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Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

A Whole 30 Days

There are journeys in life that take us to places we’ve never been without ever leaving home. For the past two years, my life has been in transition. The decision to sell my final business was an emotional roller coaster filled with anxiety, depression, sadness and an overwhelming sense of loss. I knew that it was the final-final of business ownership and I worried constantly about how clients would receive the news. I lost sleep… and then there were the nights when I didn’t sleep at all. My anxiety levels were off the charts! Every night I would drive home from the office dreaming of the cocktail (did I mention cocktails?) I could create to relieve the stress followed by a refrigerator raid for whatever would soothe my anxieties.

When you grow up in an Italian family, you buy into the myth of Food Solves Everything. “Here honey, eat something. You’ll feel better.” And so I did. And so I have for more years than I care to admit.

And then, this wonderful thing happened. I actually sold my business and a newfound freedom found its way into my life. But it took a few months to recover from the years of stressful living. About that time, I witnessed the dedication and commitment of a young friend who used a period of one year to get healthy and lose 175 pounds. And I heard about this book called The Whole30 which claimed to be a “30-day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom.” (Watch for these words again in a paragraph below.)  So I put 2 + 2 together and thought, “If Kris can commit to 365 days, I can do it for 30!” Not to mention that I was intrigued by the concept of food freedom. I had no idea what that even meant. Until I bought the book and set the date for Day One.

I admit, that first week I thought I had lost my mind. Give up sugar (3-4 teaspoons, mind you) and half & half in my coffee? No more of my adored cheese purchased from the local specialty shop? No bagels and cream cheese for breakfast? And most of all… no wine?? “But I’m Italian,” my inner child screamed! “How can I cook without having a glass of wine nearby?” Right about then, my friend Sheri advised me that I could make a pseudo cocktail of lemonade Kombucha and pomegranate juice and that was that. Pour it in a wine glass over ice, add a lime wedge and Voila! For visual support, I copied the before and after photos of Kris and put them on my phone as a symbol of commitment and created a countdown chart on my refrigerator to strike out the day number as a nightly ritual.

At the beginning of Week Two, I was really getting into it. The book talks about these predictable periods when certain things happen based on the body’s withdrawal from sugar, dairy, grains and alcohol. Things were happening inside… and I was suddenly feeling this boundless energy and creativity. I discovered how much I loved cooking with foods I never would have thought to combine in the past. And I even found that kale (the bad boy of vegetables) wasn’t so bad at all if it was prepared properly. I started posting photos of my creations on Instagram and Facebook and the reactions boosted my dedication even more. My nightly kitchen cleanup (and there is a lot of that) became like a meditation… actually more of a reflection and appreciation for all that I was learning about food.

Sometime toward the end of Week Two, I noticed that my skin and my digestive system were also changing. The phrase “you are what you eat” began to make sense. My mental clarity sharpened and I found myself feeling periods of pure joy for all that I was doing. I was sleeping soundly and dreaming again. We’re talking amazing dreams here, too. I stopped focusing on what I couldn’t eat and started enjoying all that I was able to have. I called Diane, a local woman who had moved to the coast but was also in the midst of her 30 days, and we chatted about life, love and the pursuit of Whole30 “approved” food. And I learned to relax… I mean, really relax.

By Week Three, full-fat coconut milk, clarified butter and avocados became my best friends. I learned that I could make a sweet and flavorful snack by stuffing Marcona almonds in fresh Medjool dates and rolling them in unsweetened coconut. And I played with all kinds of spices and made dishes I had never before attempted. Can you say leftovers for lunch?

And did I mention an abundance of energy?

At the beginning of Week Four, I experienced a slump… a period of discouragement actually. The high of the first three weeks was beginning to wane and the finish line seemed so far away. Really? Cook another exotic chicken dish? Make more of that cauliflower rice? It wasn’t that I was craving my old food habits; it was more the acceptance that this had become my new relationship with food. Maybe this was the “Food Freedom” that I was so unclear about in the book’s title. Here was the reality check: I felt better eating healthy food but was I ready to embrace “Total Health?” A sobering thought after a lifetime of erratic eating patterns and not-so-great food choices. This was my journey’s fork in the road. Go forward or go back. So I made myself a cup of tea, walked over to the refrigerator, crossed off Day #23 on my chart, and went to bed.

By the end of Week Four, there were still two more days before reaching the finish line. My enthusiasm for getting healthy had been renewed and my thoughts shifted to Life After 30. Then suddenly it was Day 31… time to weigh in. There’s a reason the book suggests that you stay off the scale during the 30 days. There’s a process here that has very little to do with weight loss (though the missing 13 pounds this morning was a great surprise). It’s been about paying attention to the new creative world I’ve entered into since I chose to retire. It’s about taking precious time to decide how I want to feel because now I can make healthier choices without the anxieties and stresses of the past.

Tonight I had dinner with friends. One had wine; the other beer. I had water.

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