Eating for Change Challenge: Revolutionizing the Way We Eat

My new pet project for 2023 is trying out different diets/eating lifestyles each month and reporting what worked, what didn’t work (for me), and my thoughts on sustainability each program touts.

Photo Credit: Ross Findon- Unsplash

While this is a 2023 project I’ll be working on throughout the year, I thought I’d get a jump start in October. While rummaging around at the library, I came across a book called Revolution 22. It’s a 22-day program, introducing participants to a plant-based way of eating. As with most programs, Revolution 22 touts that it’s for everyone.

Folks, if nothing else, hearing the declaration that “This diet/fitness lifestyle/workout is perfect for everyone” raises a TON of red flags. Nothing, and I mean nothing on this planet is “for everyone.” That includes ZooFit. I always feel a bit wary when I hear these words. And sure enough, this program proclaims that if you aren’t seeing results from participating in Revolution 22, then the fault is in you. You aren’t eating the right portion size, you are snacking too much, you aren’t exercising enough.

Some of these things may be true. But that doesn’t mean you are at fault if your challenge isn’t the right program for you. I did Revolution 22 for 22 days, as recommended by the program. The first week I followed the meal plan to a T. I lost a half a pound, felt like I wanted to gnaw my arm off I was so hangry, and I will not share my bathroom experience.

I’ll admit, my exercise routine has been a little off lately. I am experiencing some back issues, getting it looked at, but in the meantime, I’m going a little easy on my workouts. I’m relying more on my getting my eating habits in order to lose weight. Yes, I realize this means I may need to reduce my portion sizes, but I also fervently believe that you should not feel like eating your husband’s face because in a hunger-induced hallucination he looks like a floating falafel bowl. And no, I also don’t believe “getting used to being hungry” is healthy.

If this is what you picture around your family because you are starving, you need to up your portions.

I wanted to continue with the challenge, but following the meal plan wasn’t working for me. I checked out the companion cookbook for Revolution 22, and this worked a little better. I wasn’t starving anymore, but that week, I gained 2 pounds and I’m STILL not talking about my bathroom experience.

The next week, I still had some recipes from Revolution 22 that I wanted to try, but I knew this wasn’t working for me, so I began adding back in foods this particular plant-based program doesn’t allow—tofu and tempeh. I also pulled back on consuming as many nuts and legumes as Revolution 22 encourages (if following the meal plan to a T). This helped out tremendously, and I lost the 2 pounds back.

But I didn’t feel great. And I don’t think this program is, despite what the author states, for everyone. It is probably very beneficial for people who have never tried plant-based foods before, or who currently eat the Standard American Diet.

Revolution 22 is a plant-based program. I do advocate eating more of a plant based diet, but I am also not opposed to eating meat, dairy, or other animal products, provided it’s in a sustainable fashion. Sustainable for you, and the planet. I only purchase animal products from reputable sources, such as farmers markets, or directly from the farms themselves. Because these products tend to be more expensive, I buy them infrequently. Mark Hyman, author of Food Fix, calls this lifestyle Flexitarian. And it’s something I whole-heartedly get behind.

Photo Credit: Brooke Lark (Unsplash)

But let me be clear, I’m also not AGAINST plant-based eating. If it works for you, let it work for you. Plant-based diets are very successful for many people. Cutting out all the factory farmed meat, the cheese, and the processed foods can make a huge difference in people’s lives. I also lean toward the idea that a plant-based diet is possibly the most environmental eating lifestyle, with a few caveats (it’s a whole rant, but basically, if people eat whole foods, non-processed and not fast food, and they stop thinking of sugar as a vegan-approved edible substance, which yeah, it’s vegan, but not healthy or environmental… then plant-based can be incredible for the environment).

However, there are people I call Vegangelicals. These are vegan, plant-based eaters who shame and guilt everyone else on the planet for not following their lifestyle.

You can spot a Vegangelical a mile away… (Photo Credit: Charl Folscher- Unsplash)

If you eat red meat once a week, it’s not going to kill you, or the planet. I didn’t agree with the author who stated he used to eat fish when out at restaurants, but that it was “nearly impossible to get sustainably sourced fish at a restaurant.”

