If you follow me on social media, the past few weeks you have probably noticed me reference a Nutrition Challenge at some point. You probably have also noticed there is a lot more pictures of clean food on my plate and a lot less pictures of the treats that I love so much. I’ve promised a blog and some more information about it a few times – so here is me delivering!
My husband Brenton and I eat well for the most part – as I preach so often, we track our intake 80% of the time, and fill that intake with clean, nutrient dense food 80% of the time. We are busy, prioritize fitness, and enjoy structure and eating well. However, we are also human and enjoy the occasional date night, nights out with friends, glass of alcohol, and sporadic trips to Andy’s (the best frozen custard, EVER.)
I have eaten Paleo for 2 years straight, cut weight numerous times, as well as done different month long “parameter” diets such as the Daniel Fast in the past. However, Brenton has done none of the above. He had never put parameters on his nutrition for a certain period of time. He is also the man that likes about 2 types of fruit (we may have not stretched it to 5), and chokes down vegetables just because I tell him he should. So, you can imagine my surprise when he came to me and said he wanted to “eat clean” for a certain period of time. He asked me to put together some guidelines and said he would execute what I thought that should look like. I told him I would lay out a plan that we would do for just under 30 days (from July 5th until he leaves for the CF Games on August 1st).
When creating the plan I took some things into consideration:
- We would still be very active between training, coaching, and working and I needed to make sure we stayed properly fueled in the process.
- Brenton has a history of injuries, many that leave him with some serious inflammation day to day and I believe it gets irritated even more by certain aspects of his diet
- Without a community doing it along side us, I knew it would be pretty challenging to stay the course
I took my knowledge of various ways of eating and developed these guidelines for our challenge which we have nicknamed “The Brenton-Get-Jacked Challenge”
- dairy (excluding eggs)
- processed food
- fried food
- added or artifical sugar
We made a few exceptions to this as we kept in plain oats and potatoes of any kind to keep carb intake where it needed to be. We also kept in whey protein supplements, and dextrose for intra-workout fuel. We would still be tracking and weighing our food as much as we could in order to make sure we didn’t have too much of a drop off in caloric intake.
Once we came up with this plan, we invited everyone we knew to join it on it with us. It was pretty awesome how many friends jumped on board and are doing this along with us now! We created a WhatsApp group and have been sharing recipes, questions, struggles, and progress pictures! Having the support of friends around you during something like this makes it a heck of a lot easier.
I coach nutrition daily. If you are one of my clients or have ever worked with me before you know this is not the way I coach, or my initial recommendation. Actually, I am very well known for coaching FLEXIBILITY with nutrition and encouraging that treats, sweets, and not so nutrient dense food here and there are actually good and encouraged for longevity, as it keeps you “sane” and satisfies those real life scenarios and social situations that we all enjoy so much. However, I do think it is really important to do a bit of “annual cleaning” and some kind of “challenge” like this one month out of the year – last August was the Daniel Fast for me. When deciding on a route – do your research! Do not do anything drastic like trying to eliminate one entire macronutrient group and be sure to keep an overall BALANCED nutrition no matter what your parameters are!
I encourage this method with most of my clients at some point and I think it is really important for a few reasons. First, it challenges you to a dose of mental toughness and shows you the discipline you are truly capable of when you commit to something. Second, it teaches you ALOT. It teaches you to read ingredients (you learn how many items sugar is actually added to), it teaches you how to get creative and how to think outside the box to build meals, it teaches you some new food you might like that you may have never tried before. When you are left to eat fruit and veggies in abundance, you often try new things to keep variety! And most importantly, it teaches you how to clean up your order at restaurants and make substitutions or better choices in social situations.
Health is also an obvious answer to “why”. So much of the food we eat on a day to day basis is damaging to our bodies, and doing a full nutritional clean up like this once a year can give our bodies a much needed rest and reset.
ONE WEEK IN:
The first week was very likely the hardest part (as it always is with a major adjustment like this). First, I had to make sure the house was stocked with everything we could have and that all the “elimination foods” were out of the house or just replaced with other items. We were eating a ton of rice and bread, so a lot of that needed to go and I needed to get creative with what we would have instead. The hardest part for both Brenton and I for sure was the sugar withdrawal that comes the first 3 days. It is actually pretty scary how awful your body feels coming “off” added or artificial sugar. We were both suffering from headaches, irritability, fatigue, and just overall yucky feeling – almost as if we had the flu. By day 4 however, that passed and we finally felt back to ourselves and feeling even better.
Physically, my performance has felt great and I feel like my aerobic capacity has increased which I know is a direct result of eliminating sugar. Inflammation has also decreased (as Brenton feels it has for him as well). I often suffer from an uncomfortable stomach and that has also seemed to subside eating this way.
Aesthetically we have noticed a big difference as well. I feel less inflamed visually and less puffy which I think was a result of water retention from the excess sugar I was intaking. We have both lost a bit of weight, but nothing significant as I do not want to wither away simply because I have changed up my nutrition parameters. Below are some Week 1 progress photos that we all have shared so you guys can see exactly what I am talking about!
I will write another piece toward the end of this challenge with final updated pictures!
If you have any questions, are looking for nutrition coaching, or want to get started on something like this and need more advice – send me over an email or visit my website at:
**Most of our daily meals are made easier by Trifecta Nutrition. We trust Trifecta for quality and care of our food 100%. If you have not checked them out, click HERE to take a closer look.