Lent Challenge 2013


Am I crazy..... er, maybe?

Do I love a challenge... yup!

I am determined when I put my mind to something...oh yeah!

Following my outreach with the 'Whole Food Lent Challenge' I wanted to take things one step further....

Remember this Mantra? It's all so true. Actions always speak the loudest, so what better way to help people understand 'plant based' whilst proving credibility of my lifestyle choice, particularly in the fitness industry where protein is everything! I decided to spend the next 6 weeks getting into the best shape of my life... and in the process aim to achieve the ultimate fitness goal in the eyes of many..the six-pack!

Now let me jump in here and say that this is not about pure vanity on my part, but simply a visual manifestation that I hope others will be able to identify with and respond to. Of course I am intrigued to see if I can pull it off, but I have some stringent rules that I will adhering to along the way:
  • I will practice dedication and consistency but NOT restriction, unhealthy practices or a routine that is not possible to maintain longer term (if so desired).
  • I will still allow treats and maintain a social life.
  • My diet focus will be fully whole food plant based with a slight paleo bias to assist with my fitness goals (more on this later)
  • My exercise regime will remain modest, such that anyone could follow it. 
Who knows whether it will be possible. I will be keeping an honest weekly account here on this page. So check back each Wednesday for an update on the week before. I will document in a brief diary format food eaten, exercise undertaken and anything else that pops up in my mind...thoughts, feelings perhaps!?

Wish me luck...see you right here next Wednesday!

I decided to add my YouTube page link since I talk about pole training in my 'exercise' descriptions below. I am a pole fitness instructor (not a personal trainer) and though I rarely talk about his side to me on this blog, I felt it relevant in relation to getting a better understanding of what I do with my day to day life :-) When i'm training I practice choreographing routines to teach to my students and also strength moves on the pole (the videos don't really show those aspects though). I have also embedded the video below that shows my tabata workout that I do on a regular basis also referred to in my posts below. I love the tabata workout as it leaves me a sweaty mess in under 15 minutes!! So now you can see me in the flesh (cringe worthy moments galore!)


Hello! so now week one is out of the way...

It's been a very interesting week and i've learnt a few things about myself in the process. I will document this in the bullet points below. I thought i'd also leave you with a little food montage.

See this post for more details on the actual meals I have been eating, and below for a detailed diary of what i've been eating and when.

Week One: Food Diary

6:30am = 40g energy ball
8:00-10:00am = (cold overnight oats) 1/3 cup oats, 1 banana, 1 tbs chia seed, lots of cinnamon, 1 cup soy milk, handful blueberries
12:30pm = 1 cup worth raw veg and 1/4 cup lentil PB dip
3:30pm = 1/3 cup oats, 1 apple grated, 1 tbs chia seed, 1 cup soy milk, cinnamon
5:30pm = 2 oat cakes, small handful pistachios and 2 dates
8:00pm = large handful spinach, approx. 2 cups worth of the following: carrot, pepper, mixed beans, onion, broccoli, sprouted beans, tomato passata, herbs 
DRINK: 1500ml water. 4 x mugs mint tea
EXERCISE: 15 min. tabata workout. 10 min plank exercises.

9:30 am = (hot oats) 1/3 cup oats, 1 grated apple, 1 tsp cinnamon, handful of mango and raspberry, 1 tbs flax, 1 1/4 cup rice milk. 
12:30pm = small handful cashews and 3 dates
3:00pm = 1 1/2 cups root veg/lentil soup with 1 small red onion, 1 grated carrot, 1 cup spinach, 1/2 cup sprouted beans. cumin seasoning. 2 oatcakes
5:30pm = 2 'rounds' of fresh pineapple
9:30pm = 1 cup worth raw veg and 1/4 cup lentil PB dip
DRINK = 2 x mig mint tea 1200ml water (must drink more!!)
EXERCISE = 5 min plank variations. my pole fitness training- approx 1 hr.

10:00am = (overnight soak) 1/4 cup oats, 1/4 cup cooked quinoa, 1 banana, 1tbs chia, 1 tsp cinnamon, with raisins and toasted walnuts and 2 dates.
12:30pm = handful of walnuts and raisins
2:00pm = post workout banana
3:00-5:00 =  mixture from low carb granola and paleo/vegan balls (testing my experimentation) probably about a 3/4 cup total
7:00pm = 2 handfuls spinach and watercress with 1 heaped cup of roasted veg and hummus, drizzled with balsamic vinegar.
10:30pm = 1 vegan/paleo ball (shouldn't have had that!)
DRINK = 1200ml water, 3 mugs mint tea. (not enough drink)
EXERCISE = 15 min. tabata workout. 5 min plank exercises.

8:00am= half of this amount (overnight soak) 1/4 cup oats, 1/4 cup cooked quinoa, 1 banana, 1tbs chia, 1 tsp cinnamon. plus 1 low carb granola slice.
11:00am = the other half of the above breakfast. 1 protein ball.
1:30pm = 6 mini almond flour blinis with half a banana and half a kiwi and a drizzle of maple syrup.
2:00-4:30 = mixture from no bake flapjacks, smoosh bars and protein balls. approx. 2/3 cup. (too much recipe testing again!)
4:30 = 2 mini choc/fruit coconut crackles (1/4 cup total)
8:30pm = bowl of miso stew. miso sachet 1 cup water, 1/3 cup brown rice noodles, 1 carrot, 1/2 courgette, 1/2 cup soy beans, 1 small onion, 1 tbs sesame seeds, handful spinach.
DRINK = 1800ml water. 3 mugs mint tea.
EXERCISE: 30 min pole training, 30 min core exercise, 30 spin cardio spin session (all at the gym)

9:30am = (heated) 1/4 cup oats, 1 grated apple, 2/3 cup soy milk, cinnamon, macs, chia,
1:00pm =  handful low carb protein granola, 1 protein ball, 1 chocolate crackle.
2:30pm = bowl of broccoli bean soup
5:00pm = 3 chocolate truffles (samples whilst making)   
7:30pm = beans casserole with mashed swede and potato. apple and apricot pie with soy yoghurt. (cheat meal)
9:00 = 1/4 cup protein bar/energy bar samples.
DRINK = 500ml water. 2 mugs camomile tea.
EXERCISE = 90 mins pole training. 5 minute plank variations.

