Count containers, not calories

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If counting calories drives you nuts, you’re not alone. As hard as I try to log my food on my Fitbit – or even in a journal – I just can’t keep up with it.

That’s why I love Beachbody’s Portion Fix Containers. They make it effortless to plan and keep track of meals, so you can enjoy your food without having to do the math.

The Containers

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Photo courtesy of Beachbody, LLC

The Plans

The plans stretch from A-F depending on your caloric needs, which are determined by a simple formula. Once you find your plan, you won’t have to do any calorie counting. If it’s on the list of approved items and fits in your container (with the lid closed) – you can eat it!

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Breakfast (or a snack) made easy!

It sounds basic because it is. I can’t tell you how much time this simple system has saved me. Most of the Beachbody programs use these containers, but even if you’re not into fitness, you can still use them to eat the right amounts and better your health.

I’ve always been Plan A for all the programs, but in week 3 of 80 Day Obsession, I noticed I was frequently hungry in the afternoon and evening. I decided to bump myself to Plan B and feel so much better. I’m allowed 4 veggies, 4 proteins, 3 fruits, 3 carbs, 1 healthy fat, 1 oil/seeds, and four teaspoons. That ends up being a shit ton of food – enough to sustain me through the 400+ calorie burns I’ve been experiencing with 80 Day.

The Cookbook

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The Fixate cookbook is a fabulous edition Beachbody’s line of products. It was created by Autumn Calabrese – Beachbody super trainer, with a mile long list of credentials. I love it because each recipe already has the container counts listed. The only way it would get easier is if she came to your house and cooked all your meals! Hey, I wouldn’t mind that. Would you?

If you want more great recipes, you can also check out the Fixate cooking show, where Autumn and her brother Bobby team up to deliver all the healthy goodness.

The bottom line: If I were to recommend only one product from Beachbody’s nutrition line, this would be it. Affordable. Useful. Effective. What more can you ask for?

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Photo courtesy of Beachbody, LLC

Click here for a video breakdown of the the entire container system.

Obsessed – Phase 1

“You can do hard things” has become my mantra over the last four weeks. In fact, I’ve even decided to get a decal printed for my soon to be renovated basement gym.

I’ve been known to quit things – or, I guess more accurately, lose interest – when things get tough. But not this year. This year I decided to do things that scare the shit out of me, and I’m happily checking them off as I go. Next up – completion of 80Day Obsession (80DO) and 10k Training.

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So, 80DO. Holy Shit it’s hard. I thought I was fit – I did Shift Shop, Core de Force, 21 DFX. But I was not 80DO fit. That’s some other level fit. However challenging the last 26 working days have been, I survived and I know the rest of you did too!

Nutrition

By now all of the Beachbody programs use the same container breakdowns in some way. While 80DO is really it’s own plan with timed nutrition, reefed, and deplete days, you still use the Portion Fix containers as a guide. A simple formula can help you figure out how many of each container you get per day. My plan (A) is based on a 1,200-1,499 calorie diet. However this time it didn’t feel like enough food, so I ended up bumping up to Plan B, which allows for one more fruit, carb, and teaspoon per day. This plan can also be designed around a vegan lifestyle.

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Can you believe this is approved?

Let’s talk about that timed nutrition for a minute. Not only does Autumn tell you how many of each container to eat daily, but she also tells you WHEN to eat them. This is huge because eating the right foods at the right times will help you recover and build those beautiful muscles! Eat every 2-3 hours, with 4-5-hour workout block, specifically formulated to increase performance and aid in recovery.

Weekly Obsession

This show, which is like the fitness version of The Real World, highlights some of the drama, fun moments, and bloopers of the upcoming week. We get to know the cast as they progress and struggle along with us. Scripted or not, I actually look forward to watching this every Saturday because I know exactly what to expect and when I’ll need to push myself harder.

Equipment

  • Weights
  • Resistance Loops
  • Sliders
  • Yoga Mat (optional, but encouraged if you work out on hard surfaces)
  • Towel (for all that sweat!)

The Workouts

We work out six days a week, and Sunday is a rest day with the option to do a Roll & Release or Stretch & Release workout. Or, if you’re like me and can’t sit still, you’ll use this as an opportunity to dance and belt out some tunes with the other side of Autumn in Country Heat.

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I love a good calorie burn – but resistance workouts are necessary too!

There is no music in the background, but there are designated playlists on Spotify that you can stream during your workout. I chose to do without for Phase 1, but I heard she had some pretty interesting music for the booty workouts.

