILL determine your results.

Got it? Let’s get it then!

TANK TOP ARMS:

This workout will be done in a circuit fashion, using a timer (I use a tabata timer on my phone, you feel free to use any timer. A lot of tabata timers are FREE online).

You will be WORKING for 40 seconds, then RESTING for 10 seconds. You will repeat the exercises 3x through (more if you have time to kill or just really don’t want to move tomorrow).

  1. THE PUSHUP! Oh yeah baby, get down and get dirty with them. Range of motion is critical, so if you can’t come all the way down (or 90 degrees at the elbows) drop to your knees and modify as you build strength.
  2. Alternating Biceps Curl. Weights will be in each hand and you will perform slow and controlled bicep curls, one arm, then the other.
  3. Alternating Shoulder Press. Weights up, elbows alongside the shoulders, press one DB to the ceiling, return to start and press the other….remember, slow and steady, no momentum.
  4. Long Arm Plank. Get in a pushup position, but resist the urge to do a pushup. HOLD IT! Contract the core, thighs and shoulders.
  5. Triceps Dip. You can use ANY surface really. Hands face forward, drop your butt directly down (not away, as that is shoulders) then squeeze your arms in and press up. Keep your neck neutral and perform as many as you can before you feel like you might drop yourself, then rest and do some more until your time is up. These can be tough, so aim to do more each time.

These 5 BASIC moves will start to make a BIG difference in your upper body physique. Aim to complete this workout 3 times per week, never on consecutive days. Next week, come back for a body weight leg workout that will have you strutting in shorty shorts (keep it appropriate people!) in no time!

Peace, Love and Lunges (and pushups)

Michelle

date night

 

NOW it’s YOUR turn!

Got a workout you want to see featured in #WORKIT Wednesdays?

Respond BELOW or shout it out on Twitter.

 

The 8-Week Transition Diet by Steve Edwards

Below is a DETAILED 8-week transition diet. This is NOT a quick weight loss, who cares what happens as long as I drop 10 pounds DIET! It’s about restoring health and ramping up your fitness levels.

Now, I don’t enjoy calling them “cheat” days, as I believe we are treating and we should be eating in ways that we don’t feel deprived (MUCH MORE on that in a later blog), but I do love the way Steve has laid this out.

Want more articles like this? Check out Teambeachbody.com/teambeachbodyblog

 

The 8-Week Transition Diet

Author: Steve Edwards

woman eating a salad

Transition diets are one of the easiest ways to become a healthier eater.

I’ve been doing them since the ’80s and, in fact, one of the first articles I ever wrote for Beachbody, in January 2001, was a 6-week transition plan. They’re not only great for first-time dieters but are also great for any time you feel like cleaning out your system after a period of slacking off. That’s why I do a variation of this plan almost every year. Here’s my latest creation.

It’s often said that no one diet works for every individual. While this is true, you may have noticed that all Beachbody eating plans target a similar goal: Eat more natural, whole foods and less junk. That’s because there are no secrets to healthy eating. There are strategies that can lead to various performance benefits, but 99% of the goal of eating healthy is to minimize junk and get your diet to consist of real food (you know, the stuff nature makes). With this in mind, our Beachbody nutrition guides use various strategies, all designed to lead you to the same place.

While those nutrition guides tend to be detailed, the 8-Week Transition Diet is for those of you who want simple. Outside of a small list of what you can’t eat, you’re free to chow down on anything. How hard can that be? You should also find that by making your transition gradually, the road to healthy eating is pretty easy.

 

Week 1

No junk. Eliminate junk food from your diet. That’s it, just junk. Other than this, you can eat whatever and whenever you like. The definition of junk is obvious stuff, like potato chips, candy, ice cream, cake, etc. You may be stricter if you’d like, but for Week 1, don’t be too hard on yourself. Just stay out of the 7-Eleven. For many of you, this step alone will reap huge benefits.

Cheat Days: 2. Since no one’s perfect, you get two days to cheat. That’s right, two days where you can eat anything you want! A trick on cheat days is to listen to your body. At first, it’ll probably tell you it wants whatever you’ve been denying it. However, over time, it’ll start to crave nutrients you’re deficient in. Learn to read your body’s subtle signs. If you’re craving ice cream, you may be short on essential fatty acids. If you crave a hamburger, your diet may lack protein. By listening to your body and learning what it really needs in this way, you can make better food substitutions. It’s a way of getting in tune with yourself that will benefit you for your entire lifetime.

