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Eat Clean and Find Your Athletic Self in the New Year!

Fitness, Clean Eating, Before Picture, Running, Athletic Mom

We’ve all been there-  “My resolution this year is to lose 10 pounds!” But what if this year you dropped the number and decided to focus just on good, clean food?  Focus instead on eating healthy and finding exercise that you really like, or even love, instead of just going to the gym because you want to get to that number.  That realization changed my life.

Being healthy is a lifestyle not a diet or a program. 

Three years ago my life changed.  After my second was born I could not lose the baby weight.  Well, I called it that a year later…  I decided that what I was doing in my 20’s: random classes at the gym and fad diets, were not working anymore.  So, I joined a mom’s workout group called Stroller Strength.  Don’t let the name deceive you!  I was extremely intimidated.  I had never ran a mile, didn’t even know people that did “races”.  I was surrounded by athletic moms… MOMS.  I had no idea that there was this group, no entire culture, of moms that were not just skinny, they were athletes, they were healthy, they were strong in ways I didn’t even know existed.  I was NOT athletic as a child or in high school, I knew people did sports, but as adults and moms didn’t that end?  My knowledge of working out consisted of a gym.  And whatever was in it.

Of course not all of them were these amazing athletes, many were just like me.  And I clung to those moms for comfort while I looked on at those athletes, wondering if I could ever be like them.

They spoke of marathons and races, body figure competitions, and paces…


Listening to them was like listening to another language.  I had no idea how far a marathon even was!  This was a whole new life I was being introduced to, not just a workout group, not just a group fitness trainer, not just women trying to get skinny.  These women had real goals, goals that included numbers, but not on a scale!  It was uplifting, it was freeing…

So, I started to open my mind when the Spring Challenge started a few months after I joined the group in January.  It was a fitness challenge for 8 weeks and you set the goal.  Of course I made my goal about my weight.  I wanted to lose 20 pounds.  As part of the challenge we ran a mile, and a variety of other exercises like push ups, and sit ups, etc.  We would mark down how fast we ran and how many of each exercise we could do in the allotted time.  I had never done anything like it before.  I had never ever ran a mile before, not without stopping!  So, I did it.  With another mom that had never ran a mile, we promised we wouldn’t let the other one stop to walk during testing.  And we didn’t!  I ran my very first mile in 11:25.  A very sad pace for most people but I was elated.  I hadn’t stopped!  It was the very first step to the person I am now.  It was the very first step toward my 5K’s, my half marathons, my marathons, my triathlons, and my training for my first Half Ironman.

All because I found a goal that challenged me in a way that I couldn’t starve myself to reach.


This new world that opened to me didn’t stop at the work outs we did together.  It didn’t stop at opening my eyes to the amazing athletes and the ability to even become one of those.  We also had to log what we ate!  What?!  I’m on a diet too??  But no, that was not the case.  I was introduced by my Stroller Strength instructor to Clean Eating.  A very big word if you don’t know what it is.  It sounds easy– eat clean.  But what did it mean?  There are magazines, website, books, FaceBook pages, and endless information out there on the topic.  As soon as I heard it I thought, “Oh no, not another fad diet!”  But I was very wrong.  It is not a diet.  It’s about taking all the processed food out of your diet.  Simply, if it has more than 5 ingredients than it’s not clean.  If you can’t pronounce what’s on the label, than it’s not clean.  It’s real food.  That perimeter of the grocery store.  It’s much like eating the way our grandparents did before the “convenient” foods came into existence.  No prepackaged Weight Watcher’s food?  No fat free bagels?  Everything I had known about staying skinny was being thrown to the curb!  I had to reteach myself what food really was, and what healthy really meant.  And I would finally have to learn to cook… Well, at least a little!

That first fitness challenge I lost 13 pounds.  Pretty good out of a 20 pound goal in just 8 weeks.  But that challenge was not about the weight I lost.  It was about the new person I found.  My goals started to change.  I decided after I finished that first mile that I wanted to shave 2 minutes off my mile time by the halfway testing.  And by halfway testing I decided my goal for the end of the challenge should be to run a 5K.  My very first race.  I finished in 30:24.  Without stopping.  I was hooked.  The obsession began without me even realizing it.  I was determined to become one of those athletic moms.  I was determined to learn the lingo.

I found a part of me I never knew was there, and I was impressed with the person I saw.


I found my athletic self surrounded by incredible women I still look up to.  I learned how to be healthy not only for myself, but for my family.  Make this year the year that you find your passion in food and exercise.              Clean Eating, Running, Athletic Moms, Triathlons, Fitness


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5 Responses to Eat Clean and Find Your Athletic Self in the New Year!

  1. Nikol Murphy at #

    Aw Vanessa,
    What a great article. I was with you along this journey laughing at your stories and cheering for you from NC, but this made me tear up. I am glad you shared it with the world. 🙂


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