Today marked the first day of the Cleaner Life challenge I mentioned last week. After just 1 day, I can already tell this is going to be a very educational experience, and I’m super excited to learn more about less processed and sugar laden foods. One of my readers asked me about why I chose to do this challenge, and whether it’s something that’s realistic for me to continue with for the rest of my life. She was also (rightfully) concerned that this may be another way for me to restrict myself after a less-than-stellar eating for a few days. Although I gave her a short answer in the comments section, I think I should really elaborate here about why this 30-day challenge is something that I truly believe is the right thing for me to try this coming month. In order to do that, let me give you some background on me and my previous weight loss attempts (feel free to scroll over to my eats of the day if it’s too much information )…
I’m an all-or-nothing person. Period. About 2.5-3 years ago, I came across a calorie tracking website and this sparked an interest in losing weight this way. I put my heart into it. I decided on a 1200-1400 calorie range and really stuck to it. I only ate at restaurants that provided nutritional information (except for an occasional salad I got at a random NY deli, when I could kind of estimate calories). It was not fun but I lost about 15 pounds. Then I moved to Boston and had intense studying for the CFA exam for about a month. During that month I decided that it was ok to eat whatever I wanted because I had no time to worry about food (and for the second part of that month, exercise too). Eating whatever I wanted resulted in a nearly 10 lb gain (in 1 month!), which took me over a year to lose again. This time I was trying to lose the weight for my upcoming wedding. I had a lot on my plate, but of course looking good for my wedding really helped me stick to my plan. It also provided a great excuse when people tired to convince me to go out and eat or drink foods with unknown (or known and scary) amounts of calories. I ate 1200-1500 calories/day six times a week, and really let loose on the seventh “rest day.” The rest day was also my exercise rest day (counterproductive, right?). On that 7th day, I ate everything in sight, canceling out most of my hard work during the week, but it still worked. I slowly lost that 10 lbs and was pretty happy with how I looked on my wedding day. I was not at my goal weight, but I felt strong and toned. In the process I also acquired a passion for cooking healthy and creative meals, so I felt confident that I could keep going with my weight loss even after the wedding.
On the honeymoon, we 100% enjoyed ourselves. That means dinners out, lots of pizza and gelato (we went to Italy) and some mandatory weight gain. I didn’t mind, though. Like I said, I’m an all or nothing person so I knew that as soon as we got back, I’d be back to healthy eating and the weight would come right off. I was right! I lost weight very fast after that, and was even about 3 lbs below my wedding weight for a little while. This was last July (maybe August). Since then I’ve slowly gained weight. I just lost that spark for weight loss. The problem is I never lost the desire to lose weight. I don’t want to be rigid with calorie counting anymore (going out to dinners with my husband to restaurants that don’t provide nutritional info is very important to both of us, for sanity purposes) but that’s the only way I know how to do it. Every time I try to “be flexible” I end up overdoing it. This is where being an all-or-nothing person really bites me in the ass. I need rules.
Anyways, fast forward to this past month, I’ve been feeling completely out of control. I get super motivated to be healthy, and I am healthy for 1, 2, even 5 days, until I just randomly start eating uncontrollably. It is NOT because I’m hungry or deprived during the previous days and meals. It’s often because of stress, anxiety or boredom, and despite knowing this even while I do this, I can’t seem to stop. It’s like a roller coaster every.single.time and I need to stop it, but somehow I keep going through the same motions over and over. And now we get to the reason of why I want to do this challenge. I NEED a goal to work towards and I love challenges. I think the challenge will provide me with flexibility to live my life (I can still go out to dinners and not know my exact calorie count for the day) while establishing some guidelines. Eliminating white flour and white sugar (most key rules to this challenge) will also automatically eliminate some “trigger foods.” These forbidden foods over the next 30 days will not be forbidden forever, but hopefully I’ll be able to reset my body, refocus, and set myself straight. I often randomly grab treats at the office when I don’t even really want them. I’m afraid that if I don’t, then I’ll feel deprived later on. Honestly, that’s just stupid logic but somehow I talk myself into it nearly every time. Other days when I’m stressed at work, I go out and buy myself a cookie “to make myself feel better.” Does it solve my work overload problem? No. Am I still stressed after eating a cookie? Even more so because now I’m worried about gaining weight too. Makes sense right now, but somehow I forget about this feeling every time. Worse yet, many times after these random indulges, I feel like I already had an “off day” so I give myself the green light to continue eating without counting. This challenge will prevent these random trips to the bakery. Lastly (and this is not why I originally decided to do this) it will teach me more about what’s truly in my food. I already know whether there is sugar, white flour or hidden soy in all my favorite bars, cereals and granolas – they are all 100% natural so I didn’t have to worry about artificial sweeteners. I should know by heart by the end of the 30 days, which fruits and vegetable are most pesticide absorbing and which ones are ok to buy non-organic. I will also stop consuming hormones through my intake of dairy. I never really thought about it until recently, but I try to buy organic fruits and vegetables but never really cared about dairy, but it’s the same thing! If the cows eat grass with pesticides, then my yogurt and milk will have it too. Duh! All right, I hope this kind of clears it up if anyone actually read through this 😆 Feel free to comment. Please never be afraid to comment, unless you’re just trying to be plain mean (which luckily hasn’t happened yet) and in that case, don’t 😉
Onto today eats…
Plain chobani, fresh blueberries, 1/2 kiwi, dried Turkish apricots, Kashi autumn wheat:
TJ’s whole wheat bagel, 1 laughing cow light cheese wedge, 1/4 avocado, 1.5 oz lox, broccoli stalk sticks, baby carrots:
1/2 Pure chocolate brownie bar:
[lunch, incl. pure bar dessert = 516 calories]
2 TJ’s low carb tortillas, pasta sauce, 1/4 avocado, light mexican cheese, black beans:
One Lucky Duck chocolate macaroon (= sugarless/flourless heaven, review to come!)
[calories = no clue! Does anyone have an estimate or the recipe for these guys? I’m assuming 106 calories because that’s what Archway macaroons are. These could be more or less. I guess I don’t necessary care as long as I stick to only 1 per day]
Total calories for the day: ~1377 (kind of light because I just wasn’t very hungry)
- I’m really used to having something sweet after lunch. An adora disc sometimes used to do the trick but given that it has sugar today it wasn’t an option. I had 1/2 pure bar and that was good.
- I want chocolate when I’m stressed. Today I was stressed at work, but chocolate was not an option given it’s sugar content. I had an apple instead and was happy to be healthy.
- I don’t know much about natural sugar substitutes. Is beet sugar ok? Is evaporated cane sugar ok?
I’m still learning! This is going to be good for me. I know that. I’ll report periodically on how I do. NY trip highlights coming soon! 😀