Eating Clean in 2017
I've always been into fitness. As I've shared previously I was the kid that tried out for every sport. I was equally terrible at all of them. I was a professional bench warmer and cheerleader. Then I literally became a cheerleader in high school. For anyone that doesn't think that's physically demanding...try it!
A few years later in college I started going to the gym with a friend of mine quite regularly and I had an on again off again relationship with the place from there.
However, there was always a component missing. Nutrition.
I was the body type that could eat whatever I wanted to little effect on the outside. Goodness knows it wasn't healthy on the inside. As I edged closer to my 30th birthday...that whole getting away with eating anything I wanted began to quickly fade away. I realized I didn't really know what a balanced diet was. Probably 80 percent of my groceries came from the frozen food section.
I have essentially been training both on and off prep since January. It's the biggest shift in my eating habits that I've taken on in my entire life.
Here are 7 things I learned so far about eating clean in 2017:
It's Not Rocket Science...but...
Okay so eating a balanced and nutritious diet isn't rocket science. Most of us know what is healthy and what is not. That being said with all the fad diets, cleanses, methods and ideologies out there nutrition can be confusing. You need to do some soul searching to figure out what lifestyle choice is going to be best for you and attainable in the long term. Eating healthy and clean isn't a fad diet. It is a lifestyle you create for yourself. It's fuelling your body with the nutrients it needs to perform at its best. Drinking juice for 30 days may help shed some pounds and feel good, but that isn't attainable in the long run. You aren't going to just drink juice for 365. It's also not teaching you how to fuel your body. Equally when I get into the homestretch of competition...that is not attainable in the long term. That is why athletes reverse diet to get back into the swing of a normal and healthy caloric intake. I didn't even know what a complex carb was or a proper portion size when I started. This is knowledge I'm going to keep with me forever.
Banish The Cheating
Eating a donut. Eating nachos. Drinking beer. Taking down a pizza. I can (and I'm sure many of us) be guilty of referring to these indulgences as cheat days or meals. However in normal life having these items shouldn't be associated with horrifying guilt or cheating. You need to have a healthy relationship with food. Therefore, beating yourself up mentally because you gobbled down that burger and fries. Not cool. Treating yourself is important and a part of life. On the other side of the spectrum...indulging in fast food and these items as the main staple of your "nutrition". Well you don't need me to tell you that isn't healthy. Moderation is key. Having self control when it comes to portions of these items is another key. Trust me...I'm the girl that would take down the entire family size bag of chips to herself. I can tell you it was all fun and games in the moment...but you don't feel great afterwards...and I don't mean mentally...physically an entire family size bag of chips doesn't sit well...nor is it an energy booster.
Fun & Alcohol
I'm Belgian...Item I look forward to most post competition. A refreshing pint. When I train for competition my alcohol consumption is limited and eventually its out the window all together. This was a tough one for me initially. When moving to Vancouver my life was built on happy hour. Drinking is a huge part of being social for most of us. I've learned though that having fun is not synonymous with alcohol. Don't get me wrong...I like to go out and have a good time...and no doubt there will be brews when competition is done. But it was nice to know that I can go out to a social event with alcohol present and not drink...and still have an amazing time. It sounds silly, but when you go against the grain of the social norm it takes a little bit of getting used to.
Since eating a clean diet I can't believe how much I've discovered about food. First of all foods I thought I hated that I love. Grapefruits! Oats! Yams! and I love broccoli. I've realized during this transition that I had a lot of digestive issues that I just lived with. My tummy used to bloat something fierce. Surprise surprise-lactose intolerant. I used to indulge in a lot of cheese...and then be in pain for 1 or 2 days after. I just accepted this as normal. The clean eating process has been really educational for me when it comes to my body. When I introduce something back into the mix I'm fascinated to be able to really identify how that food makes me feel. I can't wait until I can be more creative in the kitchen after competition. There are amazing recipes out there for the new found ingredients I've embraced.
Dining Out Decoded
Dining out can be daunting when you're trying to eat well. I've learned that it really isn't that bad. Most restaurants are more than willing to accommodate requests for your dietary needs. Just ask. Just the other week I was at a Yelp Elite event in Vancouver. Sure I would have loved to do some damage to the epic charcuterie that was on display. Being so close to the Iron Ore Classic it wasn't an option for me. They did have rotisserie chicken and asparagus. It was delicious...always the way when you aren't the one prepping it. In addition, portion size is a big one. How many times do you go out to eat and the plates are just massive. I've learned that just because its there I don't need to eat it all in one sitting. Taking it to go is no problem and much more comfortable than pushing past my limits. The only downside is my husband normally eats my leftovers before I get to it.
Finished not Full
I used to eat until my stomach literally ached. I would sit on the couch and just think ... oh my gosh I'm stuffed and don't want to move. I haven't felt that way this year (with one exception I'll get to in a moment). It is such a sickly feeling. I would ignore my bodies cues that were shouting...that's enough...you were done eating 5 mouthfuls ago! Since eating clean and understanding portion size I don't get that feeling. I'm also not hungry or starving. The final weeks up to competition are different. I won't lie I get hungry...but that is a calorie deficit for a specified period of time. Normal life and normal portions. You are simply satisfied. I love not having that sickly feeling after I eat. I experienced it once this year when my husband and I celebrated our belated anniversary post competition. We went to Vijs Restaurant on Cambie, which I highly recommend. The food was unreal. The naan was a great sauce catcher. I was stuffed after dinner...but we had a dessert date planned for waffles after. So we each got one because we couldn't decided on the same one. It was AAAMMMAZZING....but so so so filling. I had a couple blocks to walk back to the condo and we had to keep stopping because I thought I was going to be sick. I ate myself physically ill. Really romantic way to end the night. haha The lesson was learned...
A lifestyle change isn't easy. It's also difficult to know where to start. Reaching out for help and investing in your health is an important element of self care. For myself I had specific goals in mind and had fallen short from them on many occasions. True story I once paid $500 to an "online trainer" who essentially sent me 4 pieces of paper with cookie cutter instructions and zero follow up. Needless to say the transformation I had planned didn't happen. I learned absolutely nothing. My wallet was also very sad. If you're looking at hiring a professional research who is going to be a great fit for you that is in line with your goals and beliefs. For me personally I researched for a while before sitting down for my consultation with Ondrej Leipert at My Trainer 365. I needed an online component from my trainer because I travel a lot for work. I wanted someone that was going to kick my butt, but also really care for my results through the process. What I have found so beneficial is that he cares that I understand my nutrition and why certain changes are being made to my plan. My examples are all on the extreme spectrum as with competing you are tailoring toward a very specific end result. That being said I've learned lessons I'll take with me far beyond because I now have an understanding of how to fuel my body for optimum performance.