30 days. 30 days without sugar, alcohol, wheat, soy, dairy, & legumes. 30 days of facing my emotional eating habits head on.
It wasn't easy. I'm too stubborn to have wanted to quit, but I was challenged to give up MANY times.
I've lost 7 lbs and 2 inches.
My blood pressure is down from 119/70 to 111/66. (WHAT) As someone who was on track to have high blood pressure, I'm most excited about that. But, most importantly: I've gained a lot of insight and love for myself, and I'm confident that I can move forward to become even better.
Considering taking the challenge yourself?
Here are my tips to ̶s̶u̶r̶v̶i̶v̶i̶n̶g̶ slaying the Whole30.
1. Utilize free resources & compile a calendar full of fun meals.
Being prepared is half the battle. By putting together a list of creative Whole30 recipes, I was not only well aware of what my options were, I was excited about them. I'm pretty sure my greatest accomplishment of the last 30 days was discovering the apple chicken nuggets recipe!
2. Food prep as much as possible.
I have purchased enough Freezer Zip-Lock bags to last me until I'm ready for parenthood. But I was really, really grateful to be able to prep and freeze foods ahead of time! I took one day to be a kitchen fiend, and many of the frozen items lasted for the entire month. To name a few, my freezer was pregnant with egg muffins, cauliflower rice, bananas, sliced apples, sweet potato hash browns, grapes, coconut flour "cereal", zoodles (these didn't keep very well, though), and avocado slices. Yes, you can freeze avocado. You're welcome.
3. Seek accountability buddies.
My small-but-mighty March Madness Whole 30 Group gave me such an amazing sense of support. One day, I binged on cashews. So I turned to them and said, "Hey guys. I binged on cashews today." Nobody judged or shamed me. In fact, they were unbelievably supportive, reminding me, "Hey, it could've been potato chips." I wanted to share every win, every recipe, and every lesson learned with them. I couldn't have done this without them.
Very special shout-out to my friend Becca, who was also available for immediate venting sessions via text. Aside from the frustrations, we shared some wins, too. Like this happy moment:
"Remember when this was the biggest deal ever? It doesn't seem like a big deal anymore. Remember when we needed non-food incentives?"
Granted, I do still have a non-food incentive that I'm really looking forward to. I'll be announcing what it is soon enough. :)
4. On the other hand, do not expect anyone else to accommodate you. At all. Be very open about your journey regardless.
My coworkers usually eat whatever they want without concern That being said, I was very open about my lifestyle challenge and they were very supportive of me. When my boss baked brownies, my fellow admins were quick to hide them so I wouldn't be upset about them. Even though I always discovered them, I really appreciated that effort. They also would chime in with, "How many more days do you have?! You've done so well!!"
Another time, I attended a dinner before going to see a show. I watched the entire dinner party each order extravagant Italian dishes... and then they shared a chocolate cake for dessert, which was placed right in front of me. When asked why I wasn't partaking, I shared that I was off of sugar for the time being. They immediately apologized for ordering the cake, but I had anticipated moments like this from the getgo. I welcomed opportunities to test my willpower. More than ever, I am fully aware that it's up to the individual to define his or her own lifestyle choices. If you want to eat the cake, go for it. My life will continue as usual. Coexistence without judgment is the best way to live.
5. Don't focus on what you can't have. You CAN find things to eat ANYWHERE.
Remember that Italian dinner I went to? I ordered a crabmeat salad the size of my face, and the only noncompliant ingredient was corn - which was easy to omit. I also was afraid of missing a friend's cabaret performance due to there being a food/drink minimum. I thought, "If I'm sober with strict eating, how will I spend the money?" After digging around online, I found that I could have baked chicken and grilled dandelion to remain compliant. Yes, grilled dandelion...and it was GOOD. If all else fails, a diner is a solid choice for a dinner companion. A hearty (cheese free) omelette won't disappoint! So, you really don't have to put your life on hold just because you're challenging your choices. Do your research, find online menus, and enjoy life!