8:00-10:00am = (cold overnight oats) 1/3 cup oats, 1 banana, 1 tbs chia seed, lots of cinnamon, 1 cup soy milk, handful blueberries
12:30pm = flask of broccoli bean soup
4:00pm = handful low carb granola. 2 truffles. handful grapes
8:30pm = 1 cup mixed veg, 1 large handful spinach and watercress. 1 tbs hummus, 1 tbs tomato paste. 1 flat mushroom.
9:30pm = 2x 1" squares no-bake flapjack
DRINK = 1500ml water. 3 mugs mint tea.
EXERCISE: 4km run. 5min plan variations.

8:00-9:00am = (cold overnight oats) 1/4 cup oats, 1/2 banana, 2 tbs chia seed, lots of cinnamon, 1 cup soy milk, handful blueberries
10:30am = (cold overnight oats) 1/4 cup oats, 1/2 banana, 1/2 cup soy milk, handful raspberries
12:30 = 1 40g protein ball
3:00pm =  2x 1" squares no-bake flapjack
8:00pm = handful spinach, 1 courgette noodleds, 6 aubergine meatballs, 1/3 cup chia tomato sauce.
DRINK = 1800ml water. 4 mugs mint tea.
EXERCISE: 2km row. 2x 5min plan variations. 45 min fast paced walk

My thoughts on week one:

• For the first couple of day my minds was still adjusting to taking things seriously and I hadn't properly prepared recipes/foods in advance. I was conscious of not opting for anything with sugar in but hadn't prepared myself many other options.
• Friday was tough because my eating tends to go pretty haywire when i'm experimenting in the kitchen, meaning lunch often doesn't happen as I pick at things i'm making- which is exactly what happened, but writing it down made it more obvious, so its definitely something I need to get a handle on. Felt bloated Friday evening- probably from all the seeds/nuts/beans.
• I have noticed that I don't drink enough, I'm consciously drinking more than I usually do (and going to the loo more!) and that still is not up to the 3ltrs as recommended. I think this experiment will be a good one to get me into more consistent drinking habits overall.
• The weekend was also very sporadic- before keeping a food diary I had not realised how much my eating habits go crazy she i'm experimenting in the kitchen since I so often get full up on titbits and then don't need 'lunch'. I also find that because I am on my feet all the time and don't sit down to eat I also forget to drink as well (that may seem odd) so this realisation has been very useful- I need to find a method of controlling my eating habits better when i'm cooking.
• Sunday dinner is my 'cheat meal', my mum usually cooks and I decided to allow myself dessert. Today that meant apple and apricot pie the curst of which is wheat based (which I usually avoid wheat, even more stringently for this challenge) it left me feeling quite bloated in the evening, or is that due to the amount of beans i've consumed?
• physically there does not seem to be any change- though the bloat does not help! Will see what next week brings...

Principles to take forward for next week:

My increased protein consumption by way of nuts, seeds and beans has caused excessive gas and bloating! Therefore next week I am going to focus more on quinoa and tofu as my protein sources and also smaller pulses like lentils (I have read they are easier to digest), and will also soak my nuts/seeds whenever possible (a good practice to get into anyway!) I will replace soy milk with rice milk or homemade nut milk so that I am not taking in excessive amounts of soy products.


In many ways it's been a frustrating week all round as over Friday/Saturday/Sunday I was making lots of samples to be taken to a board meeting for a taste test. Then on Monday I got ill so food went out the window to a large extent and I ate lots of chia seeds to help rehydrate me.  

Anyway, enough of all that...a full documentation below as promised! 

Week Two: Food Diary

8:00-10:00am = (cold overnight oats) 1/3 cup oats, 1 banana, 1 tbs chia seed, lots of cinnamon, 1 cup soy milk, 1/2 cup blueberries
11:00 = 2 no bake apricot flapjack pieces
12:00 = small bowl of broccoli bean soup
3:30pm = 4 oatcakes spread with 1 tbs peanut butter
7:30 = hot quinoa, veg and tomato bowl with raw spinach and rocket leaves.
DRINK = 1500ml water. 3 mugs camomile tea
EXERCISE: 15 min. tabata workout. 5 smin plan variations. 

8:30am = (heated) 1/4 cup oats, 2 tbs cooked quinoa, 1 grated apple, 2/3 cup soy milk, cinnamon, 1/4 cup soy yoghurt, 1/4 cup raspberries.
2:30pm = 2/3 cup quinoa, 1 1/2 cup veg with 1 tbs pesto
5:00pm = 1/2 cup quinoa, handful raspberries, 1 tsp carob, 1/2 tsp cinnamon
9:30pm = 4 squares chocolate (testing samples), 1 small carrot and hummus, 2 rings pineapple
DRINK = 1500ml water. 2 mugs mint tea
EXERCISE: pole practice approx. 30 min, 5 mins plan variation.

9:00am = (heated) 1/3 cup oats, 1 grated apple, 1 cup soy milk, cinnamon, maca, chia,
11:30am = healthy truffle
1:00-3:30 = 1/3 cup samples of energy bars and protein bars. 4 dates.
4:30 = 1 1/2 cup raw veggies and 1/4 PB lentil dip
8:30 = 2 handfuls watercress, 1/2 pasta, 1 cup veggies with tomato sauce (mum made this so its wheat pasta which I had forgotten about until it was already dished up- I would have preferred brown rice GF pasta)
DRINK = 1800ml water. 4 mugs mint tea
EXERCISE: 15 min. tabata workout. 5 mins plan variations. 

