What I’ve Gained From Completing My First Whole30 and Quitting My Second

For basically my entire life, I’d had all of these  seemingly unrelated, semi-chronic medical issues – migraines, anxiety and depression, constipation, acne, heartburn, a constant tiredness, an inability to maintain a healthy weight no matter how hard I worked. A doctor could never tell me why any of these things were going on in my body; some even denied I was experiencing the symptoms I claimed to have. As a kid (12 or 13), my parents rushed me to the ER for unbearable stomach pain. I was terrified. The doctor quickly returned with the results of my sonogram and let me know that I was “literally full of shit”. He asked me when my last bowel movement was and I couldn’t tell him.  After that day, I started on a steady diet of Mirolax every morning in my orange juice. With its help, I went  to the bathroom ‘regularly’ one time every 2-3 days. I was told at least once that it was “bullshit” that I only experienced bad heartburn after drinking beer or eating pizza and bagels – it had to be all alcohol and acidic foods and coffee, and I had to give up all three forever. After one [miserable] month, I quickly decided a life without tomato sauce and beer is a life not worth living. I started regularly taking Nexium to combat my symptoms and eating whatever I wanted.

I took on my first round of Whole30 in October 2015 after reading an article that caught my attention in the NYT health section about the dangers and risks of taking medications like Nexium (Proton pump inhibitors) long term. To be frank, it scared the shit out of me (not literally, I wish though). I had to deal with this problem at the root rather than fight off the symptoms – what was happening in my body to give an otherwise healthy 24 year old unbearable heartburn? I also noticed that lately the symptoms of my anxiety were getting worse and weirder than ever before. I’d always been a chronic worrier, but now I found that I was scared of social situations, which was a first. My best friend from college had recently finished her first round of Whole30 and was singing its praises. And, while it seemed extreme, it sounded like the only “fad diet” I’d ever heard of that really truly made sense and was backed by science and not just caloric deprivation. And I didn’t have to count or weigh anything. Win.  I’d proven to myself time and time again that I don’t do well when I have to eat less. I figured it couldn’t hurt to try. It was only 30 days. The first two weeks were horrible and more mentally taxing than I ever would’ve guessed, and then on day 16,  I’d never felt better. I finished my 30 days and was down 24lbs, mostly free of acne, had boundless energy during the day, was sleeping better than I ever had before,  was going to the bathroom once a day, and hadn’t had heartburn for weeks.

Before I started my first whole30, my best friend convinced me to try what I sincerely believed to be another fad-diet-challenge-thing that I secretly thought I would fall off of after a few days. After reading the book (at her insistence) I thought maybe this was different. By day 6, I thought I had taken on something insurmountable. Now, at day 31 I know the last 30 days are only my beginning. What you can [kind of] see here is a person who's down 24 lbs (!!!) and overall 14 inches but what you can't see here is what I've gained: more energy, a better night's sleep, clearer skin, digestive health, stronger mental health and knowledge of how much what I put in my body really matters. My relationship with food has started to change and I couldn't be more grateful for what @whole30 has helped me achieve. Extra shout outs to my parents, @jessdegonzz @djrep1022 and @crossfitjetty for being constant sources of support and motivation. #whole30 #day31 #whole30results #paleo #nowgivemepeanutbutter

A post shared by Jess (@gor_jess_fitness) on

During my reintroduction period, my worst fear was realized: my body hates gluten. After extensive research (mostly because I was hellbent on proving science wrong in the name of Bagels everywhere) I realized all of my symptoms pointed directly to a gluten intolerance, something I had been shamelessly mocking as a farce for years. Karma is cruel. I wouldn’t ever get beer back, but cider and wines are OK. There’s definitely a learning curve to living Gluten Free, but I’m getting there.

The Whole30 changed the way I thought about food and it’s relationship with my body for sure. My favorite line from the book is “The food you eat either makes you more healthy or less healthy. Those are your options”. That’s how I approach every meal, now. I make conscious choices to sometimes eat things I know my body won’t necessarily appreciate, but I mentally just really want. However, after my first Whole30 ended, the holidays were upon us. I basically ate whatever I wanted and my symptoms came back as quickly as they left. And, I was craving bread like a drug addict. After Christmas, I felt a little bit out of control so I planned to embark on another round in January with my boyfriend but more so for the moral support of my bestie who decided she needed to reset, but was terrified.