Mondays – Total Body Core

This is the perfect Monday workout. It’s an hour long, but definitely flies by. It’s challenging and gets your body moving right away. I may or may not have thought my arms were going to break in week 4, but I survived to type my heart away! I always burn upwards of 400 calories with this one, and it hurts so good.

Tuesdays – Booty

My absolute favorite day. California, here I come! Man are those resistance loops tough. I’ve only used a light loop in Brazil Butt Lift, but nothing compares to the last 4 Booty workouts from 80DO. By the second to last rep, I have to push myself to finish, and by the end, I can barely do anything but sit on my mat with my knees pulled up to my chest. That’s how you know it was a good workout. Actually, right now I’m wondering how I’m going to work out this week when it hurts to sit down (insert crying face emoji).

Wednesdays – Cardio Core

Oh boy. I was not a fan of Cardio Core. This is not one I would recommend doing upon waking because “jumping rope” is just too much to handle. Essentially this is a series of 3-minute HIIT followed by ab exercises. The only equipment you need are sliders, but by the time you get to them, you will be FEELING IT!

Thursdays – AAA

Arms, Abs, and Ass. Yup, I can say that – even if Autumn can’t! I love this workout because it literally works everything. You use the sliders, weights, and loops for this one. You work the negatives – count one when contracting and then three to get out of it. Yikes! Feel the burn. Not a huge calorie burner, but its mainly about resistance.

Fridays – Legs

Raise your hand if you love leg day? Can you see both of mine in the air?? Our legs have some of the strongest muscles, so we can work them hard and heavy. I love these exercises that surprisingly only include weights. Get ready to squat and lunge until your legs shake and don’t be afraid to lift heavy weights – you got this. At the end of these workouts, I noticed how ripped my arms looked. Swimsuit season, here I come.

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Seriously, though – look at those gains!

Saturdays – Cardio Flow

This sounds like yoga, but is NOTHING like it. And that kind of made me happy because as much as I try to like yoga, it is sooooo hard for me to relax and find the zen zone. This workout is a series of 10 exercises that are put together in progressions, starting with inchworms and ending with mule to frog. Don’t be fooled by the short workout time – you will be breathless by the end. I always dreaded this one, but it was actually pretty fun once I got into the groove. At first I was excited to ditch this workout in Phase 2, but nope! We’re keeping it and bumping up the reps from 4 to 6. Now that will be a challenge!

The Trainer

Autumn Calabrese – Celebrity Fitness Trainer, creator of Country Heat, the 21 Day Fix and 21 Day Fix extreme, co-creator of Hammer & Chisel, author of the Fixate cookbook and cohost of Fixate on BOD. Whoa, that’s a lot of stuff! She’s a doll, and her upbeat attitude and tough love approach will motivate you to finish every rep and bonus round.

The Results – Phase 1

I know the part you’re curious about – the pounds and inches lost. But let me first say that it’s not all about the scale. Yes, it’s important that I keep my weight at a decent number and BMI, but I always remind myself that (1) muscle weighs more than fat and (2) weight fluctuates constantly.

That being said, I lost about 3″ in my problem area – my hips and thighs. In previous posts I’ve talked about losing weight with clean eating and exercise. In fact, I’m down over 6lbs since January 1st! I am so proud of myself for being consistent and never missing a workout. Even when I woke up late, took weekend trips, wasn’t feeling it, or had a blazing headache, I got it done. Sometimes at 11pm.

I’m really pushing myself to work harder than I ever have before, to have self-control when it comes to eating all the things, and to inspire others to do the same. I’ve been on this fitness journey for years now, but I’ve never felt so comfortable and confident in my abilities. I’m strong, and I got this. Phase 2 – I’m here to CRUSH you!

 

 

I know you know, but I have to say it anyway…Always consult your doctor before beginning an exercise, fitness, and/or diet program.

Sugar Free Me – Reintroduction

For those of you who have been following my Sugar-Free series, I started reintroducing some of the questionable foods into my diet on January 22nd.

It ended up being a pretty long and stressful part of the process. The Guide recommends ditching the gluten-containing grains, but since I was trying to find out my headache triggers, I added back everything – just to be sure.

During the last week of the actual detox phase, I created a reintroduction calendar that would test out dairy, gluten-containing grains, legumes, caffeine, and Shakeology.

How does it work?

The first day (Monday), I ate according to my clean eating plan with the addition of dairy at all three of my main meals. Then went back to clean eating for two days. On Thursday I added gluten to all three meals. Then went back to clean eating for two days. And repeated this cycle until all of the food groups were reintroduced.

