Day 14: Clean and Lean Kickstart Review

Well, the 14 day kickstart is now over so what has it been like this week?

I have managed to get on with it; preparing breakfasts and lunches galore following the structure of clean and lean meals, lots of fresh vegetables, steamed or baked fish and meat.  I haven’t succumbed to chocolate, cake, fruit or any sugary stuff and have only drunk a little coffee just before going running (it’s meant to give you an extra energy boost).  Apart from the little blip last Saturday with the red wine, I have abstained from any booze, drunk loads of water and have been religiously doing my regular twice weekly Pilates and thrice weekly runs.

The weigh in

And I have lost 0.6kgs (1.3 lbs) since last weigh in.  Meaning my first week weight loss of 2kgs has slowed down in Week 2.

So, what does that mean? To double check, I also measured myself and have still lost 0.5 inches (1.27 cm) from my bust and still an inch (2.54 cm) each from my waist and hips.  My thighs and arms have stayed the same.  An article by Livestrong says if you are losing inches from your waist, hips, thighs and arms but the scale still appears the same, you are building lean muscle and shedding fat which is still good news!  Clean and lean is about building that lean look for life rather than a malnourished, skinny body.

For hubby, he has also lost weight slower this week, with a loss of 0.6kgs (1.3lbs) but overall an impressive 4.8kgs (10.56 lbs) in just 14 days.  He has lost inches from his body and now I have managed to obtain the Clean and Lean Warrior book on Kindle, I can put him on a different programme going forward as the initial 14 day kickstart seemed to be geared towards women with quite small portions.

My overall thoughts

Overall, I think that it’s been ok, a bit boring eating the same food (the 14 day is a lot stricter with what you can eat). With mid-week weigh ins for motivational purposes, this has definitely spurred us on to maintain a healthier way of eating and living.  The kickstart is great to get your body used to eating better and it is a reminder of the key principles of a clean and lean diet.  Admittedly I still have cravings for something sweet but maybe it’s because we were not allowed to eat fruit in the kickstart and this is something that I feel I have missed a lot.  I also had a couple of dizzy spells during the first week which was a bit disconcerting, but I do put this down to a reduction of calories and my body getting used to it, so being able to introduce fruit and some complex carbs into the diet is welcome!

I’ve found that the book is quite restrictive in how you prepare your food and I think in principle steaming, baking and grilling your food is great but does not help a busy working person or parent.  I’ve found buying frozen fish, meat and veg helps by cutting out the need to buy fresh all the time and just defrosting when you need it worked out fine for me.  I even used a microwave steamer to steam frozen veg which was very handy and worked a treat.  I did have to prep well and think ahead about meals but it becomes second nature in no time.

Clean and Lean for life?

As we aim to reach our ideal weight (target: weddings in July) and we have a blowout meal or a holiday where we eat to our heart’s content, then just going back on the kickstart for a week will get us back in shape again. Now, I’m not suggesting everyone should do this but I think it’s a good way to lose those extra few kilos. It is also suggested that we have a cheat meal once per week so that we do not feel denied of our guilty pleasures, we are allowed to have it! It will kickstart the metabolism again and keep burning fat, phewww!

I’m interested to see how the Clean and Lean Warrior diet works out for hubby, so shall post an update once we get going on this.  For me, I will remember these key principles:

  1. Fruit (such as berries) and only good carbs in the morning or early afternoon
  2. Drink plenty of water
  3. Limit caffeine
  4. Limit booze and if I do then only drink vodka with soda, G&T or red wine
  5. Keep eating lots of lean meat and fish
  6. Keep eating lots of green veg
  7. Have a cheat meal once per week
  8. No processed foods and if I do have bread or a cake, I’ll try to make them myself so I know what’s in them
  9. Keep up with the cardio and strength exercises and mix it up
  10. Keep an eye on portions

I will keep posting some key updates on our progress, so remember to follow me and sign up to email alerts! I’m also on Twitter for regular updates.





Day 7: Review of the kickstart diet

Week 1 is over!

