Three days after Christmas I’m sitting around my boyfriend’s parents’ house waiting for the others to wake up. My laptop is dead because I forgot the charger so I’m trolling through the Instagram explore page, feeling the after effects of a week without exercise (and with many, many Rolo pretzels), and trying to numb the searing pain of extra Christmas cash burning a hole in my pocket. It’s a dangerous trifecta–a perfect storm for an irrational online purchase.
In my scrolling I come across Kayla Itsines (pronounced it-SEEN-us, I just learned), an Australian Instagram fitness celebrity with nearly 2 million followers. TWO MILLION. That’s almost two-and-a-half times the size of Charlotte. Who is this girl? I dig a little deeper and discover she’s a personal trainer who started uploading before and after transformation photos of her clients (not to mention selfies starring her sick abs) and gained a massive following of girls who want to train with her (and look like her). Not surprisingly, she buoyed it into a business and now sells online workout and meal plans for instant download.
And so that’s how I landed myself a copy of the Bikini Body Guide (BBG) Exercise Training Plan and Healthy Eating and Lifestyle (HEALTH) for Vegetarians on that fateful morning of seemingly innocent Instagram scrolling.
I’ll tell you guys about the workout plan but want to wait until I’m done (10 more weeks). For now, I’ll just recap the two-week meal guide (which I just finished yesterday).
Let’s just cut straight to the chase: I LOVE IT. This plan is so abundant and straightforward and free from the bullshit you see from a lot of trainers that eat diets consisting of nothing but egg whites and steamed vegetables. You will eat bread and pasta and cheese. The trick is it’s all reasonably portioned. (How novel!)
Despite being just 1,600 calories, I find this meal to be really generous–not just in quantity but in frequency. Your day is made up of three meals and two snacks so you’re really eating like every few hours. I can get down with that.
There’s no secret here–no “bad” foods to avoid, no “magic” superfoods to inhale. There also aren’t any gross weird sugar-free desserts or anything. It’s just whole grains, healthy fats, lean protein and plenty of fresh produce.
A negative for me (that was no problem to work around) was that this guide includes fish for the first few days. I just made swaps for beans, tofu, tempeh, nuts, etc. whenever I needed to. Not the end of the world.
So how is this any different than how I was already eating if I already maintain an arguably healthy vegetarian diet? Several things:
- I don’t measure out food or count calories. That kind of portion control has never been my thing, but with this exercise the last two weeks I’ve seen that I was actually over calculating quantities on important things like nuts and other proteins (thinking I was eating plenty when I wasn’t) and toooootally underestimating quantities of produce (eating entirely too much). This, I think, had me eating WAY too much fiber (namely entire bags of broccoli and brussels sprouts usually drowning in olive oil) and not nearly enough proteins and grains. I know I always say you can never have too many fruits/veggies, but I didn’t realize how uncomfortably bloated I was from all that fiber until I reigned it in with this plan. It’s actually really easy to get all your servings in (and then some) without eating the whole bag of broccoli in one sitting. Noted.
- I don’t eat this frequently. I snack sometimes but not consistently or strategically. Like clockwork, this plan plops the right snack in your hand at just the right time. When you start to think, “Hm I’m kind of hungry…”, boom–eat a snack.
- I don’t eat so many different things. This is a pro and a con with this plan. Pro because it’s awesome to not eat the same batch of lentils lunch and dinner for five days straight BUT it’s also nice to not have to prep a million different things. None of Kayla’s recipes ever repeats itself and it’s designed for everything to be consumed in one meal (some dinners are made for two) with no leftovers the next day. This took some getting used to (making a tiny batch of rice for one meal, for example, instead of enough for 7 days), but I’ve gotten into a good rhythm with Sunday meal prep and I LOVE having different stuff to eat all week.
- I LOVE DESSERT. Unlike some others I’ve seen, this plan doesn’t work in desserts or bother trying to “healthify” any desserts for you. You just don’t get them. Had I not just come off of No Sugar November, this may have come as a shock but I was pretty ok with it.
SO… without giving away any of her secret sauce, the following list of food (though not pulled from an actual day) is not unlike what you’d eat on a day on the plan:
Meal 1: eggs and toast
Snack 1: green smoothie
Meal 3: tofu hummus wrap
Snack 2: yogurt and berries
Meal 3: lentil burger and cucumber salad
Given that I did study nutrition, you are perhaps thinking, “Shouldn’t this not be news to you?” And it’s really not. BUT… knowing and doing are two different things. Like anybody (I think?) I sometimes go through cycles of hot and cold with my own health and at the time of purchasing this guide was in a bit of a rut. I wouldn’t call it unhealthy necessarily but I’d call my food boring and repetitive and borderline depressing. That’s what has been so refreshing about having a plan to follow. It was a great return to what I love, which is cooking and eating and trying new things.
So that’s it. I’ll be back to eating on my own again but I’ll definitely hold on to a lot of the principles of this guide, including the strategic snack, the smarter portioning and definitely the food prep.
So about that meal prep…
It takes me 2-3 hours on Sunday to get all my food together. This is a luxury for some and a burden for others, I know. I am lucky to have the time and I love it because being in the kitchen is my hands down favorite thing. At a minimum I like to get my five lunches together for the week and prep any produce for easy snacking. If there are some complicated (or longer cooking time) dinners, I’ll get them going, but I usually have plenty of time in the evenings to make them the day of.
That’s it! Ugh. I dread sharing stuff like this because people are so opinionated, but I love it and it has been positive for me and I think others would also benefit from it. Let me know if you have questions!
I’ll fill you in on the workouts in a couple months…
Larabar Giveaway Winner
The winner of the Larabar Giveaway was Jenna! I’ll email you!