July 2013: 5-Week Healthy Eating Habits Overhaul

I'm not above admitting when I've screwed up. And guess what ya'll? I've screwed up big time. I totally bombed my clean eating challenge. But I'm not going to beat myself up over it. I'm going to do what folks that mess up are supposed to do -- assess what went wrong, and make plans to move forward. And that's exactly what I've done.

One thing I know about myself is that working out isn't a chore for me. I regularly work out 4-5 days a week for at least 1.5 hours. The second thing I know about myself is that my eating habits are OK (like on the crappy side of OK, lol). I can stand to do a whole lot better. Another thing I know is that I have been super unsuccessful with diets. I start, I stop, I start again, stop, and then stop some more....until I've fallen completely off the wagon.

This time around though, I've been inspired to approach things differently, and make some lifestyle changes... and I encourage you all to take the journey with me. While some folks are getting ready to sign up for clean eating challenges, and do xyz for 30 days, I've chosen a different path for myself. Sure, I can complete a challenge -- but what good did that challenge do me if I went back to my old ways as soon as it was over? If I'm serious about my own health and wellness, I need to put some things into place that are going to help me in the long run. No, I may not drop 20lbs in a month, but at least I'll be on my way to where I want to be.

Here's what I'm going to do, and I want you all to hold me 137% accountable. For the month of July, I will be focus on eliminating and incorporating certain foods and habits into my lifestyle. Since there are roughly 5 weeks in July, I will be focusing on incorporating or removing a different problematic element from my lifestyle. I've tried the "give it all up at once" approach, and failed miserably. So here's to embarking on the following one-week-at-a-time journey:

Week 1
Eliminate: Soda, juices, and other sugary beverages. Yes, Starbucks//Coffee Bean//Peet's that means you (deeeeeeeeep sigh). Drinking calories is one of the quickest ways to shoot yourself in the foot, so it has to be the first thing (for me) to go.
Incorporate: More water, and other unsweetened beverages. I love Trader Joe's sparkling water, so if I get a hankering for soda bubbles that will be my go-to. I will also be aiming to drink more unsweetened tea. I actually like Tazo's Zen Green Tea with Lemongrass and Spearmint with a few wedges of lemon... it tastes like pickle juice (please don't judge me). That will have to take the place of my beloved coffee.

Week 2
Eliminate: Refined (white) rice, flours/bread, and pasta. This should be fairly easy to do.
Incorporate: Whole grain substitutes. I only cook brown rice (miserably... #shoutout to @anikkibrown and @theblogsmademedoit), and recently have been incorporating more whole wheat flour into my recipes. I love me some whole wheat penne, and I like never eat white bread. This will be a great opportunity for me to explore other grains like quinoa or millet.

Week 3
Eliminate: Processed (white) sugars, sweets, and added sugars. This is my Achilles. I can go without lots of things, sugar is not one of them. My sweet tooth, combined with the fact that almost EVERYTHING has added sugar in it, will make this week particularly difficult. But I am up for the challenge.
Incorporate: Natural sugar substitutes for those times of craving. Doing my research on exactly what this is going to mean. There is so much conflicting information about honey, agave, stevia (which I think is DISGUSTING), sugar alcohol, coconut palm sugar, etc. I will be sure to report back on my findings.

Week 4
Eliminate: Fried foods. This is another one that's gonna cut me real deep. Not because I love fried food all the time, but because I love Hooters. More specifically, I love Samurai and Honey Thai wings with some fried pickles. But in the name of progress, I will let this one go.
Incorporate: Nothing new. Just keep chuggin' along!

Week 5
Eliminate: Cooking and eating foods with high sodium content. Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute, here I come!
Incorporate: Cook and eat foods that focus on flavors from fresh herbs and spices that don't contain salt. I LOVE garlic, so that will definitely be my go-to. Maybe this will be my opportunity to start my own lil' herb garden?

Things to Work on Throughout:
1. Incorporating more, new, and different green and vibrant veggies. I recently cozied up to kale, time to keep the good thing going!
2. Eating smaller portions, but having more meals and snacks. This will probably be the hardest for me. I'm used to skipping breakfast, drinking coffee mid-day, having a super late lunch, and an even later dinner. Gosh, that looks terrible written down. No wonder I'm not where I want to be (real talk).
3. Eat out less, cook at home more. This will be another tough one. Most days, I'm out the door before 7am and not back home until close to 9pm. Going to have to start doing more meal planning!

Does it seem like a lot? I hope not. I'm hoping this will give me the big break I'm looking for, and get my closer to my health, wellness and fitness goals. I will maintain my workout schedule, focused on cardio and functional strength.

If you're down to join me, let me know! This is really a move for me, but the more along the way, the merrier! I will be posting my meals and workouts on Instagram!