formerly Diane's Addled Ramblings... the ramblings are still addled, just like before, and the URL is still the same...
it's just the title at the top of the page that's new

Monday, September 7, 2015

In the Words of James Brown...

Since I'm coming up on the three-month mark for my whole foods experience, I thought I'd share an update about how it's been and how it's going.

If I had to sum it up in one sentence, it would be this one:

This has been the best decision of my entire life.

True story.

I've spoken to several other people who have done or are doing the Whole30 challenge and I've found that most people struggle a bit with it, at least at first. That's understandable, really, as you suddenly, all at once, eliminate entire food groups from your diet (sugar, grains, dairy, legumes, processed foods) and the cravings for those foods can be pretty damned powerful. Fortunately, I haven't struggled at all. Now, when I first heard about the plan over a year ago, my reaction was, yeah, no way in hell. But when I started, nearly 90 days ago, I was ready. I was beyond ready. I was sick and tired, from chemo and my under-functioning thyroid, and from fighting the depression that comes from being sick and tired.

That whole sick-and-tired-depression thing? It's cyclical. And it sucks.

So, as I say, I was ready. And for me, Ready = Motivation. And all I need is motivation. Because, for me, Motivation = Willpower.

It took me a long time to work that out.

Slow and steady wins the race, right?

I should note here that although I didn't do the Whole30 challenge to lose weight, I figured it would be a happy byproduct. And since I'd blown up like a balloon since my cancer diagnosis (because I live in Topsy-Turvy Land, that's why), I was hoping it would be a happy byproduct. It was. It is. To date, I'm approximately 30lbs down. Last night? When I changed into my pajamas? My jeans came off without me having to unbutton them. Three months ago I had to suck in to zip them. And that? Is cool, people.

However, again, this is not about losing weight.

OK, this is not completely about losing weight.

It is about getting healthy. It's about finally, for once in my life, giving my body what it needs. It's about finally, for once in my life, taking care of myself - real care. It's about finally recognizing that I deserve to be healthy, to have what I need, to care for myself, and to feel good.

It's most definitely about feeling good.

And I?

Feel good.

I feel really good.

For the first 45 days, I stuck to the plan like glue. I ate nothing but vegetables, fruit, lean proteins, and some good fats. That was it. Not one diversion. As I mentioned, because I was so ready, I found it incredibly easy and I, thankfully (and shockingly), didn't have any cravings. Now, I didn't feel great right away, which was disappointing, as the testimonials on the Whole30 website were all about drastic changes in the first few weeks. But I still had chemo in my system and my energy level did improve, so I cut myself a little slack. I also figured that I'd spent years doing damage with food and I wasn't going to be able to fix it all in a month or so of healthy, clean, organic-whenever-possible eating.

So I soldiered on.

About six weeks in, I started to feel significantly better and when I went on vacation, though I strayed from the plan just a tiny bit (for which I did not feel guilty), I was able to do physical things I hardly dreamed of doing a month earlier. It was bloody fantastic! Back at home, I got right back to it. I was feeling really good by then and the weight was just falling off.

More about the weight loss... first, I should note that other than when I was on vacation, I did very little exercise for the first two months on the plan. It took about month after the last chemo treatment for the heart palpitations to stop and for the elephant that had been sitting on my chest for 5 months to get the hell off me. I got winded walking from the bedroom to the bathroom. Seriously. Needless to say, I wasn't moving much. I am now, however... I've gotten back to the gym, met with a trainer, and I'll start swimming in a couple of weeks.

Second, for the first time in my life, I stopped focusing on losing weight. See, I've fought weight issues for the last 20+ years. I have allowed my weight to rule me; I've allowed it to dictate much of my life. I've won a few battles here and there, certainly, but I was starting to believe I'd lost the war.

Until Whole30.

For the first time ever, instead of counting calories or points and stressing about what fit into whatever diet-puzzle I was living in at the moment, I just ate.

I just ate.

I ate lots of good-for-me food. I ate when I was hungry. I ate until I wasn't hungry anymore. I ate at the times my body told me to eat. I settled into this nice rhythm of steady, healthy, good-for-me meals and snacks. I didn't count one damned thing.

And I lost weight.

And I heard hallelujah bells and angels singing!

My oncologist was thrilled with the changes she saw. The chemo knocked my cancer back to manageable levels and the whole foods knocked my thyroid back to almost-normal levels (without medication!). I was thrilled with the changes I saw and felt.

I still am.

After two months, I reintroduced a few things -- raw honey, was first. I love it in my tea and it's so good for you. Some dairy was next. Surprisingly, my stomach didn't handle milk well. I've always been a milk drinker and I love it, so this was disappointing. I still have a glass occasionally and I put cream in my tea, but that's it. I haven't had cheese or ice cream yet (though I did have a small gelato recently, which also wasn't kind to my tum [boo]) and I'm in no hurry to try them. I added a few grains, too, like brown rice, quinoa, and steel cut oats. I know grains are an issue for me, though, and they're an inflammatory food and bad for my thyroid, so I limit them significantly (around twice a week). Once in a very blue moon, I have a bit of sugar, but I have to really, really want it (and I don't often want it. And that? Is kind of a miracle). Oh, and I had a few handfuls of popcorn at the movies last night.

That's it.

And I think that might be all it's ever going to be.

Well, except for the occasional glass of wine. I haven't had wine since my birthday in February (shocker!!) but I expect I'll give it a go again sometime soon.

Bottom line, although eating this way can be expensive (though it shouldn't be... I guess we all live in Topsy-Turvy Land, eh?), and time consuming to shop for (I go to six different places now!) and prepare (I actually have to, you know, cook), it is worth every effort.

It is worth every effort.

Lord knows I can't give anyone advice on anything when it comes to health or weight loss. But I can tell you how I feel and what's working for me. And this is working for me.

It has, truly, been the best decision of my entire life.

My Whole30 challenge has become my WholeLife resolve.

And in the words of James Brown: I feel good!