Allowing for some in-between time helps identify any triggers that might not have immediate reactions.

Dairy…is the devil

I was really looking forward to my breakfast of cottage cheese and fruit, and the addition of cheese with lunch and dinner, but after I ate my first meal, it felt like someone was trying to knot my intestines together. Oh, the pain.

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I swear there is cottage cheese under all those berries!

I tried a little mozzarella with lunch, but the bloating and twisting returned. I melted a little Monterey Jack on my burger for dinner, and, fortunately, that didn’t seem to be too rough.

It looks like, for the most part, I will be avoiding dairy or looking into lactose-free alternatives. Of course, there is always the last resort Lactaid that I will bring with me on vacation – just in case!

Other than the stomach pain, I found no correlation to headaches.

Gluten…doesn’t seem to be a threat

I can’t tell you how excited I was to reintroduce this. I’m Italian, so I literally grew up with a chunk of bread in each hand. I know it’s just food, but I would probably be heartbroken if I couldn’t indulge in my favorite doughy treats – zeppole, pizza (sans cheese), and gnocchi – every once in a while.

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Isn’t this a beauty?

I ate a jumbo lemon poppy seed muffin with breakfast, half a sandwich from Panera for lunch, and a burger from Five Guys for dinner. And…nothing happened. No bloating, itching, or pain, and my headache seemed to remain the same that day. The next day, it was less intense. Go figure.

Legumes…aren’t all bad

Before I became more familiar with the different food groups through research, I had no idea what legumes were. The most obvious are peanuts, peas, beans, and soy.

Sushi rolls and miso soup were the first items on my list to try. I love both of these, so I was pretty ecstatic when I didn’t sense any type of reaction from the foods. I think coconut aminos are wonderful and all, but my wallet tends to disagree.

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From the Fixate cookbook.

I haven’t had PB in a really long time, so I decided to add that back into my diet as well. I quickly learned that was a mistake when I experienced sharp pains in my intestines and head. Just to be sure, I stretched out Legume Test Day into the following day. And, yes, to confirm – peanuts are a no go.

Over the course of the detox I learned that almonds give me hives, so I’ll be sticking to sunbutter or cashew butter for now.

Caffeine…is just fine

Almost everything I’ve read about headaches cites caffeine as a culprit. Now, I’m not a coffee fiend, nor do I rely on caffeine to get me through the day, but I do enjoy some caffeinated things once in a while.

Pre-detox I started my intense workout days with Energize, a Beachbody Performance caffeinated energy drink. I’ve found that I burn about 10% more calories when drinking it.

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After about a month without “treats,” this actually wasn’t very satisfying.

Some of my favorite mocha, chocolate, and cafe latte shakes include caffeine.

Then there are brownies, chocolate chip pancakes, RX Bars – you name it. So, it would be a little disappointing to be anti-caffeine.

Today I had one serving of Energize, a cup of green tea (ahhh matcha!), and a mint chocolate RX Bar. Easy does it. No reaction.

Shakes…TBD

The last item I introduced were shakes. I love Shakeology and Vega – they both make quick on the go meals and awesome emergency food when you are out and about. I even brought Shakeology on a road trip to Canada!

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My favorite blueberry blend. Just realized how much blue is actually in this photo!

I blended vanilla Shakeology with blueberries, raw honey, oats, and a scoop of collagen peptides. I only drank about half of it before heading into a 5.5-hour meeting (no, that isn’t a typo).

I ended up having a slight headache that evening, and the next two days it was more intense. I’m not sure if the culprit was the shake, the lack of a full breakfast, the stress associated with work, or the fact that mother nature will be visiting me this week (sorry guys!).

So this one stands unknown for the time being – I’ll try shakes again after my headache fizzles out.

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The bottom line: The reintroduction period was an important part of the overall program. It’s helpful to be in tune with your body and know how certain foods affect you. However, because I noticed that I’m reacting to some foods (e.g., peanuts and almonds) that have always been okay to eat, I decided to see an allergist and have some confirmation testing done. I believe there is a place for both holistic and conventional medicine, and would like to see if there are any underlying causes for my allergies and reactions. The appointment is scheduled for February 15th and you know I’ll follow-up!

To find out more about the 21-Day Sugar Detox, click here. Then check out my week one, week two, and week three updates!

The Showdown: Whole30 vs. 21-Day Sugar Detox

You might be wondering why a girl who swore she’d never do another Whole30 again, just completed a 21-Day Sugar Detox. Aren’t they practically the same?

