It All Starts with Food

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I really didn't know how to label this journal, I just threw something up there and not really sure if it means anything. I am a whole30 believer, starting back in 2015, but I didn't do it 100% correctly, I just followed food rules, so in fact I've never seen through a whole30 utilizing the template and hunger cues. Even still, I felt so amazing back then. The problem was that doing the whole30 this way, I was still fixated on the scale. When I was in my paleo glory, I got to around 153 lb and was pretty lean and I have to say in retrospect that is where my body thrives (I am 5'9"). I got caught up in chasing 145, and started messing with everything, ignoring my ideals and made everything about weight loss, and thus now am back where I started because it led to binging behavior.  I never got my food freedom and I eventually ended up gaining all the weight I lost. I'm still a healthy weight, but my moods are finicky, my hunger is substantial and I'm just not feeling  well. I am only up around 11 pounds. 

Two months ago today I lost my mother to breast cancer. This loss is actually the motivation of my journal because I want to track my thoughts in an online format and I love the format of the W30 forums. I prefer this format over pen and paper because it is easy to look back through past entries, and the writing itself isn't tiring. My mother's story of cancer lasted almost 3 years, and she was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in Sept 2015 when I was in my paleo/post-whole30 glory. My mother got through an intense round of chemo and in Feb of 2016 turned the corner and lived her "best life" from 2/2016 to around 10/2017. She had a few hiccups along the way, but her cancer was stable. In October 2017, right around Halloween, the cancer spread to and fractured her leg, which disrupted her treatment. She had setback after setback, and the cancer  spread to her brain. On Memorial Day weekend of 2018 she had brain surgery, and after that she was never the same. I feel like that is the point where I lost my best friend. We used to chat and text all day every day. It stopped then and never came back. She wasn't the same, but if you asked me if I thought she'd be gone in 2 months I wouldn't have thought so. I thought she had a year left. By the time of our family vacation in July, the complications were mounting and the cancer had spread to her liver. She and my dad fought to get her out of the hospital to vacation and they did, but at that point I knew it would be her last vacation. If you had told me she had a month left to live I wouldn't have believed you, even though I saw the life fading and the hope disappearing. Every time I saw her she would look worse, and it was no surprise to me when she was hospitalized on 8/24... even then I thought she had months to live and didn't know she would be gone forever on 8/30. I never understood that someone dying in peace after a battle with cancer really meant that they battled and struggled until their breathing stopped and it is only then that they find their peace. 

I live close to my parents and was lucky to be able help my dad with caring for her, especially during this past year, and be present with them in the hospital during her last days. My two older brothers were there with us too. I regret that I didn't push my mother to have difficult conversations back last winter when things were shifting but we still had hope at that point, and we had time, and while saying things would have been hard, it would have fueled meaningful moments in the months following and maybe would have left her open to saying things in her last weeks. I don't feel like I had something special to say to her. I know that she loved me and I know she knew that I loved her. I know that she loved and trusted my husband and that she adores my children.  I am quite certain I am the person she was least worried about in her passing. I just feel lost now and I wish I knew what she wanted and hoped for me (and my dad and brothers) after she had to go.

I am struggling with my identity. Before October of 2017, I relied heavily on my mother for helping with childcare and transporting my kids. People often commented to me about how they didn't know how I do it all, since I work full time and manage to have my 3 kids involved in activities and I take care of most things in the home. I have been lucky in my job in that it's been flexible - I work from home a lot, and I have caring leadership.  I have been there for 12 years and with that I have a bank of personal time I can use, and I do use it easily which gives me additional flexibility. Every time someone commented, I knew I was only able to "do it all" because I wasn't doing it all, at all. I had my mother's strong support in addition to my very supportive and loving husband and wonderful and supportive friends. Now I am left trying to do it all, and really falling short. Part of it is because I have too much on my plate. Part of it is because I am grieving, but not terribly so in a way that I can't go on with my day to day life. My days are still filled with smiles and wonderful moments with my children. And a BIG part of it is that generally don't feel well or energetic. I don't get anything productive done during the weekend, then I'm behind for the week, and then I never have the energy to get back on track so I'm feeling behind, overwhelmed and in chaos. I got behind at work during bereavement, and because I'm not truly motivated I can't get back on track to get ahead. I just do enough to get by. My career woes are for another journal entry, but out of the 2 months since my mom has passed, I just don't see a way for me to continue to work and also be the mother/daughter/wife/aunt/friend I want to be. My job is so reliant on personal/independent motivation, direction and accountability. I am struggling to find those qualities that used to define me. They just aren't there right now and it's confusing and disappointing. At the same time, I can't imagine giving up my job, which has intangible benefits I strongly doubt I could match anywhere else. It feels silly to go from working mom to stay at home mom when my youngest is 4 and in preschool full time. It feels silly to leave a job with no plan of what to do next or any idea of what I want to do, other than focus on home and family. It feels silly to leave a company that I have built 12 years of trust with. 

