Clean Eating Challenge; Days 11-14
It’s a funny thing, making a lifestyle change. For me, it always takes a challenge to start something new. It gives me something to focus on…something to strive for and be held accountable to stick with for a specific time. Now that the time has ended though, I very much realize the challenge continues. Every day.
Days 11-14 were both the easiest and hardest. There was no in between. Some days it just felt natural and other days, I wanted to eat the entire ice cream cake!
I was going to give the day by day, play by play, as I had been; but I would rather focus on how I feel overall after the two weeks.
The Clean Eating Challenge was HARD. I definitely slipped up here and there but I am SO glad I did it!
Here some of the positive changes that have taken place:
1- I have cooked more at home in the last two weeks, than I have in the last two years! I tried new foods, experimented with recipes and best of all, so much of it is from scratch. I never would have made my own taco seasoning or salad dressing before. Simple little changes are adding up to a lot in the kitchen!
2- I bought a Vitamix and it is as life changing as everyone says. I totally plan to continue my morning smoothie routine and I find myself half way through a long run thinking about my post-run smoothie.
3- I am more alert, relaxed and I have slept so much better. My skin has cleared up, my energy level is up and overall, I just feel better. Okay, so this might all be related to summer, but regardless, I like it!
4- My cravings for starchy, carb-y, sugary foods is much lower. The cravings aren’t gone by any stretch, but they are definitely changing.
5- I enjoy food more. I am not eating just to eat. I am really focusing on how the foods I eat will affect my body. It has really made me want to dive into the world of nutrition further. I am thinking about taking some classes. Not sure which direction I want to go, but I have always loved working with kids. If I could somehow incorporate my knowledge of food/nutrition with love of kids, that would be awesome.
6- I am walking the walk. Sure, if I want the occasional beer or cookie, I am going to have it. But for the most part, I am practicing what I preach. I have always been relatively healthy but I had no idea how much I had to learn. Now I know I still have so much to learn. I am ready though! I just have a whole new energy about everything.
7- Food prepping is SUCH a time saver! Having things ready to go makes it so easy to choose them! Grabbing pre-cut veggies is as easy as grabbing something packaged. Food prep takes time, but it is so worth it!
8- I went from drinking close to 50 ounces (50!!!!) of coffee a day, to 12 ounces. I am shocked at how little this change has bothered me. The first week was tough and I felt really sluggish my mid-day, but it kept getting easier. Now, I have my one cup of coffee and feel good for the day! This is probably the single best change I made.
9- Through all my research, I have found so many awesome recipes. I am looking so forward to trying all the new, healthier versions, of foods.
10- My workouts are so much stronger. I feel better running, I am lifting heavier and best of all, I recover faster. This has been one of the best changes!
Here is what made it hard:
1- Look, healthy food is expensive. Yes, there are ways to save and if you work at it hard enough, you can definitely budget, but it was hard. Building my pantry up is a process and it is nowhere near finished. I am working really hard to fit my food budget into my life. It comes at a cost; something else has to get cut, but at the end of the day, I am doing it for my health, so it is worth it.
2- I really like dining out. Over the two week challenge, I dined out three times. I did really well and in each case I ordered something I normally wouldn’t have, but it was really hard to pass up some of my old favorites. I will continue to work hard at balancing my love of dining out with my new found way to live healthy.
3- Food planning is so not my thing. I keep trying but I just cannot decide weeks in advance what I will want to eat. For one, my schedule changes too often and for two, I need to think about what I want. It frustrates me, but at the same time, I don’t put a ton of stock into it as long as I am not wasting the food I bought or prepped.
Overall, I am really proud of how I did these last two weeks. I definitely tried new things, decided to remove some foods for good and still enjoyed life! That is why the beer, or the cookie, or the piece of bread with dinner weren’t deal breakers for me. That is just life. 90% of the time, I ate better than I had been eating in years. I focused on what I was eating, made conscious choices and paid attention to how it made me feel. THAT in and of itself makes having done the challenge worth it. I am really focused on being the healthiest version of myself, with the understanding that doing so also means enjoying dessert sometimes, too!
I kept thinking about what would change between yesterday when the challenge ended, and today. The answer is, nothing changes. Like I said, the challenge continues…the challenge is every day. To continue to do what is best for myself, try new foods, cook at home, eliminate the bad and create more good and stay on this great path I have started paving for myself.
But, I am not going to start eating avocados or give up ranch dressing. Let’s not get carried away!