The Whole 30: Week 4. Are We DONE Yet?

So here I am. Day 28 of the Whole 30. I’m still here. And I’m still not liking it – beyond the noticeable weight loss.

A list of positive benefits one might see. I checked off the ones I noticed. They were few, but at least there were some.
A list of positive benefits one might see. I checked off the ones I noticed. They were few, but at least there were some.

I wish I could be one of those people for whom this program worked miracles, who embraced it whole-heartedly and came out the other side feeling as if this were the way to eat forever, who found Paleo a perfect fit, who experienced all of the promised benefits.

I’m not.

I’m sure if I’d been able to do the plan more perfectly – had eaten a much broaden variety of veggies, a few more meats, had been able to stomach protein in the morning, and had not fallen into the predictable habit of one Larabar a day (occasionally two), perhaps I would have done better. Perhaps a few more of the promised benefits would have materialized.

Well, I’m sorry. I’ve done the best I could – which, based on how God-awful I felt on days 9-13, is better than I thought I would.

I won’t lie. I’ve noticed some things, besides the weight loss. My energy levels, while not high, are more even. I do wake less at night. My sugar and carb cravings are there, but not overpowering, and sometimes not first thing on my mind.

However, I’m still tired far too often (yes, I need to go to bed earlier, but still, relief of fatigue has NOT been something I’ve noticed during this experiment, and one of the things I was most looking forward to, that alleged Tiger Blood). I don’t have nearly the physical energy I wish I had (but I never have in my life, so this isn’t something new). I still have headaches (a bad sinus one at the moment, in fact). Still have food aversions and gag reflex issues going on. Still don’t eat nearly enough veggies, much less a broad variety of them, and I am so tired of beef and turkey and chicken I could scream.

I’ve been more emotional than usual this month – or, rather, I’ve been expressing those emotions more than usual. This is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s better than eating them, I suppose. But it’s been more uncomfortable, too, feeling so angry, so sad (I’ve cried more this month than I think I have in the last year), and so. darn. anxious. (Not sure if that’s a food-related thing; deadlines and worries about reader reception can do that to a girl.)

If anyone experienced the majority of these positives, talk to me. I wanted to check off so many more.

While writing this post, I asked my husband if he’d noticed anything different about me in the last month (besides the weight loss), in case I missed something. His answer? “Well, your mood was noticeably worse in the first three weeks, but I say maybe it’s been better this last one?” BWAH HA HA! Does that sound like something I should regularly inflict on my family?!?

And therein lies the rub … there haven’t been ALL that many benefits that I’ve noticed. But I HAVE dropped 20 pounds. That’s nothing to sneeze at. I’m wondering if I’ve improved my internal numbers, too – cholesterol, etc. I don’t know. And there have been a few positives, as outlined above.

Is it enough? Is it enough to keep me focused on healthier eating, even if I don’t stick to Paleo? I hope so.

Right now I’m so grumpy about this whole thing – how hungry I’ve been, how angry I’ve been, how hard it’s been – that it’s challenging to embrace this as a success (yes, even despite those twenty pounds). I went out to eat THREE TIMES this week (yes, I guess by choice): once with my critique group, once with two close friends, and then yesterday with the Virginia Romance Writers.

Y’all, do you know how hard it is to be in a restaurant, to smell all those smells, see all those items on the menu, and know you can’t eat 99% of it? Do you know how hard it is to order naked steak or naked chicken breast with steamed broccoli while the people around you are eating cheeseburgers and pasta and fried stuff? For me, it was excruciating. I know that’s part of my challenge – making healthy choices every day in the face of all the temptations around us, but come on. I was miserable. Angry. And it made me totally want to binge once this 30 days is up.

Which is exactly what I DON’T want to do.

Suffice it to say, while Whole 30 has helped me shed some weight, and has helped with the sugar/carb cravings, it has definitely NOT fixed my food issues.

I’m not surprised. The Whole 30 people themselves say, of course, that if one has been eating poorly for decades, or has more serious food issues, 30 days won’t fix them. Their suggestion? Keep going, for a Whole 45 or a Whole 60 or even a Whole 90.

Reader, there is nothing I want to do less. Come Tuesday, I’m trying peas and peanut butter, and you can’t stop me.

If only the Whole 30 could take off years as well as pounds … Bwah ha ha!

However, you can wish me luck in successfully navigating the “reintroduction phase,” the 10 days following your Whole 30, in which you reintroduce the avoided food groups, one at a time, and only one every three days (in other words, eat foods from that food group one day, go back to Whole 30 eating for the next two, eat the second group, repeat). I really, truly want to do that right, because I really, truly want to know for sure which foods bother me the most. My suspicion is sugar and white flour – but if soy is actually an issue, I want to know it. If peas produce problems, it would be useful to find that out for sure.

It would NOT be useful to wake up Tuesday and eat my way through the day, no matter how much I fantasize about chocolate and Chinese food, donuts and pizza.

I’m sorry I was not a better Poster Child for Whole 30. But I’ve been an honest one. This has been one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. The Whole 30 people say “this is not hard. Having a baby is hard. Having cancer is hard. This is not hard.” OK, fine. I’m blessed – so very blessed – not to have yet faced cancer. I HAVE had two children, and while giving birth to them was no picnic, IT DIDN’T LAST 30 DAYS! (Though I would agree that child-rearing is harder. Enough said.)

Thank you to all who have put up with me this past month – ESPECIALLY my husband, and my kids. Thank you to all who’ve cheered me on, cheered me up, encouraged me to keep going. Thank you for tolerating my whining over something that, really, despite the last paragraph, isn’t something that’s been a life-or-death situation – no matter how much I’ve hated it.

The food issues are deep. They always will be. But I’ve survived this 30 day challenge. Frankly, knowing myself as I do, I didn’t think I’d make it the Whole 30 days. I did, out of sheer contrariness. But I did.

And there you have it. Oh, I’ll probably pop in on Tuesday to let you know if I did, indeed make it through the last two days. But this is the last big, whiny post you’ll have to read on this subject. Until I decide to do it again (I’m not ruling it out, because Lord knows I still have a lot of weight to lose.)

Any words of support, advice, wisdom, encouragement to keep me from falling back into the oatmeal cream pies would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

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