9:00 = small banana
10:45 = 2 homemade protein balls
11:30 =  green smoothie (1 small banana, large handful spinach, 1/4 cup cucumber, 4 drops vanilla stevia, 1/2 tsp maca powder)
12:30-4:30 = too many samples again! approx 2/3 cup worth
9:30 =  1 1/2 cup raw veggies and 1/4 PB lentil dip
DRINK = 1500ml water. 4 mugs mint tea
EXERCISE = 30 min pole training, 30 min core exercise, 30 spin cardio spin session (all at the gym)

10:00 = (heated) 1/4 cup oats, 1 grated apple, 1 cup homemade almond milk, cinnamon, 
1:00 = 4x tapas dishes (at restaurant) flat bread, roasted veg, patatas braves, hummus
4:00 = 4x mini choc fruit petit fours
7:30 = sunday roast- nut roast, roast sweet potato and carrot, peas, leek, cabbage, gravy
8:00 = pear and gingerbread crumble
DRINK = 1200ml water, 2 glasses fizzy fruit drink, 1 mug homemade hot chocolate, 3 mugs mint tea.
EXERCISE = 5 min plank

6:30am = 40g energy ball
8:00-10:00am = (cold overnight oats) 1/3 cup oats, 1 banana, 1 tbs chia seed, lots of cinnamon, 1 cup soy milk, 1/3 cup blueberries
12:00 = 1/3 cup veg sticks with 2 tbs lentil PB dip.
7:30 = 1 banana mashed, 2 tbs chia seeds, 2 tbs dried blueberries (to help my poorly tummy)
DRINK: n/a as I was ill
EXERCISE = 4km run first thing (before I became ill)

26.02.13 (still ill)
9:00 = 1 banana mashed, 2 tbs chia seeds, 2 tbs dried blueberries (to help my poorly tummy)
11:00am = 1 apple and 1 small banana
12:30pm = 1 small bowl root veg soup and 1/2 cup plain quinoa
2:00pm = small handful ginger oat bites
7:30pm = 1 handful spinach, 1 small handful rocket, 1 cup roasted veg, 2 slices nut roast, balsamic vinegar dressing (stomach feeling a bit better)
DRINK: n/a as I was ill
EXERCISE: none (too weak)

My thoughts on week two:

• Too many samples eaten again!! Need to get a grip and somehow not eat so many when I'm in testing mode- spit them out??
• I've noticed that I start out well with regards liquids consumed and then it slips during the middle part of the day when i'm more busy and don't sit down and have a proper drink with my food, this then lets down the days total.
• digestion has been better with fewer beans- but my eating habits this week in general have not been good. 
• Tried the green smoothie route- just can't seem to get on with them. Frustrating since everyone else in the health world seems to rave about them!
• The latter part of the week was very disrupted as I became ill with a stomach bug- that almost never happens to me!! So frustrating.

Principles to take forward for next week:

I haven't yet prepared meals with tofu, but have increased my consumption of lentils and quinoa with some beans/seeds. This seems to have struck a good balance.  I also made my own almond milk to have on my oatmeal which was very simpl to make and is really the only time I have 'milk' in any significant quantity. I am planning on continuing this. Sunday dinner has become my cheat meal (thought still pretty healthy!) so I am debating having a 'light' monday with lots of raw foods etc as an invigorating start to the week. I just need to get well first!!


Cutting out all wheat...fine, cutting out sugar...fine, increasing proteins...fine. BUT now I seem to have a date habit. I had no problem in cutting out refined sugar and syrups all of kinds (note: I was sent some chocolate to test), but subconsciously I seem to have told myself  'dates are ok' well that may be true but not as many as I have been eating along with other dried fruits and 'energy bites which are made form castes.

My aim for next week is to seriously curb that habit!!

Week Three: Food Diary

8:00 = 1 banana mashed, 2 tbs chia seeds, 2 tbs fresh blueberries. 3 tbs oats (to help my poorly tummy)
11:00 =  1 apple
12:30pm = 1 bowl root veg soup and 1 cup plain quinoa
7:30pm = 11/2 cups potato wedges with 1/2 cup mix tinned tomatoes and sweetcorn lis herbs
9:30pm = 1/4 cup apple puree with 1 tbs chia seeds
DRINK: n/a as I was ill
EXERCISE: none (too weak)

08:00 = 1/2 cup water down apple puree, 1/4 cup oats, (heated together) 1/2 tsp maca powder. 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1 tbs chia seeds, sprinkling dried fruit
10:00 = 3x plain oat crackers
12:00 =  4 dates
1:30 = 3 small chopped boiled potatoes, 2 chopped boiled carrots, plain tomato sauce, 1/3 cup sweetcorn, mixed herbs, sprinkle of chia seeds on top (plain food to make sure i don't risk dodgy stomach issues)
4:00 = 3 dates (obviously in need of an energy boost!)
5:00 = 1/3 cup apple sauce. 1 tsp cocoa powder, macs powder, 2 tsp chia seeds
9:30 = wall bowl of brown rice puffs cereal with rice milk, cinnamon, and blueberries. plus 4 squares of dark chocolate (sent to me to test!- naughty)
DRINK: 1800ml water. 3 mugs mint tea
EXERCISE: 1 hour moderate pole exercise

09:30 = 4 small quinoa banana pancakes with nut butter and a drizzle of date syrup.
12:00 = 2 pancakes as above without nut butter, 4 squares RFS chocolate.
1:30 = large glass green smoothie (mint tea, 1 cup packed spinach, 1/4 cup cucumber, 1/2 cup soy yoghurt, 1 tap lemon juice)
3:30 = 2 ginger oat mini flapjacks bites and 2 dates
4:30 = handful veg and pea/bean dip
8:00 = (meal with friends) puff pastry veggie tart 20x20cm size, large handful potato wedges, bean/pea dip, large handful salad, banana blondie with banana date sauce
DRINK = 1800ml water. 3 mugs mint tea
EXERCISE =  1 hour pilates, 30 min bodyweight exercises (legs and core focus)

08:00 = 2 quinoa pancakes with date banana sauce
09:00 = large handful snacky 'tester' bits (forgotten exactly!)
11:00 = 2 mini chocolate quinoa cookies, 1 coconut butter shortbread
3:00 = 2 cups raw veg with pea/bean dip and lentil PB dip (1/4 cup each), 2 chic quina cookies
8:00 = 1 cup chard, small onion, spices, 1/4 cup each peas and beans stir fried.
DRINK = 1200ml water, 3 mugs mint tea (must drink more!!!!)

