Add, Not Subtract

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I thought about doing a ‘clean eating’ challenge this week.  You see, I’ve kind of fallen off the healthy livin’ wagon. Traveling messed up my eating – my meals were super sporadic and definitely lacking vegetables.  I drank way too much coffee, too much wine, and not enough water.  I slept odd hours (really odd hours) or didn’t sleep much at all.  Basically, I woke up on this glorious Monday not feeling very hot.


So I thought, “Let’s do this!  A challenge!  No more processed foods.  No added sugar.  And definitely no booze.  None of this, none of that.”  But then I thought… “Mehhhh, but what about my coffee creamer?  I probably shouldn’t be drinking coffee at all on a clean eating week…”  I started to waffle. Not too many things can motivate me to give up coffee.  Winking smile


Instead of thinking of all the things that I don’t want to do this week, I’m going to focus on ADDING things in.  Isn’t that a better what to think about healthy living, anyway?


  • ADD:  Water, water, so much water.
  • ADD: Regular exercise.
  • ADD: Sleep.  Sleep in a regular pattern.  Early to bed, early to rise.
  • ADD: Vegetables.
  • ADD: Regular, balanced meals.

healthy living


Basically, treat myself the way I know my body likes to be treated – and deserves to be treated, too.  I’m hoping that a week at home with no traveling will make this easy.  Or at the very least – easier.


Anyone want to join me on the Add, Not Subtract Week?  What are you going to add in?


Thought of the Day:


“Don’t confuse your path with your destination. Just because it’s stormy now doesn’t mean you aren’t headed for sunshine.”



  • Sarena (The Non Dairy Queen) March 25, 2013, 9:19 am

    I love this idea! With the cold weather, I tend to not drink enough water. I go for more hot tea. No, it’s not necessarily bad, but I don’t drink nearly enough! I’m going to add in more water this week. Make of point of getting the right amount of water and then maybe this cold I caught from my son will go away a little faster! Good luck this week! I hope you feel better!

  • laine March 25, 2013, 9:21 am

    I’m going to add meditation and breath work.

  • Michelle @ A Healthy Mrs March 25, 2013, 9:22 am

    Sounds like a great idea — a much better way of looking at things!

    I’ll definitely be joining you in drinking more water!

  • Amber @ Busy, Bold, Blessed March 25, 2013, 9:24 am

    I’m definitely adding sleep! And home cooked meals loaded up with fresh veggies! I’m doing a healthy eating challenge in April, so this week is my ramp up. Also going to see if I can skip coffee… all that extra sleep should help 😉 We’ll see though…

  • Jodi March 25, 2013, 9:25 am

    I love this idea Caitlin! Count me in!

  • Emily N March 25, 2013, 9:25 am

    I am in. I need to add more veggies this week!

  • James March 25, 2013, 9:27 am

    Your post was just what I needed today. I too have fallen off the healthy bandwagon this last month, and was considering a clean eating challenge this week, but with today’s snow and stuff, I’m just not into it. “Adding in” seems like a good fit. Thanks for the idea!

  • Avery @ southern belle living well March 25, 2013, 9:33 am

    I really like your mindset! Sometime I catch myself thinking, “Okay, no chocolate for 4 days, you can do it,” when obviously, I really can’t do it. Instead, I need to be thinking, “okay, a vegetable at breakfast for 5 days, you can do it” and see if I’m even craving the chocolate by the end!

  • Ashley @ My Food N Fitness Diaries March 25, 2013, 9:37 am

    Great idea! I think mentally we respond better when we think of it in the more positive way of adding things in rather than taking things away from ourselves. I often times find myself wanting something even MORE just because of the fact that I’ve told myself I can’t have it.

  • Emily March 25, 2013, 9:40 am

    I LOVE this thought process!!! Makes it so much less daunting than taking away something. I’m going to try adding in more water every day and some form of exercise every day as well. Great idea! 🙂

  • Sara @ fitcupcaker March 25, 2013, 9:40 am

    This is a good way to look at eating healthy, I love it!

