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Hey challengers and my usual lovely readers! If you’re currently experience sore muscles, constant sweatiness and your exhausted- I’m guessing your deep into the challenge. Have you set your goals yet? I hope you’re well on your way too smashing them!

Anyways, we all know that exercise and moving your body is important for good health, weight loss and being happy! But exercise is only half of it. There’s also this other issue called food. Often we have the best intentions when approaching a new exercise plan or regime, only to forget about our diet (diet as in our eating habits- not those stupid fad diets!). Or possibly you are totally clueless about the ‘right’ and ‘wrongs’, or ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods. But before we get into any of that let me get one thing straight- there’s no such thing as good or bad foods, I absolutely hate labels and I’ll try my hardest to avoid using them. Instead of labelling the food just see the different food choices as things your body needs and things your body wants. Never deny yourself something, because that’s a recipe for disaster (trust me) and try to listen to how your body responds to the food you feed it. You’ll notice it runs better on all the right stuff anyways. Okay, rant ended. Let’s talk about the meal plan!

Now, if you’re following the meal plan at the moment there is going to be a huge variety of responses from each persons’ body depending on the individual. But I’ll bet that it’s loving all the protein, vegetables, healthy fats and water you’re giving it. To be perfectly honest when I first found out about the meal plan that came with the challenge I was immediately put off by the thought of it. Then I realised I can still do the challenge without the meal plan, considering I eat extremely healthy (whilst practising balance and moderation) anyways.

My reasons for not following the meal plan are simple. In my past I’ve had terrible relationships with food. First a deprivation and underuse, all the way to an abuse and coping mechanism. I’m finally in a great place with food and I didn’t want to burden that by placing restrictions and rules on myself. Some of you may be thinking to yourselves- well just substitute the food for what you want or switch it up. Without getting into it too much, I’m afraid it may not be that easy for me and I’m not willing to take that risk and fall back into bad habits. However, this does not mean that the meal plan is in my bin, no sir-ee. Whilst, I won’t be following the meal plan per-se I’m definitely open to trying out the recipes and the ‘recommendations’ it offers (everything actually looks so good and like realistic food!).

This meal plan is great in that it offers suggestions not just for your three main meals but for morning and afternoon snacks. This is a huge issue many ‘dieters’ (diets don’t work!) face. Often they under-eat and this is actually a huge hindrance to weight loss and weight maintenance in the future. The plan has laid out 5 separate meal suggestions, which will make sure you never go hungry (reduces cravings and binges) and so that you’ll have enough energy to continue those Grit Strength classes, as well as any other fitness classes you do (which is Body Step right?!).

If you want to get the best results (whatever they may be) possible from this challenge then it is probably best to follow the meal plan. However, that’s not to say that your own healthy eating won’t also ensure you get rockin’ results. My daily lifestyle and diet hasn’t been altered all that much, apart from throwing a few extra Grit classes in as often as I can. So if you’re wanting to eat healthy but not follow the meal plan to a T, here are my suggestions. You’ll also notice that many of them are evident in the eating plan also!

  • Drink lots of water! I am a h20 drinker only and find that liquid calories, so to speak, aren’t worth it. I’d rather an orange than orange juice! Plus if I want to have copious teaspoons of sugar, I won’t be drinking it in a soft drink- it’d be on something way more decadent and delicious.
  • Stock up on the vegetables & fruit! The meal plan says non-starchy vegetables, so it excludes potatoes and sweet potato etc which I think is ludicrous personally. However, that will help with weight loss…for the 3 weeks that is- what happen after? mmm. Plus I think having some natural sweetness from the fruit helps get hit those sweet cravings without all that other junk.
  • Have plenty of healthy fats- avocado, nut butters, unsalted nuts, olive oil etc. They may be calorie dense but they are necessary for normal body function. Plus getting some extra calories would be good, considering how many you burn off with everyday living, bodily functions and exercise!
  • Eat enough protein. I prefer lean proteins like chicken and turkey, but also enjoy tofu, eggs and tuna! I’m also not one to turn down some good red meat. These yummy foods will keep you fuller for longer and help build that lean muscle we are all after.
  • Eat wholegrains. This is where the plan and I disagree- I’ve found that since incorporating more wholegrains foods (wholegrain breads, brown rice, brown pasta etc) into my daily diet my cravings have dropped heaps! I also exercise way too much for my own good it would seem (haha!) so if you’re regularly slogging it at the gyms it’s really important to get in enough carbs!
  • Low fat dairy. They’ve made dairy products a food to avoid and here I am shaking my head. I’ve never been a huge dairy girl but I love me some 0% chobani, trim milk and occasionally low fat cheese.

And my NUMBER 1 TIP for any eating plan whatsoever- BALANCE & MODERATION. It is in bold and capital letters for a reason people!

Can you live the rest of your life without bread? Or without chocolate?! (Yes, it’s okay to have those kinds of food. Make sure when you do you enjoy it and don’t guilt trip yourself- or you’ll be in for an endless cycle). Well, why cut it out for 3 weeks only to start eating it again as soon as the challenge ends? I think in some aspects cutting out food groups could work if you were preparing for your wedding, a shoot or a big event. But that’s only temporary and would be a something you only do whilst you’re working up to the day. But really, if you want to live healthy for the rest of your life and stay at a healthy weight then making your diet and exercise choices a lifestyle is necessary! This is not a diet. This is a lifestyle change, so choose something that is sustainable. However, if you need extra motivation coming into this challenge maybe this meal plan is the perfect thing to get you into the zone for your healthy weight loss!

