Wednesday, January 22, 2014

I Promise This is Not a Whole30 Blog Now

So. I've been skimpy on the motherhood posts lately, I know. There are a few reasons for that, one being that my older daughter is 9-1/2 now and it doesn't feel right to post a lot about her anymore. I don't want to embarrass her. She didn't care when she was younger, and she hasn't said anything yet now, but the stories about her are becoming more "her" stories than my stories, if you know what I mean.

But that's not what I came here to say. For those of you who are interested in my Whole30 adventure, I thought I'd talk a bit about a few things I've learned/experienced on this journey (which is three weeks in now, holla!).

1. Week one was quite easy, at least the first few days; week two was KILLER HARD. Now it's easy again. I'm pretty sure now it's going to stay easy, since cravings have faded---just like everyone says they will when you give up sugar.

2. Diet Coke-free = still easy. AMAZING. It is quite liberating actually. This was the easiest thing to give up by far, people, even though I thought it would be one of the hardest. SO WEIRD. I still believe that the artificial ingredients and chemicals in boxed/bagged/processed foods make you crave those in soda, and vice versa. Because I have had zero cravings for Diet Coke since day one. It's nice to be saving money at the grocery store on this one, especially because....

3. My grocery bill is a lot higher on the Whole30 challenge that it was before. This is mainly because a meat-eating lifestyle costs quite a bit more than a vegetarian lifestyle. Canned beans are super-cheap. Grains in bulk are super-cheap. Meat, fish, and poultry are not. Also, nuts, avocados, coconut oil, and almond milk are very expensive (at least where I live). However, you have to keep in mind that eating a diet free of sugar and processed foods will likely save you far more money in health-care-related costs in the long run than you are spending at the supermarket right now.

4. It helps a lot if you are not used to eating in restaurants, anyway. By that I mean, doing the Whole30 is far easier if you prepare and eat every meal at home. One of the ways Christopher and I have economized in order for me to be able to be a stay-at-home mom is by almost never eating out. And I truly mean almost never. I can probably count on one hand--and have fingers leftover--how many meals we eat out in a year. This fact makes the Whole30 much more doable.

5. People are curious if I've noticed any/many health benefits. At first, my achy hip joints felt significantly better. However, since then, they've acted up again after running, so I'm not quite sure what's going on with that. Part of me believes--based on some anecdotal evidence I've heard here and there--that it takes longer than three or four weeks for joint pain to improve in response to a dietary change. This month's "O Magazine" has a feature on an Alvin Ailey dancer with an arthritic syndrome who experienced complete pain resolution after two months off wheat/gluten. So, it may just take longer to really feel the results. I hope so, anyway. (Meaning, I hope there are real results--not that I hope it takes a long time.)

As for other things, my skin is "glowier" and just looks better overall--I can't really explain how, it just does. My hair is softer and healthier-looking. My energy is more stable; while in week one I had days I couldn't even finish a workout (missing the processed-food and quick carb energy), nowadays I'm full of energy and it lasts all day with no ups and downs (i.e. no afternoon slump).

6. I haven't been perfect on this thing. I've had some slip-ups, some bad days, AND I've recently allowed myself to have sugar-free gum whenever I want it, which helps prevent me from eating something far worse when I have a craving.

If I were to follow the "letter of the law" on the Whole30 program, any of these would mean I'd failed and have to start completely over with day one. As a former cognitive-behavioral psychologist, I respectfully call bull*&%$ on this one. All-or-nothing thinking has wreaked havoc on many a health-improvement plan.

My diet is far, FAR healthier now than it was before I began the Whole30, and no one can tell me that my body isn't benefiting from the changes I've accomplished. I mean, cutting out Diet Coke and sugar and Cheetos and chips and those boxes of crackers and cookies you buy at the grocery store? SO GOOD FOR YOU. A few bad days here and there, or a piece of sugar-free gum, does NOT wipe out the improvements I've made. I have been truly amazed at what I've been able to do--it really is true that once you've been off these foods for awhile, the craving totally abates. We have Goldfish crackers and popcorn and Wheat Thins and FUDGE in the house right now, and I have no problem ignoring them. I don't even think about them. And that is something I would never have thought I could say, before doing this challenge.

All that said, I did decide to tack on some extra days to my Whole30 and take it an extra week to my birthday. Why not? Oh--and I do plan to avoid sugar/wheat as much as I can (allowing for birthday cake, OF COURSE) after that, until I can fully decide if it helps my hip pain or not. I'm not going to give up on that one if there seems to be a chance that more time would generate the results I'm looking for.

7. And just an interesting (?) tidbit. At the same time as I started the Whole30, I started a challenge to drink 13 cups of water every day. This idea was based on a particular article that was circulating online awhile back. (OMG! LOOK. AT. THE. PHOTOS!) I have been very successful with this one. I know from prior experience that drinking more water really does make you feel better in pretty much every way, but what I'm really trying to figure out is if it makes me look younger, too. (Again: THE ARTICLE!) I chug two glasses of water first thing when I get up in the morning, drink giant (two-cup) mugs of herbal and green tea all day, and put extra water in my homemade protein shakes. It's not that hard. It all adds up.

OK. Enough with the boring blah blah boring.

I hope you all are having a good, not-as-cold-as-it-is-here week. See you soon.

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