I am writing to you from the other side of my Vegetarian Whole 30. It’s been one week since my experiment officially ended and I have much to say about the whole thing.
First things first: I can’t speak for the regular meaty version of the Whole 30, but the Vegetarian version has left me feeling excellent! My stomach problems are absolutely minimal after an entire lifetime of struggle, my skin is soft and super clear (like, I ran out of facewash sometime around the first of June, haven’t replaced it and haven’t had one pimple), my stress levels are significantly lower (as a result of not stressing out over my food choices because they were all good certainly but mostly because i made an active effort to reduce the stress in my life while going through this challenge), I toned up a ton, I naturally need significantly less coffee to feel happy, and I am feeling good and strong in my body, despite getting over an ankle sprain and despite getting over a disgusting and vicious bout of food poisoning (which commenced almost immediately upon the end of my challenge, but is not related to post Whole-30 foods! I got the illness from either organic kale or pasture raised eggs, both prepared by me. Go figure!)
Another thing: literally the most important thing I learned from my Whole 30 is to get enough sleep. I’m serious. It is a game changer.
I mentioned in previous posts that I was interested in continuing my Whole 30 after the 30 days and this rankled some people, most notably my partner. As anyone who loves someone who has had an eating disorder would probably feel, he was concerned about the continued restriction of certain foods and found the idea of indefinitely continuing to do so to be fishy.
Well. That’s reasonable!
It was definitely tough to argue with such a logical point. I agreed with him that if the position was reversed I would be critical, too. (lovingly critical of course). But really, here is the truth about me and this particular restriction of certain foods: I actually feel significantly less stressed about food than in other times of life. When I was mostly eating “clean” (Ew, gross term. Only using it for simplicity’s sake) but was having pretty regular “cheats” (again, ew.) I felt stressed out. An example: When I would go out to eat I would order something that I wanted to eat and that was healthy. Kett would order something that was vegan junk food. I would eat my dinner, and then I would take bites of his. I would end up with a stomach ache from x, y, or z ingredient that would upset me and I would turn it into some sort of moral judgement of my character. (IE you steal your sweet boyfriend’s food, it is terrible crap for you anyway, AND NOW YOU WILL SUFFER. Not just emotionally, but physically too!) Cue sad music and watch me clutch my bloated stomach for the rest of the night and hate myself.
Picture me coming home from a really stressful day of work, and not having slept well the night before. Because I ate very small meals, I was likely starving. Because I was so hungry, and had eaten so little, I felt entirely justified in spooning nut butter into my mouth until dinner time. Then more after dinner time. Cue belly ache. Cue self-pity.
This sort of thing happened all. the. time.
With the Whole 30, I was focused on eating three large meals a day. I definitely snacked, but I didn’t rely on it, and I didn’t need to as much because my meals were bigger. I asked myself why I was hungry, what I was hungry for, if I was stressed, and if I had slept enough before I ate anything and I took a picture of it for my records. Kett’s food was not an option for me, because there were things I couldn’t eat in it. (I think this was Kett’s favorite part of the challenge). This accountability and processing created a brief wedge of time that 99% of the time lead to me leading an awesome life where I feel good as opposed to an awful life where I feel bad. The actual shift in my diet was minimal but the internal dialogue around it lessened tenfold. I felt more peaceful around food than I had in quite some time.
Of course, when I got food poisoning all of this Whole30-ing kind of went out the window. I survived on canned soup (Amy’s organic, gluten free stuff but STILL), miso, smoothies, kombucha, and coconut water for five days. I ate literally whatever I could keep down because I had to survive. Did I care that the soup cans had organic corn in them? Yeah, kind of. Did I eat them anyway? Yes, yes I did.
Now I am back to normal in my guts and mostly back to Whole 30ing with my diet. I did have some Vega protein powder (big Whole30 no-no because of the sprouted brown rice, sprouted quinoa and stevia in it) and it immediately upset my stomach which is a total drag. I am going to give it one more shot, just to see (coincidences do happen, and I think Vega would be beneficial for my lifestyle) but other than that I can’t think of any ingredient that I’d like to add back into my repertoire.
So, probably, people might be wondering about my weight. I had weighed myself and also took my measurements at the beginning of this challenge for the first time in years. I suspected that I may see shifts post 30, and I was correct. They are as follows: I lost three pounds. I also lost an inch off of my chest, .25 inches off of my thighs, 3.25 inches off of my hips, and .5 inches off of my waist.
I ate big meals, exercised significantly less, and probably had 400-500 more calories per day and I lost both pounds and inches. Kinda blows that whole calories-in-calories-out calculation thing out of the water, eh?
A lot of people who do Whole 30’s are making drastic dietary changes and see equally drastic results. It makes sense to me that I lost a not-drastic amount of weight. What really surprises me is losing over three inches off of my hips. I definitely look more toned, and people have said as much in very non-creepy ways that I appreciate. I feel happy that I didn’t have some huge shift, because huge shifts in my body can be triggering for me. I am also happy to have slimmed down some. Is that controversial or unfeminist? I’m actually asking this question because I’m not really sure.
I wonder: Is it actually possible to love our body and want to see changes? Lately I am stoked on how I feel about myself and still, I want to lose a few more pounds. Many of my closest people probably cringe when they hear that, given my history. I personally cringe in some ways when I think it, given my politics. What do you think?
For me, I guess it is about the amount of brain space it takes up. All-in-all I obsess about food and exercise and body less than I did before. I talk about it less (outside of this blog) and I am really much more focused on, I don’t know, enjoying myself more. It has been an entirely socially productive summer (although not necessarily a work-productive summer) and I think that is a direct result of more self-love, including body stuff. And I still want to tone up a little more. Is that a big deal? EH. You decide.