A Healthy Reset
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A Healthy Reset

It isn't impossible to stay healthy even when you're a broke college student.

A Healthy Reset

I'm sure by now you have met someone who has done or talked about doing the Whole 30, which is a stricter version of the Paleo Diet.

Paleo, also known as "the caveman diet," intends to follow the concept that in a modern world of preservatives, pesticides, and GMO's, we should attempt to eat the way our ancestors once did. This includes a diet comprised of lots of fruits, vegetables, meats, seeds, nuts, and ancient crops. Contrary to common belief, this does not mean eating a steak for every meal with a salad on the side. Instead, paleo eaters seek to fill their plate with healthy starchy vegetables, fruits, and vitamin filled meats. While I understood the value of paleo, the first time I did this, I didn't set it high on my list of priorities. I am a broke college student who maintains a healthy weight and feels good (for the most part); why should I feel like I should change? The answer is simple, if there is an option to live a fuller, healthier and happier life why wouldn't i strive for that???

So here I am trying to convince you to do the same.

In the Twin Cities, I am a college ambassador for an amazing gym called Alchemy 365. Alchemy defines themselves as "group fitness transformed. Drawing from yoga, strength, and high intensity exercises to provide an unmatched group fitness experience." So here I am, about to start a type of diet extremely similar to the paleo diet/reset/cleanse (they have a vegan option too) created by Alchemy called the "Alchemy 365 Challenge", it's a five-week fitness, nutrition, and lifestyle challenge designed to help its athletes feel healthier, happier. It includes a fantastic support system (coaches and small groups) and exercises. I am so pumped to say I am doing this with a full intention of maintaining this type of lifestyle after I finish.

Me and my fellow kick-ass Alchemy College Ambassadors:

In the beginning, I knew that this meant a lifestyle change regarding eating, for sure, but so far it has been easier than expected (only on day three let me add, but hey I'm optimistic). At the start, if you choose to you can begin by clearing out our pantry of all "unacceptable" foods and made several donations to grateful friends who thought we might be a little crazy, which I have done in the past. The obvious ones are bread, pasta, flour, etc. The more challenging items were those with hidden forms of gluten, including many sauces, chips, ground meats, and even canned soups. Barbecue sauce and maple syrup, for instance, both contain a vague ingredient known as "Caramel coloring," which, unfortunately, contains trace amounts of gluten.

Once the "offensive" ingredients are cleared or set aside, you start from scratch with a carefully planned menu and a trip to your local: Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, Farmers Market and/or Co-op. Some people may outline every dinner for the month ahead of time and determine what to have on hand regarding breakfast, lunch, and snacks to limit expenses and buy only what will be eaten. So what can a paleo dieter eat? The primary goal in my case is to eliminate all grains, alcohol, refined sugars, legumes, processed foods, and preservatives. Paleo eaters don't have to eat strange and foreign meals; it just requires a little more work and food preparation. You get to enjoy everything from lettuce wrapped burgers with homemade sweet potato fries, to roasted drumsticks with mashed sweet potatoes. Many of my former favorites, like meatloaf, could be easily made paleo with a simple switch of flours. Baking grain free becomes more of a challenge, but with some experimentation, almost anything can be made deliciously paleo!

Here is a simple meal that is 365 approved:

I'll be sure to check in once I finish my Alchemy 365 Challenge, but I know I will grow an even stronger love and appreciation for clean eating. There is an infinite number of easy, flavorful dishes to try and enjoy, that will also make you feel good too! You won't realize how much better you can feel until you eliminated unnatural foods from your diet. I'm not going to lie though, I've been invited to a handful of happy hours and birthday events, this is when for me it gets difficult. My advice: STAY STRONG! Just think of how bomb you're about to look in a few weeks. Even in the past three days, my mental clarity has improved! Paleo may just seem like another diet fad, but I think the paleo eaters are on to something here. Give it a try, Alchemy even has a program that is completely online for you peeps who live out of Minnesota; you may be surprised by what you find.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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