Friday, October 9, 2015

Second Whole30

Or rather, Whole 29. That's right. Full disclosure: I totally cheated on the second to last day.

It was stupid. I got through all of the crazy busy weeks, and thought I was doing so well that it wouldn't be a big deal to bake some dairy-filled, sugar-filled, grain-filled dessert treats for the students. And my willpower was just not as strong as I thought it was. I totally ate one of the frosted almond bars. And I felt sad. And mad. And disappointed. Mainly that I was going back to my all-or-nothing way of doing things, and that I wasn't going to be able to find a happy medium. Dreading that a week later, I'd be eating a daily Jack's pizza and feeling horrible.

But a good friend reminded me of a few things. First, to recognize the many accomplishments that I had made in 29 days. Also, that I had already done this once before, and proven that I could do it. Perhaps I didn't have to do a full 30 days again if I was able to retain the concepts. Okay, perhaps scarfing down an almond bar wasn't a win. But I had really worked on some good habits that have the potential to stick for awhile.

Then, I read these three posts (1, 2, and 3) in a series about what the creator of Whole30 eats, and how she incorporates the concepts into her daily life, but also where she gives herself room to eat non-compliant stuff. And I realized there is a way to do this that fits for my life, that may mean incorporating some foods back in that I'm missing and that are okay for my body, while still being healthy and feeling good.

This may be Whole30 compliant in ingredients, but holy giant omelet! This lasted 3 meals!
And so rather than dwelling on my mistake and going into a food-shame spiral (which I think we tend to do to ourselves), I want to highlight some of the major wins from this experience and some of the things that I learned about myself.

I can do this, even during my busiest time. Despite cravings and temptations, I stuck with this through the busiest times of my job where I was working many nights and weekends. There were days that I packed all three meals. I made it work. Which shows that with good planning and preparation, there is really no reason or excuse to not eat healthy. I tend to give in and eat lots of junk food during those times and use it as an excuse, but really that's when I need to have good healthy practices the most!

I got to make some delicious meals with my husband, family, and friends. For both rounds of Whole30, my husband and I had so many more family dinners together. And there were a bunch of times that we made meals as a team, whether grilling or making a pot of chili. Or doing a potluck with friends. And that's an amazing non-scale victory (NSV) to me!

Grilled bison steaks with chimichurri and lots of veggies that we made together
I feel amazing. After so many months of stomach issues, I feel great! I have so much more energy than I did before and my skin is brighter and clearer. And I managed to power through the cold that I got from being rundown with my schedule in just a few days, which I attribute to eating and drinking my way through it, with very limited meds.

I hit a number on the scale that I haven't seen since high school. I want to be clear that weight loss wasn't my primary goal for doing this. But it was very motivating to see that I could impact positive changes to my body through making more nutritious choices. And that boost in confidence is nice!

I still can go out to eat and be social. There are a number of menu items that I could work with to have a night out of the house. Which is awesome, because one of the challenges of Whole30 is the sheer amount of time spent cooking and cleaning. And breaks from that are necessary. I love spending less money on eating out, but it is nice to do every once in awhile. Especially with friends and family.

I didn't feel limited. Others assume Whole30 sucks. And they say "Ugh, that's why I don't diet." Or share "I couldn't do this because I couldn't give up X." And I probably would have said something similar too. But once I got past the first few days of not having half and half in my coffee, I didn't really think about it that way as I was making meals. For me, it doesn't feel like a diet. And once my thinking was reframed, there were a lot of things that felt like treats that were 100 percent compliant. Hello red grapes! So delicious. And while doing it, I also didn't think often, "oh my gosh, I can't wait to eat X again." 

I benefited from having lots of fresh veggies through our CSA and made a point to use almost all of them. I think that doing a Whole30 during the summer/fall is SO much easier than winter. Access and cost of fresh produce makes such a difference to having more variety of food items and keeping the budget in check. And I threw away a lot less of my CSA veggies than before. And now I need a plan for maintaining a supply of vegetables through the winter.

Making homemade veggie stock with leftover scraps from CSA veggies
I need to focus on the reintroduction phase. I totally skipped on this the first time around. I intended to do it better this time. And then I didn't. I jumped right into eating a few things that combined dairy and grain, making it hard to tell what made me feel like yuck. And that's the whole point of the process if you want to get better knowledge of how and which foods are affecting you. So that's my biggest goal post-Whole30. I'm not going to start all over, at least not right now. But I have been doing days of full-on Whole30, and then a Whole30 + dairy, Whole 30 + beans, etc. I think this will better help me pinpoint what I can reintroduce more regularly and know my body's reactions better.

I want to celebrate living a better life, with the occasional indulgences. I've been listening to the Happier podcast with Gretchen Rubin and Elizabeth Craft, and one of their "Try This at Home" tips for greater happiness is to Choose the Bigger Life when making decisions. As I think about what this means for me and food, I know that my life is happier when it's focused on homemade meals with friends and family. Eating dinner at the kitchen table with good conversation with my husband (and usually some lingering cats). Making recipes with tasty ingredients and mindful eating. And I think there is totally room to eat other things. But I'd rather make the decision to eat an amazing pastry from the french bakery down the street on a delightful walk on a fall day with Chris, than mindlessly eat half a box of Cheez-Its because I'm procrastinating making dinner. Or to have one of the klejner that we make each Christmas as our family tradition rather than beating myself up about it, when it's something that is so special to me. 

If there is one thing I'm taking from this experience, it's that it's a work in progress. Change happens over time. 

I still have more reflecting to do. Stay tuned for more Whole30 thoughts. 

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