I lost 31 pounds during the first 50 days of my 100 Day Diet Challenge.
31 POUNDS, which is the equivalent of two stone and three pounds. That’s 14 kilograms. 14 KILOGRAMS.
In 50 days.
And I haven’t counted a single calorie or checked a food label.
I hoped to lose a lot of weight during my 100 Day Diet Challenge but even I was surprised by how effective my plan proved to be during the first 50 days.
Good work, Jack. Not bad at all.
In this article, I look at the reasons why the first 50 days went well and the lessons I’ve learned as I continue to press on with the second half of my 100 Day Diet Challenge.
(UPDATE: Click here to find out how much weight I’d lost when my 100 Day Diet Challenge ended.)
Planning for success
I’ve been finding it easy to stick to because of all the planning and preparation I put in. I was organised and that’s worked wonders.
In fact, I haven’t really had any cravings or urges to eat cheat meals or give up. Look at my Instagram page where I’ve posted daily food pictures: what you see is what I’ve eaten.
I’ve followed a system I set up prior to starting my 100 Day Diet Challenge. For each ten day sprint, I know what I’m eating, I’ve already bought the ingredients, the meals don’t take long to prepare and they’re almost certainly going to be tasty.
On top of that, committing to publically sharing pictures of my meals on Instagram has kept me in line.
And, judging from the feedback so far, lots of people are following my progress. Thanks so much for the support, guys.
Recording my weight each morning has also helped. My scales automatically send each weight reading through to an app on my phone, meaning I’m able to check my daily, weekly, sprintly – whateverly – progress at the press of a button.
I trust myself to stay on track because I’ve not had to rely on willpower alone; most of my decision-making is automated. This is by virtue of planning ahead as well as creating, and following, The Rules.
I just know I’m not going to mess up. Why would I? It’s only 100 days. I can eat or drink whatever I want when it ends (although I’m already planning my next challenge to ensure I continue making healthy progress).
During Sprint 1, I enthusiastically found my feet by trying different approaches to preparing, cooking and eating meals. After that, my motivation to succeed overrode the temptation to deviate.
Having ten day sprints and adopting a project management mindset, including ‘meetings’ with myself to assess my progress, has helped enormously. It’s an added layer of accountability on top of my daily Instagram posts.
The Rules ensure I know where my boundaries are. This has taken the pressure off and means I don’t need to think about what to do in certain situations, making it easier to live an otherwise normal life while dieting.
I even went to a house party on Day 50. I thought I’d struggle but it was fine getting out, not drinking alcohol and not eating party food. It was perfectly manageable and I enjoyed myself. And I drove, meaning it was even easier to get home. Win.
Seconds, snacking and cheat meals
Nearly all the food in my home is stuff I’m eating during my 100 Day Diet Challenge. Not having other food immediately available removes my ability to pig out on a whim. Again, this is a simple act of planning ahead to eradicate my reliance on willpower.
When I prepare meals, there are occasionally some leftovers. If I’m still hungry, I’ll have seconds. I don’t worry about it. I refuse to starve myself.
But I don’t snack. I’ve never been much of a snacker anyway and, for me, my willpower rapidly diminishes if I’m having to stop myself from eating a full bag of nuts or whatever else.
That’s what works for me. I allow myself to eat more at meal times if I need to but I don’t otherwise snack.
For other people – those who control themselves better than I can when presented with a snack – I can see exactly how a modified version of my 100 Day Diet Challenge would work. Throw in some snacks and cut back on the occasional second portions at meal times.
It’s important to have a diet which works for us as individuals. Every single one of us is built differently. I’ve even found what works for me on some days might not work on other days. There are so many factors that come into play, including variation in diet, exercise, sickness, sleep and stress.
But, by listening to my body, I’m getting better at knowing when I need more food and when I don’t.
I originally planned to start allowing the odd cheat meal from Sprint 2. However, I just haven’t needed to.
The only meal in the first 50 days which came close to being a cheat meal was dinner on Day 43, when I prepared some delicious chicken nuggets (chopped chicken breast coated in ground almond and lightly fried in olive oil) with sweet potato wedges, tomato ketchup and garlic and chive dip. It was all entirely homemade and part of an early Valentine’s Day meal I shared with my wife.
One approach I didn’t expect to regularly include at the outset was intermittent fasting. However, after experimentation, I find it works well at weekends and on days when I work at home.