Well, there are many similarities when it comes to what food groups you can and can’t eat, but in my opinion, the other restrictions put on the Whole30 can facilitate an unhealthy relationship with food.

Whole30

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The premise of the program is to eat clean, whole foods for 30 days, but of course, that’s just the first layer of a very well thought out program. Eat three meals a day, large and nutritious enough to sustain you until your next meal. Don’t skip breakfast. Stop eating a few hours before you go to bed. Veggies are “required” at every meal and fruits, which should be eaten sparingly, can be eaten with a meal. Snacking is discouraged – not forbidden – but it really depends on how active your lifestyle is.

  • YES Foods: lean protein (meats, eggs, fish, seafood), veggies, fruits, healthy fats and oils, nuts, seeds, condiments, and supplements like collagen
  • NO Foods: added sugar in all forms (even honey), alcohol, legumes, grains, dairy, protein or meal replacement shakes, and the recreation of baked goods, junk food, or treats turned into healthier options.

21-Day Sugar Detox

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The Sugar Detox is all about cutting sweet cravings naturally to eliminate short and long-term side effects of sugar addiction including mood swings, fatigue, depression, and even PCOS. There are three levels to the program, and all meal plans include three meals and a snack – which definitely comes in handy during the gap between lunch and dinner.

  • YES Foods: lean protein (meats, eggs, fish, seafood), veggies, fruits (only green-tipped bananas, green apples, and grapefruit) healthy fats and oils, nuts, seeds, homemade condiments without sugar or date paste, and supplements like 100% pure protein powder
  • NO Foods: gluten-containing grains, starchy veggies like cassava and plantains, legumes, cashews, all other fruits, dairy, alcohol, supplements with multiple ingredients (like Shakeology)
  • Plan 1: The least strict, allows for the addition of gluten-free grains, legumes, and full-fat dairy
  • Plan 2: The in-between plan, allows for full-fat dairy
  • Plan 3: The most strict, avoids both gluten-free grains and full-fat dairy

The similarities

Both programs…

  • focus on cutting cravings and eating healthier by eliminating foods that may cause triggers or irritation over a period of time.
  • observe and encourage a reintroduction period after completion of the main program.

The differences

Helloooooo Captain Obvious – one is 30 days, the other is 21. Wink wink.

Sweeteners

Whole30 gives you options when it comes to using natural sugars – sweeten ketchup or bbq sauce with date paste, choose any fruit you’d like as long as it’s eaten with a meal, and grab a Larabar or RX Bar to snack on the go.

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The beautiful variety.

21-Day Sugar Detox says NO to any kind of sugars, whether natural or artificial, you can only choose between green apples, grapefruit, and green-tipped bananas, but they don’t have to be eaten with a meal, and really, you’ll be hard-pressed to find compliant on-the-go snacks.

Treats & Desserts

Whole30 says absolutely NOT to recreating desserts, the creators even coined the phrase SWYPO (Sex with Your Pants On) to describe this. The basic premise is that your eating habits and behaviors will remain the same if you keep eating the way you always have. If you regularly eat doughnuts for breakfast, recreating paleo doughnuts doesn’t do a thing to change your old habit.

21-Day Sugar Detox is pretty lax when it comes to this, in fact, there are recipes for pumpkin pancakes, coconut milk smoothies, apple cinnamon doughnuts, and almond butter cups right in the back of the book! (One day I even made banana pancakes for breakfast and I didn’t feel so restricted to EGGS – see photo.)

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Quick and easy banana “pancakes”

Snacking

Whole30 says to limit snacking unless you have a very busy or active lifestyle, in which case it’s unavoidable.

21-Day Sugar Detox says YES ma’am to snacking and even has it built right into the meal plan. This was helpful at work and actually kept me AWAY from the vending machines because I had enough food throughout the day.

Overall

After the Whole30 I could not wait to go back to my previous (aka gluttonous) ways of eating. The perceived restriction was just too much. I felt like a little kid being told no – it just made me want to break the rules even more! I mean, what harm can one paleo doughnut do?

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Whole30 perfect plate.

The program definitely wasn’t intended this way, but I replaced my sugary junk food (not allowed) with sugary fruits and Whole30 packaged snacks (allowed) and ended up feeling guilty for it. Of course, my taste profile didn’t change because I was still relying on sweet things to get me by.

I didn’t lose any weight or experience any miraculous changes. If anything, I just felt hungry and powerless. I rebelled against the lifestyle that was essentially trying to help. Then I ended up going on vacation soon after and pretty much ruined any of the progress I had made.

