I feel like I've always been pretty health conscience but in high school I got into the sphere of influence of some people who were pretty healthy. I started drinking more water, eating less fast food, and was exercising. Then I went through the loss of my aunt to breast cancer and my whole family started looking into what causes cancer and, as we all know, there's a study that can link almost anything to cancer. However, one thing my aunt did that I remember my mom not being happy about was that she started eating meat again after her first treatments. For some reason that stuck with me...
Fast forward to 2013 during my summer in Houston, TX. I was leaving church with my now pastors and Houston parents and I heard God speak directly to me, telling me to stop eating meat. I remember the moment so clearly, especially because I really wanted some Buffalo Wild Wings after church. But, honestly going vegetarian was something that I had been thinking about for some time and that was just the confirmation I needed to commit to trying this lifestyle.
Now I know someone is reading this right now like "well, if God told you to stop eating meat, why do you eat fish?" Good question. After I heard that I started planning and my thought process was, "I'm not going to eat anything Jesus didn't eat, and if Jesus multiplied the fish and loaves of bread, I can eat some fish!" Silly, I know but it made sense to me! (I could go into a lot more detail on eating from a biblical perspective, but there are plenty of good books already written on that so I will leave that to them. If you're interested, anything by Dr. Don Colbert is a great place to start).
Now, let's fast forward to today. Over the past year I have really sought out and discovered my purpose. In that, I have come to realized how vital I am and we all are to the Kingdom and to Kingdom business. However, if we aren't healthy, how can we fully do what God has called us to do? If our bodies aren't working correctly, how can we focus on seeking the Kingdom first? If we're always having to use all our faith on our physical health, what faith is left to lift up our brothers and sisters?
See, my health is not about me. It's about all of the people God has called me to touch and to minister to. It's about my family, my friends, my blog readers, etc. It just so happens that in being healthier also makes me feel so much better.
So about a month and a half ago one of my friends asked me to do Whole30 with her in the month of June. This was going to be her third go-around so I was very familiar with the rules and needed something to get me back into some healthy habits I had began let slip so I said, sure (and somehow got like 4 other people on board to do it too, go figure lol)
What is Whole30? You can read the full program here, but in short it's 30 days of eating only real, nutrient-dense foods. So no added sugar or sweeteners, no alcohol, no grains, no legumes, no dairy, and carrageenan, MSG or sulfites. For those wondering what does that leave, it leaves meat, veggies, and fruits. But I'm a pescetarian so for me, lots of fish, veggies, and fruits!
So for those who just read this and said "good for you girl but I could never do that." YES YOU CAN. And that exact thought is part of the issue. See, Whole30 or any type of dramatic change you decided to make in your life is less about the change than it is about self-discipline. You can do anything you make up in your mind to do and learning how to tell your flesh to sit down and shut up and do what you've made up in your mind to do is one of the most powerful lessons you can learn and will transcend to other areas in your life. And from a food perspective, your food shouldn't run your life. An inability to say no to something unhealthy clearly demonstrates your food having power over you! And let's be real, if you can let a doughnut defeat you, there shouldn't be any wonder why you're being defeated in other areas in your life...but let me sip my tea and move on before y'all stop reading...
So the Whole30 plan makes a lot of promises. While a lot of people do it for weight loss (and get great results), other promises range from better allergies, to less joint pain, to clearer skin, to more energy and quicker workout recovery. So there are a lot of reasons to give this thing a try. They tell you in the beginning to create goals for your Whole30 experience so I thought about it and decided on these 4 goals:
- Committing to planning my meals and actually cooking instead of eating out all the time. It's VERY difficult to stay within Whole30 rules and eat out (especially as a pescetarian) so you have to plan, prepare, and cook or you're going to be hungry all the time.
- More Energy. Right before I started this almost everyday by 2 or 3pm I was so tired. Some days I just came home and laid down cause I was so tired and I'm like, I'm too young for this. Why am I so tired all the time? So although I didn't know how it would happen, I wanted that to be a promise that came true for me.
- Clearer Skin. Yes, I get a lot of compliments on my skin. However, since I moved to Houston my skin has gotten significantly worse and it makes me sad so I would like to see my skin back to how it used to be.
- Better Digestion. My tummy seems like it goes through something every day. I just wanted my digestive system to work normally without any issues for once.
So here's a summary of my experience with Whole30:
- Days 1-10: In one word - Ruff. I was SO tired, irritable, my skin started breaking out (which they tell you would happen, it's your body detoxing), and honestly, I wasn't eating enough. I quickly fixed that and yes, it forced me to get creative with my meals, really prep and plan and cook daily. (Special shoutout to my roomie who was doing Whole30 with me! Couldn't have made it without you.)
- Days 11-20: Magical. My roomie and I found some great recipes for every meal, my skin started clearing up from it's detoxing, I was getting more energy, sleeping GREAT, and overall feeling good! My cravings were dissipating and I was glad to be eating what I was eating every day.
- Days 21-30: Reflective. I was traveling for work during half of the last 10 days and that made it difficult but I made the decision before I left that I would not cheat. I would do what I needed to do to make it through the 30 days. Surprisingly, everyone was super supportive. The hotel chef made me personal meals every day, I went grocery shopping and nobody looked at me crazy when I brought my mini-cooler to the conference room cause I couldn't eat any of their snacks, it was great! My energy was super sustainable - I made it through 8 hours of presentations without nodding off once - if I wasn't a believer before!!
So overall, it was so very worth it! Part of what Whole30 is meant to do is to reset your emotion and psychological relationship with food and I really understood what that meant when on my last day, there was nothing I was super excited to wake up and eat on the 1st. My co-workers seemed almost disappointed when I told them I had a smoothie for breakfast on my first day post-Whole30. But I had decided this is how I'm supposed to feel and I don't want to lose that! The foods I had been eating were doing exactly what God created them to do as he created them to be. I am a firm believer that everything we need, God created in that garden and Adam named it (no wonder all this processed and man-made stuff makes us sick). So getting back to those basics, only eating fresh, unprocessed, natural foods was so refreshing and I plan on sticking with it! Now, I am a believer that you can enjoy things in moderation so will I ever eat pizza again? Duh. I'm just not going to eat it every day or ever every week or maybe not every month. If I want something, for the most part I am okay with indulging myself every now and then but honestly, so many of those foods are unappealing to me now, maybe I won't go back!
(Slight Update: So being off Whole30 for almost a week now, I have re-introduced rice, added sugar, and bread and my tummy and my skin have not been happy with me. If I didn't already know I didn't want to go all the way back, I know now that I will definitely stick to no bread and no added sugar as much as possible.)
My only disappointment with Whole30 was that my digestive issues didn't really change. While I wasn't having stomach aches for the most part, I was determined not to settle for improper digestive functioning as normal for me. They suggest continuing on for 45 or 60 days if you don't see the results you were looking for but I traveled this weekend so...I wasn't strict enough with my diet to say that I actually continued on. I'm hoping that over time with me eating like this it'll all settle out. After all, it has been like this for years, I can't expect 30 days to fix everything, right?
In all, I eat the way that I eat because my body is a temple, and honoring God in my temple means taking care of it by giving it what it needs - not just what it wants or what is easily accessible. While I am in no means shouting from the rooftops that everyone should do Whole30 (I admit, it's pretty dramatic), I am shouting that everyone should re-evaluate what you've been putting into your body and the level of disciple you have in that area of your life. You'll be surprised how little (or big) changes to your diet can make a big difference in your life.
Love y'all! Until next time!
Love y'all! Until next time!