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Sarah's slim down: Week two of Inferno

Sarah Caron is a Connecticut-based freelance writer and editor. She lives with her wonderful husband, two adorable kids and two funny beagles. Check out her food blog at Sarah's Cucina Bella.

Little steps to big changes

Ever wonder if a diet plan's claims are for real? We sure do — so we've decided to put health and diet plans to the test, starting with DailyBurn.com's Inferno program. Is it too good to be true?
scale
Sarah's Slim-Down: Week 2

Little steps
to big changes

Ever wonder if a diet plan's claims are for real? We sure do — so we've decided to put health and diet plans to the test, starting with DailyBurn.com's Inferno program. Is it too good to be true?

Sarah -- Week 2

After one week on DailyBurn's Inferno, and following their tips to lose 10 pounds in a month, I say that Inferno is tough. Really tough. Like OMG-it-burns tough. But it's also rewarding. In fact, after one week, I've lost (drumroll, please) two pounds!

I am so excited.

This is a tough plan to follow, and I haven't been perfect about it. But making little changes has paid off with good results so far.

Day one: The protein shake fiasco

Tip No. 1 for this plan was to drink a protein shake for breakfast. You might as well have told me to go climb a mountain in stilettos because this felt like an impossible feat. I've never been a protein shake fan and couldn't imagine doing this every day. For a month.

Sarah's stats:

Height: 5'6"

Starting weight: 194 pounds

Current weight: 192 pounds

Total loss: 2 pounds

Still, I trudged along and whipped up a protein shake using my husband’s favorite protein powder. It’s vanilla flavored and I added frozen strawberries — for a little natural flavor. My daughter —the official taste tester — took one sip and proclaimed it good, but I could barely stomach a few sips. The synthetic vanilla taste was just too much for me, so down the drain it went. So I started researching non-powder alternatives and promised myself that the next day I would take a different route.

In the meantime, I grabbed a coconut Simple Square (6 grams of protein!) and a coffee and gave myself a pass on this one. The Simple Squares have a really simple and short ingredients list including nuts and honey — and it’s all organic. And it tastes good, too.

Over the next few days, I focused on having protein-rich breakfasts. Shakes? What shakes?

Finding a protein shake for me

Still, I felt like I needed to give the whole protein-shake-for-breakfast thing another whirl. Perhaps there was something else out there that wouldn't be a cloyingly sweet, fake, chalky torture. I turned to the experts to help me find a protein shake for me.

Loryn Galardi, a clinical nutritionist based in Wilton, Connecticut, said that you need to be really cognizant of the ingredients in your protein powder. "If you buy from a discount store, you are getting discounted, low-quality ingredients. There should not be any soy, gluten or artificial colors or sweeteners such as aspartame or sucralose, and if fructose is included, it should be in a small amount," says Galardi.

So what should you be looking for? Start with the right type of protein. Galardi says whey is best, but other kinds can be good too. "The protein should come from either whey, which is best for maintaining muscle, or if you are [whey] intolerant, then pea, rice and/or hemp," says Galardi.

As for mixing it, Galardi says that to make an effective protein shake, you need to add both carbohydrates (she recommends about a quarter-cup of fruits or vegetables) and a fat, like nuts. "A shake without fat will leave you starving in an hour. Coconut, nuts and seeds are all good ideas. Again, not too much, as we don't want a 700-calorie morning shake. You also need a bit of fiber which can come from seeds as well, such as ground flax seeds," says Galardi.

A protein shake for me

After getting tips from Galardi, I decided to look one more time for a protein powder for me. I knew now to avoid soy, and didn't want whey, since whey shakes have always made my stomach dance. Instead, I went with one of the alternatives she suggested: hemp. I found an organic hemp protein powder at Trader Joe's that has just a few ingredients — and all ones that I can both pronounce and recognize.

In the morning, I mix it with about 1 cup of fruit. Although Galardi had suggested less, I like having more for the flavor and also to get a head start on my five fruits and vegetables a day. The hemp powder already has a good deal of fiber (at least this one does). And tossing in a handful of walnuts takes care of the fat she recommends.

The result? Well, it's not pretty (OK, it looks like mud) but it is both tasty and filling — and better yet, I like it. Yes, folks, I found a protein shake that I like. Go figure.

The benefit to starting the day this way? I find myself snacking less. There are no midmorning cravings to contend with or feeling that I need just a little more of something. That's pretty awesome.

The workouts

When I said I wasn't perfect about the plan, I wasn't kidding. So here's the big confession: I didn't do all the Inferno workouts this week. I couldn't for two reasons: First, the intensity is so high that for someone like me who hadn't worked out in a while, the zero-to-60 approach comes with pain. I could barely stand up, let alone walk, after the second workout. Then I fell, bruising my foot badly. So a few days off were in order. Now it's a new week, and I am back at it and hoping I can do more workouts than last week.

More on health

Sarah's Slim-Down: Week one of Inferno
Red-carpet results: Denise Austin's celebrity diet and fitness tips

6 Boxing drills for a hot body

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