Whole 30 – Holy Cow

There really isn’t any beating around the bush here, people:

This month, my husband and I have been participating in the Whole 30 diet/challenge.

I wasn’t sure if I would write about this experience during the challenge, if even at all. The reason for my apprehension is my own personal experience with people who are dieting. I don’t know about you all but do you ever get irritated with someone when they start a diet?

You get sick of conversation with them always being about the diet, or how the person on the diet seems to take it upon themselves to point out that what you’re eating isn’t as healthy as what they’re eating. Yawn. Eye twitch. Whatever. The point is that I understand if you’re weary of hearing about someone’s diet. And I also understand that a good portion of you may not know what the Whole 30 Challenge is. We will get to that in a second.

Let me start you off with my fitness background: I never thought I would be one of those drastic/program dieters. You all know what I mean when I say ‘drastic/program dieters’, right? South Beach. Atkins. Jenny Craig. Weight Watchers. OK, so perhaps using the word ‘drastic’ to describe those programs is a bit too….drastic. Please know I’m not knocking them, even in the slightest. To put it simply, before this program, I didn’t ascribe myself to the notion that you needed to cut out entire groups of food in order to lose weight and be healthy.

I always thought that you took that little food pyramid thingie and you followed that, along with abiding by a few other helpful hints: everything in moderation…an apple a day keeps the doc away…burn, baby burn. Yea, somewhere in there, that’s where I fell.

This year, I couldn’t deny the fact that I needed to change. Here is another simple (and, admittedly, somewhat selfish) fact: I wasn’t happy. I know that a person isn’t supposed to diet and exercise because they want to look better. And I do agree with the mantra that looks aren’t the only reason that you should value your health, because looks are fleeting. And a person can be gorgeous no matter their size  and someone can be unhealthy and still be considered absolutely ‘beautiful’ by anyone’s standards.

I used to be nearly half of my current size. And sometimes, I desperately want that girl back. That in-shape, fit, pre-baby weight girl. And I have shed (numerous) tears over the fact that she and I don’t look like the same person anymore. And this was hard for me to admit to myself – let alone on here. I am quite a ways away from where I want to be. But tis the truth, my pretties. But enough crying.

I also have two babies that need some chasing after. And they need a happy, healthy momma during their busy toddler years, and hopefully, during their middle and high school years, too. And, Lord willing, when they have children of their own that need some chasing after, I’ll be right there, ready. There is too much at stake for me or for any of us to let it all slip away. Sometimes, you have to take a look at the big picture so that you can take that tiny extra step so that you can finally admit to yourself that it’s time for a change. After a lot of introspection, this is where I wound up.

Enter Whole 30.

I am a person who likes creamer in her coffee, a soda with my pizza and fresh homemade chocolate chip cookies. And believe me, those things are all delicious little creations. But after a year of trudging through time at the gym and getting little or no results, I realized that it was time to address what went I put into my body and yes, finally come to terms with the fact that my love affair with sweets was the biggest culprit behind my unhealthy eating habits. For the first time, I was actually willing enough to look seriously at my diet.

I didn’t need a food journal to tell me that my eating habits were a large, if not the largest part of the problem. Friends who had recently participated for 60 days in the Living Lurong Living Paleo Challenge suggested the Whole 30 to me. I looked at the program’s website one day and after I closed it I wanted to unread everything that I had read and go back to being willfully ignorant. If I could have put that website in a box and shoved that box under my bed I would have. Because it made sense. Because it clicked in my brain that this was what I finally needed to do. Because, folks, it didn’t sound fun.

If you aren’t familiar with the Whole 30 Program, let me break down the logistics for you:

  • NO sugar (this was where my eyes narrowed)
  • NO dairy (huh??)
  • NO grains (…but, but, but…!)
  • NO legumes (beans, save for certain ones) (this was the one food group I could willfully give up without hesitation)
  • NO alcohol (this is where my husband gasped)

Sounds fun, huh? No? Yea, I know.

I promised myself that if I wasn’t going to be honest, then I wasn’t going to discuss this on my blog. So I’m going to be honest with all of you: it kind of sucked at first.

This challenge has literally turned my life upside down. I never realized how preoccupied with food I was or how much I needed food to feel emotionally complete until I started this challenge. It never occurred to me just how much I looked forward to the chance to eat out or giving into my cravings. My world revolved around food – and I didn’t realize it. NOW I really do understand why people who are dieting and cutting certain foods out want to talk about it. It’s a pretty big deal for a pretty insignificant person like me.

The great news for me is that I have been fortunate enough to have a husband willing to do something like this with me and I just couldn’t imagine doing it without him. And let me also say that he has had to stick it out with me. He has been great about sticking to the plan without much kicking and screaming. I on the other hand? Well, let’s just say that making my kids macaroni and cheese for lunch or cereal in the morning was enough to send me into an emotional tail spin more than a few times during the first week of the challenge. I mean that in all seriousness, people. It wasn’t pretty. I was a bit mean, slightly child like and completely ridiculous. I never thought that I would want to drink honey straight from the bottle or that I would even consider selling one of my kidneys for a cold can of coke.

Then comes reality.

The creators of the Whole 30 program say this perfectly: Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Quitting heroin is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard. You won’t get any coddling, and you won’t get any sympathy for your “struggles”. YOU HAVE NO EXCUSE not to complete the program as written. It’s only thirty days, and it’s for the most important health cause on earth – the only physical body you will ever have in this lifetime.

Isn’t that so true, though? You take away a gal’s sugar and bread and suddenly, she’s on an emotional downward slope into the deep dark abyss? You take away my cookies and sandwich bread and cheese (and yogurt, and cereal and crackers) and suddenly I’m hanging off of the side of the Empire State Building, beating on my chest a la King Kong???

Yes, it has kind of sucked, but don’t tell them at the Whole 30 that I told you all that. It’s getting better. The hardest part has been overcoming those pesky and spontaneous cravings. But I have realized something else that I didn’t realize before: I can say ‘no.’

I do not have to yield to cravings. I don’t have to reach for the chocolate because I’m having a bad day or have a soda because everyone else is having one. WE have control over what we put into our bodies and over what we do with them. Right now, I’m working on being healthy. We will work on being hard-bodied later.

I still don’t know what life is going to look like for me once the challenge wraps up at the end of the month. I don’t know yet if this will be longterm. For now, I can already tell you that my pants are fitting better and that the nutso moments and cravings are beginning to subside…even though I still really want a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I can’t tell you that food commercials don’t leave me staring wide-eyed at the television screen, filled with a kind of lust that I’m not particularly comfortable with. And I’m definitely not proud of the fact that I have moments where I would sit down and eat an entire loaf of bread, just the bread, if I were able.

But on the plus side, I love that I can eat whatever I want that is challenge approved and not feel guilty. And I love that the next time I take a bite of a Dairy Queen Blizzard, or a sip from a can of Coke, that it will be a treat that I can feel free to indulge in. Because it will actually be a treat.

If you are struggling, whether you are dieting or not, you’re currently in the throes of overhauling your life or you’re considering it I just ask one thing: that you consider yourself and your life worth it. I know that I’m not an expert, I’m really not even experienced or seasoned. But I’m trying, and you should too.


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