A few months ago, some girlfriends and I took part in a clean eating challenge. I loved how I felt while doing it, and it helped me on my journey to get healthier and lose some weight. I even kept it up for a few months afterwards, but then Rubles' birthday came and all my eating went to hell. We had visitors, and were super busy, so we ate out a lot and I just never got back on track.
So I'm starting today with a 28-day (4 week) clean eating challenge. There is some small variations with what people think it means to eat "clean" so I'm going to lay out the "rules" that I have set for myself. Some are harder for me than others, but I'll do my best to stick to them:
1. No processed foods: My rules of thumb for this are that if it has more than 5-6 ingredients on the package, I don't eat it, or if the package lists an ingredient that isn't "real" then I don't eat it either. Nothing with preservatives in it. Basically, if it didn't come from the ground or if it doesn't have a mom, I try to stay away from it.
2. No caffeine. I should note though, that I won't be quitting caffeine cold turkey. No one should. Your body needs to be weaned, otherwise you can have some serious withdrawal symptoms. No joke. I'm hoping to be caffeine-free in a week or two.
3. No alcohol.
4. No "White" Anything: This sort of falls under the processed foods rule, but it means no white flour, white bread, white sugar, etc. Now things that look white (like cauliflower) don't fall under this rule, just stuff that is processed and bleached white.
5. Drink at least 100 oz of water a day.
6. Get at least 30 minutes of exercise in per day.
Some exceptions that I allow myself, are eating things like Whole Wheat Sprouted Bread, or Whole Wheat Tortillas when making sandwiches or wraps. I don't eat these all the time, but I make the healthiest choice possible when picking them. And that's truly what it's all about. Making the healthiest choice possible when you can. Will I be perfect during this challenge? Nope. Will I have made more healthy choices than I probably would have before? Yep. And that is what it is all about to me. Doing better, not being perfect, but trying to improve. Lots of people will not agree with my definition of "clean" but that's okay, I'm just doing the best that I can to help myself to get in the habit of making better, more nutritious and overall healthier choices.
The hardest thing for me last time, was giving up sauces (like ketchup, barbecue sauce, mayo), I didn't realize how much of that stuff I cooked with! The other hard part was making sure I was getting all of the water that I needed. It seems like a lot, and I had to go to the restroom a lot more, but by the end of the challenge I didn't feel as bloated or weighed down, and I think my water intake had a lot to do with it.
A girlfriend of mine ran the challenge last time, she has a passion for clean eating, and wanted to challenge some of us to try it. She is not endorsed by any company or program, nor is she trying to sell or start a program. She just wanted her friends to eat a little better, which is why I originally tried it. I'm not saying that this challenge is for everyone, but I felt SO great afterwards. I was sleeping better, feeling better, and had so much more energy. And truthfully I liked eating clean. I liked the idea that I knew exactly what I put into my own body.
Another aspect of this that is interesting, is that it is possible to eat perfectly clean, but not healthy. I have amazing recipes for clean brownies, clean cookies, and other yummy things. While they are technically "clean" they won't exactly help you to get healthy if that's all you eat. I've got to find a way to balance "clean" along with "healthy."
My plan is to take pictures of the food I eat each day, for accountability, and post the results here on my blog. I took my weight, measurements, and body fat percentage this morning, and will be sharing my results here. All of this is just another step in my journey to be the best version of myself that I can be, health-wise and other wise. I'm excited to continue moving forward and taking lots of little steps to help myself.