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Posted on 04-26-2016

Hey everyone! Dr. Matt's wife, Ashley, here. I am looking forward to sharing my wellness journey with you on a regular basis! I believe we can all learn from each other. Although I am not a doctor and all that I write is my opinion and not to be seen as medical advice, I hope you will learn something new and be inspired to do research on your own. 

I recently finished a five-day salad challenge. A friend of mine had invited me to a secret Facebook group and we were challenged to eat a salad for lunch and a salad for dinner for five days straight. Although we didn't have any restrictions on the types of salads we ate, there was an understanding that there had to be some sort of greens included. I was a little bummed that no one tried to pass macaroni salad off as one of their meals. Anyway, we were encouraged to post a picture of our salad in the group and share the contents. This gave us all new ideas of ingredient combinations and kept us accountable too. The other component was that the leaders of the group shared recipes and tips for fun combos as well as homemade dressings.  Here are the fun things I learned while doing this challenge:

1.) It was motivating!​ 

I like salads in general, but I definitely chose better because I was on the challenge. I had a very busy week that included two lunch meetings, an evening birthday party, and a night to eat out. I chose salad every time, and I know for a fact that I would not have had I not been on that challenge. 

2.) I got inspired.

Seeing all the different posts got me thinking about some great salads. I am looking forward to salmon on my salad and grilling up some chicken and having it in the fridge for the week ahead. Then we had some meatless combinations that delivered on the protein category. Also the fruit looked so good! 

3.) I feel better.

After day 3 I remember remarking to my husband that I was still excited about salads and was beginning to crave them in a new way. I realized that I was not even snacking (crazily) between meals. I would have a small, healthy snack, but I wasn't battling the carby, sugary cravings each afternoon like before. The battle of wills was not there. I just had to make the choice, but not fight the craving.

4.) The accountability helped.

I am not a group participator when it comes to fitness. I enjoy a solitary run or a moment with me and my music while on the elliptical. This hold true to eating challenges for the most part. This was an exception. Maybe because it was an area I already enjoy. In general, I make a great salad, but having the accountability to make the healthy choice each meal for five days  was what I needed. 

5.) This doesn't have to stop here.

As it ended and I evaluated how I felt (five pounds lighter!) and how what I crave has changed, I decided to continue the trend. Not that I will have it every day forever, but I shifted my thinking and started looking for ways to have a salad even when I am fixing the family something else. For example, we had sausages for dinner last night. The kids had sausage and butter noodles and the adults had sausage cut-up over our salads. This can work most nights with a little planning. For lunches, I just made sure to have chopped salads ready and a protein at the ready as well.

On the weekends that I have time to prep, I will try to have a meat cooked and ready to go for the week. On weeks that that can't happen, I will be prepared with pre-cooked meats and hard boiled eggs or quinoa. Life is not so hard and busy that we can't make a little time to give our bodies the best fuel.

Who wants to learn more about salads? I will share what weekly prep looks like and my favorite homemade dressings in the weeks to come! 

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