On Sundays, I cook. Today’s meal-prep menu:
- Whole chicken, slow-cooked and shredded (carcass saved for bone broth)
- Sweet potatoes and onions, roasted in EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil) with cumin, turmeric, ginger, garlic powder, salt and pepper
- Butternut squash and carrot soup with Italian turkey sausage
- Overnight chia pudding with almond butter, coconut milk, coconut flakes, and cacao nibs
Everything is packed in tupperware for portability and stacked in the fridge. It seems totally efficient – until I try to get something from the back of my shelf, and a mason jar and Kombucha bottle fall on my toes. It happened three times today…
Why, you ask? Why all the prep? Why spend my whole Sunday cooking?
I’m on Day 28 of my second Whole30 Reset.
A year ago, and for years before that, I was not in great physical shape. I don’t mean I wasn’t exercising – on the contrary, I had gotten involved in Spin classes (at The Beautiful Bike, highly recommended), and was exercising hard. I mean that I was sleeping poorly, I had chronic allergies, I had eczema on my hands, and I had random and acute stomach pains. I constantly felt tired, bloated, and low on energy.
It turns out, I have Hashimoto’s Disease, which is an autoimmune disorder where my body attacks my thyroid with homemade antibodies. Thyroids regulate metabolism and hormones, which affect energy levels, skin, hair, the immune system, the body’s stress response…in short, they’re super important, and mine was just non-functional.
I went to a doctor and she prescribed me Levothyroxine, a synthetic thyroid hormone that replaces the hormone that my body isn’t producing enough of and balances out my system. She told me to get my blood tested again in a year, to make sure it was working.
Fast-forward to this fall, a year later, when I finally decided it was time to consult a Naturopath. I had already done a month of Whole30, in August, and had experienced such drastic results that I knew something more was wrong with my system. My new doctor tested my blood and discovered that my thyroid was way out of whack. Like 1300 antibodies when there should be 30. Not only that, she tested me for food sensitivities, and I reacted to so many things. (Lettuce, tomatoes, and radishes?? Grapes? Lemons? Yeast??And cane sugar.)
She told me: you’re going on an elimination diet, but not during the holidays. So I decided that I’d get a head start on my own with the January Whole30.
The Whole30 is not a diet. It’s a dietary reset. There are actually many different dietary resets out in the world these days (including things like The Elimination Diet, and the make-your-own reset options in Food Freedom Forever). The basic principle is thus:
Step 1: In the case of the Whole30, commit to eating real food. Nuts, meats, eggs, veggies, fruits. For 30 days. That’s it.
(In other words, eliminate: sweeteners, sugar, processed stuff, legumes, grains, and dairy.)
Step 2: Eat three meals a day. Eat as much food as you want. Each meal must include a protein and a healthy fat. Do not weigh yourself (this is a very important part of the program, which is not meant for weight loss). Watch your body and life dramatically change in so many non-scale ways.
Step 3: On Day 31, begin reintroducing your favorite foods, one by one, very slowly, until you know exactly what they do to your body – and which foods are still worth it.
So here I am, on Day 28.
And I feel fabulous.
I have no more insomnia. My stress and anxiety levels have drastically decreased. My athletic performance has improved. I realized how bloated I’d been (a major sign of chronic inflammation) when I put my rings on my fingers last week and they nearly fell off. I don’t have any more sugar crashes. I’m infinitely more patient with my students, and have a better sense of humor. My willpower muscle is super strong – I’ve been successfully getting up to work out at 5 in the morning, before work.
Beyond the emotional and physical, there are so many other Non-Scale Victories. I’ve learned how to cook new things (herb-crusted roasted salmon with broccoli, anyone?). I found new products that don’t have any sugar added to them – a major feat once I realized how many things do. I read all the labels. I truly feel satiated by my food. No more hanger, no more cravings, no more angst over what I ate that made my stomach hurt…it’s Food Freedom.
In fact, I’m doing so well that my doctor wants me to continue for another 30 days. Then, we’ll undertake a very deliberate and systematic reintroduction process. I’m so excited to see what other health benefits come out of the now Whole60.
I’ve decided to do a little blog series, for any friends who are interested and for my own personal records. I want to remember this journey, and I’m happy to share. Just to be clear, I don’t think everyone needs the Whole30. I do think everyone who does it will have their own crazy, unexpected victories.
I’ll be sharing my tips for success and my favorite Whole30 products, as well as some musings about why this program is so amazing and the psychological changes it has inspired. Follow along if it’s interesting – I figured that there are a ton of cool blogs and Instagram accounts and other resources out there, but sometimes the best resources are the people you actually know. I’m happy to be a resource for anyone looking to improve their health and establish those healthy habits for the long haul. You can hold me accountable for taking my own advice, too ;-).