The 1st month of the #eatlikeaparisian challenge is ova!! If you don’t what this riveting challenge is, I suggest you head on over to this article for all the gossip. If you do know what the challenge is, I suggest you give me a virtual clap on the back right now because im #winning. My goal for the challenge was to have more energy, feel healthier and get the skin of a prepubescence 13-year-old. After one glorious month, I’ve managed to wake up before 10 am for the first time in my life without an alarm clock, created a newfound appreciation for leafy salads, stormed the city of Paris by foot and went to work for the very first time ever without makeup on. I must say it again. #winning.
I’ve seen some really positive results out of the challenge and you can get all the behind the scenes gossip about my results here in this video with my favorite Kiwi and Parisian challenge partner in crime Rosie. I’ve even decided to keep up the challenge for another two months to push myself even further to get healthier. But I’d be Pinocchio’s newest spawn if I told you that I managed to follow every principle of the challenge on point. I was on the Hot Mess Express more times that I can count, but I’m focused on cutting down on the repeat rides for the next two months. So, if anyone wants to hop onboard the challenge wagon, I’m going to be an absolute angel here and break down my biggest struggles and my best tips so your challenge can be smooth as silk. If you don’t remember all the principles, check out the one pager here! And if you’re too lazy to read, you can get the dish by video below.
Before we dive into the nitty gritty details of each principle, if you’re joining the challenge, you’ve got to download a food journal app. Keeping track of what you eat makes you so much more accountable of what you’re actually shoving in your mouth. My go to app is YouAte. They must have had a major glow up recently because this food journaling app is puurrrrfection. The whole focus of Youate is mindful eating and really paying attention to how you feel after a meal. You take a snap of your food and you can replace the calorie counting inquisition with simple questions like, “why did you eat that meal?,” and “how do you feel now that you’ve eaten it?” And it really doesn’t matter what your end goal is. You just decide at the end of the day if you were on track or off track depending on your personal goal. It’s a quick, visual, non-judgmental way to help you make smarter food choices, which is why it gets my Parisian Challenge smack of approval.
Now, if you need a little reminder, for the last month, I’ve been watching my portions, eating three full meals without snacking, cooking more from home, embracing that H20 and trading the bus for my Stan Smith sneakers.
I was really riding the struggle bus when it came to watching my portions. You’ll find out later that cooking from home wasn’t my strength either, so I spent more time in restaurants that I would have liked. It’s virtually impossible for me to leave food on my plate even when I’m full, so restaurants were just a cruel joke. Since I have no mental strength when it comes to resisting food, I would devour the breadbasket, olives, peanuts or whatever other temptation the waiter put in front of me. I would eat so much that when my food came, with already larger the necessary portions, I was already full. But of course, I wouldn’t share my plate with anyone else because I’m never feeling generous about my food no matter how much I have eaten.
Apero’s were also pure torture because there is food sitting in front of you the entire night. You end up nibbling more than two meals worth of food in five hours and you don’t even see it coming! Tapas are another idea concocted by the dieting devil. When you are forced to share food with a table full of people, I feel like it’s a race to eat as much as you can before everyone else does. I all of sudden have the mentality of a lion in the savannah dessert and I pounce on the dishes as soon as they come in fear that I won’t get any at all. The struggle is a real deal.
- Serve your food on small dinner plates at home. If your partner is a 6 foot tall athletic god/goddess (mine isn’t but who knows), you shouldn’t be eating as much as he/she does.
- Do not eat anything at restaurants until your meal arrives. Like Pringles, once you pop, you can’t stop. Force yourself to wait and you won’t go cray cray.
- Order healthier food. Have you ever had trouble stuffing yourself with veggies when you’re full? Yea, I know, because that just don’t happen. The healthier your choices, the less you will go overboard.
I was surprised how well I did with the no snacking challenge. I tend to be like a horse, just nibbling on everything as I go about my day. Some diets say it’s better to eat 6 smaller meals throughout the day, but Parisian women would laugh in those dieticians face. It’s a 3 meal club over here and if you are gonna snack, it should be a piece of fruit from your local farmers market.
I did a pretty remarkable job on the weekends and when I was traveling. It was easier when there wasn’t any food next to me to dip into. The office, however, is always another story. It’s like your colleagues were created to screw with your last drop of self-control. Our open space is just littered with skittles, cookies and chips. Since noone is perfect, my grubby hands went for the skittles a couple of times, but globally I managed to eat more pears and oranges in one month than I did in all of 2018.