Weekly focus: Water. Not swimming in it, though that’s good, too, but staying hydrated with it. “They” say you should drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of water per day, but I say you should drink more. Shoot for a gallon (though don’t worry if you fall short). Yeah, that probably seems crazy but almost all of us walk around dehydrated for most of our lives, which not only hurts the way we function but also makes us hungry when we’re actually thirsty. A glass of water when you feel hunger pangs both staves them off and helps you fill up faster when you do eat. As for other drinks, juices and sugary sodas also (obviously) fall into the junk category. And alcohol should be kept to a minimum. We tend to forget (purposely or not) that alcohol has calories. A lot of them: 7 calories per gram. Mixers can be even worse—not only can they add calories, but these sugary calories influence the way alcohol reacts with your body.

Week 2

Each week’s rules are cumulative, so the “no junk” rule from Week 1 will apply until the end, as will each subsequent week’s rule. Remember that this is a process. Treat it as though you’re in school and the subject is your own body.

Eat small, eat often. Eat every couple of hours while you’re awake and try not to eat anything for about three hours before you go to sleep. Following these rules will keep your blood sugar levels more static and your energy level will stay consistent. Try to keep each snack or meal balanced. Something like a 30% protein, 40% carbohydrate, and 30% fat ratio, though you don’t need to worry too much about it. Just realize that you need a bit from each macronutrient group. Eat based on what you’ll be doing for the next few hours (if you’re working out, eat a little more; sitting at a desk, eat a little less). The three-hours-before-bed rule is important, especially for fats and carbohydrates. By allowing time for all the carbs you eat to get into your bloodstream, your body will sleep in fat-burning mode, rather than in calorie-storing mode. This is important because undigested carbs in your stomach at night are stored as adipose tissue (fat).

Cheat Days: 2

Weekly focus: Carbs are not the enemy. Your body needs them, just like it needs proteins and fats. The trick is to choose the right carbs. As a society, we eat too much refined sugar. Complex carbs, like whole-grain breads, whole-grain rice, sweet potatoes, and legumes are outstanding foods. Even fruits, which have simple carbohydrates wrapped in fiber, are exceptionally healthy. While you don’t want a diet based on nothing but carbs, making the right carb choices will maximize your body’s potential. Try to avoid white rice and flours. Read labels, and try to avoid ones that use the word “enriched,” because this means these products have been stripped of their natural nutrients, overprocessed, and then fortified with a few random nutrients.

 

Week 3

Eat some colorful, low-density food at every meal. These are foods that take up a lot of space without a lot of calories. Veggies are the most obvious example. You can eat a salad bowl overflowing with lettuce and veggies and you most likely won’t exceed 100 calories. By eating low-density foods like veggies and fruits, you’ll keep your portions under control naturally, because they have very few calories for their size. Conversely, high-density foods, like chocolate and butter, are loaded with calories in even the smallest amounts. So beware of salad dressings and other things you add to salads and veggies. Only add enough for flavor; don’t fill up on them. When it comes to live foods, the richer the colors, the fresher the products tend to be. Try to eat a variety of colors in your diet. This simple-yet-random-feeling act will help ensure that you’re covering all your nutrient bases.

Cheat Days: 1

Weekly focus: Protein at every meal. This becomes even more important as you eat more low-density food, because protein tends to be high-density. Many veggies have a lot of protein, but the quantity you must consume starts to become prohibitive. Try to get some protein—meat, dairy, legumes, nuts, or seeds each time you eat, especially when you’re working out hard, because you need to repair broken-down muscle tissue. Since your body can only utilize a certain amount of protein at once, do your best to eat small amounts often (starting to see a theme?) Reading labels is a simple way to learn how to estimate your protein intake. You’ll notice natural foods don’t have labels but once your diet is comprised mostly of these you’ll no longer need them. More on this later.

 

Week 4

Cook at home. One of the best ways to control your eating is to prepare all your meals yourself. Eliminate all fast food (which hopefully happened in Week 1) and most other restaurant food. You may still eat food from certain restaurants where you can be sure of the ingredients (most will be savvy enough to make a point of how healthy their food is). As you may have seen in the news, restaurants tend to use alarming quantities of salt, among other things. This single step will often bring your body closer to homeostasis (its desired state of balance). This can be hard for many of us because we now have to plan our meals and prepare ahead of time, but try to treat it like vocational school—you don’t learn a new “job” without a little retraining.