While I know I am dealing with significant loss, my diet over the past 3 months has gone from generally low carb and mostly paleo to tons of beans, grains, fruit, increased consumption of alcohol (up to 4 nights a week of 1-3 drinks). I would consider this SAD plus in that it's probably what a lot of SAD eating people would consider healthy, even the alcohol. I thought I was experiencing hangovers, but when I wake up I feel dehydrated and hungover even when I don't drink. I've also been managing TMJ pain caused by a displaced jaw disc, and since my mother's death and my changing food choices, my jaw has been telling me something is wrong.  I'm guessing the main culprits are sugar and grains.

Since the end of September I've been counting calories. When I say counting calories, I mean counting my meals, but then not sticking with it because I'm hungry and need snacks. It has had no effect on how much I weigh, which is good data for me to have. I am hungry so much it makes sticking to small portions very hard. I keep craving toast. I decided over this past weekend that I can't keep kidding myself that I can do moderation because it has such a gigantic effect on my hunger. So as of yesterday, I decided to nix the grains and sugar (including fruit) for now - with no expectation of stringing together a perfect 30. I have my anniversary, holidays and a Disney trip all lining up about every other week for the next 10 weeks. I certainly don't need the expectation of perfection to get in the way of progress. I am putting faith in that maybe this 80/20 lifestyle when done right is enough for me, at least in this season of my life. I also think monitoring my behavior (any binges, food guilt, etc), appetite, mood over the next 10 weeks will let me know if I do in fact need a complete whole30 to truly reset my appetite and patterns.

So to sum up where I am at: I am 164 and while it's a pretty healthy weight for me... I have a fair amount of belly fat, my energy sucks and my mood is all over the place. I'm hungry. I'm low, I'm not engaged in my work. I want to watch a lot of TV. I am grieving, but not in what I think is in an unhealthy way. I want to move forward in making good choices rather than push it off until I can commit to a complete whole30. I am willing to be kind to myself and forgiving during this process. I want to be accountable and I want to set achievable goals. I have so many WHYs for adhering to this lifestyle. I have so many reasons to pursuit my bets health. I know it starts with food.

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I am starting to feel better, though I know the lack of sugar is making me a bit... irritable. It's interesting going through a little withdrawal without doing an actual W30, maybe it will make my w30 easier when I get there. Weighed myself today and I'm down over 3 lb since last week. Nice to have the bloat gone. This is not about weight loss, but it's nice that I'm not feeling that pudge. I am not a halloween candy type of person, and it doesn't even tempt me, but with the road I was on, I would have had at least a couple of pieces "just because" and then I would have eaten some cracker/salty type foods. I would have measured and accounted for it all, and then when my hunger would get insane the morning after I would have to white knuckle from breakfast to lunch and I probably would have given in to some toast for a snack. 

Today I plotted out my physical rehab plan for November. It feels good to have a 30 day challenge that will be completely in my control. One thing I have complete control of is 430am - 530am, which is the time between getting up to get my husband out the door, and the earliest I usually have one of my children come visit me. I am home every day at this time, and there is no reason to not use this time to either move and work on my physical rehab or my goals with pilates, or sit with some warm beverage and either journal or plan for the day or week following. I can't expect to be perfect with rising at 430am, but I have made my goals simple enough that I shouldn't be able to squeeze something in at any point in the day. The best thing about my challenge is it is taking care of myself, it is not something that will break me down. 

Today's food: 3 eggs on arugula, coffee with 1 tbsp cream, plus some iced coffee / tuna with home made mayo in romaine leaves + 3 egg whites cooked and smeared with some nut butter / chicken thighs w/ paprika + a piece of lindt 90 w/ a small smear of almond butter and about 1 tsp butter

I've had at least 2 liters of water, but just in writing this I'm realizing I forgot my supplements so I'll go do that now. I like not counting calories, though I do out of habit measure cream and butter. I'm not limiting them in any way. I have an anniversary dinner with my husband this Saturday. After that I'm going to cut back on dairy. I love coconut cream in my coffee, but something about butter is just really hard to say goodbye to. Cheese too but it's no big deal. Cheese is a treat. One step at a time. 

