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.


The Lies “Someday” Tells…

Me and Someday are breaking up. Why is that, you say? Because Someday is full of lies, and I’m pushing for more defined answers in my life.

How often do we see an old friend in passing, or give a quick phone call (or text, ugh) to someone, and you get a “we need to catch up over dinner/coffee/strong alcohol and snacks someday!” It sounds like an awesome offer, but I’m learning that more often than not, Someday never happens. Someday is a random placefiller, a social cue brought on perhaps with the intent of continuing the conversation. However, the lie of “busy-ness” often competes with the follow through of Someday, and Someday just doesn’t come.

I know I seem to blame a lot on our connected (but severely disconnected) states of being these days, but in my observations, I find it a little astounding and heartbreaking that we would rather let a million Somedays come and go before we actually use the phone button on those phones, call someone (no, not text), and set a plan to do something that requires you to be in the same place with them at the same time. All of the intent behind Somed
ay gets lost in the idea that you’ve got “too much” going on. We all do, but come on… We make things happen when we truly, sincerely want to. Busy is glorified. Busy is overrated. And that’s why I want to break up with Someday.

I’m over this idea that I *have* to be consistently busy. A few periods of extreme burnout have caused me to sat (yes, sat) all the way down. While sitting, I observed. Most of the time when Someday is mentioned, people have phones (often of the smarter persuasion) in hand. How hard is it to take another 40-60 seconds to synchronize your watches, set a time and place, and actually show up to it? When do we start treating people like people, and not time fillers you consult at the last minute? Why is this so difficult to do?

We’re so bad at maintaining relationships these days. I used to be excited at the prospect of Someday with certain people, but now if I have to bring it up a few too many times, I drop it. I refuse to treat an instance of a person I see on a semi-regular basis and want to see more of as a ship passing in the night that I can’t get ahold of. Sometimes, people show you exactly where you fit in their range of Someday. It’s my hope, though, that we get better at making Someday a reality, before you regret never having made that move.

To help get rid of the lies of Someday, and actually be better at being better, I’ve  been working on the following:

1- Being more intentional with my words/ being a good communicator of my intent. If If there’s something practical that keeps me from solidifying a date, I’m upfront. Did we forget that people usually can be understanding if we’re forthcoming about difficulties? I have a friend that is good at letting me know when it’s not her pay week, so our plans may have to be reworked to when she has more available funds. I have a few jobs (including side hustles), so the little time I have available, I’d rather know sooner as opposed to later if I’ll be filling it with your presence. If I’m going to need to bounce early because I have a project to work on, I won’t wait until the appetizer hits to spring it on you. If I don’t think I’ll be able to come because I’m going to want to introvert and take a 2 hour bath or something, I’ll put it out there with another offer to hang.

2-Checking myself and my priorities. Do I have too many things on my plate? Am I over extended? Is this for a brief period or do I need to evaluate some of my commitments? Am I providing too much of myself to a person/situation/organization that does not give me an adequate roi (return on investment)? What am I really doing this for? If I make some changes, would this then allow room for this relationship to cultivate?

3- Making the thing happen. Along with the Someday lie, there are some that feel that making the arrangements is enough. Then, you have some people that are good at cancelling the day of, sometimes with mere hours to spare, with no regard for how this may have affected the other party’s day. Again, there is space to be reasonable- being sick, worn out, broke, or otherwise unable can be a good reason to cancel in favor of a more agreeable date, but when flaky patterns persist, I let the flakes fall to the side and keep it moving.

Let me be frank: the name of the game is consideration. Consider what another is giving up to spend time with you. Consider all of the other things a person could be doing in the world, yet they choose to be in your presence. At the very least, they would like a chance. I’m not saying that you must now fill your social calendar to the brim with coffee and farmer’s market trips (unless that’s your thing, then go nuts!), but if you are truly sincere in your wishes to spend time with a person, do this:

Say you want to do it. Suggest a date, time and place. Repeat until a mutually agreed upon selection is chosen. Put it in your phone. Show up, and be a good communicator if you can’t. Don’t let Someday stop you from being great.

Got it? Awesome. Now stop lying on Someday and make it happen.


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Back to the World

A boomerang always comes back to its point of origin.

Much like a boomerang, I feel like I’ve been on a journey. So much has changed. I’ve learned a great deal about myself, others, and the world around me. I’ve moved, started a new job, and made acquaintance with THE CUTEST NIECE IN THE WORLD (and yes, she will get a hashtag in all caps). Even in the middle of all of the changes, there were parts I missed.

As time went on, I wondered how I would do it. When I would do it. If I still could do it. I love words, love putting words together, yet something I’ve taken so much joy in felt… foreign. Time went on. I kept putting it off. Compensating by adding to an ever-growing imaginary “to-do” list that had no progress as well. Trying out other new things, and wondering how to share. Twitter, of course, kept me occupied, but finding time (outside of livetweeting network tv) just was not working. Ask my ukulele how that’s working out.

I looked up and realized it was November. Halfway through the month, almost. The homeskillet Alise reminded me it was Tevin Campbell’s (one of the faves and you will never debate me on this, idk idk idk) 38th birthday1, and days ago, Sesame Street (another childhood favorite of mine) turned 45. In less than two weeks, I’ll be 29. Don’t look at my face; just trust me on this one. I ordered my birth certificate as the ultimate receipt.

