Why I Stopped Eating “Clean”
My fitness journey really started back in early 2012 when I decided to do my first bikini competition.
Like many others, I had no idea what I was getting myself in to. Going into prep, I was told I could have a certain amount of carbs, fats and proteins per day.
“Okay, simple enough” I thought.
Oh but wait, I could only eat “clean foods”. You know, nothing processed, no diary, and absolutely no wine (gasp). I also couldn’t have fruit. Why? Because it had sugar in it of course.
The list of foods that I ate for 12 weeks consisted of the following:
- Grilled Chicken
- Potatoes (sweet potatoes only)
- Protein Shakes
- Oatmeal (I don’t even like oatmeal)
- Peanut Butter
- Almonds (plain)
- Rice (brown only)
- Egg Whites
- Black Coffee
Tilapia and asparagus also could have been on the menu, but those weren’t my thing (and still aren’t).
At first it wasn’t that horrible because I was focused and motivated, but by about week 6, things got rough.
I was so sick of eating the same foods that I started coming up with weird concoctions by combining the few foods I had to choose from. I made what I called “sweet potato muffins” by throwing sweet potatoes, egg whites, and oats in a blender and pouring it into a muffin pan. I’d top it off with peanut butter and pretend like I was eating a red velvet cupcake or something.
Did I lose weight? Absolutely. But will I ever put myself through that again? Absolutely not.
As soon as the competition was over, I began experiencing the biggest mental battle with the scale and my physical appearance than I ever had in my entire life.
It took me 12 weeks to lose 11 lbs, and after 1 week I had gained 7 back.
For that first week post-show….
I could not. stop. eating.
I couldn’t wait to get my hands on an apple. On cheerios. On coffee creamer!! The binging was serious and at it’s all time worse.
I looked in the mirror at 114 pounds and told myself that I was fat and had wasted all of my hard work. I wore sweats so no one could see just how “fat” I was and tried going back to my rigid diet and cardio plan. I would stay on the plan for a few days…and then fall off a little..see the scale go up half a pound…then hop back on the treadmill the following morning for more fasted cardio.
I battled with this cycle for several months until I finally gave in and tried to slowly incorporate “normal” foods again in what I thought was in “normal” amounts…but even after a whole year post-show, I still wasn’t happy or healthy.
I remember the day when I opened up my kitchen cabinet, looked around for what I wanted to eat for lunch and thought to myself, “Am I ever going to be able to enjoy the foods I really love ever again without feeling guilt or depression?”
I mean the thought of eating a banana even scared me.
I wasn’t even in contest prep and I was still terrified a whole year later of what eating a banana would do to me.
This to me, is not healthy.
In early 2014, I made one of the best decisions of my life, and that was to hire a coach to teach me flexible dieting to use for my next season of bikini competitions.
This prep was not even comparable to my first time around. I won’t say it was a breeze as extremely discipline is required no matter what, but the difference was I actually felt like a real human!
Meaning I could actually think, have conversations with someone who wasn’t also in prep mode, go out in public outside of work, and actually live my normal life the way I wanted to.
When it came to show day, I could actually focus on my routine rather than complain (like most of the other girls) how tired I was and brag about what/how much I was going to eat afterwards.
The flexible dieting obviously worked because I ended the season with a 1st place bikini novice and 3rd place bikini open, my best at that time (2014).
Those wins were great and felt amazing, but the part that meant the most to me was I truly enjoyed the sport of bodybuilding and it did not negatively effect my personal life or well-being.
I can now proudly say that I’ve never been in a better mental state when it comes to my relationship with food because I no longer fear carbs, and I enjoy finding new and exciting meals to have that I had once banned myself from.
I’m not limited to the types of foods I eat, which allows me to go to parties, weddings, family get togethers, and dinners with friends and truly enjoy myself without feeling guilty the next day about what I indulged in the night before.
It doesn’t mean I can eat all the sugar I want, but what it does mean is I’m not limited to just sweet potatoes. I can have white, red or even blue potatoes (if they existed)! I can have jasmine rice, white rice, wild rice, and any other kind in between.
I eat bread, fruit and dairy. I eat carrots, corn and peppers (heaven for-bid the veggies not be green).
I basically have an allotted amount of proteins, fats and carbs that I must hit at the end of the day, while also getting in a healthy amount of fiber and semi-limiting sugar.
The problem with completely eliminating sugar all together (or any other specific food) is it mentally messes with you and makes you crave it 10x more than if it were never even on the “forbidden food” list.
By telling yourself that you can not have that recess cup, you’re creating an unhealthy relationship with it that will come back to haunt you.
For those who follow a strict diet that allows minimal food choices, they’re setting themselves up for failure because, rather they want to admit it or not, they’re not going to be able to stick to that plan 100% for the rest of their life.
Whatever daily diet plan one chooses to follow, it must be realistic and attainable for that person.
Who’s going to stick to a plan that’s full of foods they can barely choke down and is limited from the foods they love? Not many, but for those who can, won’t be able to do it forever.
In conclusion, diet’s should not be short-term. They should be taken seriously and looked at with a long-term approach in order to see the best and healthiest benefits.
Flexible dieting has changed my life both physically and mentally therefor there’s no going back now.
I’ve used it during every competition season since then, during every offseason, and during every season in between that had nothing to do with competing at all. It’s what I teach to all of my clients, no matter what their goals are because there’s so many different ways it can be used for any and all types of goals.
THIS is a lifestyle that works long term.