Whole30: Lessons & What Happened After
I (Leez) found the Whole30 program challenging, rewarding, and dare I say...one of the best things I've ever done for my mind and body. My only regret is that I didn't know about it sooner...perhaps in my 20's when my relationship with food really started to head south.
At first, it was the occasional fast food treat in high school, and perhaps one too many mountain dews. Fast forward to college, and I quickly became the gal that lived for venti Starbucks white chocolate mochas, bagels, Red Bulls, and my fair share of not so healthy takeout.
After graduating college, I managed to trade in my unhealthy habits for more unhealthy ones — otherwise known as cooking way too much pasta, overindulging in sweets, mindlessly eating at my desk while working through lunch, followed by late night snacking as I chased my workload well into the night.
Sure, on some level, I knew that what I was doing wasn't healthy. But, I had also become so addicted to processed foods, that my willpower simply didn't stand a chance. And after a while, my weight, emotions, and anxiety got the best of me.
Hungry for change, I began overindulging in food documentaries and reading up on everything from veganism to the Whole30 program. After making subtle changes like eliminating dairy, drinking my coffee without sugar, and even trying to go several weeks without meat (ok maybe not so subtle), I knew the only thing that was left to do was push the big red Whole30 reset button. Little did I know, this button would jumpstart a lifelong relationship with food. Not to mention all of the lessons I learned about my mind and body along the way.
Discipline...where have you been all my life?
There are so many amazing benefits to the Whole30, but one of my favorites was being reunited with a strong sense of discipline. The same kind that allowed me to pass on work donuts, Valentine's Day candy, a beer or glass of wine after a long week, and all the peer pressure that creeps up in between.
Goodbye brain fog
And hello energy. I normally kiss my mental clarity goodbye around 2 pm, but I found I often had the mental sharpness and energy to last me well into the evening. And that says a lot for someone who's usually too tired to make dinner when she gets home.
New appreciation for cooking
Ask Calley or Ging, and they will be the first to tell you there was rarely anything exciting happening in my kitchen for months. In fact, on the days that I did cook, it was either leftover buttered noodles or potatoes drizzled with a small mountain of ketchup that I would throw into a salad and mindlessly eat for lunch. But being forced to spend hours in the kitchen every week made me appreciate cooking and dinner time like never before.
Pretty sure it was love at first bite
Who knew that making Whole30 cilantro lime mayo tacos with sweet potatoes and mahi-mahi or zucchini spaghetti could awaken taste buds from a coma. Even my brother, Artem (who I call chef boyartee) was impressed with the delicious flavor of the mahi-mahi tacos. And that's a lot coming from a man that can steal the spotlight with a vegetarian pumpkin curry dish on Thanksgiving Day.
No more bloating
Trust me, I couldn't believe it myself. For the first time in a long time, my tummy not only felt but looked flatter and that change alone is worth taking on the Whole30.
More mindful eating
I'm not sure if it was the connection I had made by cooking or the flavor of the meals themselves, but it was almost impossible to eat mindlessly during this challenge.
Food prep got easier
It's funny how something that once felt like such a huge undertaking can start to feel like a normal part of your routine (memorizing a few easy recipes and my grocery list definitely helped)...
I still craved sugar
But at least I ate bananas, dates, and sweet potatoes to satisfy that craving over chocolate, scones, and ice cream. Progress, not perfection, right?
Reintroducing foods after Whole30 is painful
Surprise, surprise...the moment I reintroduced things like sugar or pizza, I instantly felt sleepy, foggy, bloated, irritable, and anxious. In fact, just 15 days after being off the Whole30 were enough for me to make up my mind that I would stay off dairy, keep sugar at bay, and pass on processed foods as much as possible.