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40 pounds down — This is one reason why I meal plan

40 lbs down -- This is one reason why I meal plan!

Those of you who have lost weight — does this happen to you, too? Even though you now may be buying clothes in smaller sizes, you don’t really see the difference in yourself or trust in the process until you run across old photos and realize, oh, yes: There is actually a difference here, look at that.

For those of you who are new to my whole journey (which I’ve intermittently chronicled here): Back at the very end of 2016 I started watching added sugars in my diet, which inherently also led to cutting out a lot of processed food and recommitting to cooking for my family at home.

January 2017 is also when that commitment to home cooking inspired me to start meal planning consistently, and it’s when I started writing up free weekly ALDI meal plans — to help keep myself on track, to help keep things affordable, and to share the meal planning bug with others.

What does meal planning have to do with weight loss?

free weekly aldi meal plan

So, what does meal planning have to do with weight loss? Just about everything, as it turns out! While everyone is different, and different strategies work for different people, for me: Too much processed food and too much sugar leads to overeating, mindless eating, and overall unhealthy habits. Too little planning leads to fast food, carryout, or prepackaged dinners. Planning out our dinners and cooking at home is the only thing that (after all these years of trying…) that has turned out to help keep me on track. 

When a plateau is not a plateau

over halfway there -- 27 lbs down

So after I thought I’d kind of plateaued last summer, I went on to lose another 13 lbs — and sticking with the yoga has also made a big difference.

I did so love this shirt, by the way, but it finally went in the donation bag this week because it’s just too big on me — which is part of what got me thinking again about this whole process. I got it several years ago over at Cents of Style, but they no longer make this one. 🙁 They do carry some similar options over on Amazon, but I’m not sure any I like quite as well.

one year of yoga

So, it’s now been a full year of yoga: They even emailed me proof! About a week ago, I celebrated my one year anniversary with my yoga studio, where I now make a habit of dropping in several times a week. (For those of you who are local to me, I highly recommend Ahimsa — I use the Elmhurst location, but they also have locations in Oak Park, Berwyn, and La Grange. Get your first month for $49 through my referral link here, and maybe I’ll see you over there! 😉 )

I had tried yoga off and on over the years, but never stuck with it. I don’t really think I could have until I changed some of my other habits, and got myself to a point where practicing yoga worked together with the dietary and other life changes.

So, just a little catch up today on where I am now, for those of you who have been following along over these last couple of years. How are you all doing with your own “real food meets real life” journey?

Earlier installments in the Refined Sugar and Me series

refined sugar and me the complete series

Read the whole Refined Sugar and Me series in chronological order (or catch up on any posts you might have missed).

Cherelle | The Inspired Prairie

Wednesday 24th of July 2019

Hi Rachel,

What a sweet post! I love seeing peoples transformations after they start a clean eating lifestyle. I totally agree with you that meal planning helps drastically. I know that for our family, meal planning helps keep us on track, otherwise, we end up eating junk that's fast and not nourishing.

I like to do my meal plans for 2 weeks at a time, that way I'm going grocery shopping about 2x a month. :)

Thanks for sharing your story with us! -Cherelle


Monday 27th of May 2019

Hello! I have been following your meal plans for a while now and love them! I struggle with what to eat for lunch that will still help me lose weight and be healthier. We rarely have leftovers but when we do, I'll eat that. What kinds of easy and quick things do you eat for lunch? Thank you!


Monday 27th of May 2019

Glad they are useful! I often eat leftovers, actually. Or often skip breakfast and will do an eggs and avocado toast type thing for brunch. When I am with it, I meal prep out some lunches for the week -- or since I work from home, will do something like a big pot of soup or chili on Sunday and then have it for lunch all week. I don't plan them out as much as I do the dinners, since I find it easier to grab something decent at lunch time. :)


Monday 18th of March 2019

Hi Rachel, Congratulations on your journey. I was amazed how much weight I lost getting rid of refined sugar. I use raw unprocessed sugar and do all baking now from scratch due to new peanut allergies. We can't even by bread due to possible contamination.It has helped a-lot for our family.


Sunday 17th of March 2019

I'm so glad you have found a way to eat healthy and lose weight. You look wonderful. It's really hard to give up all of the goodies that come with sugar. I know I have to do it too, but, think I love dessert more than anything else!

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