About a third of the way through round 2, I was literally crying because I just wanted to put ketchup on my eggs and have a Caesar salad for lunch. I already knew ketchup didn’t send my sugar monster screaming and cheese (in limited quantities) was ok for me. I tested this already, and I knew it. It felt stupid that I was depriving myself of food I knew my body was ok with. I was moody and sad and dreaded eating or preparing meals. I haven’t had the best emotional or mental relationship with food in the past, so feeling this way scared me. I didn’t feel like it was good for me mentally. Treading the line of depravation like that is a scary thing. I was becoming disordered again, after I’d just spent so much time and work organizing my brain.

I decided my second round of Whole30 was not the best thing for me at that moment in time. I definitely needed a reset and to revisit the rules following the holidays, but 30 days was too long. It was hurting my new, great relationship with food. I was no longer making good choices for me, I was following arbitrary rules and depriving myself and craving foods that I wouldn’t have wanted otherwise. The first time around, I never felt deprived. I knew I was making choices to serve a greater good. And, I’m not talking about depriving myself of cake or ice cream here – literally a tablespoon of Ketchup on my eggs. I felt crazy again. I knew I needed to stop.

After I ate that afternoon (a Caesar salad, sans croutons), I felt satiated but I also felt ashamed that I couldn’t follow through on a commitment I made to myself. But after some reflection, I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t truly in this for me this time. I didn’t feel like I needed it. After 9 days, I felt totally in control again. I was doing this for my friend and to support my boyfriend. By quitting, I did what was right for me at the time, and that’s what the Whole30 is all about – learning to make the right choices for you. I had to be in this for me, not for Nicole and not for DJ. I support them wholeheartedly and I’m so excited to see the changes they’re making in their lives but I can’t cry over cheese related stress on their behalf. I’ve been there and it’s not a place I want to be again.

I am the biggest advocate of this program. I can’t thank Melissa and Dallas enough for what I’ve gained since I read their books. And, I’m happy to know the rules are there for me when I feel like I need them. But more so, I’m glad to find steady ground where I feel good and in control independently of the rules and like I’m making choices and not sliding out of control into a bag of cookies.

 

If you’re curious about The Whole30 check it out here!

Advertisements

My Birthday Watershed Moment

I am not a big birthday person, due in part to the time of year I was brought into the world. As an adult, I feel horribly guilty asking my friends to spend time and money on my birthday so close to the holidays when money and free time are sparse for everyone. I do not have the same caliber birthday celebrations my summer-baby friends enjoy and I’ve never minded that. I enjoy my birthday dinner with my family and usually a low key celebration with a few friends, or sometimes when I luck out, a Rangers game or a concert that’s in town.

All of my birthdays have one thing in common, though. I, like most girls, always shop for an outfit intended to make me look  extra fabulous on my special day. However, my long term memory and a lack of photographic evidence says I am rarely successful in this endeavor. This is because my body is not built to fit in the “going out” clothes that are carried at trendy mall stores. They are cut small and skimpy and I try my damnedest to fit into them every single year and they make me feel big and weird and uncomfortable. I also attribute this to why I do not like clubs – I have nothing to wear that looks like what everyone else is wearing. This is obviously the very worst thing can happen as a teenage-to-early-20’s woman.

This year, though, I’m turning 25  which is a big one, so I made some plans. Not super fancy plans, but plans that at least require my friends to get on the LIRR and hike to Manhattan 5 days before Christmas.

So today, I went out in search of my enigmatic outfit.

Alone in the Express fitting room, after a lot of failures, I found a top I didn’t hate. Success!  I  then pulled on a pair of skinny jeans. They fit, but they looked bad. Real bad. My thighs have never looked more like sausages.

I didn’t get it. The pants were supposed to fit. I just finished my first Whole30. My body feels strong and healthy. My skin looks great. I’m not tired. I lost 24 lbs without ever feeling hungry or deprived; without associating food with a sense of guilt or shame. I’m working out regularly. I’m in better control of my health than ever before. My naked thighs don’t even make me feel this bad. Thanks to lifting, they’re muscular and leaner than they’ve ever been.  I am self-confident. I am self-efficacious. I won. Why don’t the pants fit? That’s supposed to be part of this deal.

