21 Day Clean Eating Challenge

April 24, 2016

Who’s ready for a clean eating challenge? It’s no secret that summer is staring directly in your face and now is the time to get your eating on point to make the most of that bikini hanging up in your closet. Sure, you cannot undo what you did during the winter months, but you certainly can start over right here and right now. It is NEVER too late to eat cleaner so that you can not only look better, but FEEL better, too.

When I lost 45lbs back in 2010, it all started with how I ate and the food I chose to put inside of my mouth. I had no personal trainer, no nutritionist, and certainly no help of ANY kind to get me started. So, what did I do? I educated myself and taught myself how to eat clean by watching documentaries and reading various blogs. It wasn’t easy and I wished I could have had some help, but this is why I am here to help you today-to be that support and to give you the tips and encouragement that you need to straighten your diet up-for good. 

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You can either spend your life not being able to put that cookie or soda can down, feeling depressed bout how those jeans fit, and constantly complaining about how you’ll never get fit OR you can tell yourself that you CAN do better than that, cut the excuses, and make a life change with your relationship with food. You are only what you limit yourself to!! Don’t hold yourself a prisoner in your own battle.

I always hear, “But it’s so hard to eat clean and to say no to temptation.” Sure, it IS hard when you let your mind control your body. It’s only when you take control of your mind AND body that you start seeing results and reaping the benefits of a fit lifestyle. You cannot be in control of one and out of control with the other-it just makes zero sense. So, what’s it gonna be?

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If you are truly ready to clean up your diet and to make a lifestyle change like I did many years ago, I challenge you to take the next 21 days and reboot your health and wellbeing with this 21 Day Clean Eating Challenge! Start by spending 3 weeks steering clear of prepackaged and processed foods with ingredients you can’t pronounce. Rid your diet of refined sugars and flours. Eat whole, clean meals that will fuel your body and leave you feeling energized and sustained.

It typically takes 21 days or less to turn a behavior into a habit. The first step is to commit to the challenge. Once you’ve committed to eating clean for 21 days, your body will follow as your mind direct. Now, I cannot physically come to your house and force you to eat clean-this is a challenge where you have got to do all of the work yourself. I can give you recipes and clean eating meal plans, but you’ve got to do it yourself. This starts with YOU. Take a minute and reflect on why you want to eat better and why you want to make this change. Write down goals and make a motivational board. Meditate. Do what you have to do to win this! STOP WISHING AND START DOING. 

Use the tips below to help guide you over the next 3 weeks:

