What I Learned From Taking the My Fit Foods 21-Day Challenge

Week Four:  The Wrap-Up

I was a little nervous coming off of 21 days of prepared meals and not having to think about my food. Was I going to have problems readjusting to the real world? Was the weight that I’d taken off going to come right back? My weight did hover right at 146.2 for the first week (on 3/16, I weighed 146.0) and then I went back up a bit, reaching 147.2 the next week, before suddenly dropping again the week of 3/24.

My husband and I sat down and talked about the My Fit Foods meals that we’d liked, the things that we could recreate, and how we wanted to plan our meals for the week after the Challenge. When we went to the grocery store for the first time in three weeks, we promptly spent about $200 dollars buying the things we needed, because our cupboards were practically bare. Ouch.

Weighing the most I've ever weighed as a runner, at Rocky Raccoon 50 Miler, in early February 2013 (photo by Kristen Carey)

I will tell you that it was expensive to essentially eat out for those 21 days. Granted, I wasn’t buying groceries at the same time, nor were we actually going to a restaurant nearly as much as we had in the past. I was fortunate that My Fit Foods had picked up the cost of my meals so that I could write the review. I saved my receipts so I could tally up to see what the food would have cost someone on the small meal plan:  $536.07.  Consider that the $200 spent at the grocery store was to feed both of us.

Here are some of the things that I learned from undertaking the My Fit Foods 21-Day Challenge.

I was eating too much at meals. Visual representation of the proper amount of food was reinforced at every meal/snack with my MFF servings. My husband had the bright idea to make sure our food was placed on a plate and not just left in the container so we could truly see. I realized that I had been eating a lot of food, even if it was mostly good for me stuff. It also really brings home the fact that food industries in general are creating this problem: Restaurant meals are much too big and food packaging is often misleading.

Weighing myself everyday can be a good thing. I’d been avoiding this, thinking that I’d just use how my clothes fit to judge my weight. But what that meant was by the time my clothes fit differently I’d gone up by more than just a few ounces. Weighing every day and keeping track was a great reinforcement for me. It added in some accountability on a daily basis. Now, this probably isn’t for everybody…and my trainer has actually encouraged me to step away from this and to weigh only once a week. Why? Because now, my size is reducing but my weight is staying the same and I was getting frustrated, which was counterproductive.

I had been working myself into a hole by skipping meals. I’d figured I’d simply cut out calories and I’d lose weight but what I’d do was then overeat in the evening when I got home.

Finishing Tejas Trails Nueces 25K a month later—not many pounds lighter but feeling much healthier after starting the 21-Day Challenge (photo by Rick Kent and Josh Baker, Enduro Media)

Cheese is not necessary. This was a surprising revelation, since I love cheese. At the Nyfeler house, queso is generally viewed as its own major food group. However, I found that not only did I not really miss it, I felt a lot better for cutting it out of my diet. Wheat had been pretty much gone for a long time due to my allergies, so I didn’t think about bread or pasta.

I’d rather drink my unhealthy calories than eat them. Given a choice, I’m going to have a beer or a cocktail over a dessert. Hardest for me is avoiding social eating and drinking. I did learn that I could make some better choices when I’m hanging out with friends and, as long as I don’t go crazy, it’s okay to indulge in that cold frosty beer or martini.

Protein is my friend. Boy, I was not eating enough protein. When I’d cut back on my meat consumption years ago, I just didn’t do a good job of making sure I was still getting the protein I needed. I’ve felt so much better with the additional protein and I believe it’s showing in my workouts and races.

It’s not the exercise. For a long time, I’d just been trying to up my exercise to take care of my weight gain without making any significant changes to my diet. That just doesn’t work. As my trainer Jackie Brumbalow says, weight loss is 80 percent diet. I can’t just run around for hours without giving my meals much planning and expect to have the body I want and need.

Eating properly is worth the time. It was hard to readjust to spending time on making my meals and packing all my snacks for the day. However, with some forethought it wasn’t that bad. And that’s what it takes—forethought. If I want to be thinner, I have to make a commitment to put myself first and spend time on getting the food that I need ready every day. The nice thing is that I've continued to use all those plastic food containers to pack my lunch and snacks in, so I feel better about using them in the first place.

Five pounds makes a big difference when you're short: After the Manzano Mile Relay at the end of March (photo by Stacy Berg)

Am I glad I did the My Fit Foods 21-Day Challenge? Yes, I am. For me, it was a success.

Could I have done this on my own? Probably, though somehow I wasn’t quite getting there prior to taking the Challenge. It’s a simple matter of measurement and watching ingredients. I can clearly do it on my own because I’m having continued success; as of this writing time, I weigh 145.2 pounds, down another pound from my last day of the Challenge.

Will I buy My Fit Foods meals in the future? Absolutely. I decided that, although I could take care of my own meals most of the time, I’d pick up meals on the days when my husband is traveling. Why? Because it actually feels like a treat. I just get the meals/snacks I like, I don’t have to cook or go to the grocery store, and I know that I’m eating something healthy that will keep me on my weight loss track. I purchased a card and have made good use of MFF, especially during the weeks when I know I will be so busy that I'm tempted to reach for easy dine-out food or days when my hubby is out of town. I don't mind eating my favorites over and over again (that kale and sausage breakfast is really good).

I’ve still got a ways to go to get back where I’d like to be but at least I’m on the right track. And, for the first time in a long time, I’m happy to have made progress. There’s nothing like success to breed success!

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