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Shocking Things I Learned from ‘Eating Clean’ for 10 Days

I consider myself a pretty rational individual. I don’t have any particular bad habits, such as smoking or gambling, and I’m pretty smart about money. I love to work out, and one of my favorite things to do is go hiking. Even though I struggle daily finding “balance” between my family and professional life, I’ve always considered myself an even keeled person. I’ve managed to have a fair degree of control in most aspects of my life, but since kid number three…I seemed to lose control of my body.

Around age 30, something happened. Suddenly, I was dealing with insomnia for the first time in my life. Even though I lost all of my baby weight by the time my youngest was 12 months old, it came creeping back and then some. When I was under stress, on came the panic attacks and anxiety. My grey hairs were appearing at a rapid rate, my knees started to ache, and I was tired — all the time. It was like I aged 15 years in a period of 5 years; I had no idea what was happening.

After many sobering moments in front of my bathroom mirror, I’d make a vow to myself to get my rear in gear and lose the weight. Of course, with a full-time job and three children to care for, this wasn’t going to come easily. In a span of seven years, I drank maple syrup with cayenne pepper and lemon juice for a week straight. I drank nothing but diet shakes. I ate a restricted calorie diet of 1200 calories a day. I worked out at the gym for 12 hours a week for months on end and still…I was fat. What the heck?

Considering I was a size 4 or 6 for most of my adult life, with the exception of my pregnancies, carrying extra weight in my 30s was heartbreaking. No matter how hard I tried to “eat right” and exercise, I just couldn’t seem to lose the weight. Eventually, I blamed it on genetics, I blamed it on stress, I blamed it on being a mom. After all, I felt like nothing I did to restrict calories or exercise ever worked. But one day, I decided to eat clean as a “last ditch effort” and it was an eye-opening experience. Here’s what I’ve learned in just 10 days of eating clean.

My diet before really sucked.

As I threw out all of the processed food in my kitchen and replaced it with wholesome, organic produce and meats, I realized just how much junk I was really feeding my family and myself. As I stuffed my fridge with fresh organic vegetables, flashbacks of having dozens of frozen dinners in my freezer danced in my head, and that was probably three months ago! I realized that I had literally just spent the last several years subsisting off of frozen food — yuck. No wonder why I was overweight!

I had grown accustomed to overindulging.

I, like a lot of people work full-time. When I work 40, 50, or even 60 hours a week, the last thing I want to do is cook dinner. My family recently moved to Utah, but before that we spent about five years in Las Vegas, where buffets were our best friends. When you can feed a family of five for $65, it just made financial sense to me at the time. But thinking back, I realize I was probably eating 2,000 to 3,000 calories per a meal and it was not all salads and lean meats, that’s for sure. We probably went out to dinner once a week, and as I tried to “get my money’s worth,” it sure showed — in all the wrong places.

The middle of the grocery store really is filled with junk.

Ever heard that you should shop around the outskirts of the grocery store? Well, it’s 100% true. In the middle of the grocery store, there are thousands of processed foods filled with all the bad stuff: high fructose corn syrup, MSG, artificial flavors and colors, preservatives, sugar, and all kinds of unpleasant ingredients that should not be classified as food. You know what all that crap does? Make us gain weight!

Our body doesn’t recognize candy, sugary cereals, packaged cookies, crackers, chips, fruit snacks, sugary juices, and soda as nutritious food. All of those foods are empty calories, and devoid of nutrients. Processed food, filled with salt, sugar, and other toxic additives, such as monosodium glutamate and one of its pseudo names is contributing to America’s obesity epidemic, as well as heart disease, Type II diabetes, and other chronic diseases.

It’s true, weight loss is 80% diet, 20% exercise.

If you’re like me, you heard this before. Delusional, I thought I could eat like I did when I was 20, exercise like I did when I was 20, and I’d be thin — ha! After about day five of eating clean, I realized just how bad my diet was before. I realized that while I’d love to eat like I did when I was young and look as good as I did, my body is almost 40 now. I’ve had twice as many years to pollute myself with environmental toxins, stress, and dietary toxins. It’s no wonder my body has been responding by clinging on to excess weight in the last seven years for dear life. It’s been in starvation mode because I’ve been STARVING myself of nutrients.

In just 10 days, I’m feeling a lot different.

When I decided to eat clean for good, it was after I had seen two women in particular drop a lot of weight. I had watched these Facebook friends struggle with their weight for years after baby number two. Like me, they were in their mid to late 30s and had been struggling with a few too many stubborn pounds. Out of nowhere, they dropped 25 to 40 pounds and I was like, “What on Earth did they do?” It turns out, they were on a unique program that actually educated them on not just clean eating, but on nutrition. Long story short, I got on board and embarked on my own clean-eating journey.

In just 10 days of eating a wholesome, organic, clean diet, suddenly, my headaches started to go away, my energy levels skyrocketed, my gastrointestinal issues went away, I was calmer and at peace, and I began to feel clean from the inside-out. Of course, I immediately started to lose weight, so that’s a huge plus. For years, I’ve been struggling with achy joints and knee issues, and those already went away. If this is how I feel on day 10, I can’t wait to see how I feel on day 60.

If you’re struggling with your weight or having other body issues, or would like to have more energy, I highly recommend ditching the processed food and switching over to a clean diet, which is a diet that consists of fresh produce, unprocessed meats, raw nuts and seeds. If you take the leap, I promise, your body will thank you and you’ll probably be increasing your lifespan while you’re at it.

Elainna Ciaramella is an independent journalist, business blogger, and ghostwriter for entrepreneurs and business professionals nationwide. She has written extensively on the topics of business, entrepreneurship, law, and medicine. She is well-versed in search engine optimization, content marketing, and social media. You can connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google +, and Instagram.

Originally published on LinkedIn.