After the 21-Day Sugar Detox, I jumped right into the reintroduction period, as advised, and walked away with a healthier mindset. I didn’t have any desire to wreck the progress I made.

During the 21-Day Sugar Detox I made healthier choices – granola made with nuts instead of grains, coconut flour doughnuts “sweetened” with applesauce, chia pudding. All of these were recreated treats (SWYPO in Whole30 lingo), and yet, after the Detox, I had absolutely NO desire to run to Dunkin’ and scarf down a dozen “real” doughnuts. Why? Because I didn’t feel deprived for an ENTIRE freakin’ month.

I didn’t indulge in sugary sweets because I didn’t have the option – it just wasn’t in my meal plan. So, over the course of 21 days, my tastes started to change. I no longer craved super sweet things, but was content with spicy, or even better, umami. And banana with almond butter tasted pretty damn near dessert!

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These two give me that umami fix!

Today is day 29 and I’m almost done with my reintroduction period, with no desire to stuff my face with any of my old favorite junk foods – I have untouched ice cream and salt and vinegar kettle chips in my kitchen as I type.

The bottom line: So, which method is right for you? Maybe one, maybe both, maybe even none! All I can do is provide you with my experiences and tell you to do your own research. Many people swear by the Whole30. It’s definitely more popular, but does that make it better? In my opinion, the 21-Day Sugar Detox is very realistic and achievable while the Whole30 is quite the opposite and fosters an unhealthy relationship with food.

Sugar Free Me – Week 3

So, this is it. The end. Well, not really because I still have two weeks of reintroduction. But this is the official last week of the detox.

The cover of The 21-Day Sugar Detox reads “Bust sugar & carb cravings naturally.” Did it deliver?

Let’s find out!

The play-by-play

Day 15: Extended Weekend Day 1

It was nice to be home today to recover from that scratchy sore throat I had over the weekend. It’s about 80% gone now.

Started the day with a hot cup of tea and some reading (Spirit Junkie by Gabrielle Bernstein).

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My favorite herbal tea.

Today was also the start of a new Beachbody workout program – 80 Day Obsession. I’ll update you on my progress with that as well. Stay tuned.

Day 16: Extended Weekend Day 2

I stayed home from work again today – I could seriously get used to this. Decided to hijack my own meal plan because I need more variety in my life. I mean, how many times can you eat zoodles or cauli mash? And, holy moly, why are coconut aminos and macadamia nuts so damn expensive?

I burned over 300 calories in my booty workout today and my muscles were screaming as I walked up the stairs from my basement gym.

Today was the first day I actually missed Beachbody Performance Energize and my shakes. I do hope that I can bring them back after the sugar detox, but both include sweeteners and Shakeology has pea protein too. I think I’ll test them out during reintroduction.

Day 17: Back to the Blues

My headaches don’t seem to be getting better. Unfortunately, that still leaves a lot unknown. Could another “healthy” food be causing the pain? Perhaps eggs or bananas? Could it be an environmental trigger such as stress? God knows I have a lot of that right now.

I wasn’t feeling my workout. Probably because jumping really makes my head feel a lot worse and today was all about bouncing around.

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Jalapeno Turkey burgers with the fixins.

But, on a positive note, I did get my meal plan all figured out for the next week. I welcome the return of gf oatmeal, paleo bread, and the raw honey I take for my allergies.

Sticking to a paleo lifestyle wouldn’t be difficult, but I’m planning to test out dairy, gluten, and caffeine next week – all of which will be tested for their…ahem…after effects. I’m hoping I don’t have any food sensitivities. Wouldn’t that be great?

Day 18: The Sun is Shining

Today was a better day. I dragged myself out of my warm and fluffy covers to work out for 40 minutes before heading off to work. No headache while I powered through!

I realized I’m not snacking every ten minutes at my desk, which has become a BIG problem in the last six or so months (can you say Cheez-Its?). Baby carrots make a fine afternoon snack – even better with one of the sugar-free dressings from Tessemae’s. (I love the Habanero Ranch!)

Day 19: Just Three More Days!

I just have to say that today’s breakfast was glorious. Scrambled eggs, bacon, veggies, avocado, and a side of ruby red grapefruit. When I was little I’d have grapefruit with a sprinkle of sugar on top, but it definitely wasn’t needed today – it was so deliciously sweet.

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Said breakfast.

I did a lot of repeat meals this week – Shepherd’s Pie and Shrimp & Pork Cabbage Dumplings, to name a couple. Started feeling the restriction a little bit too – it would be nice to have soup and a sandwich with paleo bread. I have to remember that this detox is about ridding my body of the “bad stuff” – like sugar and refined carbs – and, that in just four days, I’ll be able to bring back my paleo favorites.

