Food As Fuel: Life On Whole30
Nancy, here- I want to talk you about something that I have been working on the last couple of weeks. Me.
One of my students mentioned this to me in class last month, and I was intrigued. How often do you hear something like that? We chatted more, and I learned that she was mid-way through a nutritional cleanse via the Whole30 program. If you’re unfamiliar with the program, Whole30 is a 30-day nutritional “reset” to help you understand and eliminate foods that may be negatively impacting your body. Not only was she seeing the benefits of her diet change, but she was feeling the difference. The timing must have been right for me to hear about her experience, because normally I would extend my admiration for her commitment and leave it at that. This time, I couldn’t help but wonder- was it time for me to work on me?
Before I could psych myself out, I made the commitment to Whole30. Since I have started, I find that I meet people every day who have also completed the program. You should know, I am only on my 18th day. There are 12 more days to go and I’m well aware that anything can go awry. Admittedly, I feel pretty good and I think I’m going to make it.
If you don’t know what it’s all about, please bear with me as I explain. Whole30 is simple: eliminate things from your diet that can cause internal inflammation and manifest themselves as much bigger problems – acne, allergies, depression, eczema, cancer – the list is enormous. The program is designed to help break unhealthy patterns of behavior, stop stress-related comfort eating, and reduce cravings- particularly for sugar and carbohydrates.
I would love to say I started this to prevent some stoic “could be”. But truthfully, I was stress eating. And it needed to stop. I wasn’t mindful about what I was eating and drinking anymore. It was easier for me to make excuses like “I had a salad for lunch today”, “so its ok to eat a handful of conversation hearts”. Oh, I’m sorry. Did I say a handful? I meant 3 or 4. Or half a bag. Seriously, I wouldn’t make that up.
That’s what I like about Whole30. You have to stop bad habits “cold turkey”. No sugar – or sweetener (isn’t stevia natural?). No creamer. No grains. No quinoa (that surprised me). No dairy. No beans. NO ALCOHOL! There are other restrictions, of course. But remembering this particular group of “no-no’s” makes the program manageable.
The night before I begun my journey, I had wine and copious amounts of cheese with colleagues….AND then 2 slices of pizza at home. Why? It was Friday! Needless to say, I woke up the next morning with a bloated belly and a head full of remorse. Luckily, I had purchased the Whole 30 book the day before, skimmed it that morning and started on the spot. Yep- flat out cold turkey. My husband and children were leaving for 2-nights, so this was the perfect opportunity to do what I never do- focus on me. I read through the overview and was stoked to get started. I chose a recipe and headed off to Whole Foods to stock up.
Have you met me? I don’t cook. Like, ever. I either shop and clean up, or cook. The power of that trifecta of kitchen related activities is more than I can handle. But here, now, I was golden. The first night at home, I shopped for and prepared the beef kabobs and chimichurri sauce. Yes, I grilled veggies and beef, and mixed up a delicious sauce…all at the same time! It was magical. I think I saw a unicorn in my kitchen. Look at these bad boys: (photo is from the book, but my plate looked pretty darn close to this masterpiece).
Since then, I have made the Cauliflower Mash, the Shepard’s Pie with cauliflower and broccoli mash layered on top, Cauliflower and broccoli soup and then cauliflower rice with Moroccan spices. I have consumed more cauliflower in two weeks than most do in a year. There have been others too, but I’m a sucker for that Cauliflower mash (see recipe from Lows to Luxe below)
I already feel great. I do, I truly do. The book does a wonderful job of outlining how you are expected to feel each day on the journey, and it’s been pretty spot on. Obviously, the more “nasties” that you have had in your system (did I just say nasties?), the more challenging your side effects will be the first couple of days. I’ve had headaches, I’ve been tired. EXTREMELY tired. And I’m hungry every 2-3 hours, still. And I. want. wine. Did I mention I want wine? But I am not bloated. My rings slide easily on my fingers. I have more energy. A few have already commented on a change in my appearance.
And did I mention the clarity? Its like I crawled out of a cotton forest, a valley of cobwebs and the foggiest of London streets. Much to the dismay of my family and friends, my synapses are on constant fire. I can’t stop talking. I am Santa with a sack of new ideas all the time. I single handedly restructured my husband’s business (my opinion, not his) over lunch yesterday. Oh yeah, and I wrote this blog in an hour. If I found a way to roller skate on a sandy beach, I would share that too.
Most people look at me and ask why I am doing this, “you don’t have to lose weight.” Well, its not supposed to be about losing weight. That said, I am a woman and if weight-loss knocked on my door, I would let it in. Truthfully, I wanted to accept the challenge. This is the farthest I have ever come with programs like this one. And, I really want to be more mindful of what I am putting in my body. I have spent too many nights lying in bed, while my husband snores quietly (quietly?) recounting every single item that I had eaten the day before, feeling awful about my weakness. The struggle is real, even for me.
Source: FitBit Blog
So, 18 days in, today. Supposedly it gets tough these next two weeks as boredom sets in. If you see me in the studio and I am a bit cranky, this could be why. If I teach a class, and it’s a little bit more challenging, or faster paced than usual, then now you know my secret. If all goes well, you will hear from me again around day 30…although that is also my birthday…so I may be swimming in champagne, diving face-first into a big piece of cake. Could be an elegant image, so I’ll plan to share that with you too.
This is not a sales pitch for Whole30- the book is great, but there are infinite free resources available online. This is just my journey, and I’m convinced that this could benefit each and every woman in our community in different ways.
What’s stopping you?