What does “getting clean” mean to you?
It could be as difficult as speaking a truth that has been hard to share or as complex as shaking yourself free from addiction. Regardless of what we are faced with, sometimes “getting clean,” is harder than it appears.
Seven weeks ago my friend and fellow writer, Mary, announced to her Facebook friends that she was co-leading a week long “eat-clean” challenge with her friend Michele. Really her announcement was an invitation for anyone to join, however she did say the group would be limited to a small number. Without knowing what I was signing up for I raised my hand and said I wanted to join–little did I know–that decision would launch me into a life transformation.
Today I realize my decision to join the challenge was exactly what I needed.
The 10 pounds I had gained were triggering me back to a time in life when I battled with my weight. Very old emotions had been surfacing, but rather than face them, I had slipped into a mode of denial.
The clothes I loved most were left to hang because they didn’t fit. I had been telling myself that weight gain and feeling weak were results of aging. In other words I was making excuses and allowing myself to be stuck.
Although I longed for a better sense of health, I needed that push to help me take the first step. When Mary sent her message out I told myself I was joining because… I liked the idea of eating with intention. And if I am completely honest, when I said yes, I was also telling myself… I really didn’t need it, it just sounded like fun.
As it turns out I did need it. I also needed a safe group to keep me inspired. Today I am so glad that I took a leap of faith without over analyzing why.
To be clear, eating-clean, is not a diet.
Eating clean is a lifestyle. There are no magic pills. No “food” in a package. It simply is a matter of choosing fresh healthy foods to eat. Vegetables, fruits, nuts and, if you eat meat, lean meats.
The guidelines promote steering away from cow’s milk and cow’s milk products. It also recommends eliminating products laced with sugar and starchy foods that, although make you feel full, provide little to no nutritional value. Last, part of the challenge was to also forego alcohol.
I needed to move more too.
Along with the commitment to eat-clean I revamped my exercise routine. Even though I had always been pretty good about working out, I was in a rut where I relied on walking as my only means of exercise.
That first week I began by alternating between running/walking outside to using our neighborhood gym. At the end of that first week I felt great. I had dropped a little over a pound and had more energy.
Interestingly enough my biggest challenge had nothing to do with selecting good foods, giving up my beloved glass of wine or getting myself out the door to exercise.
My biggest obstacle was between my ears.
The volume of negative self talk was on full blast during that first week.
OMG you are so out of shape, really Stebbins? What the hell is wrong with you…what makes you think this time will be different, you know you’re going to quit, you never……blah blah blah.”
Um. Really? How about, shut the hell up.
In order to combat the noise inside my head I tried a few things.
- I smiled while I was running. It’s hard to beat yourself up when you’re smiling. There’s just something about it that makes a person happy.
- I wrote down everything the voice had to say. Then I took to heart the pieces of truth that were on the page and rewrote them on a fresh page.
- After, I crumpled up, then threw away, the parts of what I had written down that only made me feel bad. Things that if I really absorbed or believed would derail me.
- Removing the ammunition my brain had stored to hurt me with, allowed me to give the power I needed to remain strong, back to my best-self.
- I joined a challenge group. By surrounding myself with people who were new to “eating-clean” I found that although we didn’t always have the same stumbling blocks, we gained strength in our resolve by having a safe place to share.
Two weeks in I had a break through.
I took one of my favorite hikes near my house. It’s a four mile loop that makes it’s way far above the community with vista views of the lagoon and ocean. I hiked to the top then ran the trail down.
And when I hit the road that leads to the car, I realized that the only things I had been thinking about were the music I was listening too, the nature and how lucky I was to be alive.
Now that was more than a step in the right direction.
Just when I joined the challenge my sister-in-law, Kathy, introduced me to PiYo an exercise she was trying and loving. In the Facebook group I heard Mary and Michele refer to PiYo. After that first week I decided to give it a try. Later I joined another 21 day challenge with Michele and Mary that incorporated eat-clean and PiYo.
You may be wondering about results, the physical ones.
Since September 29th I have lost 9 pounds and over 11.5 inches from all over my body. I measured everything at the end of that first week–arms, butt, thighs, waist and bust–I wanted proof if my efforts worked, so I recorded everything.
