Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Whole30 -- Day 31

Well, friends, I successfully completed the Whole30 challenge.

I went 30 days without eating sugars or sweeteners, alcohol (even for cooking), grains, legumes (including soy and peanuts), dairy, potatoes, or preservatives (specifically carrageenan, MSG, and sulfites). I went 30 days without baking or Paleo-ifying anything. I went 30 days without stepping on the scale.

I went 30 days eating a lot of animal protein, tons of vegetables, and loads of healthy fats. I went 30 days eating carefree in terms of measuring, calculating, counting. I went 30 days with freedom from food.

Thirty-one days ago, I was extremely nervous about starting this challenge, this adventure: what if I failed? After all, Whole30 is an extremely restrictive form of Paleo, and 31 days ago, I thought that Paleo itself was too restrictive. Was I just setting myself up for failure by jumping in head first with Whole30?

But you know what? I loved the restriction. If I saw a granola bar with non-GMO glucose, I didn't have to wonder, Well, is that something I can eat? It sounds healthy... I knew straightaway that because glucose is a form of sugar, it was off-limits, and I therefore couldn't eat it. Additionally, I didn't have to think, Well, I can have this Oreo if I watch the carbs that I intake at each of my other meals. The Oreo was automatically off-limits and therefore didn't weigh into future choices.

I want to reiterate that I completed this challenge for me. I so desperately needed something like Whole30, something to help me realize my worth and what I deserve. I know that sounds so funny: after all, how does a diet show self-worth? As I've said a thousand times over, I read each and every document I could find about Whole30, and I really took to heart everything Dallas and Melissa Hartwig said about tough love (and, interestingly, about self-love):

Obviously I cared a lot about the physical effects of the Whole30 (who doesn't want to get healthier?), but what resonated with me the most was the psychological effects. And, I think that is what I am most thankful for as a result of this challenge.

Now, let's talk about some actual results of my Whole30:

First, I want to throw it out there from the get go that I just. feel. good.

The number one physical thing that I take away from this adventure is that I am capable of sleeping well. I cannot believe how much diet affects sleep -- and how much my poor diet was so negatively affecting my sleep habits. I am sleeping so well now: falling asleep quickly, staying asleep until morning, waking up refreshed and rejuvenated and ready to start the day. (Interestingly, I truly don't think you know how poorly you sleep until you sleep well.)

Another physical aspect that I have really appreciated about the Whole30 is the fact that I am able to better listen to my body. For instance, I know when I'm full (I oftentimes don't "clean my plate" because my body tells me I'm finished), I know when I'm hungry, I know when I'm just bored, etc. It is so much easier to figure out what my body is trying to say now that I've actually been taking care of it.

In addition, I have much more confidence than I did just 30 days ago. I feel like I look better, I feel like I look pretty and healthy, and I feel like I look more fit than I did four weeks ago, despite having worked out minimally.

And now the result you've all been waiting for: my weight. I lost a total of 6.6 pounds in 30 days. This is an average of 0.22 pounds per day, an average of 1.5 pounds per week. I am pretty thrilled by that, and I think the number of pounds lost would've definitely increased had I been working out more than sporadically -- which is for sure the plan for the next 30 days.

Over the course of the past 30 days, I have been asked so many times, more times than I can count, "So, what happens when your 30 days are up? What will you do on Day 31?"

I am not going to stop doing what I'm doing.

I'm not going to head to McDonald's and order a Big Mac, large fries, and a chocolate shake. (If I did that right now, I'm pretty sure I would either throw up or die due to the system shock that would ensue.) I'm not going to booze-it-up every night or eat loads of pasta and bread sticks.

Instead, I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing.

I feel good, y'all. Why would I want to change that? If something is working, keep doing it!

And, after weeks of trying to get away from the food-as-reward mindset, why would I jump right back into that as soon as the challenge ended?

I may, however, add in honey or vanilla extract if a recipe calls for it, and there are some things that I have missed a little bit: a glass of wine here and there, popcorn at the movies or as a mid-afternoon snack, the occasional ice cream, a night of sushi.

So yes, I will slowly incorporate those things back into my diet, but I will do so purposefully: I will go out to dinner with the intent of having a glass of wine. I will go to a movie and plan on ordering a small popcorn. But, this may not happen for a while, and it may not happen often.

After all, this was a lifestyle change, not a 30-day change.

Regardless of whether or not I add in those "missed" foods occasionally, I am going to keep living a Whole30/Paleo lifestyle as much as possible. I'm eating good food, I'm feeling wonderful, and I'm liking what I'm seeing.

