I've gotten a lot of questions about why I'm doing this, "what are you hoping to achieve?" and "do you plan to eat like this FOREVER??" so I figured I would sit down and write a post about it.
First of all, the easiest answer, is if I plan to live like this forever. No, absolutely not! And the writers of "It Starts with Food" and creators of the Whole30 concept do not intend anyone to eat like this forever either! The Whole30 is merely a "reset" if you will. It's a time to let your body heal itself with foods that will strengthen and enable it. Then, at the end of the 30 days, we will go through a period of reintroduction. One by one, we will add back in the foods that we have eliminated. If they make us feel gross, groggy and sick, guess what? We WILL eliminate them! If we can successfully add things back, we will. :-)
Why I'm doing this and what I am hoping to achieve are much harder to answer. This awesome list was written by Mel at The Clothes Make the Girl and a lot of them are great and valid reasons for doing a Whole30. All of the reasons are very awesome, very true and very convincing, but for me, this is something greater.
If you've been reading this blog for any period of time, you know that I am very all-or-nothing. I quit sugar completely, I ate protein completely, I train completely. I am a goal oriented person for sure. If I don't have an "achievable" at the end, well, it's just not for me. I count calories, I track body fat percentage, I weigh in weekly, if not daily.
I don't talk about it much now, my sophomore year I went through a really emotional time and, through some counseling, was advised that all of my "quirks" were really a form of OCD. It was a shock and yet relief knowing that I wasn't necessarily to blame for my "crazy." It was a situation I would never like to visit again, but I am thankful for the opportunity to gain that insight. Now I was aware - the NEED to list things, to know schedules to minutia, to count calories - they were all driven by a real psychological need.
I spent years dealing with the anxiety that came with the OCD and slowly all of the symptoms began to fade. However, I still have moments. Driving all the way to work only to wonder if I turned off the coffee pot - turning around and going home because I couldn't focus until I KNEW it was off. Waking in the middle of the night to list out the things I needed to accomplish the next day - and rewriting it the next morning if any little thing changed. But biggest of all in my life now - counting calories. Tracking food. Weighing everything that goes in my mouth. Watching the scale, my measurements, my body fat percentage.
This is the REAL reason I
want need to do a Whole30. I've never known the freeing ability of not tracking food. I have going through periods in my life where I stopped tracking, but the side effect was gaining weight because during those non-tracking times, I was eating ALL.THE.THINGS. Then I would begin to gain weight and then the anxiety would start. It seemed as though there was no "right" choice - track and be obsessive or completely ignore it and have anxiety.
When I read "It Starts with Food," things slowly began to come into focus. The most daunting challenge for me (despite saying it was no wine or no half and half in my coffee) was letting go and the psychological side of a Whole30. No weighing myself, no counting calories, no body fat, no measurements. What I read was "no control." For THIRTY days. It made me ITCHY to think I wouldn't be weighing my food and logging it in MFP. And yet, it seems like the best of both of the things I wanted - staying within a healthy weight while not tracking a SINGLE MORSEL.
Every morning it's a fight for me to walk by the scale and not just take a peek. "So who cares if you cheat?" Well, I'm a rule follower. And I trust processes that other people have set out for me. Millions of people have completed a Whole30 and I would imagine that the creators did some research before publishing it. They aren't cruel, they aren't trying to make people miserable. They are aware. They know that there are ebbs and flows in the process. One whole section of the timeline says your pants WILL FIT TIGHTER. How?! Because it's PART of the PROCESS. They are the professionals and I will trust the process.
But that's not to say I won't be happily reintroducing foods when Day 31 arrives!
So those are the big questions I've gotten. Many people have asked other things and maybe someday I'll catalogue those too, but these were the big ones. These are the ones that make me think and really evaluate WHY we're doing this.
I'm on Day 12 now, the part where the psychological TRULY comes into play during this 30 days (according to the timeline, at least!). I wanted chocolate so desperately yesterday. Instead, I drank water and worked it out at the gym. I am bigger than the cravings and I know that now. A few short weeks ago I would have said "Just one piece" which would have led to two and three and four.
It's surprising to me how a process I saw as "losing control" has actually given me all of the control.