I love living in Southern California.  It’s wonderful being able to go outside each and every day to exercise.  Before moving here my husband and I would go out for a 3 mile run and it would be a piece of cake.  Not so much in Southern California.  Finding a flat stretch of land is next to impossible.  It’s hilly here to say the least.  When we first transitioned to running here I would see a hill coming up and panic.  I would psych myself out before I even made it half way up.  A week later, running up the same GINORMOUS hill I made a deal with myself.  I would keep my head down and just focus on making it to small points along the way.  Once I got to that point I would pick another point not too far off.  Again and again I would focus on just getting to that next point.  Not only did I make it up the hill but I felt better when I got to the top.  Starting out with a healthier lifestyle is no different.  Trying to change everything at once is overwhelming and often leads to disappointment.

In this 10 week guide you’ll be making small changes each week.  Over time you’ll slowly phase out the bad habits and ease into the healthy ones.  By focusing on smaller goals each week you’ll find that changing over to a healthy lifestyle isn’t so overwhelming after all.  Some weeks will be harder than others but keep focused and remember - you CAN do this!


WEEK 1 - Drink more water and eliminate soda

Each day drink one more cup of water until you reach the minimum of 6-8 glasses daily. Have a glass of water on your desk, put a bottle in your purse and car and drink up.   We all know that chemically created soft drinks are the worst beverage choice we can make so this is the week to say farewell.  Start drinking only pure natural drinks, like filtered water, fresh fruit and vegetable juices or green tea.  If you’re still craving the bubbly stuff try adding a squirt of lemon to a glass of sparkling mineral water.

WEEK 2 - Out with the fast food and in with the homemade meals

This week we not only eliminate fast foods but we get into a habit of planning ahead.  If you used to grab a “McBurger” for lunch, be prepared and make yourself a delicious salad, a sandwich with whole grain bread or even use some tasty leftovers from dinner.  Pack it in your lunch bag and it will be ready to grab the next morning on your way to work.

WEEK 3 - Sugar and Salt

Throw out the table salt and replace it with some sea salt and coarse ground fleur de sel or other coarse ground sea salt.  Use the sea salt for cooking and the fleur de sel salt for sprinkling on your meals (taste first BEFORE salting).  For some, eliminating processed sugar will be one of the toughest challenges.  Toss the white sugar and chemically processed sugar alternatives like agave nectar, truvia, turbinado and brown sugar.  Substitute instead with raw coconut crystals, date sugar, coconut nectar, maple syrup (grade b or c only) or honey.

WEEK 4 - Cow’s Milk is for Cows!

There are so many tasty alternatives to cow’s milk and this week will be about finding one that you like and working it into your daily diet.  Try coconut milk, rice milk, almond milk, oat milk or even hemp milk.  They are so good that you won’t even miss the other stuff!

WEEK 5 - Fats!  The good and the bad.

Trans fats are very bad for you and you might not even know you are eating them!  Throw out the margarine, vegetable shorting, non dairy coffee creamer and anything with the words hydrogenated fats or partially hydrogenated fats on it.  For cooking try using a coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil or safflower oil.  Stick to ones that are cold pressed, unrefined and organic.

WEEK 6 - Whole Grains

Say goodbye to white flour, white bread and white rice!  Not only have they been highly processed but they have almost no nutritional value.  You and your family deserve the best - whole grains!  Spend some time in the bread aisle of your favorite health foods store and carefully read the ingredients labels to find a truly whole grain bread.  You want to look for ones that list simple, organic ingredients like, 100% whole grain whole wheat (If the label just reads wheat flour this is a processed flour and you want to stay away!), water, yeast or salt.  When purchasing pasta stick with ones that are made from 100% whole wheat, brown rice, quinoa flour or kamut flour.  Again, the ingredient list should be simple and short.  Start using brown rice and then branch out to wild rice, Wehani and other fun varieties.

WEEK 7 - Clean house!

This week we are cleaning house and I don’t mean with a vacuum cleaner and duster.  It’s time to go through your cupboards, pantry and fridge and toss out all that processed, refined and chemically created ‘crap’ that they market as food.  Read the labels and if you can’t pronounce the words or need to ‘google’ to find out what an ingredient is - toss it!  From now one you’ll be purchasing and consuming only real, natural and wholesome foods.

WEEK 8 - Go Organic

The last few weeks you’ve been working so hard to rid your body of chemically created, processed, refined foods.  Yet one of the leading sources of toxins comes from non organic foods.  Buying only organic items will ensure that you are eating non GMO foods and those without harmful chemicals.  These days it’s completely possible to eat a 100% organic diet.  Everything from fruits and vegetables to popcorn and chips to spices and hair products are organic.  Go slowly and as you use up a product make sure to replace it with an organic version.

