Physical health is an important part of living your best life. Your body can do amazing things, especially when you treat it well. I've been extremely focused on healthy eating over the last year, and it's made a world of difference on my health and wellness.
This is specifically what works for me and my body, put together with the help of my personal trainer and my nutritionist. Never start any sort of diet or exercise routine without consulting your doctor. Everyone has different diet and exercise needs, and your doctor and nutritionist will be best able to assist you in identifying the foods your body needs to be healthy.
Diet simply means "the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats." It was never meant to be a worrisome word.
Be intentional with and knowledgeable about your food choices and understand what you're eating.
How many calories do you need to survive?
Use a basic estimator and talk to your doctor and nutritionist about what number of calories you should be eating in order to reach your goals.
During my extra-clean eats (8 weeks long, 2-3 times per year), I track everything I eat using my Fitbit app. Tracking is really helpful and keeps me honest with myself (especially when it comes to peanut butter...).
Macros (or macronutrients)
Macronutrients are simply the nutrients your body needs a lot of. There are three of them: proteins, carbs and fats. All nutrients provide energy to your body, which is measured as calories. Yep, the first line of the nutrition label is measuring the amount of energy it gives your body, and it's not a bad thing!
Depending on your goals, you need a specific balance of where your calories come from. This is why it's so hard to cut (lose weight/burn fat) and build (increase muscle) at the same time, and why I focus my energy on one or the other.
Protein allows your body to build, grow, and repair organs, muscle, hair, skin, nails, bones, tendons, ligaments, and even blood plasma. It's involved in all metabolic, transport, and hormone systems within your body. Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk, cheese, and other animal by-products are rich in protein. As are beans, peas, lentils, chickpeas, nuts, seeds, and soy.
Carbohydrates are your sugars, starches, and fibers. They break down into glucose (blood sugar), which is the main energy source for your body (especially during exercise). Your body and especially your brain needs carbs to function properly. Carbs can help synthesize specific amino acids and keep your bathroom habits consistent, which keeps your healthy.
Simple carbohydrates are easy for the body to break down, like fruit and milk. Complex carbohydrates take more time for the body to break down and are usually found in starches and grains.
Fat allows you to store energy in your body to use later. It helps cushion organs, make certain hormones, absorb and transport fat-soluble vitamins, and helps with cell membrane integrity. It helps your body regulate temperature.
Unsaturated fats are healthy for your body and should be included regularly in moderation. They originate from plant sources such as avocados, nuts and nut butters, seeds, olives and oils. They are also found in animals like salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna, and herring.
Saturated fats are saturated in hydrogen molecules, and in large amounts, they can increase cholesterol and risk of heart disease. Fatty beef, lamb, pork, poultry with skin, lard, cream, butter, full fat cheese and other dairy are higher in saturated fats and should be limited within your diet.
Trans fats should generally be avoided (margarine, shortening, baked goods, doughs, and fried foods).
|Our dumbbell set in our home gym|
This is what builds muscle, which makes you stronger and also burns fat while you're just over here existing. I aim for 2-3 days per week of heavy weightlifting.
I aim for 4-5 days of cardio each week. For me, my cardio is almost entirely done at OrangeTheory. Find something that energizes you and that you enjoy.
These are critical for your body to rebuild the muscles you've torn up. Don't skimp on your rest days during the week. I always aim for 1-2 days per week, and I try to space them appropriately or on days I can't make it to the gym.
Never skip your stretches after each workout! My monthly bills include a deep tissue massage to help keep my body running at its best. Deep tissue massage aims to release chronic muscle tension and heal pain, stiffness, injuries and fatigue. It makes a huge difference for me.
I drink over 100oz of water per day every day. The more you drink, the faster your body flushes out everything. I drink water right out of the tap, and I'm grateful that our water is so clean and fresh here. Best of all, it's sort-of free. I do pay the water bill...
I also drink tea with nothing added.
Generally, I don't drink any coffee, soda, juice, alcohol, etc. and Starbucks gets cut from extra-clean eats, too.
I have trouble eating enough protein (I'm lazy and I love my carbs), so I drink Driven Whey Protein Powder immediately after every workout to make sure my body has the protein it needs to rebuild. The cost is under $1 for 23g of protein. There are many great options, but I've found this one a good balance between great taste, amount of protein, and total cost.
