Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Getting Started with Clean Eating

Check out our eBooks on "Getting Started Eating Clean" & "Food Prep" here.

THE most common question that we get is..."How do I get started?"  Honestly, there is no right or wrong way.  Hopefully by now you have read our "Get Clean Right Away" and our "Helpful Hints & Tips" posts.  If not, read this one first but make sure to go back and read those as well!

As we shared in our story, my husband, Scott, started working out and eating clean before me.  I told Scott that I wanted to be FIT...I did NOT want to be skinny, so he created a workout routine and meal plan for me.  I was very excited and decided that I was going to give it my all.  I shared my goals with Scott and told him that I was not going to have any "cheats" during those three months.  I really wanted to see how my body could change. Those three months changed my life.  I was hooked!  I am a firm believer that it only takes three months to really change your body!  I have been eating clean and working out consistently for over a year now! 

When I decided to start eating clean it was like a switch was flipped instantly.  I just decided to do it one day and I haven't looked back since.  I basically just got sick and tired of being sick and tired.  Once I decided to change I went through our pantry, refrigerator, and freezer and threw away everything that was not clean.  Once I started seeing the changes (my clothes were too big and my body was toning up) and feeling the difference (I was getting stronger and had a lot more energy) it kept me moving forward.

I would love it if everyone was like me and could just "flip that switch" and start living a healthy life.  Scott has helped me realize that most people will need to take "baby steps" and make incremental changes.  Regardless of which method you choose, the most important thing to remember is that you need to stay focused.  You will have some days where you're just not into it and your progress has plateaued...maybe you stopped losing weight or you are not as motivated to get a workout in...that's fine, it happens to everyone, but you must stay focused on the goal and that is to live a healthy and fit lifestyle.  Too many people think that you can just eat clean here and there and workout on a somewhat consistent basis and you'll get the results you desire but remember that you get out what you put in!

It is also important to note that everyone has their own view of what they consider "eating clean".  Some people will be more strict than others depending on their goals (which is fine). You need to find out what works for you and your body.  Even the four of us disagree on certain clean eating topics.  As long as you are making healthier choices for you and your family - you are moving in the right direction.

Another point we would like to share is that you should NEVER EXPECT PERFECTION!  You'll never have a "perfect diet" or a "perfect body".  We are still learning more about clean was overwhelming at first, but, over time, you will figure out the approach that best fits your budget and time constraints.  It is normal to be overwhelmed if all of this is new to you!  

We get this comment a lot: "We are eating the same food over and over again and we are getting bored". We did the same thing in the beginning.  We did this because we didn't want to spend more time in the kitchen so once we found a few different meals that we liked we would basically eat those everyday and experiment with others on the weekends or when we had free time.  Once again, do whatever works for you!  Don't give up even if you are getting sick of your food, once you are more familiar with the lifestyle you will start to branch out and try new things! I'm just going to come out and say must get out of the mindset of eating for pleasure.  Your body needs food for energy to carry out the complex functions it was designed to do.  Sure, we love to indulge in some treats here and there, but we have also found certain ways to clean up some of the unhealthy treats that we all love (see the treats/dessert section)!

Try it for ONE week.  Prep your food and MAKE time to workout.  Do not let anyone or anything get in your way.  Make time for have been thinking about it for so long...what are you waiting for?  Once you keep your promise to yourself this week you will be so proud of yourself you will want to do it all over again next week!  Take it one week, one day, one meal at a time - whatever it takes - MAKE IT HAPPEN!

Food Prep:
- Decide what meals you are going to eat for the week.  Remember to try and eat every 2-3 hours. Write down what you are going to cook and make your grocery list.
- Designate one or two day(s) per week to prep all of your food.
- Having food prepped will give you more time during the week to devote to your workouts or just relax!
- If you prep your food you will always have clean food on hand and no excuse to grab something unhealthy!  The lack of preparation is the perfect formula for failing to meet your goals.
- These posts will help you:
   Clean Shopping List

- Schedule your workouts in advance.
- Know which workout you are doing before you get to the gym.
- If you are new to the gym, start with three to four days per week.  You do not have to live in the gym just make your time there count!
- Don't do too much too soon but do push yourself!
- Make a "date" with your weights and KEEP it!
- Find a workout plan so that you do not go into the gym completely lost.  Review the workouts before you get to the gym.  Watch online videos or read how to preform each exercise so that you do not injure yourself.
- UPDATE: We now have our very own 12-week transformation plan!