For exercise I did a 20 minute pilates session and I'll be walking a bunch for trick or treating with the family tonight. I'm thinking some hot tea or a decaf latte would be nice if I feel hungry since I ate dinner at around 345.  

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  • 3 months later...

I can't believe my last entry was 3.5 months ago and I am really in the same place I was where I left off. I have been about 80/20 consistent, and my weight is stable. My friends tell me that not gaining weight over the holidays after losing a loved one is a victory. I suppose they are correct. It was an exhausting few months. My energy is improving and I attribute it to not giving up on my pursuit of wellness. I have slipped. I've had some grain/sugar/alcohol indulgences over the past 3 months, but no major hangovers, no indulgences lasting more than a few meals. I have had moments of feeling great. I got sick but recovered quickly. I still yearn for more. I still do not have food freedom.

At the turn of the year, I started to talk myself into counting calories, dropping carbs, adhering to macros, dropping to keto levels. I did this a little bit and lost no weight. This past weekend, I just determined I am DONE with dieting. I'm done. I don't care how much I weigh. I don't care if I don't drop a jeans size. I just want to feel free and be well and be me. I'm reading Primal Blueprint, and I am dusting off It Starts With Food. I'm getting into Primal for a while, truly dedicating to a grain free and low-quality-dairy free life and avoiding poisonous things. I'm getting rid of clothes that I am not comfortable in and that don't serve me in the body and lifestyle I am living in now. I'm getting rid of other poisons in my life, like certain social media feeds, chemicals/fragrances, skin care and make up. I'm taking my time.

I have a few social gatherings over the next 3 weeks that revolve around celebrating my mother and I will not restrict food during those functions. I anticipate my next whole30 to take place for the month of April. I hope I can convince my husband over the next few weeks to do it with me... and help getting the kids on board too.

I dropped the dairy on Monday of this week. It's only Tuesday. I'm wondering if I am moody from just that. Where I am in my cycle indicates I should not be annoyed with my sweet children, but I managed to be this morning. I'm feeling more motivated and productive with work. I'm feeling hopeful. Celebrating my mother's birthday in March will be hard, but I am looking forward to it. 

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Day 4 without dairy and I am feeling itchy. An itch I haven't felt in a while. I wonder if it is my slight increase or carbs or some sort of reaction to lacking dairy. My skin overall is dry. I don't want dry skin.

My energy is starting to get good. My mood is stabilizing in terms of irritability. But I am sad today, feeling some feelings about my mother... less just my mom and more about the loss of my parents' devoted marriage. I'm trying to live the feelings and love myself today. I'm taking the time to write. I'm going to pilates. I'm having my father over for dinner so we can be together, and so he won't be along.

I am the product of my loving mother, I grew within her. I benefited from her gracious guidance. I must be an extension of her. How can I capture her spirit within me and give her continued life? Is there a way that she does live within me?

My parents did not buy each other extravagant gifts for holidays - especially Valentine's Day. They would buy heartfelt cards and my mom would prepare a meal for my father that was a little more special than usual - maybe a fancy place setting, lit candles and definitely wine on a weeknight if the occasion called. I think my mom would feel jealousy of others who may have received over-the-top gifts. She did make comments to me at times, but I do know she would take her healthy, stable marriage over a grandiose gift any day. She knew that she didn't need a sparkly gift. I know she would choose my dad over and over again and she wouldn't change her life.

Looking at the past year, I find it so sad that you can devote so many years of your life devoted to a person. Sharing so many happy memories together, working together tirelessly to raise children and create a home . Truly loving someone. But when disease is your destiny, it wins, and it destroys. The romance ended many months before her life did, and their wonderful rituals were replaced with sleepless nights, pain, worry and sorrow. My dad aged so much. And that's it. It ended, it's over and you have to figure out what to do next without the person who so perfectly complemented you. 

