Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Clean: How We Did

So I promised details on our success with Clean. As a research enthusiast, I’ll do my best to quantify our experience in measurable ways.

Photo: Jeanine Finch
Hopefully by wedding time, we'll both be looking our "Best" :-)
The Grige and I did Clean for 3 weeks. We drank smoothies for breakfast and dinner every day and had combinations of salad, cold water fish, quinoa and roasted veggies for lunch each day. We broke the diet about 5 times. Once for a trip to Michigan for wedding planning (wine was absolutely necessary over that weekend). We broke it twice because I had a wedding meltdown and needed some cheese, and one big one (which I am counting as two) for the Superbowl. We had guac and chips and beer and chili and I don’t regret one bite.
Photo: Me!
This is what I ate the ENTIRE time I lived in Italy.
We didn’t alter our exercise patterns during those three weeks. The Grige goes to the gym for about 90 minutes 6 days a week. I don’t know what he does there, but it makes his arms look very nice. So nice, in fact, that I wonder if I should be tagging along to the gym to mark my territory… I take a 90 minute yoga class 5 days a week and run about 4 miles once a week.
Photo: Alicia Fairfield
Most of this is not allowed on the Clean diet, but the veggies would be good to go!
After 3 weeks, the Grige lost 5 pounds and I lost 8 pounds and one full pant size. To the extent that energy level is quantifiable, I would say that we had more. I measured this in a few ways:

1.       The speed at which we were able to get out of bed in the morning. (Roughly 50% fewer snoozes and we weren’t late to work once).

2.       The amount and speed of household tasks we completed each day. (Never had I ever vacuumed on a weekday before… We also hung new shelving, cleaned under the bed and got a new rug)

3.       The number of times we gave up on cooking and just ate out instead. (Zero times. We cooked healthy meals every day. We ate out twice, and both times were planned ahead with friends.)

4.       Our performance during our workouts of choice. (The Grige got some personal best sprinting times and broke his personal bench press record. It’s hard to measure improvement in yoga practice, every day is different, but I would say that I was able to hold challenging poses longer and was able to improve my focus drastically).

Other noticeable improvements for us were our lack of bloating and previously endemic stomach issues, persistent acne magically cleared up, and stuffy noses and sore throats were vanquished within a day by extra water and a good night’s sleep.
The most shocking (and obvious) benefit of the diet was clearest when we broke it. There was an immediate and unpleasant impact from each and every one of our discretions. A cookie gave the Grige a headache, bread made me queasy, beer gave us gas and I don’t even want to talk about the chili.
Photo: me
This is a good looking meal, especially if you know where the beef came from, which I do.
So here’s the best part… Dollars saved. The Grige and I spent about $100 more on groceries this month than we normally do. (Thanks www.mint.com!). We spent about $70 less on “alcohol and bars” than we normally do, $30 less on “fast food” (this is how I categorize buying lunch at work and all those times where poor planning leaves us starving at ikea), and $120 less on “restaurants”. Wowzers! So we saved about $120, most of which I spent on new pants. But you don’t have to make my bad decisions; you can open a savings account instead.
Photo: Chad Fisk
If you are what you eat, I'm likely to turn into a tuna fish any day now...
I won’t pretend that the diet has changed who we are. I still crave and love cheese, and the Grige still has a sweet tooth, and neither of us even remotely considered leaving booze behind us. However, I will say that I get as excited about salad as I once did about French fries. The key for us was figuring out how to make good food fast. We’re busy people, and when I come home from yoga at 8:30 pm, I want food NOW. Clean taught me how to replace my “easy” foods (pizza, cheese and bread, cereal) with healthy alternatives (kale chips, raw carrots and celery dipped in guacamole, smoothies). Most of us already know that eating well makes us feel better, it’s a matter of incorporating those habits into busy and stressful lives.
I’ll be back later with a post on local eating, and my criticisms of programs like Clean.
Double E

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