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For the love of Pete. This is hard. HELP.


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Dear Whole30 Community: 


Health is extremely important to me. Except when it's not, apparently.  


I would love some insight from someone...anyone. But, for some reason feel compelled to provide way more back story than is probably necessary. I suspect catharsis is the culprit.




I am a very anxious person. I get stressed very easily. I'm a perfectionist (so if it's not perfect, I come down with a case of "what the hell"s). I do wonder how much of this is stress and anxiety is food-related. I often start out gung ho about making a change and new habits, but gradually begin to panic then second guess that I'm actually making any progress at all leading to the sad demise of the change or new habit. 


The past year and a half of my life has been incredibly stressful: I quit my job to pursue a very difficult theatre apprenticeship wherein I worked 60-80 hours/week for 13 months while maintaining a marriage, then opened my first professional show, immediately thereafter my husband and I bought our first home and had a huge change in our income, leaving me living 400 miles away from my husband for the next 2 1/2 months. Suffice it to say, there have been a few things on my mind.


But things have finally calmed down. I have the time and the space to really dedicate to getting healthy. The problem: I'm finding it very hard to actually do it. 


MY (blasphemous) BROWNIE POINTS


I DO sleep. 7+ hours/night. 


I DO exercise (so, I've got that going for me). I do crossfit 4-5 times/week, supplement with a run or something once or twice a week, and take at least one day off each week. And I push myself. Exercise has never been the problem - it's amazing. I love it. I'm religious about it. ...It's with food I have a problem...


So let's get to what I eat, shall we? 




I've been mostly paleo since May 2014 (my longest strict paleo stint was this past April to mid-August). There has been some noteworthy off-roading between then and now (including a period of about a week wherein I ate cookie dough for dinner...dark times). I have completed two whole30s - but let's be honest: I don't think I committed to them as much as I could have. I've thought about why...a lot: 

  •  I use fruit as a crutch. A lot. In fact, I think I've essentially prescribed the Sugar Dragon steroids (apples, bananas and dates feel like food with no brakes for me)
  •  I eat emotionally (when sad, anxious, angry, lonely, stressed etc.)
  •  I don't understand how to listen to my hunger because, honestly, I don't think I've consistently really tried to do it
  •  I haven't been eating a post-workout meal...? I usually work out in the morning, then eat lunch when I get home (30 min to an hour after my workout - I've read that you should give your body the chance to reenter rest & digest mode before eating anything?)
  • I do not drink very much water...maybe 32 oz/day (I'm not clear what Whole30 suggestions are for water consumption)

During the past two months I have started two Whole30s, falling off the wagon on day 10 and then on day 17 (yesterday). Again I say: for the love of Pete! I start to feel resentful about what I can't have. Pizza is just too friggin' delicious to say no to. The Sugar Dragon demands donuts and 3 enormous honeycrisp apples aren't even close to the infamous SWYPO. And when I fall off the wagon, I develop a monstrous case of "What the Hell"s (or WTFs might be more accurate) and EAT ALL THE (bad) THINGS. 




I am less than delighted to say that I am overweight. In high school I weighed 176 lbs. I lost about 40 lbs when I went to college over the course of a year (this seems to be an important fact for me, because it's proof that I have made a dramatic change in the past and could do it again). Today, 4 years later, I am 5'-4", 160 lbs (I've put on 5-10lbs during this stressful year). I don't care about weight; I think muscle is bad ass. I care about body fat percentage, but weight is the only familiar way I know to measure the unhealthy change in my body. Some of my current weight is muscle, but it certainly isn't all muscle. So. I don't think I need the post-workout carbohydrates. In the same vein, I try to stay on the lower end of the fat spectrum (usually limiting it to the 1-2 TBSP of fat from cooking oil). I figure the more information I provide, the more you lovely people will have to go on. 




I feel so frustrated when I think of how I hold myself back and where I could be if I just gave my body the fuel it needed! I don't want to feel like I have no control, like the Sugar Dragon rules my life (it's hard to imagine that I'll ever be over it). I don't want to abuse my poor digestive system any longer. I don't want to have so much anxiety and guilt about food for the rest of my life. I don't want to fall apart at the slightest sign of uncertainty or stress, just when my body needs me to take care of it most. Apparently life is rarely a smooth sailing experience. Who knew, right? 