6. Be prepared to try new things.
Prior to this month, the only beets in my life were responsible for the classic hit, "Killer Tofu."
(Any other 90's dorks out there? I'm amazed that this GIF exists...)
Who knew veggies could be sweet?! Having beets and grape tomatoes to snack on in the afternoon really helped me with my afternoon sweet tooth. These 30 days also have brought bison jerky and prosciutto into my life. How did I live without thee?
7. Meal replacement bars are for emergencies only.
When I learned that "Rx Bars" were Whole30 compliant, I felt pretty giddy. BUT, I quickly realized that I was misusing them. The point of the Whole30 is to control your sugar cravings, not to feed them at 3 PM every day with Rx Bars. It was great to have one or two handy while I was running errands or feeling hungry on the go, but they are not intended for everyday use.
8. There are healthy fats besides nut butters.
Peanut butter is the only true love I've ever known. So I was heartbroken to accept that I had to hide the jar for 30 days. However, other nut butters are compliant, and I found myself utilizing daily scoops of almond butter and sunflower seed butter. And then I revisited a Whole30 guidebook that suggested primarily using coconut or avocado fats instead of nuts/nut butters. Nut butters are supposed to be occasional. Big oops. For my next round, I will definitely challenge myself to put the spoon down.
9. Be patient with your energy levels and mood swings.
Sugar is an addiction, and to eliminate it causes withdrawal. Some days, I could naturally run 25 laps around my office before 10 AM. Some days, it was a struggle to carry my head on my shoulders. I received this advice prior to beginning, so if I missed a workout, I learned to forgive myself. Typically I'd beat myself up for being lazy, but if I need 10 hours of sleep because I'm running on greens and dreams, then so be it. I still lost 7 lbs even though I exercised an average of 3 days per week. The rumors are true: abs are made in the kitchen.
10. Be open to self-reflection, journalling... and progress!
The most powerful tool in personal growth is to recognize our poor habits & learn how to remedy them. I am a recovering boredom and emotional eater. I kept myself pretty busy this month by hustling to record my audiobook; boredom eating was never really an issue. But, emotional eating sure was. Every time I was pissed off by something that happened during the work day, I wanted a glass of wine or some giant form of sugar. Why? What would that do for me? Well, if I chose the wine, I'd probably relax. But, once I was wine drunk I'd probably go home and mindlessly snack, which would lead to me feeling pissed off that I drunkenly stuffed my face. So, instead of the glass of wine, I pulled out my journal. Instead of eating chocolate when I was sad or lonely, I pulled out my journal.
I'm not going to say that the Whole30 has cured my emotional eating. But I have become incredibly aware of my triggers/pain points, and I know what steps I can take to anticipate or better remedy these situations. I am looking forward to growing in this expertise, as I know my own experience will directly benefit my clients' also!
So... now what?
Well, I have decided to remain sober until Easter. Literally two more weeks at most, but my body is appreciating the sacrifice, honestly. I drank way too much in February...
I am also going to remain dedicated to following this lifestyle 85% of the time, which is what I like to call #paleoish.
Specifically: one sugar splurge per week, otherwise fruits are sweet enough.
About 10 minutes ago I attempted to eat a chocolate chip brownie. 30 days ago, I probably would've eaten it in one inhale. Today, I spit it out because it was too sweet.
No, I'm not lying. My mind is just as blown as yours. I'm a changed woman.
No soy, dairy or legumes (aside from my beloved PB).
Wheat in the form of oats, specifically post-workout.
And 15% of the time: I'll eat bagels and pizza and cake and fried foods... and, most likely, quickly be reminded of how much I physically feel better when I don't.
I am looking forward to challenging myself to another round of Whole30 in the future - maybe October. September would be ideal, but as my goal is to relocate in August/Sept, it may be stressful to throw some freezer meals in my moving boxes. Anybody else thinking about an October Whole30? Maybe we can get a group together & I can get a meal plan / recipe book together!
Keep challenging yourself. You're capable of more than you realize.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"Strive for continuous improvement, instead of perfection." - Kim Collins