I stared at myself for a long 30 seconds, expecting to feel bad. Expecting to mentally punish myself for everything I’ve eaten the last two weeks, just like every year when I accept that I am not good enough for these clothes and walk away with reluctant acceptance of feeling too big and too awkward, trying to feel fabulous in clothes that make me feel like a giant in the munchkin parade. Except, the mental conversation took a surprising turn. Instead of shame it went more like this:

“These jeans cost $70. You have jeans at home that are not that different that make you feel a lot better about yourself. If you wear these out, you’ll spend the whole night self-conscious of your thighs. You’ve been looking forward to this night, you don’t need feeling lumpy to ruin it”

…Wait. What?

Shocked at myself, I wrestled the jeans off, put my own pants back on, paid for the top and some well coordinated accessories and left.

On the drive home, still very confused by what just happened, I realized I’ve spent my whole adult life trying to fit into clothes instead of looking for clothes that fit me. I once (this really happened) looked for calf slimming workouts to fit into boots that I loved instead of just buying wide-calf boots. Nothing says I need to just complacently accept feeling less than spectacular because these jeans make me feel lumpy. There are other jeans in the world. This moment in this fitting room was the first time I actively rejected the clothes instead of letting the clothes reject me.

I liked this idea.

The truth is, there are cute clothes out there that fit me. I am not plus sized by realistic standards, ask anyone who has ever seen me. I am on the upper end of standard retail store sizes and there’s no shame in that. I’d rather wear a bigger size and work a little harder to find great clothes and feel amazing than try and cram myself into something that anybody else could wear that makes me feel like a balloon animal. My mom has always said to me “nobody can see the size on the tag, but everyone can see you spilling out of your clothes” and it has never made as much sense to me as it does today. Today was the first time I didn’t let a $40 piece of fabric determine my self-worth.

I guess this is growing up.

Moral of the story is, if you have to wear pants, find a size that fits you. Nobody else cares about the number on the tag and you’ll be happier for it.

 

 

2015 New Years Resolutions

sarahmarshall

I don’t like resolutions. I don’t like people who talk about their resolutions. I don’t understand why people wait til the first of the year to try and make changes. If you’re unhappy at any point, do something about it and stop talking about it. Nonetheless, I’ve got a bunch of goals to work toward this year. I finished off 2014 really strong and happy.  I think I’m in the best place I’ve been in a while but anyway, here are the short list of my goals to build on that progress and make 2015 even better and stronger.  NOTE: none of these resolutions have to do with a number on a scale because I’m done with that garbage and I’ve never been happier.

1. Handstands 

This staple in CrossFit is one on which I have a lot of work to do but I’m seeing progress gradually so to be able to do one unassisted in the next year isn’t too far off from possible.

2. Unassisted Strict Pull-ups 

Again, I’m getting there, slowly but surely.

3. Complete and Rx “the Murph” on Memorial day 2015 in a respectable time. 

I’d say above the rest of them, this is the real resolution this year; the one that’ll be measured and pushed for. The Murph is the benchmark workout that really cemented for me how much I love CrossFit. Lt. Michael Murphy is an American hero and a personal hero of mine and any sport that pays tribute to him is one worth paying attention to, in my opinion.  This workout is tough but nowhere even remotely close to what he endured for our country and to be able to pay homage to him in any way possible and be included in a group of like-minded athletes celebrating Memorial day for all the right reasons would undoubtedly make my entire year.  That being said, I’ll spend the next 140-ish days building up the necessary strength and endurance to complete this workout and if Dennis doesn’t program it, I will never, ever forgive him.

4. Clean up my diet 

Less for weight loss and more for just general health. I’d like to be here for a while and it’s time I started behaving accordingly and paying attention to what it is that I’m putting in my mouth. Also, the garbage I eat impedes my progress in the gym which is frustrating to no extent.

5. Back squat 115% of my bodyweight. 

This is just so I can say I can do it. I’m all about the story.

That’s about it. If you’re looking for me, you’ll most likely find me in the gym.