My Whole30 Story

Buckle up my friends!  This gets a little long, but I cannot tell my Whole30 story without weaving it into the rest of my life.  I often say that the Whole30 changed the trajectory of my life, and it did. But I did not just do a round and POOF I am changed forever.  It was the first step in many many steps. It gave me the tools to change my life. The tools, not all of the solutions. I hope you enjoy my story.  

In September 2015 I was the mom of a two little girls.  One was 11 weeks old and the other was 2 ½ . That was when I completed my first Whole30, but that is not where my this particular story starts.  To unpack this I had to look back a bit, and then a bit more.

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In August of 2013 (two years before my first round of Whole30) I had left my job as an investment accountant to pursue my love of teaching yoga and to raise my little girl (who was at the time an only child).  Over those two years I taught so many yoga classes, managed a yoga studio, went back to my old company to work as an accountant part time during busy season, and then finally found myself in the summer of 2015 as a full time stay at home mom.  I was also struggling with postpartum depression and anxiety, and was back on zoloft for probably the 5th time in 10 years. Since high school I had been on and off medication for anxiety and depression, always feeling like things were just harder for me than they were for other people.  My anxiety and depression was annoying on its best day, and crippling when it was at its worst. It wasn’t until I read Kelly Brogan’s amazing book “A Mind of My Own” (anyone struggling with anxiety and depression needs to read Kelly’s book) that I can see my particular form of anxiety and depression was my body SCREAMING to me that it had some severely imbalanced foundations of health, particularly in my digestive system.

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So in September 2015 I came home from a dear friends wedding and knew I needed a change.  I wanted to lose the baby weight (side note: While Whole30 is not a diet and focuses more on non scale victories, my original catalyst for trying the program was to lose weight.)  and take care of some bloating and digestive distress I had been experiencing for a long time (see above! I had no idea this was connected to my mental health, but it was).

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I dove right in and really loved it right from the get go.  I was finally given permission to eat all of the things I had loved for years but thought were bad for me, like steak and bacon.  I ate with wild abandon, and felt incredibly satisfied for probably the first time in my life. When I was hungry, I ate. What a concept right?  I was breastfeeding at the time, so I added some snacks to this round of Whole30. My milk was so thick and fatty, it was really amazing.  I also experienced all of the negative side effects of the first few days.  The hangover, the hate all the things, the egg fatigue. I experienced the entire full spectrum of emotions and feelings as my body shifted its focus from carbohydrates to being more fat adapted.

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And then something happened.  On day 10 I woke up with a clear brain and an open heart.  Instead of feeling like I had to fight my way through life, like every step was a struggle, life became easier.  It became lighter. It felt more manageable. All of this just from changing what was on my plate? There was something powerful to this program, and I was really just getting started.

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I finished my first round and did not properly reintroduce.  During my first round I had also not addressed any of my issues with emotional eating and when my baby girl needed surgery on day 32 I ate and drank my feelings in the form of sushi, wine, and cupcakes.  I woke up the next day with a severe sugar hangover and SWORE I would start another round of Whole30 right away.

Spoiler alert.  I didn’t. Well, I did, but I quickly slipped.  Why did this next round feel so hard? Why was I unable to resist anything not compliant?  I knew how good I COULD feel, so why couldn’t I stop myself from physically putting the food in my mouth? I think that these failed attempts at subsequent rounds of Whole30 were why I saw so much change from the program.  These two failed attempts FORCED me to examine the questions I stated above. They forced me to address my issues with emotional eating and having an addictive personality. The biggest take away for me at this time was that anytime I allowed refined sugar back into my life my brain would once again slip into its anxious state, and whenever I allowed dairy to be consumed my digestive system would be torn up for days.  

Over the next two years I completed a few more successful rounds of Whole30, but it was really those times in between that helped me in my journey toward food freedom.  It was the times without the strict rules that I saw the most growth and change. Isn’t that always the case though? When we struggle the most is when we can shine the brightest.  Those times helped me see that I was using food and alcohol to buffer from life’s big emotions. I immediately started seeking the help of a therapist and with her help I unpacked and dove even deeper into these issues.  Through this journey I re-joined a church and started to see that the way we eat and the way we live is truly a spiritual practice. I began to live that everyday, and slowly overtime, things got so much better. Whole30 was the launching pad for me to do the work that would heal my life.

