Thursday, May 1, 2014

Nutritional Reset - Week 1 Recap

Happy Friday, all!  As you may or may not know, I'm participating in a Spring Reset Challenge hosted by Laura from Mommy Run Fast!.  I'm thinking of it as a nutritional reset - a chance to give our bodies some time to get cleaned out after much abuse from things like processed food, sugar, gluten, and other things that might cause inflammation.

Prior to starting the Spring Rest Challenge the Monday after Easter, I was already eight weeks into the Paleo lifestyle.  If you're not familiar with the Paleo way of eating, the rules are simple: no grains, no legumes, no cow's milk, no processed sugar.  I settled into a pattern of eating the Paleo way 90% of the time, so with some of my meals I would allow a little grain (brown rice now and again), cow's milk (love my lattes!), and sugar (a little dark chocolate here and there at the end of the day).

I told myself that with the Spring Reset Challenge, I would hold fast to all the rules, to see if I could feel a difference in myself, particularly with sticking to no sugar and no cow's milk -- the two rules I was "breaking" with the Paleo way of eating.
The rules for Laura's Spring Reset Challenge are pretty simple:
  • Week 1: No animal protein, no cow's milk, no wheat, no sugars/sweeteners, and no processed food.
  • Weeks 2 and 3: OK to reintroduce animal protein and cow's milk, and see how your body reacts.  Continue to avoid wheat, sugars/sweeteners, and processed food.
Laura also provided a list of "emphasized" foods, that, when eaten, help with the cleansing.  Each week, she sends us a meal plan, recipes, and a shopping list.  There is also a Facebook page where all the members can ask questions, report victories and challenges, and support one another.  I've found all these tools incredibly helpful with sticking to the nutritional reset.

Week 1 Eats
I managed to get photos of all the food I ate during week one.  If you're interested in the details, you can find them here.

Week 1 Journal
Day 1 (Monday): not bad.  First day of eating no meat, so I did ALOT of cooking.  By dinner time I was wishing I had a nice steak in front of me.  By 7pm, I felt run down (all that cooking?) and went to bed early.  I slept for nine hours straight.  I can't remember the last time I slept that long.

Day 2 (Tuesday): woke up feeling energetic.  Then by 11am I felt a little sluggish.  I decided I would give myself the day off from exercise.  Lunch was more chickpeas with salad and by that time I knew I needed to make something heartier for dinner.  We had black bean sweet potato burgers (no buns) topped with hummus and avocado.  Also made a huge bowl of roasted cauliflower.

Day 3 (Wednesday): woke up exhausted after a not-so-good night of sleep.  It was a struggle to run today and from the Facebook posts I learned that others were also struggling with energy levels on day 3.  Laura confirmed that days 3 and 4 would be the hardest and that it was not unusual to feel a little low on energy.

Day 4 (Thursday): woke up from yet another night of not-so-great sleep.  Like the night before, I had trouble falling asleep.  By around 1am, I think I finally fell asleep.  I woke up pretty groggy to a travel day -- three hour flight for me and the toddler.  I packed a very healthy lunch for the plane ride since I knew I wouldn't find anything at the airport that fit the rules of the nutritional reset.  Fortunately the first day was spent at my mother's house, so I was able to cook myself a vegetarian meal that I ate alone (my family is not vegetarian).  I fell into bed early, hoping to make up for the last two nights of bad sleep.

Day 5 (Friday): woke up from my third not-so-fitful night of sleep.  By this point I was worried so I emailed Laura and she mentioned that it was OK to reintroduce red meat, so I went and had some steak tartare Friday night as part of my dinner.

Day 6 (Saturday): finally rested.  Went to bed at 9pm and woke up at 7am.  I was happy to be able to eat meat again, but I did have lunch at a vegetarian restaurant and it was delicious!  By this point, due to my awful nights of sleep, I haven't exercised since Wednesday, but I did walk 10 miles around San Francisco, seeing all the sights with my husband.  It was a great day eating and energy-wise.

Day 7 & 8 (Sunday & Monday): it might have been all the travel.  Or not being able to cook/eat exactly what I wanted but both of these days were low energy and I tried to focus on getting quality sleep and getting some light exercise in.  We flew home on Monday (Day 8) so that was a tough day to get some exercise in.

By this point, you're probably thinking, wow, why hasn't she thrown in the towel with the nutritional reset?  It doesn't sound like she's feeling too good.  I thought about it.  On Sunday night, I thought, I've made it to the end of week 1, and it didn't work out; time to go back to the trusty Paleo diet.  But I didn't.  In fact, in week 2, things actually got better!  I'll tell you more about that in the next recap...

