Try This: Utopia Food & Fitness, Week 3

After 21 days on the program, there's a spike in energy.

They say it takes 21 days to form a habit. By the end of the week, I’ll be at the three-week/21-day mark. I can’t say that I feel like this is a long-term habit or solution. (I can’t eat out of a box every day or make the work outs at the exact times every week. And I especially can’t not drink champagne or eat Cane Rosso ever again.) But I hope the program will spark an interest in long-term health, including working out and eating better. Maybe I’ll at least kick my afternoon candy/snacking habit. (Oh, but I miss you, Central Market candy aisle.) 

Ryan Conner

Day 1: The good news: I have lost more weight. The bad news: I have not lost any inches in my stomach. That was not exactly the news I wanted to hear, but Stephanie assured me she has seen this before. Stomach measurements can be thrown off by a few factors: muscle gain pushing the stomach out a bit, fiber intake, or bloating. But I can’t help but think, what if this program doesn’t work for me? What if I’m the only one who has gone through the program but doesn’t see their desired results? What if I lose zero inches? 

We chatted about going out to dinner (she had not yet seen my week two recap where I fessed up to some cheating) but it did not affect my weight loss. In fact, she said I had lost more than she was expecting in two weeks (8 pounds). We talked through what to do if I’m feeling hungry (call her), what to do if I want a date night (go to Seasons 52 at NorthPark) and what the next few weeks entail. I have one more workout on this circuit, and then I get to switch it up. This week, I also dropped my calorie intake by 100 calories, and I can definitely feel a difference in today’s hunger levels, and it’s only 2 p.m. 

Day 2: I can’t stop thinking about food today. Could dropping 100 calories make that big of a difference? Stephanie advised me to give it a few days for my body to adjust to the change, and, if after those days I’m still feeling continuously hungry, to give her a call. (You don’t want your body to go into starvation mode and start attacking lean muscle instead of the fat.) 

Days 3 & 4: I resisted food at every turn this weekend. I’m trying to focus on the positives (feeling more energy, getting stronger and healthier, saving time not cooking and cleaning) while ignoring the negatives (hard to concentrate with chips and queso within my grasp). Not drinking is getting easier (I feel so great in the mornings), but sticking to the meal plan is getting harder. 

Day 5: Today is my last day working out on the first circuit. I haven’t lost any weight since the last weigh in, but I did slip on a pair of jeans this weekend that were previously a tad too tight. Stephanie assured me that I’m starting to gain muscle and the scale may not drop as quickly now.

Day 6: Let’s chat about the extra time I have taken back by not thinking about food prep, shopping for groceries, and cooking. I’m making simple meals for my kids (I do that anyway.) and my husband is enjoying meals via delivery services Blue Apron and Hello Fresh. (I didn’t want to have to think about what I was going to make him, too, because it’s all for nothing if I’m just making the same amount of meals!) Overall, the evenings feel a tad bit less hurried, and the weekends aren’t focused around a grocery store trip or meal-planning session. 

I can’t stop thinking about food today. Could dropping 100 calories make that big of a difference?

Day 7: When I tell people I am doing this plan, the first question I get is: How do you lose weight only working out 20 minutes twice a week? The second question: Is the food good? After eating the food for three straight weeks, I can say with a resounding “yes” that the food is good. The meals aren’t as salty or seasoned as a restaurant, or even what I would make at home, but I’m adapting to the taste, and I imagine that “real” food will taste richer or more filing than it once did. Or I hope. 

I have definitely figured out what I like and what I don’t like, so the food is tasting even better. (I’m sure it’s all a matter of opinion/taste buds.) 

Here’s what I have loved so far:

Breakfast: I’ll continue to eat the hashbrown casserole, yogurt parfaits, and sweet potato pancakes when I have completed the six weeks. They are that good and the perfect breakfasts for the work week when I’m on the go. 

Lunch & Dinner: The lunch and dinner menus are interchangable. I eat the turkey bolognese at least once a week and have been impressed with all of the pasta choices. I don’t eat that much pasta in my “normal” life because I always viewed a heaping bowl of pasta as “bad.” I now know that whole grain pasta with protein is a good thing, I just have to watch the portions. I order the Utopatillas every time they’re available (Utopia’s version of a quesadilla that come in different flavor combinations such as Hawaiian and BBQ), and the turkey nacho casserole is delightful. Tonight, I chowed down on a stacked brisket enchilada with a generous side of black beans, and I honestly felt like I was cheating. 

Snacks: This is the lifeline. Every dessert I’ve tasted has been delicious. The muffins come in a variety of flavors including chocolate, blueberry, and orange. The angel food cake, again, will be a treat that I’ll continue to eat when I’m done with the plan. I now crave it! The chips and dips give me the sensation that I’m “snacking.” 

I am starting to miss fresh vegetables. (Yes, you heard me.) I tend to shy away from the dishes with vegetables, because microwaved zapped veggies aren’t my fave. I love crunchy salads and roasted veggies (especially Brussells sprouts and broccoli), so I”ll be ready to bring back all of my favorite veggies. 

I also miss queso. 

Final thoughts: Tomorrow will be the half-way mark, and I feel like I’ve climbed up the hill. It feels good that I’ve had minimal setbacks, and I’m feeling the results. I put on a pair of skinny jeans that I haven’t been able to pull up since having my second baby a year and a half ago. If I can walk out of the house in them by the end of six weeks, I’ll call it a success. 

Ryan Conner is associate editor of D Home and D Weddings.

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