Unpacking these realizations is what lead me to stop drinking alcohol on November 5, 2017.  You can read more about my sobriety journey here.

I felt so strongly about this program, and saw how my physical and mental health were transformed simply by changing how and what I ate, that I decided to become a nutritional therapy practitioner.  In June 2018 I graduated from the NTP program from the Nutritional Therapy Association and then went on to pass my board exam through the National Association of Nutrition Professionals. Around this time I also became a Whole30 certified coach.  Using my own experience and the tools I learned in school I cannot wait to lead people through this program so they too can change the trajectory of their life through food.

As you can see from my story, Whole30 was not the magic bullet.  I was not broken on day 1 and healed on day 30. It is much more complicated than that.  The Whole30 was the catalyst that taught me that I am in control of so much more in my life than I thought I was.  I did not vanish into perfection, and still have not. I never will. Just like any practice, perfection is not the goal, consistency is.  I still have really hard days and really hard seasons, and the answer to those situations are not necessarily what is on my plate. However, when I feed my body and my mind what it thrives on,  doing the work to combat those hard times is so much easier.

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This work is work worth doing.  Taking your vitality back into your own hands, and allowing yourself the freedom to thrive because you deserve to feel good!  

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The Coca Pulse Test

The Coca Pulse Test is a way to detect food allergies and intolerances from home.  It was discovered by Dr. Arthur Coco when he noticed his wife would become light headed and faint after eating certain foods.  In a “nutshell”, Dr. Coca believed that you could assess your food sensitivities by holding different food in your mouth and measuring your pulse.  He felt that a significant change in pulse/heart rate caused by placing different foods in the mouth indicated that some kind of adverse reaction was taking place.  Stress in the body will cause the pulse to increase, so foods that put a stress on our bodies because we are being intolerant of them will cause the pulse to increase.

 

For example, I have realized I am completely intolerant of refined sugar.  It makes my anxiety much worse.  When I performed the Coca Pulse Test for sugar my heart rate went from 62 to 103 within 30 seconds of placing a lollipop in my mouth.

Here are the steps for the Coca Pulse Test:

STEP 1: Sit down, take a deep breathe and relax. Take a baseline pulse by taking your pulse for 1 full minute. Do not take it for 15 seconds and multiply by 4, make sure you take it for 1 full minute.  Record this as your “BEFORE” pulse

STEP 2:  Place the food you are testing on your tongue and begin to taste it.  You can chew but please refrain from swallowing.

NOTE:  The sensory information taste signals from your mouth will inform your central nervous system as to the nature of the test substance.  If the test substance (in this case a food) is stressful to the body you will have a brief reaction that causes the heart to beat faster.  Test only one food at a time.  Testing one ingredient at a time will yield more specific information than testing foods with more than one ingredient.  For example, testing a banana will yield more specific and valuable information than testing banana bread.

STEP 3: Retake your 1 minute pulse with the food still in your mouth.  Record this as your “AFTER” pulse.

NOTE: An increase of 6 or more beats per minute is considered the result of a stressful reaction. The greater the increase in heart rate the more stressful the event.

STEP 4: Discard the food (DO NOT SWALLOW), rinse your mouth and allow your pulse to return to normal.  If there was a stressful event from the food ensure that your pulse has returned to normal.  Repeat the procedure as often as you would like.

Five things you can do TODAY to improve your total body wellness

I have people ask me ALL THE TIME what they can do immediately to improve their health.  So much of this health journey takes time.  Time to heal damaged organ systems (especially the digestive system and the blood sugar regulating organs), time to make a behavior a habit, and time to give up some of the things you thought you could never live without (for me it was buffalo wings from any dive bar with LOTS of blue cheese ;-)).  This is a never ending process, which can feel really daunting at times.

But there are a few things you can do TODAY that are simple, actionable, and will help you feel better mentally and physically

CHEW YOUR FOOD!