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I had a nice whole30 dinner of steak, roasted cauliflower, carrots and pan fried potatoes last night. I am still not on whole30 but trying a food-freedom type of approach until I have a solid 30 days where it won't be stressful to say no to things. After that healthy dinner I ate a non-whole30, non-paleofied brownie last night. The sweetness and richness of it compelled me to continue to pick at the half of a brownie I had left behind until the whole thing was gone. This was in no way a binge, it was concerted decision, and I ate a typical serving of one brownie. Even though I was super satisfied by my dinner, I definitely couldn't eat just one bite. The brownie itself tasted good, but it was far too sweet. And the sweetness of it hurt me! It hurt my jaw. It made me so thirsty. It made me feel out of control. I could have kept eating and eating. I was in a situation where I couldn't remove myself from the table. It is crazy that these foods we eat are truly designed to do what they just did to me. I felt that way earlier in the week when I ate cantaloupe of all things. Just too sweet and apparently I really don't like the taste of sweetness because it messes with me. One of the weirdest things with my response to sweetness though is because I don't like the aftertaste of sweetness in the mouth I am compelled to eat more than I desire to get that feeling out of my mouth... but then it compounds the aftertaste. I don't think sugary things will be part of my food freedom. I am more interested in bitter chocolate and fresh whipped cream with nut butter. 

Last night after my interaction with the brownie I started to think... maybe I should drop my carbs again! Maybe keto is okay for now since there technically is wiggle room with food ingredients as long as carbs stay low. I am totally brainwashed into thinking keto is this magic thing! I think part of it though is since I have tried low carb diets, I tend to have a hard time with sugary stuff, especially fruit. I go from low low low carbs to having 1-2 servings of fruit plus potatoes. Then the fruit is too sweet and I eat to much! Then I add water weight and freak out, drop carbs again, lose the 2-3 lb water weight and then don't lose again. It is this insane cycle and I have such a crazy relationship with food (and my body image, and my self in general)! I just am not capable of noticing my personal response to the brownie or cantaloupe and decide they aren't for me. I have to blow everything up in my mind and start over -- which never truly happens! 

I don't want to wait until April to really give it a go, I hate that I didn't smarten up and go for a whole30 in February! I hate feeling this way! I definitely feel like I need an honest whole30 before I can get to my food freedom. I am so struggling with diet mentality and self-sabotage right now. I'm wondering if there is anyone out there who can give me the tough love I need to just jump in, dedicate myself, and have the Manhattan to honor my mother at the end of the 30 days -- we are celebrating her and all her favorite things on 3/10, I know the meal is going to be boiled dinner (ie ham) but I could simply eat the turnip/potato/carrot/onion and salad, pretend to have a cocktail (seltzer with lime). My family is used to me skipping dessert. I feel like I'm in a mess in my head again. 

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  • 7 months later...

I don't know what is going on with me but I find this journal totally unfinished. It has been 8 months of going back and forth between hating diets and never wanting to do them again, to trying to do very restrictive diets. This cycle goes around and around. At times I think I need therapy, but what's interesting is even though I'm no smaller than I was in February of this year, I am so much stronger. I love my body! Except when it's photographed but that's another story. I'm so much clearer on how I want to live my life. I just have this terrible time with executing. My future self would complete a whole 30 and re-intro properly and if there are no food sensitivities I would work really hard on my relationship with food and my body, probably for the rest of my life. If there happen to be food sensitivities, then I would have the knowledge and it would be up to me to avoid those foods in order to feel my best most of the time. 


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On 10/4/2019 at 1:28 AM, bumblebeebottle said:

I don't know what is going on with me but I find this journal totally unfinished. It has been 8 months of going back and forth between hating diets and never wanting to do them again, to trying to do very restrictive diets. This cycle goes around and around. At times I think I need therapy, but what's interesting is even though I'm no smaller than I was in February of this year, I am so much stronger. I love my body! Except when it's photographed but that's another story. I'm so much clearer on how I want to live my life. I just have this terrible time with executing. My future self would complete a whole 30 and re-intro properly and if there are no food sensitivities I would work really hard on my relationship with food and my body, probably for the rest of my life. If there happen to be food sensitivities, then I would have the knowledge and it would be up to me to avoid those foods in order to feel my best most of the time. 


When I read your first post, I didn't realize it was almost a year ago that you posted.  What a weird/hard/exhausting/sad and lonely year this must be. 

