Eat, Spin, Run, Repeat: My Journey to Clean Eating

by Leanne Vogel (Healthful Pursuit) on February 14, 2012

I’m so intrigued by Angela’s life story and was happy to find out she’d decided to share it with us while guest posting here on HP. She’s an inspiration to all of us that are trying to find a little slice of health in everyday life.

Have a wonderful and loving Valentine’s Day, I’ll see you all tomorrow with an update from Mumbai.

Hi there, Healthful Pursuit readers!

How are you doing today? My name is Angela and I blog over at Eat Spin Run Repeat. I “met” Leanne about 6 months ago when I found her through a comment on another blog, and I’ve been loving her posts ever since. She’s so open and honest about her journey to health, and the photos of her delicious recipes are always gorgeous!

When Leanne contacted me to guest post for her while she’s away in India, I jumped at the chance. She suggested that I talk about things like my approach to health, or share some of my favourite healthy recipes. These sounded like great ideas, so I’ve decided to do both.

Like Leanne, I’m also a Canadian blogger and love talking about all things food and fitness. I grew up in Edmonton, Alberta, but at the age of 13, moved to the Middle East with my family so that my dad could take on a managerial role with his company. This brought about a whole load of new experiences and challenges for me. I met people from all over the world, attended a wonderful school, traveled a lot, and learned what life on the other side of the world is like. However, I also became extremely inactive relative to my childhood years and gained a ton of weight. I think part of this stemmed from home sickness. I missed my friends and the lifestyle that we left behind. As a result, I turned to comfort foods – crackers, chips, high-sugar cereals, and portions that in general were just way too big. My weight crept up and by the age of 16, I was really unhappy and knew I had to make a change.

Lucky for me, there was a local weight loss support group that welcomed me into their community. Here, I learned all about the basics of healthy eating and how to cook nutritious, clean meals. It was at this point that I also discovered my love for cooking. I began packing my diet with fresh fruits and vegetables, and explored new ones that I’d never tried before like butternut squash and various dark leafy greens. Looking back, I can’t believe I went 16 years of my life without tasting these wonderful foods! My physical activity level also rose – I took up running, my favourite form of exercise, and a fantastic mental release. It’s the cheapest therapy you can get! :)

Fast-forward to 2006: I was ready to leave the Middle East to attend university back in Canada, and this time, I was moving to Ontario. I’d lost over 60lbs and couldn’t wait to start my new student life as a healthy, happy student. I jumped at the chance to join my university’s varsity cross country team and met a ton of supportive, like-minded friends in the process. I also couldn’t wait to take advantage of all of the widely-accessible, less expensive “clean” food. See, in Bahrain (where I used to live), almost everything is imported, so the prices are significantly higher than they are here. I was in my element, working out regularly and fueling my body with high-quality, nutritious foods. At this time, I also discovered my love for spinning. I became certified as an instructor and have been teaching for the past 3 years.

My spin class participants were the reason that my blog exists today. Each week, I’d bring in a healthy new recipe for them. Over time, the costs of printing got a bit too high for my student budget, so I looked for an alternative method. Blogging allowed me to share recipes with people both in and outside the gym, and connect with other like-minded individuals.

I’m now 23 years old, and I’m continuing to pursue my passion for learning and living a healthy, balanced lifestyle. Although my current job has me working as a Marketing Systems maven behind a desk 5 times per week, I also became a Nutrition and Wellness Specialist in 2010. I’m currently studying to become a certified Health Coach, and continue to teach group exercise classes regularly. It’s a busy schedule for sure, but I can honestly say I’ve never been happier or more excited about the year to come.

You might be wondering, “Ok, so when it comes down to details, what does a girl with this kind of schedule eat? How has she kept her extra weight off?” That’s a great question, and my diet has certainly evolved over the years! Two words pretty much sum it up: eating clean. I educated myself on proper nutrition and learned what a lack of variety in our diets does to our bodies. It was at this time that something just clicked, and everything made sense. When I saw how effective eating clean was in helping me to lose weight, it motivated me to continue on with these healthy habits. The extra time and effort needed to prepare healthy meals became 100% worth it.

My diet is now more balanced than it had ever been. I’ve learned through trial and error what works for me and what doesn’t. Here’s what I know for sure:

  • I thrive on tons of fruits and veggies. A day without a big salad is like a day without brushing my teeth – it just feels wrong!
  • A little healthy fat helps my body to absorb the nutrients from my veggies better – and let’s be honest, it makes them taste really good too!
  • Deep fried foods make my stomach churn (and bloat me up to the point where you might think I’m carrying twins)
  • Super sweet foods make me jittery and give me headaches
  • Since my workouts take place first thing in the morning, I do best when breakfast (eaten post-workout) is my biggest meal of the day. It always contains some source of protein, usually from protein powder or eggs.
  • I haven’t eaten red meat since my mid-teens and don’t plan to any time soon. I noticed that it made me feel heavy and sluggish, and instead prefer to get my daily protein needs covered through fish, poultry, low-fat dairy, beans and legumes.

As I mentioned, all of this was learned through experimentation. What works for me might not work as well for someone else. Like Leanne, I’m a big advocate of food journaling and monitoring how I feel after eating various foods. Overall, I’ve learned that a balanced, varied diet full of fresh, colourful produce, lean protein, and a small amount of healthy fats is what keeps me humming along at my best. I’ve also come up with some delicious recipes that fit into this eating style, and I’d like to share some of them with you today. Click any of the photos in this post to find out how to make these dishes for yourself.

Lemon Dill Salmon Cakes

Curried Quinoa

Five Spice Shrimp with Rice

Curried Sweet Potato Hummus with Veggies

Shredded Brussels Sprout Salad with Toasted Almonds

Alright, that’s enough from me! Thank you so much to Leanne for having me over at Healthful Pursuit today, and I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to hear all about her trip! If you’d like more recipe inspiration, workout ideas, or inspiration to keep you healthy and happy, feel free to pop over and visit me sometime.

Have a wonderful day! :)

Angela

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat

Thanks for letting me come over and entertain your readers while you’re away Leanne! I hope you’re having a wonderful trip so far and I can’t wait for your Mumbai update! :)

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Lisa

I enjoyed your guest post.. and I am am following alot of the same rules you have for yourself and your body.. we have to listen to our bodies….

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katie @KatieDid

mmm that curried sweet potato hummus sounds fantastic! What an interesting story to read :)

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Sarah @ The Healthy Diva

Wow what a wonderful story angela! I’m still figuring out what works best for me when it comes to eating, but I’m much more in tune with my body now. Your recipes look wonderful. I might be trying the curried quinoa very soon!

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TeenyLittleSuperChef

What a great guest post! I love all the recipes you showed, especially that sweet potato hummus. Those are like my two favorite foods all incorporated into one. Thanks for the idea! I’ve always loved Leanne’s blog and now I have a feeling I’ll have another new one to add to my faves :)

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Cheryl @ eatplayluvblog.com

I really enjoyed reading this summary! I have checked out your blog a few times (Canadian bloggers unite) and liked it but now that I know more, I’m even more interested. Yay for sharing.

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Deryn @ Running on Real Food

Good stuff Angela! I love both your blogs! I always find so much inspiration browsing around Healthful Pursuit and Eat Spin Run Repeat – great job ladies!!

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