About a month ago I embarked on the Whole30 diet program (essentially the Paleo diet) in an effort to get my body ready for Marathon training.
I didn’t complete the whole30 program. I had a bunch of family events and celebrations and I did it successfully for 23 days and that’s okay with me. Why? Because I pretty much follow the Whole30 lifestyle as it is. It wasn’t a huge change for me and I didn’t experience many symptoms other than extreme bloating around days 10-14 (but I also had my period, so there’s that).
There are definitely things about it I liked:
- I was forced to eat more veggies. Veggies were the base to all my meals: even breakfast! I found myself craving salads and raw vegetables. This is most likely a seasonal effect, but still!
- I paid more attention to what food I had on hand and planned meals and snacks ahead of time instead of winging it when busy or at work.
- I felt energized and lighter.
- Not drinking alcohol was the most challenging part for me! I never realized how often I’d resort to a glass of wine or beer after a long shift or when cooking dinner. It forced me to be more present and to not drink away any sadness or frustrations I may have been experiencing.
Here’s what didn’t work for me:
- A lot of Whole 30 for me was feeling like I had to eat all this animal protein in order to feel satisfied and full. And while I don’t ever rule it out, I feel much better when I’m eating plant based protein or fish. I just don’t think I’m much of a carnivore. Doing this diet made me realize that.
- Being restricted for such a long amount of time triggered a lot of old eating disorder and body dysformia thoughts and feelings for me. I didnot like that. There were a few days where I felt like I was playing “a game” to see how little I could eat and feel satisfied just like I used to and that is obviously not good. When I began to feel bloated ( a symptom of cleansing and detoxing) I began looking in the mirror and obsessing over every little wrinkle, jiggle and curve on my body. Getting into this frame of mind is self destructive and affects every area of your life. I felt miserable, unmotivated and wanted to give up. It is a curse and a blessing to be so intuitive because I was fully aware of what was going on, but I couldn’t stop it.
…and that’s the real reason I stopped at 23 days. I saw myself going down the rabbit hole of counting calories, obsessing over the quality of food I was eating, choosing not to eat a meal (or meals), hating my body and myself.
I want to be honest about my experience. I am in no way condemning the Whole30 program. I’m sure it works wonders for some people. But for me, the negatives outweighed the bad and I knew enough was enough. I embarked on the journey to feel fresh and clean and ready for marathon training. Instead, I’m feeling more self conscious than ever.
And that’s why I don’t do diets. DIETS SUCK! They’re too black and white and life has gray area. Also, if you’re experiencing any trials and tribulations in other areas of your life such as relationships, career or spirituality (as an example) it doesn’t matter how much kale you have, you’re not going to feel amazing without working on the other areas of your life first.
That’s another reason I ended the program early, other areas of my life were being pushed to the side. I realized that all the hard work I was putting into successfully completing this challenge was only taking energy away from things that I really needed to focus on. It was really hard to come to terms with this because I felt like I was failing.
But what felt like failure, wasn’t failure at all, it was success.
Because now I’m focusing on stuff that’s way more important than a diet. I’m focusing on my career, my business, my happiness, my health and my artistry. Naturally, by focusing my energy on the things that needed it, I’m only drawn to nourish myself inside and out, I’m not falling off the bandwagon and I’m still eating a pretty whole30-friendly diet because I want to.
And that’s the difference. The desire to fuel yourself with foods that support where you want your energy to go instead of following a regimen that takes up all your energy so you have none left to dedicate to the stuff that really matters. I know how difficult it is to pull yourself out of the dark, lonely hole you dug for yourself. You know, that hole that’s filled with calorie counting and excessive nutrition label checking? Yea. But it’s possible.
Have you ever felt this way? I urge you to experiment by factoring in this non-diet mentality. Think of what else feeds and nourishes you.
Your job? Your partner? Your friendships? Your guitar? Your gardening? Your painting? Your home environment?
Do these other areas of your life feel nourished, taken care of and healthy? If not, try spending more time and energy on these areas of your life. Trust yourself! Get rid of the obsessive calorie counting and worrying and focus on something that really needs it.
Experiment and let me know what you discover! If you feel like you could use more assistance and outside perspective with this, contact me! We can chat and figure out the best program for you to reach your goals and feel healthy, happy and nourished.