Grab your coffee, breakfast and settle in . . . . Here is my journey, diary and path that began at 183.4 pounds ago (yes, I put the weight out there, it’s part of the journey) and just 17 more hours to go officially . . .
This past Sunday, I found myself sitting on the riverbank while spending some quality time with my husband, reflecting on what was, at that point, the past 27 days and vivid recollections of the good and the bad of the Whole30 journey, struggle versus triumph and all things in between. I am happy my first Whole30 is coming to a close but also apprehensive of the future of my body and belly, if you will.
These were my compelling feelings that day . . . Over the past 27 days, I have changed the way I approach all things that I put into my body. Looking around the river this morning I witness small critters and birds foraging in nature to feed their bellies too and get some exercise. As I reflect on my food foraging journey, I realize a simple approach to food, it’s what I am calling my Whole30 ‘a-ha’ moment. Food should never be complicated, neither by preparation nor ingredient. Simple real ingredients are best without sacrificing flavor. I know it sounds impossible, but after changing my flavor palette, it all makes sense now.
Healing ME – Healing decades of bad choices and short-term fixes terrified me on December 31st, so much so that I decided for the first time in YEARS not to even have a celebratory New Years Eve drink. Could I do it? Could I commit to 30 days of no dairy, no legumes, no grains, no sugar and as weak as it sounds, NO ALCOHOL? No diet pills, not sugar rushes, no GU Energy Gels on my training days for running. Terrified was where I found myself leading up to January 1st. A few weeks before starting the challenge, in the midst of reading the book “It Starts with Food” I found myself on a drinking binge on a camp-out trip with family and friends. Turning to alcohol, for me, seemed to be a way to cope with the impending deprivation. This may be true for many Americans, but after that weekend and that experience and an eye-opening conversation with a girlfriend about the weekend and why I was hurting myself, I knew this was something I had to go forward and make right for myself and no one else. I would hold myself accountable and face all my demons sober and with a clear emotional conscience. The biggest problem they say, is admitting that you have a problem. Food and alcohol choices for emotional happiness were my problem and my crutch for so long, I knew I had to find myself and my new path without diet pills and binge eating or drinking. Working on me is something that will always be a work-in-progress going forward.
The UGLY Truth – Putting my “before” pictures on the WWW (World-Wide-Web) had to be the second, or I guess it would be third, most terrifying thing for me. My bare-bulging-belly, out there for everyone to see, HOLY SMOKES! (Who are we kidding, HOLY SHIT! was what I was actually thinking!) Endless summers of not being happy with my body and the ever prompting struggle to cover it up so not only could no one else see it, but so I didn’t have to face reality that I was gaining the American bulge and losing the confident me. The day I posted those first pictures, all I could do was think of the gossips saying, “O-M-G, did you see Tammy’s fat belly she posted on the internet, I would NEVER DO THAT!” and then realized to myself, I was embarking on a journey to change that and the image that I had burned in my head and also out on the technology super highway. This is when I knew that I would hold myself accountable for the entire 30 days!
I’m NOT a reader – A hunger for a finite change is what pushed me to place the order for my book initially and, admittedly, I AM NOT a sit down and read type of girl. I loathe it to be honest. I don’t have the attention span to read for pleasure, but this book got me with the simple approach that just makes sense. Those of us that also started the journey on January 1st, or there about, also got so much out of the book. Along the way it seemed most frustrating or annoying rather, that people were embarking on the Whole30 program without investing the time in reading the book. After all is said and done, I must say, for the Whole30 to make sense you really must read the book. I found myself going back to the book many times, I highlighted, sticky noted, photocopied and re-read so much of it. I think it will be my nutrition Bible for years to come. I just can’t say enough good things about this book. Truly, the title says it all – It Starts With Food!
Keeping Track – Each day I committed to taking a series of photos for the 30 days. Belly shots, fitness shots, food, etc. I am so glad that I decided to do this. Ultimately I did not just think I had made changes, I could see them and in comparison to previous days and weeks. If you are going to do the Whole30, take lots of pictures, it helps motivate you.
This my final Whole30 Recap based on my Day 1 S.M.A.R.T. Goals –
Nutrition – The hardest thing you will ever do in the entire Whole30 is change the way you approach food. Decades of bad habits will haunt you and you will have moments that you think you cannot muster another day of will power, but trust me, you can. Cutting out sugars was the hardest thing in my opinion. Reading labels and realizing how much “Franken-gredients” as my friend and fellow Whole30 program participant, Shannon Colavecchio, refers to most foods Americans consume, is FRIGHTENING!
