By Angelica Gavaldon

How can someone define eating as “healthy” or “clean”? With so much information out there, it can get pretty confusing on what eating healthy and clean really means. Should I cut calories? Should I do keto? I am here to tell you that being healthy and eating clean means different things to different people. Let us start with the basics.

Eating clean means eating whole, unprocessed foods in the most natural state possible. Fruits, vegetables, nuts and avocados are all whole foods. It is important to understand that in the beginning, eating this way may seem boring. That is because your taste buds are not used to it, but over time, you will begin to appreciate the taste. Once you start to make small changes, you will start to notice the difference. The most important thing is to avoid sabotaging your healthy habits as having balance in your life is the key. Personally, I do not adhere to it 100 percent of the time. I try to eat as healthy as possible, control my portion sizes when I eat something unhealthy, and listen to what my body says.

What impact does exercise have on mental health?
You do not have to be a fitness addict or a pro athlete to enjoy the benefits of what exercise can do for your overall well-being. Just walking moderately each day has been linked to reducing depression. I personally feel the benefits when I train: the release of endorphins, the energy and the change of mood is instant. Experts say that even if you are feeling fatigued, just moving around or going outside can immediately boost your energy.

How do you motivate yourself to exercise?
This is one of the most frequent questions I get asked, even from my husband. Depending on my day, I get up as early as 4:45 am to make sure I can get my workout in. My self-discipline has been firmly instilled in me since my early years due to my tennis background, so it may come easier to me than most. I do not think about it, I just do it automatically. Exercise gives me energy, puts me in a good mood and makes me feel healthy. It is also the only quiet time I get to spend by myself and tune in to how I am feeling, so for me it is an essential part of my life.

For those who self-motivation does not come easily to, I encourage you to start small, but do something every day for at least a week. Maybe go for a walk or do 10 minutes of floor exercises. You can do a set or two of simple exercises each day, sometimes you can even exercise while cleaning your own home adding squats or lunges. There is also the 21-day rule of breaking bad habits and instilling good ones, which I challenge you to try.

What is your weekly fitness and nutrition routine?
My exercise routine is the same every day. Although, I do go through periods where maybe one year I will just be into walking, another year into boot camp, but right now it is pretty much 30 minutes of hard running on my treadmill where I vary the intensity. I also do 25 to 30 minutes of heavy weights every day.

My diet varies depending on what my body tells me. Most days, I wake up and have a glass of water with lemon and apple cider vinegar. After I work out, I usually eat fruit, yogurt and granola. For lunch, I will have a half of a turkey sandwich with salad. As for dinner, I will have whatever I am making for my husband. I oven bake vegetables every day, my favorites are balsamic Brussels sprouts, broccoli and mushrooms. One thing I never do is dessert, especially chocolate.

Now that you have a better idea of what it means to eat clean and healthy, you can try to implement these practices into your own lifestyle.