  • Katie @ Peace Love & Oats March 25, 2013, 9:43 am

    Love this – I hate the idea of cutting out things I love, especially if they aren’t awful, like coffee! I mean really, if the worst thing I eat/drink all day is coffee then I’m pretty good 🙂

  • Laura March 25, 2013, 9:44 am

    Gotta agree with you on this one! I kind of hate reading HLBs where every week or two it’s all about eliminating sugar, carbs, caffeine, etc. Then if you do have it you “slipped” or “cheated”. There’s really nothing healthy about that mindset in my opinion. I haven’t done yoga in a few days & I just got a new mat so I will be adding that in for sure starting tonight.

  • Carol March 25, 2013, 9:45 am

    I am adding more cardio this week:) I have been doing a lot of circuits and my cardio has dwindled so I am looking forward to getting more miles in.

    By the way love the new look of your page! I usually read it on Google Reader. Looks great!

  • Katie March 25, 2013, 9:51 am

    I’ve been craving something like this. I think it’s the start of spring (despite snowy weather where I am this morning) that makes us want to do some sort of spring cleaning/cleanse. Last week, I decided I don’t need to change much, but need to add things in: more water, more fruit, more time reading a book, more chapstick. 🙂

  • Ali March 25, 2013, 9:51 am

    I am so in on this. My birthday was last week and between coworkers taking me out, celebrating with the fam, a girls day on Sat and a date yesterday, I am waaaay in the too much sugar and alcohol zone! I was feeling it yesterday morning and went for a run and had a green smoothie for breakfast and that seemed to help. Adding in healthy living sounds like a fabulous idea this week!

  • Anne Weber-Falk March 25, 2013, 10:07 am

    I’m in! At nearly 49 years old, I’m tired of subtracting things from my life to supposedly make it better. I’m all for cutting back though. And adding! Cut back on the fried stuff, add more of the green, crunchy stuff. Cut back on sitting on the butt, add more of the walking stuff. Cut back on the TV and computer, add more sunshine and fresh air. Cutting out just makes me sad and grumpy. As long as I can have a little I feel much better and that makes me want to add more of the good stuff.

  • Sarah March 25, 2013, 10:08 am

    I love this! I always feel the same way in regards to Lent, so many people give up a bad habit, most often food related, when really I think it would be great if we all added a good one 🙂 Whether it’s drinking more water, getting more exercise or volunteering your time for a good cause. I like adding, not subtracting!

  • MC March 25, 2013, 10:08 am

    I tried doing this last week and March Madness + DC Beer Festival (yeah…that happened) just totally threw me off. The amount of fried stuff consumed this weekend was insane. I’m glad you posted this – I will be joining you! More water, back to normal person breakfasts, cutting out the deep fried stuff, and packing at least 4/5 of my work lunches!

  • Carrie March 25, 2013, 10:13 am

    I’m going to add hot tea before bed instead of putting more food in my tummy!

  • Rocio March 25, 2013, 10:15 am

    This post is very motivating, mostly because when you think of “healthy” you think of what you shouldn’t do or shouldn’t eat. I like the different focus. This week I am going to add excercise to my week, I am not used to excercising so I want to walk everyday this week. I am going to add more water as well. 🙂

  • Erin @ The Grass Skirt March 25, 2013, 10:29 am

    Adding is definitely better than eliminating- especially since we have ladies’ night coming up soon!

  • colleen March 25, 2013, 10:40 am

    I am so on this challange also. The past few weeks have been bad – crap food, traveling/vacation, little exercise, etc. Started back on my morning smoothies, have some apples to eat as snacks with PB, a large bottle of water, etc.

  • Kelly March 25, 2013, 10:49 am

    Adding healthy things seems SO much easier than eliminating the “unhealthy” things. Great post, I will definitely be joining you in this challenge!

  • Sarah @ Yogi in Action March 25, 2013, 10:49 am

    I love adding things things in, instead of taking things away. It’s such a positive way to look at living healthy.

    I will also be adding an emphasis on water and sleep- as I have been lacking on both of those lately.

