My Reasons for Doing the Whole 30 Cleanse and Losing Weight was not one of Them
I had been thinking about doing a cleanse for a while, so when a friend of mine told me about the Whole30, we both agreed to team up and do it together. Besides, it always helps to have a friend to hold you accountable.
I am known to struggle with consistency, so completing this challenge without caving was a challenge in itself.
My workout routine is pretty solid. 5-6 times a week at the gym for almost 20 years, I finally got to a place mentally where I was okay with my appearance.
I got rid of my scale because our weight is something that continuously fluctuates. One day you are up a couple pounds and the next you are down. Unless I am competing, (which I do not do) or if I am pregnant, (which I am not) or if there were a significant increase or decrease in weight, scales are deadly to the psyche. They can manipulate our minds to believe the pounds we carry define our actual appearance. Not necessarily the best place to be mentally. Besides I work hard at the gym. Too hard in fact to monitor every pound, I gain and lose. I have learned to accept that some days will be lighter than others. As long as I exercise and maintain a healthy diet, for the most part, I am going to enjoy my food options, rather than restrict them. Even though I would not frown upon shedding a couple pounds from the cleanse, losing weight was not the primary benefit I was internally seeking from it.
The main reason I wanted to do this was to teach myself a lesson in self-discipline. I have been known to not finish what I start. Not because I am irresponsible, but because somewhere along the way I either become discouraged or get caught up in the wild current of everyday life.
With recently launching my blog and deciding to seriously pursue my passion in writing, not finishing what I start is no longer an option. I was terrified I would repeat the vicious circle of starting and stopping, and with nobody to hold me accountable, but myself I needed a challenge. Something that I never attempted before and something that was not easy. In my mind, if I completed the whole 30 days without even a taste of the restricted foods, I was mentally strong enough to conquer all the other things that stand in my way of pursuing my dreams. The feeling of accomplishment would fuel me with enough confidence in getting through the tougher challenges in my life.
The second reason I wanted to do the cleanse was to see if it made a difference in my mind, body, and soul. I wanted to see if the effects helped me feel better, both mentally and physically. Not that I felt unhealthy before, but I read that as your body rids the toxins from your body, your energy level increases and you gain mental clarity. We can all use more of that right? Thinking more clearly may help my focus and sharpen my decision-making skills. Crazy that by eliminating some foods, it can remove some fog in our brains. Food certainly does impact how we feel.
As I wrote out my shopping list a couple days before my start date, I realized that a lot of the foods I was able to eat on the Whole30 were the same foods I typically consume. I try and maintain a paleo style diet on a regular basis, so many of these foods I was familiar with. This should be a breeze. I just need to eliminate all sweets, dairy, and grains. I like quinoa, but not that much for me to miss it for 30 days. The challenge for me was giving up my sweets and coffee creamer. I have a rapid, sweet tooth and I love my flavored coffee creamers. But, pitching them for 30 days wouldn’t be the end of the world.
A Snapshot of my 30-day journey:
The first week was the toughest for me, which seemed to be the case for most people as well. My friend, I was doing this cleanse with had read to me how we should expect to feel every couple days. This was important to know because you want to make sure what you are feeling is normal. You undoubtedly undergo some changes.
I battled a splitting headache for the first few days that aspirin didn’t seem to cure. I was dizzy and light headed, so I made sure to drink additional amounts of water during these days.
The temptation to have just a bite of something sweet was pretty intense. Every couple minutes it seemed I was wrestling with that temptation too. I wasn’t used to having to fight it off. Before the cleanse I would just give in. If my body craved it, I ate it. If I wanted a cup of coffee, I had one, but this time that wasn’t an option. It really brought into focus how much of a stronghold food really has on me. The amount of mental effort that went into fighting these temptations off was pretty surreal at times. But, the more it harassed me, the more disgusted I became that it had that much power over my will.
My husband was very supportive through this. He insisted that I don’t buy any sweets for him because he didn’t want me to be tempted. I disagreed, so I bought it anyway. We don’t always have that option in real life. Even though we should always strive to avoid situations that can lead to temptations, sometimes we find ourselves in those places. In those circumstances, our individual choices become vital.