- Write down your goals (live healthier, lose weight, build muscle, run a 5K, etc) and put them somewhere you see them everyday!  I have mine on the refrigerator!
- This is going to sound CRAZY but talk to yourself (not out-loud, of course)!  This has helped me the most.  I work in an office environment so, unfortunately, there are always sweet temptations around.  I literally talk to myself...I tell myself that it is NOT worth it.  That little brownie does NOT control me.  That brownie does NOT help me meet my goals.  It might taste amazing but that will only last for a few SECONDS!
- Once again and I cannot stress this enough...take it one meal at a time.  Focus on what you can control and don't beat yourself up over slip-ups!

Check out our "lifestyle" topics for more tips!

Update: We now offer online coaching.  Email us at for more information.

How did you start eating clean?  Did you change everything overnight or did you take a more gradual approach?

- Whitney

P.S.  Last year I wouldn't even walk into a grocery store by myself, I wouldn't go near the gym, and I never wanted my picture taken...but that is ME in the picture and I am so proud of how far I have come!  Be proud of yourself too!


  1. Whitney, thanks so much for sharing. I love following are so encouraging! I made Jamie's Monster Meatloaf for me and my husbands lunches....and on day 3 he was like...Im getting bored of this...and I said "tough!, it makes a big batch and its clean eating." haha!

    1. We have seen that if you make half of more than one choice of recipe and switch up meals, you'll find yourself less "over" the prepped food! You want to actually want to want to eat what you've made, right? Because not eating can be just as bad as poor eating or over eating, so play around with different recipes by making smaller versions until you can agree on the best ones for you and your spouse!

    2. Haha Brooke! Yes, find the meals that work for both of you - it takes a little bit of trial and error but you will find out the best things to cook! :-) Thanks for following us! Good points in the anonymous post above as well!

  2. Great timing for this post, as I am thisclose to making the leap. I've bookmarked your post and plan to read the others you've linked to. My plan is to try going gluten-free as well (seems easy when you're already cutting out so much processed foods), and try to make it work so that I'm not cooking a whole separate meal for the family. Thanks for outlining some steps to take!

    1. Go for it Lissa! Let us know if you have any questions!

  3. Love it! I've been eating clean since the summer and can tell a huge difference, I'm not super perfect at it. But, I'm learning. I love your recipes and have learned that meal prep makes a huge difference. I recently started trying this 5 dinners 1 hour because I hate trying to decide what to make and this lays it all out there for me and I have a full week of dinners for my fam and it only takes me an hour! I am loving it!!! Thanks for your awesome blog!! It is absolutely one of my favorites.
    Fit Mama WannaBe

    1. Awesome Angela! Keep up the great work! :-) Thanks for commenting!

  4. Whitney, is the picture above you??? You look amazing!!!!!!!! Such an inspiration!

    1. I'm 7 months post-baby and have been dragging my feet at losing the last of the weight but you have me so motivated to change the way I look and feel! Thank you so much! (Italian Stallion chicken in the crockpot for dinner as we speak!!!)

  5. Thank you for this post. Even though it is a lot of stuff that I have read before and know most of, sometimes you just read the right thing worded the right way at the right time. Thank you for that!


    1. Aww thank you! I was worried that I had said some of the same stuff before but I guess it doesn't hurt to say it twice! ;-)

  6. Absolutely love this post guys! I am not an overnighter unfortunately. I am still in the process but i am so proud of how far ive come! I have finally switched my mentallity and i am excited about the future and how far i have left to go throughout my life with progress and goals instead of beating myself up over not being perfect or looking perfect or (sometimes still!) what the scale says before a certain "dead line" day. I feel like i am close to being a 90% clean eater ( i think i will still allow a cheat snack or meal a week). For me it really is to the point my #1 motivator is how i (physically)feel! I feel 100% PHYSICALLY TERRIBLE after not eating a clean meal. You can seriously tell a difference after a couple weeks after a slip up. Also anyone who has instagram there are SO many motivating and inspirational people! That alone has saved me plenty of times when i didnt feel like working out or not in the mood to eat a clean meal- not to mention there are tons of good (clean) recipes/food prep examples,etc. out there that people post. Even just seeing pictures of people i want to look like inspire me! My favorites (which most ive found through you whitney :) : amandaadamsfit, dailydosefitness, npcamandanicole, angelica_haas, dalispaige, fitwithemina, fight_for_healthy , lucky_gemma, healthyforyou, heanssheeatclean, savvysassyme,kelseybyersfitness, val_livefitjourney, wendisatio, carlsonwhitney, mealprepmondays, and tons of others!

