After 400 days. . . .yes, FOUR HUNDRED . . .using the My Fitness Pal app, I cracked. I’d had enough tracking. I’d had enough of eating the same meals or variations of the same meals day after day after day. I went rogue.
It was a glorious three of weeks of just eating with reckless abandon. No counting portion sizes. No counting calories. No counting my water intake. I ate when I was hungry. I drank what I wanted, when I wanted to. Sure I ate my same ol’ boring breakfasts and lunches, but if I wanted a cupcake, I ate it! Another glass of wine? Why not? Should we get some fries at lunch? Bring ’em on.
After a while, though, I realized that I wasn’t feeling that great. I was tired. My pants were a little snug, despite my daily check-ins at the gym. I wasn’t sleeping well at all. I decided to get back on track with My Fitness Pal. Re-entry was a little tough, but three days make a habit, and soon I was back in the fold of recording my meals. A few days later, a girlfriend of mine said that she was going to do a 7 Day Clean Eating Challenge to get herself back on track. She thought I might be interested in joining her. I saw the words “clean eating” and thought, nope. No. And again . . .nope.
I’d like to think that while I’m not bellying up to the trough on a regular basis (with the exception of those 3 weeks of course), I eat pretty well. I know it’s not “clean” — I fry stuff. I use white foods. I use regular salt and sugar. Still, I didn’t really want to peel away anything else from what I was already doing. Nor did I want to add any more fruits and veggies. I’m a picky eater; I like what I like and that’s about it. To try to incoroporate more clean foods — or any clean foods — was going to take some doing. I couldn’t even think about getting Snap, Crackle and Pop on board with it. Still, I was intrigued by it.
So, on Sunday, I had my “last meal”, and woke up on Monday ready to get down to business. Thankfully, the challenge was moderated by someone who has subscribed to the clean eating lifestyle for a while. This woman really knows her stuff. In additon to daily motivational check-ins, she provided exercises, nutritional information videos, meal planning ideas, and encouraged the participants to keep a dialogue going of how they progressed over the week.
I used one of her meal planning guides to help me through the ensuing seven days. I needed something definitive so that there would be no question of what to do when and no opportunity to go off the rails. This clean eating plan had me eating meals at 7, 12, and 5 with snacks at 10, 3, and 8. I adjusted my personal timetable accordingly and got down to it. Monday morning, I selected several options from the breakfast choices, bypassed by morning cup of joe in favor of some water and kept it moving. I had a good start to the day, but I was starting to get some hunger pangs way before my designated snack time. I filled up on water. Lunch time came around and I made some minor modifications to what I had been regularly eating. I was feeling pretty good about how things were going. Dinner was the same thing. The first day was in the books and I was strutting around, having knocked it out of the park.
Then Tuesday came.
I woke up ravenous. I’m surprised I didn’t mistake my pillow for a marshmallow during the night. Breakfast felt like an appetizer and my mid-morning snack became my personal white whale. I filled up on water and practically sweated it all out at the gym. My work-out had been great, but my stomach was protesting. I felt a serious cranky coming on and attributed it to low blood sugar. Thankfully, snack time rolled around — what am I? A pre-schooler?) and I was able to make it through to the end of the day.
Wednesday was better. I had found my stride and drew upon my Type A personality to help me prep and plan meals and snacks. My purse had little baggies of almonds and hard boiled eggs. The fridge had pre-portioned servings of fruit and vegetables. I even made tuna fish using avocado instead of mayonaise. I was really doing it!
Thursday, I was to meet a friend for lunch at a local restaurant and almost cancelled. I didn’t think I’d be able to keep this good thing going in the face of a menu that had items like “Fried Green Tomato BLT” and “Southern Short Rib Pie”. I grabbed my big girl panties off the shelf and dealt with it. Mixed fields greens with grilled chicken, dressing on the side, no croutons. I felt like Sally Albright, but no matter. I navigated a meal out and stuck to the plan relatively well.
By Friday, some of the new changes had become habits and I was looking forward to having certain things that I would not have imagined the week prior. Sure, there were a few fails — quinoa is forever banned from my kitchen — but there were lots of wins, like chicken salad made with avocado, Greek yogurt, lime juice and cilantro. I almost broke my arm patting myself on the back at my success thus far. I wanted to celebrate! So I did.
with a steak.
Imagine that you’re a child whose drawn on the walls. Your parent spends an inordinate amount of time scrubbing those walls in order to restore them to their unmarred condition. You, you cheeky little monkey, celebrate your parents’ hard work by drawing a celebratory pastiche on the aforementioned walls. Describe for me how your parent might react.
Basically, when you have cleaned something and then you gunk it back up, there are going to be repercussions. In my case, there were digestive repercussions, along about 3 o’clock in the morning. I was crawling to the bathroom, vowing to eat clean for the rest of my life if the cramping in my stomach would just stop. I made it through the tummy troubles and got back on the wagon the next day. I finished the challenge strong, losing a few pounds, a few inches, and gaining a little definition around my middle. It’s been about a week since I finished the challenge, but I’d say I’m eating about 75% of my meals like I’m still on it.
I had snap peas and baby carrots for a mid morning snack today! And they were good!
The best meals I had were breakfast, actually. I think I’m late to the steel cut oatmeal party, but better late than never. The recipe below is not a “clean eating” version — for that you’d have to omit the sugar and butter. I’ve had both, the one below and the clean version with a touch of honey and they’re both delicious.
Eating clean is not as difficult as I thought. There were some points during the challenge where I would have preferred to eat something else, but I actually started to look forward to my breakfast and snacks. While I don’t know if I’m ready to go all in with clean eating 100%, I think I can keep some of these good habits in play for the long term. I’m going to have to figure out a way to work some lean beef into the equation without wreaking havoc on my stomach.
Happy Friday, y’all!
- 1 cup Steel Cut Oats (Not Regular Rolled Oats)
- 4 cups Water
- ½ cups Milk
- ¼ cups Brown Sugar
- 1 Tablespoon Butter
- ½ teaspoons Vanilla
- ½ teaspoons Cinnamon
1. Combine ingredients in a crock pot.
2. Plug crock pot in.
3. Cook on low for 8 hours!
Your house smells so delicious in the morning, and you get to sleep in an extra five minutes, because your breakfast is READY!
Many add-ins are possible: chocolate chips, flaxseed, honey, nutmeg, grated apple, cherries, peanut butter, cranberries. Let me know what your favorite add-in is!