It's a challenge that I made up to kick start a healthy summer, and I hope you'll join me! Monday April 29th through Friday May 25th. 26 days. Progressively more challenging. The first two weeks is a pretty basic clean-eating plan. The second 2 weeks? We're following the 17-day diet!
Why? Because it's a great way to begin summer (and swimsuit season) on the right foot. Because you will probably lose a few pounds. Because it will make you feel great. Because it's good for your body. Because it's nice to challenge yourself and your willpower sometimes. Because you can!
Ready to hear the rules?
Weeks 1 and 2: All clean eating. No cheats.
This is essentially how I eat now... except sometimes I don't. Haha. I typically eat "clean" about 80% of the time. But for the other 20%... there's the cookies at work, the chips at a friend's house, the piece of candy (or two) out of the candy jar, the cheat meals on the weekend, the french fries snuck from Ryan, the pita chips late-night snack... you know how it goes. Which is fine! I am happy with my "80% rule" as a general lifestyle. I don't ever want my diet choices to limit my ability to have fun, enjoy delicious food, and celebrate with family and friends -- that's where the 20% comes in. But for a few weeks, I want to challenge myself to bump that 80% up to 100%. It's the perfect way to jump into summer, and it's no coincidence that I'm heading to the beach in exactly 4 weeks! ;)
So what does the diet plan look like for the first 2 weeks?
-Only whole foods.
-Lots of veggies, lots of lean protein. Some whole grains. Some fruit. Some nuts. Some fats. Some beans. Some dairy.
-Refined carbs (NO white bread, white rice, white potatoes)
-Processed / pre-packaged food (for the most part -- packaged whole grain pasta, for example, is okay)
-Sweets (candy, pastries, cookies, cakes, etc.)
-VEGGIES (any veggies, and as much as you want)
-Meat (plenty of lean meat like chicken; limited beef and pork)
-Whole grains (oatmeal, whole grains, quinoa)
-Dairy in moderation (cheese, milk, yogurt)
-Alcohol in moderation (e.g., red wine with dinner, if desired)
So what should you eat? One delicious meal to have for lunch is this arugula salad with quinoa, chicken, avocado, and sautéed veggies topped with goat cheese & light homemade honey mustard dressing (recipe at end of post):
Other recipes that work for the first two weeks:
-Avocado, spinach, mozzarella and sriracha quesadilla (if made with whole grain tortilla)
Got it? So that's the first two weeks. Monday, April 29th through Sunday, May 12th.
Weeks 3 and 4: All clean eating. Increased restriction. No cheats. Following the 17 day diet plan.
Have you ever heard of the 17 day diet? I've done this diet every spring for the past 3 years, and let me tell you... it works. It's hard. But it works. Last year, I lost about 8 or 9 pounds in 17 days and I've kept it off ever since. For real! My mom lost 10 pounds on the diet.
Doing this diet last year actually really changed the way I eat. Even though I added in foods that are restricted on the 17 day diet afterwards, it showed me the benefits of a low-carb, high-protein diet. This time, I don't have 10 pounds to lose. I don't need to lose weight at all, really. That's not my goal -- which is why I will be eating plenty of food, just all 17 day diet-approved food. My goal is just to challenge myself and cleanse my body a bit. It will be the perfect way to go into my Florida vacation that starts on the 25th!
So what is the 17 day diet? We'll be eating pretty similarly to the first two weeks, except cutting out some food groups that will be much-missed. Like dairy, whole grains, and beans. And beef and pork. We'll be limiting our fruit intake. There are even some veggies that are off-limits. No alcohol at all. No butter. No nuts.
Disclaimer: I like this diet for 14 days. Maybe 17 days. I don't think it's a lifestyle diet. In my opinion, fruit shouldn't be limited. No veggies should be off-limits. Nuts and beans are good! Lean beef is fine in moderation. Not eating fruit or yogurt after 2pm is kind of silly and arbitrary. BUT - this is just for the short-term -- a cleanse to kickstart a more moderation-based diet :)
Here are the rules:
-Egg whites (limit yolks to about 4/week)
-Ground turkey or ground chicken
-Fish (salmon, flounder, tilapia, canned light tuna, sole, catfish)
-"Cleansing vegetables" which includes:
Eat 2 servings of low-sugar fruit daily. Not after 2pm. Options include:
Eat 2 servings of probiotics daily. Not after 2pm. Options include:
-Yogurt, regular or greek, lowfat or nonfat
-LiveActive cottage cheese
Eat 1-2 tbsp of olive oil daily
-Coffee in moderation (and without cream or sugar)
-Fat free cheeses
-Low sodium soy sauce
-Fat free sour cream
No alcohol. No bread. No cheese. No packaged foods. No nuts. No sweets.
This diet is a challenge. I will create some as-delicious-as-possible recipes that work though, I promise! And remember, it's only 2 weeks. If you stick with it 100%, it really works.
Ready? Are you with me? Do you have questions? This will be much easier with support, so let me know if you're in! If you're questioning whether or not to do it -- DO IT! And do it 100%. Follow me on facebook if you don't already for regular updates and to discuss meals and challenges!
The 100% clean-eating starts tomorrow. I'll be sharing 4-week challenge-approved recipes throughout. Get excited!
Oh, and here's the recipe for the arugula salad - it is SO good, and a great lunch choice for the first 2 weeks:
Arugula salad with quinoa, chicken, avocado, and sautéed veggies
For 2 servings
-1/2 cup quinoa, cooked according to package directions (I prepare with fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth rather than water for more flavor), warm or room-temperature
-4 cups arugula and/or other baby lettuces, chopped into strips
-1 avocado, diced
-2 prepared spiced chicken breasts, diced and warm or room temperature
-1/2 zucchini, chopped
-1/4 onion, sliced
-1/2 cup cherry or grape tomatoes
-2-3 tbsp olive oil, split
-1-2 tbsp plain greek yogurt
-1 tbsp apple cider vinegar or champagne vinegar
-1 tbsp honey
-1 tsp dijon mustard
-2 tbsp crumbled goat cheese (optional)
-Heat olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the zucchini, tomatoes, and onions. Saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and bring to room temperature.
-For dressing, whisk together 1 - 2 tbsp olive oil, yogurt, vinegar, honey, and mustard.
-Mix together all ingredients. Toss with dressing. If desired, top with crumbled goat cheese and course ground black pepper. Serve immediately.