If you don’t know my story already, you can read it here. Here’s the gist: I lost over 30 pounds, and I did it on an #inspiralized diet.
That’s right, I spiralized my way to the body I wanted!
In today’s blog post, I’m going to dive more into the diet aspect of my journey, less the exercise and fitness part of it. I’m going to share more about what I ate, how I used spiralizing to stay on track, and I’m also launching our new spiralized meal plans!
First off, let me preface with the 3 principles that guided me throughout this journey and still do to this day:
Make it a lifestyle, not a diet.
While I did have a weight loss goal date in mind (I originally wanted to lose weight for the photoshoot for my first cookbook, Inspiralized), I didn’t view that “goal date” as an “end date.” I viewed that as the jumpstart to a healthy lifestyle. Once I reached my “goal weight,” my focus shifted, I set new goals, and I just kept continuing my healthy lifestyle I had built while achieving that initial weight loss goal.
Since it’s a lifestyle, life happens. I follow a strict 80/20 rule, where I eat real, whole foods 80% of the time and let myself indulge 20% of the time. And I indulge, my friends – I’ve been known to crush a package of Pepperidge Farms Montauk cookies.
Take a week – 5.6 days is 80% of your week, so have a healthy Sunday through Friday and then Friday evening through Saturday evening, you can treat yourself, if you’re feeling the need for a treat! Wake up on Sunday and commit to getting back on track. If you know you have plans on a Wednesday and want to indulge, let yourself enjoy Wednesday, but then keep Friday low-key (skip the wine with dinner and say no to dessert.)
Recovery is key.
I can’t stress this one enough. If you are having a bad morning, afternoon, or you find yourself munching out in front of the TV at night, be mindful. Stop yourself – never, ever say, “Well, I’ve already messed up this day, so whatever I’m going to start fresh tomorrow.” When you come to and realize what you’re eating, stop yourself, ask yourself do you really want to feel bloated and unhappy in the morning. Most likely, you’ll say no.
I always recommend drinking tons of water for the rest of the day – even if that’s right before bed. This helps flush out your system and help your body start to detox. Even if you save yourself 1 slice of pizza, that’s a savings of around 300 calories! That’s a LOT. Over a week, that’s 2,100 calories, which is almost 2.5 pounds a month of extra weight gain! See where I’m going with this? You’re NEVER “too far gone”.
The next day, try to make it your healthiest day. Don’t starve yourself – just drink a lot of water and eat very clean. That following day, you’ll wake up, and you’ll be amazed at how quickly your body recovers. Your body is designed to naturally detox – so let it!
Diet over exercise, every time
Once I stopped looking at exercise as a means to weight loss, I started losing weight.
Sure, if you want to see weight loss very quickly (which isn’t as maintainable long term), eat super clean and exercise for an hour a day, every day. Of course you’ll lose weight – and you’ll feel strong and amazing. However, that’s not maintainable for most of us – life happens, time gets away from us. All of a sudden, it’s 5pm on a Wednesday, you planned to workout, but your best friend just got a promotion and she wants to go out for drinks to celebrate. What now?
Well, first of all, let me tell you this: no flat tummy is going to make you happy like quality time spent with your best friend. So, spend time with your friend – live life! If you’re happy, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is easier, TRUST ME, I’VE BEEN THERE. I’ve been that terrible friend who cancels dinner because she doesn’t want to overeat.
How do you combat a missed workout? EAT HEALTHY. You can’t outrun a bad diet (you’ve heard that before, right?) However, you can make up for a missed workout with a healthy meal. Abs are made in the gym, but what’s the point of all that gym time, if you’re not revealing them in the kitchen?
What I’m trying to say is this: if you’re a busy person and can’t find the time to workout (I’ll let that excuse slide), don’t stress out. Don’t give up. Just eat healthy – simple as that. I used to guilt myself into going to the gym, because if I didn’t, I thought I wouldn’t see the weight loss progress I wanted. If I missed a workout, I’d eat poorly saying to myself, “I didn’t workout, so whatever!”
One day, during my weight loss journey, I couldn’t make a workout. So, I decided to eat a bit cleaner than usual – I skipped the 3pm snack, and I didn’t have dessert. I woke up the next day and saw that the scale was 0.5 pounds lighter. Ever since that day, I stopped beating myself up over missing workouts. I look at workouts as a means to get fit, feel good, tone, and have time for myself. I aim to workout 5 to 6 days a week, but if it’s 3 or 4, that’s okay – and I still maintain my healthy weight, because my diet steps up to the plate on those days.
It’s all mental.
Like running, I find health eating to be a complete mental challenge. If someone gave you the following two options, what would you choose?
- Eat clean: feel incredible, be confident, have energy, be happy.
- Eat unhealthy: feel lethargic, lack confidence, be unhappy.
I think we’d all pick option 1, right? You control the actual motion of putting food in your mouth. You’re not a baby, no one’s force feeding you! Remember that – you actually decide the foods you put in your mouth. It’s honestly as simple as that. Choose to put healthy foods in your mouth and treat your body like a temple!
Now, I realize this is all easier said than done, because when we’re presented with a piping hot slice of pizza at 1am or chocolate frosted cake for someone’s birthday in the office, it seems impossible to resist. Remember this: while it may be mentally impossible to resist, you have your next line of defense, because it’s not physically impossible to resist. You control what you eat – so just say no thank you. Make all of these healthy choices throughout your day/week, and it’ll lead to weight loss.
This also helps me: if in the moment, you really NEED that treat, just take it, take a bite and then set your plate down. You’ll still enjoy the social element of being part of the office birthday cake or the drunken pizza, but you won’t overdo it. You can always have a bite and what you’ll realize is that a bite is all you ever really need, so take it and enjoy what really matters: hanging out with your coworker, bonding with your friends, whatever.
