I did it! I’ve finished the 30 days of no-this, no-that, and now I’m slowly reintroducing foods into my diet.
I’m so glad I did this. It’s been 100% worth it.
I know when I wrote my initial goals for the Whole30, I mentioned losing weight, but truth is, there was a lot more that I wanted to learn from this experience. Weight was just the catalyst for actually doing it.
Ultimately, I wanted to learn about food, what’s in food, what food does to my body, learn about new recipes, and hopefully gain a healthier lifestyle (and mindset) regarding what I eat. I mean, I’ll be eating for the rest of my life, might as well learn healthy habits, right?!
I learned all of this and so much more. Let me explain:
- Detachment. Week one: I thought I was going to die. I had a major psychological fear of giving up grains, peanut butter and dairy - was I cRaZy?! By week two, I was fine. I knew I could live on meats, fruits and vegetables. It was amazing, though, because I had no idea that I had such a mental addiction to food. Glad that’s taken care of!
- Less is more. Seriously, I may never go back to the Chipotle burritos I ate before - with tortilla, rice, black and pinto beans, sour cream, shredded cheese. Now, with only four ingredients, the carnitas salad with pico de gallo and guac, has become my new favorite. I can taste each flavor and be completely content. (Plus, I don’t know what they put in their pulled pork, but it’s to die for!).
- Buying groceries is less scary. For someone who is over-sensitized walking into a grocery store, this diet allowed me to have tunnel vision: eat real food. If it’s a veggie, go for it. If it’s in a package with bright colors and ingredients you can’t pronounce, let it sit. Sure, I’m buying the same veggies and meats week-to-week, but I’m trying new combinations and making nutrients part of my daily diet.
- Meal Planning. At 24, I cook for myself. Just me. I can’t go overboard with buying lots of fruits and veggies at the beginning of the week, because if I go out to eat with friends or coworkers, it could all go bad before I get to it. I’ve adjusted to going to the grocery store probably twice each week, just when I run out of fresh goodies and need to restock my cabinet. Also, I learned early on that I don’t have to plan each meal in particular — I can just gather ingredients for the week and play it by ear. I usually get lots of veggies, fruit, some meat and just serve it up different almost every meal. Works great for me!
- The Science. Okay, so I don’t know everything there is to know about Paleo and why people eat like this all the time, but I did take the last 30+ days to try and learn. This time wasn’t just a “diet,” it was a time that I allowed myself to investigate deeply and broadly about food. I found that there are some pretty awesome people in the Paleo community - bloggers, pinterest recipes, etc. I still want to buy It Starts with Food (they don’t have it at the library. sad.) to really learn more. The Hartwigs have done ton of research, so I want to (at least) be responsible for learning what I can.
- Moderation. Oh, what a word. We “moderate” our intake of sweets and treats, but I realized I was never making sure I had enough of the nutrients my body requires. During Whole30, I was able to swing the pendulum the other way — making sure I was chock-full of the stuff my body needs. It’ll be interesting bringing this all into balance, but now I know how easy it is to snack on an apple and cashews versus a bag of pretzels or a Special K bar.
- The long run. I have a plethora of knowledge (and now personal experience) about food, and that was one of my goals from the beginning. I will use what I’ve learned to keep a “healthier” lifestyle for the long run. When I’m 35, I want to be making good food choices. That starts now. I may not be eating 100% Paleo, but at least I know what is “healthy” and what is “less healthy.”
- State of mind. The Whole9 mentality is that food either benefits you or it doesn’t — that, I can remember. I love how the Hartwigs explain things. After Whole30, I have to re-enter the real world. I can’t “blame” my diet on the program anymore. I have to make food decisions by myself now — like a big girl, without the training wheels. I can eat a cookie if I want, but I don’t have to justify it — if I want to eat it because it tastes good, so be it! Food is good! Just eat the cookie, Allea. As long as I realize what is good and not-so-good for my body, I can move forward and just eat.
- Self-Control. Who knew?! I actually possess more self-control than even I imagined! Even if this was the only thing I learned from this experiment, it was worth it. I’m pretty darn proud of myself, actually! (Ask my friends, this was not an easy Whole30 — there was tempting food everywhere!)
- Healthier all around. When I wasn’t stuffed up on pasta, I felt more apt to workout during the Whole30. I could go run on the treadmill and not feel like I had to work double in order to burn off the bread roll I had with dinner. Instead, I knew all the food that I was eating was only benefiting my body. I feel more fit now, and I just feel better about my physical state in general.
- Other areas of my life. The Whole9 game-plan isn’t just about food — surprising, no? In fact, nutrition, sleep, exercise and state-of-mind are all really important to one’s overall health. In addition to changing my eating habits, I also incorporated more physical activity and made sure I was getting 8 hours of sleep each night. It’s my body and I’m the only one taking care of it, so I want to do it well.
My goal is to eat Paleo meals at home. I can keep that part of my diet under control, considering I’m the one buying the food and choosing the recipes. However, this girl likes her peanut butter, milk and cereal.
I’ve learned I don’t really need cheese on everything, that’s new (and easily applicable). I also don’t need a bun with my burger. As far as I’m concerned, those are kind of tasteless carbs that I just don’t want/need.
I’ll be able to say “no.” Sweets and treats are good, but now that I know I can say no, I will. I’ll save my treats for special occasions like birthdays, time with friends, etc. This means I’ll probably skip having a beer with dinner by myself (like I ever do that - it’s rare) but instead save it for when I’m hanging out with friends. Make it worth the memory!
I know I can have sweets and treats and not beat myself up. I’m eating healthy the rest of the time! I’ll no longer be eating frozen meals, and I’ll opt for a salad at McDonalds. Plus, you better believe I’ll keep making the most delicious snack ever (that means you, Mr. Sweet Potato Fries!).
Then, I’ll keep my sanity. I’m only human. Let the good habits continue!