  • Alex @ Raw Recovery March 25, 2013, 11:08 am

    I’ve been experimenting with making my own homemade coffee creamer because I didn’t want the extra sugar and chemicals (I always do soy or coconut creamers).

  • Molly @ March 25, 2013, 11:12 am

    Thank you, Caitlin! Just what I needed to read on a Monday morning. I’m working on planning for and adding healthy snacks to my day. My hunger during the day is still surprising to me due to breastfeeding, and I am going to bring plenty of healthy options with me to work so I don’t resort to junk that doesn’t make me feel good.

  • Abbie March 25, 2013, 11:20 am

    Not to sound like a broken record, but I love this idea! It’s just what I needed for a (grumpy) Monday morning. I feel like I’m constantly trying to eliminate foods, but it’s such a great idea to add the good nutrients back in. I’m starting today!

  • Lori March 25, 2013, 11:30 am

    After reading your blog last week about the healthy store/cafe, I went to Whole Foods and had a kale smoothie. So, yum! I’m adding green smoothies every day!

  • Logan @ Mountains and Miles March 25, 2013, 11:30 am

    I’m going to try adding in stretching. I am horrible at remembering to stretch after my workouts and my body has not been thanking me for it the next day.

  • Michele Albert March 25, 2013, 11:34 am

    I’m in – I have been working crazy hours, my mother has been in the hosptial and I haven’t been taking care of myself the way I should. I actually had this same thought this morning and have been tracking my eating and increasing my water intake!

  • Emily @ The Swallow Flies March 25, 2013, 11:35 am

    I love this idea – it puts a much more positive spin on the whole thing. 🙂 I have been adding water like crazy lately, but it’s been a bit difficult since I’m a teacher and can’t just leave my kiddos to use the restroom whenever I want. I’m definitely experimenting with my water-drinking schedule this week.

  • Sonia the Mexigarian March 25, 2013, 11:48 am

    so doing this. i have been a non stop eating machine since thursday with what feels like buckets of alcohol (3 beers and a shared bottle of wine over 4 nights) but it still feels like I went on an unhealthy binge.

    -hot tea or kombucha for evening drink
    -more veggies
    -hide the nutella. (this is a must. haha)

  • Ashley March 25, 2013, 12:01 pm

    Count me in! I was traveling Thursday-Sunday and now my body is just yelling at me for it. Not enough water, not healthy food choices, the list goes on. 🙂

  • Michelle March 25, 2013, 12:04 pm

    Great idea! I am going to work on adding more water and sleep this week.

  • kwithme March 25, 2013, 12:05 pm

    This was/is very much my mindset when I overhauled my eating 4 years ago. If I add healthy options that I like, then there is less need for the other options. If I still wanted something not strictly healthy or clean, I tended to want quality over quanity.

    Adding is so much more fun anyways.

  • Sara March 25, 2013, 12:14 pm

    Ha-ha I have been wanting to do the “eat clean challenge as well”. BUT no coffee for a WEEK? ya right. I could not even imagine what I would be like. I have Jawbone Up and I have realized that I need to subtract my carb intake like woa. BUT if we are talking Adding this week, I need to work on sleep as well. SO I am right there with you.

  • Harsha@HealthyCooking 'N' Fitness March 25, 2013, 12:16 pm

    I am going to add more water and exercise this week.

  • Jessica @ FromtheKitchentotheRoad March 25, 2013, 12:32 pm

    What a good way to do this! Adding things in sounds so much better then taking them out and you will still get such a great health boost.

  • Elizabeth @ Positive Change March 25, 2013, 12:40 pm

    Great idea! I always feel when people say they want to clean up their life/diet, they remove things. Thinking about adding things is much more positive way to think about life and health!

  • Kathy March 25, 2013, 12:49 pm

    I just started a clean eating challenge as well! Something about the spring always makes me want to cleanse my body (and home…but that’s a whole other story). I am adding a green smoothie at least once a day! The last time I did this, I got so much energy from all that nutrition woo hoo! Good luck to ya!