Cheat Days: 1

Weekly focus: Fat is essential. Remember that fat is a vital part of your diet, not just something that makes you fat. What is not vital is junk fat in processed foods. Healthy fats come from fish, nuts, seeds, avocados, olives, etc.—natural sources. You need to be careful about that amount of fat you eat because it’s very dense. At 9 calories per gram, it contains more than double the calories of carbs and protein.

 

Week 5

Reduce starchy carbohydrates. Starches include rice, bread, potatoes, corn, beans, and other legumes. While many of these are in no way bad foods, most of us eat too much of them. The goal here is to cut way down on them, if not totally out, and then add them back in when your body feels like it needs energy. This will teach you the relationship you have with carbs. They are vital for energy but eating too many of them leaves us lethargic (and eventually fat). Once you figure this out, your entire relationship with food will change.

Cheat Days: 1

Weekly focus: Sugar is only beneficial after a hard workout or during a long one. Your body doesn’t need processed sugar. But if you really enjoy it and can’t avoid letting some sneak into your daily diet, the one-hour period after you exercise is the best time to indulge. During this window, your blood sugar is low, because you’ve used it up to finish your workout (assuming you pushed yourself), and eating sugar during this time will help you recover faster because it speeds into your system and initiates the recovery process. Adding a little protein, but not too much, will enhance your recovery even further.

 

Week 6

If man makes it, don’t eat it. This is likely to be the hardest week of your diet. You want to eat only whole foods and eliminate all processed foods, even good ones, for the week. This includes breads, most salad dressings, all cereal, luncheon meats, cheese, dried fruits, anything with preservatives, and alcoholic beverages. What you can eat are whole foods such as fruit, raw or steamed vegetables, meat (sans any type of sauce), natural whole-grain rice, poached eggs, etc. Since your eating habits have been slowly changing, this shouldn’t be that big a shock to your system, but it will still likely be hard. Try and get creative. There are now many raw and whole food “cook” books that can help keep you entertained.

Cheat Days: 1. The “cheat day” mentality is a good one. Decadent desserts, a night at the buffet, drinking with friends, etc., can be good for you as long as they are rewards and not habits. Studies proving this have been steadily appearing for about as long as we’ve been studying things. All work and no play does, indeed, make Jack a dull boy.

Weekly focus: Nuts and seeds make great snacks. A handful of raw almonds or cashews is a quick and easy snack that goes a long way. Don’t be put off by the high fat count of nuts, because this means it takes fewer of them to satiate you. Nuts and seeds are loaded with important phytonutrients, as well as good fats, proteins, and fiber.

Week 7

Be yourself. No rules—just try and eat as healthily as you can and do it by feel. Trusting yourself might seem like a lot of responsibility, but by now you’ll be up to it. Learning to eat by feeling what your body needs is an important step in your transformation. Consider the way you’ve been eating over the last six weeks, but don’t worry about what you should and shouldn’t do. Just fuel yourself. The point is to take a mental break. Relax and allow yourself to eat in a way that feels normal. You may be surprised to find yourself craving something healthy instead of a candy bar or soda. You’ll be better at listening to your body because it’ll tell you what it needs to eat, as opposed to what you’re used to eating. Your body should feel somewhat transformed.

“Reward for a Life Well Lived” Days: 1

Weekly focus: If you’re so hungry at night that you can’t sleep, try a protein shake. A recent study confirmed what’s been a focus of this diet for two decades; that protein before bed can raise amino acid activity for a full night of rest.

 

Week 8

Eat a perfect diet. Let’s get after it. No one is better able to tell you what you should eat than you. Our bodies are all different, and the key to your own perfect diet is learning about how your body reacts to different foods under different circumstances. Your journey over the last seven weeks should have brought you to a new understanding of how food affects your body, both for good and for bad. The time has come to test it. See how well you can eat for a week. In fact, see how well you can eat for the rest of your life. Live and enjoy.

Reward Days: 1, of course!

Weekly Focus: Don’t bonk. Bonking is a state when your body runs out of blood sugar and glycogen for energy. If you feel like your workouts are going backward instead of forward, this is a likely culprit. Use your energy level as your gauge. As soon as it starts to drop, start adding carbs back into your diet until you feel energized all day long. When you feel energized during your workouts and the rest of the day, you’ll know you’ve found the right balance between carbs and other nutrients. Also, remember that as your body puts on more muscle, you will need to eat more. Muscle weighs much more than fat, so as you gain muscle and lose fat, your body shrinks without losing weight. You will also require more calories in order to maintain your muscle. So, when you’re working out hard, don’t be afraid to eat more carbs than you do otherwise.

 

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