Every challenge during this cleanse, I had compared to what I will face while pursuing my dreams. I wanted to create a living situation as realistic as possible next to challenges I would face in other areas of my life. It would be a beautiful thing if struggles didn’t come just because I didn’t buy something. That’s just not how it works.
I started to actually pay attention to the foods I was buying and eating. I never studied food labels as much as I did during the cleanse. It blows my mind how sugar is in almost everything! There were days I wanted to snack on something other than fruit so badly that I feared I had no other options. Everything I grabbed off the shelves had some ingredient that was not Whole 30 compliant. I settled for Pistachios, almonds, and cashews.
I never imagined that I would look forward to eating an apple for a snack. I actually began to see it as my dessert. The natural sugars from fruit were God-sent to me. It was something. I went through bags of them in those 30 days.
I began to research more and become more creative in my food choices. I could not just use almond coffee creamer in my coffee. And there was no way I could drink it black. I found a recipe online that was Whole30 compliant that actually sounded pretty good, so my homemade coffee creamer became my solution for my coffee for the next 30 days. It took time and work to consistently make a new batch of it. It was pretty thick, so I had to use a lot of it in one cup of coffee. Every few days, I needed to make more, which meant spending more money.
I stayed away from eating out where food and alcohol were present. I never realized how much of our social lives revolve around alcohol and food. That was a challenge for me as well. I loved being out and enjoying a cocktail after a week of work. It was a change for me to come home and not be able to enjoy that. Instead, I would sip and savor a large class of fruit water instead.
I did the cleanse during Easter, so I had to prepare and pack my own food, which took additional time and work. As everyone around me was indulging in a tasty Easter meal, I did my best to enjoy my broiled salmon over a bed of mixed veggies. It was difficult watching people eat dessert, while I settled for a cup of coffee with my magical homemade creamer.
Every day, my husband would put an ice pack in my lunch with a thermos of coffee creamer. I would go through the drive-through of either McDonalds or Dunkin Donuts, order a black coffee, pour some of it out and use my homemade creamer.
I served on a youth retreat weekend, where I stayed from Friday to Sunday. I spent an additional $150.00 or so on food to prepare and bring with me. I was serving with my friend who was doing the cleanse with me, so we shared in bringing meals for each other.
In addition to lugging in my bags, I also carried in a crock pot of pork and coolers of snacks and compliant ingredients for the weekend.
Adjusting to these new habits was time-consuming and many times inconvenient. I had to take the time to prepare more. I had to be more creative in my food preparations. I had to adjust to new habits. I had to fight off temptations more. I had to pay more attention to the foods I was buying.
After the first couple weeks, it got easier. They say it takes 21 days to break a habit, and I wholeheartedly believe that. It was still a pain to have to lug my own foods around, but it started to become a habit. It was becoming normal. My sugar cravings were subsiding, and I was starting to feel more energetic. The afternoon drowsiness I would often feel was gone. I felt as awake at 3 p.m. as I did at 9 am. Foods even began to taste better to me. I appreciated my meals more. As each day passed, the more determined I became in accomplishing this challenge.
As the last night of the cleanse approached, I surprisingly felt sadness. I felt like I was going to return to all my bad habits again. Even though my food options were becoming dull and cumbersome, I felt as If I was going to miss it. I didn’t want to go back. I knew that it was unrealistic to live according to the Whole 30 rules permanently, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t take some of their rules and apply it to my life. I was unsure if it was going back to eating non-compliant foods that made me sad or the feeling that I was going to slingshot myself back into usual habits.
The feeling of accomplishment I felt was amazing. I lost a total of 3 lbs., nothing compared to most people that did the cleanse. But, the self-discipline it taught me far exceed the benefits I ever expected to feel.
I didn’t give up.
I didn’t cave.
I didn’t get lazy.
I put in the time.
I put in the effort.
I fought off the temptations.
It made me stronger.
It brought me more clarity.
It was the first time in a long time; I could honestly say I felt proud of myself. I did it! And in my mind, that means I can finish what I start. I can fight off other strongholds in life. I have the strength. I have the will power. Pursuing my passions doesn’t have to just be a pipe dream.
Everyone has their different reasons and different ways this cleanse has affected them. For me, this cleanse boosted my confidence in myself and gave me hope that this isn’t the only challenge in my life I can accomplish. And I needed that reminder.