Lean Up Challenge Week 1

The goal of the Lean Up Challenge is to adopt healthy eating and activity habits and “lean up” your body composition within a given time frame. Body fat, weight and waist circumference measurements are an easy way to do this. (Do not rely on just one of these measures, as all are helpful to see individual progress.)

The tips and recipes I will be posting here at NutritionByJules.com, every Monday for the next seven weeks, are meant to accompany your personal Lean Up Challenge. Measures should be done pre and post, to allow two months time for changes to occur with your new healthy habits.

Kick off week 1 tip: Plan ahead and Log

Keeping a detailed plan of what you will eat and what activities you will do is a self maintenance tool to hold you accountable for your actions. This will help you feel, and actually be, prepared for healthy change! When you have a schedule to stick by there is less room for extra snacks, unnecessary intake, and laziness. Include in your log notes on goals for that day, or special circumstances to consider.

Once you have your plan in place, you must execute it. Buy and prepare the foods you have in your plan and then use them. At the end of each day, record what you actually did, including notes on goals you accomplished or still have, how you feel, and likes and dislikes.  

Logging in this way is meant to keep you aware of your actual food and beverage intake, activity and feelings in general. These are not always comfortable things to become aware of, but forcing yourself to do so is a necessary step in order to break old habits and form new ones.

Logging may be something you love and continue forever, or it may be something you try for a week or so, pick up a few tips and then taper off as you are more comfortable with your food choices.


Here are two fun recipes to get your started on your planning journey:

Kale Chips:

Ingredient options:

  • Soy and sesame= 1 Tbs soy sauce, 1 Tbs sesame seeds (optional)
  • Salt and vinegar= 1 Tbs sherry vinegar, 1 tsp salt
  • Lime and Chili= Juice from 1 lime, 1 tsp lemon zest, 2 tsp chili powder
  • Balsamic vinegar= 1 Tbs balsamic vinegar, 1 Tbs Dijon mustard, 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • Roasted garlic= 2 cloves garlic finely chopped, 1 tsp garlic salt
  • Creamy dill= 1 Tbs sour cream, 1 Tbs fresh chopped dill (or dried) 
  1. Pre heat oven to 300 F. Wash, dry and remove stems from 1 bunch of kale. Tear into bit size pieces. Place kale and 1 Tbs olive, grape seed, avocado or sesame oil into large Ziplock bag. Seal bag and rub oil into kale pieces.
  2. Pour flavor ingredients of choice into baggie, close tight and shake and rub the kale again until completely covered in the flavorings.
  3. Shake and rub a little more
  4. Dump kale out onto a lined or lightly greased baked sheet and bake about 20 minutes or until crispy.  


Mama’s Homemade Granola :

Combine the following in a large, non-plastic, mixing bowl:

  • 5-6      cups large flake oats, mix of multigrain and old fashioned
  • 1      cup raw almonds, slivered or whole
  • 1      cup raw crushed walnuts or pecans
  • ½      cup ground flaxseed or chia seeds
  • ½      cup wheat germ
  • ½      cup oat bran
  • 1/2      – 1 cup pumpkin and/or sunflower seeds
  • 1-2      cups raisins and/or dried cranberries, cherries or blueberries
  • Optional=      ½ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • Optional=      cinnamon, nutmeg

Pre-heat oven to 350 F. In a medium saucepan heat 2 cups fresh ground peanut or almond butter, ½ cup honey and 2-3 tsp vanilla extract (optional) in 1 inch water until simmering. Stir occasionally.

Pour hot mix over dry ingredients and stir to coat; make sure to dig down to bottom of bowl to ensure all dry ingredients are covered with sauce mix. May want to do this in small batches to make sure all dry ingredients are coated. If want to have chunkier granola, then make more sauce to add to dry ingredients.

Spread the wet granola loosely over baking sheets with a lip (to avoid spilling); no more than an inch thick. Place in oven and bake for 45 minutes to an hour stirring ever 10-15 minutes. Edges will get brown faster, so stir thoroughly to make sure granola toasts evening.  

Let cool and store in air-tight containers.

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