In support of a good friend who is participating in a fitness challenge, as well as in an effort to do something good for myself not involving my nails or hair, I recently decided to clean up my diet. Background - I am a pretty thin person with good exercise habits and an above average metabolism. I could eat pretty much what I want (and in general I do) and keep the pounds off with regular exercise and occasional diet tweaks. But, one cannot subsist forever on Pop Tarts and red velvet cupcakes, though I did make a pretty good effort to make it happen. I wanted to see how I would feel if I tried to limit processed foods, sugar, and alcohol (good God) and increase my intake of fruits, veggies, and lean protein.
Now, I tried to start this new eating pattern during the week of Thanksgiving, and the results were mixed. Probably not a smart time to embark on an effort such as this, but honestly, there really is no good time. So I 'officially' embraced clean-ER eating beginning 5 days ago. I added egg whites and whole wheat bread, fruits, veggies, and some lean meat (struggling with this one a bit b/c I hate grilled chicken and the only pork I like is southern BBQ) to my diet. I also started keeping track of what I was eating to see if some meals made me feel better/worse than others throughout the day. If you want a good app for this type of thing, myfitnesspal.com is awesome, by the way. It also keeps you honest b/c you document every single thing that you eat.
I say clean-ER eating, because I will tell you that I have had a beer this week in addition to a couple of Lean Cuisine frozen dinners. I don't have a lot of time to cook. I'm not going to argue that point with those who say that I do, so don't go there. End of discussion. IMHO (others I am sure will disagree) it is still better than my usual end of the day entree, Randy's Pizza. I had a turkey burger last night at a local restaurant, and substituted a side salad for the fries. So I'm just trying to be a little smarter with my choices. Not perfect, just smarter.
So after almost one week with what I consider to be no cheats, here is what I have learned so far:
1. Fiber is not always your friend. I won't go into detail here, I am sure you can read between the lines. Let's just say that when you decide to add whole wheat, fruits and veggies to your diet, do it slowly. Do not eat an apple, 40 grapes, and an orange in the same day. At least not in the beginning.
2. Eating clean is expensive. It's true. I've made two trips to the grocery store in one week, and the bill has been no less than $50 each time. It's not good, it's not bad, it just is. I will say that I do think it is worth it, at least so far.
3. Most people will think you are nuts for trying to be healthy. I run into the same arguments when I try to extol the virtues of exercise to those who don't understand why I workout almost every day without fail. "You're in shape!" "Why are you trying to lose weight?" (I'm not, by the way.).
I am married to the human version of the Cookie Monster, a 160 pound stick who can eat whatever he wants and not gain weight. I mean, he actually LOST weight when I was pregnant. Fact. I am often awakened in the middle of the night by the sound of him opening candy wrappers or bags of Cheetos. He thinks I am nuts too, or at least I don't think he fully understands why I am trying to eat better. Just because I look okay and have a normal BMI, does not necessarily mean that I am healthy. Bottom line, know that temptation will always be around. Most folks are not going to accomodate your new eating habits. They will chow down on that molten chocolate lava cake right in front of you with little to no remorse. And you know what, that's okay. Because...
4. Thank God for the cheat meal. Oh hell yes. I have been planning this all week. Tomorrow night I will be hoovering down a BBQ sandwich, hush puppies, and some cherry cobbler. And it will probably be the best meal of my life.
I'll end this by saying that after only 5 days my energy level is more consistent throughout the day, I am less cranky (my husband may argue otherwise), and I feel better when I exercise b/c I am not using Peanut MnMs as fuel. Simple changes can make a big difference.
But you may still want to hide the cookies in your house if I come for a visit.