WEEK 9 - Reduce your meat intake

Most healthy eating principles allow the consumption of organic animal products 2-3 times per week - NOT 2-3 times per DAY!  Start reducing the amount of meat, fish and cheese to no more than 2-3 times weekly.  Add in more fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and grains to your diets.  We have a tons of tasty and delicious vegetarian and vegan meals that you can eat throughout the week.  Keeping your diet diverse not only makes it fun but it gives your body a variety of nutrients.

WEEK 10 - Portion size and exercise 

Just because you are eating healthy doesn’t mean you get to overeat!  Portion control is important and if you’re looking to lose some weight you’ll want to focus on keeping your portions under control.  Read the labels and pay attention to serving sizes.  If you haven’t already, find an exercise you enjoy doing and work it into your daily routine 5-6 times a week for about 30 minutes.  There is no right or wrong exercise out there.  Walking, running, cycling, dance or even a fun aerobic program are great ways to start working exercise into your routine.

Congratulations!  You made it 10 weeks and should be feeling lighter, healthier and energized!  Remember that it takes 21 days to turn something into a habit.  Keep up the good work and enjoy the new healthier you!

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  1. Sarah M says:

    I have been following you for awhile (from pinterest and your fabulous broccoli salad recipe, haha!) but don’t know that I’ve commented before. This is an excellent overview and I shared it on facebook. I went through this change years ago and it has been such a good thing. So many of my friends are completely overwhelmed when they ask me questions about this, and this is a very basic outline that I think could be very encouraging (instead of ‘diving right in’ to all of it). Thanks for sharing!
    Sarah M

  2. abbi says:

    This is a great guide - I do many of these already but always nice to have a few other things to work towards!

  3. M says:

    I have a question about the maple syrup grade B or C only. What does the grade signify? and why is it important to have B or C only? I have had many a start on this new way of living and have a bottle of Grade A maple syrup unopened, just wondering if I should give it away and buy grade B/C, which by the way I can’t seem to find.
    thanks in advance.

    • Sarah says:

      Maple syrup has 3 different grades - a, b and c. Grade A is generally the first run sap from a tree. It is the lightest in color and lowest in mineral and nutritional content. Also some manufacturers of syrup use formaldehyde pellets when processing the sap out of the trees. Because of this grade a syrups will often have formaldehyde residue in them. Grade b and c rarely contain any traces of formaldehyde and have a higher mineral and nutritional content. If at all possible use an organic maple syrup in either a grade b or c if you can find it!


  4. Kim says:

    Good morning. I just wanted to take a minute to say thank you for this post. I just recently found your site as I’ve decided 2012 is the year that I will finally fully commit to clean eating. I have always found it too overwhelming before. This guide really makes it feel “do-able” for the first time. Thank you!

  5. karen says:

    I just found this website while looking for a lentil recipe. I have tried doing all of these; I still use non dairy creamer tho but only drink coffee once a day; do I really need to get rid of the creamer?? I am doing everything else; I also switched to gluten free for health reasons not because of celiacs’ disease. I recently had a physical and my blood work was better than ever.
    Thanks for the site!

    • Sarah says:

      Hi Karen,

      You don’t have to give up coffee but PLEASE give up the creamer. Almost all creamers on the market contain partially hydrogenated vegetable oil or trans fat. You know it’s bad when even McDonalds has stopped using trans fats. If you can use a sweeter milk like Oat or Almond milk to your coffee and skip the creamer. We also have a recipe here for a clean coffee creamer that is a great substitute.


  6. Clancy says:

    I’ve just found you today ad I have to say I am EXCITED! I don’t do any of this. I don’t even drink water… Okay maybe once a week when my poor body is begging for it, but my first choice is always milk, with my second choice being diet coke. I know its bad. And I have NO excuses because I LOVE healthy food, I’m just lazy. Well, time to get on with REALLY looking after myself and my babies with this fantastic way of life. Thanks for all the tips and gorgeous looking recipes, I’ll be checking back daily, as well as blogging about my own journey :-)

    • Sarah says:

      Hi Clancy,

      I’m so excited for you! I think what you are doing is AWESOME! It’s a lot of work and not easy to change your lifestyle but taking it one week at a time will make it a much smoother transition. Remember it takes 21 days to form a habit so hang in there. I think it’s great that you’ll be blogging about all of this. My husband and I recently finished a 5 day juice detox and let me tell you, having put it out there on the internet and knowing people were waiting to hear how it went, kept us accountable and we ended the 5 days with a very successful juice detox. I wish you all the best luck and can’t wait to hear how it goes! Keep us posted.



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