8:00 = small banana dipped in 1 tbs chia seeds
11:00 = protein ball.
12:00-2:00 = baking tests approx 1 cup worth (4 squares dark choc, chocolate quinoa cookies, buckwheat bar, protein bar tests) 
4:30 = 1/2 cup raw veg sticks and bean/pea dip
6:00 = 3 dates
8:00pm = bean casserole with jacket potato and cabbage
DRINK = 1800ml water. 3 mugs mint tea 
EXERCISE =  1 hour pole fitness training

6:30 = protein ball
8:00-9:00 = (cold overnight oats) 1/4 cup cooked quinoa, 1/4 cup oats, 1 banana, 1 tbs chia seed, cinnamon, 1 cup rice milk, handful blueberries
12:00 = 1 1/2 cup veg sticks with 1/3 cup dip (lentil PB and bean and pea)
2:30 = 2x energy balls and 2 strips dried mango, handful grapes
5:50 = date and ginger ginger flapjack 2x 2"s
9:00 = lentil and pepper chilli with cauliflower rice
DRINK = 2000ml water. 4 mugs mint tea (better!!)
EXERCISE =  30 minutes bodyweight, 5 min plank variations, 

7:00 = 2x date and buckwheat balls
9:00 = (cold overnight oats) 1/4 cup oats, 1/2 banana, 2 tbs chia seed, lots of cinnamon, 1 cup soy milk, handful blueberries
12:00 = 3/4 cup veg, 1/4 cup bean pea dip
4:00 = 2 date and gingerbread flapjack. handful dried mango.
8:00 = 1/2 cups lentil pepper chilli on a large handul spinach.
9:00 = handful energy bite samples and a glass of bean/banana chocolate milkshake with coconut flour cream.
DRINK = 2000ml water. 4 mugs mint/camomile tea
EXERCISE =  approx. 45 minutes bodyweight, 5 min plank variations, 

My thoughts on week three:

• the quinoa seems to be suiting me well. 
• beans seem to bloat me out even in lesser quantities, though I hadn't noticed it so much in the past
• this week had a poor start after being ill bout feel back on track in the last few days and my liquid intake has improved,
• feel as thought i've fallen off the wagon a little in relation to chocolate as i;ve been sent tester sampes from RFS to taste test and photograph for the new product line. How can i say no? and just one piece!!
• I am now eating too many dates (and dried fruits generally) since i've stopped eating refined sugar/syrups. I need to curb this a little too as I tend to grab a date or two without thinking and I don't like the 'not thinking' part.
• this would be so much easier if i wasn't a food blogger!!
• training is not very structured, which was initially my plan but i think i may actually find it easier if i had a more solid structure and was able to apply discipline to it.
I feel as though for the final three weeks I need to up the intensity and that will help focus my mind on being a little more strict with myself if i am going to achieve something from this.
• important point to note: i don't feel as though i have restricted myself in any way (which was my aim)- this is either because I've enjoyed what i've eaten or because i have not been disciplined enough- i will hopefully get some clarification on this after being more 'strict' next week!

Principles to take forward for next week:

I still haven't cooked with tofu...I am onto it. I am doing well using non-soy milk alternatives. Rice milk and homemade almonds milk, I am really enjoying quinoa and buckwheat in both sweet and savoury recipes. I am still getting quite bloated (the bean and lentil chilli with cauliflower rice probably didn't help!) To be honest I'm not seeing much in the way of result as yet- should I be? I will stick with it and continue to document honestly regardless of what the final outcome. I have discovered my willpowder needs a kick into gear and I need to curb the dates/energy bar sampling as much as possible in the final few weeks.


Feeling a bit despondent if I'm honest. My new venture (that i've purposely been a bit vague about until things are set in stone) has taken it's toll on my day to day eating and in many ways I feel it has sabotaged my attempt at this challenge. Every day I've been consuming test samples for new recipes and testing texture and shelf life after 1, 2, 3 4, days etc. The samples are based around nuts and dried fruits, but as well as being calorie dense the nuts also appear to be playing real havoc with my digestive system, causing substantial bloating....the exact opposite of the way I need to be feeling in my stomach!

I need to do some more research subsequent to this experiment....but more on all that another time. For now I will continue to diarise my attempt at the challenge regardless of the outcome since it has been such a useful learning experience regardless.

Week Four: Food Diary

8:00 = (cold overnight oats) 1/4 cup oats,  handful buckwheat groats, 1 tbs chia seed, maca, cinnamon, 1 cup rice milk, handful blueberries and raspberries
11:00 = dried mango and mixed nuts
1:30 =  1 1/2 cup broccoli, 1/2 cup sprouting peas, 1/4 cauli rice, 1 tsp vegan pesto dressing. 4 oat crackers with a thin spread of PB.s
2:00 = 4x dates (stop it now!!) 
3:30 = small bowl oats, rice milk, cocoa, raspberriess
8:00 = sweet potato, sprouted beans, cabbage, onion, courgette and indian spicses in tomato sauce
DRINK = 2000ml water. 4 mugs mint/camomile tea
EXERCISE =  approx. 45 minutes bodyweight, 5 min plank variations, 

09:00 = (heated) 1/3 cup oats, 1 grated apple, 1 1/2 cup rice milk, cinnamon, maca, 1/2 berries,1 tbs chia
10:00 = 12"x1" fruit leather thinly spread PB.
12:30 = 1 large cup worth stir fried veg - onion, cabbage, courgette, beans, tomato sauce and spinach
1:30 = 4 dates
2:30 = (as above) 1 large cup worth stir fried veg - onion, cabbage, courgette, beans, tomato sauce and spinach
4:30 = (heated) 1/4 cup oats, 1 banana mashed, 1 cup rice milk, cinnamon, maca, 1/2 berries,1 tbs chia
9:30 = 2/3 cup oat free granola 
DRINK = 2000ml water. 4 mugs mint/camomile tea
EXERCISE =  approx. 1 hour pole training, 5 min plank variations, 

