I miss writing to you all. This morning, I had the urge to get a giant cup of coffee and sit down with you and let you know how I have been the past few weeks since we’ve spoken.
So hello, let’s chat. I’ll start with my updates then we’ll talk about you, yes?
I have been wonderful. I spent the majority of April focused on me, on food and on feeling great. I did my best effort to spend time outdoors every day possible, taking long walks around downtown at lunch and discovering new scenery. I went to church and volunteered with our Youth, spent some time doing a lot of dishes at Pine Cove for a weekend with said youth and will be an official member of Munger Place this Sunday. Yay! I also spent a lot of time at Sprouts Farmers Markets and doing my own dishes. Oh, and I did a small challenge – I completed a Whole30. What is a Whole30? Glad you asked.
For 30 days, I abstained from eating any sugar, all alcohol, all grains and all dairy. This is a very strict 30-day protocol created by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig and introduced to me by one of my friend-workers Kylie. Whole30 is based off the Hartwigs’ Whole9 lifestyle, in which good, clean, quality food is the #1 priority. I experimented with new vegetables (hello, cabbage. nice to meet you, beets) and substantially increased my meat consumption. I ordered very specific menu items at work lunches and watched with envy as coworkers sipped delicious, sweet red wine. I instagrammed a lot of photos of food and felt very proud of myself for making them in my own kitchen.
I could write for days about this program, refute your arguments and answer your questions. To make it as simple as possible I’ll break it down into this:
What I Think Is Awesome About Me After Doing A Whole30
- My internal monologue is much more positive with myself. I find my mood and energy to be fairly even-keeled. What do I mean? Well, I don’t want to rip anyone’s head off and I don’t want to take a nap at my desk. I could run a few blocks easily and I don’t get super tired when I’m at Zumba or Kickboxing.
- I am not scared of calories or fat and I am not logging a single bite of food ever again. Mentally or literally. Here is where I confess: since I was 12, I have (in one way or another) logged my food intake. Did I think that was crazy? Well, if you asked me two months ago I would have told you no. If you ask me right now, I say HOLY HELL YES THAT IS INSANE. Logging every morsel of food or drink is a quick jog into crazy person territory.
- I am proud of my discipline – not just with food and cooking, but this way of intentional eating has opened my mind to realize that I am a big fan of what I like to call intentional living. I made a list of things titled “I want to do the things I say I want to do” that includes simple things like brush my teeth for 2 minutes and stretch every morning. I realized that taking the 2 to 15-minutes to do said things makes my life so much easier than not doing them. Same for cooking good, quality food.
- I did not cheat or slip or accidentally eat a bowl of ice cream once. Not once.
- Can I boast for a second? 30 days of saying “no I’m fine”, “no club soda is good”, “it’s really not that hard”, “thanks but it’s not that big of a deal” led me to today, day 31 where I can say: I feel fantastic and I kicked ass. I spent thirty days – 720 hours – doing something I said I was going to do. Clarification: ENJOYING myself because I was doing something I said I was going to do.
- I lost 5 pounds, 2.5 inches from my waist and 1 inch from my legs. This, while awesome, was not the goal – and is last on the list for a reason. If I had lost nothing at all, I’d still be as proud of me as I am. Though in the spirit of transparency I danced a happy dance around my house this morning after measuring.
What I Heard The Most From My People:
- “I could never do that. I love cheese/bread/wine/not worrying about food and it’s too much work/too hard to quit. How do you have time?”
- “I can’t believe you’re not drinking for a month, that is so boring.”
- “Wait, you weren’t drinking last night? I thought you were! You were so fun!”
- “I hate coconut. I don’t like green vegetables. I don’t eat meat. Etc.”
- “I don’t want to be obsessed with food. Aren’t you getting obsessed?”
- “Are you going to quit eating like this?”
