The 30 days are finally up.
I spent the last 30 days going strict with my diet and following the famed Whole 30 Diet. For those of you who know me, the way I eat fluctuates quite a bit depending on what is going on in my life. Leading up to a big climbing expedition, I'll eat whatever I want to build up my fat reserves. In peak memory training season, I'll go lean and clean to make sure my brain is sharp. So my weight goes up and down quite a bit. And in-between these fluctuations, I wrestle with the urge to satisfy my sweet tooth. I of course always make sure to eat certain brain healthy foods every day in some form, but I have been eating a lot of bad foods in recent months.
Ever since I got into CrossFit in 2012, I wanted to get bigger and stronger. I had always been skinny and lanky growing up, so I was finally determined to try and bulk up. I was sitting at 215 lbs as a weak, skinny, runner body type. Four years later, I've changed my fitness and strength into something unfathomable - I can lift more than I ever thought possible, my fitness engine can run for much longer, and my recovery after tough workouts is extremely fast. My average weight now? Between 240-250 lbs. Mostly muscle.
Let me say that again....mostly muscle.
Ever since I got back from Everest in May, I started packing back on the 37 pounds I had lost. It was great, I literally just ate whatever I wanted. Then I had my wedding suit sized in late July and then when I tried on the suit a month later, it didn't fit anymore. YIKES.
So I decided to do the Whole 30 diet. 30 days of no sugar, no legumes, no rice, no pasta, no bread, no dairy, no alcohol....basically nothing good. The idea of the diet is to rid myself of all the toxic manufactured foods, especially sugar. My body runs on sugar. It uses it for energy throughout the day, but that typically leads to a quick crash and then hunger pangs craving more sugar. With the diet, I was going to train my body how to use fat as my energy, not sugar.
There are plenty of blogs out there that detail every single day of the Whole 30 and what it's like, but I'll just recap it here.
The first few days were horrible. More than anything, it showed me just how much I rely on food (specifically sugar) to control my emotions. That sounds so stupid, but it's true. The first few days without sugar I was miserable. I had difficulty staying motivated and I didn't have anything to lift my spirits (which typically would have been food). This (I'm fairly certain of) was my Sugar Dragon raging. I am addicted to sugar, plain and simple. I love cookies and sweets. I love sodas. I love sauces. ALL THE SUGAR!
My outlook on the diet was not looking good. I was ready to give up after two days. But I stuck through it, and after day 3 and 4, my sugar cravings just disappeared. I was able to find other ways to stay happy and motivated. I realized also that I like to eat bad when I'm just bored. So instead of opening the fridge when bored, I'd go and do something actually productive. Also, I found that when I felt hungry, I was actually just thirsty. So I'd drink a glass of water and I'd be fine.
After a week, I started to feel sluggish and lethargic. No energy. That was my body figuring out how and where to get its energy from. I was also getting hungry more often. The easy fix was just to eat more. The beauty about the Whole 30 diet is that you can eat as much as you want (as long as it's Whole 30 compliant). So no matter what time of day, if I was hungry, I'd go and eat some nuts or cook some chicken. I liked that part a lot.
Half-way through (Day 15-ish) and I had some serious tiger blood. Two weeks had passed before I had even known it and I was ready to commit all the way through the remaining 30 days.
Nearing the end of 30 days I was having difficulty again. This was probably because I knew I had only a couple days left and I had my mind teasing me and tempting me saying, "What difference will a day or two make? Just eat some sugar now!" But I stuck it out and made it.
It was an amazing learning experience about my body and taught me that I don't always have to eat necessarily what my body craves. I can find creative ways to eat foods (that are simpler) that my body needs.
Will I continue the diet? In parts, yes. But I still like being big. I like eating my pizzas and drinking my whole milk. But I think from here on out I'll eat smarter. I'll ask myself the question, "is it worth it?" before I indulge in something I know is not necessarily great for my body. If the answer is "hell yeah," then I eat it and accept the consequences. If it's a "meh" or if it's only me eating something because I'm bored or because "it's there," then I leave it alone.
For those trying to clean up their diet and/or trying to figure out ways to improve their quality of life, this is a highly recommended 30 day challenge. And again, it's ONLY 30 DAYS!