09:00 = (heated) 1/3 cup oats, 1 grated apple, 1 1/2 cup rice milk, cinnamon, maca, 1/2 berries, 1 tbs chia
12:00 = 2 protein energy balls and 1/2 cup no oat granola
1:30 = 1 strip chocolaté testing and handful granola
4:00 = 1/2 cup mixed raw veggies and large handful spinach, few olives, balsamic vinegar, sesame seeds and 1/4 cup hummus
6:30 = handful no-oat granola
8:00 = 1 baked red pepper stuffed with tomatoes and couscous, handful salad leaves, 1/2 cup baked cauliflower poppers coated in polenta.
DRINK = 1800ml water. 3 mugs mint/fruit tea
EXERCISE =  1 hour pilates, 20 min bodyweight exercise

08:00 = 1 small banana dipped in chia seeds and maca powder
10:30 = 2 small protein energy balls
12:30 = buckwheat bake with raspberries and almonds
2:30 = 1 cup granola- buckwheat, sunflower, pumpkin, quinoa with dollop coconut cream (coconut flour and  soy yoghurt) Opps made the mistake of not eating a proper lunch again!
7:30 = 2 cups worth mixed steam/stir fried veg and soy beans with a tomato herb sauce
DRINK = 1800ml water. 2 mugs mint tea. 4 glasses juice/lemonade (out with friends)
EXERCISE: 30 min pole training, 30 min core exercise, 30 spin cardio spin session (all at the gym)

Today was pretty much a write off: I'll briefly summarise why… it started off well (if indulgent) I made a healthy fat free chocolate berry buckwheat bake for mother's day breakfast. I had a handful of granola mid morning. Lunch….we went out for a thai lunch to celebrate Mother's Day and my dad's birthday….so. much. food! Lots of veggies and not much rice/noodles BUT very rich and creamy coconut cream sauces. I was stuffed! Recipe testing in the afternoon evening which unavoidably entailed some more samples which I really didn't need) The day ended well with a large green smoothie. (spinach, cucumber, water, apple, ginger)
DRINK = approx. 1800ml water. 2 mug mint tea. 1 jasmine tea, large glass of green smoothie

07:00 = 1 small banana dipped in chia seeds and maca powder
12:00 = handful of raw veggie sticks.
2:30 = bowl of broccoli and bean soup with 1/3 cup quinoa.
4:00 = handful granola
6:00-7:00 = approx 1/3 cup sample testing (ahhhhh too many samples- they are so dense and calorific)
9:30 = green smoothie (kale, cucumber, water, apple, ginger)
DRINK = approx. 1800ml water. 4 mug mint tea. 
EXERCISE: 45 mins bodyweight training

07:00 = 1 small banana dipped in chia seeds and maca powder
12:00 = 1 cup raw veggie salad with sweet chilli sauce drizzle
3:00 = large bowl hot oats with soy milk, 1 grated apple, 1/2 cup berries, chia seed, cinnamon maca powder and a handful of buckwheat granola.
5:00 = large handful buckwheat granola
8:30 = 2 cups worth greek salad with handful each of spinach, toasted GF croutons, bean sprouts, cucumber, tomato, olives, vegan feta cheese 
DRINK = approx. 2000ml water. 3 mugs mint tea.
EXERCISE = 3x 20 mins sessions bodyweight training, 20 mins pole training.

My thoughts on week four:

• see intro notes: bloating and digestive issues- it must be the nuts?  I think i'm eating much greater quantities than usual.
• I haven't yet explored using tofu in my recipes in the ways that I said I would- need to break out of my comfort zone!
• feeling generally despondent, I can't see that there is going to be much change at the end of this challenge.
• I feel as though I was under-prepared, but at the same time I did not know what to expect or how my body would respond so I'm not sure how I could have prepared much differently?
• I am not looking to find excuses, but I do feel that the timing has been against me since I am in the testing process of a product launch and have had little choice but to taste test samples. I did not realise prior to this challenge just how intensive and time consuming the testing process would be, or the apparent effects on my body.
• I am enjoying the is documentary process and will review it in more depth once the challenge is over to see how I better learn and improve.

Principles to take forward for next week:

I will aim to reduce nuts and seeds (or foods that I believe are irritating my gut) as far as possible and focus on protein rich foods such as soy and quinoa and also beans and lentils (in moderation). I still need to kick the 'date' habit, I am a little disappointed in myself that I am not able to overcome temptation as much as i'd hoped. The problem has been using these ingredients for my testing process...too easy to pop one (or three) in my mouth. If there were not in sight I would have no issue in avoiding them!


Not a great week. Mentally in other areas of my life i've been inspired and totally fired up ( I will reveal more this coming weekend), but in relation to the challenge it's been pretty dismal.

I'm frustrated with myself as there is just no way at the moment that I can give the challenge what it needed. I had no idea that would be the case when I committed to it, and I know some would say that I should have just dug deep and made it work regardless of external circumstances. That may be true but for me if I don't feel I can give it 100% then I struggle. I have struggled with the temptation....and drawing the line between a small sample and a handful. I know I won't make reach my target now- who knows if I would have done anyway as it was never certain but simply an experiment, events have simply conspired against me!

Also, the other thing I have found difficult was the pressure I've put upon my self- the pressure to record everything, to note down what i'm eating and drinking at all times.It has been very useful but it also takes the fun out of it. For me this challenge was not about restriction but about being creative with foods I would eat to assist me in reaching my goal. It has been eye opening in many ways during the first couple of weeks to realise that I should drink more day-to-day, that I should gain more control over the 'kitchen experiment' days, and that has been a really useful experience, but beyond that in the latter weeks has often frustrated me.

I have one more week to go, and I will document it for completeness and for a final round up. I may even put some plans into motion beyond the challenge itself when the pressure and public exposure and feeling of letting myself down has been removed. (I will keep you posted on that)

Sorry if I sound bummed out...I'm not! I'm actually really happy with lots of exciting positive things going on in my life- it's simply the knock on effect to this challenge has left me somewhat deflated about this side of things.

There is one week left, lets see that I can do?

Week Five: Food Diary

(I've noticed that it get quite samey...but this week has been a big one for the green smoothie!)

