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soul and body meet in faith, food, and fitness

Meaghan’s Change to Clean Eating

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I’m pleased to introduce a fellow runner and college friend of my sister, Meaghan Arzberger, for a guest post today. She’s had quite a journey the first couple months of 2014 as she started eating cleaner and realizing how much diet impacts health – not simply exercise. 

Guatemalan Market

I ran my first race at age 7, and I haven’t stopped running since.  At almost 29 years old, I have completed more 5ks, 10ks, 15ks, etc than I can count, about a dozen half marathons and four marathons.  I have also completed Insanity twice and regularly attend a beach boot camp three days a week (I live in Maine).  Basically, I have always thought to myself, “I am healthy.  I exercise!”

As I am sure many of you know, our health is so intertwined with other aspects of our life.  About five years ago, I lost my mother-in-law quite suddenly, which put a lot of strain on our family.  Unfortunately, our bad luck continued.  My husband’s cousin was in a terrible ATV accident resulting in serious brain damage, his sister was in a car accident and nearly lost her life, and his step-father passed away after a failed liver transplant.  All of these events occurred in about a three year period for our family.  We also had our share of happy moments such as the birth of my niece and a couple of beautiful weddings!

I continued my strenuous exercise routine throughout all of these ups and downs.  I still believed that I was healthy.  About a year ago, I started seeing a therapist.  I didn’t really have any set agenda. I just knew that I had been through a lot and felt like I wanted to just process some of the things that I had been through.  I finished my meetings this past fall with new clarity and priorities in life.  My mental and emotional health process helped me reconnect in a positive way with my exercise, my marriage, and my faith.  “Finally!”, I thought to myself.  “I am now truly healthy!”

Again though, I was mistaken.  One of the ways I had coped with our family struggles was with food.  While I was still exercising and had taken the time to focus on my spiritual, mental and emotional well-being, I had neglected my diet.  I thought, “I am exercising so I can eat what I want!!”

Last month, my husband, Eric, heard about a “clean” diet.  The idea is that there are certain foods in our diet we may have an intolerance for but are unaware of that intolerance.  Our food intolerances may be affecting our digestion and weight loss.  The clean diet has you remove refined sugars, eggs, dairy, soy, gluten, corn, and peanuts.  Eric wanted to give it a try because he had been suffering from some digestion issues.  I agreed to join him basically to support him with his health goals.  Little did I know that I was the one who was going to be changed the most!!

We started the diet the second week of January.  After the first week I couldn’t believe how much better I felt!  I wasn’t suffering from any indigestion or bloating any more.  AND I had increased energy!  To make all of this even better, I lost about 5 pounds in the first week.  I simply couldn’t believe it because I didn’t feel like I was “dieting”.  I always thought that dieting meant that I was starving myself to lose weight.  I was starting to realize that this was simply about eating HEALTHY!  I more than doubled my intake of fruits and veggies and significantly decreased my intake of unnecessary sweet treats.

At this point, you may be thinking, I couldn’t do that forever!  How can I completely give up those foods?  Well, the diet encourages you to follow this strictly for 3 weeks then slowly introduce some of these foods back into your diet to see how you react.  Remember, this is about intolerances.  Everyone is different!!  They do suggest that you go back to a completely clean diet every three months or so and start over again.

I completed the first 3 weeks, losing nearly 12 pounds, and I went off the diet for a week to see how my body would respond. To my surprise, I felt quite sick the whole week!  I returned to the diet about two weeks ago, and I am back to feeling great and have lost 17 pounds since the beginning of January.

I had clearly been neglecting my eating habits for the past few years even with all of my exercise.  The clean diet has made me realize the importance of healthy eating and how much it really affects your overall energy levels, digestion and more.  AND I am running faster too!  Another perk!  I am training for a May marathon (#5) and Disney Marathon in January 2015 (#6), and depending on how my training and healthy eating habits continue, I am hopeful that I could qualify for the Boston Marathon in the near future!
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Author: Jenn at SoulMeetsBodyFitness

Blogger and Beachbody coach at SoulMeetsBody Fitness. I want to share with you my journey of fitness and faith as I discover how intimately the soul and body are connected. It’s my hope that what I’m learning can encourage and spur you on in your own journey to a healthier life – body and soul!

4 thoughts on “Meaghan’s Change to Clean Eating

  1. What a great post! My family cut out those foods as well; although, we added back organic (and only organic) eggs and dairy. We actually talked at dinner tonight (before I read this post) about how long we thought we could last before we felt sick if we went back to our old ways of eating. The consensus was two days. Keep up the great work! Thanks for the guest post!

  2. Wow, great for you! We did GAPS awhile back and it was amazing how our bodies reacted. Now everyone is gluten-free, we eat much less sugar, and less dairy also. It is easier after a while, isn’t it? Starting out is so hard, I wondered how I’d ever live without cheese. ha!

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