Because I’ve been saying I’m “almost 30” since I was 25, I am really into this whole concept of carpe-ing the diem. Is it scary? Sometimes. Is it worth it? Sometimes. Is there a lesson behind it? Most definitely. Will you (meaning I) share it? Well… if I write, I will. At this current moment, I see myself at the edge of a swimming pool, ready for my first lessons2. I stare out at the pool ahead of me, and shudder as my toes hang over the line. Nothing separates me from exploring the vastness around me, except for my fluctuating willingness to get in.

After a few deep breaths, a hit of my asthma pump, and another check to make sure my cap is on, I’m jumping back in.

Need to know where to find me? Check out Twitter and Instagram, @beezhunny is my handle at both. As always, I’m working on being a work in progress, and would love some extra friends on the journey. Until next time, tell me what your favorite Tevin Campbell song is in the comments. Make a playlist (or listen to mine). Jam. It’s a celebration! Like a boomerang, I’m back!

The Box Braided Balladeer would approve.

The Box Braided Balladeer would approve.

Glad I Made it Through without a “Do the Write Thing” Pun,

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1- I set a calendar reminder in Outlook so I never forget Tevin Campbell’s birthday again.
2-Getting swimming lessons is on my “30 list.” More on that later. Kthxbai.

What DO the Lonely do at Christmas?

First of all, they don’t listen to that song. Just don’t do it- you’ll find yourself torn between wanting to two step with the nearest broom and jumping off the last step before the end of the staircase. Because I am likely spending the holiday solo, I can give you a rundown of what I (and other twenty-to-thirty-somethings [and beyond] in my same predicament may be up to this season):

  1. Online shopping for family and friends out of guilt since you won’t be seeing them.
  2. Alternating between “should I get this for them… or myself?” because you wonder if solo holidays count as “Treat Yo’ Self” days. Note: they can, but guilt-shop responsibly.   
  3. Wonder where your voice went, because you haven’t really talked to anyone in the last x days.
  4. Perusing your social networks and not making faces at people uploading gifts from significant others/spouses/grandparents/pets/Santa/etc.
  5. Being genuinely surprised for people that have great news to share, included the expected engagements that always happen. No snark allowed.
  6. Turn off your computer.
  7. Turn your computer back on because the Wii isn’t plugged up, and how else are you going to stream My Little Pony?
  8. Work out like no one’s watching (because they aren’t).
  9. Catch up on all of that cleaning you’ve been meaning to do. Remember you downloaded the “Unf**k Your Habitat” app,” then start playing a game. It is an off day, you know. The floordrobe will be handled soon enough.
  10. Resist the urge to bake cupcakes until you remember you don’t have a cupcake tin. Or ingredients. Or a vehicle to buy last minute supplies for such urges. Look for muffin tins on Amazon.
  11. Regret cancelling that car rental at the last minute. You did want to buy Christmas gifts, though.
  12. Spend lots of time in deep reflection, both self-focused and outside-focused. Pray. Think about how next year will be different. Plan for next year to be different.
  13. Plan to be away next year- a cruise, perhaps? Wait, silly. Go see your family, THEN cruise.
  14. Listen to that Christmas playlist you made on Spotify just a week ago. While everyone was all ‘fa-la-la’, you were all ‘it’s not time!’ Now that it is time, you can indulge a bit. Jiggalate and all of that. Make fun of Paul McCartney’s “Simply Having a Wonderful Christmastime” and Wham’s “Last Christmas” just like you would any other year.
  15. Hear noise outside the door, and wonder if a surprise package came for you. Nope- it’s for the neighbor.
  16. Be thankful for people that do invite you to spend time with their family during the holidays, knowing you have none nearby. Sometimes, it’s a welcome experience- you get to learn how another family does their traditions, and you get a good meal out of it, too. Sometimes, though, you feel very voyeuristic, and it’s hard reconciling the words “guest” with “outsider.” It’s not the family’s fault, though. You know that very well, and will enjoy the time in others’ company anyway.
  17. Call your siblings and do your annual MST3K-esque viewing of “A Christmas Story.” Reminisce on some of those experiences you can only share with people you’ve shared a home and similar DNA with for decades.
  18. Decide on dinner. You could order duck from the Chinese joint like two years ago (the “A Christmas Story” viewing prompted this), but you may just bake some ribs because it’s Christmas, you’re cooking for yourself, and eff tradition. You’re making your own!
  19. Call/skype/G+hangout some friends who may be in the same situation as you, but thousands of miles away. Smile, laugh, and make plans to see each other.
  20. Realize that no matter how much you LOVE the Grumpy Cat meme, it’s not indicative of your general attitude towards the holiday and the love, hope, and optimism contained therein.
  21. Know that although this may be a lonely Christmas, it could be much worse. It could be a homeless Christmas, or a family-less Christmas, or an “I just lost a loved one” Christmas. Feel your heart churn for the emotions that people you’ve never seen or met may be going through.
  22. Dance like nobody’s watching (because they aren’t).

So, I know I’m not the only one with the possibility of a solo holiday, or ever has spent one sans people. What did you do? How did you make it? Did you dance half as much as I am?

Either way, Merry Christmas. Oh, tidings of comfort and joy.

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