07:00 = 1 large banana dipped in chia seeds, cinnamon and maca powder.
11:00 = (heated) 1/3 cup oats, 1 grated apple, 1 1/2 cup rice milk, cinnamon, maca, 1/2 mango and raspberries, 1 tbs chia
12:00 = mixed grain granola sweetened with dates and apple
3:00 = 6 thin oatcakes with a dollop of hummus and a handful more granola 
5:30 = an apple
8:00 = 2 cups worth stir fried veg - sweet potato, leek, cabbage, courgette, green lentils, with spicy tomato sauce and raw spinach. 
9:30 = 4 squares dark chocolate
DRINK = approx. 2000ml water. 3 mugs mint tea.
EXERCISE = 5km run and 15 mins body weight training.

9:00 = (heated) 1/3 cup oats, 1 grated apple, 1 1/2 cup rice milk, cinnamon, maca, 1/2 cup berries,1 tbs chia
10:30 = 3x strips of fruit leather and a small handful nuts
1:00 = 1 cups worth stir fried veg - pepper, onion, cabbage, courgette, green lentils, with vegan pesto and  tomatoes on top of raw spinach. 
3:30 = 1 cups worth stir fried veg - pepper, onion, cabbage, courgette, green lentils, with vegan pesto and  tomatoes on top of raw spinach. 
DRINK = approx. 1800ml water. 3 mugs mint tea.
EXERCISE = 45 mins pole training

09:00 = (heated) 1/4 cup oats, 1 grated apple, 1 cup soy milk, cinnamon, maca, 1 tbs chia
12:-00 = 2 small energy bars
1:00 = large green smoothie approx 600ml (spinach, cucumber, water, pear, lemon juice, ginger, greens powder)
3:30 = 3 small energy bars (ahhhhh)
8:30 =  2 cups worth mixed veggie with peanut butter, soy sauce and this spices
DRINK = approx. 2000ml water. 3 mugs mint/camomile tea.
EXERCISE = 1 hour pilates core class and 20 mins body weight training.

8:00 = banana and energy bar
11:30 = small handful of energy/protein bar samples
12:00 = large green smoothie approx 600ml (spinach, cucumber, water, pear, lemon juice, ginger, greens powder)
2:00 = 2/3 green smoothie cheesecake (3tbs green smoothie, 1 tbs coconut flour, 3 tbs soy yoghurt, mint extract, 3 tbs energy bar base.
4:00 = small glass green smoothie approx 250ml
6:30 = small handful of energy/protein bar samples
9:30 = 1 cup worth of root veg soup with baby tomatoes and one large flat mushroom (raw)
DRINK = approx. 1800ml water. 2 mugs mint/camomile tea. (not enough!)
EXERCISE = 30 min pole training, 30 min core exercise, 30 spin cardio spin session (all at the gym)

09:00 = (heated) 1/4 cup oats, 1 grated apple, 1 cup soy milk, cinnamon, maca, 1 tbs chia
12:-00 = 2 small energy bars
2:30 = 1 cup worth root veg soup with 1/2 cup chickpeas, grated courgette, baby tomatoes and a handful of spinach
4:00-5:00 = handful energy bar samples
7:30 = roast dinner- roast carrot, parsnip, potatoes with leek and kale and 2 slices of nut roast and mushroom gravy (felt stuffed!!) 
DRINK =  approx. 2000ml water. 3 mugs mint/fruit tea. 
EXERCISE = none!

7:30-8:30 = (cold overnight oats) 1/3 cup oats, 1 tbs chia seed, maca, cinnamon, 1 1/2 cup almond milk, large handful blueberries and raspberries
10:00 = mini vanilla energy bar
11:00-1:00 = green smoothie approx 500ml (spinach, cucumber, water, apple, lemon juice, ginger)
2:30 = small handful energy bites
4:00 = 1/2 cup quinoa, 1/3 cup chickpeas, 1/2 cup total- onion, courgette, tomato sauce, and italian herbs on a handful spinach. (1 medium bowl all together)
8:30 = (same as above) 1/2 cup quinoa, 1/3 cup chickpeas, 1/2 cup total- onion, courgette, tomato sauce, and italian herbs on a handful spinach. (1 medium bowl all together)
DRINK = approx. 2400ml water. 2 mugs mint/camomile tea. 
EXERCISE = 20 mins bodyweight training and 5 mins plank variations.

7:00 = small energy bar.
8:00-10:00 = (cold overnight oats) 1/3 cup oats, 1 tbs chia seed, maca, cinnamon, 1 1/2 cup almond milk, large handful blueberries
12:00 = 500ml green smoothie (spinach, cucumber, water, apple, lemon juice, ginger)
2:30  = handful grapes
4:00 = roasted veg and spinach
9:00 = 1/2 cup quinoa and ezra roasted veg with tomatoes. energy bar samples.
DRINK = approx. 2000ml water. 3 mugs mint/camomile tea.
EXERCISE = 2x 20 mins bodyweight training and 5 mins plank variations.

My thoughts on week five:

• Most of this has been covered above!
• I feel as though I have failed the challenge in many ways but I have learnt a lot about my eating habits and my body's relationship with certain foods.
• I have lots more exploration to do once the challenge os over.
• Dates are still being consumed...my willpower needs kicking into touch. It doesn't help that I have a sense of having 'failed' so my incentive has waned making it that much harder ti find a reason to stay string. Vicious circle!

Principles to take forward for the final week:

Quinoa seems to agree with me- I will eat lots! I had planned to dramatically reduce the amount of seeds and nuts I ate last week but because I was still making so many sample bars and I hadn't made other snacks..they are what I grabbed to snack on. So the obvious solution- make plenty of non-seed/nut snacks! A big batch of these or these quinoa cookies are definitely on the cards!


Ok, so for those of you who have been reading each week, you'll have gathered that this challenge has not gone so well for me. Actually it hasn't panned out as i'd planned at all...sometimes it's just too difficult to know what is around the corner. If my life had depended on it, I admit I probably could have pulled it out of the bag, but instead circumstances dictated conflicted priorities and I simply could not give to both commitments what they deserved.

This final post update is not going to be quite like the weeks that came before, I felt little point in updating the food diary and photo montage if it didn't mean anything to me and did not represent an eating plan that was successful. I will however update you with a brief overview....

