This Tuesday (August 16, 2016) marks Day 1 of the Holistic Hundred Challenge. If you are going to join me on this challenge, then this post will hopefully answer all of your questions. If doing anything for 100 days is a little intimidating for you, this post will hopefully provide some insight into some eating and exercise habits that you can start to implement at your own pace.
WHAT IS THE HOLISTIC HUNDRED CHALLENGE?
It’s a 100 day challenge that starts on Tuesday, August 16th and ends on Wednesday, November 23rd (the day before Thanksgiving). The Challenge has two parts. The first part consists of not eating any sugars or grains. The second part consists of doing 100 body-weight exercises each day. See below for more explanation on each of these two components.
WHY ELIMINATE GRAINS?
One word. Inflammation. Wheat and grains powerfully inflame the body. Inflammation can manifest with skin issues such as acne, dandruff, eczema, and psoriasis. It can show as joint pain, especially in the hands, wrists, and elbows, sometimes in the knees, hips, and low back. It can show as water retention/edema in the face and ankles. Grain-induced inflammation can also show up as an autoimmune disease, anything from rheumatoid arthritis, to diabetes, to leaky gut. As inflammation has become increasingly recognized as having a role in cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, there are more and more studies exploring how diet relates to inflammation. It’s important to note that the grains and flours we consume are fundamentally different from the ones our grandparents and great-grandparents consumed, we also prepare them much differently and this may also help explain the increasing rates of allergies and intolerance problems with grains.
WHAT IS A GRAIN?
So when eliminating grains from your diet, you need to understand what a “grain” is. A grain is any food made from wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, barley or another cereal grain. Bread, pasta, oatmeal, breakfast cereals, bagels, muffins, chips, tortillas, and grits are examples of grain products. For the purpose of this challenge, there is no difference between “whole grains” and “refined grains”, they are both off limits. It’s also important to know that not all grains contain gluten. So don’t be fooled by eating something that has “gluten free” on the label. Grains that are gluten free include corn, millet, rice, cornmeal – don’t eat these. You also need to steer clear of foods and drinks that contain grains, like alcohol made from grains (i.e. Vodka, Gin, Sake), baking powder (contains cornstarch), beer, glucose (made from wheat), soy sauce, and most condiments, salad dressings, and sauces. You can find grain-free substitutes for most of these if you want to try to keep them in your diet.
WHAT IS NOT A GRAIN?
Some foods that you might think are grains, but are not are Amaranth, Buckwheat (Kasha), Chia seeds, Flaxseed, Sesame and Quinoa. These are ok to eat during the Holistic Hundred Challenge. You can also cook and bake with non-grain flours such as almond, coconut, fava bean and plantain.
WHY ELIMINATE SUGAR?
I don’t think that you will find many people that think sugar is GOOD for you. But if you need a reminder of all the reasons to eliminate sugar, here are a few:
- It stimulates a reaction that provokes adrenaline and cortisol release and thickens the blood.
- It impairs white blood cells’ function (lowering your immune system).
- It appears to fuel cancer cells. (The connections to cancer and sugar continue to grow as more research is done)
- It promotes fat storage and weight gain.
- It disrupts transfer of amino acids to muscle tissue.
- It spurs insulin resistance, leading to Type 2 diabetes and other health issues like nerve damage and cardiovascular disease.
- It is a powerful, addictive drug.
WHAT IS SUGAR?
You will be amazed at what is added to food to make it sweet (and addictive). Look for sugar disguised as many different things. Such as Glucose, Fructose, Sucrose, Glucose Syrup, Corn Syrup, High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), Fruit Sugar, Raw Honey, Maple Syrup, Molasses, Agave Nectar, Palm Sugar, Coconut Sugar, Cane juice, Dehydrated cane juice, Cane juice solids, Cane juice crystals, Dextrin, Maltodextrin, Dextran, Barley malt, Beet sugar, Caramel, Buttered syrup, Carob syrup, Brown sugar, Date sugar, Malt syrup, Diatase, Diatastic malt, Fruit juice, Fruit juice concentrate, Dehydrated fruit juice, Fruit juice crystals, Golden syrup, Turbinado, Sorghum syrup, Refiner’s syrup, Ethyl maltol, Maple syrup, Yellow sugar, etc. Artificial sugars are also off limits – you know, that stuff they put in Diet drinks. So no blue, yellow or pink packets (Aspartame, Equal, NutraSweet, Splenda, Sucralose, Sweet ‘N Low, Xylitol).
WHAT IS NOT SUGAR?
All natural sweeteners — including maple syrup, stevia and raw honey are healthy substitutions to add to drinks if you can’t go without at first. They are still off limits if listed on ingredient labels and I recommend trying to keep their use to a minimum. They will still trigger brain responses to make you want to eat more and crave sweet things – making this challenge even more difficult. You can keep packets of stevia with you so you don’t have to resort to sugar or artificial sweeteners at work and restaurants. As you eliminate sugar from your diet, you will notice the natural sweetness of foods. I’ve done “No Sugar November” for the last two years and I’m always surprised how sweet foods like carrots and sweet potatoes naturally are once my pallet adjusts.
WHY THE BODY WEIGHT EXERCISES?
Exercising has many benefits. The idea of incorporating 100 body-weight moves into your day is an easy way to stay active without having to have a gym membership or rearranging your schedule to get in an hour long workout. Simply do a total of 100 moves each day. You can do them all at once or spread them out over the whole day (20 when you wake up, 20 before you leave for work, 20 before lunch, 20 after work and 20 before bed). The list of exercises that I’m going to pick from are below. You can do these or find your own.
Plank Variations (here’s a link to lots of good core exercise options)
WHAT SHOULD MY TYPICAL DAY OF EATING LOOK LIKE?
For many people, eliminating sugars and grains may feel like they are going to be starving themselves. But as you introduce new foods to your diet to replace the bad ones, you will quickly learn to love real foods and experiment with new things. Keep it simple. Staples of you diet should be vegetables, meats, healthy fats and some fruits.
Breakfast could be eggs, bacon, avocados and tomato slices. Or a smoothie with spinach, kale, coconut or almond milk, unsweetened yogurt and berries. For more breakfast ideas, check out this website.
Lunch can simply consist of dinner leftovers from the night before. You can make a portable salad at home, or even get one from a restaurant or salad bar at a grocery (using olive oil as a dressing).
Good snack ideas are fruit, raw veggies, hard boiled eggs, beef jerky, full fat cheese, raw nuts, olives, pumpkin seeds, 85% or greater dark chocolate, pepperoni slices, avocados, and hummus with raw veggies.
Dinner should be a meat and 2-3 servings of veggies.
Believe it or not, life is simple on this eating plan. Throw out all sugars and grains to start with – seriously, clean out the pantry and fridge (if it’s not there, you can’t eat it). Then simply buy meats and lots of veggies and fruits at the store. Pick a meat and two veggies to prepare for dinner each night. Preparation is key – make a meal plan for the entire week and then go shopping for everything you need.
Let me know what questions you have as you start the challenge. If you slip up one day, start over the next. It’s a “challenge” for a reason. Good luck!
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Wishing you optimal health and peak performance,