As the paleo challenge is winding down, you are most likely feeling better than you have ever felt, seeing great results in the gym, and finally have developed a routine to prepare food so you are not starving all week. So, what to do post challenge? Do you stay paleo? or go back to the way you were eating before? I came across this blog today with this same title “Paleo… could it be for you?” and I thought I would share her advice on deciding what to do post challenge.
Here are some tips and advice to help get you started.
Make the commitment-Are you truly ready to take on a nutrition or health challenge? Do you have any major events coming up like weddings or holidays that could sabotage your efforts? It is much harder to make healthy decisions when faced with too much temptation. I started mine at the end of September and it finished right before Thanksgiving. Going into the holiday season having already lost weight was motivation for me to keep it off and maintain my eating habits.
Establish a splurge rule-The old saying “you can’t have your cake and eat it too” unfortunately applies here. If your “cheat days” consist of alcohol, poor food choices, AND desert you are setting yourself up to fail. If you add-on top of that the fact that you didn’t exercise….well, that’s a recipe for gaining weight. When I cheat or splurge I typically pick ONE of the above items. I even remember doing this while on my honeymoon more than 8 years ago. Each day I decided if it was going to be a “drink what I want” or an “eat what I want day”. We went to one of those superinclusive resorts in Jamaica where you needed zero money and were not allowed to tip. It would have been very easy to indulge everyday. These days I would rather eat healthy and have 1-2 glasses of wine as my splurge.
Limit alcohol-Alcohol is nothing more than a bunch of empty calories. And quite frequently drinking alcohol goes hand-in-hand with poor food choices (think appetizers & drinks). I made a personal rule a while ago where I limit my drinking to social occasions only. As a mom of 2 small kids, unfortunately our social life isn’t that exciting. If I am not hanging out with friends I typically don’t drink. I was getting into the habit of having a glass of wine or two with dinner most days of the week. Not only is that a ton of extra calories that my small frame can’t handle, but I didn’t like it when my 3-year-old took her cup at dinner one night and said “Look Mommy my wine.” And ultimately I work too hard at the gym to blow it on alcohol.
Get family on board-If you are committed but members of your family are not, it will make your life harder. I remember when I got into the bad habit of having ice cream 2-3 times a week after dinner. I would see Brent serve himself a bowl of post-dinner ice cream and want some just because I saw him with it. Now mind you Brent is almost 6’2” and maybe weighs 180 pounds. He can afford to eat a huge bowl of ice cream every night and he won’t gain weight. I had to tell him that he needed to stop doing this every night in front of me. Ultimately I stopped buying ice cream every time it went on sale and that took care of that! (See sometimes is it nice when you are the one in charge of the food shopping!) Remember there is strength in numbers so get the entire family on board. Educate them as to what you are doing and why and how it is a good idea for everyone to get healthier even if not everyone needs to lose weight.
Clean Your House-No I don’t mean mop the kitchen floor! Get rid of the junk! If it’s not in the house you can’t eat it. (See ice cream example above.) If you must have certain temptation foods in your house then at least make them hard to access. For example, I put my favorite dark chocolate covered almonds either on the highest shelf or I put them in freezer in my garage. It’s one thing to mindlessly grab a handful because they are there. It’s another thing to get out the stool and climb to get them. Lately though I just haven’t been buying them. When they are not in the house I don’t crave them.
Have healthy foods readily available-“Fail to plan; plan to fail” is one of my favorite quotes. Meal planning & food prep at the beginning of the week will save you time, money, and calories. Taking the time to meal plan and prep foods for the week increases your success with staying on track and not giving in to take out or quick fixes. Sunday is my prep & plan day. We have a dry erase board in the kitchen that is used as a central place of communication; weekly meals, to-do lists, grocery list, and reminders are put there. When we make dinner we cook more than enough to ensure there will be leftovers for lunch. This allows for the assembly line that is lunch making to occur with speed and ease! It also helps me to not eat the same salad every day. If I do make a salad, I make 2 at a time so I have one ready to go for another day that week. Lately I have been buying meat specifically for lunches. I have been alternating between chicken breasts, pork tenderloin, and steak tips. I cook this all at once and use it for my salad (which lately has been broccoli slaw, shredded carrots, & shredded cabbage as my base). Or I dice it up and add some paleo mayonnaise and cubed sweet potatoes and take it as my breakfast.
Some examples of quick foods in my fridge:
Baby carrots, pre-packaged shredded carrots, broccoli slaw, cabbage, multicolored peppers, a variety of fruit, nitrate free deli meats, cooked chicken, steak, or pork, coconut milk yogurt, whole milk yogurt and string cheese for the kids, shredded coconut chips, & hard-boiled eggs.
Cook in bulk-I know I make lots of jokes about my big butt freezer in my garage but really I am not kidding. My theory is “Go Big or Go Home” when it comes to cooking and baking. If I am going to spend my time cooking, I am at a minimum, going to double the recipe so I have some to freeze for later. Let’s face it, life is busy and my life is busy too. In addition to being a wife and mom, I have a full-time teaching job, I just completed my 4th marathon this past Sunday, I CrossFit 3-4 times a week, I am co-owner of this awesome blog, and I soon will be working as a part-time massage therapist. Oh yeah, and I also have friends and family and a social life to fit in too. So yeah there are weekends that we are so busy with commitments that we don’t have time to do a perfect meal plan and grocery shop. That’s the real world-plain & simple.When this happens I don’t stress because I know that I can pull meals out of my freezer that week.