This last weeks food (for most days) roughly worked as follows:
Breakfast: large glass of green smoothie
Snack: handful of tester samples
Lunch: either a bowl of quinoa/veggies plus testers in the afternoons or on the major 'tester days' I basically ate protein/energy bar samples all day long until dinner. It all got a bit ridiculous!
Dinner: large glass of green smoothie and sometimes something blog related (like quinoa cookies or a single serving recipe)

So, as you can see...not particularly varied, organised or balanced. No calculation of key nutrients or much awareness of quantities. It was all a bit of a mess, and no my digestive system wasn't too pleased with me at times!!

I'm frustrated with myself that I announced a challenge to the world and then let you down... that was never the plan, and in hindsight a mis-timed event.

So where to now?

I do want to give this challenge a shot, but I have learnt a number of lessons throughout this experience. I will build on these and after my holiday (I'm away in the Welsh mountains next week) I will review everything and reformulate a plan, I will keep you posted on that....

Lessons Learnt:

• Nuts and seeds in large quantities do not agree with my digestion.
• I often don't drink enough liquid each day....I will continue to aim for 2500ml - 3000ml each day.
• Quinoa is very versatile and underused in my day to day diet- I will aim to eat it in some form everyday to boost my protein levels without resorting to over consumption of nuts/seeds.
• I finally created a green smoothie recipe I enjoy!! I will continue a regular green smoothie intake- not yet sure whether this will factor in a controlled manner or just as and when I fancy.
• Exercise could do with more of a structure but I have learnt that i find it harder to motivate myself beyond the 'everyday' stuff. Maybe that would be different when I start seeing result? It makes sense to find a challenge to train for and to align myself with gym buddies to help give motivation- to me that;s not a 'fail' just a recognition that there are some areas thatI struggle with alone.

I didn't mention it at the time but I've taken before and after body analysis readings....obviously the difference is no where near as marked as I'd hoped for (I'm actually surprised there is a difference at all). But in the spirit of honesty I have scanned them in for you to see. I have just noticed that my height is noted at 1cm taller than on the the originally print out which may have an effect.  You can see my 'hip to waist ratio' is sightly over- I can definitely feel it that to be the case!

I promise when I reach my target you'll be the first to know about it!

Thank you for following this Challenge and your useful input and kind words of encouragement along the way.


  1. I LOVE this! Looking forward to seeing your journey. :)

  2. Excited to follow. I really hope you post what you're doing for the 6 to 6 challenge. Would love to join in!

  3. Thanks guys...I will and keep a proper food diary, which in itself is a new thing for me! Let's see what happens! :-)

  4. Jo,

    Will you be including a daily food log in further posts and, as mentioned in your initial post, your exercise/workout schedule? I'd love to see such things from an instructor like yourself since you have such a specific goal in mind. It would be helpful and offer some valuable insight, whether the end result is achieved or not. Even just a breakdown of macros would be good to see.

    1. Hi Liz, I've added more details now. I was worried it would end up being to long and drawn out which is whyI dodnlt go into details before, I hope it is of some use- if only to see how the food focus changes/stays the same over the weeks ahead. You also get to hear my cringey English accent since I've posted my YouTube video :-)

  5. Jo,

    Cringey?! I say "charming". :) LOVE the video. You are, as suspected, A-dorable! You're crazy fit. You have nutso range of motion on (what we call) "Supermans" (when you're on your belly). Yikes! Those are so hard for me sometimes. How long have you been working out, tabata or otherwise?
    And, *I* want to take a pole dancing class! Please PLEASE post a video of THAT! I can't believe you're an instructor. How did you ever get into doing THAT? You are a fascinating woman, Jo Hodson. :)
    I don't think the daily food log is long at all; it's one of the shortest most succinct I've seen. It just seems like a lot since it's for a whole WEEK, but, it's quite tame. Are you tracking your macros at all for this challenge?
    A note on the beans: do you do a long soak or a quick one? Or rather, HOW long do you soak them for? I notice that soaking beans for any less than a full 24 hrs., for me, can cause way more bloat and gasiness. And I grew UP eating beans (made via quick soak method, which is simmering unsoaked beans, 1-2 minutes, turning off the flame and letting them sit for an hour, THEN cooking them). Also, if I eat beans with too many cruciferous veggies, that can be an unfortunate combination. I'm not sure if you "go" for the food combining thing, but that may be something you might want to be more aware of during the upcoming weeks if you're still having trouble.

    Also, I find for the nuts, if it's of any concern to you, that they sit better in my stomach in the form of nut butters. And I tolerate seeds more easily than nuts, if that's of any use to you, either.

    Keep us posted on everything else. :)

    PS Do you have pre or post workout meals to fuel and/or recover after your exercise?

    1. Aw Liz, you are so sweet. I'm not as 'crazy' fit as I would like to be- but there is simply not enough time in the day to do everything and at the moment the food and nutrition stuff is taking so much of my time, even my pole fitness is suffering- as i don't get in as much practice as I want. Yes, you are right I have too much movement in my joints, I have actually been diagnosed with hypermobility syndrome (luckily it doesn't cause too many problems). You can see videos of my pole routines on the link in the text I posted above, they don't show the more advanced inverted moves though :-)

      I soak beans overnight- so roughly 8-12 hours, then cook them for 90 mins. Maybe I will try for longer in future! I am going to start soaking all my nuts and seeds too and see what difference that makes. Thanks for the input!

      I need to do more investigation on types of foods to eat when i.e pre and post workout or in the evening etc, I am not doing a greta job at tracking everything,

  6. Jo,
    S sorry you've been feeling ill. :(

    For your water intake:

    Personally, I do better (in the colder months like now) drinking my water in just a few doses instead of spreading it out throughout the day. (It's easier for me to get it in, and I do better with almost NO fluid in my stomach during my eating hours.) I always consume a large amount upon awakening (anywhere from 700-1200 ml). (It's a good way to flush out wastes that have accumulated in the body during the night's repair.) Then, I drink in between lunch and dinner, then again at night, 1-2 hours before bed (all 700-1200 ml). Are you just FORGETTING to drink (it's so easy in the winter) or is it something else? I have a (big) refillable bottle that is by my side ALL day so it's never out of sight.

