I have been overweight for most of my life. I remember when I was an adolescent, I couldn’t fit into regular jeans. We had to get the 14+ size, which was the “chunky kid” version of a regular 14. I remember that so vividly. I also remember riding the bus in middle school and having one of my supposed “friends” tell me “You are fat! Look at your stomach!” I will never forget when that boy said that. It destroyed me. Sure, I thought I was a little chunky but that word… “fat”… absolutely made me feel like a piece of chewy steak that I regularly spit out.
I remember going to Washington DC as an 8th grader, and for whatever reason, my friends kept asking to see my stomach. When I wouldn’t show them, they made fun of me. It was awkward. I didn’t want to show my stomach because I was told it was fat by that boy on the bus! These things stick with people forever. I will never forget how I felt in either of those moments. Humiliated, terrible, and wishing more than anything that I was thin. Perhaps that was when my body image issues began. I never was happy with my weight and even as a young teen, I dreaded getting on the scale at doctor visits. My heart-rate would increase the second I got on the scale, and it still does that to me as a grown woman. Most of my life I remember discussions about weight, who lost weight, who gained weight, who was on a diet, who looked “fat” and who looked “amazing since she lost all that weight.” It has hounded me for years, and not until recently have I discovered that I am plagued by a long line of women with body image issues. Being able to admit that has taken me a long time. So here I am, talking to you in the way I usually do: raw, crunchy, whole truth. Whole30 truth, to be exact. After at least 15 years of trying different exercise programs and different diets (most of which were unsuccessful unless I basically starved myself), I decided to give The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom, a try.
Whole30 isn’t a diet. It’s not a quick fix and it isn’t even a weight-loss program. “It’s basically a transformation in how you think about food, your body, your life and what you want out of the time you have left on this earth” (Hartwig & Hartwig, p. vii). I decided that more than weight-loss, I needed to really transform the way I think about food, my body, and my relationships with food. After reading about the program online for a few days, I decided to splurge and get the book.
I sit here now at my computer, halfway through the 30 day program. I want to give you the scoop, no details left out, so you can choose whether or not this may be a good program for you.
In the most basic sense, this is Whole30. “You eat meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, fruits and natural fats. You don’t consume sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, or dairy. You do not consume baked goods or “treats” and you do not weigh or measure yourself” (Hartwig & Hartwig, p. 13). You also can’t consume carrageenan, MSG, or added sulfites. You can’t recreate baked goods or junk foods with approved ingredients. No muffins, pancakes, bread, or coconut milk ice cream. Your eating habits won’t change if you keep eating these foods, even if they are made with Whole30 ingredients.
The first week was really pretty easy. I detoxed the house of everything I knew I couldn’t have, I left out only Whole30 compliant foods, and I was motivated to succeed. It was new, the recipes were fun, and I was excited! That first week flew by and I felt amazingly confident and excited about the program. The after dinner bloat that I usually felt, I didn’t feel. It was amazing! I went to bed satisfied but not stuffed, and I woke up hungry but not starving. Overall, the first week was easy!
By about Day 9, I started to really crave the things I could no longer eat. I wanted about 4 pieces of pizza, followed by a homemade loaf of bread, followed by the most gigantic bowl of fettuccine. I started to get cranky and I had to almost slap my own hand for reaching for the “problem” foods that I wanted so badly. I felt satisfied by the healthy food I was eating, but the “junk factor” started to hit. I just wanted everything I couldn’t have. This was also when I hopped on the scale, which you are NOT supposed to do on Whole30. For me, however, stepping on the scale was what kept me going. In 9 days, I had lost 8 pounds, eating more food that I had ever eaten. I felt encouraged again, ready to conquer the next 21 days. I told those pizza, bread and fettuccine cravings to GO AWAY and I went to bed on day 9 with a new intention: “I can do this, I want to do this, my body needs this.”
Day 10 was great! I cooked all kinds of healthy and tasty things, and I was in good spirits. I actually didn’t crave any kind of sugar or carbs today, and I really felt like I was on the home stretch. The next 20 days were going to be a breeze!
Day 11. The worst. I almost caved at least 10 times, I actually started crying at one point over something so silly as a frying pan that wouldn’t get clean. I was moody, emotional, and really out of sorts. It’s like what I picture “withdrawal” symptoms being like from a drug addiction. I think this was the moment where my body was truly cleansing, detoxing and getting rid of all the nasty sugars that were plaguing it for so long. This day was hard. I turned to my Whole30 support group (there are just 4 of us), and I asked for encouragement. They helped me through it. I didn’t cave, I stuck to the plan, and I knew that tomorrow would be better.
Day 12-15 felt like that part of a workout where you feel like smiling and doing a fist pump in the air. Everything felt great! My body felt awesome, my brain felt clear and I never even considered the foods I wasn’t allowed to have. I was in a good mood, I felt optimistic about life, my clothes actually started to feel looser. My skin looked like it does when I’m pregnant; glowing and flawless. I ended the first half of Whole30 completely encouraged, motivated, and a big time believer in this new relationship with food and lifestyle. I can’t wait to conquer these next 15 days! I am loving Whole30!