Yep, that’s right. We ended our Whole30 program on the eve of Day 27. I know what most of you are probably thinking.
“WHAT? How could you quit with just three days left?” “Why did you give up?”
Well, we didn’t give up. We didn’t throw our hands up in the air and say “WE CAN’T TAKE THIS ANYMORE!” After all, we’d made it 27 days in, we definitely had the willpower to finish. We simply had a real, honest conversation and came to an informed decision that we were quite confident in. We felt we’d reached a point where we would be able to allow ourselves to reintroduce certain foods early, without spinning out of control and we wanted to prove it. We couldn’t be happier with the results.
Let me start from the beginning.
I’ve mentioned in the past my emotional
connection addiction to food. Food has been my steady comfort for my entire life. Food has been at the center of just about every major life event for me. I either quit eating altogether if I was depressed, or I ate everything in sight if I was happy…or depressed. I love food.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with loving food. Food is what gives us life, it’s our fuel. That is, the right kinds of food. But I wasn’t filling my body with the right kinds of food. I was filling my body with fake foods processed with tons of sugar and artificial ingredients. I’ve almost always been heavy as a result, and very unhappy with my body.Shawn and I made the decision to do Whole30, not for weight loss, although that’s definitely a huge plus, but to help us break the bad habits we’d formed, and to help me finally have a breakthrough in my own emotional addiction to food. We talked about doing Whole30 for two years. TWO YEARS. That is how long it took us to summon the courage to enlist our buried self control and discipline for merely 30 days. Does that give you a better idea of what we’re dealing with here?
I’d heard about It Starts With Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, and that it was a wonderful resource for anyone considering participating in Whole30, so I ordered a copy and read it a few weeks before we started. It was SO helpful. This book explains so well how our bodies respond to food and all of the participating elements. Knowing how my body is going to react internally to the food I eat helps me now in what I decide to put in it.
So, now onto an overview of our experience. The first week was undoubtedly the most difficult. If you’re a follower of my posts, you know that I’m currently walking through a very tumultuous season in my life, and while things have started to get better, they were still really, really hard when we first began Whole30. I lamented dramatically to Facebook one day about how mad I was at Whole30 and how I needed a fainting couch to help me better display my food angst. I was trying to be funny, sure, but it’s really how I felt. I had days in the beginning where I didn’t want to eat anything at all because I was so upset that I couldn’t eat my comfort foods.Someone read that post and told me “it shouldn’t be THAT hard”. I understand they were trying to be helpful, but it’s impossible to explain an emotional addiction to food to someone who doesn’t or has never struggled with it. When the emotional ties are that strong, it IS that hard. I felt lonely without my foods. I felt sad and abandoned. Those feelings are the whole reason I was so determined to find success with this program. I didn’t want to be held captive to those foods anymore.
So many people have asked how I’m feeling now, after having completed Whole30. “I bet you feel great!” “I bet you feel so much better now.” “I bet you have tons of energy!”
The truth is, I’m feeling SO many things now, and I felt SO many things during the past 27 days. “Great” and “better” actually aren’t the words I’d use. The words I’d use?
Emotional. Energetic (some days). Exhausted. Anxious. Stressed. Bored. Scared. Insecure. Proud. Strong. Balanced.
Physically, I don’t feel so different. But emotionally, I feel like I’ve gained the strength of a warrior. I credit a good portion of that to yoga and therapy, but Whole30 definitely had a hand in it too. It helped me start to truly see what my relationship with food was doing to me. It helped me learn to crave the way I felt (emotionally) after eating good, whole foods. I no longer felt gross or guilty after meals. That feels SO GOOD.
I want to talk just for a minute about the actual food elements of Whole30, because I’ve had lots of questions about it. Whole30 is all about filling your body with good proteins, fresh fruit and vegetables, and healthy fats. The following food groups are on the no fly list for Whole30: Sugar of any kind, other than what is found naturally in fresh fruit, Dairy, Grains and Legumes.We ate lots of chicken, ground beef, eggs, pulled pork, chicken apple sausage, pork chops, ground turkey, sweet potatoes, broccoli, green beans, berries, melon, avocado, coconut, bell peppers, spinach, asparagus, white potatoes, romaine lettuce, olive oil, coconut oil, cashew butter, certain nuts, guacamole, hot sauce and ghee. We used various seasonings and spices and herbs to liven things up, as well as Tessemae’s dressings made with approved ingredients. We ate mostly organic, when we were able. We drank ALL THE COFFEE.
I’ll admit, it got a bit tedious at times to prepare every single meal and to eat a lot of the same things over and over. But we learned to love new things through it as well. I found out a few things about my palette.
For example, I learned that no matter how hard I try, I still don’t care for avocado unless it’s in guacamole form, or covered in paprika, salt and lime juice. I also learned that I can now no longer live without Aidell’s Chicken Apple Sausage, this cashew butter, raspberries, toasted coconut flakes, fresh green beans (oven roasted) and coconut cream pie Larabars.
In the interest of full disclosure, I should also tell you that I broke a few teensy rules during our Whole30 run.
All of this brings me to last night when we came to our conclusion that our first swing at Whole30 was ready to come to an end.
Shawn and I had been very thoughtful and thorough in making decisions about what foods we were and were not going to introduce back into our lives after Whole30. The foods we have decided to reintroduce include wine and beer, some dairy, grains on occasion, legumes on occasion (mostly black beans), and some sugars (honey or raw organic cane sugar) on occasion, but mostly rarely.
We’ve managed to condense all of our grocery shopping down to Costco and Whole Foods, which helps us tremendously to avoid the temptations screaming at us from every aisle in Safeway or Target. Our Friday night tradition is a fresh, house made (bbq chicken) pizza from Whole Foods and we feel fine about bringing that back to the table.
We felt very confidently that we’d reached the point in which we could treat ourselves without completely undoing all of our hard work. And we did. We enjoyed a few drinks, our favorite Whole Foods pizza and a few bites of something sweet. I HAD SOME WHOLE FOODS JOLLY BEANS, PRAISE THE LORD. We didn’t overdo it and we didn’t make ourselves sick. We stopped when it was time to stop and you know what? I feel really proud.
Balance was everything we had been missing. We woke up this morning, and all we wanted was eggs and avocado. We didn’t feel the need for a sweet breakfast or chips to munch on while we watched a movie. This was the entire point behind our decision to embark on our Whole30 journey and I could not be more pleased with the outcome.
I lost weight, yes. I lost 13 lbs in 27 days, actually. Not too shabby, right? But I’m most excited about the confidence and strength I’ve gained. A friend asked me how I managed to stay motivated. I told her I didn’t really. More than motivation I felt apathy, if that makes sense. Inside the Whole30 bubble, falling off the wagon wasn’t an option for me. I didn’t have the choice to binge on sweets and chips. It legitimately reminds me of when an addict is locked up and their body goes through a detox, not because they tried to quit, but because they had no other choice.
Not that Whole30 made me feel like a prisoner, it didn’t. But it made me feel contained, in a safe way. It helped me break bondages I never, ever thought I could overcome. Would we do it again? I think so. But for now I want to bask in my newfound freedom, knowing that I could finish off the tub of Jolly Beans sitting in the pantry if I wanted to, but that I’m perfectly content without them. Amen.