Monday, May 30, 2011

The Marsha Challenge Week 2

A quick review on how The Marsha Challenge is working (for me...I will have to get Marsha to write a guest post soon!)

Overall, I am loving the motivation and the challenge.  There is no way I could have plowed through that treadmill workout today if I had a choice.  But I knew I needed to push Marsha and so I had to push myself.  I have to set a good example, right?  I made it through last week accomplishing all of the fitness goals that I set forth for Marsha.  I had to make sure that it was doable.  Here they are once again:

  • Cardio 4-5 days per week with a minimum of 120 minutes total
  • Strength 2-3 days a week (taking a Pilates class or yoga class for 3rd strength if desired)
  • Stretch 2-3 days a week for 20-30 minutes (also stretching after workouts)
  • Rest 1-2 days a week
The only thing I missed was the stretching.  I did make it to a yoga class, and stretched a little after each workout, but I need to get better at remembering to stretch more often.


As part of the challenge, I have been preparing whole-foods, vegan meals for Marsha and her family.  These are the dishes I have prepared for her thus far:

Sloppy Joe's
Quinoa Black Bean Burgers with Roasted corn and sweet potatoes

I have also made these recipes for the family for snacks and extras:

Veggie Spring Rolls
The New Not-tella
Whole Wheat Oatmeal Loaf
Almond Butter Treats made with peanut butter instead of almond butter and honey instead of brown rice syrup

I love that I am getting to test out some of my favorite recipes on others!  Especially on children, to see how well received they are.  So far I have only received raving reviews!  

Food Rules:

If you remember, I set several guidelines in place for Marsha and asked her to choose 5 additional rules from Michael Pollan's Food Rules.  Because I am a trooper, I decided to take this food challenge with her and have been attempting to follow these guidelines as well:

  • 2 servings of fruits or veggies with every meal
  • Pre-packaged foods must have 5 ingredients or less
  • Ingredients should easily be readable by her children
  • Avoid any package foods that list some form of sugar as one of the top 3 ingredients
  • Avoid all refined sugars, eating only natural forms including agave, honey, 100% maple syrup (no high-fructose corn syrup and no artificial sweeteners) stevia is fine to use.
  • No deep-fried anything
  • No fast food
My additional 5 guidelines that I chose include:
  1. Limit your snacks to unprocessed plant foods
  2. Eat your colors
  3. Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself
  4. Stop eating before you are full
  5. Eat when you are hungry, not when you are bored
  6. Do all your eating at a table (not my desk)
 So the big am I doing? 

Well, let's just call Week 1 a learning experiment!  It was interesting to see what foods I revert too without a second thought about the ingredients.  Cereal is definitely one of those foods.  I love eating cereal as a snack throughout the day, but it doesn't exactly follow the snack rule (limit snacks to unprocessed plant foods).  Also, most cereals have sugar listed as the second or third ingredient and have more than 5 ingredients. 

So I have had to rethink my snacks this week, relying on fresh fruits to pull me through the afternoon.  Since the weather has been so hot it hasn't been too difficult.  The rules that are most difficult for me to follow are the mental ones: eat only when you are hungry and stop eating when you are full.  I have had to tune into my body for cues when to eat, rather than the clock.  I like feeling liberated from a schedule, but ultimately my mind tells me it is time to eat way before my stomach does.  And I hate to leave any plate unclean, so I tend to stuff myself.  I am going to have to watch portion control a bit closer. 

This week I am starting fresh.  I have noted my mistakes from last week.  I have realized what sorts of things trigger overeating, and which guidelines are hardest to follow.  I have made a thorough inventory of the foods in my house and know which ones fit the new guidelines and which don't.  With the exception of my beloved Almond Milk I am going to try for 100% this week. 

Breakfast and Lunch were already very successful today:
In the smoothie...1/2 banana, 2 cups spinach, 1 packet frozen mango puree from Trader Joe's, ~1/2 cup Very Cherry Berry Blend from Trader Joe's and a splash of Almond Milk.
And lunch was a fresh arugula salad with shredded carrots, sunflower seeds, dried apricots and a leftover Black Bean Quinoa Burger with a little salsa verde on top (from Trader Joe's, 5 whole-food ingredients).  Mmmm!

Overall, I would say I am having a great time with this challenge and I appreciate how it has made me rethink my eating.  Some assume all vegans are exceptionally healthy, but I'm afraid even we get trapped into the processed food market.  Especially when it comes to faux meats and cheeses!  Focusing on whole foods is a much better way to fuel your body!

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