So. 30 days without: dairy, processed foods, wheat/gluten or any grain, really... beans/ legumes, added sugars, alcohol...
This was my 2nd attempt. The first time, I couldn't stand the emotional upheavals of sugar withdrawal. (It's that addictive, yeah.) I bailed after 2 weeks, telling myself some story... that I was choosing a "Whole 15" and that for me, that was enough.
That was the first of many lies I had told myself about this program. The truth was, I didn't want to get too uncomfortable, I think. I didn't think I could do it.
So, to catch you up: I work full time as a reference librarian. I write books on the side. I'm a single Mom (co-parenting - I do get days to myself.) And I am a recovering productivity junkie. I realized this as I geared up for this program, around holiday time in December... I looked back on my life, on the last 4+ years, and saw that my health goals had stalled completely, as I wrote through things, over and over.
I soul-searched and journeyed and meditated and connected and found my beautiful glittering soul and loved her and pressed her into me, blissfully. I mantra'd. I ohm'd. I shavasana'd. And then I traveled and I rocked out and got doe-eyed and swoony and re-found pieces of myself that I thought were long dead. Nope, not quite. All the while, I was feeding my passions, my joy-meter, my ease, and my mental wellness. No one dared tell me no, to anything. I was on a mission.
Well, a few years out, book two is finished and making its way out into the world, and I chose, purposely, to NOT dive deeply into another project. I would dive deeper into me. I would wrangle my own health, I would master my day-to-day life and priorities, I would organize the place, redecorate some things, reinvent some things. It was all physical. And I tried to do it all for a while... day job, motherhood, organization, novel notes and writing for future projects, a meditation practice, meal planning and fitness and well, I got burnt out again.
So, when an old school friend announced her Whole 30 Challenge on Facebook, it was kismet. I pushed everything off my plate that wasn't home, motherhood, work, and wellness. And I went hard for it.
I kept a journal, but otherwise... no looming writing projects. My free time was spent searching up recipes, cooking, meal-prepping, setting exercise routines - and sticking to them. My own wellness became the obsession. All my lights had been turned inward, right back onto me, and it felt strange at first. Really strange. "But, so and so needs this," and "this one should have that," and I "should do this for that one..." But, I let it all go. It was me-time. I was being selfish. But it wasn't really, not in a bad way.
Because the Why was still there - "build a better world for my son, and for all of our kids." How? Educate, inspire, connect. With What?
So. Whole 30. I committed to a modified version... I knew my allergies well, I just wanted a firm and consistent reset.
What did I eat?
Breakfast: Bulletproof Coffee - fresh espresso, blended with tbsp Kerrygold Butter, 1 tsp MCT oil, 2 scoops collagen protein (I did better with some steady protein in mine, and it took a while to sort this out), and I "cheated" and threw in a Splenda sometimes.
Lunch: big-ass salad... e.g. a few handfuls of greens, 1/2 a cucumber, steamed asparagus, 1/2 sweet potato, cherry tomatoes, sauerkraut, olives, 1/2 an avocado, oil and vinegar, leftover protein (usually chicken breast or hard boiled egg. Sometimes beef. Sometimes no-sugar bacon.) No croutons, no bread, nada. Just the veg.
Snack: If I needed it... a Lara Bar or a Quest Bar. Lots of water. Green tea, maybe. At peak sugar-craving times, I made modified "sweets," like keto brownies or almond flour donuts, with Swerve and but flours and other approved keto-style ingredients. I fed the indulgence, but staying on track with my goals. Win-win. And it was only for that 2nd week, really. The cravings passed.
Dinner: protein, veggies, 1/2 avocado. Berries on the side, sometimes with coconut cream. (OH MY GOD, COCONUT CREAM.)
That's about it, for 30 days. Samesies, every day. The result? Food became a fuel, and not a pleasure fix or a thing to do or a mindless diversion. I ate what was best for me, intentionally... I have iron-anemia and hypothyroidism. And after over 10 years of experimenting, I now know for sure that I do best on a higher fat, low-carb diet with animal proteins and very low amounts of grain. Most of my carbohydrates come from plants.
I returned to lifting weights... just a few times per week, and lots of cardio: aerobic dance, walking, and just maximizing ways to stay active throughout the day. Every day. I moved every single day, somehow.
SO the results?
So, it was absolutely worth it, all around. I may allow some cheeses in here and there, some whole grains, maybe, like quinoa or oats... but for the most part, this is how I'll be eating. And it's probably how I always should have been eating. It just makes sense - it's so simple and natural.
Am I at my goal? No, not yet. But I'm damn proud of my success after just a month. It feels really, really good to take care of yourself and insist on that time: to run, to workout, to go to a yoga class, to cook a slow meal. It feels really good. And too many of us don't fight for it. It's hard, to let go of the rest and focus on yourself. It's really hard, you fear missing out on things, losing things, but really... you're not. And the more you focus on your own well-being, the more you realize that YOU are what you've been missing out on, while you put everyone else first, for so long.
I've decided to never take myself for granted again, if I can help it.
It's been a long few days.
First, I nearly collapsed in the car, after leaving urgent care for an excruciating headache, fatigue, and when what my son calls "too-hard boogers." :shrugs: #momlife
Antibiotics in my bag, I called in sick to work and had to stop at the store for some goodies: Sambucol (elderberry/zinc/Vitamin C gummies that I SWEAR by...) a bath bomb, cuz, well... I knew there would be a good soak. Broth, all the broth. And fresh veggies for homemade soups. A large branch of fresh ginger root. I stocked up on all the recovery stuff.