Only one more week to go on this 14 day clean and lean kickstart diet! So how has it been?

  • In the main, it’s been pretty good; it’s definitely easier when there are two of you to motivate and keep each other on track
  • I’ve had fun imparting my clean and lean experience onto my hubby and he’s been a model student ūüôā
  • Meal prep and organisation is very very key. ¬†Dedicate some time before you start and organise your shopping, create a list and clear out the fridge. ¬†I got rid of things I didn’t need for the kickstart by either having one last blowout (I know, I actually did have a Semla bun…yum) or freezing items such as bread or any fruit
  • I prepped the next day’s lunches and some breakfasts in advance, such as chopping up a batch of veg or pre-baking and weighing the chicken so it’s in handy portions
  • I drank a lot of water and took a few sips when I was feeling a bit peckish (they say that you are probably thirsty not hungry)
  • Tiredness crept in and we actually went to bed early! Hubby said he had slept very well this week, which is a bonus as sleep is key to retuning your body for the next day
  • I haven’t had headaches this time round, maybe it’s because I have been eating healthy fats with each meal (salmon, avocado, taking salmon oil tablets)¬†which is meant to help with this
  • I kept the Clean and Lean book out on the counter top so I could refer to it during the week to help plan the meals and look at mixing it up here and there as suggested by James Duigan
  • I told myself that if Elle Macpherson could look so good in her 50s because she follows the Clean and Lean diet then there’s hope for us all – well at least it’s something to aspire to!!

Body envy: Elle Macpherson – in her 50s and looking fab! Pic: Daily Mail

Our exercises for this week

As part of the 14 day kickstart, there are some exercises that we can follow. ¬†However, I am currently going to Pilates twice per week and running three times per week, mixing strength and up-hill running/HIIT workouts. ¬†Hubby currently cycles 40 minutes every day to/from work so he’s getting his cardio into his working week. ¬†I think that if you are active and try to incorporate part cardio and part strength in your week then that’s a good start.

I found a very funny guy who I follow on Facebook. ¬†He¬†posts short, 15 minute workout videos which I have tried and found pretty effective in getting your body moving or for targeting certain areas such as your abs or upper body. Who’d thought that doing planks in between reps is ok?! Apparently it’s called ‘active resting’. Take a look at Brandon Carter’s YouTube page. ¬†Great for a¬†short burst of exercise especially if the weather’s rotten outside and you don’t fancy leaving the house.


On Day 6 I had a couple of glasses of red wine ūüė¶ it was too much to bear as I was out with friends and well….you know the score. Eeeeeek! I put it down to a momentary loss of will power but am not going to beat myself up about it. ¬†I will stick to the diet as planned!

The weigh in

On a brighter note, today is Weigh In Day, the stats are in and in a nutshell:

Hubby: Lost an amazing 4.2kgs (9.24lbs)! Also 2 inches off his chest and waist.

Me: Lost a very respectable 1.8kgs (3.96lbs) and 0.5 inches (1.27cm) from my bust and 1 inch (2.54cm) from my waist!

Roll on Week Two…

The coconut water debate

When I used to do hot yoga, the drink du jour was coconut water.  It’s supposed to replenish those electrolytes that you’ve lost through sweating in a 40c room with 40+ other yogis…but does it?

There’s been a bit of debate on this, there are claims that it is a natural isotonic drink and gives us the same benefits as a formulated sports drink, including the electrolytes calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium and potassium, but as nature intended.

As well as being a post-workout thirst buster, it has been said to aid weight loss because of its low fat qualities, clear up and tone skin, good for hangovers, digestion and reduces blood pressure among other benefits.  So is it true? Can drinking coconut water really do all of these things?  The natural properties in coconut water can aid in replenishing fluids and was actually used as a rehydration fluid for a cholera outbreak in the Pacific Ocean atoll of Tarawa, Gilbert Islands in the late 70s, however, was found in tests at the time to be deficient in sodium, chloride and bicarbonate when tested against other oral rehydration fluids used for the effective treatment of cholera.

