My whole30 has officially ended! I cannot believe what an impact this thing has on my life every...time...I do it. I rather enjoy that the benefits come in waves at different times throughout the 30 day period. Here's how the journey went for me:
Day 3: Improved sleep. I never have a problem falling asleep, but I typically toss and turn all night long. I often wake feeling hungover, often because, well, I'm hungover, but even when I haven't had touched a drink, I woke feeling not quite rejuvenated. This is one of the very first things I notice on whole30...I sleep like a rock. I strive for 8 hours but usually average out around 7 but I'll take it. It's a little low but more than I was getting before and it's been enough to MAJORLY impact all areas of my life; lower stress, less anxious, more mental clarity, more energy, better workout recovery. It starts with food, but is followed quite closely by sleep.
Day 5: Amazing appreciation for food. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE food and I always have (shameless plug: see my blog link in footer). But every time I start a whole30 there is this sort of mourning period where I break up with some of my old addictions and introduce healthy alternatives. No more tapioca crust pizza. No more coconut milk ice cream. No more sushi and soy sauce. No more occasional handful of m&m's at the office for a midday pick me up. It's all very very sad. That is until about day 5 when I remember what real food looks and tastes like AND I realize that very food is what was directly responsible for the positive things I was feeling in the days leading up to this. It's a breakthrough moment. I think I did a happy dance on day 5.
Day 14: Overall reduction of inflammation, swelling, and fat. Somewhere around day 14 I realize I can bend over and tie my shoes without challenging the buttons on my shirt to a game of tug of war. My lingering knee pain is waning, I feel less hot in my clothesâ€¦because they're not suffocating meâ€¦and I start to dig through my wardrobe to find new old clothes that make me feel good again. There's a vanity here that I welcome with open arms because I'm not just dressing myself at day 14, I'm dressing my reawakened self-esteem ANDâ€¦I'm ready to workout again.
Day 15: Setting Goals About 2 weeks in, I felt a sense of control of my life that was worth its weight in gold. It's a carryover from the newfound esteem and makes all kinds of new things possible. By day 15, I'm setting goals. I'm planning shopping trips, calling old friends to hang out (at starbucks mostly) and picturing myself 2 or 3 or 6 months out. I regain my vision of life and move past the present. On day 15 I also set my new workout goal: just show up. I have a love-hate relationship with my gym. I really do enjoy it and look forward to seeing all the friends I've made there, but just showing up is a difficult task when you're not feeling great about yourself. I had been working out once or twice a week up until this point, partly because my achy knees, and partly because couches are just easier. In week 3 I committed to 3 workouts a week. I remove myself from the decision process and I just show up.
Day 21: Riding the Wave Around 3 weeks in, I'm kind of over the whole30. I'm over scrutinizing labels. I'm over the questions from people at work and my family. I'm also bored and tempted to revert back to my old ways. I've come so far, what harm will quitting now and having a little ice cream do? By week 3 I need quite a bit of self-work. I reflect on how far I've come in such little time, and I remember why I started. I look at old pictures and I remember how I felt at 1am, 3 sheets to the wind, and blurry eyed and useless the next day. I am incredibly THANKFUL for the whole30 on day 21. I shut down the thought process and re-read the rules and carry on. A little more than a week left and this thing is over!
Day 25: Impending Sadness and Fear I'm back in my stride now and feeling good. What was I thinking on day 21? I feel incredible and can't believe I almost jeopardized that feeling but my whole30 is ending soon! My friends want me back at a barâ€¦easter is around the cornerâ€¦My family makes REALLY good Italian meat pies. Ugh. There is a sadness and fear I feel at the end of every one of these challenges. It's sort of like the whole30 is a personal life and nutrition coach that holds your hand through the course of the month and on day 30 it feels like a break up. Who is going to talk reason to me when I'm stuck at a cocktail party and I'm just not that into my club soda? Who is going to go grocery shopping with me and help me read nutrition labels? Who is going to tell me that bread tastes amazing but I pay for it EVERY time I eat it? Me. So I give myself some goddamn credit.
Day 26: Giving Myself Credit The whole30 is an amazing thing. It changes lives. It makes people feel alive and well when they'd previously felt their health degrading. The whole30 is a force to be reckoned with. And like all things, the whole30 gets its energy from what you give it. Somewhere around the third week I start making plans for how to go on after my 30 days. Will I stay on my whole30 and do another round? Should I take a night off and get sushi and ice cream? Maybeâ€¦but maybe not. You see I avoided those things at first because the whole30 told me so. In this last week I realize I avoided them for a much bigger reason: because I have spent 3 weeks in a biofeedback loop testing how everything from food to sleep to coffee affect me and I've realized something very important. There is no such thing as deprivation. It's a glass half empty paradigm. I focus on not just the reward but the fact that I have the power to change and really it's just not that hard. For all the sobbing we do about feeling crappy, looking crappy, getting sick, having low esteem, not sleeping well, having aches and pains, and so on and so on, we sure make this little decision of â€œwhat should I eatâ€ an incredibly complex one. I give myself some credit for making amazing decisions for 30 days straight and for the fact that post-whole30 I still get to make every decision I'm faced with.
Day 30: On Top of the World I breezed through my last day. Ate perfectly, slept perfectly, worked out, and kicked butt at my job. I still haven't decided if I'll have a drink anytime soon, or maybe buy some canned tomato products with an extra ingredient in them that I can't pronounce, or perhaps make some paleo-fied baked treat, but I reflect on all the things I've come to peace with in the past 30 days. In the first few days of the challenge I feel this obsessive need to count days and days remaining and everything feels an eternity long. On day 30 I realized it all happened in the blink of an eye and in the same blink of an eye it can all be reversed. I make a promise to myself to come back to the boards and to do another whole30 whenever I feel I'm losing control. And I wrote this all up to reference so when I'm feeling powerless against food and life choices, I can remember, it's really not that big a deal and it's only as hard as I make it for myself.
So that's it folks. Thanks for everyone's support through this!
Before and Afters