By Carolyn Harvey, Figure Athlete and Personal Trainer.

Clean eating. This term has been around for quite some time now. I first learnt of clean eating a few years back reading Oxygen magazine while stuffing my face with chocolate. I liked the term. It sounded wholesome and nourishing; better than that dreaded word ‘diet’. For many, that word ‘diet’ implies restriction; misery and banging ones head against a brick wall. Diets for me, never worked. But the clean eating did. For some, this blog will be about stuff they already know and practice, but what about those who struggle like I did? I always receive questions s

uch as: What do you eat? How do you stay on track? How do I get started? We humans tend to complicate things when they are simple. Just start. Now.

We all know what clean eating is; for me it is consuming whole foods from the earth and eating less/none of those foods that come in packaging and last longer than my lifespan. A few years back, I knew I had to make a change. I looked in the mirror and I wasn’t happy. I was in my early 30s (ahem, OK mid 30’s) and knew I ‘couldn’t get away with it’ anymore. I struggled with sugar binges and the highs and lows that came with that. I looked in fitness magazines and would stare at the girls thinking ‘why am I not looking like that when I train hard’? Would I have to start moving my bed into the gym to look like they did? I was in denial of course. In denial of how many M&M’s accidently found their way into my mouth and slipped down my oesophagus. The truth was and still is; as my fellow athletes will tell you, you can’t out-train bad nutrition, end of.

The thing that intimidated me most was thinking I had to let everything go at once and DVD night would mean sitting on the couch with a bunch of celery, tears streaming down my face. However, my experience has been far from that. I am not a nutritionist (however nutrition was covered in my fitness qualification, so I know the basics); I can only share with you my experience. The first thing I did was start making small changes that I knew I could stick to. Drink more water. Eat one more piece of fruit or an extra serving of vegetables per day.

Eliminate ‘junk’ deli meats like salami and pepperoni. Eat five small meals a day to keep the metabolism going. Read more books on nutrition. When I broke it down into little bits, it was manageable. It didn’t feel like I was ‘giving everything up and never going to have a life ever ever again’. Slowly but surely, over the course of a few years, I have been able to let go of unclean foods that are damaging to my wellbeing, but it has been a rocky road! I have made mistakes; I have had binges and mountainous ones at that, but what I did learn was not to beat myself up over it. I had to speak to myself like my best friend and forgive myself for being human. The most important thing I learnt was that if I did fall off the wagon was not to stay in it, not to ruin the whole day over one mistake, to get back to clean eating straight away.

Using this method, my life has turned around. Changing one small thing and allowing that change to become a habit before tackling another has been the way for me. My taste buds have found a new freedom and I love foods that I used to despise (haven’t quite got there with sprouts and turnip mind you)! I am bouncing with the energy of a 20 year old, my moods are balanced, I have better quality of sleep and my outlook is positive. If you are struggling with eating clean, go easy on yourself and never give up. Whatever happens, JUST KEEP GOING because you will get there! Some people may be quicker than others, but the most important thing is to start and set small goals. And once a week, allow yourself something that you really love and return to clean eating afterwards.

Hopefully my experience will ring bells with some of you and help you on the road to a healthier lifestyle!! Be kind to yourself, Carolyn Tip: Always keep some food in your bag like a small packet of almonds and an apple, just in case! We all have busy lives and clean foods are not always easy to obtain when on the run. Remember: Just because you fall in water, it doesn’t mean you have to drown. Just get out, dry off and start again!

kaleTry this: Kale Crisps. Kale is in season so make the most of this superfood. Preheat oven to about 100 degrees C. Take the kale off the stalk, wash and dry in a salad spinner or use a clean tea towel. Arrange on a baking tray and add 2 tsp olive/grapeseed oil and work into kale using hands.  Put kale into oven and dehydrate for about 30 mins, turning occasionally. Once kale is dry and crispy, remove from oven and then allow to cool. Once cooled, add your favourite spice! Yum yum!! Perfect for DVD nights!

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