Well, the challenge came and went. 40 days honestly felt like a breeze, but since the challenge has ended and i haven’t been blogging and taking photos, I’ve definitely found myself eating more and more casually and slipping quickly back toward old habits (sugar habits). I have a better working knowledge for what to make for meals, but have definitely been relaxed about eating with friends and eating out. I’m thinking about starting to log/blog again to help myself stay strict because I really do feel better when I’m eating really clean, in terms of energy, in terms of self-esteem, and in terms of general gut health (not feeling bloated ever, etc).
Here are a bunch of before and afters. Overall, I lost 7 pounds and 2 inches at my waist which is exactly on target with what I was aiming for! I also got my first pullup ever and got much stronger with my strict pushups. I’ve never really actively tried to lose weight before and I’m amazed how easy it was using this challenge. Everyone I know who participated in the challenge lost a similar amount of weight, or stayed the same weight but lost inches all over.
I think you can see the biggest different in the rear view photo. Especially at my waist. Much tighter all around. I noticed throughout the challenge that my pants were fitting a bit looser and knew I must have been losing some of the extra winter weight I had put on.
Other Befores and Afters?
When I started the challenge, I had decided I Would Eat:
3 eggs a day
limited amounts of cheese
one or one and a half portions of fruit each day, no more
raw nuts on occasion
sprouted beans, or soaked beans
no soy, or rarely
By the end of the challenge, I had:
cut out the quinoa
increased to 4 eggs a day
limited to one portion of fruit, mostly berries. stopped eating bananas because they have a higher sugar count
rarely ate nuts, if ever throughout the whole challenge
cut out the seeds
rarely ate sprouts, never ate soaked beans
ended up eating soy once a day or so, mostly as tempeh
added hummous and occasionally chickpeas toward the end for variety for snacking
When it came down to it, the biggest challenge of doing this as a vegetarian was keeping carbs down. The amount of protein in quinoa, despite being a complete protein which is why it’s touted as a great source of protein for vegetarians, was really pretty negligible when you consider how many carbs are in one serving. It wasn’t worth the measly 10g of protein to pack in 60g of carbs in one serving of food. Once I cut out the quinoa and beans, it became much easier to keep the carbs down.
The other challenge was keeping fat down while eating so many eggs and some cheese. I got a large amount of my protein from eggs each day, but that already kicked my fat count up close to where it should’ve been for the day. Add in my cooking fats like grass fed butter and coconut oil, and I had very little room to play around with variety in terms of eating things like avocados or sunflower seed butter or almond butter or more nuts, etc. Things that could’ve added a little variety. I could have played around with eating egg whites vs. full eggs, but I didn’t really get that far.
Overall, I never felt like I was depriving myself of food and I got a waaaaay better handle on snacking and cravings. I pretty much kicked them to the curb all together. It is amazing how much of that is mental and tied to other things like stress and lack of sleep. Contrary to popular notion, it is not always ‘your body telling you it needs something,’ at least, it’s not your body telling you it needs shitty things like sugar and gluten. It might be your body telling you to drink water or get more rest.
The first week I started, I thought there was no way at all that I would be able to eat within the recommend calorie range without being starving all the time. I had been eating almost double that on a daily basis. However, I quickly realized that just by cutting out the gluten and sugar, I was cutting my calories almost in half, and able to eat really large portions at every meal.
Overall, I learned so much about food and what I was putting in my body and the effect it had on the way I functioned. I debunked so many myths that I had been supporting in my head. The most interesting thing for me was realizing how much we view nutrition at a surface level and don’t question the whole picture. For instance, quinoa = protein, eat lots of it! Beans and rice = protein, eat lots of it! Eggs are bad = don’t eat many. Fruit is healthy! etc. Of course, all of these things are TRUE, but they’re certainly not the whole picture of that food and what it can do for or to your body.