I am excited to continue the journey and see where it takes me.

All of that being said, what would you like to see from the blog? Would you like me to continue posting my meals each night? Would you like me to focus on something else? Help a sister out!

As always, thank you so much for your support, your encouragement, and your motivation throughout my Whole30. I could not have done it without you all.

Much love.

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  1. Congrats! That's amazing progress!

    I love seeing your meals! Especially since I am about to start the process! :)

    I find when I post on my blog about my workout plan for the week I am better about sticking to it, just an idea for you - similar to what you eat putting it out there holds you accountable with working out as well!

    1. Thank you so much, Melissa! What is your blog's URL? I'm dying to read it, especially if we're going to be on the same journey!

      Great idea about the workouts -- I think now that I have this nutrition thing figured out, I can start focusing more on the fitness aspect, too. :)

  2. Woohoo! Congrats, Em! It has been wonderful to hear your thoughts over the past month and to see your definition of "freedom" evolve. I've been struggling with figuring out how to flex my freedom in a way that is actually good for me: balancing short-term with long-term. Your blog has helped push my thinking. When I compare this post to your Day 0 and Day 1 posts, I sense a shift in your perceptions. A month ago you demonstrated your freedom by eating things that were soon to be restricted. Now you talk about freedom from having to analyze and bargain and negotiate with yourself every time you eat - freedom to just do what you know is good for you, and use that mental space and energy for other things. And that frees you even further from things that were holding you back, like bad sleep. You're using your freedom for very different ends than you were 30 days ago. A quote from a former colleague, a guidance counselor, has been popping up in my head lately and resurfaces when I read your Whole 30 journey. Something he used to say to the kids: "every act of self-discipline is an act of self-respect." Thanks for modeling this so beautifully!

    1. Thanks, Em! I seriously want to print out your comment and post it around my house. You said SO eloquently everything that I am feeling, everything that I have been feeling -- crazy! And, I absolutely LOVE that quote and am definitely going to find a way to display it more prominently; it is so, so true.

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read and, especially, to comment. It means so much to me.

      Interestingly, I was just talking to my mom about you the other day. I wish we lived closer -- you inspire me so much, and I think you're just such a cool person. I truly think we'd be great grown-up girlfriends. :)

  3. I really like what you said about how you did this for you. I've always thought doing things for your health, whether it be cleaning up your diet, exercising more, or doing something that makes you happy is a form of self care and a reminder that you are important :) Good job!

    1. Thanks, Kendall. I think self-care and self-love is so, so important, and due to not spending nearly enough time on ME in the past year or so (and plenty of time trying to salvage a tanking relationship), I think I was well overdue for something to be all about Emmy. :)

      Thank you so much for your kind words!

  4. Congratulations!!! I am so proud of you and, as always, so inspired by you!!! I am thinking about trying Whole30, I'm curious what it would do to my body while working out as much as I am these days .... I need to do some research though and hopefully get Bill on board. Whatever resources you think I would benefit from, please send my way!!!

    Congrats again! Let's get together soon, I miss you!

    1. Thank you so much, Amber! You're inspired by ME?! I'm inspired by YOU! You are beastin' with your workouts, and I have been slacking hardcore. Could you send just half your motivation over here, please? :)

      Speaking of working out, Whole30 is DEFINITELY do-able! I mean, people who CrossFit swear by it! I am not the best resource (yet) for figuring out how to fuel properly, but there is a whole section of the book (It Starts With Food) devoted to it. For instance, you'll eat three meals a day plus a protein and fat before you work out and a protein and carb after you workout. Personally, I am going to spend the next 30 days, I think, figuring out how to workout with Whole30.

      I have TONS of resources, but seriously, here's what I recommend: buy "It Starts With Food" (you can borrow my copy, but I annotated it like crazy), download everything you possibly can from the Whole30 website (I made a binder -- and, you guessed it, annotated everything), subscribe to the daily emails ($14.95), and ask me any/all questions. I will tell you all the dirty details. :)

      And YES! I MISS YOU! Maybe you and Bill and one of Bill's super hot, intelligent, emotionally available, hilarious, successful friends can come over for dinner some night!

  5. Congratulations! On your lifestyle change, I started today and you have just motivated me even more :)

    1. That's awesome, Maria! Are you doing Whole30 as well, or some other sort of lifestyle change? Do you blog? I'd love to follow along on your journey!

  6. Very well put! You summed it up perfectly!