After years of failed attempts, I finally did it. I completed my first Whole 30.
What is the Whole 30? The Cliff’s Notes version is that it is an elimination protocol where you can’t eat any food with added sugar (real or artificial), alcohol (even for cooking), legumes (including all forms of soy), dairy, carrageenan, MSG, sulfites. In addition to the “no-no” list, you cannot eat any food made with compliant ingredients that is intended as a substitute for a non-allowed food (for example, you can make pancakes out of only banana and an egg – but doing so violates the spirit of the program). For a better outline of the program, read more here.
For those of you who have been following me for some time, I have publicly committed myself to the Whole 30 on a number of occasions. The longest I ever made it before was 21 days (broken during vacation). Other times, it was less than a week. Even though I am at a healthy weight, I have long been intrigued by the Whole 30 because of my autoimmune issues. I also recognize that notwithstanding being in good physical shape, I have (had?) an unhealthy relationship with food.
The end of 2017 was my breaking point. I felt like my body was completely rebelling against me. I went from running a marathon in June (with a BQ time, nonetheless) to struggling to run a single mile at over a minute slower than my marathon had been. I finally gave into thyroid medication which helped for about a month before it made me feel like I was going to jump out of my skin. My heart rate was swinging all over the place (and so were my moods). I couldn’t think straight. I just wanted to sleep. I couldn’t sleep. I felt like crap – which only served to exacerbate my anxiety issues. By year’s end – I was in a pretty rough place.
So on December 27th, 2017 (after the Christmas leftovers had been more or less consumed) I decided to give it another go. This time there were no public proclamations or statements of intentions. I wasn’t sure I even wanted to commit to the whole thing – but I knew that I needed to do something. Quickly, one day turned into two days, and before I knew it I was halfway through. Then I was three quarters of the way through. Once I passed the 21 day mark I vowed to myself I was going to make it through the whole 30 days.
So here I am. On the eve of Day 30 and feeling all of the things that Dallas and Melissa (founders of the program) said that I would. I am excited. Part of me wants to eat #allthethings I have avoided for the last 30 days just because I can. The other part of me doesn’t want to go back. I feel good. My body feels strong again. I don’t feel bloated or have stomach aches. My energy has leveled and I have control over my cravings (which are far less severe than they were before). I want to be “normal” and go out to restaurants and not worry about ingredients — but I also don’t want to give up on a good thing.
But even the Whole 30 Program acknowledges that outside of the 30 day period it is not intended to be 100% sustainable in the long-term. I plan on following the reintroduction protocol to some extent even though I am fairly certain my triggers are gluten and dairy (as opposed to non-gluten grains and legumes). I am hoping to find some moderation thereafter (which is something I generally struggle with). But the good news is that I’ve found something that works (along with my supplementation regimen) and I am cautiously optimistic that I have found a way to manage my health in a way that is healing my body rather than just putting a band-aid on the problem.
I am almost nervous about tomorrow’s eating. I plan on adding limited non-gluten grains first because those are what I really miss (certified gluten free oats, rice, quinoa, etc.) More than anything, I look forward to a glass of wine (and a gluten free cupcake) as I reflect on the journey and look toward how I am going to maintain the general principles of this newfound lifestyle.
Please note that I am not a health professional. I am only writing about my experience and what worked for me!