Day 20: Energetic

I’m in the home stretch. This morning I woke up around seven and felt pretty energetic. I did a cardio workout and then ate banana “pancakes” made with a mashed banana, two eggs, cinnamon, and vanilla. I was afraid they would taste like scrambled eggs, but they weren’t half bad and seemed more like a treat than a healthy breakfast.

Tonight I went to a fancy dinner and gala for my husband’s job. Stayed on track with a bunch of club soda’s with lime, raw and grilled veggies, and the most delicious chunk of steak I’ve ever eaten. Refrained from dessert (cannoli, chocolate mousse cake, and mini pecan pies), and had a cup of tea.

It made me realize just how much I would have indulged had I not been on the detox. It’s so easy to overeat dinner rolls and hors d’oeuvres, and drink cocktails (which we all know go down easier than water).

I’m proud of myself for sticking with it, and I actually felt great when I got home – no bloating or full feelings!

Day 21: This is it.

Today looks brighter. Not feeling as hungry and I don’t have any cravings. In fact, I didn’t even finish my breakfast because I wasn’t my usual “starving.”

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Target brand. These waters are definitely “keepers.”

I’m both excited and nervous to reintroduce dairy tomorrow. I have always loved cheese and it’s hard to stop at just one slice. Think of all the wonderful cheesy meals – mac & cheese, pizza, cheese burgers, cheesecake – you get the idea! I’m lactose intolerant, but I would like to see if dairy is also a contributor to my headaches. Then I would know to stay away for good!

I’m also ready to eat the RX Bar I’ve had in my cabinet for almost a month. Next week I’ll reintroduce Chocolate and Shakes.

I did my grocery shopping today and as I was walking past the bakery, I could smell fresh backed chocolate chip cookies. Wow was that tough. I love cookies just out of the oven – especially with vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of caramel syrup on top.

I think what really gets to you during the detox is the restriction. When you can’t do something or have something, you tend to want it even more. I don’t want to binge or indulge, I just don’t want to feel deprived. I want to know that if I want a cookie or a slice of pizza, I can have it. Everything in moderation, of course.

The Results

Three weeks. Twenty-one days. Enough time for a habit to form. Enough time to BUST the cravings.

On this program, I lost 5.4 lbs* and 5 inches.* I’m leading with that because it’s a huge selling point, but it’s definitely not all about the scale. It’s about retraining your taste buds and your brain to avoid and not crave sugar.

More importantly, I stopped evening snacking, snacking at my desk, and always craving “something sweet.” I made healthier choices and created healthier versions of my favorite foods. I wasn’t always hungry or starving to the point that my stomach was growling every two hours. I was able to make it through my day and workouts without a jolt of caffeine. I stopped binging on Cheez-Its and Peanut M&Ms from the vending machine at work.

All of the above “Non-Scale Victories” are my proof that the program WORKS.

Unfortunately, the one constant that did not change was my headaches. I’m disappointed, but I also look up at the list above and realize that I do have a lot to be grateful for in just 3 short weeks. And I already conquered one goal for 2018 – Complete a Sugar Detox. Woohoo! I’ll continue to research headache causes and treatments and I’m confident that one day I will find a cure that I can share with other headache sufferers.

Bottom Line: I would recommend this program to those looking to cut the sugar out of their diet and learn to eat healthier. The books are very comprehensive and explain the science behind everything. A lot of the meals are very tasty too! (Recipe Roundup Coming Soon). The list of non-scale victories are abundant, and it may even contribute to weight loss.**

To find out more about the 21-Day Sugar Detox, click here. Then check out my week 1 and 2 updates!

*Weight and inches lost were due to healthy eating combined with moderate 30-60 minute workouts six days a week.

**You may or may not experience weight changes or looser fitting clothes. Author Diane Sanfilippo (recommends ditching the scale for the three weeks and focusing on why you are doing the detox.

Sugar Free Me – Week 2

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Favorite meal this week – shrimp and pork cabbage dumplings

I was off my game this week. My headaches resurfaced on day 8, and I can’t say I wasn’t disappointed. After all this work and five days of freedom, it feels unfair.

I promised to be honest with you, and here’s the truth – I thought about giving up multiple times. I felt worse than before I started – headaches, bloating, hives, moodiness. By Friday night, I just wanted to demolish a white pizza and follow it with a giant brownie. Water is getting boring and I should probably chill on the amount of herbal tea I’ve been drinking.

