The Whole30 Challenge: Wherin I Decide to Voluntarily Give Up Cheese…but only for 30 days

We got pizza for lunch today as a celebratory thing at work. I find it hilarious that I am still getting rewarded with pizza parties this late into my life. That used to be the go-to reward for a job well done in elementary school, and now also, seemingly, in the chemical industry. The pizza party promise still has sway. Why?

Because pizza is delicious. That’s why. And free pizza is even better. Duh.

Despite the fact that I had only two small slices, I am feeling like crap now after eating it. This is generally the case with celebratory pizza these days. I usually feel like crap because free pizza makes you think you should eat another slice because free pizza. I often do and that third slice usually attempts to pull me in a malaise laden coma. Today I exercised some restraint, but alas, it’s not only overeating that leads to blechitude. It is, of course, also all the grease, empty carbs, and whatever is in pepperoni (lots of things that end in -ate I bet).

A couple of days ago I was scrolling through my newsfeed and someone mentioned the Whole30 challenge. I hadn’t heard of this, but the meal photo posted with the comment looked to die for, so I wanted to find out.

As you can see in the link, it’s a 30 day challenge designed to help you “reset” your body by completely cutting out whole categories of food that are known to cause health issues if you have a sensitivity to them. It’s very similar to other low carb diets, has a lot in common with the FODMAPS diet, paleo, and all that. For an entire 30 days, you do not eat grains of any kind, added sugar or artificial sweetener of any kind, soy, dairy, legumes, or alcohol. The idea is that you cut everything like that out and monitor how you feel. After the 30 days, you start reintroducing each category back in slowly to see what makes you feel worse (if anything).

What I like about it is that it’s something that you do for 30 days and I like that it is more restrictive because of the time frame. I don’t do well with cheat days. For me, cheat days mean that I’m not really committed…and I act like it. Of course, if I were going to be eating this restrictively forever, I would want to be able to have some of the things I love that aren’t “allowed” now and again. But for 30 days, I want to try to actually achieve the goal; to have the discipline to only eat stuff that I know is good for me.

The past couple of years have been spent getting well mentally. I feel better emotionally than I have ever in my life, so this has all been a win. However, the downside of feeling so much better is that I have little tolerance for when I don’t feel great. Now, when I have emotional stuff, I now handle it much MUCH better than I used to and it doesn’t get me down for extended periods of time and I am learning to give myself a break when things upset me because, well, this is the world and things are going to upset me. What I want to figure out now though is how to feel at my physical best.

A couple of months ago, I had a bunch of blood work done to try and figure out why I was so tired so often. I had a track record (and one that was getting worse as time wore on) of falling asleep while watching anything on television or at movies at the theater…anything passive. I could live with that, other than the aggravation of wasting money to see movies or plays that I would pass out during. But it was getting so bad that I had incredible trouble driving for more than a half hour at night…and sometimes during the day. My eyes were exhausted and my eyelids ridiculously heavy and I was often in danger of dozing off at the wheel. It was getting scary and it was the main reason I went to the doc. The results of the blood work came back saying that my cholesterol was a little high and my vitamin D levels were pretty low. Low vitamin D levels are pretty standard for a fair-skinned individual like me since I don’t tend to go out in the sun for longer periods of time without sunblock (and sunblock inhibits the skin’s absorption of the UV energy the body requires to synthesize vitamin D). I was prescribed vitamin D SUPER PILLS that I was supposed to take once a week for 12 weeks (and then start a daily supplement).

I’ll be honest. I was skeptical. But I just took my 11th pill today and I am happy to say that over the last several weeks, I have not been worried at all about driving as I have been able to stay alert for much longer without a problem AND I tend to stay awake through tv shows and movies now, unless I’m already really tired…then vitamin D ain’t gonna do shit. BUT it’s nice to know that I can stay engaged and awake for things I need and want to and I am sort of amazed that it was such a simple fix. This kind of thing has been a problem for me for years and it never occurred to me that it was a vitamin deficiency.
So, since that was such an easy fix, I want to see what else I can do to shake off some other recurring symptoms I deal with. For one thing, I get headaches a lot. This could still be because of the Zoloft, but it could certainly be high blood sugar and a whole host of other things contributing to them. I am also still lethargic a lot, despite my improved alertness from vitamin D. I want to see if there is something I am eating on a regular basis that is zapping my energy.

Secondarily, I want to see if I can address the 20 lbs. of weight I have put on over the last year or so. In general, I’m not too concerned with my weight other than the fact that it’s getting more difficult to buy clothes (and many pieces of clothing I currently own don’t fit me at all anymore). I think I generally look fine and am trying to not care about it aesthetically (though on difficult days, it does bother me, but it always passes). What I am concerned with, again, is the general lethargy I feel and if this challenge shows me both what causes that AND what has me holding onto this weight, AWESOME.

So, with all that being said:

I will be embarking on the Whole30 challenge starting on September 2nd. I picked that day because September is pretty clear of stressful obligations or holidays or other happenings. It seems like a good month to focus on how I’m eating and actually be successful with the challenge.

 In addition to the Whole30 challenge, I am going to be committing to an exercise schedule and prioritize exercise for the first time in my life. In the past it has always been my way to find other things (usually things to take care of other people) to prioritize over my wellness and I am looking to learn to break some major habits during the 30 days.
I’m writing about it here as a way to have some public accountability and also because some readers might be interested in doing this kind of thing too! Wes is going to do it with me, so I have a buddy. But the more the merrier! I’m planning on generally updating how I’m doing with it, sharing interesting new recipes I find, and more likely than not, I’ll be talking a lot of chemistry of the body because it’s fascinating.

As for my last week and a half of freedom before I do this thing, I am going to spend time enjoying wine and cheese while I still can!

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