Eating clean can feel ridiculously daunting when you are just getting started. I know what it feels like to stare into the chasm between where I am and where I want to be.
You have to unlearn everything you think you know about food. Break habits and build them. And then there’s the small matter of changing everything related to how you eat and what you eat.
When I first embarked on my clean eating journey it felt like I was trying to reach the moon on a scooter. Every step felt impossible, every task seemed too much, and I wanted to quit more times than I can remember.
While I’ve somehow morphed into this person who helps people get healthy (never saw that coming!) I still recognize the journey is laced with monstrous obstacles.
So know that while my job is helping everyday folks like you get healthier I’ve never forgotten how hard that journey was and still is.
In the last post I shared my 39 baby steps (and counting) to go from toxic eater to clean eating pro. I wrote that post because I wanted a list that gave anyone, no matter where they were in the process the tiny steps to move toward a toxin reduced lifestyle.
In this post I’m sharing all my tips to help you stay on track and actually get to the finish line.
I wrote this post because this journey is tough, and anyone who says it’s easy is full of… isn’t being honest (keepin’ it PG). But you CAN get to the finish, armed with these clean eating tips and the right motivation, you totally got this!
Tip #1: Get educated and then write down how bad the thing is
First you’ve got to know why you are making changes in the first place.
Nothing difficult can be accomplished without a good reason, and in this case educating yourself about WHY you NEED to make this change is key.
For example it’s not enough to say, fast food is bad for me.
You’ve got to know that…
- Fast food is loaded with endocrine disruptors that can cause infertility
- Fast food is made using oils that are from GMO’s which can mess with my microbiome making me sick (and moody)
- Fast food has meat full of hormones that can make me fat and give me acne.
I could go on but I think you get the point.
Do your homework and come up with at least 6 reasons WHY this thing (the one you are trying to stop eating or doing) is bad for your health.
Write those 6 things down, bookmark the pages, print the list and stick it on your wall. Read the list EVERY DAY.
You see humans are programmed to believe that the bad things can’t happen to them. You need a painfully clear reason why it can happen to you and therefore why you MUST stop eating this thing.
Need somewhere to start on the education front, read my post, The Dangers Of Pesticides: 35 Ways Pesticides Are Destroying Your Health, for a big ol’ dose of motivation.
Tip #2: Find your unique motivator
What motivates each person is different (I know, Captain Obvious here), but everyone is motivated by something. It’s just a matter of uncovering YOUR unique motivator.
As a jumpstart try answering the following questions:
- What gets you going?
- What constantly roams through your mind?
- What do you fear?
- What can you finally have if you do this?
For some, motivation comes after a devastating diagnosis. Others may simply want to lose weight for a special event. Many find their perspectives changed upon learning they are going to have a baby.
It really doesn’t matter what the reason, it simply has to be compelling enough to keep you on track when things get hard.
Motivation can change and evolve as well, what motivated you to begin the journey may get swapped out for a new motivator as life evolves around you.
Bottom line, it has to be something you want baaaad. A desire strong enough to push you against the current. A reason to keep at it when you are tempted to quit.
Once you have it, write down your motivator, big and prominent. And learn to activate that motivator whenever you feel sluggish about your goals.
If you are struggling with finding your motivation read my post, Do You Have the Right Mindset to Get Healthy and Really Change Your Life.
Tip #3: Take baby steps
If you’ve been poking around the website you know I’m all about taking baby steps. All my programs and coaching sessions revolve around the idea that small manageable steps are almost always better than big life altering changes.
Why? Because we are creatures of habit who naturally resist change. If you try too much at once you run the risk of failing at everything.
Instead I recommend choosing something challenging but manageable, conquer that, and then add another step, and another. Eventually you’ll have climbed the made it to the finish.
Check out my posts, Clean Eating: 39 Baby Steps to Start Eating Clean Today, for a big list of baby steps to choose from.
Tip #4: Set manageable and very specific goals
Now that you are educated and motivated you need some goals.