I just have to remind myself that this is 21 days, not forever.

The play-by-play

Day 8: Return of the Headaches

I had a dull ache from the moment I woke up – expected it to dissipate as the day went on, but it’s stuck around. It could feel the pressure around my jawline, ears, and temples, with a pulsing around the crown.

It was so bad when I finally got into bed that I couldn’t switch positions without a stabbing pain on the left side of my head.

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Can’t chew gum? Light a candle before chopping onions. It helps prevent tearing, just like gum!

Day 9: In a Fog

I was hoping yesterday’s headache was a fluke, but it wasn’t. I had a burning sensation until around 4 pm – makes work even less enjoyable.

Today I had a small craving. Not for anything in particular, just for something sweet and yeasty – doughnut, brownie, apple pie?

Really though, food-wise I’ve been pretty okay. My favorite weekday breakfast is so simple – two hard boiled eggs, mashed avocado, hot sauce, and a side of nuts. I’ve been having a green-tipped banana or green apple for a snack in the morning so I can burn off the (naturally occurring) sugar during the day. Both taste so deliciously sweet.

Day 10: Hangry

To be fair, I was only hungry because last night’s leftovers did NOT taste good reheated. Actually, they were terrible, but fabulous the day of. I’m noting this for my recipe roundup.

The headache is still lingering. I thought that it might be cycle or stress related, but I don’t know for sure.

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This vanilla n’oatmeal was fab.

In Dr. David Buchholz’s book Heal Your Headache, he talks about how everyone has a different threshold for headaches, and when the level floods over, the pain begins. One day I might have stress and feel fine, the next day I might have stress and then eat something that puts me above the threshold and boom! a headache.

It’s so complicated to explain to others. Even my doctor said she “exhausted all possibilities with me” after her treatments (i.e., prescriptions for seizure medications) failed. It’s a miserable life.

Day 11: Oh, the Temptations

Did you ever notice that once you get to the halfway point in a book, the second part just flies by? I’m wondering if that will be the case with this program.

Eleven days in, multiple temptations, no cheats. I’ve endured the smell of fresh bagels in the kitchen at work, the ramen noodles my coworker makes for breakfast, pizza, chocolate, cinnamon toast, coffee – so many delicious things. But can you believe my mouth isn’t even watering right now?

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This chicken tortilla-less soup was very filling.

Day 12: Thinking Ahead

Do you know what’s just as heavenly as banana with almond butter? Baked green apples with cinnamon and a drizzle of coconut oil or butter. Oh. My. God. It’s seriously delicious.

I’m starting to think about my Reintroduction and which foods I want to eliminate. I’m really on the fence about dairy. I know it isn’t good for me, but pizza.

Day 13: Feeling Low

I had a nice sore throat to go with the throbbing head. I seriously felt like Debbie Downer this week. My headaches can do that; they make a sunshiny day turn into a cloudy rainstorm.

I checked the “what to expect” section, and on all accounts, I should be feeling good with looser pants. If I really think about it, yes, my pants are looser, today’s workout was on point, and life is good. It’s just my headaches that cloud it all.

Day 14: Out of the Funk

Today looks brighter. Not feeling as hungry and I don’t have any cravings. I went grocery shopping last night and walked past all of my favorite foods without the urge to throw them in my cart.

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A little Sunday prep.

I know I wasn’t technically supposed to weigh myself, but I’m starting a new fitness program tomorrow and had to capture my weight and measurements. I’m officially down 5 lbs and 4.25″ from January 1st. Of course, in addition to eating healthily, I’ve been working out 6 days a week.

I am a little worried about emotional eating. I realize how hard it can be for me to pump the breaks when I’m eating something I really enjoy like sour patch kids and salt and vinegar chips (there are a half bag of these in my cabinet right now). I’ll just have to remind myself of how far I’ve come to reach my goals and take care of my health.

Overall, I feel like I am benefiting from this program. Here’s to a better week and a happier update!

To see how the first week went (spoiler alert: it was better!), click here.

 

 

 

Sugar Free Me – Week 1

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This Portuguese Green Soup was to die for!

Let me start by saying that I can totally understand why a lot of people don’t eat healthy – it’s not that they don’t want to, it’s just so difficult and time-consuming, not to mention expensive.

I made all of my meals and snacks for this detox because sugar is a sneaky sucker. It hides in pretty much everything – condiments, dressings, beef jerky, nut mixed, frozen foods; you name it. I’m doing this to heal my headache and start fresh, so I have to be cautious.

