28-Day Transformation Challenge
I’m excited and a little terrified to announce that I’m starting a 28-Day Transformation Challenge today, and I hope you will join me. The purpose of the challenge is to focus on improving your nutrition and exercise, with a large focus on eating clean for 4 weeks. I’ve always been an advocate for balanced eating, with everything in moderation. I’ve never been an all or nothing kind of person where I cut out certain food groups or avoid certain things altogether, so the next 28 days will be interesting to say the least. The challenge is being sponsored by FitWit, and the below information is adapted from their Web site.
Here’s how it works:
- Pick a day in January to start the challenge. You’ll want to read through the below rules and give yourself a day or 2 to prepare. My challenge period will be January 7 through February 3.
- Consider taking your body measurements (chest, waist, hips, bicep, upper thigh) as well as before-and-after photographs to track your progress. This challenge is less about weight and more about a healthier body composition and overall nutrition.
- Eat a paleo-based diet consisting of real food that our ancestors would have eaten more than 2.5 million years ago, such as meat, eggs, seafood, fish, vegetables, fruit, nuts, sweet potatoes and winter squash, spices, herbs, coconut, coconut oil, olive oil, avocados, etc. Coffee, tea and water are good too. AVOID foods that can cause inflammation and may not make you healthier, including grains, grain-like seeds and starches, legumes, industrial oils, sugar or sweetener of any kind, dairy, alcohol, soda and fruit juices and artificial or processed ingredients (most things that come in a box or jar). See below for a complete list of foods that are in and out, and check out this good food list. It is a good idea to keep a food journal to track your daily food in-take and to record how your body is feeling. The first week will be the hardest week if grains and dairy are part of your normal diet (like they are in mine). Check out the book It Starts with Food, whole9life.com and paleoplan.com for more information, recipes, etc.
- Be active daily. Any kind of vigorous workout counts (running, swimming, biking, Crossfit, strength training, rowing, etc). A 10-minute minimum workout is defined as intentionally engaging in some form of movement with the purpose of improving your fitness. For my activity, I’m committing to running 3 days a week, cross-training 2 days a week with cycling or swimming and strength training 3 times a week through my boot camp.
- Take fish oil daily to help reduce inflammation. A recommended dosage from FitWit is between 2,000 and 4,000 mg combined EPA & DHA, depending on your activity level. Be sure to choose a high quality brand that is properly distributed (e.g. doesn’t sit in the sun for hours on a truck, etc.)
- Stay accountable and get support. If you are a blogger, blog about your participation and your progress – how you’re feeling, what you’re eating and any changes you notice at the end of the 28 days. Be sure to link back to this post. Use the hashtag #28toGreat to share how things are going on Twitter and to motivate and support others.
Foods to avoid during the challenge:
- No grains, grain-like seeds or starches. This includes wheat, barley, oats, bread, rice (including wild rice), quinoa, pasta, corn and white potatoes. Vegetarians/vegans only may consume quinoa, wild rice, amaranth and buckwheat. Use tapioca flour sparingly, if at all.
- No legumes. This includes all forms of soy, soybean oil, soy lecithin, legumes, lentils, peanuts, beans, or peas. Yes, peanuts and peanut butter are out. Vegetarians/vegans only may consume lentils or properly soaked legumes (see www.westonaprice.org for traditional soaking and preparation methods. Green beans, snow peas and snap beans ARE allowed.
- No industrial oils. This includes corn, “vegetable,” soy, peanut, blend oils, shortening, sunflower, safflower, cottonseed, hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil. Vegetarians only may consume fermented soy products, such as tempeh, miso and natto. At restaurants, make clean eating choices by requesting your food be steamed, cooked with olive oil, grilled “dry” or baked. All salad dressings will contain soybean oil and likely sugar. Request olive oil and vinegar on the side.
- No sugar or sweetener of any kind. This includes refined sugar, raw sugar, cane juice, sucanat, evaporated cane juice, honey, agave, maple syrup, Truvia, aspartame, NutraSweet, sucralose (Splenda) or other artificial sweeteners, etc. Stevia may be used, but try to use it sparingly if at all.
