When I first mentioned how I was considering doing the Whole30 challenge to a few people, it was met with some skepticism. The Whole30 program--- which involves abstaining from sugar, alcohol, grains, dairy products, and legumes for thirty days--- probably just sounded like another fad diet gimmick that involves a temporary deprivation to yield temporary results. I was hesitant to bring it up at all, since I've started a number of healthy lifestyle approaches in the past year but have not followed through on them. The less-than-stellar reaction had me actually questioning my ability to follow through with it before I'd even started.
I can't believe I almost let my insecurities conquer me again.
After about ten seconds, I took a deep breath, and explained the idea behind the challenge. The goal is not for me to find a quick-fix weight loss through choices that can't be realistically maintained. I'm choosing to embark on this journey because it involves eating real, unprocessed food: fruits, vegetables, meats, nuts, seeds, and olive and coconut oils. I want to prove that this can be also done on a budget. The dietary omissions are not for slim-down purposes, but rather to determine the cause of my body's functional issues by using the process of elimination.
For several weeks, my gut has been trying to tell me something. My digestive and excretory systems have been malfunctioning, and not in a pleasant way (see my weirdly popular post relevant to this subject here). What I'd initially thought might have been a "bug" has lingered long enough to arouse suspicion. I started to think that this may be my body's way of telling me that I have a sensitivity or an intolerance to a certain food or group of foods. Though I had not been restrictive in my eating habits for most of my life, I feel that as I've made more healthy food changes over the past year, I've become more in tune with cues my system gives me. Either that, or now those cues are strong enough to speak a whole lot louder.
Eliminating foods that are common sources of digestive issues--- for one month--- will help me to determine if I do have a food sensitivity. Then, as I slowly incorporate these items one by one back into my diet, I will be better able to gauge my body's reaction to them. I have to tell you, quite frankly, that I'm sick of being at work and feeling my stomach cramp and bloat. It's embarrassing, it's miserable, and it's clearly a sign that something is off.
The idea of cleaning out my system is currently far more appealing than the prospect of weight loss... which is saying a lot, because losing dress sizes has been a priority of mine for some time. I'm already mourning the loss of my beloved peanut butter and my comforting bowls of oatmeal and pasta... but then I remember that this isn't forever. It's only for thirty days... that is, unless I discover one of them to be the root cause of this gut rot.
My first day of Whole30 was yesterday. So far, I feel no withdrawal effects, and my stomach has been behaving. If this does work (and if I actually do it, it should work), I'll not only save myself some serious discomfort, but I'll also likely see physical results. And then my insecurities won't have a leg to stand on. What the hell should I care what anyone else thinks, anyway? It's not their body, it's not their digestive system, it's not their choice... it's MINE. And I'm going to keep trying hard to find what works for me.
I'd like to thank the lovely Claire over at The Ascent Blog for sharing her experiences with Whole30 and for being my inspiration to start this venture. (She just got engaged to one of my dearest friends and that makes me so happy!)