Most people ask me how in the world I lost so much weight. Usually the first question is “how often do you go to the gym”. I typically laugh, put my head down in shame, and say “not enough”! My weight loss has been 95% diet. I want to go to the gym regularly, but I have some circumstances in my life now that interrupt my gym schedule – those things will be resolved in December, and at that point it’s time to get serious about getting toned up.
I had been overweight my entire life – even as a child, I was the fat girl. It was horrible. I tried Sugar Busters, Weight Watchers, counting calories, and nothing worked permanently. I actually did lose about 70 pounds on Sugar Busters, but I constantly felt hungry, and I craved everything I gave up (breads and potatoes – even though I didn’t really like them much before). I ended up gaining it all back. I lost about 20 pounds with Weight Watchers, but gained it back as well. Counting calories was an ultimate fail for me – I cut my calories down to 1200 per day, felt like I was starving, and didn’t lose more than 5 pounds. I was on-again/off-again in the gym, and I never really saw much progress.
So what’s my secret? It’s not really a secret at all. I eat clean. Eating clean, to me, is knowing exactly what goes into my body, reading the ingredients and understanding them. You might be thinking that you can’t even pronounce some of the stuff listed on the box. Exactly! And you just found something I will not eat.
- Primarily, I’m vegan. I switched to a vegan diet just to try it out. I never thought at the time that it would become a lifestyle for me. One month later, I felt better than I ever had, AND I had lost 16 pounds. I had a few cravings, but they went away when I ate something nutritious like a piece of fruit. In the past, the craving didn’t go away until I ate whatever I was craving. There are too many hormones and antibiotics present in animals produced for food these days – not to mention the cruel treatment and conditions to which many of these animals are subjected.
- Junk food – Did you know Oreos are vegan? Does it seem right to you that the creamy goo is not made from milk? It was weird to me, and after reading the ingredients and not being able to figure out exactly what it is, I don’t eat them. I also don’t eat Spicy Chili Doritos (also vegan). I typically don’t eat the junk. As I mentioned, I’m a label reader. If I can’t pronounce it or grow it, I don’t eat it.
- Dining Out – With as many food allergies we have in my family, I don’t trust eating out. Cross contamination is a huge issue – so we avoid it. The grocery store is our restaurant – and guess what – they typically have them everywhere.
- Read the Label! I might have mentioned this before (haha), but I read the label on everything. I prefer whole foods (produce and fruit just picked from the vines); however, if I’m going with something pre-packaged, I choose things with the fewest ingredients. For example:
- Canned beans – should only have beans, water, and salt. If it has mono-bi-chloro-carbo-whatever, it’s going back on the shelf.
- Rice – should only have rice in it!
- Bread – Most of you know the basic ingredients in bread. If it has lots of other gunk in it, ask yourself why! And ask yourself if you want that gunk in your body. It doesn’t do you any good, so why eat it? We buy Ener-G brand bread, BTW.
- We tend to get desensitized to things when we hear about it. Hearing about someone being shot on the nightly news is not really news anymore. I remember a time when that kind of information in my city was HUGE news. The same is true with food. We see High Fructose Corn Syrup in so many products, we think it’s okay. HFCS is used as a sweetener in many foods including ketchup, sodas, and even bread! Manufacturers use it because it’s cheaper. You decide! Princeton University did a study and found that rats eating levels of HFCS lower than those found in sodas gained weight across the board – even more weight than the rats eating a high-fat diet. I don’t know the science behind it, and I am certainly not an expert on sugars, but I know I would rather have natural unbleached cane sugar (sugar in the raw) rather than some type of sugar “derivative” from corn mixed in my food.
- Eat to Live – My life used to revolve around food. Living in the South, my life has been focused on food – Sunday dinners, family BBQs, and other family gatherings have typically always revolved around food. Now, I’m trying to break that focus. I eat when I’m hungry – not because a clock tells me it’s time to eat.
Those are the cornerstones that I live by, and they’ve certainly worked for me. Even if you don’t want to give up meat or feel like you can’t, you can definitely benefit from eating clean. If you’re still going to eat those things, know where it comes from and what it has in it. Reading the label may just change your life…for the better!