Nobody said the Fresh Fit Foods’ intensive three-week nutrition and exercise “re-set” would be easy.

The first four days of the 21 Day Media Challenge, in which I am a participant, were euphoric.

Last Thursday, my body hummed with health, as if cleansed by the re-portioned, pre-cooked Fresh Fit individual meals that feature proteins, nutrient-dense carbohydrates and fresh veggies. I wasn’t feeling hungry at all.

World Health personal trainer Jessi Zelinsky is pushing me in exercise sessions and my body loves it. Exercise is highly recommended as part of the 21 Day Challenge. Fresh Fit Foods is a sister company to the World Health gym group.

But then, just as Fresh Fit Foods’ nutritionist Laura Swan had warned me, over the weekend a few hours of hunger set in.

This is natural, she said. With an accelerated six-day-a-week program of running, resistance training and yoga, my calorie burn-rate has been greater than the carefully constructed 1,800 calories per day I am taking in from Fresh Fit Foods’ three pre-cooked, microwaveable meals and two snacks a day supplied for the 21 Day Challenge. Hence my body has turned to its fat for fuel, burning about five pounds so far in eight days. Yea!!

When you’re hankering for a glass of wine (or two) with cheese, cold-cuts and crackers late Saturday evening, that’s when the strict rules – no food outside of what’s inside those Fresh Fit meal packages, no booze, 1.5 cups of coffee a day – actually make it easier.

You can’t open the fridge and pretend you’ll eat low-calorie cheese, or just have a half-glass of wine – hah hah. You just can’t, so you don’t.

The 21-Day-Challenge nutrition roll-out is all about common sense. We all know breakfast should be the biggest meal of the day, but what do we do? Coffee, and maybe cold cereal or toast!

On the Fresh Fit program, breakfast is big, 450-500 calories worth, usually scrambled egg whites, a complex carbohydrate like diced potatoes, yam or brown rice or yam, and occasionally sausage.

The “nutrient-dense” breakfast is filling and gets you easily to lunch – a slightly smaller 400-450 calorie meal like a chicken wrap with side veggies.

A late-afternoon snack of cut fruit with a protein-rich dip (150 calories) staves off the hunger until you join your loved ones for a light meat, fish or vegetarian dinner (450-500 calories), and then – treat of the evening – a delicious protein muffin that Fresh Fit executive chef Seamus Blue magically makes with only 150 to 200 calories.

My original assessment with nutritionist Swan was revealing. At 169 lbs, standing 5 foot and 5 inches, not only was I pushing chubbiness, I would have to lose 25 to 30 lbs of excess lard were I to achieve the ideal ratio – for my age, weight and sex – of body fat to LBM (lean body mass).

“Men over 56 years old should be at 20% to 25% body fat to LBM,” Laura said. “But the average today (in North America) is 26% to 30%. You’re at 30.4%.”

Which means my ideal weight, with some added muscle as well as fat loss, would be around 140-145 lbs. I haven’t been at 145 pounds since I was 20!

“I’ll meet you in the middle,” said Laura. “You’ll add some muscle from your workouts, so let’s shoot for 155 lbs.

“Look on the bright side,” she adds jokingly. “You’re cutting out booze – that’s four pounds right there!”

Just over a week, and my home scale is saying 164 lbs, down five. Two weeks and nine pounds to go!

Media participants J’Lyn Nye of CHED and Chris Sheetz of CISN have had no let-downs. “I’m loving it,” says Chris. “The work-outs are great, the food is great. I’m not hungry, I haven’t cheated and I’m enjoying it.” J’Lyn is pleased with her healthy weight loss of four pounds over a week. “The food is filling, fresh and flavourful. It’s great to get back in the gym.”

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The ATCO/Sun Christmas Charity Auction is now in full swing, with bidding over by 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 29

Check out Packages 88 and 89 for fantastic food. Sun food columnist Paul Shufelt and I are teaming up in an unique two-dinner special for Package 88. For Package 89, my dear friend Bruce Wells of the Homefire Grill cooks at your home while I serve wine.

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Hardiest of congratulations to Solstice Seasonal Cuisine Chef Jan Trittenbach, winner of last week’s Gold Medal Plates Edmonton 10th annual competition. Trittenbach is now a two-time winner (2011) and goes on to the national Gold Medal Plates finale in Kelowna in February. Packrat Louis Chef Andrew Cowan was second, Cory Radkowski of St. Albert’s 12 Acres Restaurant was third.