I get the food thing and the Whole30 thing. It sure works for me. I remember back when I smoked and wanted to quit, someone said that you know you are officially a non-smoker when you can make it through the hardest day of your life without a cigarette. It stuck with me. I don't think it's actually accurate because once the addiction is cleaned out of your body, it's no longer a pull the same way....kinda.  I guess time helps a lot in that arena. I wouldn't consider a cigarette at all anymore, but I suppose I might have closer to when I smoked. I find myself thinking of food the same way - at least with that weird addictive power that flaunts itself in front of us. I did do a Whole30 and discovered some sensitivities and so far the fear of those reactions has kept me from dipping my toe back into the pool of other things. But I haven't had to deal with my worst day ever or huge emotions or incredible stress - all while still loving and caring for others. It's crazy isn't it, what power foods have. I suspect that finding Food Freedom is not so much an inability to execute things as the really challenging thing of breaking away from the foods that our brains seem to seek, even though they don't serve us well.

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  • 2 months later...

A few more months into this life and things are pretty stagnant. I am feeling the New Years Resolution itch, but still not sure I can dive in to a whole30. I haven't been wanting meat lately. I just want to eat veggies until I'm full. Over the holidays I've had plenty of junk, enough for me to want to reset. I have decided the 2020 will be the year that I do the hard thing. The hard thing is to take the risk and leave my current job. Last week I was all in on this idea, and now this morning, just like most things, I started talking myself out of it!

I've been in the same job with the SAME TITLE for 13.5 years. I did VERY well in high school and I had a 3.445 in college. I'm not totally proud of the GPA but I partied A LOT in college, had no direction, and really, just got through it. I had moments where I was excelling and moments where I was struggling. I also met my husband in college and two of my four best friends. Anyways, I have a real hard time with follow through and dedication. I'm a serial project starter. I started semesters SO STRONG. Then I putter out and I am pretty sure to protect myself I stop caring. I don't know if this is a result of my birth order, (third/baby/only girl), or my personality tendency. I really don't know but now I'm 36 and I'm just trying to figure out how the hell to get out of this cycle.

I am a solid worker, a quick learner and I uphold to other people's requests and expectations easily. I think my best skills are customer service related. I have been unhappy at this job for many reasons since I was about 3 years in. However, it's not like I'm miserable with my job either, or at least I wasn't until the last couple of years. When I started, in 2006, a year after I graduated, this was to be a stepping stone position into a marketing type career. However, it's a retail based company and the recession of 2008 hit hard. So once 2008 came along, my cost of living increases stopped. I knew I wasn't going to do anything here so I actually enrolled in a program to pursue dietetics. I got engaged, and then lazy, and dropped out of that program. We got married, and I quickly got pregnant, and when I told my boss that in order for me to return, I'd only work 8-1 in the office and 1-5 at home, my position turned into a pretty great gig. I went in mornings and socialized with coworkers, I was only away from my babies for 5 hours, I only ever had to pump once while I was at work. It just worked. My low salary evened out with me not having to pay for daycare. I managed to have three kids in 3.5 years and my son who was born in 10/2014 ended up having debilitating eczema from about 4 - 8 months. This threw my world into insanity. On top of that, my mother who would watch the kids, was having health problems of her own. She could no longer care for the kids, and she ended up with a stage4 breast cancer diagnosis. I couldn't handle it all, so after tons of back and forth, tons of tears, I met with my boss and told him I had to leave. And he convinced me to work from home part time. This was in December of 2015 and I've been doing this since then. How I so wish at that time I had said no. I needed time to be home and a mom. But instead, I dangle along. I had been doing 20 hours a week but now I am up to 32 hours. I can't believe I have lasted this long. My salary is stagnant. My work tasks are stagnant. I feel like it's fueling this mediocrity within me. That "fine" is good enough.

Now my son, whose eczema was diet related, has no signs of eczema. He starts kindergarten in 2020. I am so scared to leave this job because I have so much flexibility! I have 26 days PTO. I'm wondering what I'm so scared of. Part of me knows, I just want to leave my job and not work for a while. I just don't know how I could do that or even convince my husband we could manage it financially. I really fear I will regret leaving this job. I have no idea how to figure out what to do next.

I'm pretty sure that I just don't like working from home full time, but at the same time would love a job that allows for me to do it once or twice a week. I also don't love that everything I do is on the computer. I am tired of sitting on my butt all day. I'm tired of all things in my life blurring together. As I type, I'm running data queries, preparing lunch and listening to my kids play in their play room. 

My husband is supportive, but he keeps asking me what I want. He thinks I have a great set up and reminds me I have all this because I worked hard and I asked for it. I don't have the salary but I have the comfort of home. What is it that I want?

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