I got back to the car, after packing the trunk, and nearly fainted behind the wheel. "I am burnt out," I kept thinking. "It's too much, it's all too much...I do too much, still..."
"How did I get here? Again?"
I thought that I had learned to take care of myself pretty well, and yet, I felt worn out, exhausted, lethargic, really low in mood...and I couldn't figure out why. I surrendered to rest.
Next, my little boy (6 years old) woke up with even worse symptoms. I took him to the pediatrician... Flu B. So, forced break-down. Slower. Using up sick time, which I hate doing. But sometimes, we must. Snuggles, kids' movies, soup, tea, tissues, and so much sleep. I was glad for it, believe it or not. I needed the break.
Days go by, fevers reduce, as they do... viruses cycle out, and energy begins to return.
And in the downtime, with nothing expected of me, and nowhere to go... I found myself in the kitchen. Making more soups. Baking (?!). Cleaning countertops and washing dishes and breathing in all that good steam. It was wonderful.
We made Gluten-Free Chocolate-Cinnamon Banana Bread (photos above...I had no chocolate chips, so I split the batter in two, and mixed cocoa powder into one, then marbled them in the same way. Decent result. Not as creamy/chocolatey. But decent.)
And something so utterly simple began to settle in... I don't really cook anymore. I blend, I mix, I prep, I grill, I "throw-together." I scurry. I hurry. I rush.
I used to love to bake. To dream up something tasty and recreate it, and try it out. Somewhere along the line, I got accustomed to fast n easy: salads, shakes, bars, and bought food. There's nothing wrong with this, really. I make healthy choices there, too.
But... I remember how much I cherished the time in the kitchen, in the days when I used to have so much of it: warm and cozy, something always cooking, a stocked fridge with healthy choices, always. Always on my feet, cooking or washing or organizing, and absolutely loving it. Music playing. Dancing, mixing, dancing, chopping, dancing, measuring. Family walking through, talking, discussing, coming together, hatching new ideas. The kitchen was always the center of the house for me: it's where all the great ideas happened, where the best meals were made, where the cookies were tasted.
Where we gathered.
The women in my household, in my extended family, always gathered in the kitchen - it was a sacred space. Recipes were shared, sauce was simmered, chops were spice-dusted and thrown on the BBQ out back. And the children, often, too (not BBQ'd but I mean to say that they would also gather in the kitchen.)
And so, here I was... shaking and making, feeling groovy, and my son was beaming. "May I please have more juice, Mama?" :cough, cough: "Mama, I love you..." Calm. Well-Mannered. Coloring and word-searching. Relaxed. I smiled and wondered how I'd allowed myself to get so busy that moments like this felt rare and special, when they should be the norm.
Slow. Simple. And a wave of deeply familiar and soothing nostalgia washed over me. I took a breath and exhaled... Home. A simmering kitchen just feels like... home.
And how desperately I wanted that same feeling of... home. For my son.
And I took a deep look into my schedule, my work life, my health priorities, my creative pursuits, just everything. And I began to map it out, again. (This is something I do often, but at a minimum, once a year.) I saw that writing books was incredibly time consuming, supporting my books was as well. And I looked hard at what my life (and the life of my son) really, truly needed to thrive.
And it was...less. I didn't need more of anything, but time. Space. Freedom to move and be and wash veggies and bake tasty banana bread and stick to workout routines and craft a slick budget and stellar experiences for 2020. I didn't feel the bursting need to "say" anything. But to do things. For me. For family. For home.
And I heard that voice inside, again. The one I always hear when I slow way, way down:
"You're allowed to take care of yourself. In fact, you ought to. You really need to."
So, I vowed to take a break from hard-core writing, deep-diving, exploring, and trigger-busting. I'd done it. I'd let my heart lead me full-circle, from this kitchen, around the country, through my murky past, and right back here... to my home. My heart.
It's a rather rebellious act for a recovering people-pleaser to opt out and insist on simple and inward-searching things like self-care, home re-organization, new shelf-liners in cabinets, and streamlined budgets and financial goals. It's not so exciting. It's not very flashy. It's not very loud and awe-inspiring.
But it's steady and fulfilling. It's cozy and inspiring, in small ways. It's healing and rejuvenating. An old house, and the items within it, is a treasure trove of learning, just waiting to tell it's secrets.
How very audacious I feel, rolling my shoulders back, knowing of my other talents, and simply saying, "no." Not right now. I have other pressing matters and more worthwhile priorities. And it's all okay.
I've cut my screen-time and social media time way, way down for the week. And I've basically been utilizing my work-self at home. I'm librarian-ing everything, and it feels so, so good. Old ceramics have no use way up on the top shelf, where they can't be accessed. Just like any good piece of information: it's of no use, unless we can access it. Utilize it. Allow it serve us, in some way.
So, Winter into Spring, and maybe for the whole of 2020... is dedicated to self-care and home life. Of course, I still journal daily, so any insights and nuggets of wisdom that I find along the way will either be blogged or written in silence, for later. Maybe another book down the line, maybe not.
But no chasing for me. Just standing. Here. Now. And...making that lemonade.
Until next time... I hope you're well. I hope you're taking care of yourself and not running yourself into the ground. It's so easy too, these days.
Thanks for listening.
© 2019 - 2020 Stacie Hammond