- Always keep a bag of nuts in your bag or a piece of fruit. EVERYONE caves, even you. If you don’t have a healthy alternative to reach for, you’ll grab the first chocolate chip cookie you see. Clementines are great to throw in your bag!
- Throw a toothbrush in your work desk and brush your teeth after every meal. You’ll be surprised how quickly it does the trick. If you don’t have the luxury of a sink at work, gum is a great alternative. The strong mint throws off your five-stage clinger, cravings.
Cooking from Home
In all honesty, this one was a massive failure guys. I had a ton of work trips in February, which meant a lot of eating out or not controlling what was put in front of me. Since I already explained my lack of mental resistance, you can imagine how #ontrack I was. As soon as I got home, I was so exhausted that the thought of boiling some water for pasta was just “too much.” Plus regular grocery runs were a thing of January. So I was living with very little edible food in the fridge, which made it even easier to convince myself that I absolutely HAD to order food. On the positive side, I can literally only improve in the next two months on this one.
- Make meals plans, create a grocery list out of this and just stick to it. I bought some fancy schmancy weekly meal planners and I’m going to be an absolute pit bull about following through. There’s nothing more motivating that fresh food that’s about to expire in the fridge.
- Sundays are for Netflix? Not anymore deary. Sundays have officially been baptized Soup Day. Nothing is easier than boiling broth, shoving some veggies in the water and using a blender to create some homemade goodness. Make a batch on Sunday and you’ll just have to heat it up during the week when you’re having a weak moment. Sounds too easy, right?
This was a total success in my book. I’m shocked by how much sugary drinks I managed to cut back. As an avid coke zero drinker at lunchtime, I thought it was going to be so rough to trade in my coke for some good ole water. It honestly changed diddlysquat. If I really felt the need for some carbonation, I would grab sparkling water with a bit of flavor. It seemed to do the trick. I also cut back on the beer and sugary cocktails. I hardcore side eyed anyone who ordered a spritz in my presence, but I managed to order my wine without hesitation so I was fine.
I wasn’t a standout star when it came to drinking water outside of meals though. Anyone else just drink at mealtime? I apparently had a bad habit of doing this and didn’t even realize how dehydrated my body was. I’ve traded in my purse for a new accessory: the glass water bottle. It’s adorable and reminds me constantly to chug that H20.
- If it’s too hard to cut the carbonated drinks completely, start just by water at meals. Tell yourself that the sweet lemonade or sugary coke can be a treat in the afternoon, but mealtimes are reserved for H20. You’ll probably start to see how little you actually need that sugar boost later in the afternoon.
- Purchase a glass water bottle and start filling it up in the morning. Finish it by the end of the day and you’ll be a water rock star. Plus you’ll never mistake thirst for hunger again! (Apparently, this happens to people a lot…)
I loved this part of the challenge. Since I don’t have a car and Paris is a surprisingly small city, I stormed the streets for the last month. I told myself that any trip that could be done in 45 minutes by foot, didn’t deserve a metro ride. I had to plan a little differently and learn to be more of a morning person, but it was actually the easiest principle to stick to. I had to get there anyways right? So if I had time, why not walk?
I struggled a bit more with the gym. I wanted to go twice a week and that definitely did not happen. It was hard to motivate myself all the time especially when I was walking everywhere. I’ve started making workout plans with friends once a week, otherwise I bail on that gym time for an episode of the bachelor faster than you can say “will you accept this rose?”
- Give yourself an “acceptable” walking time frame. It could be 10 minutes and it could be 50 minutes. Whatever works for you. Having a clear objective will help you stick to choosing where and when to walk.
- If you can’t find time to get to the gym or walk enough, replace a drinks catch up with a walking catch up. You’ll get double the endorphins when you exercise and laugh with friends at the same time!
All right guys, I hope my tips helped! I’ve created a cheat sheet of tips HERE with some extra bonus ones, so check it out! I’ll be checking back in two months with the final results and some before and after photos! In the meantime, you can download the Youate app here, and you can also download a menu example of what Rosie and I ate the first month of the challenge for some inspo HERE!
If waiting two months for updates is too long for you, follow the adventure on my Instagram account! Good luck to everyone who’s onboard and don’t let those struggles get you down! It is never too late to get back on track!