But I ventured out of my comfort zone and embraced many new healthier options. I eat real food now and processed foods are not even on my mind anymore, well . . . maybe BACON! Mmmmmm, BACON. Ok, sorry, I’ve really missed that more than anything I think, silly, I know. If you try the Whole30, trust me, you will understand. Back to the recap . . . Coconut milk, coconut oil, coconut aminos, hot sauce, almond butter . . . oh the list of new things I must have seems endless, but they are real ingredients. I could stay on this topic forever it seems.
I looked through the Whole9 website and found so many resources to keep me on track. I ordered the recommended recipe book, Well Fed, and this past week I even made my own mayonnaise. (It’s the little things) I made my own sausage for the first time this month. I tried more vegetables than I ever have before and found my spaghetti pasta alternative in winter squash. FOOD-FOOD-FOOD, it’s all about the food.
Eating out was initially very intimidating, but ultimately, you are paying for the food and you have the right to ask for it to be prepared how you can or want to eat it. If they don’t agree, don’t go back and there is no shame in leaving to find a more healthy eater-friendly restaurant.
Sleep – I believe I have always been a very light sleeper for one reason or another. Growing up I was terrified of the dark, and admittedly, I am still a little afraid of the darkness. My husband is a chronic snoring M-A-C-H-I-N-E and it would sometimes kept me from getting restful sleep some nights. At the beginning of my Whole30 program, I researched earplugs, as I have posted each week in my updates, that was the best money I think I have spent in a very long time. I can relax and get the rest I need to start another day refreshed.
Stress Management – Stress, there was a lot of stress and angst during my Whole30 month. Self-induced mostly, but I was aware of my stress and my stress triggers. That was important to me, for myself to recognize what was pushing me to be stressed and how to effectively relieve it without going “off plan” and ruining the hard work I had already put forth. It was not a switch I simply turned off with ease, it took much coaxing along the way (there was a lot of crying in the car and on runs from time to time) and getting in touch with my feelings and the root of what was making me feel edgy. Hydration, whether you want to admit it or not causes both hunger and stress. When your body is bored, for instance from sitting behind a desk all day, you start to get stressed about food, your ability to get in your run after work and then the thought of making dinner for the “house-divided” when you get home. It compounds over a time. But thankfully, I was able to get a handle on my triggers and do some self soothing like multiple trips to the health food store to keep me on track and getting out and making myself exercise. Endorphins help reduce stress, PERIOD! M-O-V-E!
Exercise – Another obstacle to me was fueling for exercise. Training for my first half-marathon which will be at the end of February, I found myself constantly struggling through my runs. In the end, I found myself very happy that when my half-marathon approaches I will be able to indulge in a little added “help” from fuel sources. They wont be long-term re-adds, but just when I really need them to get me through the long runs. I committed to exercising at least six times per week for my 30 day plan and for the most part, I did stick to that goal and I even threw in some 2-a-day workouts and felt great. Cycling in the morning and running in the afternoon used to be a hard task for me to physically get through, but now, recovery is a breeze and my miles are getting quicker. Slow is still my pace, but I’ll take the days of a quick run with open arms. It’s truly an exhilarating feeling as a runner, new or seasoned. In January my exercise consisted of running, cycling, rowing, weight-training, walking and hiking. It feels amazing to be back on the Healthy Tammy Path, I’ve really missed ME.
Active Recovery – I spent a lot of time and ultimately a lot of money on long soaking baths this month along with Epsom Salts, Trigger Point Performance Therapy Grid Roller and Pro Compression socks. I was also able to find time one evening for an appointment with my favorite massage therapist and friend, Kim Deledda at Cabello’s Midtown Spa during my detox period in week one. I am trying to renew my be kind to me moments and continue to see her more often for sports massage (everything takes time). Oh yeah, my inflammation from my Rheumatoid Arthritis – GONE!
Injury Rehab – Thankfully throughout my Whole30 journey, I did not sustain any injuries which required me to be knocked out of exercise in order to recover. This was something I was very conscious of avoiding. Setbacks are huge when you are trying to change so much at once and I couldn’t afford to take any chances.
Personal Growth – During January, I pushed myself to read the book, We Have Met the Enemy, and though I have not finished the book yet, I will say it has enlightened me to so much about myself. Self-Control is YOUR responsibility and no one else. You must hold yourself accountable for all your choices and not lay blame on anyone for letting you down except for you. After all, you are the keeper of your life and you make choices that you must be able and willing to live with for the long-term. If you cannot, then it’s time to make some self-evaluation time and get on the path of changing what you want to get what you want out of life. Simple truth, you are the keeper of your destiny!