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  1. Make calories count. We’ll start with the biggest, most-important difference maker in teaching you how to eat. Oh if you can learn but this one principle about food consumption: the biggest factor in eating less food isn’t really how many calories you consume but the manner in which you’re getting them! Look at the image above. See how 400 calories can greatly vary amongst different types of foods? This is a prime reminder to choose your foods wisely. Now, do you really think 400 calories of oil is going to fill you up? Most people probably put 400 calories worth of dressing on their salads daily without thinking about it (one reason why I always request dressing on the side or make my own). When you choose healthier, lower calorie foods then guess what? You get to eat more of them without having to pay the price later. This is why fruits and veggies are so important in eating clean and losing weight.
  2. Choose fresh fruits and various veggies. Fresh fruits and veggies are full of the nutrients and fiber your body needs. I was always a fruit person, but I will be 100% honest-I hated veggies growing up and I still hated them when I made the choice to change my life and to start eating better. I had to literally look up tons of new recipes to try in order to make those “nasty, tasteless” veggies taste good and better. It was not easy, but I got creative! I learned new spices and had fun with it. For example, I hated Brussels Sprouts, but the only way I was ever served them was boiled and it made me gag. So I decided to try them in a pan seared with olive oil, sea salt, and pepper. I quickly fell in love and I currently eat them weekly!
  3. Choose whole grains and whole wheat versus white breads. Replace your refined white rice and white bread, both of which have been stripped of their fiber and nutrients, with whole grains such as brown rice and quinoa. These days, I am not so picky with this tip as I have no weight to lose nor are my eating habits in need of any improving or changing. But if you are trying to make a true change, go all out and leave those white flours alone. Though there’s not much of a numerical caloric difference, wheat and whole grains will help keep you feeling fuller for a longer period of time.
  4. Eliminate fats, oils, & sugars. These three things are the worst of the worst. Now, don’t me wrong-eating fat will not make you fat though most people assume that. Fat just tends to be much higher in calories when compared to other macros-that’s all. When eating fats, do so sparingly and choose healthy fats in the form of nuts, nut butters, omegas, fish, olives, and avocados. Same goes with oils-oil packs a ton of calories into a small amount of substance which goes straight to the hips. Remember that image up above of the oil in the tummy? Don’t forget it. If you must eat oil, do so sparingly and choose healthier oils such as avocado or coconut. Lastly, villian number one is SUGAR. Sugar is not something that you MUST have nor is it a vital nutrient. This is not something to be eaten sparingly because you want to completely avoid it at all costs if you are trying to make a complete diet overhaul. Do I eat sugar? Yes, on occasion-NOW. Did I eat sugar when I was transforming my body to lose excess weight? Not at all since there’s no excuse to eat it. If you steer clear of it until clean eating becomes a habit, you can slowly learn to re-introduce it in moderation, if you choose to even do so. I didn’t miss sugar once I made it through the first month without it!
  5. 5 ingredients or less. Stick to recipes with five ingredients or fewer, and be sure you can pronounce each ingredient. Ingredients that you cannot pronounce are usually chemicals or additives that are no good. Why 5 ingredients or less? You want to eat foods in their most natural form. It shouldn’t take 2,917 ingredients to make one meal or snack. Think about it: the more ingredients in a packaged food, the more highly processed it probably is.
  6. Meal planning. Taking the time to plan out your meals in advance can prove to be well worth it-this is why meal prepping is such a great idea. Choose one day per week (my day is Sunday) and write out your meal plan for you and your family. For example, what are you making for dinner each night? What are you going to pack for lunch for yourself? Make a game plan to win! Needing a good guide with healthy recipes and meal/snack ideas? Try my Eat Clean, Get Lean 4 Week Clean Eating Meal Guide.
  7. Stay stocked. To ensure that you always have clean, healthy choices available to you, keep your pantry stocked, and a variety of clean eating snacks on hand for when hunger hits. I keep a ton of healthy snacks on hand to keep me on track. My healthy snack ideas can be found in my guide mentioned in the above tip!
  8. Fill up on water. I can’t stress this one enough. When I first made the change to lose weight, I bought a reusable water bottle and brought it with me everyday to work. I aimed to drink at least half of my weight in ounces of water which is a great starting goal for you as well. Say you weigh 120lbs: you will aim for at LEAST 60 oz of water. Water is an excellent way to fill up your stomach, trigger those stretch receptors, and trick yourself into feeling full. I challenge you to ditch ALL forms of beverages during the next 3 weeks and just drink water. Need a little help in getting in the full recommended amount? Print off my 30 Day Water Challenge chart!
  9. Eat less but more frequently. Try eating five to six smaller portioned meals, more frequently throughout the day, instead of three large ones. This is one of my favorite strategies when it comes to eating less and it truly helps as I have been eating 5-6 small meals per day for about 6 years now. When I was working full time as a nurse and trying to drop my extra pounds, I packed a large cooler bag of smaller meals and I learned how to meal prep snacks as well. The frequest eating allowed me to never get to the point of extreme hunger, kept me from mindless grazing, and helped to keep me full and content until my next meal. Need some good meal prepping ideas for meals and snacks? Here’s a glance at my current meal prepping routine.
  10. Make your own food. Cooking your own clean meals will not only ensure that you are eating fresh, clean foods, but it will also save you money. When eating out, it is hard to firstly know what the heck is going into your meal and also to keep track of calories. When I dropped 45lbs, I learned how to cook (thanks Pinterest) and started learning new recipes to make for myself. My waistline shrank while my bank account grew! Looking for yummy dinner recipes? Give the below recipes a try and check out my new cookbook:

Be sure to comment below and let me know how your challenge goes!

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PLEASE NOTE: Following and/or participating in my blog, daily workouts, meal plans, and any tips or advice is solely your decision. I recommend checking with your physician prior to following any of the workouts or meal plans that I share. I am very open in sharing that I am not a health care professional, personal trainer, nutritionist, or counselor. I provide the workouts, meals, and tips that have worked for me based on my personal experiences.

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