Thursday, February 2, 2012

What I learned on the Whole30

My Whole30 results in a nutshell are that I lost 7 pounds with no real cravings or struggle. Which is revolutionary for me because since I was 11, losing weight has almost always been a struggle. I've been on the chunky side since I was 10 or so... just always a little overweight, only once or twice crossing over into the realm of "obese", but I've had a hard time getting down into the "normal" weight for my height. And believe me when I say I've tried everything. In high school I started running and capped my daily calories at 900, I lost some weight for a few months, but put it all right back as soon as I hit the college cafeteria (even though I was doing plenty of trail running in the gorgeous mountains of New Mexico). And since college I've run through everything. Weight Watchers. Low fat vegan. The Zone. Atkins. Body for Life. SlimFast. Stupid "fat burner" pills that just made me hungry. They had varying levels of success (and when I lose weight I can often keep it off, barring pregnancy or major injury), but one thing they all had in common were that they all took a lot of mental struggle and cravings.

The other thing they had in common? Diet coke. Splenda. Nutrasweet. Diet red bull. More diet coke. You get the picture here?

And that was my #1 biggest change with the Whole30, I gave up all sweeteners (real and artificial) for a month. Wow. That's big. I'd been drinking diet soda since I was 14! Now the coffee thing I had worked out, I'd switched to drinking black about a year ago and never looked back. But the diet soda thing was a big change. Even when I was pregnant with my son I still had splenda in my decaf coffee and the occasional diet coke. Now for the first time in 24 years, I went a full 30 days with no artificial sweetener in ANYTHING.

And what did I find? My cravings for junk food, sweet food, breads, pastries and fried food DISAPPEARED. A co-worker would pass my desk with a box of doughnuts and I would think to myself "that looks good, but I'll pass." That wasn't just what I said out loud, that was what I said in my head, to myself. Instead of struggling and debating and passing on the doughnuts in front of her, but then grabbing two out of the break room an hour later (OK, let's be honest, 10 minutes later). All the mental gymnastics just disappeared. I did have a little bit of wrestling with myself over wanting a diet coke. But that was fairly easy to resist, since I wasn't spending all my mental energy wrestling with myself over other stuff.

The most surprising thing? I did not expect this AT ALL! I expected to have a month of arguing with myself over what not to eat. Because that has been my experience for most of my life. No more. I had always glossed over arguments against diet soda thinking to myself "it's just flavored water... what can it harm?" I had no idea that it was completely messing up my relationship with real honest food.

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