By Ron Pereira
I’ve been eating clean and exercising for a little more than 30 days, which, as it turns out, included Thanksgiving & Christmas. It hasn’t always been easy… but, shooting straight, it hasn’t been that hard either.
Now, a quick story, I’ve worn size 38 pants for the past 5 years or so… as in waste 38 inches.
A few weeks into my Intentional Wellness plan I began to notice my pants were starting to fit big. In fact, I’ve had to retire some belts since they know longer go tight enough to hold up my britches!
Then, on Christmas day, my amazing wife gave me two new pairs of jeans. I glanced at the tag and saw they were size 36! I was a little nervous since, you know, I haven’t worn sized 36 pants since my mid 30s.
Long story short… when I tried them on they not only fit… they’re a bit big and I’m certain 34s would fit me now. How cool is that?
And while it’s nice to lose some weight the most amazing part of my new clean eating and moderate exercise plan is how I feel. I have more energy and mental focus than I’ve had in years… maybe ever to be honest. And, most importantly, I have definitely benefited on the spiritual side of my life which we’ll explore, in great detail, in a future article.
My Intentional Eating Plan
So, what I want to share in this article is how I’m eating. Now, to be clear, I don’t expect anyone to copy my exact plan since I’ve gone pretty hardcore right out of the gate.
But, if you want to experience immediate results, I’d encourage you to read what I’ve done with an open mind and then pray about whether this is a plan you’d like to try. We also share far more details as to how to eat clean in the Intentional Wellness eBook that can be downloaded, for free, at the bottom of this article.
Principle 1: No Processed or Greasy Fast Food
I’ve cut out all processed food from my diet. If it comes from a box, or includes ingredients I can’t pronounce, I avoid it.
In its place I eat whole foods – mostly grass fed meats, veggies, some fruit, and good fats like grass fed butter and avocado. Now, I’m lucky that my wife has been eating clean, and feeding our family clean foods, for many years. So, for me, the biggest adjustment has been avoiding fast food restaurants for lunch and late night “snacks.”
My biggest struggle has been salty foods. Things like salt & vinegar potato chips are my kryptonite… so avoiding them hasn’t been easy but I’ve done it and it’s definitely getting easier.
Principle 2: No Grains, Bread, Rice, or White Potatoes
Next, I’ve cut out all white foods from my diet including grains, bread, rice, and white potatoes. Wait? So I’m not following our government’s suggested diet plan, which calls for some grains? Correct.
I’ll share much more on this in a future article since, you know, many will attack this principle with the argument that Jesus ate bread! Heck, He called himself the Bread of Life and the Eucharist comes to us in the species of bread at every Mass!
As an aside, my wife’s favorite blogger, Katie, has written a magnificent piece on this very topic… so be sure to check that out if you’re curious about the differences between the bread our Lord ate and the poison we eat today.
So, again, I’ve personally decided to remove these foods from my diet and I’m convinced it’s paying massive dividends.
I do eat sweet potatoes, which I love, so even though I enjoy a nice piece of bread like you probably do… I’ve been able to manage. I’m also eating some fresh fruit and tons of veggies with most meals, which are also delicious.
And if you’re still skeptical about this no grain stuff since you’ve read some other articles that contradict what I’m saying… my advice is simple. Try it for 30 days. No bread. No pasta. No cereal. Cut out all grains and I can pretty much guarantee you’ll feel better than you have in years (or ever).
Now, you may feel weird for the first week or so as your body adjusts to not having to deal with the constant insulin spikes all that bread causes… but as long as you eat plenty of fresh veggies, some fruit, meat, and good fats you’re going to feel fantastic. Heck, if you don’t I’ll refund your money. Wait? Nevermind.
Principle 3: No Processed Sugar
Now, if the first two principles didn’t get you… this one may. I’ve cut out all processed sugar from my diet.
No more soda, candy bars, piping hot apple pies, cookies, cake, ice cream, or even ‘Smores around the campfire! And – get this – I’ve even given up that yummy vanilla flavored coffee creamer! Those that know me realize this last one is a pretty big deal!
