Whole30 Challenge: Autumn is Coming

Today marks one week to go before I begin the Whole30 challenge.  In true American style, that means that I have been eating all kinds of stuff I won’t be able to eat for 30 days.  Basically, give me all the cheese, grains, and (to a lesser extent) wine!  GIVE IT.

Wes and I are visiting some people that we met at Atlanta Poly Weekend a few months ago this weekend, hence why I decided that September 2nd would be the day to start this whole thing.  We’re going to a beer festival for goodness’ sake.  Basically it would either be unrealistic or torture to try and do this while in Georgia.  Of course, this also means that the withdrawal portion of the challenge (that first week where your body is all “YO, I usually have a much easier time getting sugars and energy from you.  What gives???  EAT A CANDY BAR FOLLOWED BY CAKE AND A LOAF OF BREAD WITH ALL THE BUTTER ON IT.”) all the harder as I have been eating all that crap and will be coming off a weekend where I simply don’t care what I’m eating.

But like I said, Autumn is coming and the game will be afoot:

game_of_thrones

I’ve been thinking a lot about resolutions lately with this impending challenge.  I notice that I am always primed to make “new year resolutions” in September, and this year is no different.  September is, for kids who went to school in my area (and many other areas in the US), when the new school year starts so for me September always marked a new year in general.  By the time January rolls around, I have been dealing with the new year for a few months and the first of January is pretty arbitrary.  I don’t have any goals in January that I haven’t already been working on since September.

And I realized that of course I found out about the Whole30 when September was right around the corner.  When Autumn is starting to approach, I always start to feel inspired to make some more changes to improve my happiness and health. I have been pretty consistent about doing that (and sticking to that) for the last few years, so it would appear that the time is right to move on to a new set of goals.  Finding out what eating well means for me and what kinds of exercise I can actually motivate myself to do consistently are two very worthwhile goals!

As with most things like this, I will be approaching it as scientifically as possible.  I know that there will be some psychosomatic stuff going on.  I’m going to journal everyday about how I’m feeling , what I’m eating, and all that (not on here…who on Earth would want to hear about that?! I’m sure someone, but I can’t be expected to wittily talk about headaches and the lack of cheese for 30 days straight, you know?) and then at the end see if I can pinpoint trends.  I’ll be reading a lot about how human bodies best absorb various types of nutrients (in what forms and why) and about the gut, which if you didn’t know, is pretty fascinating.  Everyone’s gut is populated by completely different bacteria, which seems to be why there is no wonder diet for humans as a whole.  Our guts are as diverse as our genetics!

So, I am hopeful that I will be able to pull this off, especially since Wes will be doing it with me.  I hope I actually learn something about my body that I didn’t know yet.  And hopefully the headaches and lethargy will be a thing of the past soon!

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2 responses to “Whole30 Challenge: Autumn is Coming

  1. Hey Gina! I did the Whole30 back in January and I can’t recommend it highly enough. I think I’m going to do it again next year too. (I picked Jan because there are no holidays and the Superbowl was a good goal date for an ending. I admire your timing choice because I am simply too weak to give up beer and fall foods once football starts).

    My main motivation was my lethargy. I sit at a desk all day and yet I would still be exhausted every day coming home. And with Julian hitting an age when he wanted to play all the time, I kinda felt like a piece of shit if/when I couldn’t even summon the strength and motivation to play with my favorite person during a time in his life when he actually wants me around.

    There were other ancillary benefits (I lost about 12 lbs while eating more) but the energy thing was by far the most incredible change. It took about a week or two to kick in, but after that, I felt better energy-wise than I had in years. It wasn’t this crazy burst of energy like I could go 100 mph non-stop; it was actually better. It was even. I woke up not feeling drowsy and I stayed alert and level the entire day. That might sound less than exciting but it was amazing. The two things I NEVER was when I did the challenge were hungry or tired.

    Anyway, if you need any resources or tips along the way, please let me know. Planning was the hardest part and I felt like I was eating very strangely for the first week because I was just doing everything to stay compliant. But the meal resources in the book were very good and I think you probably cook more than I do so you’ll find a groove.

    My quick tips:
    – Make your first week meal plan shopping list as soon as possible. I don’t know if you went to the website but they have some downloads that were very helpful. Looks like they’ve added more since I did it but the first two were great: the shopping list and the meal planning template.

    – Get rid of the tempting foods. Obviously difficult when you’re sharing space with others but I at least filled a box with stuff on my Achilles heels and put them in the basement.

    – Find a few simple meals (either from the book or something you already like and know is compliant) that you know you won’t get sick of so they can be your “Go-Tos” when you need them. I made a seasoned taco meat thing that I’d bring to work and put over lettuce and other stuff to make a taco salad. I loved it and I could make it in advance and I knew it would be there on days I forgot to plan ahead. Because forgetting to plan usually means a day of eating almonds and carrot sticks and eggs or whatever and that gets old quickly.

    Anyway, didn’t mean to ramble on but I saw your FB post and I definitely endorse the plan. I had several “hell” days during the month that really tested my discipline but once you get over the hump, it’s actually pretty enjoyable I think. Plus, one of the reasons I went for it was I felt like it had been too long since I voluntarily put myself through something difficult. That alone has its own benefits (and rewards) beyond the hopeful healthy/energy/feel good stuff that you will also experience.

    Good luck and let me know if I can help!

    ~Bart

  2. Hi Bart! Your comment is really encouraging. I have been feeling better for a while in terms of energy (after removing caffeine from my diet for the most part), but I am looking forward to maximizing my wellness and energy levels. I signed up to do a 5K with a friend of mine in early October, so I have an exercise goal too.

    Yeah, everything I have read so far suggests a whole lot of planning. That has generally been my issue doing things like this in the past. I would start out good, but then there would be a more complicated day logistically that I didn’t plan anything for and off the wagon I would go. I have a flight on Friday and a flight home on Monday to come up with a meal plan with Wes, then shopping, and then away we go!

    I’ve been getting a lot of encouragement from people who have done this before so I’m excited for the challenge. I’m so glad it worked so well for you!

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