Some people would say I was thin to begin with. And that would be true. But here’s the deal, I wasn’t eating well and I sure as hell wasn’t in shape.
Today I am on the right track.
I have added muscle and strength. And best of all I feel good. Have I had days when I deviated? Yes. That’s life, but choosing a glass of wine or a piece of chocolate here and there have not derailed me.
Eating-clean is a lifestyle.
Saying no to the trappings of foods that add little value has led me to feel great. These subtle changes have refocused my attention on what matters most–my health–for without it? I am little good to anyone in my life, least of all myself.
Special thanks to Mary, Michele, all the ladies who participated in the 29 Sept. Eat Clean Challenge and 21 day East Clean/PiYo Challenge FB Pages and my sister-in-law Kathy.
Carol Cassara says
I so admire your perseverance. Congratulations on your achievement!
Thanks Carol! Feeling so good has definitely kept me motivated. 🙂
Mary Lanzavecchia says
I am so crazy thrilled for you! You are the bomb and it has been such fun to share this journey with you! xoxo
Oh my goodness Mary, you truly inspired me and I have loved every part of the journey…well may except a couple of those PiYo moves. haha. Feeling this good makes me want everyone I know to try it! xoxo
Toni McCloe says
You look great. I hope you keep that motivation and all the rewards that go with good health. Congratulations. That four mile loop by the ocean sounds heavenly.
It is a heavenly hike. Thanks for the nice comment too Toni.
Cathy Chester says
How awesome, Elin! Congratulations.
Somehow I missed Mary’s FB message, but Helene told me about it so I reached out to Mary and she got me the info. Helene also told me about PiYo and I got the information for that as well.
That’s as far as I got. Shame on me! Maybe you were meant to go on this and write this post to give me the big KICK IN THE BIGGER BUTT I need. Whatever the reason, I’m thrilled for you. You look fabulous. I love your methods of community and self-talk that got your to where you are. Great!
I so encourage you to give it a whirl Cathy. I can say I have never felt better in my life! Mary is such a great coach and cheerleader too!
Woo. You look beautiful — healthy and fit. Congrats. I do tend to eat lots out of my garden in the winter and fall. I love greens. But wine and coffee – not enough water are bad habits. Keep up the good work. Inspiring.
Ah, thanks Jamie, appreciate that. And I hear you on the wine, coffee and water front!
Lisa @ Grandma's Briefs says
You look FABulous! Nine+ pounds since the end of September? Wow! You’re an inspiration, especially considering the extent of your negative speak. So glad you’ve overcome it, persevered, and will continue eating clean. I need to do so. You’ve inspired me to at least consider it more. 😀 (As I nosh on a PBJ sandwich!)
You are so sweet Lisa, thank you. I am a sucker for peanut butter too. Happy to answer any questions you have about it and I am sure Mary is too!
Betsy Marro says
Congratulations! Feeling better and finding ways to enjoy your body and your surroundings more each day are great outcomes. Enjoy each day more and more.
Thanks Betsy, it’s been pretty great!
Helene Cohen Bludman says
Wow, that is awesome!! Hearing your story is so inspirational, Elin. I need to recommit to PiYo — I’ve been a slacker.
Thanks Helene, I’m so glad it inspired you. It’s so much fun and amazing how fast you feel stronger. 🙂
Joyce McCall says
Great blog about your clean eating journey. I can relate 100%! It has been transformational for me and my husband as well.
I’m so glad Joyce! I have enjoyed being in the challenge group with you and love your positive energy!
Elin thank you so much for all the complements. You did the work and it paid off. We are so proud of your accomplishments. Part of our job, Mary and mine, is to also educate you enough to help other and spread the word about Clean Eating. We are here to help who ever is ready. Keep up the great work. Hugs
Thanks Michele! You and Mary both made it easy to keep showing up. I think most people would embrace Clean Eating if they gave themselves the time to feel better. I remember thinking I would always crave cheese. Not really at all. I feel too good. I do however still like my occasional glass of cab and those darn chocolate covered acai berries! 😉
Lois Alter Mark says
You looked gorgeous to me even before your journey but I’m so proud of you for accomplishing your goals — even if it meant I ate all the bread on the table 🙂
You are too sweet, thank you Lois. And I love eating with you, even when the cookie guy bugs us. 😉