Tyler and I have both always enjoyed eating healthy.
We also both enjoy ice cream, lol. We always say, “we eat clean unless we are cheating.” Work hard, play hard.
Anyway, I always fall off the wagon in a big way while I’m pregnant. You know, if I’m going to gain a ton of weight, may as well go out in style. (Would not recommend this approach).
For example, I still had my green smoothie every morning and did my best to make healthy lunches and dinners. But if I was too tired or had a sweet tooth, I would all too eagerly give in to a night of take-out and Half Baked. This happened a lot, and it definitely took a toll.
And when I go off the rails, it’s only a matter of time before Tyler hurls himself off right behind me.
I gave myself a few weeks to chill after I had Emmie. We had takeout and ate whatever was easiest as we got through those first few exhausting weeks.
But around the one month mark, I was just DONE. I could tell that my body was just over all of the bad oils, starchy carbs, and refined sugar that I was putting in my body. Tyler was tired of it, too.
We agreed that we needed to head back towards a cleaner lifestyle. I liked the idea of doing a “cleanse” of processed foods and refined sugar.
To kick things off, we decided to do “three perfect weeks of eating.” It sounds cheesy, but we both really needed it to just be black and white, no cheating.
We discussed what was important to us, wrote down our “rules,” and made a pact to hold each other accountable. I thought it would be fun to share our experience here.
DISCLAIMER: This is by no means a “how to” as much as a “what we did.” We are not nutritionists or dieticians but just doing our best to educate ourselves and make smarter choices.
We based our “guidelines” off both Max Lugavere and Kelly LeVeque’s eating philosophies (which are very similar). Their collective approaches focus on whole, nutrient-dense foods and stay away from processed foods and sugars.
I have mentioned each of their books multiple times, and I think either are a great place to start if you are looking for the science behind blood sugar and the way our bodies use food as fuel.
Both Kelly and Max are amazing IG follows, too.
Tyler and I usually try to follow their general philosophies anyway. The key difference here was just that we weren’t going to cheat at all during the challenge.
A few of our favorite brands
Primal Kitchen – We love their dressings and sauces! Primal Kitchen products are all made with clean ingredients (no sugar or bad oils), and we have swapped out most the items in our refrigerator door for theirs: ketchup, barbecue sauce, avocado oil mayo, and almost all of the salad dressings (honey mustard is our favorite!)
Butcher Box – It’s difficult to find clean, ethically raised meat in the grocery store. Tyler and I finally signed up for a Butcher Box subscription. We chose the custom box only because my cooking skills are limited and I didn’t want any surprises. You can edit your box each month which is so nice. For the first month, we got a ton of chicken, steak, and salmon and we have loved all of it.
Lily’s Chocolate – IDK who Lily is but someone needs to buy her a mansion in the Hamptons. Maybe she already has one? Sweetened with stevia (not sugar), Lily’s chocolate is dairy free and tastes SO good. My favorite for an after dinner sweet tooth is the sea salt dark chocolate bar.
Thrive Market – We signed up for Thrive Market a few months ago and have been really happy with it! We can get Primal Kitchen and Lily’s products from Thrive as well as tons of pantry and baking staples. I held off for a long time but honestly the prices really are way better than Sprouts or Whole Foods for a lot of items.
What we cut out
In addition to the following items, we tried to avoid most processed foods as well as what I call “evil oils” (vegetable or seed oils that cause inflammation).
Limited amounts of these things are fine, but we wanted to eat super clean during these three weeks to give our bodies a real reset.
Since I am breastfeeding, I was not strict about carbs outside of this list and ate sweet potatoes, lentil pasta, and fruit 1-2x a day. Tyler, however, avoided these for the most part to really focus on a low-carb diet.
What we DID eat
We focused on eating lots of veggies, clean protein (pasture-raised chicken/eggs, grass-fed beef, and wild-caught salmon), and healthy sources of fat (avocados and olive oil are our favorites).
(I use the word lightly because neither of us really eat breakfast. We try to doing intermittent fasting, meaning we keep our “eating window” from around noon to around 8pm. We’ve done this for a few years now–except when I’m pregnant and need to eat ASAP in the morning. There are tons of benefits of intermittent fasting, but obviously do your own research.)
I started every day with a green smoothie around noon or a little earlier if I was hungry.
