Organizing Theory & Artistry

Lenten Clean Eating Project: Final Results

Lenten Clean Eating Project: Final Results

46 days of clean eating.
46 days of clean eating.
Perhaps you suspected my lack of posting was due to a sugar coma after eating only “clean” healthy foods for the 46 days before Easter. I certainly did my share of feasting on Easter and will tell you about our celebration in the next post. But first, I need to wrap up how the clean eating project ended.

I last left you 48 hours before Easter feeling quite hungry. It was a struggle right up to the end.

Day 45

The huevos rancheros version of the egg white omelet.
The huevos rancheros version of the egg white omelet.
My favorite . . . the pumpkin pie shake.
My favorite . . . the pumpkin pie shake.

I was lucky to have a playdate with a wonderful friend (and loyal blog reader) to look forward to this afternoon. We had a perfect Virginia spring day and picnicked outside as we chatted nonstop and watched our collective seven children play. It was too much fun!

Some of the beautiful blossoms we enjoyed.
Some of the beautiful blossoms we enjoyed.
Lunch: packed the quinoa and butternut squash.
Lunch: packed the quinoa and butternut squash.
Afternoon snack of apples and peanut butter.
Afternoon snack of apples and peanut butter.
I made a few treats to share with my friend: the Almond Butter Cookies with Maldon Salt and "Bummer Bars."  My husband said the cookies tasted a bit like spackle but everyone ate several of them (since we had not had homemade cookies in 45 days).  I ate leftover bits of the bummer bars and they are just like a granola bar but lighter and crispier.
I made a few treats to share with my friend: the Almond Butter Cookies with Maldon Salt and “Bummer Bars.” My husband said the cookies tasted a bit like spackle but everyone ate several of them (since we had not had homemade cookies in 45 days). I ate leftover bits of the bummer bars and they are just like a granola bar but lighter and crispier.
My son was thrilled to eat the almond butter cookies and had at least 5!
My son was thrilled to eat the almond butter cookies and had at least 5!

My friend shared with me her healthier version of a granola bar. While she added in yummy things like chocolate pieces she also whispered out of earshot of the children that they also had wheat germ and whole wheat flour. The children all loved them!

Dinner: Imperious sweet potato chili and a salad of kale and carrots with Gwyneth's parsley dressing.
Dinner: Imperious sweet potato chili and a salad of kale and carrots with Gwyneth’s parsley dressing.

Day 46

This was the last day!! I started off the morning doing my final weigh-in of the diet.

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I can’t quite explain to you how someone gains half a pound and loses one inch at the same time. Since I was officially underweight by this point I wasn’t upset at all by the half pound gain.

Next, I had my blood drawn to do a little scientific analysis on whether this diet has provable health benefits.

Ouch!  Suffering for the cause of science.
Ouch! Suffering for the cause of science.

Then, it was time to do something a little fun and frivolous. With all the weight I had lost, my clothes were fitting a bit looser and I wanted to know what clothing size I was. So I stopped by the local K-Mart to try on some clothes. I couldn’t find clothes small enough in the women’s department (perhaps they sell out quickly of their smaller sizes?) so I ended up in the juniors department.

This was the smallest size of jeans they carried in the juniors department . . .  and they fit!
This was the smallest size of jeans they carried in the juniors department . . . and they fit!

I promised my husband that I would not buy any tiny jeans as he thought I was getting a bit too skinny (and I agreed). So, we left picking up a great clearance deal on pajamas for my daughters.

It was good to have a positive lift to start the afternoon, however, as I spent the entire rest of the day in the kitchen cooking delicious things for Easter while fasting.

My fasting salad: salmon, avocado, black bean.
My fasting salad: salmon, avocado, black bean.

At the end of the day, I took my “after” photo to compare where I was when I started this project.

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2014-04-19-weigh-inresults-final

The obligatory before and after shot.
The obligatory before and after shot.