At weekends, I generally lie in bed longer than I do during the week and am thus awake for fewer hours. This means I don’t need to eat as much food and can have a decent-sized brunch instead of a separate breakfast and lunch.
Working from home is usually unplanned (as a result of train delays, for example) and the fasting, therefore, is also somewhat spontaneous. Keeping my body on its toes isn’t as tricky as I anticipated it would be, though.
I’ve just gone with the flow. If I’m hungry, I know I need to up my food intake. It goes back to what I’ve already said about trusting myself and adhering to The Rules.
From the outset, I didn’t want cooking to take over my life. The problem, though, was in Sprint 1 I tried to mix up my lunches too much. Combined with preparing dinners in the evenings, I found I was spending way more time in the kitchen than I wanted to.
I quickly realised that trying to be too clever and imaginative with my weekday lunches, which I normally eat at my desk, would take far too long. I don’t have access to a microwave on weekdays and, moreover, don’t want to spend all my time each evening cooking multiple different meals.
The solution has been regularly preparing and eating the same thing: peri peri chicken.
Over the course of the first 50 days, I’d be lying if I said I absolutely loved it every time I’ve eaten this meal. That has been a learning curve for me because I found myself occasionally getting sick of a dish I actually really like and which is delicious.
I therefore started throwing in the odd tuna salad day. That’s helped, big time.
It’s not that I didn’t enjoy what I was having, and there is a lot to be said for keeping food preparation simple and convenient. However, I also think it’s important to keep questioning my routines to prevent burnout and rebellion.
My unconventional path to daily smoothies
Cold boiled eggs.
I thought I could do them. I really did.
But I can’t. I simply can’t hack them. Not every day and not for breakfast. I tried them with tomatoes, with sauerkraut, with anchovies, but to no avail. Alas, they make me gag.
Fine in a tuna salad at lunch, less so at 7am.
Smoothies weren’t something I imagined at the outset becoming a staple part of my diet. I planned to include them in a sprint to see how they were before returning to daily eggs.
But I’ve experimented and they’ve turned out to be delicious and filling. I can have a smoothie early in the morning and it’ll keep me going until lunch, no problem.
What a happy, convenient coincidence.
I’ve come up with a few little techniques to speed things along. My recipes are generally quick but these hacks have helped to keep me going.
My favourite hack involves using my Magimix food processor and it’s grater disc because I can magically turn three or four heads of cauliflower into ‘rice’ in one go. I then transfer the rice over to a massive Tupperware, which I keep in the fridge.
Et voila, whenever I want to make cauliflower rice I just dip in and throw a couple of large handfuls from the Tupperware to a hot pan.
Another speedy trick is marinating and cooking twelve chicken thighs on Sundays. That’s my lunch then sorted for a few days in one go.
Also, most supermarkets sell frozen garlic, ginger, spices and fruit. These have proven to be so handy. I use frozen garlic, ginger and spices regularly in dinners to save chopping because the difference in taste is negligible, and I use frozen fruit and ginger in my smoothies to add flavour and keep it cold.
If anyone is considering trying their own variation of my Diet Challenge but thinks 100 days sounds like an awfully long time…maybe try a 50 Day Diet Challenge. Or even a 20 Day Diet Challenge.
I bet the 20 days will turn into 50 and the 50 days will turn into 100. The motivation I’ve got from losing that amount of weight in just 50 days has given me all the determination I need to push on for the full 100 days.
Overall, though, were the first 50 days a success?
To reiterate: 31 POUNDS. TWO STONE AND THREE POUNDS. 14 KILOGRAMS.
I can’t quite believe it myself. The weight loss has been solid.
I also cooked every meal from scratch and have, by and large, enjoyed it. I’ve listened to myself and adapted when I’ve needed to. I’m getting it done.
Like LL Cool J once said, I’m doing it and doing it and doing it well.
Read more about my 100 Day Diet Challenge here:
Do You Want to Lose 48 Pounds in 100 Days? I Did it by Creating my Own 100 Day Diet Challenge. Here’s How.
My 100 Day Diet Challenge: An Introduction
10 Steps to Success
Cooking Up a Storm About Why Publishing Recipes Is So Important to Me
Is Dieting Cheap or Expensive?
All Recipes Published on The Writing Struggle
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