Again, I do eat fresh fruit, which helps with any sweet tooth cravings I get, and I now use these amazing stevia drops in my morning coffee along with a little organic heavy whipping cream. I also add some grass fed unsalted butter to my coffee… but more on that in a future article!
Now, full disclaimer. I’ve slipped a few times with this principle. If we ever eat out I almost always get a salad of some sort… but, alas, the salad dressings usually contain processed sugar. Since I know this I do my best to only use a little of it.
Principle 4: Drink Green Smoothies
Next, something I’ve tried to incorporate into my diet are “green smoothies.” Yes, I know, it sounds nasty and they often look even nastier… but, made correctly, these bad boys are incredibly delicious and oh so good for you!
I’ll share some recipes in a future article… but my basic green smoothie consists of fresh baby spinach or kale, carrots, celery, and some frozen fruit like mango or blueberries.
Add in some water and my Vitamix blends it up into a perfectly smooth, incredibly delicious, power meal. I will add that a good blender is very important if you want the smoothie to be chunk free.
Principle 5: Drink Lots of Water
Finally, the last thing I’ll share is that I’m drinking lots of water. I try to drink at least (8) 8 ounce glasses of water per day.
I’d say this is the principle I need to focus on improving the most. I don’t always drink this much water and I’m confident my results will be even better when I do since water naturally flushes toxins out of our body and good hydration is essential to optimal brain performance.
Bonus Principles – Sleep & Exercise
So, while this is what I’ve been eating the last 30+ days I will add that I’ve really focused on getting at least 8 hours of sleep every night. This has been huge and I’m finding myself waking up refreshed and ready to attack the day!
Like water, I am far from perfect with this principle and plan to experiment with different ways to ensure I’m flat on my back, in bed, no later than 10:00 PM.
And Mike has me doing some sort of exercising several days per week. I will say the working out these first 30 days hasn’t been crazy at all. I literally started out with a few push-ups and crunches. Check out the Intentional Wellness eBook at the end of this article for the exact workout plan I’ve been following.
What About Alcohol & Dairy?
To wrap this article up I’d like to share my current approach to alcohol and dairy since I haven’t completely cut them from my diet.
As it pertains to alcohol, I only drink a beer or two in social settings. And if I drink wine I keep it to a glass or two at the max.
And what about milk and other dairy products? Yes, this is a hotly debated topic in the fitness and nutrition world.
You could say my new diet is basically Paleo. But, Paleo purists definitely shun all forms of dairy (and pretty much all alcohol) and since I do enjoy a glass of grass fed whole milk from time to time and grass fed butter on my cooked veggies and in my coffee (again more to come on this later… so don’t judge it until you try it) I can’t say I’m all in on the Paleo diet.
My Advice to You
So, this is what I’m doing. What, if any, advice do I have for you?
Well, if you feel like God is calling you to clean up your diet I’d definitely encourage you to think about what you’re eating on a daily basis and compare it to what I’m trying to do.
I’d also encourage you to pray about it and then, if you’re feeling called, give some (or all) of the things I’m doing a try.
And, if nothing else, instead of eating greasy cheeseburgers every day for lunch… try to cut it down to a once a week treat. Improving what you eat, any way you can, is better than doing nothing.
As I mentioned in an earlier article, I don’t want to die and leave my wife and 7 kids without a husband and father. So, any inconveniences I feel by saying no to junk food seems pretty insignificant when you imagine the benefits of me being able to walk my daughters down the aisle or enter religious life, or God willing, seeing one of my son’s ordained to the Priesthood!
What About my Spiritual Life?
So, this is what I’ve done and experienced from a physical perspective. But, obviously, living an intentional life has far more to it than weight loss and energy levels.
Specifically, our spiritual lives are far more important than any physical improvements we may experience and I’m happy to report that I’ve most definitely experienced many spiritual blessings since I committed to cleaning up all aspects of my life… but I’ll share those details in a future article!
Until then… be holy, eat clean, and do more push-ups!
What do you think?
I’m curious to hear what you think about my results and approach to clean eating. It’s most definitely OK to disagree.
And, by no means do I think the way I’m approaching this is the only way. So, if you’ve gotten similar, or better, results using another approach please share your story in the comments section below!