I first discovered clean eating while visiting one of my best friends in Hawaii in January 2012. I saw pictures of her roommate, who used to be about my size and lost about 25 lbs eating clean.
I’m 5′ 9” and athletically built. I was the tallest kid in my sixth grade class, and was always teased for being broad. Growing up, I was pretty thin and athletic – I played sports throughout my childhood and ran track in high school. My thinnest as an adult (high school – so not sure if this actually qualified as an adult weight) was about 130 lbs in 10th grade in the middle of track season. I was a pole vaulter and a sprinter.
I didn’t end up gaining too much weight in college until third year (I went to UVA. We’re fancy and call ourselves first years, etc, like we go to Hogwarts. Not ashamed) when I broke my foot – twice. Within sixth months. Both stories of my foot-breakage are interesting. I shall have to tell you them one day.
I was in a boot from November 2008 – March 2009 and again from May 2009 – June 2009. It sucked. I couldn’t exercise (only swim, which still hurt my foot,) and though it may not seem like it, walking in a boot is HARD
as shit. It takes so much energy just to walk from one room to the next. I ate (and drank) just like I had been when I could exercise, and gained weight without even realizing it.
By the end of third year, I was up to 189 lbs. OMG. Almost 200 lbs. Me! I had always been semi-athletic, and I didn’t realize what I had been doing to my body until I started looking at pictures of myself at the beach.
Not fun. Fourth year of college I lost about 10 lbs, but still didn’t feel healthy or good about myself.
Everyone told me the weight would drop off instantly after college. Ummm, no. Yes, I wasn’t drinking eight margaritas on a Friday afternoon anymore (ok, only like once a month) or polishing off a whole cheese pizza from Christian’s at 3:30 in the morning. But I was still going through the McDonald’s drive thru occasionally, and my workout consisted of 20 minutes of running/walking on the treadmill once a week.
I loved eating a Chipotle burrito for dinner on a Friday night and ordering Domino’s on Saturday night. Yum. But – I didn’t feel like ME anymore. Something had to be done. I know I’m never going to be a stick thin supermodel but I wanted to finally feel GOOD about myself again. I finally got it into gear when I decided to go to on a big trip to Hawaii in January 2012.
To prep for bikini wearing, I started eating salads for lunch every day and working out a little more often. By the time I went to Hawaii, I was about 173 lbs. Not great for me, but not embarrassing anymore.
In Hawaii, my friend’s roommate swore by this thing called clean eating. She explained a little bit of the theory to me, and said all she was doing for exercise was lifting weights several times a week. Well, I could do that! When I got back from vacation, I researched clean eating and borrowed the book The Eat-Clean Diet Recharged from my mom.
I hadn’t even noticed that my mom had been clean eating for almost a year already, with phenomenal results! Ok, so it worked for two people, it could work for me. And it wasn’t one of those horrible fad diets: no meat! No carbs! Only lemon juice before 5pm! It was just eating healthy.
The first week I lost about 2 lbs and I was really excited. The second week, I lost another 2 lbs. I wasn’t even working out. After about a month and a half I had lost 10 lbs! I couldn’t believe it. I was at 163 lbs. I started to plateau, for a month or two, and lost about 7 more. My “goal weight” (what does that even mean?) is 150, so I’ve got about 5 more lbs to go. But after eating clean for about a year, the change in the way my body looks and feels is a big one.
It is fun to have your efforts to be healthier noticed by others. People from my boss to my boyfriend’s grandmother comment on my weight loss. Why thanks, friends. You shouldn’t have.
The author of The Eat-Clean Diet Recharged, Tosca Reno, urges clean eaters to put away the scale. She says that you should get away from weighing yourself every day and that, “the scale can be a nightmare when it comes to weight loss. Our body weight fluctuates regularly, based on hydration levels, the food and liquid in our stomach at that exact moment, etc.” (1)
She suggests you should judge your size on how you’re feeling and and by trying on your “skinny” pair of jeans and how your clothes fit. “…pull out a pair of your favorite ‘skinny jeans’ and use these as a measure of your fat-loss programs.” (2) I can’t quite change my mindset with weighing myself yet. I like having the scale to track my progress. Once I reach my goal weight, I promise (and you can hold me to it!) to put the scale in the back of my closet. Up at the top back corner.
However, it is important to note that I do know that weight loss is not the only factor that describes healthier living. I’m not going to lie – the first week or two of clean eating kind of sucked. You crave sugar and white bread like no other. I was kind of hungry often, probably because I was used to eating fast food and bigger portions.
But after a few weeks, I started to notice that I no longer ran out of steam at 3:30 in the afternoon. I was sleeping better and waking up easier (waking up on time is a PROBLEM for me.) A friend commented that my skin looked great. I felt fabulous! My hair was shinier, my nails were growing faster. The positive changes were endless. I knew I was going to stick with this lifestyle for awhile – and hopefully maintain it for life.
Let’s get down to the basics of clean eating.
I eat five to six small meals a day. I try to cut out as much sugar as possible (it seems like everything has sugar in it). I avoid white flour, including white bread and white pasta.
One of my favorite things about clean eating is that you don’t have to count calories – actually, you’re encouraged not to.
Tosca recommends a daily breakdown of 27% lean proteins, 55% complex carbs, and 18% healthy fats. (3)
Here is an example of what a day’s worth of meals for me consists of:
Breakfast (9:30AM, Eaten @ work):
Cup of black coffee
Spinach salad with 3 hard boiled eggs
Some green juice
Carrots with hummus
Afternoon Snack (4:00PM):
Hot green tea
Clif bar or homemade protein bar
Dinner (7 or 8:00PM)
6 oz grilled chicken
Some dark chocolate
Don’t get me wrong – I certainly don’t always eat clean. I am definitely a cheater, especially on the weekends. I don’t believe in depriving yourself of delicious food. I feel like if you try to eat clean most of the time, it’s perfectly fine to eat a piece of cake or a piece (or 2, 3, or 4) of pizza once in a while.
However, I now an a full fledged advocate of clean eating. I’m not quite at my goal weight yet, but by eating clean this past year, I look and feel so much healthier – both inside and out.
1 (Reno, Tosca, The Eat-Clean Diet Recharged, p182.)
2 (Reno, Tosca, The Eat-Clean Diet Recharged, p182.)
3 (Reno, Tosca, The Eat-Clean Diet Recharged, p28.)