- One scoop of LivingFuel SuperGreens
- One scoop of LivingFuel SuperBerry Original
My therapist was concerned I wasn't getting all the vitamins I needed for my brain to manage my depression, and he recommended LivingFuel as a solution. I've started almost every day with it since 2014.
My Extra-Clean Eats Food List
I hate limits. I hate resisting things I know aren't healthy for me, so I just don't buy them. I made a grocery shopping rule for myself: I must stick to my list. This really helps when I'm wandering the aisles because there's little to no thinking required, and it limits the decision fatigue.
I'm building the frugal box, and then I'm going reckless inside it.
During my extra-clean eats (8 weeks long, 2-3 times per year), I make sure the only items I eat are from my food list and I do not budge at all. Not on the list, not accepted, whether or not it's in front of me. When everything else isn't around to eat, it's out of sight, out of mind. I don't do well in shades of gray, and this is what works for me.
The rest of the time, I generally stick to my list at the store, but then we add back restaurants and meals out. My extra-clean eats give us a chance to reset on our restaurant spending and to better appreciate and enjoy when we do go out.
- Lean meats: chicken breast and ground turkey
- Fish (especially salmon)
- Chobani original Greek yogurt (All the flavored kinds have additives. For flavor, you can add a bit of protein powder yourself.)
- Vegetables: any non-starch veggies. Tomatoes, cucumbers, green and red peppers, lettuce, spinach, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, green beans/snap peas, kale for smoothies, asparagus, mushrooms, zucchini
- Fruits: bananas, apples, blueberries, strawberries, grapes, oranges, kiwi, mango
- Freeze dried fruits with no added sugars and no preservatives (Good & Gather from Target is great for some. Check the ingredient label. The only ingredient should be the fruit.)
- Publix peanut butter (the only ingredient is peanuts!)
- Nuts with no salt or additives
- Fresh avocado
- There are plenty of other great options, but I'm a really picky eater
During Extra-Clean Eats:
- No processed foods. Every ingredient label should say only the food item, and nothing else.
- No added salt or sugar.
- No dressings, flavorings, or additives.
- No alcohol. No Starbucks.
Favorite On-List Meals
All prepared with no dressings, flavorings, or additives
- Scrambled eggs with cherry tomatoes and spinach, topped with smoked salmon
- Deconstructed Tacos: Ground turkey, red and green peppers, onions and tomatoes cooked in a pan and served with cauliflower rice and guacamole (careful - make it yourself or watch the ingredients lists!)
- Lettuce wraps with ground turkey or shredded chicken, peppers, onions and guacamole
- Tuna bowls with cauliflower rice, mandarin oranges, shaved cucumber, and a squeeze of lemon
- Pear Spinach Salad with optional raisins, guacamole, cauliflower bits, chicken, and cucumber
- Veggie Soup in the slow cooker: Fresh tomatoes and water for the base, fresh lime juice, chopped cilantro plus vegetables (onion, carrot, celery, bell pepper, green beans, mushrooms)
- Berry crumble: Put berries (strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, blackberry) in cast iron and top with crumble (1 egg and quarter cup coconut flour mixed) and cinnamon, bake 375*F for 20-25mins (top golden brown, berries bubbling)
Weight Loss During Extra-Clean Eats
|First round of nachos after|
8 weeks of extra-clean eating
After the first week of sticking to clean eating (while maintaining a proper and safe calorie intake at approximately a 500-calorie daily deficit of my maintenance, or about 1,300 calories per day based on my own body's needs), it's about 2lbs a week lost, but it's specifically body fat that is lost. I can see it in the mirror as my muscles become more defined.
Once I've gone through a cycle, I notice my cravings for things off the list stay low. I stick with the healthy habits and am making healthier choices automatically. I'm consistently eating better after giving myself a hard reset, although I happily munch on goodies off the list, too, in moderation. (Maybe 3-4 meals a week? I don't count...)
For me, it's not about being a specific weight or fitting a certain image. It's about being who I want to be, feeling how I want to feel, loving myself at all stages of my life, and treating my body well as I work toward a stronger and healthier me.