My edited food journal above may look overwhelming, but the changes come down to a few basic concepts. Back in July we launched a contest offering 2 lucky readers the chance to win a diet makeover by Sarah Wragge, our contributing nutrition editor, with just 5 Simple Fixes. Yes, there are the obvious splurges like pizza, ice cream, and cookies, but lurking in many of our diets are extra hidden calories of which we are completely unaware. I found that out firsthand when I asked Sarah to take a look at my diet.
Thinking I ate pretty clean and expecting a pat on the back, instead I got, “OMG… you eat so much sugar!” Unbeknownst to me, what I thought was my healthy fruit and rice cake snacking was like sugar dosing and carbo loading all day. With some simple substitutions like adding more healthy fats such as avocado and nuts; swapping dairy for plant based alternatives like almond milk and coconut yogurt; and replacing my fruit dessert with dark chocolate (yes!), those abs I work so hard for started to pop — and with no feeling of deprivation because I was eating satiating and nutritious foods.
Our 5 Simple Fixes contest winners, Suzanne Donaldson and Mike Loftus, learned some of the same lessons and few more of their own — along with some easy fixes to attain their fitness and nutrition goals. Our contest should probably have been called “1 Simple Fix” because the leading culprit for all 3 of us was hidden sugar.
We all want to look good and feel good. We want those workouts to show on our bodies. For those of you who entered the contest but didn’t win, we wanted to share a sample 3 days of our diets, with the changes Sarah made. Many of you might have similar habits, and we hope seeing our mistakes and the easy fixes can help you achieve your fitness and nutrition goals too.
FROM 250 to 232 LBS!
Occupation: Real estate/business development for LYMBR
Exercise regimen: SoulCycle: 2-3 times per week; LYMBR: 1-2 times per week
Mike’s Goals: Lose weight; Really understand what healthy eating habits can do; Kickstart my road to wellness!
Core Principles Moving Forward… 5 SIMPLE FIXES!
1. Cut the dairy out COMPLETELY
2. Cut the bread out COMPLETELY (for now)
3. 3-4 liters of water a day. Start with consuming an entire liter before you have your first coffee or first meal of the day.
4. Limit alcohol to weekends ONLY. Allow your body 4 days without any alcohol, and try to consume no more than 5 drinks a week. Exchange wine for vodka or tequila – less sugar!
5. New Workout Regimen: 2 weight training/HIIT classes a week, 1-2 SoulCycle classes, 2 Lymbrs (these are extra and don’t count as a workout).
DAY 1 – Sarah’s changes are in red
7:30 SoulCycle class
8:45 Forward Space class
11am Watermelon sections, hard-boiled egg whites – Fruit must be eaten alone on an empty stomach, otherwise it slows digestion, and causes gas and bloating. Sub: 1/2 cup of berries with a splash of full fat coconut milk + 1 tablespoon hemp seeds. Berries are low in sugar and the only acceptable fruit for now. The coconut fat helps slow the release of insulin, and hemp helps keep you full. (Although seeds and fruit are technically not proper food combining, it’s a small amount and the effect is negligible here.)
1:30 Ham and cheese sandwich on wheat – Sub: BIG BIG salad with veggies of your choice, grilled chicken + 1/4 avocado. Dressing: Lemon, Olive Oil, Sea Salt
6pm Corn chips and guacamole – Sub: Siete Grain Free Tortilla Chips with guacamole OR even better veggie sticks with guacamole
8:30 12 Steamed clams, lobster, corn, tomato and mozzarella salad – Nix the corn (too much sugar), and mozzarella (dairy is a no-no). Add more veggies. 4 glasses rose – 2 vodka soda with lime, or 2 tequila soda with lime – less sugar!
6:30 Black coffee
11am Yogurt with watermelon – Sugar dump + dairy bloat bomb! Sub: 3 whole eggs (not the whites) with 1/4 avocado + 2 strips turkey bacon. Don’t be afraid of fat! Fat doesn’t make you fat. Fat helps keep you full.
2pm Arugula salad w/breaded chicken breast and balsamic vinaigrette – Ideally I’d prefer grilled, but I am okay with this as a TREAT.
5pm 2 glasses of Chardonnay – Sub: Vodka or Tequila
8pm Baked clams, skirt steak, carrots, asparagus, mashed potatoes – Sub: Double asparagus or more veggies for the potatoes
7:30 Liter of water
9:30 SoulCycle class – Edit: Barry’s Bootcamp OR a TRX class. Strength training builds muscle and boosts your metabolic rate. High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT workouts like these classes, generate a physiological reaction known as EPOC – Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption. EPOC is simply your body’s way of cooling down after exercise, and it creates a caloric afterburn restoring its normal metabolic rate. Think of how your car stays warm even after you turn off the engine.
1pm Burger with lettuce and tomato, french fries, glass of Chardonnay – Start with a big salad (raw before cooked helps digestion). Burger is fine but no bun.
