For real though, this has been the best thing I have done for myself this year. It has been a long time coming for me to get my eggs in a basket for this commitment. I took long enough justifying and claiming I needed this and that. Finally, in March I made the decision to start Whole30 in April, so all of March I had time to start eliminating certain bad foods and to wrap my head around it mentally. That part I think was key, it is too hard to jump from burgers and cheesecake to spaghetti squash and goji berries. Mental peace is always key in every facet of life really.
April rolled around and lucky me I got to go to my breast surgeon for a follow up, so I was able to weigh myself the day I started this party. I weighed in at 177, which has actually already been progress for me. After having Henley, and breastfeeding, and then being diagnosed my weight has been all over the map and I felt like I never had a chance to really get myself back.
April 2nd I was done justifying why I needed creamer in my coffee, half a block of cheese in a day, sourdough bread to accompany my pasta at dinner… and well, you get the picture.
What do you give up?
SUGAR was the easiest for me to give up. I have a real fear for sugar now, in all the research I have done about sugar triggering cancer or fueling cancer… I just cannot have a piece of cake any longer and feel good about it. I have WAY too much at stake. I did have to become fluent in hidden sugars and all the mumbo jumbo, the awesome big corp food people try to ccamouflage this hazardous ingredient in pretty much EVERY food everywhere... dextrose, sucralose, etc. (Grr)
DAIRY: was the one I always struggled with giving up… I am a cheese plate girl through and through. Fly me to Paris and put fromage et le pain in front of me and I will love you forever. Cheese was my dessert, it was my love language…Evan (er Santa) would put fancy cheese in my stocking! How on earth could I give up the soulmate on my plate?! Milk, I had decided to give up…I read enough research and finally listened to my sister in law (Sorry Heather!) and realized with the high pasteurization process, also attributing to causing cancer, I could not legitimately drink my beloved whole cow’s milk anymore. Nor could I let me my girls be exposed to this either. And creamer… I could not for the life of me find a creamer that I enjoyed in my relished cup of coffee every morning. It had to be half n half. However, I always had a gut that I tried not to pay too much attention too, I had bloat and digestive issues that just wouldn’t go away. I had a feeling dairy had a lot to do with this.
GRAINS these I have been working on eliminating, but man do I love an amazing bowl of pasta. With that said, I am sure if I was in Italy my body would react just fine to their handmade delicacy because it was nutrient rich. Here we eliminate so many nutrients out of every gosh darn thing in grocery stores, to make it as cheap and easy to produce as possible, no wonder we aren’t getting what we need from grains like our forefathers did.
LEGUMES these were challenging because I love beans. I always grew up with them as a main part of our protein intake…and all kinds black, kidney, great northern, garbanzo, pinto, lentils. But again, I’ve had digestive issues my whole life…maybe there is a reason why they want you to give up legumes.
PRESERVATIVES: this was a no brainer for me. I already had made that switch a while ago, but making sure I understood labels was key. I pretty much needed to stick to the outer perimeter of the grocery store for what would be whole 30 approved.
ALCOHOL: I am on chemo pills, so I don’t think drinking alcohol is really a good idea anyway right now. I knew I could handle 30 days sans wine.
What I CAN have?
MEAT- grass fed, organic is key. I obviously want the best quality and nutrient dense food as possible. So being selective about these options was imperative. I love chicken thighs because they have so much flavor, ground turkey, bison steaks, lamb chops, pork loin, salmon….and BACON. Holy moly once I found sugar free bacon (yes sugar is added to every bacon I found but two), I was so thankful I could eat this.
EGGS: eggs are a staple in whole30 cooking! I eat them fried, scrambled, hard-boiled, etc. If I am ever in a panic about needing food, I eat an egg. (organic, cage free is the best option)
COFFEE- phew! I could have my coffee, now I just had to figure out what to put in it. I discovered I really like cold brew black coffee. I also discovered the full fat, coconut cream (found in the international aisle) is a really delicious, thick, creamy addition to coffee…came quite close to half n half. And I love a good ole cup of English Breakfast or Earl Grey tea.
VEGGIES: I try to eat all the veggies I can…. I try to mix it up. But I am a terrible planner of the meals these days. I fly by the seat of my pants most nights. Frozen veggies are key for me because I just don’t have the time like I used to, to chef up meals… although I am working on getting back there! The other night we literally had chicken thighs, cooked in olive oil and frozen okra cooked in the same pot as the chicken. It was simple, it was healthy, and it was delicious.
FRUITS: Thank goodness, I can have fruit! This has become my dessert. I keep it small, to a ramekin of blackberries and mango or kiwi and raspberries are now my “cheese” essentially.
NUTS: I love pecans and almonds. I am interested in all the nut milks! I read an article that broke them all down and cashew milk is supposedly an awesome coffee creamer substitute, I have that on my list to try. Almond milk we use in cereal, baking, and oatmeal now (all primarily for the girls now). I am such a granola girl, I was sad to give that up, but I did recently discover a grain-free granola! I have had this a few mornings with almond milk + berries and it is delicious. Coconut milk I have used on occasion too.
OILS: We love olive oil and I recently got Avocado oil. Enriching our bodies with healthy fats is so important on whole30. I eat lots of avocados now too.
Snacks: some favorite snacks have been: eggs, Larabars, some KIND bars, nuts, some EPIC bars (healthy meat sticks) tomatoes drizzled in olive oil, salt and pepper and procuitto + apple slices + dates = yum!
HOW DO I FEEL? Well, I feel amazing. I remember reading the intro online and it said, “You guys this is not hard. Fighting cancer is hard. You can do this.” And I thought, ha well this will be a piece of cake! My mentality from the beginning was, this is my body and I have to fight for my life, so I will do whatever it takes. And my positive attitude has served me well through my entire fight, and in this new chapter of really focusing on my diet. I am losing weight, my energy feels great, my cravings are curbed, I no longer have these ravenous moments where I am shoveling food in, I eat when I am hungry and I don’t when I don’t. I don’t calorie count, I don’t measure or weigh food, I just choose whole foods and enjoy my meal.
I was able to cheat a bit and weigh myself (they really encourage you not to focus on that, but how you feel and how your clothes fit) a week into my Whole30 challenge, because I was seeing my oncologist (legitimate reason to cheat lol) and I was down 4 lbs…in one week. I think my body was holding on to all this stuff and when I started giving my body nutrient dense foods, it just released all that unnecessary weight. My clothes are starting to fit better, many are way too big. I have had SUCH a hard time with my weight management, that this has given me such a boost of confidence and inner joy. I feel like it was the last piece of the wellness puzzle for me... I have been using my "plant juice", working out, and now I am eating the best way for me.
I am 18 days in and I feel awesome. I love feeling like I am taking charge of my health. I work out with Camp Gladiator (lunges and burpies...both I used to loathe are not nearly has hard anymore!) which helps me tone my muscles and make me strong and the Whole30 helps me get all the nutrients I need and keep out all the ones that do nothing but cause harm to my body.
Indulgence- I believe in indulging and celebrating…but wouldn’t it be nice if these indulgences and celebrations weren’t always centered around food?! Yes, all in moderation, and I hope that one day I get to a place where I can enjoy a little something. The biggest takeaway for me is that I am doing right by my body. This intentional living will help me live longer and happier with my husband and two young daughters.
I go to my oncologist on April 30th and I am excited to see my weigh in for the month. After this Whole30 challenge is done, I plan on sticking to this lifestyle as much as I can. I will dabble in cheese and wine again I am sure, and it’ll be interesting to see how my body feels afterwards.
I will check back in when I am finished with some of my favorite recipes from this month!