I was always “that kid” at school. The one who had Lunchables, dry Mr. Noodles, Gushers, Soda Licious, Fruit Roll Ups, and Teddy Grahams. The one who bought poutine and a chocolate bar for lunch in high school, and usually rolled into first period with an Egg McMuffin. Who regularly ate pogo sticks, pizza pockets, and Sugar Crisp cereal, and who people constantly told “you better learn to eat healthy, you’re not going to be skinny forever!”
I’ve never been someone who has struggled with my weight. Besides gaining the freshman 15, I’ve always been a size 4-6, despite a high-carb and weekend junk food diet. But after high school I learned that I had to balance the poutine with some healthy food or else I’d end up as the before picture for a very shady diet pill, and no one wants that. My version of healthy? Low-fat Vegetable Thins, baked chicken fingers, and maybe a salad once a month. So, yeah.
While I’ve always been a gym rat (at least 3-4 times a week) I’ve been wanting to clean up my diet for a while now, and keep resolving to incorporate healthier foods. Or at least not binge-eat an entire bag of Party Mix while watching my beloved Dateline on a Friday night. A few reasons: one, I can relax on workouts knowing my diet is healthy. Two, when I eventually decide to have children I’d prefer to not raise them on Sugar Crisp, and it’s better to start habits early. And three, my boyfriend was having some health problems and I wondered if any of them were related to our diet.
Since I’ve made an “eat more vegetables” New Year’s Resolution for the last 8 years (note: I did not eat more vegetables), I figured pretty much nothing could reform my not-terribly-unhealthy-but-definitely-not-healthy diet. Enter the That Clean Life meal plan. Like many of my well-intended plans, I downloaded the meal plan in February, and promptly procrastinated for weeks. So when the March challenge came around and Abigail kindly nudged me (read: emailed me and said stop procrastinating) I decided to dig in.
After wandering the grocery store for the better part of two hours trying to track down things like almond butter and coconut oil, I was all set to start. My boyfriend & I followed the meal plan faithfully for the full 6 days (I even drank herbal tea at a drinks night with friends, and avoided pizza/cupcakes at a Friday fun day at work). And here’s what shocked me: healthy food is not terrible, and in fact it’s quite delicious. And here’s what shocked me even more: I wasn’t hungry all the time like before. I ate quinoa, brown rice tortillas, almond milk, almond butter, and vegetables like it was my job. Hell I probably consumed more fresh produce in that week than in the entire 6 months prior combined. And I wasn’t hungry (I guess protein and fibre DO work!).
Since then we’ve followed the clean eating lifestyle (silly, don’t you know diets don’t work?) pretty religiously, completing all 3 of Abigail’s challenges, and mixing in some recipes from Skinnytaste, OhSheGlows, Pure Ella, and other websites. We’ve made quinoa meatloaf, brown rice pasta, and salads by the dozen. We’ve followed a mostly gluten-free, dairy-free, you-can’t-pronounce-the-ingredient-free diet for over a month, and I’ve loved it. What makes it work? Saturday, or as I called it TREAT YO SELF day, where I eat absolutely whatever I want. This Saturday I ate 3 scones, 4 macarons, pizza, and a McDonald’s poutine - and it was glorious. And yes I feel terrible on Sunday mornings and promptly make a berry bowl and get to the gym.
The results so far? My boyfriend has lost more than 10 pounds, I’ve lost at least a few pounds, we cook 95% of our meals at home now which has saved us a lot of money, we’re not drinking as much which means my workdays and Sundays are more productive, and Kev’s psoriasis on his hands has completely, 100% disappeared. The other result: my friends who know me as “that junk food girl” are obviously disappointed when I decline their cupcakes on a Tuesday, and my best friends who have been living this lifestyle for years pretty much want to kill me, since I spent years (YEARS) making fun of their salad-loving cous cous-eating ways.
Despite sometimes being wistful for the days when a Lean Cuisine was an acceptable lunch, or when I could justify eating the 4th slice of pizza on a Tuesday night, I feel like I’m making better choices now (exception: that McDonald’s poutine). The key to making it last will be remembering That Clean Life's advice about the 80/20 rule - live a healthy lifestyle most of the time, and eat the damn poutine the other 20% of the time. So far it’s working great.