I know there are things I'm doing wrong (feeding the Sugar Dragon being the main one here), but I think I still need to hear it from someone else. To have an outside perspective. With all of this in mind: Are there any suggestions for staying the course? For really committing to the Whole30 guidelines? For giving it 110%? 200%, even? 



Thanks for reading to the end  :). Your thoughts and encouragement are appreciated. Go team.


Hearts and Glitter, 




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I'm no expert by any means. I'm new to Whole30 (I only found it in August), I completed one round - but it took me 40 days, because I kept messing up in the first 10 days. I stuck it through, though - which amazed me.


My background: I'm about 5'10". Never super athletic. I gained a ton of weight in college when I went on the Depo-Provera shot for birth control. (60+ pounds). It stuck and stuck and stuck and stuck. In 2008 I started counting calories and managed to get back from a high of 220 (it still hurts me to think about that) to about 180-185 (along with a lot of other life changes; leaving an abusive relationship, starting a new, much healthier relationship, etc.). Going from Depo to a different horomonal birth control helped. In 2010, I made a new year's resolution to start counting calories again and to try something new; I started physical activity (raqs sharqi/"belly dance") and did 1400 calories/day with a paper food log. I dropped 35 pounds in 6 months; part of it was because I got married in mid-2010. (I hasten to add that I did not lose weight "to look good for my wedding," I lost weight because I was fed up with not looking on the outside like I felt I looked on the inside.)  My weight, since the low of about 150-155 pounds, has fluctuated between there and 175.


I started graduate school two years ago (Fall 2013), and my weight fluctuations got crazier. In fact, there wasn't much in the way of fluctuation; just a constant swing between 168-175. Sometime earlier this year I decided to really start counting calories, end up in the gym doing barbell lifting (I started that back in 2012), etc. - but the problem is that none of this ever fixed my guilt-pleasure-comfort relationship with food. I met with the Registered Dietician on campus, who convinced me to try counting portions (as my problems have always been that I just ate TOO MUCH); it worked for a while. I did a summer internship across the country from my spouse, and kinda went a bit nuts on the alcohol and sweets. So nuts that I started getting thrush/candida, and it drove my psoriasis up the wall (flare ups like crazy). 


In August, when I got back, I decided that Things. Needed. To. Change. I've been yo-yoing between low carb, intermittent fasting, and then running off the rails so darn many times. My sugar dragon had complete control over me, and the slightest bit of "oops, I overindulged" changed into a full on emotional-guilt-trip-it-doesn't-matter-anymore-anyway binge. I found the anti-candida diet, decided to do that, and found Whole30 three days later. I decided to do the Whole30, because I couldn't even remember the last time I stuck to a diet for longer than 2 weeks. (I've been in a bad place with food for a while.) 


I messed up on day 10, my own fault; hiking in the desert with not enough water, I was dehydrated and my electrolyte balance was screwed, so I used that as an excuse to drink VitaminWater. (blech. I wish I hadn't.) BUT - I had told enough people what I was doing this time around (just close friends and family), and I was ashamed of myself for messing up. My spouse quit smoking over 7 years ago, and hasn't had a cigarette since. Here I am, just trying to not eat sugar, dairy, grains, legumes, or alcohol, and I couldn't make it 10 days? I was miserable and ashamed of myself. So I pulled determination out of... who knows where? I'd like to find that portal and pull it out of there again. I was cranky. I was grumpy. I was angry. I was an emotional mess. BUT, I decided that I had committed to this thing, and I was gonna do it - if my spouse could quit one of the most addictive drugs out there, I could manage 30 days without sugar. 


So I did. Then I didn't want to stop. So here I am again, about 2.5 weeks after I finished my first Whole30 (40 days), starting another one - because I know my sugar dragon isn't fully tamed. I know my relationship with food is healing, but it isn't perfect. I know that I've damaged my endocrine system through years of systematic abuse of sugar and overeating, and that it will take more than 30 days to get me out of the insulin resistant category. I know that I need more time to really, truly change my relationship with food.


I don't know if I answered your question - I can't fully tell you where I pulled that determination out from, because that determination had been terribly absent for the past 3+ years. Somewhere in the rage and shame and guilt and anger, I forged it into something that gave me hope and meaning. I wasn't going to fail myself this time. I wasn't going to just give up and give in. I was going to change myself, one bit at a time, because every time I felt down, I re-read the "Tough Love" section of the Whole30 introduction and reminded myself that I don't have it that bad. I CAN do this.


YOU CAN do this too.

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