Before we get into this week’s post, we need to announce our first milestone of success!  As we entered into Week 8, Rob met with his primary care physician for a two month follow up.  The normally straight shooting guy that had always commented about Rob’s weight was impressed and almost at a loss of words for the transformation that was under way.  In the eight weeks since his last visit, Rob had dropped 44 pounds.  We are barely halfway through the program and both of us are seeing results.  It is a testament to not only the validity of this program, but to the fact that it takes teamwork to make such a big lifestyle change.  It would be difficult at best for either one of us to be successful if the other was not “In it to win it” too.  We could not imagine how much of a challenge it is to do it as a solo mission, and we want to give a big nod of admiration to those who are having to face that challenge of doing it on their own. That being said, onto this week’s post…

When Rob met with Dr. Holly, she told him that the first two weeks (Phase 1) would be hard.  She also pointed out the realistic fact that anyone can do it;  it is only two weeks after all.  In retrospect, we would only really credit the difficulty to our circumstances rather than to the actual plan.  As you learned in the last post, Leslie was in the Philippines for most of Phase 1.  Talk about proof that it can be done!  The three things we want you to be prepared for (and what we will certainly be more prepared for if we do Phase 1 again) are energy loss, menu variety, and finding our groove.

When Coach Marsha mentioned in our first appointment that we would notice a dip in energy during the first two weeks, we thought, “ehhhh how bad can it be?”  We.  Were.  WRONG.  We were sapped!  We went from running a couple miles three times a week and other activities on other days, to just struggling to get through the day.  Almost even more shocking to us was how hard it was to concentrate at work.  Essentially, our bodies went into shock from newly introduced healthy food intake; as our bodies were learning an entirely different way to burn fuel.  It got better after week one, and our energy was back to normal by the end of week two.  We are not telling you this, if you are preparing to start the program, to worry you.  We only want you to expect it and not freak out when it happens.  It is not debilitating by any means; it just caught us off guard.

When we go back to Phase 1 for maintenance, we will approach menu planning much differently.  One of the most important aspects of this journey for us has been to find our way through the uncharted territory of a limited selection of food; it’s daunting and a bit depressing when you first see the Phase 1 food list.  While Rob will probably never enjoy vegetable omelets quite the same again ( a cup of egg whites was just too much for the big guy), we found there are many more options than just the handful of recipes in the book.  Really, there are a ton of fantastic recipes out there that are Phase 1 friendly.  Just search the internet for recipes and match it up with the list of allowable foods.  They are there!  I will offer a word of caution for Pintrest though, not all of the recipes that result from a search for SOS Phase 1 are really Phase 1 friendly.  Be skeptical until you have checked the ingredients list all the way through.

Some of our favorite Phase 1 recipes are the Skinnytaste Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps and the Sweet Life Chef Healthy Granola.  Tuna or salmon salad on cucumber or tomato slices is a great way to get in your veggies and protein.  Throw the tuna or salmon in with low fat mayo, mustard, and dill pickles, et voila… you’ve got a tasty lunch.  Simple ingredients you could even put together at your desk.  Vegetables don’t have to be plain old steamed veggies.  They can be pretty tasty, but you start to crave some variety after the third day of those.  Experiment with different roasted vegetables (we love balsamic roasted veggies); they’re delicious AND an easy way to make a few servings in one shot, making less work for each day.  That brings us to….

Finding our groove!  It’s one of the biggest lessons we’ve learned and something we still work on.  Once you get into a rhythm, things become less overwhelming.  While we still get a little frustrated with spending a good portion of Sunday getting food prepped and packaged for the next week, we have found ways to make it easier and not spend a whole weekend day in the kitchen.  Throw something in the crock pot that will provide a few days worth of one meal per day.  Lean meat and vegetables are hard to go wrong with in a crock pot.  You can add some more spices or herbs when reheating it if it is lacking some flavor.  Make a quick salad like cucumber and tomatoes with red wine vinegar; it tastes even better after sitting in the fridge overnight, and it’s easy to portion out for a quick grab and go vegetable option throughout the week.  On weeknights, plan quick and easy meals that will include leftovers for the next day (fajitas anyone?). Knocking things out in chunks throughout the week takes the load off of the weekend and makes for fresher meals towards the end of the week.

Phase 1 is the most challenging part of the program (so far.  who knows, maybe there’s a big surprise for us in the second half!), and we hope the lessons we learned will help set you up for a successful start to an awesome experience.  Cheers!…but make sure it’s non-alcoholic; cocktails aren’t allowed until indulgence meals in Phase 2.  That’s something to look forward to!