I wanted to check-in as it has been a very long time since I wrote about the major lifestyle change that occurred for me starting on January 16th. The change started when I committed to reduce the number of carbs and sugar consumed in my diet, intensify my workouts, and get toned to the point of having a 6-pack abs for the first time in my life. I needed to completely change how I thought about food, and eat only to fuel my body in a healthier way.
Although I do not have the defined 6-pack abs that I might have had if I would have done this challenge in my 20’s, I have lost a significant amount of body fat (9 lbs to be exact - mostly from my abdomen and thighs), I've gone down a pant size, enjoy regular intermittent fasting (I eat between a shorter window of time), and have reduced my appetite significantly to the point where my body requires less food to perform and function throughout the day.
In the beginning of the blog for the #6packproject I pushed myself really really hard. I was super strict in what I ate, and I worked out more regularly at the gym. My ab workouts alone took some time, and were insane. I was on a mission. When I wasn’t seeing an immediate 6-pack after a couple of months I realized I had more body fat to lose than I realized. Now, after 7 months, and not being so strict on myself, the results are better than I could have imagined. The way I feel far exceeds any short term gains of getting a well-defined 6-pack in 2 months, and then ending this initiative. I’m not concerned I'll fall off the wagon and become a carb monster again.....because I am not very strict now, and I naturally make healthier food choices. It's a win-win - YAY!
As some of you may know, my low carb / low sugar diet in January, turned into eating a strict Ketogenic diet in February What I have not shared is that now is more of the primal diet....and I am way more laid back about it. It feels as though in the last several months my body has gone through a “reset” which allows me to eat pretty much what I want within my new healthier framework.
What this means is that I eat my favorite things on occasion (ie. ice cream) the scale stays the same, and I feel great (instead of bloated and looking like I am 5 months pregnant). Don’t believe me? Ask Andy. My husband, typically follows my lead when it comes to meal prep and diet, and agrees that his body feels as though a “reset” occurred somewhere along the way. Truth be told, Andy never really sacrificed his 1-2 beers at night and he’s still reduced his body fat and kept the weight off. He was less strict than me from the very beginning, and does about a third of the strength training and cardio that I do each week!
Below are some of my favorite things that have helped me in my quest to get stronger and stay lean:
- My first meal of the day is between 11am and 12pm. Skipping breakfast has helped me reduce my overall appetite, become fat adapted, and is contributing other great health benefits. (I have shared this before but I love this article! So much good stuff in here! https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-health-benefits-of-intermittent-fasting)
- I stay away from carbs and refined sugar. I eat way less bread. I do eat a half sandwich on occasion if it’s the only thing available when we are on the road or camping, but mostly I try and stick to higher fat, low carb meal options and stay away from carbs, sugar, and gluten as much as possible. Want to learn more about the negative effects of refined sugars? READ THIS - https://urbanremedy.com/top-10-reasons-to-avoid-refined-sugar/
- When I eat chocolate (which I still do daily), I chose healthier chocolate options. The chocolate chips we use are Simple Truth Organic 72% Cacao, when I make cookies, they are almond butter cookies with coconut sugar - no regular flour, no brown or white sugar. THE FLAVOR IS WONDERFUL - https://www.livewellbakeoften.com/easy-flourless-almond-butter-chocolate-chip-cookies/
- My new obsession is Simple Mills. Their mixes are made with only 5-7 all natural ingredients. There are no preservatives at all. It’s amazing. The Simple Mills options typically have significantly less carbs than the normal way of eating these carb happy favorites. I am obsessed with the Simple Mills pancake mix. I ordered 3-packs of pancake mix and pizza crust on Amazon and you would have thought it was Christmas. The flavor is wonderful and I eat them guilt free! Their chocolate cupcakes are also wonderful. Again no preservatives just whole ingredients.
- I look at all ingredients when I am considering what to buy at the grocery store. I dumped all of the Ken’s salad dressings we used to love back in January and only use olive or avocado oil and vinegar for salads. Primal Kitchen also makes some yummy dressings as well.
- The only oils we eat are avocado, olive oil and coconut oil. (check out why here - https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/healthy-cooking-oils#section1)
- I eat more nuts…the healthy “fats”. I love cashews, macadamia nuts the most right now. I kind of overdid it on pecans and have been taking a break for a bit.
- We eat wild caught fish and organic grass fed beef. We do not buy fish unless it is fresh caught. If you read up on the farm raised fish it is terrible for us and what I read totally grossed me out. Last week we bought grouper from a fish market in Denver to make fish tacos at home. Holy Moly, it was unreal!
- Pinterest is a godsend! There are so many excellent recipes that are low carb, gluten free, dairy free, etc. You do not have to sacrifice flavor to eat healthy, just be willing to spend more time preparing delicious wholesome foods at home.
- I eat dairy and don’t have any adverse effects from it. I had a DNA test done in the spring and found out I am lactose tolerant (my body has no issues breaking down processing dairy – Yipee!). I love cheese and do not limit cheese from my diet. I have recently started eating greek yogurt again as well.
- I’ve added intensity and heavier weight to my workouts. I see better results, it challenges me, it’s fun, and I burns more calories. I never get bored working out. Make it fun and it will never be "work" to workout ever again (hehe)!
- I run, hike, and bike as much as possible. I make time for cardio and try to do most of it outside. There are so many benefits to keep your body in motion as much as possible (beyond the obvious benefit of fat loss). I still sit a lot while working at home on my computer but I’m aware that if I sit for several hours I need to get up and get moving. Even a quick walk with #athenathebear is better than nothing!
I probably could go on with this list for a while but I won’t…
These lifestyle changes are not hard to keep track of, and they come very naturally after 7 months. The weight I wasn’t necessarily trying to lose in January, came off naturally through mostly my change in my diet, has stayed off despite eating Ben and Jerry’s a few nights here and there, chowing on hot dogs, hamburger and avocado oil chips while camping, or drinking a beer or a couple of glasses of wine at night.
To wrap this up, I was the definition of a carbohydrate and sugar monster before this all started. With a little education and a new perspective about carbs, sugars, cooking oils, intermittent fasting, ultimately resulting in my body “reseting” (for this soon to be 37 year ole’ bod), I will be able to easily stay on track indefinitely, keep the weight off, and maintain a stronger physique than I have ever had in my life.
If anyone want’s to learn more about my workouts or diet, please follow our Facebook page, Instagram, contact me on our website (www.cbsouthfitness.com), check out Mark Sisson’s book The Primal Blueprint, or his blog (https://www.marksdailyapple.com/) and learn more about many of the things I mention. Mark has some awesome recipes on his blog too!
Cheers to making our health and bodies a priority, and to making this summer count!