Clean Eating & How I Got Started

I’ve always been a health conscious person but at the same time I’ve always been the type to eat whatever I wanted without consequences.  Or so I thought. Between working full time and going to school full time, I had become waaaaay too comfortable with pulling up to the miracle window in the middle of the night that produced greasy bags of hot food.

In the Spring of 2011 I noticed that I had gained some weight, had little to no energy, and was feeling sick to my stomach most days. I had been eating terribly without regard to nutrition content.  This was also during one of my least active periods of my life.  I needed a change. I had an inkling that at least part of my feeling bad was due to my food choices so I made the decision to go cold turkey on the fast food. This produced some results; I started to feel a bit better but not 100%.

April 2011 (Before ditching the processed foods)

A few months later I decided to make the drastic decision to detox my body from sugar for 30 days. I hadn’t heard of clean eating yet so I fully intended on introducing sugar back into my life after the detox was over.  For 30 days I abstained from all forms of sugar – both artificial and natural.  (Yes, it killed me to give up fruit for that long but it was during this time that I had my “Ah-ha” moment. I felt fabulous! I had started back running during this period as well.

After realizing how great it felt to be without sugar I knew that I couldn’t bring it back into my life. I started researching different healthy living lifestyles and stumbled upon Tosca Reno’s clean eating books. I fell in love with the philosophy behind eating whole, unadulterated foods and instantly jumped on the clean eating bandwagon.

Even though I say I ‘instantly jumped on the bandwagon’, please don’t take that as me saying it was easy.  This was one of the hardest life changes to make (and also to sustain).

It’s been over a year since I made the complete switch to clean eating and I still feel great! I have more energy than I ever have and I can tell my body is super happy with me. Now don’t get me wrong, I indulge myself every once in a while (did you see the pizza I ate after Saturday’s 18 mile run??) but those times really are a treat. Instead of mindlessly putting food into my mouth, I really get to savor my choices and enjoy the food for what it is. Also, I had no idea how great food could taste until I ditched the processed stuff.

In the past year, I have become an avid nutrition label reader and have virtually an encyclopaedic knowledge of food / nutrition facts swimming around in my head.  (Seriously, it’s annoying.  Just ask my husband.)  I have also grown to question some of our country’s practices in regard to food, food growing and food labeling but that’s another post entirely.

Now, I have to admit that I get a bit irritated when people find out how I eat and assume that I’m on a diet. “But you’re skinny, you don’t need to eat vegetables” or “You need to eat some real food” are two sentences that I hear way too often. I get frustrated that people have the misconception that fruits and veggies should be for those who are “dieting”. Clean eating is a total lifestyle change; it’s not a fly-by-night crash diet. Yes, it can help you lose weight, but it’s about so much more then weight loss – it’s about gaining your life back!

August 2012 (after eating clean for a year).

If you’re looking for a lifestyle change, I whole heartedly recommend clean eating but make sure to talk to your doctor first.  Check out my {The Basics} page for more information on what clean eating is all about.

Question:  Have you ever made a hard lifestyle change? What were the results?

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16 thoughts on “Clean Eating & How I Got Started

  1. what a beautiful transformation!!!! you go girl! im a clean eater 80% of the time i’d say! lol my body just feels way better when i do! have a great day! spa love!

  2. I totally agree with you–clean, healthy eating is a lifestyle choice, not a diet. This past year, I’ve really focused on eating more whole, healthy foods, although I will have the occasional glass of wine or piece of chocolate. 🙂 This summer, especially in the weeks leading up to a race, I eliminate food that my body doesn’t respond to well (mostly carbs like bread, meat like chicken, and obviously alcohol and sweets).

    • It’s justification time… Studies have shown a moderate amount of wine (like a bottle or two – just kidding!) can benefit your heart and dark chocolate has fantastic antioxidants! 🙂 You rock with your whole foods choices; I love how in-tune triathletes are to their bodies and its nutritional needs! (Someday I will be a triathlete…someday…)

      • You’re right–red wine and dark chocolate do have some health benefits! 😉 And after you rock your marathon, you should try a tri (lol) next–you’ll love it!

      • 🙂 A tri is on my list for 2013, I even have one picked out. I just HAVE to get over my swimming issues. I can “swim” (i.e. not drown) but as far as swimming competitively goes, it scares the bjeebees out of me. Tips?

      • That’s so exciting! I spent a lot of time in the pool to develop swimming stamina; I couldn’t believe my “running lungs” didn’t translate to success in the water! Once I had some endurance, I began swimming in the open water and getting used to my wetsuit, which is a total plus for not-so-great swimmers like me. 😉 I haven’t done this yet, but I plan to get some feedback from a local coach or master swim class.

      • That would be awesome for you to talk to a “pro”! I’ve heard from a lot of people that your endurance is totally different once you’re in the water. I’ve even heard of people developing swimmer’s asthma – crazy! I do look forward to trying out a wetsuit though, they look incredibly buoyant which could be fun. 🙂

  3. Great article! Since I’m doing the Whole30, I read EVERY SINGLE LABEL and it does get crazy, but with zero background on nutrition, it’s interesting to know how much junk is in a lot of “healthy” foods, too. I also agree about the being skinny and other people’s reactions to it.. “Why are you eating that way?” Um.. because I feel good doing it..? I’d argue one point about talking to your doctor first.. talk to your doctor about not eating garbage? 🙂

    • I actually LOL’d at your comment about seeing the doctor! I hated putting that in there but for liability sake figured it needed to be said. I’ve been loving following your Whole30 challenge; over 1/2 way done with it, right? 🙂

      • More than halfway, yes! Day 19!
        I think after I’m going to stick to eating clean 90% of the time; not necessarily eating Whole30 or Paleo though.. but I don’t think I could ever stop reading labels now.. it’s a curse.. or a blessing 🙂

      • Day 19? Wooo-hooo! No matter how you choose to eat after the Whole30 challenge, I have absolutely no doubt you’ll carry over new habits you learned during the month. 🙂 Label reading (for me) is definitely a curse more than a blessing. My husband refuses to shop with me anymore because he knows how much time I take…

  4. I ate a lot of processed foods when I was trying to lose 100 pounds because it was portion controlled and easy to count the calories. Once I lost the weight and kept it off, I didn’t feel great and had to clean up my diet. Now I do my best not to eat processed foods but healthy, whole foods. I feel so much better!

    • Congratulations on your amazing weight loss; that’s a fantastic accomplishment! I have to agree with you about the benefits of pre-packaged meals for portion control to help reach a significant weight loss goal. Even though they are heavily processed, chances are it’s still nutritionally more complex then what the person had been eating previously. I totally have to give a {virtual} hive five for making the switch to less processed food after you lost the weight – way to go girlie!!

  5. Great post! I love the transformation photos! It really is amazing once your start reading labels and really pay attention to what you put in your body how it all effects you.

    • Thanks Denise! You’re absolutely right, it’s almost frightening when you start paying attention to everything. Especially when you start really looking into GMOs, organic v. non-organic, and ethical farming practices.

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