I have a new challenge group starting today so I thought it was a good time to get back to the basics and review what clean eating is all about and how it fits into the Beachbody Challenge.

First, let’s discuss the Challenge.  To me – a Beachbody Challenge is similar to a 3 legged stool.  There are three “foundation legs” that the challenge is built on:

  1. Shakeology everyday
  2. The workout program
  3. Clean eating

With any stool, if you don’t have one of the legs – it might topple over.  With the challenge, you can still see results from following two (or even one) of the “foundation legs” – however to maximize your results and ensure success over the long term, all three are necessary.  For example, studies have shown that people who work out regularly have higher rates of being able to keep weight off (that was previously lost) compared to those who don’t.  So, if you’re trying to lose weight without working out (leg #2) you may very well be able to do so.  However if you added in a workout program, not only will you (most likely) loose more weight now, but you will be more likely to keep it off over the long term.

For me (and for many people) the hardest leg of the Beachbody Challenge is clean eating.  I drink Shakeology every day with no problem.  It tastes great and makes me feel great – so no complaints from me.  I’m also very dedicated to my workout program.  I follow the schedule and get up early to work out before work.  So, in general, I don’t miss many workouts.  Maintaining consistent clean eating – now that’s another story.

So what is clean eating?  I just received my first issue of Clean Eating magazine and I really can’t describe it better than they can.  Here’s their definition:

The soul of clean eating is consuming food in its most natural state, or as close to it as possible.  It is not a diet; it’s a lifestyle approach to food and its preparation, leading to an improved life – one meal at a time. 

The magazine also has what I would call “guiding principles” to help achieve this improved life:

            Eat five to six times a day

           Drink at least two liters of water a day

           Get label savvy

           Avoid processed and refined foods

           Know thy enemies

           Shop with a conscience

           Choose organic whenever possible

           Consume healthy fats

           Learn about portion sizes

           Reduce your carbon footprint

           Slow down and savor

           Take it to go

           Make it a family affair

Since I started clean eating, I’ve drastically changed my approach to grocery shopping, preparing foods and the overall way that I eat.  I used to eat frozen low calorie meals for lunch at work.  Now, I prepare fresh salads every Sunday and pack them in individual containers so I can take them on the go.  My salads have changed too.  I’ve replaced “diet killing” croutons, store bought dressing, dried cranberries and cheese with “more healthy” fresh blueberries, quinoa, olives, and either vinegar or olive oil for dressing.  I also feed my body on a regular basis.  I eat within an hour of getting up in the morning and continue to eat every 2-3 hours throughout the day.  This means that I have to be actively conscious of when I’ll be outside the house and bring snacks (or meals) as needed.

This all seems to make sense, right?  So why is it so hard?  The hard part is that the mainstream food choices don’t tend to be the foods that fall within clean eating.  If you practice a clean eating lifestyle you avoid all sugared drinks (soda!), alcohol (sorry, but it’s true), 95% of all bar served appetizers, fast food (even Subway – I love the sandwiches but I only eat the veggies, cold cuts are processed meats), fried foods and most packaged foods.  (I recently read that Ramen Noodles are coated in wax to prevent the noodles from sticking.  Think about what that wax might do to your insides.  You are what you eat!)  Clean foods also aren’t well advertised because they have lower profit margins.  How often do you see advertisements for awesome salads that you can make with fresh ingredients?  I see ads all the time for sugared cereals, however.

At the end of the day, clean eating is a lifestyle choice and therefore it is a journey.  I am still getting there.  My eating is not perfect, however it’s a whole lot better than it used to be and I’m reaping the benefits though improved energy, a faster metabolism and 12 pounds lost!

When I started my first Beachbody Challenge I decided that if I was going to commit, I was going to be “all in”.  I wanted every leg to ensure optimal results over the long term.  Now, I’m on my third workout program, can’t imagine life without Shakeology and even more so can’t imagine going back to those low calorie frozen lunches!

I’ll end with sharing my new favorite snack – Waldorf salad.  Chop up some apple (any type that you like), slice some red grapes in half and toss with fat free plain Greek yogurt.  Add some chopped walnuts (and maybe pecans – I love those).  If you want to make it a little more hearty, you can also add celery and grilled chicken.  For some extra taste – Dijon mustard is a great addition.  I have had the chicken version over a bed of spinach or in a sandwich too.  Yummy:)

Keep it clean!  I’m interested in hearing from you.  What does clean eating mean to you?  How has it changed your life?