We all have peaks & troughs in our fitness journeys, but recently my weekend cheat meal had evolved into a cheat weekend... And although I hate those sayings - 'Don't let the weekend undo the progress of the week' - it couldn't be more true for me. Now when I say cheat weekend, I wasn't eating junk food all day every day, I was still eating quite healthy, but I would be having a lot of little treats, trying to sample a bit of everything before the weekend was over. A little here & there can quickly mount up to surpassing your calories for the day. So I decided - since I liked a challenge - to go cold turkey for lent. This would mean 40 days without any cheat meals & on top of that I wanted to eat within my macros - IIFYM - & eat cleaner in general. So instead of my weekend cheat meal, I might treat myself to honey on my porridge & make a healthy, clean version of my favourite meals - such as sausage & mash or burritos, cooked from scratch.
SETTING MY GOALS
So why did I decide to do this? It wasn't because my diet was bad, it had just wavered off track of how disciplined it had previously been. I had found myself in a plateau; despite having heaps of enthusiasm to workout 5-6 times a week, my diet over the weekend was preventing me from progressing. So I decided to take the opportunity of lent to clean up my diet & refresh my body, to give it a real opportunity to lean out & curb the bad habits of which I'd fallen into. So although dropping body fat was a goal of mine, my main objective was to eat cleaner & feed my body the fuel it needed. I must admit the idea of 40 days without a decent dessert was a little daunting, but I had worked too hard previously not to give it a go.
CURBING THE CRAVINGS
I must admit the cravings were strong at first. So what I would do would be to record anything I was seriously craving & either make a clean & healthy version of it for the weekend or save it as a treat after the 40 days were up. But honestly, now that I have completed the challenge, I'm not in any rush to satisfy those craving anymore. In fact it's been 4 days extra now, that I have not reached for a cheat meal or exceeded my macros (other than protein of course)! Instead I know I have a meal out to look forward to with friends this evening & plenty of family meals over the Easter weekend. I know I have the strength to wait, so that is exactly what I am doing.
IT STARTED TO BECOME EASY
Once the initial cravings had subsided, it actually become super easy to stick to the challenge. So that's great news if you're thinking about making a healthy change to your diet. I think it took around 2 weeks for me to break the habit of craving food that my body just didn't need. I was eating plenty throughout lent - 3 meals & 4 snacks a day & was still within my macros - so my body was suitably fuelled & full of energy. Once the challenge became easier, it also become more enjoyable & I began to see the benefits.
THE CHANGES TO MY BODY
I have noticed so many positive changes through doing this challenge, far more than just getting leaner! I have definitely curbed my cravings & am on track for eating a cleaner, healthier diet - one that will help me meet my fitness goals too. I also have a lot more energy - I am more motivated & focused at the gym, am sleeping better & am generally more productive. Plus I have proved how strong willed I can be. I have also learnt that I didn't crave certain foods nearly as much as I thought I would & in fact I don't necessarily enjoy overindulging as much as I used to anyway. It's been a very positive process for me - one that has helped my eating habits get back on track & I have definitely noticed an absence of stored fat, especially around the tummy, hips & thighs.
WHERE TO GO FROM HERE
I have come so far & plan to stick with it. Although I will now be having a cheat meal each week, I will be eating a lot cleaner for the remainder. Now that I am enjoying it much more, it will be easier to stick to. There has been one negative however, I have lost a little muscle & strength, so I am considering a lean bulk to build up my glutes & upper body & build my strength back up. I will keep you posted!
WHAT I EAT IN A DAY | LEAN FOR LENT
Before I give you my typical meal plan from my 40 days, I just want to state that everyone's different in terms of how much food you need. My Fitness Pal is a great app to help here. For reference my daily allowance is - 2090 Calories | 261g Carbs | 58g Fat | 131g Protein | 78g Sugar
- Breakfast - 60g Overnight Oats with 150ml Coconut Milk + Green Tea
- Snack - Milky Coffee + 3 Nairns Mixed Berry Oat Biscuits
- Lunch - 1 Can Chicken Noodle Soup + 1 Slice Hovis Wheatgerm Bread Toasted (plain) + 100g Low Fat Cottage Cheese + 1 Square Dark Chocolate + Black Coffee
- Pre Workout Snack - Pink Lady Apple + Black Coffee
- Post Workout - 1 Can Tuna in Water + 1tbsp Low Fat Salad Cream
- Dinner - Homemade Turkey Meetballs (150g Mince + 20g Cannellini Beans) + Tomato Sauce (200g Tinned Tomatoes + 1/4 Onion) + 40g Peas + 25g Spinach + 1/4 Red Pepper + 50g Wholewheat Pasta + 15g Feta Cheese + Green Tea
- Pudding - 175g Vanilla Icelandic Skyr Yogurt + 24g Dark Chocolate McVities Nibbles + Tea
- Water - Aim for 2 Litres with Lemon
MY TYPICAL WEEKLY WORKOUT
I aim to workout 5-6 times per week, doing cardio within 3-4 workouts & yoga too. My workouts last between 1-2hrs, but I take my time to do them thoroughly & enjoy them.
- Monday - 3 mins warm up, 1 hr abs & core, 10 mins yoga stretches, 15 mins HIIT cardio
- Tuesday - 3 mins warm up, 1 hr glutes & calves, 15 mins yoga stretches
- Wednesday - 3 mins warm up, 1 hr back & biceps, 10 mins yoga stretches, 15 mins HIIT cardio
- Thursday - Rest day
- Friday - 3 mins warm up, 1 hr abs & core, 10 mins yoga stretches, 15 mins HIIT cardio
- Saturday - 3 mins warm up, 1 hr legs, 15 mins yoga stretches
- Sunday - 3 mins warm up, 1 hr shoulders, chest & triceps, 15 mins yoga stretches
Most of my workouts come from Youtubers Carly Rowena & Heidi Somers, but check out my Instagram stories for more ideas!
I decided to do this post, to honestly tell people my experience of trying to eat cleaner, so that it may help others with their fitness journeys & get them motivated to challenge themselves too! If you have any questions about my healthy eating meal plans, the exercise I do or would like to get your hands on my free Lean for Lent guide, which focuses on how to get leaner, where to start with eating healthier & setting your own goals, then do let me know! Hope you've enjoyed this & don't forget, there's always more on my social media pages!