2pm Watermelon sections – No fruit after a meal. Improper food combining which slows digestion. Also, watermelon is out for now – too much sugar.
8pm Chicken salad and tomatoes – Perfect. This is good with cucumbers too!
I thought my diet was really clean and perfect, and it blew me away to find what I was really eating. In the past 6-8 weeks I’ve stuck to this program 95%. I think I started just over 250 lbs. and I’m down to 232 lbs. — and it’s been easy to follow so far. What I really felt immediately was the bloat left my body.
One of the major things you really have to think about and control is the amount of sugar you eat. And it’s hidden – like fruit which you think is healthy (it is – but it’s still sugar). If I do have fruit now, it’s berries – and I try to have them by themselves. Dairy hasn’t been a problem. Although I could still eat cheese at every meal, I’ve just stayed away from it. Bread was easy to give up.
I’m now drinking a tremendous amount of water. I start the day with a liter, and probably drink about 3-4 liters a day. It feels good and holds me over until lunch. People who haven’t seen me in a while are like ‘OMG, what are you doing!?’ I feel like this a lifestyle. I used to have a slice of pizza on my way home if I was hungry. Now I’ll just have some berries or a handful of cashews. The downside is my clothes don’t fit… first world problem!
BOUNDING WITH ENERGY!
Weight: around 140
Occupation: Senior Director Creative Production/Nike
Exercise regimen: Hike, yoga, spin, cross train. I ride my bike about 10 miles on the weekend and take a 3 mile walk. I usually take only one or two days off a week.
Suzanne’s Goals: To lose about 5 lbs, but more importantly to have more energy throughout the day!
Core Principles Moving Forward… 5 SIMPLE FIXES!
1. Cut out dairy – exchange cow’s milk for plant-based alternatives
2. Cut out sugar!
3. Proper food combining for more energy.
4. No more “bites” or “some” of this and that. Trade them in for one splurge meal a week, so as not to sabotage all the others.
5. Swap carb & sugar snacks for healthy fat and protein options
1/2 liter of water before workout
7am Corepower Yoga – other 1/2 liter of water by end of workout
8am 1/2 cup orange juice – Too much sugar to start the day. Have a fresh green juice OR a celery juice on an empty stomach. Cappuccino – Make sure you are using almond or coconut milk. 1 Egg – Have 2. 1 is not enough protein for breakfast. Spirulina – love it!
1pm Chicken, veggies, and rice – Improper food combining slows digestion as the different enzymes required for carbs and protein don’t play nice together.
3pm Vegan snickerdoodle – Although vegan, it’s still got a ton of sugar. Avoid a sugar dump like this midday and you will have SO much more energy to coast and not crash.
4pm BoomChickaPop popcorn – Popcorn is JUST sugar! Avoid and substitute a handful of almonds, turkey jerky, or bone broth for a snack – www.brothmasters.com is my fave brand.
7pm White wine – Sub: vodka or tequila – less sugar.
8pm Tuna tartar, a few fries, salad, 3 bites of desert – Try to avoid any sugar after dinner so you sleep better. And be careful of bites – they add up faster than you think!
Drink 1 liter of water before anything
9am Green juice – BRAVA!
1pm 1/2 Patty melt – good minus the cheese, some fries – combines poorly with meat. I would pair with greens for optimal digestion. Not as much fun I know, but definitely going to move through your system better!
2pm Watermelon – Sugar bomb! Never ever pair fruit with any other foods. Fruit must be eaten alone on an empty stomach. Never after a meal when it causes gas, bloating, and fermentation.
7pm Caesar salad, tomatoes & mozzarella, 2 slices pizza – Dairy, dairy, and more dairy :(((
Drink 1 liter of water upon waking
7am Corepower Yoga with weights
9am 2 cups coffee
10am Green juice – Brava. Cappuccino – With almond milk please.
2pm Grilled chicken with salad, green beans, some eggplant parm – Avoiding the eggplant parm, and bits of this and that, will leave you feeling better with more energy after a meal.
4pm 1/2 cookie – Don’t eat sugar midday like this!!!!
5pm Popcorn – More sugar!
8pm Pasta Bolognese – Not bad. Make this your splurge meal.
Suzanne’s Results: As my goal was not about losing weight, those changes were less easy to detect. That being, said there was a major discovery. Sugar was my Achilles heel! Sarah pointed out the vast amount of things that were seemingly healthy – dried fruit, fruit juice, popcorn, wine – but “sugar bombs” as she likes to call them. I haven’t cut out sugar entirely, but that little adjustment, along with working out in the morning, has allowed me to accomplish my goal to have more energy throughout the day. With these subtle changes I was able to capitalize on the endorphins that I create in my morning workouts and power through a long day at work without those debilitating lulls I used to have!
Occupation: Editor & Founder of STYLE OF SPORT!
Exercise regimen: 7 days a week! I mix it up with running, spinning, yoga, and strength training.
Claudia’s Goals: Flat stomach! Get rid of little belly jiggle!
Core Principles Moving Forward… 5 SIMPLE FIXES!