But here’s the thing, unless you are very highly motivated to go all in (like after a cancer diagnosis) then I suggest you set some smaller manageable goals rather than big massive lifestyle changes.
This goes back to the idea of baby steps, but here you are specifically choosing something to aim for. This goal is your destination.
Make your goal very specific, if you want to “eat better” that’s waaaay too vague and broad. Saying something like, I’m going to eat a salad every day is better, but you can get even more specific.
The best goals are very specific AND time focused, something like, “I plan on eating one totally organic leafy green salad with at least 3 types of veggies each day for 14 days.” Booyah!
And that my friends is how you accomplish big changes in small specific packages.
Tip #5: Create a plan of attack
So now you’ve got your fancy uber specific goal and the timeline. Awesome sauce!
Now it’s time for a game plan!
You know your destination (the goal) now you need a roadmap to get you there (you know as opposed to wandering aimlessly and hoping you’ll find the place).
Think along the lines of…
- Who – Who will do the prep? Who will do the the planning?
- What – What are the details of the thing? What will you do if you encounter problems?
- Where – Your place or mine? Where is this happening? What if where changes?
- When – When are you doing this thin? When are you prepping? When are you planning?
- How – How is this going down? How are you pulling this together?
Taking our salad example above, you need to plan out who’s buying the salad stuff and who’s making it? What kind of salad and when? When and where are you shopping for salad accouterments? Are you making them one at a time or batch prepping? What is plan B if you find that your salad is wilted, has a cricket in it, or has been stolen by the office salad thief (though I’m pretty sure no one ever steals salad)? What’s the plan?
Create a gameplan and write it down. It may sound excessive but when doing hard things having a plan makes all the difference and keeps you from creating excuses. Which leads me to tip number six.
Tip #6: Make reasons, not excuses
Strap in, I’m about to unload some tough love.
When you reeeeeallly want something, I mean want it at the core of your soul, you will ALWAYS find ways to make it happen. You’ll move mountains to see this thing through. You’ll change schedules, get up early, cancel other appointments, and more, just to make this a reality.
If you’ve ever accomplished something that took a lot of work you know the feeling. This is what separates the winners from the errr…people still at the starting line.
The problem is most people don’t want anything that badly. Much less to avoid their favorite foods everyday.
Most of us make health goals beacuse it’s best for us, intellectually it’s the right thing to do, but not because we really want it. These is when excuses start creeping in.
We find reasons to skip, “just for today” or to “I’m too busy”, or “just this one time”.
These are excuses, but more precisely, these are self-created obstacles that undermine the very thing you claim to want.
And what usually follows is guilt.
There is guilt because you know the excuse is total BS. You know you are failing yourself. And guilt spirals into dangerous negative self-talk…why am I so awful!? And then you’re eyes deep in a double-double and chugging a strawberry shake.
Yep. I’m speaking from experience. I’ve been on this journey about 11 years and you know what, it’s still tough. Perhaps not as bad as it was on day one, but I still struggle with temptations. The struggle is real folks.
But I know from experience that the best way to make reasons and not excuses it to do all the steps I’m outlining. Because eventually the small wins will lift you up and toward your goals and on hard days, you’re going to need a safety net, these exercises are that safety net.
So get educated, get motivated, set specific goals, and start pushing yourself toward the top of your mountain.
Tip #7: Create routines
The easiest things to do are things that are routine.
Think of all the stuff you don’t need to think about because it’s just written into the course of your day. That’s the ticket to keeping healthy habits, making them routine.
If you do something often enough, at roughly the same time of day, under the same circumstances, it just magically morphs into routine, and for the goals we are setting this is the golden ticket.
So make those baby steps part of your day, every day, without thinking much about it, just do it, and eventually it will be your thing. How cool is that!
Tip #8: Track your progress
And while you are patting yourself on the back for the super awesome things you are accomplishing make sure to keep track.
When I’m working on a goal I like to add a symbol or sticker to each day on my calendar that I made that thing happen.
We are all visual beings and seeing a row of stickers, or checkmarks, or highlights can help push us toward keeping the momentum.
