Welcome to week 1 of the 2016 Winter Shape Up, which begins on Monday, January 25, 2016!
(Looking for the home base Winter Shape Up page? Click here – it has answers to any questions you might have about the challenge and links to all the weekly content!)
As you know, my friend Gina and I have partnered up to bring you this fun healthy living 4 week challenge to inspire you to kick off the year on the right foot in terms of fitness and nutrition. Gina is a personal trainer, so on her site, you’ll find the weekly workouts for the challenge, including videos. Here on mine, I’ll be sharing the weekly nutrition-focused content, which will feature regular, gluten free, and vegan meal plans – as well as quick snack ideas and some make-ahead snack recipes.
We’d love to hear how you guys are doing with this challenge! If you share updates or photos on social media, please include #WinterShapeUp and, if you have space, tag both myself (@fANNEtasticfood – follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram!) and Gina (@fitnessista) so we can see!
Before I get into the plan, please remember that everyone’s nutrition needs are different and will vary based on activity level, age, gender, height/weight, and more. I am a Registered Dietitian, but this meal plan is not meant to be a substitute for personalized nutrition plans or nutrition counseling (like I provide in my AnneTheRD private practice). Above all, use this as a guide, not a concrete plan, and change it as you see fit based on your own hunger levels, preferences, and dietary needs. I’m not including specific quantities/portion sizes because of this – try to eat intuitively and listen to your body. This guide may be too much food for some of you and too little for others. If you’re getting full, save the rest for later. If the meal or snack wasn’t enough, don’t second guess yourself – listen to your body and have something else. If you’re really hungry and try to deny it, it will only lead to overdoing it later or feeling like crap. Honor your hunger, my friends. And same with the other end of the spectrum – stay mindful during your meals, and stop as soon as you start to get full. If you’re distracted, it’s a lot easier to overeat. Your body knows what to do if you just listen to it! Sound good?
A note on drinks: I didn’t include drinks in this guide, but aim to limit sugar-sweetened beverages. If you’re currently having a lot of sugar-sweetened beverages (soda, sweet tea, sweet flavored water, etc.), try to cut back by 1 or 2 drinks per week until it becomes an occasional treat vs. a daily habit. Focus on drinking lots of water (carbonated water with fruit in it is a nice sweet, fizzy alternative to soda – as is kombucha), some unsweetened tea/coffee (if you’re into it), and the occasional wine or beer, if you like.
Regarding dessert, it’s not included in the plan for simplicity’s sake, but indulgence in moderation is certainly part of a healthy relationship with food. The key is to view dessert as an occasional treat vs. letting it become an everyday habit. If you really want something, by all means allow yourself to have it and really savor it. There’s no point in feeling guilty – eating perfectly 100% of the time isn’t realistic or healthy. Just make sure that when you do indulge, it’s worth it. Choose the real thing, not a diet imitation; stay mindful and stop when you are satisfied.
To download the week 1 meal plan, please click here.
If you have any problems downloading the meal plan or see any errors, please let me know! It also includes grocery lists (including vegan and gluten free variations).
For snacks, choose a variety each day based on hunger levels. Some days you might need a snack or even two or three, while other days you might not need one at all. Focus on how you feel. Hunger levels change daily based on activity and a host of other factors, so don’t expect to feel the same every day. For snacks, just like meals, focus on a good mix of carbs, protein, and healthy fat to keep you satisfied.
To download a simple snack ideas PDF, click here. Here are some make-ahead recipes to try out this week too:
- 5-Minute No Bake Peanut Butter Granola Bars
- Whole Wheat Carrot Cake Muffins
- Savory No Bake Honey Mustard Granola Bars
- Cinnamon Raisin Almond Balls
- Savory Mediterranean Yogurt Parfait
- Mini Cheesy Potato Bites
- Apple Cheddar Oatmeal Squares
- Carrot Raisin Everything Muffins
Please say a big thank you to our Winter Shape Up sponsors for making it possible to offer this challenge to you guys for free!
This week’s featured sponsor is Cabot Creamery, maker’s of the World’s Best Cheddar and a personal favorite of mine, too! They are a cooperative owned & operated by 1,200+ farm families throughout New York and New England, and 100% of their profits go back to their farmers. Rich in calcium, Cabot’s Cheddars are a tasty (and lactose-free!) way to add a protein-packed punch to your Shape Up snacking routine. I highly recommend the Seriously Sharp variety. :) Their cheese is great with crackers, and is also included in some of the recipes in this week’s meal plan!
To find where Cabot’s Award Winning Cheddar is sold in your area, visit cabotcheese.com and click on “Store Locator.”
Cabot is happy to provide 5 lucky Winter Shape Up participants gift boxes of their award winning cheddars.
Comment below up to once per day (starting on Monday) with how things are going for you during the challenge/what meals and snacks you’ve been loving and each comment will count as an entry! I’ll randomly select the winners after the week is over (Monday morning) and notify them directly by email. Good luck! And don’t forget to check in over on Gina’s blog with your fitness updates – she’ll be sharing a giveaway from a different sponsor!