My Whole 30 Experience

Today marks Day 36 of my Whole 30 journey. Yes, Day 36, as in it is still going. You might be asking yourself why, why, why would this girl give up (hold your pants on, the list is coming soon) all of these foods? And do it LONGER than 30 days? Here’s why:

A quick recap: On February 14th, I gave up theater tickets to a stranger in a restaurant and had Phil (devoted, understanding husband) drive me to the emergency room to get a shot for a migraine that wouldn’t quit.  That migraine held on through February 15th and in to the 16th as well. When I woke up on the 16th, I knew I needed serious medical help to combat the pain in my head. I headed to the local hospital ER, was given a bed and a cocktail of meds that caused me to faint, wake up unawares of my location in the world and feeling like my whole body was on fire. Allergic reaction? Perhaps. A dose of anxiety meds put me to sleep and I headed home, groggy and upset. Upset that my active lifestyle and, for the most part, healthy eating, still resulted in me being in a hospital bed with IV meds coursing through my veins.  On February 17th, after browsing their website and reading the first few chapters of their book the week before, I dove head first in to my Whole 30. Twitter peeps raved about it-blogs I read convinced me that it was worth a shot. I committed to none of the following foods for 30 days:

  • Sugar & Artificial Sweeteners
  • Alcohol
  • Beans & Legumes
  • Dairy (with the egg-ception of eggs – see what I did there?)
  • Gluten
  • Soy
  • 98%-ish of processed foods

Yep, for real. And (TMI on it’s way, be warned) I reaped some serious benefits. After week 1, which included some mild constipation, sugar withdrawal headaches and some sleepiness, my life with food got turned upside down. I started to not feel hungry between meals. I ate breakfast, lunch, a small snack on long work days and dinner. The end. No mid-morning snack. No mid-afternoon snack, no mid-mid afternoon snack while I was cooking dinner.  No late night “I will murder someone for a bag of animal crackers” search through the cupboards. Just 3 meals a day. My formerly irritable bowel was happy as a….well, I’m not sure. But I’m no longer crampy, gassy or bloated after eating. My skin, previously held hostage by daily acne medication (a blood pressure regulating diuretic that accidentally helps acne), looked better than it had in years. With zero meds. My energy levels started to soar and I started to lose the groggy feeling that had welcomed me every morning for years. I am awake and alive now. Alert, focused and ready to go, whatever time my alarm goes off. Speaking of alarm, I sleep like a rock. Fall asleep quickly, stay asleep, wake up alert.

What did I eat? How did I afford it all? The reality for me was that the ingredients I needed were already close at hand in my cupboards & freezer.  My family has started to make a trip to a local farm once every 6-8 weeks and we stock up on grass-fed beef, pork and chicken. This trip costs me about $150 each time we go, but I end up with enough meat for about 6 weeks or so. My weekly shopping trips were all about filling in the gaps. I splurged on pre-cooked shrimp (a lifesaver for weeknight dinners), a wealth of vegetables and some condiments that will last me for months to come. While we spent, we also seemed to save – no more protein bar mega-pack. No more OJ. No more cow’s milk. No more coffee creamer. I discovered just how many foods have sulfates in them (a known migraine trigger) and that even bottled water is a culprit. Yes, please take a moment to share my outrage about that.

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You might be asking what the results were. Because in America we quantify everything with a scale and measuring tape. I measured, but as time goes by, I am surprised to care less about the results and more about my health. I even banished my scale to the garage for the month, just to avoid the constant urge to measure. The numbahs, you ask? I started the program at 153.6 pounds (BMI = 23.4) and finished at 147.2 (22.4). I lost 3 inches from my waist, enough to take me down a pants size.

So, why am I still going? In the past, my migraines have been associated with my period (yep, warned you about TMI) and since I only went through one 28 day cycle on the Whole 30, I’d like to keep going and ensure that my dietary changes will continue to hold the migraines at bay. After my next period, I’ll work on the reintroduction schedule that Whole 30 suggests. But, I might be a convert. My time in the grocery store over this past month and online has convinced me of one thing: It Starts With Food (Whole 30 book title, a.k.a TRUTH). My health, my future, my every day life hinges on the quality of the food I fill myself with. I don’t want chemicals in my water. I don’t want my salad dressing full of migraine triggers. I don’t want food after food rinsed in chemicals and preserved with potential carcinogens. And here’s my final words of endorsement. If you’ve hung in reading this long, cheers and thank you. So here’s my message:

When I stripped away the emotional relationship I had with food, I had no choice but to do something with those emotions. I discovered that my current job was far away from what I truly wanted to be doing…….and I took a new one in my school district. I discovered that I was not just enjoying, but loving, my strength training and yoga workouts, so much so that I’m looking at yoga instructor training in my area. I had to face some demons, say goodbye to some unrealistic expectations I had set for myself and eliminate some toxic relationships. I’m happier for these choices, happy that I made them for my health, for the health and happiness of me and my family.

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New dress for a healthy, happy me.

If you want to try your own Whole 30 and need some more evangelical-style inspiration, I will give you your own, private, tent-revival. You might ask yourself how you could do this, how you would survive? I’m telling you to change the question. Ask yourself why not? Ask yourself what you possibly have to lose, other than an unhealthy relationship with unhealthy food. I’ll be posting more about this journey soon – fire away the questions, email me, send me a carrier pigeon. I’ll answer what I can and send you to the experts for everything else. As always, thank you for reading!

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