    1. Thank you Ashley! I hope you have been doing well with your clean eating! How are you feeling?

  7. Hi Whitney,
    You said it only took three months to really see the difference? What was the difference? How many pounds had you lost? Or was it more of how you felt/ how your clothes fit?
    I am on my first month of "clean eating" combined with rigorous lifting and exercise. What can I expect in the next two months? How long did it take for you to get "photoshoot" ready? And what did you do differently?
    Thanks for the post!

  8. I think this is one of the most significant info for me.

  9. Inspired and Motivate by your post and will start Clean Eating from today. I agree that sticking to goal is major thing that we have to do so that we can have perfect body that we are looking for and dream of.

  10. Thank you for this message. I found your link on Pinterest and it was just enough to get me motivated again. I use to eat clean and workout without even thinking twice about it, until I got married. Now, a year after being married I have become out of shape and eat any junk food that is handed to me. You were dead on with your comment about everyone needing to start at their own pace. I just needed the right words of motivation and I am making the change TODAY! Thanks again for this post :-D

  11. Love that you share all of this! I am just getting started with my clean eating and workout. Our third boy just turned a year old and Im ready to get this weight off!!! I love food and clean food the most! I am on day 6, and 6lbs down since Thuraday! I dont expect that amount of loss all the time but it was nice to see. I reallly want to stick to this and get ME back! I have spentost of my 20's preggo or with baby! Im 28 and ready to look and feel it! Let the lbs drop! I have only been doing cardio at home and dont know where to start with thw gym and strength training. But I would love to know your suggestions for it! Thanks so much!

  12. I like that you said "Write down your goals" and "talk to yourself". BTW it does not sound crazy at all! Thanks for the practical advice.

  13. I am just getting started with clean eating as well. I weighed myself and was back to the weight I was at the end of college. My pants were getting tighter and I felt awful. I started clean eating by reading tips on Pinterest, counting my calories, and working out. I lost 2.4lbs in the first 5 days and I hope the pounds keep coming off! I already notice that my body feels slimmer. The first few days were hard, but now I'm feeling more energized! I am also getting married in a year and I want to look my absolute best in my wedding dress. This is probably one of the easiest diets I have started. I like the idea of eating "whole foods" and not having to do too much to prepare them. Thanks for all the great posts on this website!

  14. This is a really valuable information for me, truly your husband’s routine and meal plans are excellent.

  15. Hello! I recently found your website as I have been searching for a lifestyle change. 4 years ago I was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism. As directed by my doctor, I started taking my medication every day. it was not until a few months back that I decided to start looking for more information on what should I do / not do in order to feel better because regardless of my medication I was still lacking energy, gaining weight etc. (I have a 4 and a 1 yr old!) believe me... I need energy! I started following some of your advice here since June 2013 and today I have lost 10 pounds. It might not sound like a lot but being a hypo, I knew it was a tough task! Plus my pants fit big now! Anyway, I appreciate all the info you guys share because beginning to change a lifestyle can be very overwhelming! One more thing; as a hypo I have read it is good to have a gluten free diet. I have tried to do this to best of my ability but would love to get more related to gluten free diets and hypothyroid people. For instance, I have read spinach, which is one of the foods we should consume in many recipes and grocery list, could interfere with thyroid function. Same as Kale. I was wondering if there's a way I can substitute these type of foods with something equivalent in the nutritional aspect. Is there a section in your website where I can learn more about this?

  16. I came across your website yesterday. AMAZING stuff going on here! I will be utilizing your website to reach my goals. I bust my ass in the gym several days a week and try to keep in mind the 80/20 rule. My eating habits have been very poor lately & it's starting to show. FRUSTRATING! I know what I need to do so I'm going to do it with the help of your awesome website. I will keep you posted.

  17. Great article! My family and I just started eating clean and we did exactly what you did. We got rid of everything in our cupboards, fridge, freezer,and pantry with processed crap in it and have felt so much better already!

  18. Is this site still up and running? I've noticed they don't seem to be responding to the comments people have left, maybe they are too busy with other things going on in their lives? Please let us know if that's the case. Thanks...Lily


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