The argument against is that although coconut water is great and does contain all the goodness as claimed above, it’s not the go-to super rehydration drink that it’s hyped up to be. For example, if you were an elite athlete or someone who does a lot of sport, in order to replenish the sodium lost you’d have to drink a lot of coconut water, which can give you a laxative effect.  In fact, some say that it’s no better than drinking a sports drink or better still, good old water.

In 2012, Vita Coco had to pay out large sums of cash for misleading nutritional claims of their product, but for me, I like the taste, think it’s a great natural rehydration boost and I’m still going to drink it (in moderation of course!) along with good old H2O.

14 day kickstart snapshot of meals

As mentioned before, here is a snapshot of some of the delights we have been eating the past few days on this clean and lean kickstart diet:

Above meals, clockwise, is: ham (2 egg) omelette with half of a small avocado, 100g chicken and rocket, peppers, cucumber and cherry tomato salad, poached egg on 50g salmon with half a cup of spinach, pre-chopped cucumber, carrots, peppers and celery, pre-baked lemon and thyme chicken breasts, 100g chicken with scrambled egg and spinach.

The meals are a little bit of a variation to the book but the principle of what we’re eating is the same; there are mainly veg and eggs and I think that it’s not too bad when you think about the benefits of cutting¬†the carbs and sugar in this 14 day clean and lean kickstart diet. I’m ok with eliminating coffee as I don’t really drink it anyway and I think the meals are actually quite tasty and filling. ¬†I think that as we are so used to having¬†more on our plate and eating other things such as bread, fruit and rice, our tummies are rumbling because of this. ¬†Once you get over that and exercise a bit of willpower then the initial week goes by soon enough. ¬†It is tough and a bit miserable but now we’re coming up to halfway through, it’ll get easier as we get used to eating differently.

I’ll add more meals to the gallery soon…

Day 4: diet update

We are now on Day 4 and it’s going great guns! ¬†My routine of prep and organisation is working well, with on-hand snacks and pre-prepared chicken and veg ready.

It’s been hard resisting the many Semla buns, cakes and goodies at the shops here in Stockholm; it’s a country of bread and cake lovers with Fika being a cultural institution! I love it but the sugary cakes do not love me ūüė¶

Some main things to note about Week 1 of the diet:

Day 1: positive thoughts, energy and motivation

Day 2: still positive thoughts, some energy and motivation and beginnings of a rumbly tummy

Day 3: some positive thoughts, some energy, a bit of motivation and salivating at the thought of a burger and some red wine, especially as I was at an afternoon Fika and people were indeed drinking wine and I could smell some burgers in the background!  However, I resisted, ate my handful of nuts that I took with me and sipped on my green tea.

I have been helping hubby with his meals, as I said, he’s never done a diet before so I needed to encourage him in his quest to lose those kilos. ¬†He’s been very good about it and his thoughts are that he’s finding it hard to give up the multiple coffees he’s been slurping. He says he usually has three or four a day but now I have asked him to reduce this to one at breakfast and (if craving it) another during the day but not after 3pm. ¬† He has also been feeling very tired, even yawning at 8pm. ¬†I put this down to the sudden reduction of caffeine¬†and also (admittedly) the lack of food he’s been consuming.

More updates coming soon…

Day 1: Food for thought


Food shopping was easy yesterday. ¬†Armed with my list, I literally went straight for the veg section and then the meat. ¬†That’s it! No rummaging around for biscuits, sweets, cakes, packets of this or that, no pasta or rice, no dairy – nothing!

I have decided to buy a selection of frozen veg as I will mainly be steaming these anyway, I felt that they’d still contain their nutritional value and means we can get better value for money. ¬†I did the same with the salmon and chicken as these will be defrosted and baked. ¬†Buying fresh everyday or even just leaving them in the fridge could mean that we won’t eat everything in time so it’d just go to waste. ¬†The book doesn’t suggest this but with a bit of common-sense logic, that’s what I’ve decided to do.

