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I'm a little late starting this, but better late than never. I'm on Day 11, had pretty great feedback from my body so far. 


I'm doing the Whole30 because I got interested in it as an anti-inflammatory cleanse, and I suspect chronic inflammation is behind my skin disorders & digestive issues. Additionally, reintroducing foods after the program to find out what you are sensitive to and what you should avoid for the long term should help me narrow it down so that I can actually enjoy things again - instead of feeling a non-specific general anxiety, wondering if every little thing I eat or drink is the culprit.


The more I was reading about it, and putting it in context with myself and my addictions, the more I resolved that I wanted to be in control. And, I haven't had a proper challenge in a while. So it's really many motivations at work here – health, body image, motivation, pride, guilt; you know, all the good ones.


By Day 2, I had this list of goals:


  1. I envision myself coming out of it with more energy, better moods, and equally important, clearer skin.
  2. I will learn how to wake up rested, and become a better morning person.
  3. I will have a clear knowledge and command of the consequences attached to specific indulgences.
  4. Once this begins I will never be a smoker again.
  5. I will be able to enjoy decadent things on special occasions without feeling guilty for doing it all the time.
  6. I am reinforcing my favorite hobby, cooking.
  7. I feel pampered because I'm treating myself to the best food.
  8. I'm back in control of my addictions.


To keep the goals tangible, some specifics:


  • I will have clear skin when this is over.
  • I will lose at least 5 pounds (from 138)
  • I will identify 3 foods/drinks that cause flare-ups
  • I will add 30 mins twice a week of exercise to my routine.
  • I will get out of bed before 6:30 every morning.
  • I will not smoke any cigarettes, not a single one.​​


Note that all these goals are worded to avoid the use of 'want to', 'hope to', 'if...', etc. to make sure that these are focused on a visualized, actualized result, not on the 'if' of a hope - I'm not trying to create a desire for change, I'm creating change! I find this simple tactic to be a really strong reminder that if I give myself room to doubt, doubt takes over. If I give myself permission to consider that it might not work out, then I am effectively visualizing disappointment - not an option!!!


 Yes. It. Works. :)

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Ok, so a few more thoughts on what I started with, what I gave up, and what I've gained so far. 


In trying to assess my health and my habits previously, it's been kind of difficult to be honest with myself because so many good things are double edged swords. 


First, blatantly unhealthy, no two sides about it, is the fact that I've been a smoker for 20 years. I'm 38. I still look 30, but that's a gift I've been squandering. I've tried to quit a couple of times before, and the best attempt had me smoke-free for about 6 months. I've been discouraged and lazy about getting serious. I would just lament my lack of willpower while I smoked the night away.


Aside from this most obvious thing, the rest of my lifestyle (while maybe arguably unhealthy) was something I actively cultivated, was proud of. Taste junkie, food snob, wine snob, foodie, hedonist, wanna-be-gourmand, whatever you want to call it, I am a lover of all things rich, decadent, rare, and authentic. I am an avid eater, drinker, hostess, and all around reveler, and I can almost always conjure a reason to celebrate or indulge, if one is even required. And it feels so rewarding to cultivate a palette for these things, to talk about loving, finding, experiencing, and curating these things, and to share this enthusiasm with other like-minded people, basting yourself in the idealized experience of that one time you ate the most amazing grass-fed, wood-fired, artisan-crafted whatever. I have done a pretty good job of congratulating myself on living the good life, if I may say so myself.


And what's so bad about my lifestyle, I would always rationalize. I eat local. I eat good, natural foods. I avoid most preservatives, most of the time. I am a great cook (per my own tastes, anyway). I buy veggies & eggs & cheese at the farmer's market. I make my own yogurt & paneer & pizza & cranberry chutney & macaroni-n-cheese, damnit. I don't eat margarine and I don't have a bread habit. My blood pressure & my cholesterol are low enough that they don't even blip on my doctor's radar. So what's the problem? Life is too short to miss the forest for the trees.


Well, there came a point when I started to enjoy my favorite things less & less. I have had this generalized anxiety based on the semi-conscious observation that something I'm eating regularly has got to be contributing to my health issues. Don't get me wrong, I'm not gravely ill in the sense that so many people are, and I'm not struggling with weight or diabetes or cancer or anything truly devastating – I have moderate to severe psoriasis, cystic acne, rosacea, eczema, and … let's say an unsettled gut. I'm chronically dehydrated because I'd rather drink coffee or wine than water. I'm fairly trim but completely unfit, because I don't have an ounce of energy with which to exercise. I'm in the danger zone of becoming an alcoholic like the rest of my fun-loving family.


Over time, I have built up an arsenal of guilty feelings that follows just about every luscious experience I encounter these days. I know in my heart I'm not “healthy.â€


So on Saturday, June 8, I went all day without a cigarette. And on Sunday I started the Whole30 in earnest, and I haven't regretted a second of it.