I mostly followed the Plan 3 Week 1 meal plan from the 21-Day Sugar Detox, with a few modifications – removing all of the fish, and meat that wasn’t chicken, beef, or pork.

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Shrimp Pad Thai w/ zoodles

The hardest part was beginning.

The play-by-play

Day 1: Feeling Great!

Seriously, it felt easy. It was nice to start the program when I had a day off of work to get all the meals situated.

I ate breakfast, lunch, dinner, and one snack. I didn’t even mind serving my husband a piece of cheesecake while I snacked on my chili lime nut mix and homemade jerky (the latter of which, I’ll be honest, wasn’t very good).

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Nope, nope, nope…

Worked out mid-day and wasn’t starving after. I went to bed full and content. Migraine pain about a 4 or 5, but tolerable.

Day 2: Killer Headache

Woke up before six, drank a glass of water and worked out for 30 minutes. By the time I got to work, everything hurt and I felt like I was dying or (more accurately) had the flu. I couldn’t even bend over without my head feeling like it was going to combust. Not sure if that was my body detoxing or just an extension of the migraine I’ve had for two days. I’d put the pain at about an 11 (out of 10). It literally hurt to think.

After lunch, I went to the grocery store on a FULL stomach to pick up a bottle of coconut aminos, and I wanted to hijack the chocolate aisle – I’m not even a chocolate person. I guess it didn’t help that two coworkers filled our back table with candy, cake, and cookies leftover from their holiday parties. I avoided it like the plague and drank three cups of herbal tea. Excessive?

Day 3: Feeling Good

Woke up with a clear head – no pain, not even the fuzziness I sometimes get. Started the day with a cup of Egyptian Licorice tea (no relation to the candy).

Found out that broccoli is not a good friend. After eating the same(ish) meals for the last two days, I was severely bloated after eating a bunch of broccoli for lunch. So sad.

I love how this detox, after only three days, is showing me how to be in tune with my body.

Day 4: Lot’s of Energy

Can I tell you just how heavenly banana with almond butter is? Seriously, it’s delicious (and allowed).

I think I’m supposed to feel pretty crappy right now, but I actually feel great. I was able to do a 30-minute cardio workout, shovel heavy snow for over an hour, and then cook dinner, all without feeling starved or exhausted. Although, by the end of the evening, I was very happy to take a rest on the couch before bed.

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I love snowy days!

I went most of the day without a headache, and it was glorious. A slight stress headache was triggered around 9 pm, but it went away on its own without medication. This is completely unheard of for me.

Day 5: Continued Energy

Third day without a full-blown headache or a migraine. It feels wonderful. I noticed that I’ve been drinking more, which is a huge accomplishment for the girl who doesn’t fancy water.

I’ve eaten some great meals and some not so great ones – I’ll do a recipe round-up at the very end of the detox.

A few simple swaps, such as coconut aminos for soy sauce, have been immensely helpful.

Planned out my meal plan and grocery list for the next week. Yum!

Day 6: Feeling…Normal?

It’s always easier for me to avoid snacking on the weekends. When I’m at my 8-5, I want to snack ALL day. Maybe it’s the stress of the job?

Woke up after 9 (a complete blessing!) and made a delicious egg scramble. Usually, I like pancakes or waffles a la mode with a glass of OJ on the weekends. I didn’t even crave it. And I’ve been fine drinking plain or sparkling water with every meal.

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Said egg scramble

Started meal planning for week 3. I’m really excited about the meals for the next two weeks. And I love that I can still recreate some of my favorite things – like donuts – to be paleo and sugar detox friendly.

I’m feeling great – lighter, less bloated, and energetic. It feels completely amazing to be headache-free for four days straight.

Day 7: One Week Down!

Wow – I can’t believe I made it through 1/3 of the program already. When I did the Whole30 back in 2016, it was so hard for me to remain in control. I relied on Lara Bars and sweet fruits to get me through the days. I guess the difference now is that I’m desperately trying to rid myself of headaches for good. I’ll do whatever it takes – even avoiding my beloved choco mint chip ice cream.

Sadly, I learned that almonds don’t agree with me either. I’ve gotten hives the last 4ish times I’ve eaten them. I switched to almond butter over a year ago after I stopped eating PB and it never bothered me, but now that I’m cooking with it and using it in various recipes, I’m noticing the sensitivity.

Overall, I’m super pleased with how I’ve been feeling and what I’ve been eating. I’m looking forward to the next two weeks in the program.

Can’t wait to give you another update!

If you’re interested in trying your own 21-Day Sugar detox, check out these resources.