The 14 day kickstart diet mainly consists of veg and meat with some nuts thrown in. ¬†I started on some prep last night as well and cooked up a batch of chicken (roasted with lemon juice and thyme) and cut up some carrots, peppers and cucumbers. ¬†I also prepped the next day’s lunch box (I used up some leftover feta even though I shouldn’t add cheese, I think it’ll make days of eating salad a bit more palatable!) and steamed the veg needed for brekkie.


This morning’s brekkie was 100g of chicken with scrambled egg (I forgot to get some smoked salmon yesterday, duh) with a sprinkle of smoked paprika and a decent portion of spinach. ¬†We supplemented this with a multi-vitamin and a salmon oil tablet.


I sent my hubby off to work with the chicken salad, some nuts, a veg snack, a dressing of olive oil and lemon, some green tea and that was it. ¬†As I weighed out the 100g of chicken it didn’t seem as small as I thought, a good palm sized portion seemed enough. ¬†As he left, I felt a little sorry for him but he was in good spirits and was keen to commit to this diet, let’s see what he has to say at the end of the week!

When I started on the diet a few years back, in prep for my wedding, I experienced by the fourth day some headaches and a very rumbly belly. ¬†Not pleasant but it’s your body expelling the toxins and getting used to a different way of eating. According to James Duigan in a Good Housekeeping article¬†you can combat this by: “…ensuring you nourish your body with plenty of nutrients to help support your body to detox. Drink plenty of water, add more fibre to your diet from foods such as flax seeds. Also, ensure you eat some healthy fats at each meal so you don’t feel tired; avocados, fish oil or coconut yogurt are all great sources. Giving up sugar or caffeine can trigger headaches and a slump in energy. Supporting your body with healthy sugars from foods, such as blueberries, is a great way to alleviate these symptoms. If giving up coffee is too much, try cutting back to one a day sprinkled with cinnamon to help regulate blood sugar levels.”

Great advice! Let’s see how the week goes and I’ll post some more updates soon.


The Clean & Lean Shopping List


With the decision to go for a kickstart on the clean and lean diet, I’ll be prepping all food in advance for this week.

Shopping list

  1. Chicken or turkey
  2. Beef fillet
  3. Salmon
  4. Cucumber
  5. Peppers
  6. Eggs
  7. Spinach
  8. Green beans
  9. Broccoli
  10. Lemons
  11. Mixed leaves
  12. Avocado
  13. Courgettes
  14. Brazil nuts
  15. Seeds (pumpkin, sunflower)
  16. Tahini
  17. Chickpeas (for hummus)
  18. Cauliflower
  19. Kale
  20. Asparagus
  21. Mackerel

To ensure I get ahead of all meals, I’ll prep some of these the night before, like boiling the eggs in advance, getting the chicken cooked and weighed into batches, cutting up the peppers/cucumbers into their portions as well. ¬†As I’m prepping for myself and hubby, then I’ll increase his portions slightly from mine.

I’ll follow the 14-day meal planner shown in James’s first book Clean & Lean Diet (p.71, 2010 1st edition) which includes a sample day as:

Breakfast: 1 boiled or scrambled egg, 50g smoked salmon and a cup of spinach

Lunch: 1 grilled sea bass with a salad of mixed leaves, red peppers, green beans, broccoli and a dash of olive oil and fresh lemon juice

Snack: 4-6 nuts

Dinner: 100g beef fillet with steamed broccoli and spinach, quarter of an avocado

Snack: chopped vegetables with a teaspoon of hummus

Handy tip for measuring protein portions

100g of smoked salmon = size of outstretched hand (including fingers)

100g of chicken = two thirds of the size of a regular breast

100g of beef fillet = size of a small hamburger

There is no fruit included in the 14 day diet because it contains so much sugar, so the advice is to abstain until after the 14 days is over.

Will try and post some pics of the meals I prepare too so you get an idea of what we’re eating.