It might even surprise you to know that it has been practically EFFORTLESS to leave the cigs behind. I have not even been a little bit tempted to indulge, and I'm truly amazed and inspired by that. 

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Holy, err, smokes!  Way to go!  Also, you may be surprised to learn, over time, that Whole30ers are crazy foodie hedonists.  Take heart - you don't have to stop loving food, you just get to love what loves you back!  :wub: :wub:   Carry on, you rocker!

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Flashing back to Day 0 (written on day 1): 


It's t-minus go-time, a day before I start the program, and I woke up feeling inspired. I made breakfast out of sautéed veggies with soft boiled eggs on top, marveling that it looked just as good as some of the pictures I'd been seeing lately. I spent almost the entire day reading about food, rules, and recipes; making lists, and generally trying to keep myself busy, obsessing over the adventure I was about to begin. In the evening I was going to attend a housewarming party, but as I was about to head out, realized that I had not eaten since breakfast! I didn't have time to cook, and left the house hungry, but I couldn't stomach the idea of a fast food fix on the eve of beginning the Whole30 – I just wouldn't be able to take myself seriously.


So as I stopped at the store to pick up wine (for the hostess, of course), I grabbed some high-quality deli roast beef (probably not compliant but better than many choices), a bag of prewashed sugar snap peas, and a pouch of seasoned olives. I ate this in the car on the way there, half-heartedly congratulating myself on being resourceful, and while I felt good about not taking the easy way out, I really didn't enjoy eating. I felt kind of silly eating lunch meat from the bag, and the olives – euck, I have a long way to go before I call myself a fan of green olives. The snap peas are a favorite, but I felt guilty knowing they are (for one) technically legumes, and (worse?) tasty mostly because they are sweet. If I'm being honest, that's not really true to the point, and probably underlines the fact that it seems I actually do have a sweet tooth.


See, I really don't like frosting, soda, or most commercial sweets. I drink coffee & tea black. Most “fruit juice†is disgustingly sweet to me unless cut with ~70% water. (Apple juice - forget it.) I always order bottled water with my occasional emergency quarter pounder meal deal (yes, I feel appropriately disgusting about this). I definitely can't abide the taste of non-sugar sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose – even stevia has a funny taste to me, and I've long lamented the lack of unsweetened green tea choices in store coolers. I've convinced myself that I am the farthest thing from a sugar fiend, and probably even allowed myself some feelings of mild superiority over anyone who will drink soda whenever it's offered.


And yet. Here I am lamenting the fact that a brand new tub of Trader Joe's dark-chocolate orange gels is going to sit uneaten until who knows when. (I certainly won't be throwing them out.) And a bag of Swedish fish (a nostalgic taste of childhood) stashed in my desk is staring back at me mockingly. Not to mention the lemon tea cookies, almond thins, TJ's ginger snaps, a considerable supply of sea-salted dark chocolate bars, the random bowl of jelly beans from the last time we had company, butterscotch candies in a dish on my desk (for visitors of course) and, yes, the honey bear that sometimes – oh, alright already, sometimes I squirt it directly into my mouth and roar like I'm heading into battle.


And in the face of such denial, I felt guilty eating sugar snap peas?!


Well, ok… let's move on to the major vices. The ones I can't help but admit to. The wine. The cigarettes. The cheese; o gods, the cheese!


So, on Day 0 (the test drive), I successfully avoided two of these three. It's the vice version of the irish goodbye: you know, when you leave the party without saying a word, and no one knows you left until hours later? I've just not even given myself the option to say goodbye to cheese – it will hurt too much. All day, and even throughout the dinner party – I looked no cheese in the eye, acknowledged no dairy. I also went the entire day without a smoke, though I certainly would have caved in and enjoyed one if I had any with me at the party. I didn't even have one of the homemade oatmeal cookies that everyone agreed were heavenly. Instead, I drank wine.


My approach to wine has become one of cultivated immunity.  I have a fine-tuned tolerance to a specific wine – Vinho Verde, to be precise – that I find to be light enough, not too sweet, and mild enough that I'm fine the next day even if I drink the whole damn bottle – an occurrence which recently happens a few times a week. At the very least, I know enough to be judicious when drinking anything else, but this one has just gotten too comfortable. In this case, I brought two bottles of my favorite to the party and enjoyed it liberally, savoring it as a luxury which I won't be affording myself going forward.

And then, as I was congratulating myself on another trip past the cookies without incident (see how easy?), someone actually turned down my offer of a glass of the lovely vinho, saying that they were, you know, “more of a reds person; I guess it's all that sugar in the whites…â€


So there went the seventh veil. The light is on, and the writing is on the wall. At this point there is no ground to stand on and scoff at the idea of a “sugar dragon†which I thought I didn't have. The fact is, while I may not be gorging on twinkies and donuts and froot loops, or drinking soda like a fiend, I have found plenty of not-so-sweet ways to keep my sweet tooth satisfied.


Sugar dragon, you got yourself a challenge.

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