- No dairy. This includes milk, cheese, buttermilk, yogurt, kefir, sour cream, ghee, heavy cream, whipped cream, conventional farm/brand butter, evaporated milk, ultra-pasteurized, etc. Grass-fed butter is ok, but it must say so on the label or be a European brand like Kerigold or Plugra.
- No alcohol, soda or fruit juice/nectar. You may use and consume fresh citrus juice from lemons, oranges, and limes. Drink water, tea and coffee, but limit your caffiene consumption.
- No artificial or processed ingredients or foods. Any non-traditional food chemical or oil is not allowed for this challenge. This includes guar gum, carageenan and agar. No food that required anything other than traditional food preparation methods such as cooking, drying or curing. Food from jars, cans or boxes are permitted as long as their ingredients or preparation do not violate the general nutrition rules. Basically, if you don’t know what the ingredient is, don’t eat it.
Some tips to make this work:
- Plan ahead! Planning will be critical to succeed with this challenge. Planning your daily meals in advance and shopping for the week will be key. You can see my weekly meal plan below.
- Prep, prep, prep! To make things easier for you and to be prepared, you will likely need to prep some ingredients/foods the night before or on a Sunday to keep your sanity. For instance, last night I chopped lettuce and made a large salad that we can eat for lunch the next 2 days. I hard boiled some eggs and cooked some chicken that can be cut up and put into salads. I also sautéed some zucchini and squash that can go into eggs for the next day’s breakfast. You can make some guacamole (with avocados, tomatoes, onion, cilantro, and lime juice) the night before so you have a dip for carrots, peppers and cucumbers the next day for a snack. The point is to make things as easy and accessible for yourself as possible.
- Clean out your fridge and pantry. Get rid of any tempting items in your house that are on the “no” list. This will help you be less likely to cheat. When you cheat, you’re only cheating yourself.
For my first week of the challenge, here is what my meal plan looks like:
- For breakfasts: eggs with veggies and meat, fruit and these paleo muffins (don’t use the honey and limit consumption during the week). This morning I cut up a banana and topped it with fresh almond butter (only ingredient is almonds that was freshly ground from the farmer’s market) and unsweetened organic dried coconut (only ingredient is coconut).
- For lunches: Salads with vegetables, meats and egg, chicken and a sweet potato, leftovers from dinner the night before, homemade soups with vegetables and meat (organic broths are ok as long as they follow the rules above).
- For snacks: fruit, fruit with almond butter, a handful of nuts mixed with dried fruit (dried fruit is ok but eat it sparingly and not every day), carrots and homemade guac, etc.
- For dinner, here are our meals for the week:
- Monday: Seared scallops, mashed cauliflower, green beans
- Tuesday: Chicken with shallots and rosemary, roasted sweet potato wedges, broccoli
- Wednesday: Beef fillets, butternut squash with garlic and thyme, green salad
- Thursday: Left-overs
- Friday: Dinner out at a restaurant that serves local, organic food
- Saturday: Chicken with bacon and rosemary, baked sweet potato, green beans
- For “desserts”: Frozen bananas and strawberries
Last night I made this balsamic chicken with tomatoes recipe that was delicious and fits into the rules of the challenge.
Several people I’ve talked to about doing this challenge have asked me why on Earth I want to do this or why I’m doing this when they don’t think I have weight to lose. I am not doing this to lose weight. I want to put the very best foods in my body to be the healthiest and best version of myself I can be. I do not believe in being an extremist with anything, including food. After the 28 days, I will probably incorporate Greek yogurt and some whole grains back into my diet, but I’m excited to see how I feel by detoxing from sugar and bread for a while.
We can do anything for 28 days, right? Who’s with me?
Get more rUnladylike during the challenge:
- Twitter: @rUnladylike
- Facebook: facebook.com/runladylike
- Instagram: instagram.com/runladylike
- Pinterest: pinterest.com/JesicaD
- Daily Mile: dailymile.com/people/Jesica
- Email: email@example.com
Will you join me in this challenge? Post a comment and let me know what you think. Also, if you have a great paleo recipe or food ideas, share them here.