What I Responded to Said People:
- Can’t never could. This is not hard – there is a blog post on the Whole9 site about how beating cancer is hard or rehab from a serious injury is hard, but choosing to eat better foods than you usually eat is not hard. Is it time consuming? A little, at first. By week 2, I was already familiar enough to wing it at the grocery store. Meal planning becomes a quick thing when you know specifically the foods you can eat (and see my links below for where I figured out the best recipes). As for the I love [insert food here] – well, yes so do I but 30 days in the span of a lifetime is a blip on the radar. As for the “too much work” – in my words: grow up, Peter Pan. In a more eloquent statement: nothing great ever came out of a half-assed life.
- If you require alcohol to be a social person and/or to be your friend, you should reconsider your own relationship with alcohol. Don’t get me wrong – I am a big fan of red wine, prosecco and craft beer but if one of these items is the basis of your social life, you should probably take a big internal look. OK, off soapbox.
- See above. Also, duh I am hilarious and fun to be around. I don’t need a beer to suddenly morph into a fun person.
- To these people I say, how many different ways have you tried that item? Did you try it sauteed? What about raw? Did you try it in a salad or with another item? I don’t love cabbage, but I do love sauerkraut. I don’t love cooked mushrooms (mostly) but give me a handful raw and I’ll eat them all day. Part of this 30 days is about learning to adapt. Try something new!
- No, I am not obsessed and you shouldn’t be either. Yes, I had to pay much more attention to what went in my mouth for 30 days; however, obsessed wouldn’t be the word. In fact, about 10 days in I realized it was all second nature and I was less focused on food, calories or weight than I had been in years. Food is more than just things we eat and I don’t think eating should be a passive activity. I love food. I love to cook, watch cooking shows and I love to eat. I realize not everyone feels this way about food but I do think everyone should think about what they’re putting into their system before they put it in there. You don’t just throw oil at your car’s hood and hope it gets in the right places, right? You wouldn’t expect your car to work if you didn’t put the right kind of gasoline in the correct place. Same principle.
- Am I going to quit eating fulfilling, whole foods? No. Am I going to add back in some things like Pad Thai or Prosecco? Yes. I am going to shoot for an 80 percent Paleo diet, meaning the food I cook for myself (which is approximately 4-5 nights a week, with leftovers for lunch) will remain primarily meat, vegetable and healthy fats. If I am out to dinner with friends, at a family cookout or just feel like some cake I will have it. I do plan on following the reintroduction protocol to gauge my body’s reactions to dairy, grains and sugar separately.
Look, here’s the thing. I don’t think this is for everyone and I have no intention of pushing my choices off on family and friends. I think you should always decide for yourself the best way you can live and stick with that. Would I recommend looking into something like clean eating, Paleo or Whole30? Yes, yes and yes. The changes in energy, mood, skin, hair and general well-being are enough but if you also are looking into losing some weight you’ll be satisfied all the way around. Plus, it’s always good to pay attention to yourself for a little bit. These 30 days have shown me things (unrelated to food) about myself including willpower, desire and more.
What we eat shouldn’t always be the focus, but how we eat, with who we eat and when we choose to eat are relevant. Eating is more than food, it’s part of our social and cultural makeup. Food shows love and thought – sharing a meal is intimate, baking a cake for a neighbor is kind. Take some time to digest (yes) how you’re going about an activity you do 3-5 times a day, everyday.
This is much longer than anticipated but I had a lot to say. I told you I’d go first then listen to you all – so talk to me. How are you? How was your month of April? I’d love to know what you learned.
Some helpful links if you’d like to know more about Whole30, Whole9 and changing habits:
- Start here for more information on the philosophy from the Hartwigs
- Find the book here on Amazon
- I found recipes and inspirations for my own recipes here, here, here and here.
- I found overall encouragement and hilarity with this blog.
- Prefer hard science? I do, too. Here is an article on your gut as your ‘second brain‘
- I distracted myself when the cravings were annoying by reading non-food related material. Seth Godin’s insight rules and my friend Kathleen inspires me to be a little more feminine/to paint my nails every time I read her posts.