This seems so navel-gazing to discuss things about myself, but I suppose that is the purpose of a blog. Since I intend to post Whole 30 recipes, I may as well mention what that is for those not in the know and tell a bit about my journey. A lot of information can be found at http://whole9life.com or just by googling “the whole 30”, but basically it’s like really strict Paleo-style eating. Now, seriously, I don’t care about Grok, I am not a hunter gatherer and I really don’t typically do fasts or fads or things like this, but I don’t really think this is a fad unless eating real food is a flash in the pan. I’m getting ahead of myself…
Let’s go back.
I stumbled upon The Whole 30 through a blog, maybe a few blogs. Through my corner of the internet it had entered my knowledge that there was a 30 day food challenge that revolved around cutting out preservatives and processed food for 30 days to use yourself as a science experiment. Changing my eating will make me feel _____________? An IRL Mad Libs! For a while I had all the templates and PDFs saved on my iPad and it was just something I was considering, but I didn’t really think was possible. There were a lot of nos. No dairy, no legumes, no sugar, no alcohol, no grains, no soy, no weighing yourself, no cheating, no thank you. I felt that I ate very healthy. After so many failed diets and plans, I had settled into making a lot of food at home, shopping at farmer’s markets, and just trying to enjoy the things that went into my body. Over the years, I had tried and failed with Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, calorie restriction, Atkins, and a nutritionist who put me on an elimination diet that only served to eliminate my happiness and produced no weight loss. I had had my thyroid tested numerous times. There was nothing wrong with me. But still, my weight crept up and up every year. It bummed me out.
That’s shallow. I know that. What does it matter what we look like? I had friends, a family, a husband & son, a job, hobbies, a spectacular wardrobe. I wasn’t suffering, I wasn’t unhealthy even. But I felt like crap all the time. Physically, I was uncomfortable. Mentally, I was sad about the way I looked which made me insecure and less confident than I wanted to be. It weighs on you, pun intended, to worry if you will fit in a chair, to walk into a room and immediately assess if you are the biggest one there, to feel like people are judging your food choices as if to say, “that explains it”. It’s exhausting to always feel like the worst thing about you is the thing that everyone can see. Maybe it is entirely society, and I’m a sucker, just a victim to the portrayal of an idealized image. I don’t know, man; I’m human. All I know is that I was getting to feel like I didn’t even want people to look at me. And to quote A Chorus Line (because anytime is a good time to do that), “that ain’t it kid, that ain’t it, kid”. The truth is that sometimes I like people to pay attention to me. I’m maybe even slightly narcissistic. I mean, duh- I’m writing this down on a blog. (Ba dum dum. I’m like “Shecky: Live from the Catskills” up in here. I’ll be here all week. Tip your waitress!) I do sort of like attention in the sense that I am funny and loud, and I care a lot about clothes and dress in a way that is meant to be noticed, and I also do things that lead to people looking at me more often than others: think karaoke superstar, not something crazy or horrific. I also write poetry. And I sometimes read said poetry behind microphones on stage. And a lot of that poetry is about body image and feminism and female objectification and commodification. So that makes it super awkward when you are known as someone who goes around talking about how people should love themselves in whatever house they live in while constantly wanting to demolition your own. Weight and feminism are tricky subjects and for me they are really intertwined. Am I less of a feminist if I use up blog space to discuss weight loss? It seems so trivial. But the truth is, I feel so different. Please don’t think less of me for talking about this. I promise the gains aren’t all aesthetic, but I’m not going to deny that I feel so much cuter and more confident than I did prior which cycles into my mentality and effects everything else.
So I tried the Whole 30. I started in March 2015. I committed. I hid the scale, read the book, went all in. I said, I am an adult and this is what I’m choosing and in the end, I can decide what’s next. And I read and re-read the part that talks about if it doesn’t work for you and I thought, that will be me. This will be one more thing that I try and fail at and I will continue to feel so uncomfortable in my skin. I took pictures. And then I thought, hot damn. I think this is working.
The first month I lost 9.4 pounds. Since my first Whole 30, which was this past March, I have completed 3 rounds and kept a mainly Paleo diet in between. I am currently 5 days into a Whole 15, which I may extend until Thanksgiving. So far I have lost 35 pounds. I don’t do inch measurements, but I dropped a few sizes overall. Here are some before & afters taken at different points through the last 7 months:
My whole relationship with food has changed. I no longer spend precious time second guessing what I eat. Gone are the hours wasted in tallying up points or calories in/calories out and then subtracting that from my self-worth to see if I come out in favor at the end of the day. I am always in favor. I make my diet (as in what I eat, not a restriction of what I can eat) a priority, and in turn my hair and skin look awesome, I have a greater variety of clothes that I feel comfortable in, and I have energy and confidence for days. Something I really like about it is that it’s really all available for free online. There’s no miracle tools or meetings or any extraneous things that you need to be successful at this. You have to cook a lot, and read all your labels, but eventually it all becomes second nature like anything else. We, as humans, can adapt to anything. For example, I had adapted to feeling like garbage all the time. I no longer do. I realized the other day that I hadn’t put myself down in a long time. In fact, I’ve been filling my phone with selfies like the vainest conceit in VanityLand. I don’t even care. It feels good to feel good. Because of Whole 30 and the changes that have happened since starting to really look at what’s in the food that I eat, I have the confidence to say that I stuck with something, and succeeded at it, and I look and feel pretty great because of it. It has given me the self-assurance to try for other things in my life as well, things that have nothing to do with my physicality, to open myself up to possibilities I had previously thought were impossible to strive for. So often, we are so open with our self-deprication and self-deprivation but we feel uncomfortable expressing pride in a job well done. Screw that. I am proud of myself. And if that’s not feminist, then I don’t know what is.