Day 22 Rule: Lean meats only from this point.
You’ve spent 3 weeks able to enjoy most anything in the meat department. It’s time to get smart and cut some more fat out of your diet. Let go of the hotdogs and fatty cuts of pork, and stick to leaner cuts of meat. Shoot for mostly white meat chicken, seafood, and turkey. As far as beef, stick with lean cuts like sirloin or round and cut off any visible chunks of fat. You don’t have to cut out pork entirely either. The tenderloin is a very lean cut of pork. Stop eating the skin off of chicken (even when it’s oh so crunchy) and be sure to drain your ground meats. I will not judge you for continuing to enjoy bacon, but consider turkey bacon. (I cook mine in the microwave to make sure it comes out crispy.)
What other lean proteins can you think of? Let’s make a list of options!
Day 21 Rule: No eating after 8pm.
When you go to sleep, your body enters rest mode. It requires significantly less energy to function than when you’re, say, awake running a mile. This means that any digested food gets stored as fat during this time instead of burned off as energy. How do you avoid this? Don’t eat so close to bedtime! Whatever your bedtime is, subtract 3 hours and make that your food curfew. I think 8pm (2000 hours) is a reasonable hour for the average responsible adult. That way, your body has time to digest dinner before you go into rest mode. This will be my hardest habit change yet, so if it’s a challenge, know that you’re not alone. After your curfew, just drink water. Period.
Day 20 Rule: Switch to Whole Grain pastas.
As I’ve said before, the closer your food is to it’s most natural state, the more nutritious it is for you. You’ve already switched to brown rice, it is now time to switch to whole grain pastas. Fortunately, in today’s market whole grain and whole wheat pastas are widely available. They may need to boil for a little longer than the regular option, but they’ll fill you up faster and give you more fiber and nutrients. Make that switch!!
Day 19 Goal: No sweets today.
Towards the beginning of this challenge, we spent an entire day swearing off candy. Today we take it one step further. All sweets are off limits. That includes cookies, ice cream, and cake. In retrospect, I should’ve scheduled this for tomorrow because today is my birthday. How on earth am I going to go without some sort of sweet, celebratory treat? Willpower, I need extra today…
Day 18 Goal: Try a new vegetable today.
You’re probably tired of hearing it, but eating more vegetables is the key to cutting down your caloric intake. I understand that it can be boring to steam broccoli every day, though. Today, I’m encouraging you to try a new vegetable. Go to the grocery store and pick something out of the produce section that you’ve never had before. Prep it, drizzle it with some oil and seasonings, and bake it. Or steam it. Whatever sounds like a good idea to you. Do a little research if you’re picking something you know nothing about. Should you peel it? Can it be eaten raw? What kind of spices go best with it? Add something new to your repertoire today!
Day 17 Goal: Measure your portions today.
If you live in America, you know that portion control is a huge factor in the obesity issue in this country. Everything is available in ‘super-mega-double’ size, and we’ve just gotten used to that. Eating healthy is not as effective when you’re eating 2 and 3 times as much as you should. So today, actively measure your portions at each meal. I use a digital food scale, like this one. It’s helpful to have a scale that measures in grams and ounces and has a separate bowl that can be removed for cleaning. I highly recommend the investment, because after a while you will really begin to see what a healthy, reasonable portion looks like. Your eyes will finally stop being bigger than your stomach.
If you don’t want to buy a food scale, livebetteramerica has an awesome pocket chart that will help you eyeball it. The point is, pay attention to HOW MUCH you are eating today.
Day 15 Rule: Veggies must be your largest portion at every meal.
A few days ago, we practiced eating large portions of vegetables at every meal. It’s time to make this change permanent. Every time you sit down for a meal, you need to have more veggies than anything else on your plate. If you’re going to take a large helping of mashed potatoes, you need to take an even larger helping of green beans. And eat your vegetables first. That way, you’ll get full on less calories.
Day 14 Rule: Switch to Brown Rice.
Carbs do not start off bad for you. It’s the processing that strips most of the nutritional value from them that is the problem. The key to overcoming this is to return back to the most basic and natural forms of the carbs you take in. Brown rice is much less processed than white rice. In fact, it’s considered a whole grain. Wild rice is even better, but if you’re like me, baby steps are the key to real progress. So give that white rice to your neighbor and switch to brown rice.
Day 13 Goal: Eat 2 fruits today.
The point to this is simply to encourage you to satisfy your sweet tooth with a healthier option. The sugars that are naturally occurring in fruits are much kinder to your body than the one in an Oreo cookie. That being said, sugar is still sugar, so don’t go nuts. Eat 2 fruits today, and at the end of the day, see if you’ve eaten as much junk food as you normally do.