1. Too much fruit. You’re sugar dosing all day! Trade the fruit for healthy fats.
2. Cut out dairy
3. Too much snacking. Eat more real meals
4. Eat more real food – you love a protein bar and shake which are fine, but too many are instead of a meal.
5. Eat more fiber! Add leafy greens like spinach and kale to smoothies to stay fuller longer.
8am Coffee w/oat milk – Substitute almond milk or coconut creamer. Oat milk is an insulin releaser. Also, oats are often contaminated with glyphosate — the active chemical in Roundup herbicide which many farmers spray on non-organic oats –and a probable carcinogen. To those who are drinking oat milk, look for one that’s organic and certified glyphosate-free.
8:30 Peach – Sugar Bomb. Have a bowl of berries with a banana, 1/4 cup of full fat coconut milk in the can (YES, you need the fat for fuel) + 2 tablespoons hemp seeds. This is Sugar, Carbs, Fat + Protein to fuel your workout.
9:45 Banana – Add the banana to your “grainless” cereal bowl above.
10am Swim 30 minutes
11:30 Whey Protein shake with frozen mango and strawberries – Whey is DAIRY and bloat city. Use this recipe instead: 2 cups coconut water, 1 scoop plant protein powder, spinach, 1 tablespoon almond butter. No more FRUIT!
2pm 2 eggs
3pm Peloton 45 min. class
4:30 Raw cashews, dried peaches & figs- WAY too much sugar consistently in your diet. Dried fruit is OUT. This continuous sugar dump is what’s making you tired. Instead have 1/2 avocado with hemp seeds, OR another protein shake.
5:30 1 oz soy cheese, carrots – Soy is OUT. 90% of soy in America is genetically modified. No Bueno. Have bone broth instead.
6pm Kombucha – MORE SUGAR. Kombucha is out unless immediately following a workout.
7:30 Salad with steak, roast brussel sprouts, tomatoes – Perfect dinner.
8:30 Nectarine- No fruit for dessert. Ever. It’s improper food combining and causes gas, bloating, and slowed digestion. Raw, organic dark chocolate is better than fruit. My faves are Taza and Alter Eco which are low in sugar.
8am Coffee w/oat milk- With almond or coconut milk please.
9:45 Banana – Too much fruit! Do the berry bowl, and add the banana if you need it pre-workout. If you can just do berries, it’s better as they have a lower glycemic index and less sugar.
10am Run 5 miles
12:30 Protein shake (vegan powder) with frozen blueberries, strawberries – No fruit in the shake. Add spinach instead + 1 tsp. coconut oil.
2pm RXBar- So much sugar! Do a Bulletproof bar instead.
4pm 2 eggs, Kombucha
5pm Carrots, red pepper, plum- No more fruit! Insulin DUMP. Dip carrots and pepper into guacamole.
7:30 Kale salad with chicken, tomato, avocado, sweet potato, lemon yogurt dressing – Dairy in the dressing. Use Primal Kitchen dressings, or just use olive oil, lemon, salt.
8pm Strawberries – Eating fruit with other meals is improper food combining and a digestive nightmare. Fruit is a power player and gets eaten ALONE, on an empty stomach only – ideally around a workout to burn the sugar for fuel .
7am Coffee w/oat milk – exchange for almond or coconut milk please
8am 1/2 banana
830 Personal Trainer – 1 hr
9am Protein shake (vegan) with frozen mango, strawberries – Use the other 1/2 banana in your shake and then add spinach, and a fat (almond butter or tsp. coconut oil)
12pm Sliced turkey w/tomato, avocado slices, 3 spelt rice cake thins – NO RICE. Insulin DUMP. Sub: Simple Mills Almond flour Crackers, Coffee w/oat milk- You are tired and need coffee because of all the constant sugar!
2pm Nectarine – Sub: another shake OR Juice Press Souper Greens soup OR Bone Broth
6pm 4 Spelt thin cakes – Sub: avocado with hemp seeds OR Siete Grain Free Tortilla Chips. Carrots with hummus.
8pm Kale salad with chicken, tomato, avocado, sweet potato, lemon yogurt dressing
8:30 Orange slices, berries – Raw, organic dark chocolate is better than fruit. My faves are Taza and Alter Eco which are low in sugar.
Claudia’s Results: Success! Belly fat gone – (well almost). Not that weight is so important because I have a lot of muscle, but I now I weigh about 127 lbs. I haven’t been in my 120’s since high school! I’ve been on this eating plan now for the last 6 months, and it’s completely routine for me. Never did I think I could give up bread, and never did I think I’d give up fruit (especially with the amount I was eating), but to replace those things with nuts, avocado, dark chocolate, and other healthy fats has been easy and more satiating! I also have become a devotee of plant-based milks. Cow’s milk tastes gross to me now. Cheese is still unbeatable, however, although its saved for special occasions. A piece of bread now and then too, if it’s really worth it – like a fresh baked sourdough or olive bread roll. Can’t sweat the small stuff!
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