caption: yes, the pic on left is cuter due to my girls.
I thought it was a fad. It’s not. It’s the perfect clean slate. It’s the only thing that saved me from a year of discouragement and beating self up. It, almost instantly, set me free from the stress of counting and tracking quantity of food. Quality of food became my differentiator. I changed *what* I was putting into my mouth instead of how much. It was the most eye-opening physical challenge I have ever accomplished.
“It” = Whole30. My friend, Laurie, told me to get the book last fall. It was $18 on Amazon. I put it off during the holidays and began Jan 4th. I talked to my husband, Scott, about my goals with Whole30, and he wanted to read the book and join me! This was major. We supported one another through the whole process. I’m not sure we would have been as successful otherwise. And yes, in my opinion, you have to read the book in order to be successful.
The strict guidelines were, ironically, what gave me complete liberation. It was a strange feeling. No counting, no tracking!? Fat became my friend. Avocados, oils, nuts, even butter (clarified butter, that is), …Yes, all those things at the tippy top of the food pyramid that we’ve been told to “use sparingly”, I was eating all the time.
Food began to taste inexplicably delicious. The restrictions forced me to get creative and start cooking. I was making breaded (almond meal) chicken with marinara, white potatoes with butter, heaping portions of roasted veggies with butter or oil and salt and pepper. Popping salty cashews in my mouth on the way to pick up kids from school. Slathering ripe bananas with almond butter, cinnamon and dark cherries. Making chocolate pudding out of ripe bananas and cocoa powder.
After the difficulty of week one, it hardly felt restrictive.
Pounds started melting off. Workouts finally felt good again. My body was getting real food. I started sleeping…hard. No melatonin, no Benadryl, no alcohol. Just hard, amazing sleep. The kind where I woke up and said to self “wth time is it?!?!” My bras started clasping so easily without that awful back fat. My rings were sliding on. Even my shoes felt bigger!
Why in God’s name would I NOT WANT to continue what is going on with my body?! I’ll give you one good reason. Alcohol.
So…we’re gonna talk about drinking for a little bit. I love wine and beer. Here’s where things get hairy for me. Yeah, I did it for 30 days (minus one hiccup) no problem! But for the long haul, I’m wanting to live a little and enjoy some delicious wine! Maybe a frothy IPA! Maybe a cocktail at a local fundraiser to ease in to the evening.
Buuuuut…I have some tough questions to ask myself.
I’m going to be 40 next year. It’s time for me to put my big girl pants on and set up some boundaries with this drinkin’ biz.
Am I drinking with friends for enjoyment and unwinding after a long week? OR…Am I drinking at home by myself because my kids are driving me crazy before bed time? If I’m “using” it as a crutch, I want to be more aware and ask self if it’s worth it. I want to remind myself that somehow/someway I made it through those 30 days without reaching for it. Maybe all it takes is that moment of asking yourself if it’s really necessary tonight. I sleep like crap when I drink. Why wouldn’t I want to reserve these happenings for special occasions instead of “on the regular”?
Am I going to be perfect? No. But Whole30 allowed me to JUST SEE what it could be like. And I proved to myself that this healthy feeling was worth fighting for in the long term. Does it mean I’m never going to eat cheese again? No. Does it mean that I’ve learned that cheese is a trigger food for me, and once I start eating pizza, I don’t want to STOP eating pizza, and then I feel miserable? Yes. Yes, I’ve learned this.
Let’s talk about cheese.
It went from being THEE issue (aside from alcohol of course), to being a NON issue. Weird, huh?! I thought so. Cheese doesn’t even sound good to me right now. Will it remain like this forever? Likely not. But at least I know I’m capable to go non-dairy. At least I know this: at the end of going 30 days non-dairy, my brain could care less about cheese.
That’s pretty powerful in my book.
I’ve been getting this question a lot: “So what happens after the 30 days?”
For me, what happens is nothing. I
like love how I feel, so I want to continue to reject processed chemical food. What changes, I suppose, is the restriction. I’m an adult. I can eat and drink whatever I want. I just need to decide for myself how often I want to let loose. I need to be careful about allowing old habits to creep back in. Will it be worth it to go have a blast at a winery and eat/drink whatever I want? Obviously! I’m not resigning self to a life of unfun! I’m a Danner, for cryin’ out loud. But let’s just remember, too…fun can exist with and without alcohol. To say I had zero fun when I was pregnant (four times) would be ludicrous.
There doesn’t have to be this grand plan put in place after the 30 days. The whole point of the 30 days is to give yourself a chance. You get ONE BODY. Why not take away all the chemicals and booze for a bit and say “ok, body, I’m sorry. I’ve been mean and downright disrespectful to you. I’m going to give you a break from this nonsense and let you do your thing.”
Your body might say
“well HEY…thank you!! I’m going to give you energy and help you feel good in your skin and allow you to sleep well for hours at a time! Hope you like it. That’s just my simple way of saying thank you!”
This is exactly what happened.
I lost 15 lbs over the 30 days. I went from 164 to 149. Some have said “oh my goodness, that’s not healthy! It’s taking from your lean muscle!” Etc etc.
I never say anything back to this. But it sure doesn’t feel unhealthy. I eat a ton! I eat quality meats, fresh vegetables and fruits, potatoes, shrimp, fish (especially salmon, I love salmon!), eggs, avocados, nuts, dates, cherries (oh how I love dark cherries…my fingers are always stained because I can’t remove the cherry pit in my mouth. Lol!)
I cook and prepare food quite frequently. It IS time consuming, and it can be expensive in the beginning. But definitely worth the investment. My body was just correcting itself. The first 5-6 lbs was water and holiday debauchery weight gain. The last 9-10 lbs was fat coming off that actually allowed my muscle to finally show through my skin. My body is finally getting what it needs.
Yes, I eat carbs. This is not a carb free diet! I eat tapioca, potatoes, apples and bananas. My body gets plenty of carbs. They’re just from whole foods instead of processed grains and added sugars.
Let’s talk about “added sugar”. It’s everywhere, and it’s disgusting. Watch the documentary narrated by Katie Couric called “Fed up”. It’s a chin-dropper. This documentary, alone, could be life-changing to some. It exposes the powerful sugar lobby, our food industry and the federal government on how they’ve been hiding added sugar in our food for decades. It outlines some viable solutions that could truly help families (especially low-income families) get out of obesity ruts. Do I feel it’s the food industry’s and the government’s responsibility to help people lose weight? No. Do I feel like it’s criminal to hide the information we’ve been hiding? Yes. *end sidebar*
In conclusion, here is why Whole30 exceeded my expectations: Never in my adult life have I felt liberated from food. Not everyone shares the love/hate relationship I had with food. But if you’re like me, you’re a total foodie but struggle to find balance to let your body do what it’s supposed to do. Your brain keeps saying “I want crackers! I want cheese! Pizza!? Mmmm queso dip! Margaritas!” It feels damn impossible to get out of such a rut.
So…it’s just 30 days. No it’s not fun. But it’s not supposed to be. Think of it like a retreat…a learning time. Then when you’re done, you’ll likely be amazed at what all the extra sugar and toxins were doing to your mood, energy levels, sleep etc…and THEN…then you can make decisions based on what you’ve learned about YOUR body. Your very own body.
Would that be life-changing?
I don’t know…you tell me.