Digestion of our food does not just start in the stomach.  This process is a beautiful north to south domino effect.  One process needs to lead to another, and without that falling domino the next process cannot properly take place.  Taking the time to chew for at least 30 seconds after each bite begins the physical break down of your food as well as gives your saliva the opportunity to begin to breakdown carbohydrates through salivary amylase.  When this first step of chemical and mechanical breakdown does not take place, the rest of the digestive organs need to make up for this lack of breakdown.  This puts undo stress on an already over taxed system.  Do your entire digestive system a favor, and chew your food!

I talk about the importance of chewing your food A LOT in my two week “Introduction to Whole Food Nutrition” group!

DRINK ENOUGH WATER!

Water is one of the most vital nutrients in our lives, and so many of us are simply not getting enough.  Water helps with everything from joint hydration, to cognitive function, to helping maintain the electrical current in our bodies.  Use the below calc to figure out how much water you need to intake per day!  Then my favorite water tracking app, My Water (also works with the apple watch!), buy a cute water bottle and hit that water goal!

Current Body Weight / 2 = Minimum oz of water to consume

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Diuretics (in oz) consumed per day (coffee, tea, alcohol) x 1.5 = additional oz of water to consume

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Additional 10 oz of water for every 30 minutes of exercise

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TOTAL WATER GOAL!

Also, make sure your water is filtered and from a clean source as to not increase the amount of toxins in the body!

BRAIN DUMP YOUR DAY!

At the beginning of every day, or the night before, write out your day.  This is how I do it everyday:

  • DIVIDE THE DAY INTO THREE PARTS:  I now do morning, afternoon, and evening.  It used to be BEFORE NAP and AFTER NAP.  But you could do before work, after work, and evening.  Or something similar to fits into how your day is structured.
  • ADD THE MUST DO’S: These are things like work, deadlines, school assignments, doctors appointments, workouts (THESE ARE A MUST DO!) and other things I cannot miss and that have time constraints on them.
  • ADD THE OTHER TO DO’s.  These are things that would be nice to get done, but do not absolutely have to be done that day or at any specific time of day.  For example, if my cleaning schedule says to do 2 loads of laundry that day I will write which part of the day it makes the most sense to get those things done.  Or if dry cleaning needs picked up and its totally fine if it gets pushed off until tomorrow I will write that in as well.
  • ADD THE MEAL PLAN: Every Sunday I plan out my breakfast, lunch, and dinners for the week.  I keep everything really simple by having the same thing for breakfast and lunch everyday and utilizing left overs for dinner as often as possible. As long as I know the plan I will not find myself starving and running to Chipotle at 11AM between kiddo pick up and drop offs.
  • ADD KEY STONE GOALS:  These are the two to three things that I have written out either in the MUST DO’s or the OTHER TO DO’s that would make my day AMAZING if they got done.  Like if everything else goes to shit (which it sometimes does!) if these few things are done then it is still a good and productive day.  Sometimes it is my workout if I am really feeling the need to move, sometimes it is handing in an essay for school if that deadline is fast approaching and I have not gotten to sit down and concentrate on it yet.

This brain dump allows you to be proactive in your day.  Unexpected things will come up, obviously, and plans will change.  But when you have your day laid out like this you can make necessary changes and react appropriately.  When there is no plan for the day, the unexpected things that come up have a way of totally derailing us and make us feel like we are putting out fires all day long.  With the brain dump we can keep the goal in mind (a productive day) but be flexible in the approach.

Watch Mel Robbins Ted Talk for more information.  Since watching this and reading her book “The 5 Second Rule” I have done this everyday and I cannot express enough the difference it has made.

EAT ENOUGH FAT!

Fat is an essential nutrient in our lives, and just like water, most of us are not getting enough and we are not getting a balance of the correct kinds of fats.  Our society has taught us to be afraid of fat and it is time to put that fear aside.  Eating an array of fats from properly raised and slaughtered animals (EAT THE GOD DAMN CHICKEN SKIN!), plant sources (HELLO AVOCADOS AND OLIVES!!!), and nuts (BRAZIL NUTS ALL THE WAY!) aids in so many processes in the body.  It helps regulate our metabolism, helps regulate our ability to inflame and anti inflame, and we need it to absorb the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.  If you want to sleep better, look better, and feel better, then fat is your friend!

