Back towards the beginning of May, a friend I CrossFit with, knowing I’m in the process of launching my own personal training business, asked if she could tell me about the clean eating program that got her on the road to health and feeling better, something I may be able to share with clients. I have to say, even with my nursing background, when it comes to nutrition and how to guide someone into making the best decisions for weight loss, I just feel overwhelmed. Anyone else feel like that? There’s so much seemingly contradictory information out there. And here’s the thing: nutrition is THE most important part of weight loss. Exercise all you want, but you can’t out exercise a bad diet.
On top of that, I found myself stuck in a bit of a food rut. Terrified of gaining weight again, I’d basically been eating the same foods I’d eaten during my weight loss process. But having gained a few pounds in the last 6 months, I found that even following that routine, my weight wasn’t budging.
So I said, “Sure. I’d love to learn about that.”
Now, my friend is an Arbonne consultant and the program recommends using Arbonne supplements. But before you tune me out, let me just say, regardless of your feelings about Arbonne, supplementation, and the like, what I learned about clean eating was worth the money for the starter kit. And no, this is not a post about Arbonne. I just want to tell you about my adventure into clean eating.
So the challenge consists of 30 days of no sugar, no dairy, no peanuts, no wheat, gluten or soy. And the only fruit I was supposed to eat was green apples and berries. Yeah. When I looked at that, I asked myself the same question I heard from a gazillion people who heard what I was doing: “What do you eat?”
I mean seriously, what was I going to eat? I usually had yogurt and peanut butter every day. Seriously, every day. And I often ate whole wheat tortillas and bananas. Would I be able to run without a banana to fuel me? And no chocolate covered almonds? I could almost feel myself twitching at the thought. But I was also intrigued. Could one eat tasty food that eliminated so many products?
In a word, YES! If you think about it, really all the program did was eliminate highly processed foods. The basis of clean eating is eating foods that are as close to the way God created them as possible–cage free eggs, grass-fed beef, organic fruits and vegetables, brown rice, nuts (aside from peanuts). It emphasizes the quality of the food.
And the idea behind eliminating certain foods is to help identify how your body reacts to them. The program is commonly referred to as a “detox”. Now, I tend to think that if your liver and kidneys are in good working order, the body naturally detoxifies itself, but I was intrigued by the idea that some of these highly processed foods may be affecting me without my knowledge. I wondered what would happen if I eliminated them.
Thankfully, the program provided recipes. So I would pick one or two dishes to make for the week, buy the groceries for those meals, and choose one day to meal prep (which usually took about 1 hour). These are some of the things I ate:
And these are just SOME of my meals! I learned about cooking with fresh herbs, combining spices to make the most delicious flavorings for salmon and chicken, the wonder of fresh lemons and limes. I discovered a whole new way of cooking!
But the bottom line, as I’m sure you’re dying to know, did I lose weight?
Let me tell you what the challenge did for me:
- I lost 4.4 pounds. It doesn’t sound like much, but at my size losing anything over about a half pound per week is a LOT of weight. And I lost a little over a pound a week without trying. I ate good food, and I ate when I was hungry and until I was full.
- I lost an inch around my waist at my bellybutton, 4 inches (I know! Couldn’t believe it!) around my lower belly where that stubborn fat roll just wouldn’t budge, and an inch off my hips.
- I went from having nearly daily headaches requiring some kind of pain aid to 2 headaches in the entire 4 weeks.
- I lost that sluggish feeling that I thought was just normal for a night shift worker. I still feel tired frequently because my sleep schedule is totally out of whack, but even when I’m tired I don’t have that brain fog going on. Anyone know what I mean? And I’m finding I have more energy overnight at work.
- Nearly all my sugar cravings are gone. I thought I would have a hard time with giving up sugar, but I felt so satisfied with the food I was eating, I didn’t really miss it. A couple of times I had a rather strong chocolate craving, but I felt way more in control and was able to resist the temptation.
So now the challenge is over, and I have to decide what to do. Will I incorporate those eliminated foods back in or not? There’s a part of me that doesn’t want to because I feel amazing, but I also want to be able to eat with my friends and not stress out about what I’m eating. I think I’ll probably wind up doing what most people do after the challenge–follow clean eating habits at least 80% of the time.
I’m excited to continue to incorporate this new way of eating/cooking into my life! I’m experimenting with baking with almond and coconut flour, and I can’t wait to try arrowroot. I’m also anxious to pull out my favorite recipes and see how I can “clean” them up. Eating has become an adventure, and I’m loving the ride!
Talk to me:
What makes eating healthy hard for you?
What are you eating these days?
What’s your thought on clean eating?