A Year In The Life Of A Clean Eater
It’s my anniversary today! No, not my wedding anniversary, but my Clean Eating Anniversary. One year ago today I began a 30 day challenge called The 30 Clean. This challenge, introduced to me by my friend Amy at Thanksgiving, is an eating plan that cleans up your regular eating habits, helps you to choose healthy foods, gives you AMAZING and delicious recipes and helps you identify if you have any issues with certain food groups.
The 30 Clean plan is one that lasts 30 days, eliminating all refined sugar, all dairy, all grains, anything artificial, and encourages light exercise on which you can build up to more intense exercise when you’re ready. But it is so much more than that.
With the 30 Clean plan, you work in groups using Facebook or emails, to share recipes, hints and tips, successes, failures and encouragement….from each other! This plan, seriously, changed my life. Let me describe where I was a little over a year ago and where I am now.
In the Fall of 2014 I had just returned from a wonderful trip to Europe, enjoying all the breads, pastas, cheese, Gelato and whatever I wanted! My regular routine settled back in and the holidays were fast approaching. I was not fat, nor was I eating much fast food. However, I would often skip breakfast or lunch, or both. Bad habits!
Amy and her husband, Jim, came to visit for the Thanksgiving weekend. She had just finished her first 30 day challenge. Amy is quite athletic and in fine shape, but she wanted to clean up her diet, too. At the end of her challenge she told me she had lost weight, had more energy and her skin and hair had improved, too. Amy suggested that I try a 30 day challenge, too. Um, ok, but how, what….
Well, sure, I can do that…when is the next one? January 5th…..that is like, 7 weeks away! I’ll do it. Logging onto the30clean.com, I signed up! I also encouraged some friends and family members to join too. In all there were 5 of us doing it together, in addition to the assigned group of 50 on Facebook/Email.
So the holidays came and went. We rang in the new year and there it was, January 5th, staring me in the face. Sunday the 4th, I pitched all my crackers, chips, sweets. I cleaned out the fridge of all dairy and anything containing sugar or artificial ingredients. I made a grocery run to fill the fridge with fresh veggies and fruits, eggs, meats and poultry, including BACON!!! Yes, bacon (w/o nitrates or nitrites) are on the plan.
On Sunday evenings I made out a 5 day menu plan, and actually stuck to it! I decided to be footloose and fancy-free for the weekend but vowed to continue eating clean. By the way, on this plan, challengers are allowed 2 adult beverages per week, so I enjoyed 2 glasses of wine with dinner on Friday or Saturday night. We were also allowed 3 1-ounce pieces of dark chocolate (at least 72%). What a treat that became!
The first and second weeks went VERY well. I found eating a nice breakfast and a big lunchtime salad with some protein kept me full of energy and satisfied all day. Sometimes going on a “diet” is difficult the first week…not so with this 30 day challenge.
The third week presented me with a little bit of a dilemma: I went to Florida to visit my sister, Judy. Judy was on the 30 clean plan also. The problem? Well, to be completely frank here, it was that we wanted to share a few glasses of wine over the weekend! We went out to dinner the first night and we each had our 2 weekly glasses of wine. The next night we stayed in for dinner, completely clean, but enjoyed 2 more glasses of wine! Ditto for the 3rd night!! Then I went home to Arizona and we both got straight back on the plan…but we only had a little over a week to go!
On the last day of the plan we were allowed to step on a scale for the first time in the challenge! Lo and behold, I was down 12 pounds!!! TWELVE POUNDS!! Thirty days of eating delicious food, enjoying the occasional glass(es) of wine and eating 3 ounces of dark chocolate a week, and I was down 12 pounds!! I could hardly wait to see how the others did!
Would you believe, each of us in the group of 5 lost 12 pounds?! We are all of different heights, weights and activity levels, yet we each lost the same amount of weight! Besides the weight loss, my energy level went way up and I must say, my hair, skin and nails all improved, too.
This challenge was wonderful for me and my friends and family that participated. But I wanted more and so did most of the rest of us. We continued eating clean and we continued to lose weight. We learned fabulous new recipes. We learned how to eat at restaurants and remain clean. (MY standing joke is that when a server asks me what I would like to order, I say, “I’m difficult….”, then I go on to tell him no croutons, dressing and sauce on the side, no cheeses, etc., and guess what….most of the time it is no problem!)
The foods I ate on the plan were so delicious, that I added a “Clean Recipes” section to my blog. It is updated regularly and I would love to have you check out some of these great recipes.
After the challenge ends, there is a period that allows small amounts of the forbidden foods back into the plan. This is a good way to see if you have any dietary issues with dairy, wheat, grains, sugar, etc. But I chose to stay away from these altogether. I remained a clean eater throughout the Spring and Summer. Then I had the opportunity to go to Italy and France in September. I would be faced with pizza, pasta and the dreaded baguettes and butter!! Rather than live in fear of temptation, I decided I would take it one day at a time, one meal at a time. (For the record, there was nothing I really missed or craved since starting the 30 clean, including cheese which was what I feared I would miss most.)
Day 2 in Italy we went with our friends Tim and Marilyn (also a clean eater from our challenge!) and stopped at a pizza café. We both caved in and ate a little pizza. It was delicious. Then we moved on and enjoyed beautiful fish and vegetables fresh from the local areas the next 2 days. On our last day in Italy, my husband and I went to a charming little restaurant for lunch and I had pasta. I mean it…I ate pasta…it had been eight months since I had pasta and here I was eating it. The good thing about eating pasta in Italy is that the portions are so much smaller than the huge portions at American Italian restaurants. It was so good. But that was it for me. Off to Paris for 5 days and all I need do is stay with the clean eating.
And I did. But for 1 day at lunch the server brought over a beautiful bowl with fresh baguettes and butter. I did it again…I ate 2 pieces, including the butter. But that was it!! Our trip ended and home we flew. Back to the routine in all ways….including clean eating.
I don’t regret eating pizza, pasta and bread with butter in Europe, but I’m not eating them now. Nor will I anytime soon. The beauty of this plan is that once you establish an eating plan that works so well, food tastes so good, you know how to choose well, and your weight is down (to date I am down over 22 pounds and holding steady) why would you go back to old habits? For me the REAL beauty is feeling SOOOO good everyday!
I just signed up for the 30 Clean New Years Challenge again with the same group as last year. Sometimes a refresher course really helps. I don’t plan to loose more weight, but want to get back into the soft exercise plan and to get back into 3 square meals per day….kinda fell off that a bit. 😉
Although the January 11, 2016 challenge registration is closed, I encourage you to check out their website and consider the next challenge in February. Remember, it is only 30 days….if I can do it, I think YOU can do it, too! Click here: the30clean.com