When I tell you to eat more fat, I am not talking about the french fry variety.  These types of fats (poly unsaturated that have been brought to a very high heat) are incredibly unstable, damaged, and introduce free radicals and rancid fats into your body.  This does not promote optimal health.

Mark Sisson has written an amazing blog post all about fat and your go to guide for utilizing fat in your everyday life.

https://www.marksdailyapple.com/fats/

All of the meals in the Simple 7 Solution have a proper balance of fats and incorporate the correct types of fats as well!

START YOUR DAY WITH BREATH, WATER, MINERALS AND GRATITUDE!

This is the most important point yet, and seriously the best bang for your buck.  Every morning when you wake up you have some super drugs at your disposal.  Even if you are NOT a morning person and you LOATH getting yourself out of bed, taking 15 minutes to do these things everyday will make ALL THE DIFFERENCE!

Fill a glass with 10 oz warm water.  Add 1/8 tsp sea salt and a squeeze of lemon.  While you drink it take 5-6 DEEP breaths, and then write down 3 things you are grateful for in that moment.

Literally thats it.  I could re-create the wheel and type out all the reasons why this is good for you, but I am not about that.  Just like in my Simple 7 Solution, I provide to you the best resources and I cannot even begin to pretend that I am smart or creative enough to come up with them.

https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-4769/Why-You-Should-Drink-Warm-Water-Lemon.html

https://www.onnit.com/academy/john-romaniellos-morning-routine-3-steps-to-health-longevity-and-perfect-fucking-hair/

http://www.medicaldaily.com/health-benefits-warm-water-6-ways-drinking-warm-water-can-heal-your-body-282218

And there you have it!  The 5 things you can do to jump start your journey optimal health TODAY.  In the Ayurvedic tradition they believe that our health (or lack there of) lies in our daily routine (again, or lack there of).  While the journey to optimal health and feeling really good can take time, we all have the power to harness our daily routine to bring us a little closer each and every day.  The time is going to pass by anyway, you might as well feel good while it does.

Languaging and food

I never realized how important the way we word things can be until I became a mother.  All of a sudden I was the person who was communicating how the world worked to another human being.  It was an intensely overwhelming feeling, and I especially felt the pressure when communicating language around food.

Like most people, I had always thought of food as either “good” or “bad”.  And my knowledge of what was good or bad was based on what I saw in the media, from books like “Skinny Bitch” and “Eat This Not That”, and what I had learned in fashion and health magazines.  Low fat yogurt?  GOOD!  Plain romaine lettuce?  GOOD!  Meat? BAD! Fat? BAD BAD BAD!

I totally fell for the dogma, and I know I am not the only one who was dooped.  But that is a story for another day (and one I talk about A LOT on here).

As I learned more and more about our history as people, the history of nutrition, and the science of whole food nutrition, one shocking thing that stood out to me was the language that was used around food and how freaking dysfunctional it was.

At this point in history we seem to feel the need to mix our MORALITY with our food choices.  People measure their self worth based on what is on their plate, when that could not be farther from the truth, whether it is a perfectly balanced meal or a piece of cake.

Instead of evaluating ourselves based on our love and service to humanity, how we treat others, how we treat our children (you know, the things that MATTER) we evaluate ourselves based on our current diet, how perfectly we can stick to it, and our gravitational push onto the earth (aka: the number on the scale).

When food is labeled as “good” or “bad”, when days we go off our “diet” are called “cheat days”, and when we continue the cycle of restriction, over indulgence, and punishment we are communicating a very clear message.

That your worth as a human only goes as far as your pant size.

Lets commit right now to changing our language around food.  Lets make food about flavor, celebration, medicine, and finding out what works for our own individual bodies.  Lets cut out the “good” and “bad” and “cheat” words surrounding food and let those words stay where they belong, and that is no where near the dinner table.  Lets make the measure of what “works” for us and what doesn’t from a dietary stand point NOT be about weight, but about energy levels and sleep quality, among other things.

Cut out the good and the bad.  Cut out the cheat.  Increase the love and flavor and happiness around food.  There is no where to go from here but up <3