“No bread, no pasta, no sugar, no dairy.” When my ob/gyn issued this directive at my first prenatal checkup for my first pregnancy, I nodded along. I screamed “WTF am I supposed to eat?” in my head, of course. Giving up all of those things seemed inconceivable. Also, I dismissed my doctor’s concerns as overreactive since I was still early in my pregnancy and hadn’t had any health problems. He, on the other hand, saw my morbidly obese-ness and pregnancy as a major risk.
That ob/gyn retired, and my prenatal visit days are long gone. 13 years later, Whole30 has given me another shot to follow that doctor’s directive for at least 30 days. Whole30 is an elimination diet where for 30 days you give up grains, sugars, dairy, legumes, alcohol, and processed ingredients. You basically eat whole foods. Snacks, often tied to emotional eating, are discouraged, and weighing yourself is against the rules. At the end of the 30 days, you slowly add back in food groups to identify any foods that make you feel bad.
For three years, I delayed trying Whole30 because giving up dairy, bread, and sugar seemed like an insurmountable feat. People sometimes suffer from extreme fatigue, food cravings, and a slew of other undesirable side effects during various phases of Whole30. Would all of this be too much for me?
Honestly, I only garnered the courage to commit to Whole30 on a drunken Zoom call in which I lamented my shut-in shape and unhealthy lifestyle. I planned to have my friend donate my money to some disgusting cause if I failed Whole30. Only this consequence could keep me away from bread and sugar, right? I set a 9/7 start date to finish my 30-day round before a trip to WV in October.
Even after setting a start date, I hesitated on fully committing to Whole30. When I mentioned the plan to my therapist, she asked what I wanted to get from Whole30? Was it to lose weight? No. I wanted to prove to myself that I could give up all of these foods and control what I eat for 30 days. I needed this win. My self-worth needed this win.
As a child, my mom taught me two cooking things: how to bake cookies and how to microwave my own frozen dinner. It’s no big surprise that my food prep skills would be shit. I’ve spent years learning how to cook and I frequently make a huge mess that I hate to f*cking clean up. This Whole30 forces me to become more efficient at cooking and clean as I go. Also, unless you count mashed potatoes or French fries, my childhood also didn’t have a lot of fruit or vegetables. However, I learned in adulthood to cook veggies that tasted good and also to enjoy them. Yay, that’s a win.
To set myself up for success, grocery shopping, meal prepping, and simple meals were key. Also, I need to approach Whole30 NOT expecting to fail. I needed to question my beliefs about my lack of faith that I had in my self-discipline self-control. (if I wanted to be successful). Mindset matters, and I can adopt one that’s far more empowering.
15 days into Whole30, this plan is so much more than eliminating foods. Making reactive food decisions when I’m hungry and tired has undermined EVERY quest that I’ve ever made to get healthy. It has made long-term healthy eating unsustainable and led me to consume far too much convenience and comfort food.Whole30 requires you to be proactive if you want to be successful. With 150+ pounds to lose, god, only knows this isn’t the first time I’ve tried to interject healthy eating in my life.
Food prepping and being proactive about all things food-related (prepping, planning, and shopping) changes everything for me. Also, I’ve needed to make peace with that sometimes I can’t cook every meal for everyone. Sometimes someone else needs to take that task. This one makes me feel like such a shitty mom. However, I need to focus on me. I’m worth it. I’m at a point where I need to make my health a priority. My kids need to see me doing this, too
Last night at 830PM, I came back home the grocery store STARVING. Old me would have decided that it was time for a spicy Chick-Fil-A chicken sandwich since I felt way too famished to cook. However, that meal is not Whole30, and I had a much tastier prepped meal of chicken and spaghetti squash in the fridge ready waiting to be reheated. Being prepared saved the day! YAY!
This is probably premature, but here are things that I have helped me make it to 15 days and that I ultimately believe will take me to 30 days and beyond.
- Being proactive. Have meals prepped and fridge stocked with healthy and compliant foods I enjoy eating.
- Being okay with being obsessed with food and focusing on yourself.
- Spending your energy eliminating obstacles that lead to bad food choices. I lean on convenience foods when any of the following are true: Too tired to cook; all dishes are dirty; nothing easy and tasty available to cook; or counters are too cluttered.
I’ve struggled to forgive myself for not sticking with the changes I made after visiting my Aunt last year. She died at the age of 62 from complications related to fatty liver disease from a lifetime of obesity. At the time, I felt so ready to adopt a healthier lifestyle, but my motivation and determination fizzled out after a few months.
Whole30 has helped me see that I never addressed the problems that led me to make bad food choices and it stems from eating out and convenience foods. Not doing the food-related work ahead of time sets me up for failure. If eating healthy were truly a priority, I would never save that decision for when I’m tired and hungry.
In the past year, I’ve spent a lot of time learning to question my beliefs and beginning to believe that I have inherent self-worth. Was all of this the prep work that I needed to make a lasting lifestyle change? Who knows, but for now I’m counting down the days until I can claim that I successfully completed the Whole30.
If you’ve achieved any kind of lasting lifestyle changes, what were the things that enabled you?