My final point is this: never, ever, in a million years, feel GUILTY for refusing an unhealthy food. Let your friends tease you all they want (although you should probably consider getting new friends if they are that insensitive!), but you’re the one who’s going to wake up the next day looking good, feeling good, and being well-fueled and nourished to conquer your day.
How I started – The First Steps
I’m always asked, “How did you start? What were the first steps you took?”
Literally, I just committed to making healthy choices at every turn. That’s called a lifestyle change, not a diet program. I didn’t create this elaborate plan. I just took every moment literally as a choice. A choice for instant gratification or a choice towards a healthier me.
Remember what I said about 80/20? I committed to that. I don’t eat anything processed 80% of the time – I eat real, whole foods.
It was in the afternoon when I committed (that’s when I found out my cookbook photoshoot date.) After work, I cooked one of my spiralized recipes for dinner and when my husband asked me if I wanted some ice cream for dessert, I said no. It was so hard to sit there on the couch while he ate that delicious, creamy gelato, but I did it. I made one decision that night and kept making healthy decisions. I didn’t workout in the beginning, because I didn’t want to be extra hungry from the workouts, so I focused on my diet. I lost almost 5 pounds (mostly water weight) in that first 7-10 days, which proved my point: it’s all diet, and all I have to do is make the right decision most times.
My tips for those moments at night when you get a hankering for a sweet snack: have something healthy (a piece of dark chocolate, a banana with some almond butter, etc.) My favorite way to combat these cravings is to make a peppermint tea with steamed almond milk – the almond milk is a bit sweet when steamed, and the peppermint tea cleanses the pallet, giving you a fresh sensation. Try it!
Meal Planning and Spiralizing
After that first week, I made a fitness plan for myself, and I started meal planning.
In my meal plans, I ate something spiralized for 100% of my dinners and about 75% of my lunches. For breakfast, it was usually a smoothie, granola, avocado toast, oatmeal, or something quick like banana and almond butter.
Spiralizing is great for weight loss for a few reasons, but most importantly, you don’t feel like you’re eating diet food while eating #inspiralized. Sometimes when I look at some of these diet plan meals, it’s like steamed chicken and broccoli every night. The key to being successful with a healthy lifestyle is making sure you’re not falling victim to boredom.
Some of my favorite spiralized recipes to eat were:
- Turkey meatballs with zucchini noodles
- Brussels Sprouts and Lentil Sweet Potato Noodle Bowl
- Bacon Shrimp Scampi with Zucchini Noodles
- Quinoa Beet Rice Salad
- Chopped Chicken Salad over Cucumber Noodles
- Chicken Cacciatore with Rutabaga Noodles from Inspiralize Everything
- Bell Pepper Fiesta Skillet
- Vegan Zucchini Noodle Ramen
- Chicken Turnip Noodle Soup
- One Pot Vegan Fajitas with Sweet Potato Rice
- Spiralized Fajita Bowls
Here’s an example of a typical weekday diet (you can also check out my What I Ate Today video series here):
Breakfast: Oatmeal with almond butter, mashed raspberries, and banana slices
Snack: Handful of raw mixed nuts and dried raisins (or chopped pitted dates)
Lunch: Pesto zucchini noodles with white beans and avocado
Snack: Kombucha or a green juice and rice cake with hummus or celery
Dinner: Turkey meatballs with sweet potato noodles and tomato-basil sauce
Dessert: Chocolate protein smoothie (banana, vegan chocolate protein powder, almond milk, blueberries, ice)
On days when I was on a recovery day and eating extra clean, I’d skip the dessert and the mid-afternoon snack.
Here’s an example of a typical fitness plan, now that I’m trying to tone and define, rather than lose weight:
Sunday: 45-minute spin class + 10 minutes of abs
Monday: 30 minute spin class + 15-30 minutes of lower body lifting and HIIT-style exercise
Tuesday: 4 mile run + 20 minutes of upper body lifting
Wednesday: 45-minute spin class + 10 minutes of abs
Thursday: 20 minute spin class + 30 minutes of lower body lifting and HIIT-style exercise
Friday: 45-minute spin class + 10 minutes of abs
Saturday: Rest day or a light workout
And that’s my story! Eating Inspiralized you’re always guaranteed to eat a lot of vegetables and you’ll never sacrifice flavor. You’ll eat real, whole ingredients, but feel like you’re at a restaurant eating a flavorful meal.
If I had to estimate my daily caloric intake in the beginning, it ranged from 1,200 calories a day to 1,600 calories a day, depending on how active I was. In three months, I lost about 25 to 30 pounds and now, I have maintained a 30-35 pound weight loss since.
If nothing else, just remember this…
… everyone has to start somewhere. This was me, on the left, on day one! The girl on the right is someone I never thought I could become, but I took every day by day and eventually, I achieved the body and lifestyle I dreamed of. You can too!
Buy the Inspiralizer
Inspiralized Meal plans
I challenge you to eat Inspiralized for a week and see how you feel! To launch the year, I’ve created weekly meal plans (Vegan and Gluten-Free) that will take the guesswork out of lunch and dinner for the week. I encourage you to follow along with me – these are the types of weekly meal plans I made for myself when I was trying to lose weight – they’re full of vegetables, lean proteins, and you’ll feel like you’re eating something completely different every day.
Join me and thousands of others over on the Inspiralized Facebook Community and motivate one another to keep on track of the meal plan – share images of your food, ask questions, troubleshoot recipes, and get excited about eating #inspiralized! Meaghan and I moderate this community, so you’ll see us check in everyday!
Click the below images to learn more about the meal plans and purchase: