Lent Challenge 2013 – The Detailed Plan

Looks like there’s been a change of plans…

Oh, Lent hasn’t been cancelled; far from there… in fact, it just got tougher for me.

You see, I’ve been considering taking the Whole 30 challenge for quite some time now but never could work up the courage to actually do it. This is one challenge that I would definitely call scary!

Well, I finally decided to give it all I’ve got and pretty much follow the plan, with some very slight modifications.

If I was scared before, I’m even more scared now…

This plan basically strips my diet of all the things I love so much: my precious dairy, for one, my beloved whey protein powder, AND my almost vital Greek yogurt… OMG, how am I going to survive FOUR WEEKS without my precious dairy?

And then, there’s all the rest… the grains AND pseudo-grains, the sugars and sweeteners, the legumes… Of course, alcohol as well as any and all junk, packaged and processed food, it all has to go!

Removing all of the food items that belong to the  “I might be slightly addicted” category and knowing that I won’t be able to consume them, if only temporarily, throws me in a state of total panic.

I’m so nervous, my stomach is all tied up in a knot…

Now I feel even more unprepared and I have no idea what or how I’m going to eat over the next couple of weeks. Especially since the Whole 30 is against having Sex With Your Pants On (in other words, making “treats” out of approved ingredients, such as cauliflower pizza, coconut flour pancakes or avocado chocolate pudding)

That’s the part I really don’t think I’ll be able to follow. I like to mash up my avocado and mix it with cocoa powder to turn it into some sort of a pudding… and I see nothing wrong with that.

And I fail to see the difference between a salmon patty, which is approved, and coconut flour pancake, which isn’t. 

So in my case, there is a chance that the Sex With Your Pants On rule will get transgressed quite a few times. Still, I will try to comply as best I can. And I plan on respecting the list of “approved” ingredients to the “T”.

I am planning on reading It Starts with Food though… maybe it’ll help me change my mind and see things differently. But for now, I want to be able to look forward to my raspberry smoothie or [dairy free!] soft serve after my morning workout.

Plus, I have to be able to come up with interesting recipes over the course of this Lent Challenge.  I would hate having to let you guys down!

I’m sure I’ll pull through and I’ll make it happen once again. I shall come out victorious!

And I can’t wait to see how my body reacts to all this and what comes out of this new challenge…

Time will tell, I guess!

Here’s how and what I plan to eat (and NOT to eat) for the next 6 weeks.

Phase I - Lent Challenge 2013

Phase II - Lent Challenge 2013

Phase III - Lent Challenge 2013

*Note that the above tables are personal checklists that I put together to help me stay on track and quickly refresh my memory as to what I wish to include and exclude from my diet during this challenge, as well as a summary of how I intend to continue this challenge to take me all the way to Easter. These tables DO NOT reflect the actual Whole 30 program.

To review the actual program, please refer to the Whole 9 website. 


  1. Lauren says

    Wow, this is really something! Best of luck to you and I hope you are able to identify if anything just doesn’t jive well with you. I could stand to do this myself! I do not typically ‘give up’ anything for Lent, but am planning to at least begin with sodas. It’s a start…. I recently quit having my near-daily drink and save it for special occasions and have dropped about 10 pounds just from cutting out the regularity of alcohol.

    • says

      Way to go, Lauren! It’s surprising really how many calories come from what we drink and how easily we can shed a few pounds when we drop some of those drinks. Losing the sodas sure is a great start if you ask me. They do absolutely nothing for you, trust me! So are you planning on going 46 days without drinking a single soda? That would be a great challenge, me thinks!

      Thanks for the best wishes, I truly appreciate them. I’m gonna need all that I can get too. First morning without my habitual cup of coffee was a bit rougher than expected. Lemon and water just doesn’t seem to cut it for now. Hopefully, in a week, I’ll be feeling very differently about it. :)

  2. Donna says

    Sonia…Let me just say that I am most-likely going to SHAMELESSLY print off this list as a guideline for my own Lenten line of “action”…Bravo for the nix to all “sweet-tooth engendering” items and alcohol..

    The glass(es) of red bordeaux will be missed for myself..but I know I do not need them..and having said libation would just keep me less vigilant regarding the grain banishment ..etc. I also find a personal problem in dairy digestion (my allergologue informed me that I lack one of the two enzymes for its proper assimilation…family history!)..and wonder if you could suggest a good non-dairy protein to sub for the whey? Unfortunately, following a generally paleo proticol..legumes are out..so pea protein is not the answer?..I believe I have heard of an egg white protein powder? Hope I can locate it here in France!

    If you need a “Lenten Buddy”..I am here for you…as you have most assuredly and splendidly provided all the “grunt work” in generously sharing your plan with us. It really is a great moment to find out what “works” best for our bodies..Love to you on Valentine’s Day!

    • says

      Please, go right ahead, Donna! I published this so that I would have easy access to it from wherever, whenever (or almost) but also as a source of inspiration for people who would be tempted to give this or something similar a try.

      I have replaced my whey protein with a vegetarian based protein but it does contain pea protein, so I guess it wouldn’t work for you. Let me tell you, I really miss my whey! But hey, one of the purposes of this challenge is to expand my horizons and try new things. Who knows, I might discover that I can’t live without this new protein powder somewhere down the line! I heard great things about brown rice protein powder but have never tried it myself, so I can’t really tell you if it’s good or not. Worth a shot I guess! Oh, but wait… paleo doesn’t allow grains either, right? I’m always super confused as to what paleo allows and doesn’t allow.

      Best of luck to you with your own Lent Challenge, let’s definitely support each other! Guess we’re going to need much of that.

      Returning the love right back, have a splendid Valentine’s Day! (sugar, grain, dairy, sodium, fat and alcohol free!) 😉

  3. Caitlin says

    Best of luck Sonia! That definitely sounds like a challenge! I did something similar during my weight loss that a friend (who is training to be a nutritionist/personal trainer) put me on for 3 weeks (apparently to boost my metabolism or something) and I had to cut all dairy (meaning BLACK COFFEE! YUCK!) as well as things like tomatoes (?!), and sugars/sweeteners (except in fruit). It was tough. Mainly because she had me eating egg white omelettes EVERY DAY! lol seriously though, I did notice it seemed to have some kind of effect and I did feel really good – it was like a cleanse almost. But man, was I glad when those 3 weeks were done! 😀

    • says

      Thanks Caitlin! Funny, I thought I would absolutely hate black coffee and I’m realizing that it’s not so bad after all. I thought I would be looking for a solution to replace that dairy, such as coconut milk or something, but I think I’ll stick to black for the next 6 weeks and I might even not need to use cream ever again after… That’s one thing I’d been wanting to eliminate for a while, I might very well succeed this time!

      As for the egg white omelets, I already have them on a very regular basis, as in almost daily, and I really wouldn’t mind having one every day. I happen to prefer them to regular, whole egg omelets. I’m not big on egg yolk, it seems like I have a hard time digesting them. I always seem to burp them for hours (sorry… TMI!)

      So far, I’m loving this challenge. It’s tough, but challenging in a very good way. Forces me to think outside the box and I love that! 😀

  4. says

    I loved reading that you’re going to do a Whole30! Don’t be scared though. It’s hard at first, but it definitely gets easier. You’ll likely get more energy, and it feels great to have much less cravings (that’s also why they’re against ‘sex with your pants on’, it’s about the emotional connection you may have with any foods). I’m almost done with my 2nd Whole30 now and I feel much better than before.
    So I just wanted to say: Good Luck!! You’ll do great!

    • says

      Well, so far so good, Marinka. I’m really surprised at how I’m not craving sweets at all, or even dairy for that matter. Sure, I miss my whey protein and Greek yogurt big time and feel a bit lost without them, but I’m not craving them per se. One thing is for sure, this challenge will help me create new habits in eating real, healthy and unprocessed food! So far, I’m lovin’ it! :) And thanks for the encouraging words!

  5. says

    You go girl! I know you can do it, and with your creative mind for food I can’t wait to see what delicious recipes you come up with this month! Looking forward to reading your updates throughout the weeks! I’m also glad you’re reading It Starts With Food – it made a huge difference in how I dealt with the challenges of the program from the first time (when I hadn’t read it) to the second time after I had. It won’t be easy but hopefully you’ll be happy you did it by the time it’s over! :)

    • says

      Thank you so much Mellissa! So happy to see you comment here. 😀 You will be my inspiration throughout this challenge and I really hope that I will manage to come up with a few recipes that you will enjoy. I sort of get the feeling that I will have to go to your blog to get some inspiration from time to time, and might have to recreate some of your recipes, starting with this crazy yummy looking Tropical Turkey Chili, complete with avocado and plantain, and perhaps maybe even a little bit of coconut. Can’t wait! 😀

  6. says

    This is so interesting! I just read through your about me page and go you! Congrats on getting so healthy. I recently completed Whole Living’s 21-day challenge that was very similar to this (nothing but fruit, vegetables, lentils, seeds and nuts the first week, then slowly re-introducing gluten-free grains, legumes, etc.) I’m curious why you specified that when you eat fruit, it will never be after dinner…is it because of all the sugars? Anyway, good luck getting through this!! I’m sure you’ll feel amazing at the end :)

    • says

      Thanks a lot Erika! The reason for my not eating fruit after dinner is that I ALWAYS crave sugar BIG TIME in the evening, I’m always looking for something sweet to snack on. This is probably due to years of eating desserts late at night, my brain is still sort of waiting for that. So I want to break that pattern once and for all. If I feed my brain the sugar that it craves, even if it’s in the form of fresh fruit, it will still continue to want the sugar at night. I figure that after 46 days of getting absolutely nothing, it will sort of get the message! :) It seems to be working so far. Let’s just hope it sticks!

      • says

        That’s so interesting! I’ll be curious to see how it goes since I continued to eat fruit after dinner during my detox. I’d love to cut out sugar cravings altogether!!

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