    As far the smoothies, I'm not a big fan of thick beverages. I DO drink green smoothies but not what most think of or what we have grown to think of when someone says "green smoothie." I don't use any fruit in mine, and I make it REALLY thin, like green water. This, I know, would not appeal to MOST people (I'm surprised myself that I like it considering what a sweet tooth I have), but I find it refreshing. (I DO use mango green tea as part of my water, cinnamon, a bit of stevia, some lemon zest and juice, and cucumber is always a welcome addition.) They are lovely after my workouts, though, it's tough to drink them in the winter.

    My point is that smoothies aren't for everyone. If you don't like them, don't drink them. :) No need to force yourself to consume something you're not particularly fond of. It's good for those that have a hard time consuming greens, but you don't seem to find it too difficult to do so.

    And it didn't seem like you were consuming too many samples. 1/3 c one day, 2/3 another, for several days doesn't seem too bad. Is it just the unplanned nature of them? Or that they're geared towards more of a sweet variety? It is VERY difficult to not eat things while you're making them, especially when it's for the judgment of others. I can only suggest taking smaller bites or bits of the samples. Or, I suppose, spitting them out might work, but I found it REALLY hard to stop the natural swallow reflex. Plus, swallowing somehow seems to "finish" the tasting. Spitting it out leaves the tasting incomplete. At least for me.

    As the weeks go on, and you settle in to this type of routine, it will all get easier, and you'll get the hang of it. It always takes a bit to get used to a new habit and really "learn the ropes" so be patient with yourself. :)

    1. Thanks Liz, all of your comments seem to ring very true!

      To respond to a few of them: I will try focussing my water intake as you say, i think it will be helpful to find a routine. I do have a refillable bottle that is by my side but when i am on the move or busy in my kitchen i seem to forget about it.

      i think one of the problems with the smoothies is that it can't decide whether its a fruit or vegetable- i.e not sweet enough to be sweet but not savoury enough to be savoury- if that makes sense! Maybe i will try more savoury...!

      The issue with the samples is more lake of control/routine as it knocks me out of sync and i can't really tell how much i've eaten and it often affects my appetite for the next meal. plus they are all very much geared towards the sweet side of things and full of dates. Hopefully much of the testing for new flavours is out the way at least for now. :-)

  7. Jo,
    So sorry you're having such a rough time of things. All of what you said about everything seems to be true. (That's a vague, cryptic sentence if ever there was one!)

    I agree with you on the unfortunate timing of trying to do this challenge with the changes going on in your life/career. But, like you smartly said, you're learning from this, and, at the very least, this knowledge can be applied to future fitness/health challenges.

    As far your bloating: Well, the nuts may be the culprit, but I find that it is more often the nuts WITH dried fruit that is the problem. (They break down at different rates in the belly; when that happens, fermentation (ie: gas) starts as the quicker digested food overstays its welcome in the stomach. Have you ever tried soaking and dehydrating your nuts? A LOT of people find them to be MUCH less rough on the digestion when that is done. Personally, I don't notice a difference, BUT I do it anyway to get rid of phytates/phytic acid. I don't have a dehydrator; I just use the lowest setting of my oven, which is much higher than most people use to dry out their nuts (77C). I soak the nuts 24 hours in salted water, then throw in the oven. The time varies depending on how big the nut is (almonds and hazelnuts/filberts take the longest: sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds take the least amount of time).

    It doesn't sound like you are having this problem, but I know that when my digestion is already out of whack for some reason or another, eating too fast and/or not chewing enough and/or talking while eating will make it much worse.

    And dates are definitely hard to resist. ESPECIALLY when they're in your face all day.

  8. Continuing. . .

    It's an unpredictable event starting to document and write down things about yourself (eg: like a daily food log) that you've never entertained doing so for. It is definitely an eye opener, and, in the end, I think it's super useful for so many things. It can lead to some negative outcomes as you are experiencing right now when faced with "hard" proof that one is not living up to expectations or performing as hoped. Sometimes, a more concentrated focus and effort to "fix" and amend habits backfires, in a big way. I understand your obvious reason for both wanting to document and change what you believe to be undesirable eating habits.

    I can't make any suggestions to assist you with the change, but may I put it out there that you aren't so hard on yourself for whatever mistakes and missteps you take? Just based on your comments and notes made in your food log, you seem to be unjustly unkind with yourself. Beration isn't an effective form of motivation or long-lasting results. I can imagine how frustrating this experiment has been for you, but try easing up on yourself a bit. At the very least, if not enough to change your habits, you can avoid feeling crappy in the process. And, it IS a PROCESS. You're learning. When time allows and you're better able to address what you want to, you can have this to help you with that. It is VERY time-consuming, energy-draining and frustrating, as well, doing taste testing. After a while, everything starts to taste the SAME, right? :)

    I'm not saying to abandon your challenge or ignore your current less-than-desirable eating habits, but acknowledge that you are dealing with other things right now that aren't allowing this process to go as you had hoped. But, how often does ANYTHING go as planned or anticipated, right? Just keep doing what you're doing with the knowledge that the information you're garnering right now WILL be able to help you. If not now, then a bit further down the line.

    Also, try to focus on tackling just ONE thing to change, that way you can put your energy and head into it 100% and you won't be overwhelmed or disappointed by trying to do everything at once. Perhaps try incorporating a habit to curb the mindless eating. I don't have much experience in this, but, maybe when you look at the bag of dates, do 20 jumping jacks or drink a full cup of water. The taste testing can't be avoided, but the nibbles of ingredients can be. So don't fret over the tasting -- there's no way around it -- but make an effort to tackle that one thing. Or ANY one thing. Whatever it is, just think of a much of possible tools to get you to adopt some more beneficial habits.

    (I hope this all makes sense. It's late, and I'm TIRED! :)

    1. Liz, thank you...you have some very good points indeed! I think once i have my other venture out of the way in the next few weeks i'll be able to focus more fully on these aspects...these last few weeks have indeed opened up my eyes and I will be able to review my approach in a much more informed way than I could have done before. Once these 6 weeks are over and my 'eating' has calmed down a bit I will continue the experiment and update any findings on this page.


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