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Eat clean or go home
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We’ve all heard it before. Whether you read it online, heard it from a friend, or skimmed it through an article in the latest fitness magazine issue, nutrition is an essential component when trying to shed those extra pounds. 

But what if you don’t want to lose weight? What if you’re simply trying to be more fit and live a healthier lifestyle?  

Truth is, we all have different fitness goals we want to achieve, but none of them will be maintained if our eating habits aren’t on point. 

Before starting my “Get fit, Stay fit” challenge with the Journal’s editor Kristina Hacker, I thought my diet and nutrition was perfect. I never skipped breakfast, I always ordered the grilled chicken at restaurants, and I always made sure not to give into my cravings for sugary treats.  After my one-on-one session with Anthony Harding from the “Harding Performance Boot Camp,” I quickly realized that my eating habits needed to be changed. 

“The problem with your diet is that even though you eat the right foods, you’re not eating enough,” said Harding. “You need to eat more.” 

Instead of eating only three meals a day, Harding challenged me to switch up my diet by eating five small meals a day.  

By eating five to six small meals per day, you will increase your energy levels, accelerate muscle growth, and speed up your metabolism without storing fat. In fact, frequent eating will actually allow you to eat up to 50 percent more calories without storing an ounce of it as fat. 

Harding also asked me to eliminate pre-workout energy drinks, flour tortillas, bread, and artificial sweeteners from my world. 

Cutting these comfort foods from my life was like taking candy from a baby. It was excruciating the first week. Whenever I felt I was having a moment of weakness and wanted to add a packet of Splenda to my coffee, I thought how a simple sweetener would set me back in achieving my fitness goals. It takes some willpower to say no to the foods you love but I did it and I haven’t looked back since. 

Following Harding’s healthy guidelines, I decided to take a major turning point in my diet. Starting this week I am going to begin to prep my meals for the remainder of my fitness challenge. Yes, prepping meals is time consuming, but the long term benefits you get from clean eating is endless. 

My prepping routine is not up to a tee yet, but I’m sure in the coming weeks I’ll become a pro.