So, when I first looked at my before and after shots, I was underwhelmed. All that effort for not that much difference! Perhaps I am too generous with my appearance, but I don’t think that anyone viewing these two photos side by side would think, “Wow! She looks so much thinner in the after.” I think I look almost the same.

After scrutiny of the photos (as one can only do with one’s own photos), I would say that you can see a slimming of the arms, the hips and the upper thighs. The pictures that show the biggest difference, however, are the ones from behind! (I am too vain to share these with you so you’ll just have to trust me on this.) I apparently carry a lot of weight on my back and behind.

This rear-view phenomenon was something I remember noticing last year as well. When I first started exercising, I was surprised as to why it took so long to see results from the front. In my case, my body was hard at work getting rid of a lot of back fat and only when it exhausted that effort did I start to see progress in the front view and in particular the waist. It took months. So if you are losing inches but you just don’t see it when you look in the mirror, it may be that your rear view is improving first.

I also took some close-up photos of my face to compare before and after as I have read that eliminating sugar from your diet has a marvelous anti-aging effect diminishing wrinkles and age spots. I feel like my skin does look better now and that some of my freckles and lighter lines have disappeared but when I look at the photographic evidence you really can’t tell anything at all. The only major difference is that I appear to have lost some fat in my eyelids! In the after photos, my eyes look a bit more prominent.

In the end, am I glad I did this diet? Yes, definitely! It was nice to lose some weight for spring and summer but really the benefit to me of this diet has nothing to do with appearance. I really needed to work on limiting my sugar intake and eating more fruits and vegetables. I also needed to learn how to fast for my 5-2 fasting plan without carb-binging the next day. I feel I have made significant progress on both fronts.

Last week, I finally learned to like the taste of kale which is a milestone achievement! I have eaten more vegetables in the last 46 days than I probably ate all of last year. I learned about the benefits of juicing and now use my juicer at least every other day. I also love Joe Cross’ Reboot newsletter which you can subscribe to for free for great clean eating and juicing recipes. I used over a liter of olive oil as well! (I always wondered when I saw those huge gallon bottles of olive oil in Mediterranean and Italian restaurants whether that was a lifetime supply. Now I am tempted to find one of those for myself.)

I also have learned how to cook so many more things and in a much healthier way. I now have enough knowledge and confidence to experiment with clean eating in my own recipes. The other day, I took one of my children’s favorite recipes, their Grandma’s chicken soup and made two small tweaks to make it a clean eating recipe (swapping the butter for olive oil and the pasta for brown rice). It did give it a slightly different flavor but everyone enjoyed it!

The "clean" version of a family favorite recipe for chicken soup.
The “clean” version of a family favorite recipe for chicken soup.

I thank you for patiently joining me on this dieting journey. If you have been reading this whole time, you probably feel like you have been on a diet too!

If you are jealous of my results, I urge you not to be. There is probably an 80% chance that I will gain all this weight back by spring of next year and have to repeat my spring weight loss diet all over again. None of us gets off easy when it comes to weight loss and weight maintenance. It all takes an incredible amount of hard work. Even though my spring diets may seem like a pointless exercise, I do find that each year I get just slightly better at curbing my cravings and sticking to my exercise plan.

I read this great quote recently about body image and appearance that I think sums up perfectly how I feel about this clean eating program.

“Dr. Evelyn Attia, the director at Columbia Center for Eating Disorders, . . . suggests that the best option [to promote the message that there are lots of healthy bodies and lots of healthy definitions of beauty] is for women to get to ‘a place of neutrality’ when it comes to body image, which means neither extreme satisfaction or dissatisfaction with one’s body but a form of acceptance that size and shape isn’t the end all be all of success and happiness.”

–Ashley Ross, “Even Mindy Kaling Can’t Win the Body-Image Wars,” Time, April 14, 2014.

I hope you have learned along with me and have some ideas that you can use in your own health and weight goals.