Clean eating is a term you pretty much can't go a day without hearing these days. You are either one of those people who rolls their eyes at "clean eaters" and says, "I WILL enjoy this Oreo, dang you!" or you think, "Hmmmm...that sounds really awesome...and impossible."
I have done a little of both. Don't be fooled : people tend to "poo poo" things that they don't believe they can do...and secretly they wish they could. (Nay-sayers should be your biggest motivators!!!!)
I wanted to be a clean eater, but I had spent my entire life eating a different way : basically whatever I wanted, in moderation, with occasional sugar or carb or cheese or alcohol binges, that made me feel like CRAP both mentally and physically. I justified it by telling myself that I exercise enough to do that every once in a while. No big deal. Same with grabbing 3 (or 10) Oreos when I buy them on occasion. Or feeling PMS-y and making a giant vat of spaghetti, burying myself into the couch and watching rom-coms.
But all these little innocent food habits that were "no big deal" had gotten me into a little rut.
Sure, I am a very active person who works out nearly every day. BUT - things are different now than in my twenties. I have had two babies, and am 34-years-old with a gradually slowing metabolism. I can tell, especially after having Finola right before I turned 32 that things are not what they used to be. The number on the scale, sure. But the rest, too It will never be the same. But - it can still be good. My body can be better, and stronger, in different ways.
Last year I started doing food challenges on a regular basis. One month dairy-free, another gluten free, another sugar free, etc. I chronicled some on this very blog.
I ran a marathon.
I tried green smoothie cleanses. (Which usually left me hungry by 2pm and guiltily binging on something that definitely was not a smoothie.)
I began to feel like nothing was producing any real change.
So while not overweight, I wasn't feeling healthy. In fact, I felt a little bummed and out of control. Why did I still have a bit of a baby belly? Why was I working out so hard and my body seemed stuck, despite all my eating + physical challenges?
I had hit the dreaded plateau, as they say.
Then I started logging my eating and counting calories. Wow! Very enlightening. I immediately saw that while I could eat reasonably healthy all day (thus making me think I was a healthy eater) at night when my husband came home and the kiddos were in bed I (we) would eat a bunch of crap. Microwave popcorn. Alcohol. Chips. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. Ice cream. Ice cream. Ice cream.
It wasn't good. For either of us. Especially my Hubby, who works long hours at a desk job, and does not normally get many chances to work out.
But it was a habit we had always had, even before kids. It was comfortable. We both looked forward to it.
How could we enjoy watching our shows without also eating a bunch of junk food????
It sounds silly, but I'm serious as a heart attack. (Kinda like the one that Hubby, due to genetics and our crappy eating habits, is at risk for. Yikes.)
Our inner eating mantras were completely out-of-whack.
I think this is something that happens in many areas of life -- not just our eating habits. We get used to something and settle for something not healthy. We think we need it. We think life won't be as good without it. Somehow we will be missing something if we get rid of it. Friendships. Dating relationships. Possessions.
But, chances are, if you have a sneaking suspicion that it is making you unhappy, you WILL be happier without it.
So, I knew in my head the late-night binge sessions were counterproductive to my health goals. I knew I needed to change. Develop new habits. Go to bed earlier. Stop eating after 7pm, even if it meant eating a bigger dinner.
Stop settling for less than I deserved - meaning, a healthy, happy life!
So I was hoping for something to inspire such a change. Obviously my nagging and complaining to Hubby about it wasn't working. We kept on with the nightly routine.
THEN - something came up that I had rolled my eyes at in the past. A couple joined our church community group who had both lost considerable weight/inches through using Advocare. They had done the 24-Day Challenge. Then our group leaders did the Challenge and also had amazing results.
For those unfamiliar with the Advocare challenge, you basically purchase their supplements and follow a clean eating diet while using the plan provided. The first ten days are the "cleanse phase" in which you take probiotic, fiber and herbal cleanse supplements along with omega-3's. Days eleven through twenty four is the "max phase" in which you take a whole different set of supplements, and continue your clean eating. The products do help you curb your appetite and give you energy - both kind of awesome and really helpful in getting you to make better eating choices and stay active/focused.
