This past Monday I embarked on a personal challenge to eat clean for one week, hoping to give my body everything it needs to recover well and rest up. Why? Ironman training officially starts next week, and after running 2 marathons in 3 weeks, I am feeling a little bit run down. I have also been feeling like I consume way too much sugar on a daily basis, not to mention I am tired a lot of the time and don’t sleep very well.
So, here are the guidelines I set for myself. I didn’t base this on any specific detox or diet plan, rather I drew off of the research I have done in the past and what I thought would work for my body. I generally eat very healthfully (if not a little heavy on the desserts :-)), so this is not really a radical change for me as much as a “cleaning up.”
1. No added sugar in any form. Fruit and small amounts of dried fruit are ok. This means no honey, molasses, maple syrup, etc. Nothing that is added to food as a sweetener.
2. No caffeine.
3. Green smoothies for breakfast every day.
4. At least one huge salad every day.
5. No processed foods, no white flour (these kind of go hand in hand I think)
6. I wanted to do no dairy, but I had some organic liquid yogurt that was already opened at the beginning of the week. I refuse to waste it, so I have been using it up in my smoothies. Other than that, no dairy or eggs.
Today is day 4 of my little challenge, and I am happy to report I have been sticking to it. I have a history of terrible will power and uncontrollable sugar eating at night, so I didn’t really know if I would be able to do it. I discovered that with some advance preparations it really hasn’t been too hard. The worst part by far is not drinking coffee. I miss my beloved black gold so much, and cannot wait until we are reunited. Here’s how things went down.
Sunday afternoon I prepped some things for the week. I boiled a pound of pinto beans, 2/3 of which went into the freezer and 1/3 into the fridge to use for the week. I also made a big pot of brown rice, homemade hummus, and a batch of Mmmm Sauce to slather all over everything throughout the week. The key for me is having some things like this on hand because I am too lazy to do too much during the week. I want to be able to come home and prepare my dinner in less than 15 minutes. Another key has been packing my lunches the night before. I need to get into this habit again before I am training 15 hours a week anyways, so I’m glad I got the ball rolling. I have been making a big salad at night to take for lunch. These have mostly consisted of mixed greens or spinach, peppers, tomatoes, pinto beans with adobo seasoning, pepitas, and avocado. The first few days also included brown rice until I ran out. I also packed a small container of sauce, some fruit, and some hummus & veggies. My snacks at work often include some sort of bar (Luna, Clif, etc), but these are off-limits because of the sugar. I made up a bag of trail mix with raw almonds, raw walnuts, raw cashews, pepitas, and raisins. I have been snacking on small handfuls of that throughout the day, along with apples and oranges.
Breakfasts have been great. I love green smoothies, so this isn’t hard for me, but I do miss the variety of sometimes having oats, yogurt, cereal, etc.
This morning’s smoothie was my favorite yet. It had a cup of liquid yogurt, an orange, 1 packet of Amazing Grass Orange Dreamsicle Green Superfood, 1 T chia seeds, 1 T pepitas, 1 frozen banana, a splash of vanilla extract, and 2 huge handfuls of spinach. It seriously tasted like an orange dreamsicle. I have had some fun lately picking up sample packets at Whole Foods of different things to put in my smoothies. I was very impressed with the taste of the Amazing Grass, considering what it is.
I have also been getting a little creative with my dinners, while still keeping prep time to a minimum.
I love making green wraps. These are rainbow chard leaves filled with Mmmm sauce, sweet potato, and sunflower seeds. On the side is some steamed broccoli and carrots with smoked paprika and hummus. I almost could not finish this plate, it was so filling.
After dinner I have either been having nothing, herbal tea, or if I am hungry a snack of brown rice heated with coconut milk & cinnamon with some raisins and natural peanut butter. Brown rice probably isn’t the best thing to eat at night, but I suppose it is better than cereal with chocolate chips :-) I am actually amazed how easy it has been to cut out the added sugar. I find that I am not snacking nearly as much, and I am not experiencing uncontrolled eating at night. I am also amazed how incredibly hard it has been to give up coffee.
Let’s talk about coffee. Before this week, I could not tell you the last time I went one single day without it. The very first thing I do every single morning (after peeing of course), is make a cup of coffee in my single cup brewer. I love everything about coffee, the smell, the taste, the caffeine. I am getting a craving right now just typing this. That said, I have never considered myself a coffee junkie. I have my one cup in the morning, then sometimes I stop on the way into work for another cup. On occasion my coworkers and I do a Starbucks run during the day as a treat, but this is not an everyday occurrence. I do not drink it in the afternoon because I will not sleep. Instead of coffee this week, I have been drinking caffeine free green tea or herbal tea. This morning I had hot lemon water because I finally got a chance to go to Whole Foods yesterday for organic lemons. Monday morning I was tired, but not too bad, and I figured some of that was from running a marathon on Saturday and not sleeping well. Monday afternoon the headache hit. It wasn’t terrible, but it was annoying. Monday night I had a massage, and I asked for help getting “flushed out.” My legs weren’t sore from the marathon, so she worked on my whole body and it was heavenly.
Monday night I was a zombie and went to bed early. I got at least 8 hours of sleep, yet I woke up on Tuesday feeling like I had been hit by a bus. I had a headache in full force, and all I wanted to do for the first half of the day was curl up in a ball and sleep. And drink coffee. I ate lunch outside on Tuesday because it was nice out, and that helped to perk me up a little bit. My headache went away by late afternoon on Tuesday and hasn’t been back since. I think I am over the caffeine withdrawal part, but I still miss coffee so much. I was so disappointed last night before I went to bed when I thought about waking up in the morning and not being able to have my coffee. Lemon water is just not the same.
As far as the diet side of things, I have to say I really haven’t noticed any changes. I don’t feel better or worse. I am still tired a lot of the time. I haven’t lost weight. Though weight loss was not my goal with this, I was hoping it would be a nice side effect. I am still hanging on to 10 stubborn pounds that I gained over the winter, and I would really like to get rid of it as I get into Ironman training. Oh, and it would be nice if my clothes fit again too. I have kind of come to the conclusion that one week is not going to be long enough to notice a big difference. As I said, it’s not like I didn’t already eat healthy before. If I had gone from eating fast food and junk to this healthy diet cold turkey, I’m sure I would have noticed a big difference. I did have some tortilla chips and salsa (which may or may not have contained sugar) yesterday at a Mexican restaurant. This is the only thing I’ve eaten this week that didn’t fall within my guidelines. I am thinking I need to stick to this for at least another week after this week, if not a month. However, I can say almost certainly that it will not be that long before I have coffee again. After this week, I may start to incorporate a small amount of natural added sugars like honey or maple syrup, but maybe not. I am going to give it a few more days and see how my body feels, then I will reassess the next step.
Are you still with me? Sorry for the long and rambling post, but I wanted to get this all down so I can look back on what I did. I will keep updating every few days with my progress.
Have you ever done any sort of “detox” or clean eating diet? Did you notice a lot of changes? How long did you stick with it?