On the weekend after the Fourth, I was on the brink of starting a 21-day workout and cooking challenge.

I had read about the challenge, and others had great experiences doing the 21-day plan, which essentially calls for no sugar, no gluten and no dairy — although a few more items are off limits as well.

Included in the 21-day plan is a meal plan for each week, along with a workout sent to participants each day via email. Intense workouts are done every other day, and participants are expected to move or stretch or be active for 15 minutes on the off days.

I started the week strong by meal prepping every lunch and dinner for my first three days of the challenge. Although the diet might seem restrictive at first glance, it wasn't terrible. I was able to eat scrambled eggs with spinach for breakfast and a vegetable-and-black-bean fajita bowl for lunch — sans tortilla or rice.

Nothing about those meals was out of the ordinary for me, and they tasted as delicious as ever.

But what nearly did me in was the constant use of the kitchen. Sure, I cook often and enjoy it, but meal prepping every meal, constantly cleaning the countertops and frequently doing the dishes just got to me. I had to remind myself, "This is only for 21 days. I need to be willing to make every meal for 21 days."

And as you might recall, I was able to cook every meal in my kitchen for 30 days straight. I don't know if it's the fact that this diet is more restrictive or what is causing me to seize up in cleaning and cooking in the kitchen, but I plan on getting back on track this weekend.

Want to see how I soar (or stumble) with the next full week of my 21-day challenge? Check ThisWeekNEWS.com/food for the latest post. And if you have any tips on how to succeed with meal planning, email me at aarmbruster@thisweeknews.com.

Abby Armbruster is a page designer for ThisWeek Community News.