Back in the saddle again


I’ve just returned from a lovely 10 day holiday in Sri Lanka. ¬†The sun, sea, city buzz and especially the food and booze were all fabulous and thoroughly enjoyable. ¬† So, after a glorious trip, I’ve decided to get back in the Clean and Lean saddle again. ¬†Since I initially started this ‘way of eating’, I’ve had a few slip ups here and there – it’s not all easy-going! Since moving to Sweden last August I’ve been getting into the culture of Fika (coffee and cake) and it’s now time to look ahead to the summer after a long winter of being wrapped up in warm clothing.

Although this year it’s not my wedding I’m looking forward to, I have two very good friends who are getting married (both in July) and as we do, we’d like to look our best even though the spotlight is not on us. ¬†With that in mind, I have roped in my hubby to undertake the clean and lean ‘diet’ too. ¬†He has never been on a diet and has decided that it’s time to shed a few of those kilos that have been clinging on for a while so¬†we have made a pact to go on this together! It’s a first!

Funnily, while in the car travelling from Sri Lanka’s¬†beach area of Galle back to the capital Colombo, I devised a plan to get us going. ¬†¬†It’s about 20/21 weeks until the weddings so I’ve created some milestones for us to aim for¬†in this weight loss journey:

Week 1 – 6* (by Easter @ end March) – 5 weeks:

Hubby: 2 kgs/week (total loss = 10kgs) ; me: 1 kg/week (total loss = 5 kgs)

Week 7 – 12 (by early May) – 6 weeks:

Hubby: 1 kgs/week (total loss = 6kgs); me: 0.5kg/week (total loss = 3kgs)

Week 13 – 18 (by end June) – 6 weeks:

Hubby: 1kgs/week (total loss = 6 kgs); me: 0.5kg/week (total loss = 3kgs)

Week 19 – 21 (by mid July – wedding time!) – 3 weeks:

Hubby: 0.5kgs/week (total loss = 1.5kgs); me = maintenance

Total loss = hubby @23.5kgs; me @ 11kgs

Now, granted, the above is very ambitious targets, I know! but at least it’s something to work towards. ¬†To accompany our change in food habits, we will also be taking up cycling, running and strength training, doing at least one of these things every day for the next 20 or so weeks.

Wish us luck and I will be posting our progress here….

*Note: not counting the first week here, calculations start from Week 2

Does running in the cold burn more calories?


With my new resolve (and gear) I boldly stepped out in the Baltic weather for a bracing run, trying to fend off the impending shivers and running a little faster to get to a decent temperature to keep warm. ¬†A thought drifted in my head as I ran to my new Spotify playlist: do we burn more calories in the cold? ¬†The jury’s out a little bit on this one.

According to an article by Women’s Health, as your metabolic rate needs to work a bit harder to keep warm you do actually increase your work rate, but not significantly so it makes much of a difference. ¬† Triathlete¬†says it actually doesn’t make any difference unless you run in very heavy clothing (!) or through snow.

So there you go, what do you think?

Photo credit: Women’s Health via Does Working Out in the Cold Burn More Calories?.

Running to the beat


I was fed up with my standard issue iPhone headphones falling out of my ear so I decided to purchase these PowerBeats Wireless headphones after a friend of mine said his brother swore by them.

Admittedly they are not cheap,¬†but seeing as I’m a frequent runner, I felt that it justified the investment. ¬†They’re very lightweight and sits comfortably in your ear. ¬†It even has a microphone piece (for those out of breath (or not!) huffing and puffing important calls) and like an mobile phone¬†headset, it does have the volume button as well.

To connect it to your music you need to activate bluetooth by pressing on the left ear piece and sync it with your phone/device. ¬†While it doesn’t work with the older generation¬†music players¬†because of the bluetooth aspect, if you have music on a bluetooth enabled device then it’s a winner. ¬†As I pretty much only listen to Spotify on my iPhone anyway, I can now run along to the music without having to fiddle about with my ear piece all the time. ¬†It powers up quickly via a USB port and comes in a handy little case. ¬†I did try using¬†it with my iPad to watch films but found that it lags, which can be a bit disconcerting!