By Toni Carey (@toni_carey)
It seems like it was just yesterday that I was writing my blog post about prep week of the "21 Day Clean Eating Challenge" as part of our new BGR! U educational series and here we are now in our final week. I know you're probably wondering what happened between prep week and week three, so here's a quick run down of how the two "lost weeks" went.
Prep Week: Again prep week was all about eliminating the things that are typical pain points in our diets or that may make our guts (stomach/intestines) upset. This included removing alcohol, caffeine, processed foods, dairy, sugar and gluten. This week, by far, was the most difficult. I slept a lot and dealt with headaches for the majority of the week from quitting coffee (and alcohol) cold turkey. I would NOT recommend going cold turkey with coffee. Trust me.
Week One: During week one I felt a LOT better. I was getting into the groove of thinking about my meals at the top of the week and planning lunch and dinner around my somewhat chaotic schedule.
Sounds cumbersome? It really wasn't. I chose one smoothie recipe for breakfast, one recipe for dinner and a salad dressing to make (for lunch) to eat all week and BAM! That was the extent of my meal planning! Of course I made my dinner and the salad dressing on Sunday night, but I'm definitely not talking about putting HOURS of time in the kitchen for meal prep. I. Just. Can't.
To top things off, I traveled home to Nashville during week one so I had fun testing a few recipes out on my mom. It gave me a chance to share the clean eating gospel while spending some quality time together. Win/Win!
One of the highlights of my trip was checking out Nashville's newest raw vegan restaurant, Avo, which was absolutely amazing (pictured below). In fact, so amazing, my cousin and I went there twice that week. Oh! By the way by this time, I'm sleeping better, have SO much energy and generally feel a lot happier! Coincidence?
Week Two: Week two was more meal planning and prepping, but really focusing on trying recipes that would satisfy my "comfort food" taste buds. I'm an emotional eater (in a good and bad way), so when I start to crave something, I really have to just satisfy it or it will drive me nuts! I made a super simple dessert (No-Bake Fig Newton Snowballs from Danielle Omar's Nourish Cookbook) (pictured below) and a Buddah Bowl with Cashew Cream. And both were as good as they sound! (also note, that you get Danielle Omar's Nourish Cookbook as part of the program. All the recipes are SUPER simple!)
Here's where things get a little tricky. Our family has a terrible tradition. It's called "We always eat pizza on Friday nights". Not only is pizza one of my favorite foods, it's the perfect veg out meal. You know, a good "hanging on the couch on Friday night, watching a movie after a long week" meal.
Lucky for me, there's a great gourmet pizza place around the corner from our home that makes gluten free and vegan pizza! SCORE! We headed over to grab dinner and within minutes of sitting down I don't feel well. I don't think anything of it, and order a gluten free, cheese-less pizza that was WAY more delicious than it sounds. Within moments of getting home, I was sick to my stomach with the stench of a dead skunk. Not pretty. The verdict? My body hates gluten.
Week Three: I was still recovering from the previous week's exposure to gluten and it takes a good 3 - 4 days for me to feel back at 100%. During the first few days of the week, I slept quite a bit and couldn't quite shake the feeling of grogginess. It sucked. But, I make it. This was also vegan week. Also, not as bad as you think!
Week Four: Here we are at week four and I have to say that I haven't felt this great in a very long time. I sleep better, I have a lot more energy, I don't feel bloated and I'm not gassy! And surprisingly I've lost 8 pounds over the course of these four weeks. Not necessarily from eating less (which I probably was), but from eating BETTER! I don't feel hungry all the freaking time and I seem to be much more in tune with my body! This week the theme is "Rebalance" which allows you to reintroduce gluten and cheese into your diet to see how your body reacts to it. Well, I already know the answer to this question, so I won't reintroduce either any time soon. Also, I still haven't had one drop of coffee or wine! I'm winning!
What's next? Well, this is a complete lifestyle change and one of the great things about the "21 Day Clean Eating Challenge" program is that it helps guide you to the next phase by really honing in on what is going to make it sustainable for YOU. Some people will go back to eating just the way they did prior to the program, but the goal is for you to really make it something that can last for the rest of your life. That doesn't necessarily mean removing gluten, dairy, wine or coffee from your diet FOREVER, but it does mean being more aware of what you're putting into your body and realizing how great you can feel without all the overly processed JUNK!
For me, that probably does mean no gluten or dairy for me EVER, but it's not a bad thing. I hopeful that some of the health issues I've experienced over the past several years can finally be resolved by my change in diet!
The biggest take away for me has been that, we don't give food enough credit or honor its ability to hurt or heal our bodies. Yeah, I think we all know that eating healthy in the long term is the right decision to make, but I think the majority of us are unaware of just how life changing that making a few changes to our diet can be....physically, mentally and emotionally!
The "21 Day Clean Eating Challenge" led by Danielle Omar has been SO life changing for me, that we're bringing it back this Fall starting September 9. For a limited time, you can take advantage of the program for just $105 instead of the full price of $120!
Also, if you want to check out some of the amazing food I ate during the program, check out pics on Instagram at @toni_carey.