My Takeaways from Week 1
1. It requires a lot of shopping and cooking to eat healthy.  I wasn't too surprised at this, as I went through this same transformation when I started the Paleo diet back in February, but that first week of no meat?  I had to do ALOT of cooking at home to cover all my meals.

2. I have more energy when I eat meat.  By day three I was feeling a little "weak".  As with many diets, day 3 and day 4 are the hardest days.  The rest allowed us to reintroduce meat on day five and I noticed an uptick with my energy after day 5.

3. I really love having something hot and chocolaty in the morning.  For the first three days, I had hot tea or coffee with almond milk.  But I knew what I really wanted was my hot chocolate or a mocha form Starbucks.  On day three or day four I made an almond milk-banana-spinach smoothie with a bit of chocolate plant-based protein powder and it was actually pretty good at meeting my need for a chocolate fix.  I made it all the way through the first week without a hot chocolate or a mocha.

4. I've impressed myself with how long I've gone without sugar.  Thanks to our Facebook support group, I discovered I adore Peanut Butter Cookie LaraBars as my "dessert".  Prior to the nutritional reset, apple slices and almond butter had become a favorite "dessert" of mine, and I would have a piece of dark chocolate now and again (OK, maybe every night?).  With the Spring Challenge Reset, I swore myself that I would do my best to stay away from all sugar and sweeteners for three weeks.  So far, I've made it through one week.

The Verdict So Far?
I'm really happy that I'm not eating ANY sugar or sweeteners outside of fruit and my new love, LaraBars.  Now comes the truth: I did sneak in a few sips of my son's hot chocolate on day eight and bam! I ended up with the worst headache.  Hopefully that experience will help keep me away from sugar for a few more days.  I feel my resolve around sugar crumbling...

I'm not sure I'm getting any benefit from not having any cow's milk, but I haven't reintroduced it into my diet yet.  I've been quite happy with my almond milk in smoothies (and with rare cups of coffee).

I'm also trying another (three-day) stretch without meat to see if my energy saps.  We'll see.

I'll provide another update after week 2, but I think week 1 was really the most difficult week.  Now that I can have meat again, life just isn't that hard.

Are you a meat lover / flexitarian / pescatarian and if so, what are your reasons for choosing that way of eating?

If you're vegetarian, what are your favorite sources of protein?  Do you ever have energy issues?


  1. If I do not have meat with my meals I NEVER get full. The amount I can eat is actually pretty impressive.. This also means that I feel grouchy and have no energy because I still feel hungry (major emphasis on the grouchy). Does that even make sense?

    I'm looking forward to reading your next recap - this is so interesting!

    1. I'm pretty petite (4'11") and when I was younger, I used to get a lot of comments about how much food I could put away -- mostly when the food was good (I was never one for free pizza in college. I'm VERY picky about my pizza). So I can get where you're going with not feeling full, especially if you don't have meat.

      I will post my week #2 recap soon!

  2. It does sound like you had a rough week, but with traveling in the mix it's hard to tell that's a lot of different factors at once. I am vegetarian, but I do eat eggs now and I use cheese, probably too much. I do like my vegan raw protein which come from pea protein and other sources, I usually mix with frozen fruit. I have a very hard time though wanting to cook after work. It's an issue for me, I have no desire a lot nights.

    1. I had no idea you are vegetarian! I am always impressed with runners who are vegetarian, again because I found it so hard to get enough protein as a vegetarian.

  3. I often eat vegetarian, primarily because it's cheaper! But I do notice that when I go a few whole days without any meat at all my energy levels start to drop.

    1. That is another good reason to eat vegetarian -- it is cheaper, and if done right, can "force" you to eat your veggies!

  4. I have never paid attention to how I react to certain foods until I started paleo, but I used to eat vegetarian or vegan due to convenience as a college student. I don't know though if my energy levels were really impacted though because I used to get about three or four hours of sleep a night back then and would drink obnoxious amounts of coffee.

    I hope you guys still had an awesome trip (energy levels aside). It's awesome that you're still sticking with the reset inspite of the hurdles!

    1. I love your love for coffee. I can drink (at most) two cups a day, and some days I don't have any coffee at all.

    2. I'm jealous! Haha, I wish I didn't drink it as much, but I am the biggest grouch in the world if I don't because I simply don't sleep enough. Maybe it's in my head though, when I was pregnant/nursing I stopped drinking it, but now it's back to one pot a day for me.

    3. What's your favorite kind of coffee? I used to think I didn't like coffee because I wasn't drinking the right kind, but I just don't really care for coffee. :-)


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