There is a lot to consider when you are given the idea of eating “clean”. The reason for the quotations around that is because I use that word loosely. You can search “clean eating recipes” on any search engine and there are many different ingredients and dishes that people would associate with a clean diet. I’d like to ask you to drop that word and think of what your body determines helpful or unhelpful in its functioning. For some, eating “clean” includes eating brown rice, whole wheat, and protein shakes. For others, it is removing all red meat and sticking to a pescatarian or vegan diet. For me, it’s a paleo/primal diet full of healthy fats, red meats, vegetables, fruits, grass-fed and whole unprocessed foods (to name just a few!).
I try to avoid putting labels on the way I eat because so often people assume that eating a paleo or primal diet is exactly that: a diet. As over-used and cliche as it is to say this, choosing a paleo diet is a lifestyle change and a habitual way to eat. It is not a diet. A diet is a temporary meal plan used to lose weight. A lifestyle change is switching to foods that are whole, not processed, and serve as fuel for your body in order for it to function at its natural, organic state. There are people that use paleo or primal eating as a means to lose weight, and even some people that choose this way of eating as a lifestyle change can maintain some kind of weight loss. If you are highly concerned with losing weight and have attempted diet after diet to do so (and probably finding that you gain it right back and then some), I have a challenge for you. Forget the weight loss.
It is amazing what you might find in your body and what it is capable of if you stop focusing on losing weight. You are setting yourself up for misery if you’re constantly weighing yourself, looking at yourself sideways in the mirror, or restricting your food intake. The reason why I am even a credible source for saying this is because I have been that girl. I eliminated all carbs from my diet, took weight loss pills, ran miles and miles on the treadmill at the gym, and did juicing cleanses. Where did that get me? Miserable. And highly critical of my body. For me, it took starting Hard Exercise Works and doing an 8 week round of the Whole Life Challenge to fully understand my body’s relationship with food and what I need to do to be stronger mentally and physically. The WLC got me to understand the point that my body reaches it’s prime level of functioning. It was a little bit of weight loss and a lot of strength building, PRs, and lots of natural energy (Okay, and some coffee. Come on, I work full time and go to school too!). Paying more attention to the foods you put in your body requires a lot more focus on nutrition labels, research, and certainly experimentation in the kitchen. You have cravings for junk, and then they pass. Or sometimes they don’t! Restricting yourself from an occasional craving is what sets yourself up to fail and binge on pizza and cupcakes for a whole weekend. The key to this kind of eating is really one giant experiment of seeing what works for you and what doesn’t. You might ask, “how will I know if something is hurting me or working for me?” The answer is simple: You’ll know. You’ll know in your fitness, you’ll know when you go to the bathroom (Seriously!), you’ll know in your energy level and how you’re feeling mentally, you’ll know in the condition of your skin, how your stomach feels after a meal….you’ll just know. And the confusing, yet beautiful part of it all is that every single person is different. So start paying attention to that beautiful strong body of yours! You will thank yourself later (and probably sooner than later!).
Here were my Whole Life Challenge results! Although you can see I did lose some inches (8 actually!) the most rewarding part of all was learning about my body and understanding how my nutrition can work to my advantage. If you’re interested in starting a Whole Life Challenge of your own, sign up quick! It begins May 3rd (THIS SATURDAY!) You can sign up here.