Temperance – So I came, I saw and I utterly FAILED at turning off the television and winding down on my own one hour before bedtime. I am a television JUNKIE! There I admitted it and I’ll commit to work on it going forward.
That’s it, that’s my journey, my insight and my commitment to my future journey to staying healthy and happy and ultimately a handle on the battle of the belly! So what’s next for me? I plan to continue on my Whole30 plan beyond the 30 day mark which officially ends tonight. I will continue to commit to my health and well-being because I am in control of that. If I decide to go off plan for one meal or treat, it’s not that I am falling off the wagon, I am embracing that I can have one off plan indulgence and get right back on and keep trucking. I will continue to make sure that off-plan choices are without severe consequence and thoroughly worth it. I still commit that I will not consume foods that are toxic to me.
OH YEAH, I almost forgot, one more thing . . . There is NO weighing through the 30 days, only on day 1 and day 30 – Day 1 I weighed in at 183.4 lbs. and 30 days later I weighed in at 176.4! (Admittedly, a few months earlier I shared with Shannon that I was pushing 200 lbs., weighing in at 196.4 – and that’s just FRIGHTENING to me!) Though this program was not ultimately about the weight to me and maybe you are thinking all that sacrifice for just so few pounds, but considering that I’ve replaced fat with muscle, I couldn’t be happier!
I will post my final Whole30 photos Thursday morning . . .
Here is a little more about the Whole9/Whole30 – A lot of people have inquired for specifics about the Whole9 program over the past month and what it’s about. Here’s a little background that I found helpful:
What is the Whole9/Whole30? – A Short-Term Nutritional Reset to heal your digestive tract and calm inflammation and end cravings. (Ummmm, I still have cravings, but you get the idea) They do not suggest that you make it a Whole365, but if you choose to do so, that is up to you.
How can you get support for the Whole30? – You can sign up for the Whole30 Daily for a fee of just $14.95 (it’s for the duration of your 30 day program) and it provides you with daily emails of support, resource and inspiration to continue on your journey. They also offer support if you fell off the perpetual wagon and need to restart. It’s not the end of the world, it’s just a reset. If you make it through a day of Whole30 you get a link to a funny little “Congratulations” website filled with positive reinforcement and “warm-and-fuzziness“.
How long has the Whole9/Whole30 been around? – The Whole9/Whole30 was established in April 2009 by Dallas & Melissa Hartwig. They offer personal coaching by themselves and their team by contacting them through the website and rates are based on whom you choose as a coach.
How successful is the Whole30 Program? – The Whole30 program is based on how you work it for yourself, but they say the more you eliminate the more successful you will be in your program. “This is a life-long, sustainable, healthy practice.” – Whole9 Team
They invite you to come in with an open mind and always remember THIS IS NOT A DIET in the traditional American meaning.
Do you have important suggestion for new participants in the Whole30? – Read the book, It Starts with Food the weeks before starting the program. If you are a house-divided, meaning others in your house will not be participating, have a food retreat that you get your food that is separate from those not participating so you will not be tempted by seeing foods you cannot have. Commit 100% and don’t be afraid to try new things. I always welcome any and all questions for newbies to the Whole30 and if I can’t give an adequate answer, I am more than happy to point you in the right direction because in no way am I an expert on any of it, I can just give you advice based on my experience. Don’t give up on yourself and don’t be afraid to reach out. What worked for me or what may have worked for others may not work for you, but you will find the happy medium in the program that does work if you just keep trying. You cannot undo decades of poor habits in mere days. I still have some work to do myself and it took me 27 days to find my “a-ha” moment.
Very special thank you to my husband, Harley that understood and tolerated me for my 30 days of “crazy” and all the support he gave me. Your unwavering support and ability to make me feel beautiful even in my darkest hour is one of the reasons I love you so much!
Special thank you to my Mom, Joan, who on several social occasions stood beside me when I was scared of temptations in social settings, you’re always my Rock!
Thank you to Jesse who reached out to me after our camp-out and before I began this program and helped me look within myself to find my path to healing.
Thank you Tammy P. for always being there to listen and send words of encouragement even when you were struggling with your own family hurdles, your unwavering kindness rocks my world!
Thank you to Shannon Colavecchio and her company, Badass Fitness, for whipping my belly and butt into shape each week for cycle! #FistBump!
I also want to thank all my family and friends that sent notes, posts, texts and other modes of encouragement along the way. You all ROCK! ♥