Welcome to week 4 – the final week of the 2016 Winter Shape Up – which begins on Monday, February 15, 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!)
Can you believe it’s already the final week of the Winter Shape Up?! 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.
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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 4 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 the simple snack ideas PDF, click here. Here are some new make-ahead recipes to try out this week too:
- Salty Maple Nut Energy Bites (vegan, gluten free)
- Whole Wheat Peanut Butter & Jelly Muffins
- Spiced Baked Apple Chips (gluten free, vegan)
- Maple kale juice
- Brownie Batter Protein Bites
- Pumpkin Skillet Granola
- Maple Pumpkin Almond Butter
- Chia Cherry Crunch Bites Sponsors
- 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 Pure Canadian Maple Syrup! I’ve been a huge pure maple syrup fan my whole life – none of the fake corn syrup stuff in my family.
Did you know that:
- Maple syrup is 100% pure and natural
- Canada produces 71% of the world’s pure maple syrup
- Pure maple syrup is high in over 60 types of disease-fighting antioxidants, which contain anti-cancer, anti-inflammation, and anti-diabetes properties.
- It is the only sweetener with minerals – it’s a particularly excellent source of manganese (which helps keep bones strong, your brain healthy, and nerves functioning properly) and riboflavin (aka vitamin B2 – it protects cells and is necessary for energy production, too).
- It contains polyphenols, which are beneficial compounds also found in things like berries, tea, and red wine.
I had the pleasure of taking a trip to Canada with the Pure Canadian Maple Syrup team around this time last year to learn more about the maple syrup production process in person. Check out the post for more fun maple facts and recipes – and here is a how maple is made video, too!
Did you know that it’s not maple syrup that’s extracted from the trees, but rather maple water? (Which is delicious, by the way, and available in the US now – look for the NAPSI quality seal on the package!) That maple water is then boiled down to make maple syrup, maple sugar, etc. Maple water can be an awesome (and tasty) source of hydration during a workout and also goes great in smoothies and juices, like this maple kale juice recipe.
Maple syrup is a versatile and flavorful ingredient – you’ll see it in a number of the recipes and snacks in this week’s plan, and another maple-infused favorite to try is my Homemade Citrus Sports Drink recipe! Read more about maple nutrition for exercise on their website, and here are some more general maple syrup recipes to try, too.
For this week’s giveaway, our Canadian maple friends are offering to send one lucky winner a maple prize pack to include pure maple syrup, maple water, a maple dish towel, and more. 🙂
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 winner 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!