Everyone is different and I am by no way telling you the best thing to do for your body. You know what your body needs- just make sure you listen hard enough. I am also not a professional. But what I am is someone who has found peace, happiness and harmony with my healthy lifestyle (food + exercise), whilst enjoying all the good things life has to offer.

Are you following the meal plan? What is your favourite meal on the plan?

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Well life has, is and will be hectic up until Friday. I’m in the middle of a week long intensive unit for uni (love intensives because the whole unit only goes for a week and then you’re done) and I’m really enjoying it thus far. The unit is so cruisy- who would of thought a leisure and recreation unit would be 😉 Oh what does it have to do with teaching? I don’t know but it was an elective and an intensive so I’ll take it. So after I spend all day at uni I come home and do my study/homework for it, go to the gym, make dinner, eat dinner, pack lunch for the next day, then head to bed- living the life. Which is also why I haven’t been posting as often as I want. However, I plan to make up for that with a mid-week recipe post (fingers crossed it works) soon. Food and I’m forgiven right? Haha.

Being this busy (which is probably typical for many people) got me thinking how people make time for healthy eating and exercise. For me (cause I’m anal) it is a priority but for a lot of people it is. It also helps that I am in love with the exercise I do and I love healthy food so I will make the extra effort to do it. However, I do know that for many people this may not be the case, so I wanted to offer a helping hand with some tips and suggestions for healthy eating and exercise when you’re busy.

Think you can talk your boss into this one? Haha.

Exercise

This one may seem hard because really who has the time? But it could be easier than you think. Exercise doesn’t have to be a formal affair or a long workout. Incidental exercise, which is exercise you can do informally during everyday life, is a great way to get you moving. And hay once you get the blood pumping you may actually feel like heading to the gym after. Here are a few ways to get incidental exercise in:

  • Take the stairs (duh)
  • Walk or bike for transportation.
  • If you choose to drive, park further away or walk further than normal to get your lunch.
  • Take the kids to the park and play with them.
  • House cleaning (don’t give me that look!).
  • Head out for a night on the town- and hit the dancefloor 😉
  • Do cute quirky exercises whilst you drive, stand in line, sit at your desk etc.
  • Bring the groceries in- one bag at a time!

Some quick more literal exercise methods include:

  • Doing 4 minute TABATA high intensity circuits.
  • Doing short stunts of exercise multiple times throughout the day.
  • Circuits.

Other suggestions include:

  • Do something physical that you love. Knowing you will be doing something you enjoy is instant motivation.
  • Chose a social sport- you get to socialise and exercise! Double whammy. You are also committed and therefore are more likely to go and not let down your team etc.
  • Have a workout buddy- someone who will cream you if you wuss out (haha not really)
  • Get some at home workout dvds, videos, online resources etc. Now you can never complain about travel time 😉
  • Prioritise exercise in your life- this is what I do. On top of absolutely loving it, I make sure I know how important exercise is to me. Please though, don’t take this to the extreme- life does come up and exercise will occasionally have to take a back seat.

Healthy Eating

This is a toughie because with so many cheap and convenient (and not so healthy mind you) options out there sometimes we just wanna say ‘stuff it’. Here’s a few tips to make it fit  into your busy lives:

  • If take-away or fast food is your only option choose healthier alternatives.
  • Organise your meals at the beginning of the week. This means cooking bulk amounts of vegies, rice etc. And then store, freeze/refrigerate and reheat as you need it.
  • Prep your food BEFORE- I do this the night before because I know the last thing I want to do the morning of is hurry around trying to eat brekky, pack food and get ready. We have to look after our mental health as well as the physical in this instance.
  • Find healthy choices that are quick and easy.
  • Swap it- have multigrain, wholegrain or wholemeal bread instead of white (basically chose wholegrains or less processed over processed grains), choose low fat or no fat dairy products, crackers instead of chips, juices or flavoured milks, or if you must diet soft drinks instead of soft drinks (depending on brand and stats obviously), wholemeal pasta over white, healthier brekky cereals, use raw honey instead of sugar etc. There are so many of these easy swaps that don’t require additional time. All they require is that you buy a healthier product.
  • Always have an emergency snack pack (nuts, dried fruit, oats, seeds etc) in your bag if you get hungry and stuck somewhere not so healthy haha.
  • If you need a sweet hit but don’t really want a not-so-healthy snack get your sweet kick naturally with fruit.

I’ve only offered you a very small and vague list of ways to exercise and eat healthily when you’re busy- really there are plenty of options. What it comes down to is you- do you really want to eat healthy and become healthier with exercise? If you do you will find the time to take the extra effort (initially) and eventually it will become routine. And of course, you will become a professional exerciser and healthy eater that it will soon be second nature to you 😉

Haha, cheeky 😉

What are your healthy eating and exercise tips for people busy lives? Share ’em round!

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