Guess what? WE DID IT! Our 100 days of real food (and no tv) challenge was up last Monday.
Before I go into the results, here’s a reminder of what we did. Back in the spring I got it in my head that we should try to do a real food challenge where we cut out all highly processed food and sugar and only ate things that we knew where it came from (i.e. all the ingredients were natural, we could pronounce them, etc.). We also tried to make sure that as much of our food as possible was local and/or organic.
So I pitched my idea to Michael and surprisingly he was on board with the idea. He said he wanted to start out with just a 30 day challenge and then re-evaluate and see decide later if we wanted to extend it to 100 days. He also threw me for a loop and proposed that we do a 30 day no tv challenge. That actually seemed more daunting for me because I watched quite a bit of tv. But I knew he had a point, we were watching way too much tv and needed to take a break (plus it was summer and my shows weren’t on…but *shhh* don’t tell) so I agreed.
We decided to start after I got home from my first church camp. Before I left we started getting rid of all our processed food and cleaned out the cabinets. We donated, gave away, and threw away most of our non-real foods. We were actually pretty healthy eaters since we followed a mostly-South Beach Diet lifestyle. However, there were quite a few things that were ok on South Beach that weren’t really real foods. We made a trip to Whole Foods and stocked up on dried beans, whole wheat pita pockets, olive oil, nuts, and more. And when I got back, we hit the ground running.
The first 30 days were a breeze. We felt so good and loved all the food we were eating (you can see the 30 day results, plus some of our meal ideas from week 1, week 2, and week 3). We had built in 2 hours of tv per week in case we wanted to watch a movie for a date or something, but we ended up not using it so we went 30 days with no tv whatsoever. We decided to extend both challenges to 100 days.
During that time I went to church camp a second time (where I stuck to real foods the whole time and actually lost weight!), started a new school year at a brand new job, and ate out multiple times. But I stuck to my challenge and I am so so proud of myself! I had one bite of a sweet potato fry (that I’m sure wasn’t real) during the last week of the challenge. But other than that, I ate real foods 100% of the time for 100 straight days (or as much as I knew – I made the best choices I could while eating out but I’m sure there were a few things that were not real).
During those 100 days I lost almost 15 pounds (it’s been hovering around 13-14 pounds for the last week or so and I just can’t seem to break that 15 pound mark!). And that was drinking whole milk, eating bacon, eating non-low fat cheese, and nuts – things that we typically think of as dieting no-nos. I would have loved to have lost more than 15 pounds, but that is about 5 pounds a month, which I think is a very reasonable amount for someone who doesn’t have that much to lose anyway. Michael also lost weight, although we’re not sure how much since he doesn’t weigh himself all that much. But his pants are definitely looser than they were when we started.
(I tried to find some before and after pictures – I didn’t really have any in the same outfits so this isn’t that great of a comparison. I tried to find similar poses, but the shape of the clothes kind doesn’t really match. Maybe I’ll get Michael to take my picture in the same outfit that I was wearing at the beginning and I’ll update with those pictures. But honestly, I can’t tell a difference in the pictures…I can definitely tell a difference in how my clothes fit and feel, but I don’t visually see a difference when I compare these pictures. But here they are anyway.)
I did not crave sugar a single time. Not one time. That is HUGE for me! Usually whenever I diet I have major sweets cravings at first that I have to overcome. This time, I didn’t have a bit of trouble. I’m not sure if that’s because I never cut out all sugar (like South Beach does) but instead ate real things like local honey, local pure maple syrup, and fruit, or it it was just because I was feeding my body such a nutritious diet that it didn’t feel like it needed sugar anymore. But whatever it was, I’m happy it worked.
I also didn’t have to eat nearly as much. I’ve found that my portion sizes and the amount I need to eat to full feel has shrunk quite a bit. I’m still guilty of stress-eating, bored-eating, and just eating for fun, so sometimes even when I’m full I still eat stuff – healthy stuff, but still stuff I don’t need. I’m working on that, and I expect it will be a life-long struggle, but I will say I’ve gotten better (not great, but definitely some better) at listening to my internal cues and only eating what I need.
I can’t really quantify the health benefits like I could the weight loss, but I can say that feel much better and some stomach issues that I was having before we started our challenge have basically disappeared.
So now the question is, where do we go from here? Well, we’ve both decided that we are going to stick to our real foods lifestyle the majority of the time for forever. We will allow treats now and then, but most of the time we will continue eating as we have been. There is no need to go back to how we used to eat – our choice to eat mostly real, natural, organic, and local foods has seemed to reap nothing but benefits.
Yes, it’s hard. Yes, it’s time consuming. We now make our own sandwich bread, tortillas, biscuits, pizza sauce, tomato sauce, salsa, chicken broth, and more. We cook whole chickens rather than boneless, skinless breasts. We go to the farmers market every week and even canned our own vegetables. It is a lot of work, but it is so worth it! I highly recommend giving it a try, even if you don’t cut everything out and do a whole 100 days. Lisa over at 100 Days of Real Foods (my inspiration for this challenge and my go-to resource during) have tons of tips on how to cut out processed foods gradually over the course of 10 weeks.
The no tv challenge has also been a success. Michael did better with that than me – I don’t think he has watched any tv (except maybe part of a UT game) in over 100 days. I started watching Project Runway when the new season started in July, and then when Michael had to travel I watched tv while he was gone (it helps me to have some background noise when I’m home alone), but even at that I don’t think I watched any more than 2 hours a week. And you know, I didn’t really miss it. It helped that my shows weren’t on since the new season hadn’t started, but I still don’t think I would have missed them that much.
Now that the fall tv season has started back up we are going to start watching some of our shows again, but not all of them. We agree that we were watching too much tv so we need to cut back. We haven’t picked a specific amount (hours per week or shows per week), but we did discuss which shows we used to watch that we are going to cut and which ones we really want to keep and we’ll go from there.
So there you have it. Both endeavors were a massive success and I am thrilled with our results. Back in June it seemed like September (and the end of the challenge) was a loooonnnggg way away, but it has flown by!
I am so super happy that we decided to go on this adventure. I hope that our story inspires you and you decide to try your own challenge.
As always, feel free to ask any questions if I’ve left anything out!
Linking up to Works for Me Wednesday