  • Eliza March 25, 2013, 12:54 pm

    This is an awesome way to approach a challenge! I’m on board. After a week of traveling in Europe last week (stroopwafels in Holland, gelato and everything else in Italy), I am in need of some clean eats. Count me in!

  • Jenny March 25, 2013, 1:27 pm

    This is exactly what I needed to hear. I’ve been focusing way too much on what I “shouldn’t” be doing and not enough on what I could use a little more of. I’m with you on the water, I definitely need to add this in more regular intervals throughout the day. I also want to add ground flaxseed to at least one meal or snack everyday, I need those omega-3’s!

  • Jill @ a Girl in Progress March 25, 2013, 1:39 pm

    I feel the same way when I get back from traveling. I just try to get back to my more healthy routine as soon as possible, which yes, does involving adding healthier things back into my daily life. Plus, saying you’re adding some things is much more fun than telling yourself to take a bunch of things away! We tend to want what we tell ourselves we can’t have…

  • Helene @healthyfrenchie March 25, 2013, 1:41 pm

    I recently had to travel for work for a couple of weeks and I can relate. When I came back all I wanted to do was sleep and eat home cooked healthy meals!
    Rather than banning anything, I am doing the same as you. Adding healthy foods, fresh fruits and veggies. And adding exercise 🙂

  • Katie @ peacebeme March 25, 2013, 1:41 pm

    LOVE the add, not subtract mindset and I love the thought of the day!

  • Corrie @ Casa Beebe March 25, 2013, 2:07 pm

    Love this! After an epic food prep party yesterday I am ready to ADD: veggies! ADD: water! ADD: more exercise! I have meals planned and food prepped, and like you, I don’t wanna give up my coffee…so I won’t. I’ll stick with my one cup and then switch to water or tea if I want something warm. I can ADD all kinds of good to my week! Thanks Caitlin!

  • Kelsey March 25, 2013, 2:25 pm

    More running! I’m adding a day!

  • Heather March 25, 2013, 2:28 pm

    Hey Caitlin, I’m delurking (finally). Going to join you on the “ADD” challenge – Passover is here, which means that I have to cut out a lot of my crap foods anyway, so isntead of dwelling on that, I’m going to focus on all the additions I’m going to make…time to start preparing for that darn 5k I want to run!

  • nancy March 25, 2013, 2:35 pm

    I love this idea. And, when I’m eating enough of the whole foods/healthier options I tend to naturally stay away from the less healthy options. I recently tried this approach with my teenagers. They will get up from the dinner table (where they were served healthy options with nutritional bases well covered) and head to Taco Bell for a “snack”. Rather than asking them to give up their less healthy choices, I’ve asked them to add one healthier item every day such as additional fruit, actually eating the vegetables I serve or selecting water over soda. I’m staying with that approach with them for now and hoping that will lead to each of them naturally making healthier choices.

  • Mari March 25, 2013, 2:37 pm

    This is a fabulous idea. As a society we tend to focus on what we can’t have. I love the idea of adding in the good stuff. Thanks for putting this out there.

  • Jamie March 25, 2013, 3:00 pm

    Great idea. Then instead of thinking about everying you’re missing out on you feel great about all the healthy things you added! I am adding more sleep, water, and vegetables.

  • Steph @ A Life without Ice Cream March 25, 2013, 3:08 pm

    Sounds like a great idea!! And a better way to not get wrapped up in any guilt if something processed or refined sugar sneaks its way in. I’m with you, the only way I could give up coffee might be at gun point 😛

  • Pudding Tummy March 25, 2013, 3:16 pm

    I love your positive attitude, what a great way to think about things. I’m going to try to meditate for 10 minutes a day for the next week. And stretch! I’m really bad at remembering to stretch.

  • Amanda Perry @ Sistas of Strength March 25, 2013, 4:01 pm

    What a great perspective! I always find that clients are so used to starving themselves after some time away that they are determined to think of things they should take away instead of adding in more healthy things to naturally decrease the amount of junk. Everyone can stand to add in more veggies, sleep and water….so why not start there, right? 🙂

  • luv what you do March 25, 2013, 4:48 pm

    I will be subtracting bread this week for Passover so that is an easy one!