Our smoothie recipe:
Unsweetened almond milk
Lots of ice
TONS of spinach and kale
⅓ of a banana
Handful of blueberries
2-4 tbsp of chia/flax
2 tbsp of almond butter
2 scoops of Vital Proteins collagen
2 scoops of chocolate protein powder (our new favorite is from Kelly Leveque herself which comes back in stock in a couple of weeks I believe)
Since I insisted on keeping the tiny bit of fruit in our smoothie for my milk supply, Tyler waited to drink his until after his workout which is the ideal time to have carbohydrates if you are trying to lose weight.
Another loose term because we usually end up eating lunch around 1:30 or 2, once both girls are sleeping.
We ate salads almost every day for lunch. I know, yawn. We’d basically empty the contents of our fridge onto the counter and mix up whatever sounded best.
Here’s what mine usually looked like:
Arugula/butter lettuce/chopped kale
Chopped red peppers
Protein (the previous night’s chicken, steak, or salmon, OR two hard boiled eggs)
Pistachios, pine nuts, or cashews
Olive oil and balsamic vinegar
I am not a huge fan of cooking. I rotate through a handful of healthy go-to meals, but I’m not very adventurous. And if a recipe calls for more than five ingredients, I’m out.
The good news is that all of my dinner ideas are very easy and quick!
Here are some examples of what we made:
Balsamic chicken pasta salad (with tons of spinach and lentil pasta)
Ground beef over sauteed kale and butternut squash
Salmon with broccoli and sweet potatoes
Grass-fed burgers on a bed of butter lettuce
Ground beef taco bowls with cauliflower rice
Chicken sausage with mushrooms and asparagus
By the end of our third week, Tyler lost 8 lbs and I lost 5 lbs (eye roll, men). I would say it was a success!
It’s easy for me to cut gluten and refined sugar and alcohol. If it’s not in the house, I don’t really miss it.
I did, however, think of cheese often. That one was a little tougher for me because my favorite snack at 4pm is the Dubliner’s cheddar from Trader Joe’s and Simple Mills almond flour crackers.
We both felt great eating this way. I think that if we were getting full nights of sleep, we would have felt even better (and probably lost more weight honestly).
What we learned
- Preparation is key
Starting a clean eating kick without a plan is a lesson in futility. The only way to stick with this is to go hard the day before and get that fridge STOCKED.
I tried to keep fresh veggies chopped up and ready to go at all times and made as much meat as possible for dinner so we’d have leftovers.
I also prepped over 20 bags of smoothie ingredients for the freezer. (I learned this strategy when I was hard core nesting before Emmie came).
The days that were super hard were the ones where we had run out of prepped food.
- However, we should have waited to do this
I LOVED how this little challenge of ours made me feel physically, but it was way too much to tackle at 4 weeks postpartum.
Like I said, I had to spend a ton of time in the kitchen prepping food. Normally, this would be a good thing because it’s always healthier to eat fresh, whole food prepared at home. However, between breastfeeding a newborn and wrangling a toddler, these were by no means “normal” times.
We bit off more than we could chew (HA!) with this whole thing.
I was constantly stressed about what we were going to eat for the next meal. We’d finally get to the “finish line” of the day, both girls asleep in bed after an hour of total chaos trying to get them there. Then I’d stumble into the kitchen and, against all odds, scrape together the energy to prepare a nice salmon, lol. It was stupid.
But, we (also stupidly) told a few too many close friends and family members that we were doing three weeks, so we did three weeks.
I mentioned this earlier too, but we really weren’t at peak physical potential for losing weight, anyway. We were both still sleep deprived throughout the three weeks, and I wasn’t even cleared to workout yet. Waiting another month or two would have put us in a better spot to maximize the results.
- This is really how we should be eating all the time
While I stand by my first point, it only took a few days of clean eating to show us that this really is what we should be doing most of the time.
While we felt the physical benefits right away, from a longevity standpoint eating clean is really the way to go. The Western diet can wreak havoc on our digestion system and brain cells. It’s clear to me that all of the processed foods we are accustomed to eating.
- But of course, everything in moderation
If I’m being honest, there’s a half-eaten Rubio’s taco plate sitting next to me as I type this. This morning was insane with the girls. I didn’t have any healthy leftovers handy, and you couldn’t pay me to scramble some eggs and veggies and get the kitchen dirty yet again. So, DoorDash won.
And that’s fine! It’s a crazy time of life. I feel better when I eat clean, but I’m not going to add more stress to my life by feeling guilty over a last minute Thai food order, you know?
Our plan moving forward
We are going to attempt to follow these principles during the week especially and then let ourselves relax a bit on the weekends. We really did feel so much better eating this way, so we are excited to incorporate more of these tactics into our weeks.
That being said, if I can’t have a slice of pizza and a hazy IPA on a Saturday night then what am I even doing here?