First of all, he obviously doesn’t live in the Pacific Northwest. Second of all, if you are advocating that people should go vegan because YOU have a hard time finding sustainable seafood, that’s wrong.

I do eat seafood about 2-3 times a week. I live on Puget Sound, and we have some of the best seafood in the world. I did forego seafood and dairy for over 3 weeks, and yes, I survived. But I missed my salmon dishes, my eggs, and my occasional yogurt treat.

Grilling salmon and veggies is one of my favorites! (Photo credit: Kostiantyn Li- Unsplash)

This post does make it seem like I 1000% hated this program. And while it’s true I will not be following the program in the future, mainly because how not-so-great I felt, and not losing the weight, there were some points the author touched on that I whole-heartedly agreed with.

He talks about habits, a subject I could write about all day and all night, and I agreed with most of what he says about habits.

  • If you want to be the best at anything (including the best version of yourself), you have to have systems in place for success. These systems are healthy habits.
  • Our habits are the mechanisms that make us tick, like a program in a computer. In an effort to make you more efficient, your brain helps out by building pathways based on the things you do again and again, making it easier to repeat that action. Habits let you run on automatic, making energy-saving choices for you while you barely notice.
  • Take one small step at a time, and day by day you’ll build the positive habits that will help you reach your goals.
  • Making positive choices leads to positive results

Sound familiar? It’s very close to ideas I preach and practice with ZooFit.

Training Zookeepers (Photo Credit: Stephanie Miller)

The author also made an excellent point about fast food, and the importance of meal planning (see some of my previous posts about meal planning here). In his words:

Think about fast food. Its biggest selling point is in its name: fast! When we aren’t used to planning our meals, we wait until we get hungry and then we grab the closest thing. When you are hungry, if healthy food is unavailable and a bag of chips is easy and within reach, all that willpower goes right out the window and you’re left with a stomachache and a whole lot of regret.

Photo Credit: Bonnie Kittle (Unsplash)

And the author and I do have similar views on food being used as positive reinforcement. The main gist? Don’t do it. I tell folks all the time, if you want the burger or the ice cream, have the treat! Just don’t let that be the reason you go to the gym. Find other motivators, such as finding YOUR perfect workout, having fun at the gym, going with friends, and the ultimate: trying on clothes and realizing you just went down a size!

 Here’s what the author said about “rewards”: What my client and I realized after he did some introspection and we talked his habits through was that he had no issues eating healthfully throughout the day. Breakfast, lunch, fantastic. But by the time he got home in the evenings, after what were usually very long and stressful days, he would feel like he deserved a reward for making it through the day.
Treating ourselves is a very good thing—when the reward is good for us. If he had indulged himself with a run or a massage, all would have been right in his world. But instead he gave himself with what he thought was a reward: food.

I’ll say it for the people just joining- Positive reinforcement is not a burger after the gym!

Photo Credit: Anthony Esinosa (Unsplash)

All in all, I will say I have no regrets trying Revolution 22. No, I didn’t see results. No, I didn’t particularly enjoy the challenge, but that in itself is what was great about it. I found something that does not work for me. And so I can get ready for the next challenge, the next program, and see if THAT works for me.

I got some amazing recipes from Revolution 22. I look forward to making them more of my own and sharing some of them with you.

Photo Credit: Deryn Macey (Unsplash)

Plant-based can work great for some folks, it might not be the best fit for others. This is why I created ZooFit Safari, the 5-week challenge that has you try different eating plans each week to help you find which one might work best for you. It’s easy, convenient, and not as overwhelming as 3 weeks on a program without seeing results.

Next month, I’m tackling Wheat Belly, and a 10-Day Wheat Detox. Looking forward to improving my health, finding what works and what doesn’t work and sharing my journey with all of you!

Wheat Belly? There’s a Detox for that!
(Photo Credit: Unsplash)

One Response

  1. I’m looking forward to the wheat detox. We already stay away from wheat a lot so I’m interested in how you are going to kick it up a notch. Great article!

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