By using visual markers to track your success you are training yourself to be rewarded by accomplishing the goal. This can be a powerful but underrated tool toward success.
Tip #9: Be ready when the wagon kicks you off
So here you are, rolling past your goals, feeling great, green checkmarks on your calendar, and then bam! You’re face down in a pile of failure, you my friend have fallen off the proverbial wagon.
I’ll tell you what now. You get your butt back up, dust off, take in the learning experience, and you keep going.
Failure is part of success. It happens to everyone. It can be a powerful motivator and an excellent teacher. Analyze what went wrong. What got you booted of the wagon? Learn from it.
Whatever you do don’t wallow in self-pity. Don’t use it as an excuse to give up. Don’t become a permanent failure at the thing you claimed to want. As long as you keep moving forward you are succeeding, never forget that!
Tip #10: Celebrate your wins
And when you do succeed make sure to celebrate the win.
Share your success, tell your family, and reward yourself with something positive.
It doesn’t matter how you celebrate (as long as the celebrating doesn’t undermine the success itself–don’t celebrate a week of going gluten free with cake) just make sure to acknowledge the hard work you put in to get you here.
Every accomplishment deserves acknowledgement, make sure to allow yourself that much.
Tip #11: Be kind to yourself (and don’t tolerate anyone who is unkind)
The best lesson I ever learned was to be kind to myself.
It took waaaay too long before I was willing to be gentle with myself. I spent far too many years being overly critical of myself, failing to acknowledge any success that fell anywhere below the high standard I had set for myself, and ignoring the need to simply say “good job” to myself.
And I’ve realized many of you do the same thing. And if not in the type A kind of way then simply because you’ve fallen to the bottom of the priority list.
I’m talking about folks who are so busy taking care of their families and kids, jobs and responsibilities that they simply forget to nurture themselves.
But with any journey this big you need to practice self-kindness. Taking on a task like changing the whole way you eat is asking a lot. Sometimes it will be unpleasant and hard and I’ve realized success comes much easier when you create kindness for yourself.
I should note that it’s perfectly healthy to take responsibility for mistakes and analyze why you failed at something, but being unreasonably harsh on yourself, or verbally beating yourself up is not going to accomplish anything.
Just to be clear, this is not to be confused with coddling, self-kindness is NOT self-coddling.
Self-kindness is challenging yourself but doing it with love, taking responsibility for failures but being willing to allow yourself to make it right, forgiving yourself for mistakes but holding yourself to a healthy and high standard. And most importantly self-kindness is pushing yourself in a loving way to be the best version of yourself you can be.
And while we’re on the subject now is the time to draw lines about what you will and will not tolerate from those around you.
There’s nothing wrong with healthy debate and honest respectful challenges from others, but there’s a big difference between healthy critique and abuse.
Self-respect is part of the equation here, and anyone who berates you, abuses you, derails you, or purposefully makes you feel inferior has NO PLACE in your life.
I know this is easier said than done but today is the day to start taking a stand for yourself and giving notice that abuse won’t be tolerated in the new world you’ve created for yourself.
Tip #12: Keep going!
The journey toward completely overhauling your eating is a long one. It takes a lot of time and practice to go from toxic eater to clean Filtered eating.
The evolution will take a lot of baby steps, a lot of small goals, a lot of habit building. So remember when you’ve mastered one step there is another waiting for you. In other words keep going.
We live in a time where our world is full of poison, from the air we breathe to our water to our food. And complacency often means illness and misery. We simply do not have the luxury of “doing it later”.
So keep moving forward toward health, toward clean living, toward a toxin-free/reduced Filtered life. Your future is counting on it!
Phew! We covered a lot! But every tip is there for a reason.
I’ve learned through a whole lot of trial and error what works and what doesn’t.
So know that I’m speaking from experience, from a lot of failures and mistakes, and I’m sharing these tips to help YOU succeed.
The bottom line is I want YOU to live your very best life. And I know your best life doesn’t include food that’s full of poison and a disease filled future.
So make today the start of your next chapter. Use these clean eating tips to make your clean eating journey a reality, one step at a time!
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