So Hubby and I went to the informational meeting and decided to try it. I kept saying, "Yeah, we are going to do this together, but I'm just trying to be supportive for Paul, since he wants to lose weight." Which was true, BUT also I was hopeful for a way to kick my bad eating habits. And yes, lose those last few pounds of stubborn baby weight. I felt I had to say those things. I down-played my own desire to be healthy because I was afraid of being judged, considering I was not overweight.
(Just because someone is a healthy weight does not mean they are being as healthy as they can be!)
Five days into the 24 Day Challenge I could not even believe how much better I felt. I no longer felt the bloated feeling I always had before. I quickly dropped the few pounds I wanted to lose. Best of all, I felt empowered by the healthy choices I was making.
And I still got to eat! I love food, so that was kinda key. I had to get creative finding ways to enjoy veggies (not my favorite food group) and completely cutting out cheese and most breads was definitely a challenge. I allowed myself 2 servings of whole wheat grains per day, and even had a burger night (lean organic beef topped with guacamole and wrapped in a romaine leaf...but still - a burger!)
It was not just a challenge - it was training for the kind of life I wanted to lead.
I no longer took "innocent" bites of my kiddos mac n cheese, or grabbed a cookie here and there. I felt strong reaching for the raw veggies and hummus, as opposed to my normal snack of wheat thins and cheese slices.
I carried my water around like a trophy - finally able to drink the recommended amount.
And now, post-Challenge, I am happy to report both Hubby and I are still eating clean. And excited to continue to do so!
I lost five pounds during the first ten days (the cleanse phase) and have consistently kept it off. I have no before/after pics of myself, but more than the number on the scale, I feel just better/lighter/healthier overall, and more in control of my eating habits. Without feeling hangry...which is pretty big for me.
Hubby lost fifteen pounds! Woo hoo! I was amazed by how strong his will-power was during his challenge, and by the good choices he continues to make. He lost the pounds and inches (we didn't actually measure ourselves, but his photos below show his progress!) without increasing his physical activity at all. Just cutting out processed foods, kicking his Coke Zero habit (4-6 a day!) and making healthy swaps he made huge progress in only 24 days.
Here are Hubby's before/after shots (which he was totally cool with me posting, btw!) :
SO proud of him! Hubby is continuing to use Advocare products to strive for his ultimate weight loss goal. And I am sure I will do another challenge after the 90-day waiting period.
My only advice is this : If you aren't happy with your body/health - do something different! And if that doesn't work, try something else - whether it is a cleanse, training for a race, or simply committing to going to the gym a couple times a week. And, even if you hate exercise - eat clean. No matter what your weight...try to cut the processed food out of your diet. At least make baby steps. Cut out soda. Swap white rice for brown. Learn to drink your coffee black. I speak from experience, you can train your taste buds to enjoy it this way. And once you stop eating the crap, the funny thing is that it doesn't even taste great when you do eat it. All of a sudden you crave the good stuff instead. Also, for me personally, my skin is better (no breakouts, even when PMSing!)
I wish I would have changed my eating habits YEARS ago.
Know yourself - and be realistic. If you cannot have sweets in your house without over-eating them, don't have them in your house. For me, I just can't buy cheese anymore, unless it is a bit of feta or goat cheese to put on salads. Cheese is just something I had to pretty much eliminate or else, truly, it is a slippery slope for me.
Besides continuing to develop clean eating habits, in the month of November I am challenging myself in another way: 30 Days of Group Exercise! I have decided to branch out and try as many different classes this month as I can. Typically I only do a weekly spin and yoga class, but there are some classes I have either avoided due to to thinking I will hate them, or desired to do for years but just never pulled the trigger.
|I can and I will.|
Does anyone have any classes they LOVE and think I should try? Let me know!
Happy Monday, everyone!