I am 2 days away from officially completing 30 days of Whole30. Then I have about 10 days of reintroduction. So I wanted to reflect on items related to my Whole30 challenge as well as my journey overall. Warning, potential ramble alert 😉
As can be attested by this blog, or even the several I’ve had before, my journey has been long. I have never reached “goal” – whatever that is, and I have never gotten to a point where I felt in control, comfortable, and confident that I would be able to carry my good habits forward. Almost two years ago I had a “moment”. I was at a family wedding and I saw my cousin, my sister of the heart, whom I hadn’t seen in 7 years. She’s 13 days older than me and we were basically raised together. With her living in the boonies of BC, and me living in Toronto, we never got to see each other. We also never really spoke (maybe via FB wall posts? Comments on pictures and the like). So I was pretty excited to see her. And when I did, she was just so excited about life. She was so in control. She had discovered something that would eventually lead her to her passion.
Now, I’ve been on Beachbody for forever. I’ve ordered programs off of late-nite TV before. But this was the first time I had met anyone else, close to me, who was part of it. That moment really started my current journey. The journey I feel, now, might just be the one to carry me to the end. I started 21 Day Fix, and joined an accountability group on FB. That started probably about a year of an on-again, off-again relationship with working out and eating properly. I joined Weight Watchers again in the umm, winter/spring of 2016, then fell off with Ramadan of that year, and just continued to play at the fitness. The only program I had ever actually finished prior to 2017 was Hammer & Chisel. As someone who loved Crossfit, I am a lifter, and HIIT workerouter. I hate repetitive cardio (repetitive anything – I’m looking at you Autumn Calabrese – stop making things repeat!!) So H&C was perfect for me. After that program was done, I was totally expecting to enter into another program and just continue that drive. That was not to be the case, and I was back to dabbling. Both in exercise and food. I kept getting larger and squishier, and making more and more excuses as to why that was the case.
In January 2017 my partner went to Morocco for what ended up being 2 months. During those two months I made a commitment. A commitment to myself, my health, and my personal value in myself. As I’ve documented before, I started waking up at 5:00 am to workout – every single week day. Weekends I may or may not have gotten something in, but week days were a non-negotiable for about 95% of the time. I re-committed to Weight Watchers, posting a weight that was just 10lbs off of my highest ever (and no weight someone of my size should be – it was too much for my petite frame), and took on the approach of Dory to “just keep swimming”.
I ate a balance of about 80/20 – and made sure my weekends were structured so that they weren’t food free for alls. I usually had one “major” meal a week that was an indulgence, and made another commitment to my meal planning and food prep to make sure I was always interested in what I had on the menu.
I also, after over a year and a half of attempting self-love (a gift of self-awareness from my #rideordie that is more valuable to me than I can even express), gave up on the idea of guilt. Why be guilty over a cheeseburger? Or for not exercising one day? Why? You a grown ass adult. You made that decision. Fucking live with it. Don’t send your poor brain and heart into a whirlwind of guilt that serves no purpose other than to maybe make you feel better about choosing something that you think you shouldn’t have. If you DECIDE to eat that poutine, then HONOUR that decision. Everything is a decision. There is no force feeding poutine gang out there making you make that decision. So own your decisions and leave the guilt at the door. Plan your indulgences. Enjoy them. Leave the guilt out of the equation. Be mindful that everything you do is a choice, and you are the driver of that choice. Being more mindful of what you actually want will then help you make the decisions you truly want.
These two months were a catalyst for me. They changed something in me that made ME impossible to ignore. Even when the partner came back from Morocco. My boy, I love him, but he’s high maintenance. However, I stayed on track and kept putting myself first – we had A LOT of conversations that went something like this:
Me: 9:30 – k, I’m going to bed
Him: (distracted) – huh? why, it’s so early!
Me: as a reminder, I wake up at 5:00 am every day – I gots to sleep
Him: but wait, I need your help on (insert thing that totally could have been done like 2-hours earlier when I wasn’t going to bed)
Me: k, good night!
Lots, and lots, and lots of conversations like this. Frustrating conversations. Painful conversations. Friggin annoying conversations. But I kept pushing. I had to keep my commitment to me.
From January through February, I was following various Core de Force calendars, and then in March started another round of Hammer & Chisel. I love the program, I do, but this time it wasn’t setting my heart on fire. The pace was slow compared to CDF and some Shaun T programs I had been playing with. I lost my fire. By this point I’m 4 months in to almost a religious following of a workout/eating program. I got so tired. So, so tired, and basically just in a funk. Then my friend messaged me about Whole30 and that started a 2-week period of saying “good bye” to my favourite foods. I was basically convinced that Whole30 was going to kill me. That I was going to be deprived and angry and very possibly not even finish.
