Whole30 and Me: A Journey

Look at all of this compliance.

Look at all of this compliance. Sweet, sweet compliance.

Typically we start stories at the beginning, or at some point close to the beginning. For the sake of this story, though, I’d like to work backwards.

Last Friday, I posted a photo that showed my progress since I started to make some positive life changes. I’m over 40 pounds down from where I was this spring, and have been learning so much about my body and how so many of my choices factor into its performance. The photo, for reference, is here:

So, a couple of things: 1- I finished a second cycle of #whole30 yesterday. June was my first, and I'm amazed at the things a little bit of a reset can do for you. It's easier the second time around, but I still couldn't have done it without awesome support. Learned a lot, did a lot. 2- I'm down 40 pounds and some change from where I started. I feel like I've noticed the changes all along, but seeing them compared to this picture taken in March (on the left), I cussed at myself. Progress really IS a process, and my mind and spirit have been changing along with my body. I'm becoming a better me all around, and that can't be so bad, right? 3- I'm wearing unpants as actual pants today. Almost did it yesterday but had a long talk with myself. Still unlearning some previously held notions about body image and all that. Today, no effs given, and I have a jacket anyway. 4- toot. toot. #whole30approved #whole30taughtme #weightlossjourney #journeytoself #gawtdamb #thesnatchening #evenmyforearmsgotdefiniton #imworkingonpullupsnext #stayingcute #quietgrind #iaintbuynobodysproductsforthis #butifyouneedtothatscooltoo

A photo posted by Erica B. (@beezhunny) on

All along I noticed changes mostly in what the Instagram/fitness world calls NSV’s for non-scale victories. When pants fit a little looser, I’m able to fit into clothes I intentionally purchased too small (word to the wise, don’t do that), my face was clearer, nails growing out of control, I counted those all as wins rather than obsessively taking note of how much I weigh this day over that day. I explained in a fairly recent post about how I don’t want anybody’s body to become my goals, so for me, goals have been little surprises that pop up in the form of progress.

So, how did I get from point A to point B? For me, it started with this program called Whole30, created by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig. I saw a few people on my Twitter timeline talking about it, and got curious. I read the book It Starts with Food, and the big picture started to make sense. I decided 30 days was a worthwhile investment to learn more about my body and how it works, and this program was just the push I needed to get myself on the track of “better for me” decisions. Since posting my progress, a lot of people have been asking me what Whole30 is, and before I go into that, I’d like to share what it is not: 

1- Whole30 is NOT a diet. In fact, by reading It Starts with Food and Food Freedom Forever (by Melissa Hartwig), I know now that diets are essentially a a short-term plan in long-term failure. Think about it- you commit to something extreme for a few weeks, maybe a few months. Once you’re done, you reward yourself by GOING BACK TO THE SAME HABITS THAT CAUSED YOU TO WANT TO DIET. It’s a circle of strife, friends. We don’t need that. I’ve been doing a lot of “unlearning” in the realm of creating a sustainable lifestyle for myself. With that, the word diet got the boot.

2- Whole30 is not a get slim quick plan. In fact, once I read It Starts with Food, I didn’t place my expectations for the program on losing weight. My desire was to give my body a proper reset so I could start to make decisions that felt good. I wanted a different relationship with food, and the decisions I made around it. I didn’t want to take any pills or shakes or get a surgery or any of those other means you see all too often on social media. I just wanted to do better and be better, that’s it. The rules even forbid you weighing yourself during the program, and I totally support it. Now this eventual slim down that I’ve termed “The Snatchening?” It didn’t happen overnight. And it won’t. It probably won’t for you either, and the sooner you become okay with that, the sooner you can be on this road of better decisions as well.

3- Whole30 isn’t for everyone, but I still believe everyone should try it as intended. In talks with people about the different rules of the program, the first thing I often here is “So… I can’t have *insert food here*?” I get it, the thought of foregoing cream and sugar in your coffee is terrible. The thought of not sitting down with a little chocolate at the end of a tough day was killer for me. You know what, though? I did it. We’re talking 30 days. One month. The program isn’t asking you to give up essentials, like water and air. And no, you cannot tweak the program and do it in your own way. Simply put, you cannot half-ass a Whole30. If you read the book, you’ll understand why it’s important to do it as written.

With those things considered, here are a few things the Whole30 is, in my view:

1- Whole30 is a learning process.  Look, if you cut out grains, dairy, sugar, legumes, and soy from your life, you’re going to learn exactly what foods contain those things (plot twist: everything). My grocery trips became longer as I spent time reading labels, googling words I didn’t understand and sending photos to my Awesome Partner in these shenanigans on whether said product was a go or not. I learned how so many words are used to describe sugar, or sugar alcohols. I learned how sweet a strawberry could be, and how different foods I never even knew existed could be wonderful. I learned my own strengths, vulnerabilities, and capabilities in a way I was unable to hone in on until this process. I started some physical activity too- a little more running,  a little more Zumba, some stretching and yoga and dancing in my living room on Saturday mornings. I felt stronger because I was slowly becoming stronger.

2-Whole30 is just the beginning of a longer cycle. In Food Freedom Forever, Melissa Hartwig chronicles the cycle as 1-reset; 2- enjoying food freedom; 3-acknowledging when you’re slipping and begin again. The Whole30 is just the kick before the push that helps you get your food habits on a better cycle. What I’ve found, though, is that so many are afraid of making just that first little step, they continue to stick with the comfortable. This takes you out of your comfort zone. It gets a little unbearable in the beginning. Soon enough, though, a breakthrough happens and you’re able to push through a little stronger and wiser.

3- Whole30 really does change your expectations and relationship with food. Do you even realize how many memories we attach with food? We often don’t want dishes on holidays if they’re not an exact replica of mom’s or granny’s. We celebrate joyful events with indulgence. We also mourn with foods that comfort us. We eat when we’re stressed. We eat when we’re not even hungry. We eat when food is just there. We eat because we’re awake. We eat because we’re alone. I mean… I broke a lot of mindless eating while on this reset, and it didn’t hurt to do it. I often asked myself “will eating this honor the long-termchoices I want to make? Will this even satisfy me in the way I want? Am I truly hungry and need a meal, or am I bored/angry/tired/lonely?” By focusing my intentions on meal planning and construction based off of a set of guidelines, I made fewer impulse choices that would leave me feeling like crud, and found a way of living that not only maintains my life, but will sustain it in the long run. I (will eventually) have a family I want to make good choices for. Starting those choices for myself has been one of the best decisions I’ve made this year.

This is getting a little lengthy, but it’s just the beginning of what this journey has been like for me, and I hope that if you are thinking of doing the same that you will. I’m open to any questions you have, and if you need a coach/cheerleader/buddy, let me know! Share a comment whether you have or haven’t done it. I’m here for you!

Also, buy the books and read them. What are you afraid of?

Yours in Snatchening,

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PS- The book links provided through this post are through the Amazon Affiliates program, which provides me with a little compensation for your purchases. Full disclosure is in the sidebar.

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