  • Miranda @ Miranda Runs March 25, 2013, 6:08 pm

    I’m in! This is exactly what I need!

  • Haley @ fullnfit March 25, 2013, 6:23 pm

    Love this idea because when I restrict foods, I only want them more! Add not subtract… I like it 🙂

  • Katie @ Live Half Full March 25, 2013, 8:03 pm

    I’ve been thinking about this recently too! It’s so much easier to focus on eating healthy, balanced meals, sleeping and working out if you think of it from a positive angle rather than what you’re missing out on. Thanks for putting it into words!

  • Amber K March 25, 2013, 8:35 pm

    Thinking about what you’re adding is so much nicer than worrying about what you “have” to give up!

  • Karen @ Runner Girl Eats March 25, 2013, 9:59 pm

    I am a big fan of adding, not subtracting. The more healthy habits I add, the less I want to do the not so great habits which makes giving these things up much easier 🙂

  • Jane @ Not Plain So Jane March 25, 2013, 10:12 pm

    What a great idea! Much healthier attitude. Focusing on adding healthier options will inevitably lead to a decrease in the less healthy choices!

  • Kathy March 25, 2013, 10:37 pm

    I’m trying to add some relaxation deep breathing every night before bed to get rid of the “tired but wired” feeling

  • Elisabeth March 25, 2013, 11:51 pm

    I’m adding more exercise, sleep and water!

  • Emily @ Hungry Delights March 26, 2013, 1:09 am

    Such a great idea… I hate putting a restricting mind set upon myself.. my head ends up rebelling against me and then I am eating a kilo of chocolate without even realizing it 🙂 Your approach is wonderful, I think I will apply it with a few of my health goals.

  • Nikki March 26, 2013, 6:20 am

    I am also going through this. Between a busy few weeks of work, it’s been a coffee/sugar/carb binge to get through the long days! Saturday I went to the grocery store and loaded up I veggies, then threw out the extra sugar when I got home – I’m talking about you, Biscoff spread.

  • Brittnie (A Joy Renewed) March 26, 2013, 6:48 am

    Love this mindset and perspective. I’m going to add more water and more walks in the gorgeous weather!

  • Emily March 26, 2013, 1:49 pm

    Love this idea! I’m in on this, too. I’m going to add in exercising before work, letting go of feeling guilty when I have to leave my new sweet puppy, and keeping promises to myself this week.

  • Erin @ The Elliptical Chronicles March 26, 2013, 6:31 pm

    I 100% commend your approach to a “cleanse week” – it’s such a positive, healthy outlook to view it as ADDING what your body needs/wants vs. DENYING it what you/me/society/etc. deem bad/harmful/gluttonous/etc.

    Great job 🙂

  • Sara@RunningInPinkProject March 26, 2013, 7:57 pm

    I love this. I am definitely in this week. Ive been feeling terrible and worn down and I KNOW its because Im not treating my body like I should…. Im adding in Bikram Yoga, Lots of Water, and whole foods this week. 🙂 Thanks for the motivation!

  • March 26, 2013, 7:58 pm

    I find that with some of my patients the add, not subtract works well. No one wants to think about what they can’t have but adding more of some things is much easier and often results in cutting out some of the junk anyway!

  • Chris March 26, 2013, 8:52 pm

    LOVE this philosophy. Add, not subtract. Actually, I’ve done cleanses both with and without solid foods. Depends upon my mood and what my “gut” (figuratively, not literally!) is telling me to do at the time.

  • C March 27, 2013, 8:52 pm

    I might be a little late to this, but I’m definitely going to add more veggies and water.

  • Suzanne April 2, 2013, 7:39 pm

    Can you tell us how your week went Caitlin? I loved this post!

  • Kobe Chester April 3, 2013, 6:55 pm

    The body is indeed a resilient thing. It never hurts to change the game and start doing the right thing for yourself no matter how far off track you are. Get back to the core basics that make us healthy because those things will also make us happy.

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