Congratulations, the first step toward a successful new year is set in motion. Written fitness and weight goals were placed in a spot where they'll be seen everyday. Visits to the gym, boot camp classes and training for a 5K have begun. Now what?
Are cases of soda, bags of cookies, chips and candy stored in the pantry? If so, throw them away, give them away or take them to work. Oh, and don't tell me, "It's for the kids." My reply is, "Children don't need all that sugar!"
Today marks the first day of eating clean. Eating clean simply means eating foods that are closer to their natural state. Not processed, no preservatives or additives and low in sodium.
When I decided to compete in my first body building competition, I needed to change my eating habits. I never steamed my vegetables, they came from a can. My favorite cheat meals were sugary cereals and pasta. And I would sneak an Oreo cookie on occasion. I knew if I continued I wouldn't lose the weight or gain the lean muscle needed for the event.
I did a hard 180. Complex carbs, lean meats and fresh vegetables were now on my shopping list. I planned my meals - a must for staying on track. Meals were prepared ahead of time by placing my vegetables, lean meats and healthy greens or sweet potato in a container, having several readily available to grab and go. Nighttime snacks were baked chicken tenders prepared by the dozens ahead of time.
Complex carbs were eaten early in the day, not late at night. I removed saturated fats from my diet. Almonds, which have healthy fats, were a good substitute. I drank lots of water, eliminated alcoholic beverages and ate smaller meals every two to three hours, keeping my blood sugar stable and overeating under control.
After exercising, don't ruin it by indulging yourself. If a cheat meal is needed, keep a healthful mind and don't go overboard. After my competition and eating clean for three months, I thought I wanted a few cheat days, but eating pizza and other junk food left me sick to my stomach and didn't taste good. Eating clean can become a way of life - boosting energy and leaving us less lethargic.
There are no quick fixes to losing weight. It's not going to be easy, however, it can be accomplished. I lost the weight and gained the lean muscle for the competition. It's like anything else in life - it must be made a habit. Hard work and discipline bring results. It may take a little more effort and extra time, but will shortly come second nature. Eating clean is now my way of life.