This week, I want to share with you my experiences with clean eating.
But first … just what the dickens is clean eating?
When I say clean eating I directly mean consuming food as close to its original shape as possible; vegetables from a garden not a can, meat from an animal not “animal parts,” and fruit as a whole not an extract.
When foods become processed some of the nutrients that naturally occur in the food become lost in the process. As well, many other things are added to it like preservatives, sodium, and chemicals with very long names!
Also, clean eating means removing excess things from your diet like excess sugars, salts, carbohydrates, fats etc, and adding in things like more fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins.
Now, without further to do, our first point of interest is this …
Strength is built in the gym. Bodies are built in the kitchen.
Like many people I used to believe that all of my weight issues could be solved with hours upon hours of cardiovascular training. When I first began my own transformation it started with running a mile every day (Of course, that meant first walking most of it and building up to a constant speed for the entirety ;) .) My cardiovascular health began to steadily improve and initially I did start to see some weight loss; in fact I had dropped from 275 to 210 (Over about 8 months, and my height was a staggering 5’10.) Feeling much better about myself and my body image, and realizing my weight loss had slowed to a crawl, it was time for step two, hitting the iron and building muscle. Initially my weight went back up as I had started to put muscle on which was to be expected, but what happened next I didn’t understand at the time. After two years of a relatively regular weight training program with subtle variations, I had gained a good amount of muscle, but my weight had only dropped down to 200. I continued and persevered and after an additional two years had brought my weight down to 190. I felt the best I ever had in my life, I had the most muscle mass I had in my life but I was still short of my end game goals. Something was missing, but what?
I decided to try modifying my diet, removing things from it like soda (my goodness do I love Dr. Pepper,) take-out food more days out of the week than I cooked for myself, and high sodium processed foods like microwaveable meals and boxed instant make meals. I also started adding healthier choices like vegetables and fruit (which previously I ate maybe once a month …)
The changes were slow at first, as changing any behavior is difficult, but over the course of six months, my weight dropped down to 160 and my body-fat percent began to hover between eight and ten percent. I didn’t change anything beyond my diet, and my body shed an additional thirty pounds in what felt like overnight; I could see the abdominal muscles I did core work every day for for four and a half years to try and get.
So, the take away from this? “Strength is built in the gym. Bodies are built in the kitchen.”
The next lesson I learned from clean eating was this …
Gastrointestinal pain does not have to be a way of life.
*Caution* This next bit is going to be a tad-bit graphic on bowel movements, but none the less, informative, so bear with me.
For most of my life, I lived with gastrointestinal distress. To be honest, looking back on it now, the only way I can describe it is as gut wrenching physical discomfort that I had become so accustomed to, it didn’t register with my mind that there was any other way to live.
My stomach constantly talked to me, grumbling and growling, shouting at me that it could not take all the crap I was jamming down into it, but like an obedient servant to my unhealthy ways, it took it, and I turned a blind eye to its cries of pain.
The gas that I would pass at times was so heinous that it would not only clear out a room, but also bring me to tears from the noxious burning sensation it inflicted upon my olfactory system.
My bowel movements were so irregular that sometimes I would go days without one, or make several trips in one day to do my business. As well, I couldn’t go a week without clogging at least one toilet.
But … that was my life, and I didn’t know any different.
After cleaning up my diet however … I started to notice something remarkable.
My stomach stopped talking to me regularly.
I began to feel, empty inside, and not in the existentialist crisis way, but that my innards didn’t feel pressed against each other and there was no bloated feeling.
My bowel movements turned into once per day and became so regular I could set my watch by them.
I no longer had to first identify where the plunger was in any bathroom for fear of causing a clog.
I was liberated from my chronic stomach pain, and for the first time in my life, I felt good inside.
Interestingly enough now … If I start eating like crap again, my stomach goes back to feeling like it did once before. The only difference now is now that I know what eating clean feels like, the pain is now unbearable and a good reminder to keep my diet clean.
Of course, I do still treat myself to take-out, or ice cream, or soda … But now, it is exactly what those things are intended to be, a treat, and when not eaten to excess causes no more gastrointestinal distress than clean wholesome foods.
So, still don’t believe me that clean eating can change your life? I dare you to try it yourself! Make it your challenge, and record your feelings.