I’ve been on this journey to becoming a more fulfilled person — not just physically, but mentally as well.
In August, I began working out with a personal trainer, and she has changed my relationship with exercise. I used to walk into the gym and I would gravitate to the cardio machines, and when it came to weights, I literally had no idea what I was doing. I felt like some sort of zombie on the weight machines. Enter Claudia, who is this petite, Italian, cross-fit monster. And when I say monster, I don’t mean that she yells at me all the time, it’s actually quite the opposite. She’s just a monster in that she’s jacked and she does cross-fit work outs and cross-fit competitions and makes them look like cake. (For the record, I do not do cross-fit all the time, but she does have me do some modified cross-fit work outs.) She sticks to a strict paleo diet and recommended the Whole 30 program for me.
Since I currently have a love/hate relationship with Weight Watchers, (it leans toward the side of love, mostly, but I still hate that they changed the plan on me) she told me to try it. My best friend did it with great success in January and I felt like if she could do it, I could do it, too. I was set to start the Whole 30 on March 1, and for the three weeks before that, I started slowly weeding out things that I’d give up on the plan, since I didn’t want to just quit cold turkey. I made a meal plan, and I went to four different grocery stores to stock up on everything I’d need. I even ordered chia seeds and vanilla bean powder from Amazon. I did a lot of reading on Whole 30, and I totally believed that this was going to change my entire relationship with food. I was ready to fix the stuff I didn’t know I had.
Day 1 wasn’t hard. I was full, and I liked the food I was eating. Days 2, 3, 4 and 5 passed by like a breeze. I didn’t suffer from any of those sugar withdrawal headaches that they said I’d get. According to the rules of the Whole 30, I’m not allowed to weight myself, but I said screw that and I weighed myself, just like I usually did. I was losing weight pretty rapidly, but I couldn’t tell if it was due to the Whole 30 or my increase of workouts due to the warmer weather we were having.
Days 6, 7, and 8 were also really easy. I didn’t experience the cramping or the bloating that I expected. I wasn’t angry, like the timeline said I’d be. I was pretty okay, and I was eating really delicious food. I was happy! But, as time went on in the Whole 30, the more I began to question it.
I grew up with a live-in grandmother who was a diabetic, so sugar was never readily available for me. I was never allowed to drink soda, and while I went through a soda period in high school and college, I would say I have soda maybe 4 times a year, if that. I do like sweets, but it isn’t like I go out of my way to get them, and I don’t go crazy if I don’t have them. I eat a pretty well balanced diet. I’m not eating pounds of pasta every night, or reaching for a whole baguette when I’m sad. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I was unhappy on the Whole 30 and my relationship with food was turning from something positive to something negative. I began to scrutinize everything, not just for ingredients (I’m all for clean eating, by the way) but when I watched my co-workers eating donuts, or my kids eating candy, I’d sit and think, God. How incredibly disgusting. I bought into this whole 30 idea to fix things that I didn’t know existed, because they were so sure that I had some sort of problem with my gut that must need healing. I didn’t dream of pancakes or glasses of wine while I was on the program, I just dreamed of feeling happy and fulfilled again.
One of my other best friends is an RD who works at Center for Discovery in San Diego. I was discussing the Whole 30 in a group text we’re both in and she was relatively quiet about it, but I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the silence at first, because it isn’t uncommon for her to be really busy with something else, just like the rest of us. But when I initially mentioned that I felt like I was undoing all of my good habits that I had learned since recovering from my eating disorder in high school, Nichole immediately jumped in and gave me her two cents.
She told me her thoughts on cutting out entire food groups, and she told me her opinion on carbs. (Her clients call her White Bread because she preaches the benefits of carbs all the time.) She affirmed the things I had already thought: I had a really healthy relationship with food going into the Whole 30, and it was pretty clear that my relationship with food was changing.
Most importantly, she shared with me her own view on eating, and told me to read the book Intuitive Eating. I haven’t finished the book just yet, but as soon as she directed me to the book, I got on the website and read their 10 Principles.
I’m sure to those who
worship practice Paleo and preach advise people to do the Whole 30, this seems like the easy way out, and I’m just another carb-loving person who is unworthy quitter who couldn’t handle the intensity of the program. But the truth is that how I feel about food is more important to me. I can still eat clean while indulging every once in a while. After starving myself for so long in high school, it was important to me that I develop a healthy relationship with food, and I found that in Weight Watchers. Ice cream isn’t inherently evil. Cupcakes aren’t inherently either. And for the love of God, neither is pizza. I don’t feel guilty when I have a scoop or two of ice cream, and I don’t feel guilty when I have a single cupcake. I don’t feel guilty when I eat a slice or two of pizza. I do feel guilty when I overeat those types of things, but that occurs on a rare occasion. But when I was on the Whole 30, I felt guilty for even thinking about those things!
So, I made peace with my food choices. I exercise, and I continue to conspicuously check my ingredients in food to make sure I’m not eating processed foods. All in all, the Whole 30 (which turned out to be the Whole 9 for me) wasn’t a total waste. It gave me everything I was looking for, which was fulfillment in my food choices. It’s just that through the Whole 30, I found a way of eating that was better fit for me.
As for those feelings of guilt? I certainly didn’t feel guilty when I had a blood orange mimosa and some Jamaican french toast this morning. And I’m going to the gym this afternoon not because I feel guilty, but because I want to go.