Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Whole 30 - The Next Steps

So I did it. The trendiest "diet". I folded. This process has one of the highest failure rates of all diets, and has the biggest sweep of mixed results I've seen. When my friend first did it, I thought she was a little crazy. I heard all the things she was saying, and it really sounded like she had joined a cult. But then... I started listening. And really taking in what she said. And if Whole 30 were a cult, I can safely say that I am deep in it. But it's as much as a cult as paleo is.

But here's the thing. I feel great. I did the 30 days. I did the reading, and the research, and the prep. I ate, and planned, and prepped. Rinse and repeat. Gluten free, dairy free, no legumes, no alcohol. Clean food. Simple food. Eat "whole" food for a month. And I feel better for it. With a little prep and research, I was even able to attend a wedding, baseball game, and brunch with friends.

I learned a few things and I'd like to share here.
(1) Is this even right for you? 
Do your research. Read the book. Read the blogs. Look into the community. This isn't right for everyone. And I wouldn't even recommend this for most people. Why? I felt like crap. I was eating crap and had an unhealthy relationship with food (and I'm still processing that). I felt like I desperately needed a reset, because I certainly wasn't sleeping or working out more with that baby lying around a precious baby to raise. Plus, with my immune issues getting worse by the day, something needed to change.

(2) Cravings
I learned that I am successful with an "all-or-nothing" approach. Can you stop at just one cookie? I cannot. Honestly, saying "No, thanks" is so much easier for me than "Well, maybe just one." It's never just one. I'm not satisfied with one. If one is good, ten must be better. Can you tell addiction runs in my family? To put it another way, it's easier for me to just never buy the Oreos than try to portion them out over a month. If portion control and "just a little" are satisfying for you and actually keeps you on track, then you can stop reading right here. Continue on your merry way in your life of moderation. Be successful. But that is not me. And if I questioned it before, I am absolutely convinced now. These 30 days have practically eliminated my sugar cravings because I am eating balanced, filling meals. But again, I admit, this isn't right for every body.

(3) Gut Feelings
See that pun? Did you? I'm cracking up. But seriously. My gut feels so much better. Not that I was having a flare before, but I was coming down off the pregnancy high and my body was settling again and it was... rumbly. But nearly all my symptoms disappeared during the program. I have not and will not discuss even coming off my medications, but I feel in control of my body again. It's empowering and it keeps me going.

I won't share my scale change, but the program is big on Non-Scale Victories (NSV) and big one for me was the change in my skin. Same face, no make up, no filter. The change in the redness is amazing, and I need less and less make-up. Imagine that this is only visual change as an example of systemic changes.

Take away:
No, I am not paleo for life now. But I have completed the first step. The 30 days are only the first step. The next step, and next few weeks, are all about reintroducing foods, one at a time, to assess my reaction. What triggers icky feelings? I have to admit that during the process, as I thought about this part, I was already starting to get nervous and "carb-phobic". I was pleased with my progress, wanted to keep up relatively rapid weight loss (almost 2 lbs per week in that month), and wanted to reach the end goal. But what I have learned is to differentiate between diets and lifestyles. Diets focus on a single endpoint. "I will be on this diet until I lose 20 lbs." Diets hardly ever talk about what happens when you reach that point. Which is also why people tend to have yo-yo weight issues. There's no support for what happens after the endpoint. And with a single driving goal, often, people give up if they don't see that number move. But health is so much more than a number. For starters, muscle weighs more than fat! So I also continue to measure my body fat % so I can see if that changes even if The Number doesn't move.
On the other hand, lifestyles focus on forever. Lifestyles (generally speaking) are more holistic in their approach. They're about feeling good and looking good is a nice side effect. There are, of course, goals. But they are moveable and build on each other. Yes, these are huge yuge sweep generalities about the differences. But my point is that I'm not in this for the short term.

I feel great now and I want to learn more about my body to know what feels good to eat, and importantly, what makes me feel bad. Weight is only part of the picture, and while I certainly have a dress size as part of my goal, I'm ultimately hoping to maintain energy, and to be a healthy mom for my little girl. I want her to see my example of health without focusing on her size, but on how she feels. I don't want to discourage junk food because it'll make her fat, but because it makes her tummy hurt (however delicious). Health is not just our size, but how we act and feel.

I continue to work every day to be comfortable in this new post-baby body. It's different, not just in weight, than before. Proportions are different. Things have moved. It happens. And I'm still learning how to be me here. If I happen to lose some more inches in the process, it'll be an added bonus, but I'm trying to keep weight out of the picture. I am striving to seek balance, not perfection, in this journey.

To conclude - Whole 30 worked for me. It is changing my focus and my goals and my view on my health. I will admit that it's not for everyone, but if you want to try this program, I will offer my support and encouragement. In case you're considering a round, I am putting together a separate post on some of my favorite go-to brands. I will also try to put together some of my favorite recipes over the last month. I do not want to give the illusion that this month has been easy. But with research, prep, and determination, I look back with fondness and appreciation.