I was not prepared for how ready I was for Whole30. I was not prepared to enjoy it, or to see its actual value. I started out of moral support for a friend. I dragged my #rideordie along with me to have someone to whine with. I never expected to get on the program and a) find it easy (telling me how right the timing was), b) to not feel deprived, c) to gain so much energy and mental clarity, d) to begin a long-deserved disconnection of my intense, unhealthy relationship with food. I didn’t expect any of it. I went along as a lark, and, to be honest, a way to lose weight (if I’m being honest with myself) – the book says DON’T WEIGH YOURSELF, and that it’s not about weight loss, and to be honest, I am so far beyond the scale in my confidence and appreciation of myself that the number barely registers with me anymore. I am not hugely moved by that number anymore. A gain doesn’t send me into a tailspin, and losses are met with appreciation, but that’s about it. However, being truly honest, I thought Whole30 would help me shed like 10lbs in one month. Or more. Completely false. I think I’ve lost 4lbs? And I’ve lost that and more on a regular month with Weight Watchers.
The headspace Whole30 put me in is so much more rewarding than the weight loss potential. I imagine if I was heavier, or didn’t workout as much, I may have lost more. But I’m not really concerned about that. What surprised me the most, and the reason why I am starting to plan to continue in a modified way, is that Whole30 put me into such a positive space regarding food and my desire for it. When you remove all those food groups. When you just decide “no”, and you don’t “slip”, then eating actually becomes very, very easy. There’s very little to decide on. By removing the choice, you remove the temptation.
Did it make eating out hard? Yes, but still doable if you ask the right questions and plan ahead a little bit. Did it sometimes suck? Sure. I’ve been at a conference these past two days. Conference food – ugh. Especially since it was hosted by my institution and I know alllll about their catering. Sure enough, wraps, quinoa salad (even not on Whole30, Meighan does not eat quinoa, ew), and greek salad SMOTHERED in cheese and dressing. Sigh. The conference organizers didn’t even ask for dietary restrictions on the registration, so lunch was extremely hard. I took two wraps and dug out the sandwich meat and then had the salad, steering clear of the cheese and just owning the fact that the dressing wasn’t compliant, and filled up on fruit. When I had the carcasses of the wraps on a plate in front of me, I was surprised at the sheer weight of them. All that tortilla dough, weighing one down. Yuck. I was glad to not be in a carb stupor considering this conference was a full 9-5 deal for two days.
What’s the lesson in this? I didn’t go, oh, woe is me, I guess I HAVE to eat all this not-so-good-for-me things. Sigh. Oh dear.
No. I modified. Nothing I ate was actually compliant (except the fruit). Deli meat, even if it’s one of those super natural brands, has sugar in it (usually cane), and deli meat served at a conference? Probably has nitrates. Salad dressing – probably not pure olive oil, probably some other non-Whole30 oil in there as well, along with some type of sugar (honey, etc., or even just sugar sugar). But I still consider myself compliant because I frickin TRIED. I didn’t eat the wraps. I didn’t eat the grain salad. I didn’t eat the bars and cookies that came out later. I didn’t give in just because it wasn’t ideal. I still had to eat, and I did what I could. In an ideal world, I would have packed my lunch. That would have been ideal. It didn’t happen, so next best thing.
That power – that power to say no to food. To not even consider it. To not even want to consider it. That’s what Whole30 has given me. And that is fucking priceless. Do not get me wrong, there are cravings for things. There are cravings for easy things. Kraft dinner of all bloody things for me the other day. But, I don’t actually think it’s the food necessarily, but the fact that’s easy. Whole30 food isn’t easy. There is a fair amount of prep and time involved. So no, I’m not saying I didn’t want things. I wanted things, but unlike before, I didn’t obsess over the things I wanted. The cravings have all been fairly fleeting. Like, ya, that’d be nice, but not having it is cool too. So it is regaining (ah, hell, who am I kidding) gaining that power over food that has amazed me, and shown me that this journey, this current iteration of it, may be the one that sticks. The puzzle pieces are finally starting to come together and it is liberating, and empowering, and just plain awesome.
This is not to say that I live in some idyllic world where I will never binge eat junk food again. No. But, I now know that I can conquer it. I know it’s not this Kilimanjaro sized task that is insurmountable. I climbed that particular mountain, and the view is pretty fucking amazing up here.