I completed my Whole 30 yesterday. Do I feel amazing? Do I feel like a different human being? Look, it’s not a miracle. It’s not a cure. It’s a reset. It’s a journey into nutritional consciousness. It’s not a lose weight quick with another Adkins-like rendition of paleo. It’s removing all the crap from your daily eating habits and assessing your health. Not just your physical health, but your mental health. Although it is not a miracle, it will change your life.
What did I learn physically?
I learned that I can eat and feel full without snacking. I learned that my body will take me where I want to go if I trust it to let me know what it needs. I learned that I do not need to carb load before a running event or a skating event–that a sweet potato, some healthy fat and a couple of hard boiled eggs will do me just fine. I also learned to rely on water. Most of the time when I was hungry or foggy, it was because I was dehydrated.
Did I mention that I haven’t had any allergies this spring? It’s like all of my spring time mucus is extinct.
I also learned that PMS is fueled by inflammation and that if I cut these awful foods out of my diet, I didn’t feel like I was going to kill someone…although I did feel like I was going to bleed to death and got very, very emotional.
What did I learn mentally?
I learned to eat mindfully. I learned that much of my eating was out of being bored, anxious or emotional about something. I also learned that I could say no to things like cupcakes, diet Dr. Pepper, pizza, sour cream, whipped topping and sugar in general. I learned that if a food popped into my head that I didn’t have to make room for it on my plate. I also learned to push myself. Most importantly, I learned that I was in control. Just of myself.
Other things I learned:
-Paleo is a privileged place to be. I spent a lot of time and money at the grocery store. I bought about 5 lbs. of meat a week, but produce really killed me. Also things like ghee, coconut oil, coconut milk, coconut flakes, and nuts add up very quickly. I might add that I’m a single mother living on a very tight budget and I made it through this with careful planning and some sacrifice because it was important to me.
-You have to be prepared and plan ahead. I was constantly flipping through cookbooks based on ingredients I had (thank you indexes), looking at other blogs, and making lists for the week. I would start with a few different kinds of meat, a few sides and go from there. I then pre-packed my meals 1 and 2 for the work week, leaving meal 3 in bulk for plating. I also made sauces and dressings for the week, because trying to find a sugar-free, non-seed oil laden salad dressing or dipping sauce is virtually impossible.
-Everything in the store is bad for you. Stick to the meat and produce sections. Seriously. If you foray into the middle aisles, you will just be disappointed as you read label after label—soy, sugar, carrageenan, dairy, etc. I could not find one brand of bacon that did not have sugar. Not even the local kind that the paleo food truck sells in its dishes is technically paleo or whole 30 safe. Tuna has soy in it most of the time, so check before you buy. Even spices are suspect. It is really a wake up call to how our society eats and why we are so fat.
-There is no “good” time to do this. Life happens every single day. I chose to do this at the end of an academic year, as a higher education professional. Duh. I went to at least three parties where cupcakes were being served. I attended dinners where I had to order off the menu, a staff breakfast where I had to beg the lady at the counter for hard boiled eggs to go with my fruit, a pizza dinner where I ordered a chicken salad, a mother’s day dinner at a seafood restaurant located between two cupcake places, a roller derby road trip, and a day at the Indy 500–not to mention Memorial Day weekend. In spite of all these tempting “occasions,” I reminded myself that health is an every day occasion. It’s only 30 days. Only. All of that crap will be there when those 30 days are over. It’s likely that when you get to day 31, you will still think about that crap but none of it will be anything that you actually want to eat.
-Dishes. I have never done so many dishes. I have posted about this in my journal entries. I want to reiterate that the next time I do a Whole 30 (scheduled for September after I move back to Texas,) I will have a dishwasher.
1. I am not afraid to share my food with baby Dean. He loves coconut flakes on his strawberries and bananas, he likes beef fajitas, and he steals fennel out of my pork and fennel stew and shouts, “mmmm” as he mashes it between his four front teeth and gums. I don’t wonder if any of this is good for him. I don’t feel bad for sharing it with him. I feel good for being a good example and raising him on whole foods and a clean diet. I can’t eat like I did before and later tell him that he can’t have any of what I’m having because it’s not good for him. There is more than dietary wealth in doing this and all parents should think about that before they indulge in spite of themselves.
2. The mental picture of steamed fish is often strong enough to remind me that I’m not always hungry. I’m starving for companionship, knowledge, and humanity instead. Instead, I text or call a friend, go for a run or walk, read a book or an article, and make a list of all the things I would like to do in my lifetime. Not a bucket list, but an experiential knowledge list. I’m not going to learn anything by sky diving because I already know that I’m terrified of heights and that gravity is in fact a thing. What can I learn by doing? In any case, once I’m on a roll, it takes out the need to eat out of boredom.
Weight: -8.6 lbs.
Inches: 11 total
I wasn’t sure how much to expect to lose. I did lose a pants/dress size. I went from a 16 to a snug 14. I haven’t worn a size 14 since 1997 and even then, it was questionable. To date, I have lost 41.9 lbs. this year and 62.2 since having Dean last April. I am exactly where I was when I moved to Houston 10 years ago, except for one size smaller. I’m about four pounds away from my second 10% goal and 55 lbs. away from my overall goal.
I will say this. I ate more enjoyable whole foods over the past 30 days than when I was losing weight using fake sugar, low-fat, processed foods. I also ate more food. I certainly ate more fat. Guess what? I still lost weight.
I have to admit that I feel a little lost. No rules? Oh my gosh!
The truth is that as much as I like a bunch of wrong for me stuff, I don’t really want any of it. I feel like I’ve worked so hard to get here, to this 30 day mark that I don’t want it to be in vain. All the dishes, all the cooking, all the shopping, all the bringing my own stuff to staff retreats and eating before parties. This was not easy. Making new habits never are. I can think of one thing I want. Chicken Tikka Masala. I don’t want rice, I don’t want naan. Am I going to eat it? Yes. Can I eat this and not feel like I wasted everything? Absolutely. To make it easier, when I want to deviate, I will use this Nutritional Off-Roading process chart to help me make my decision.
The upcoming challenges I face are daunting. I have a divorce I’ve been trying to finalize for nearly 18 months, I am trying to move to Texas to attend law school, I’m working in a job that I am not fond of and I’m barely making rent. In trying to discern what food was going to look like for the next several weeks while I am trying to not spend any money, I took an inventory of all the food in my house and devised a six-week menu plan. Not everything on it is paleo, but everything is whole, not fake, not processed, gluten-free, etc. Except for that frozen pizza in the deep freezer downstairs… So my next challenge is to use only the items currently in my pantry, only purchasing produce for the next six weeks. I have already gone through the list, the cookbooks and made the plan–now for the interesting part of following it…
I know that I want to do another Whole 30, but I’m going to wait until I relocate, start a new job and settle into law school for at least two weeks. I’ve already got September 3-October 2 scheduled into my calendar.