MY LIFE 180
Well, today is the day. My Whole 30 Challenge is officially over. For the last 30 days, I have had no added sugar, no dairy and no processed foods. For the last 30 days, I have eaten nothing but meats, veggies (and lots of them), some nuts & seeds and a little bit of fruit. Now, it is over. Only it’s not. It never will be. Hallelujah.
Throughout the 30 days, people would ask me…well, what are you going to do after it’s over? In the first week or so, I was like, hmmm…I am not sure. I still think there was a part of me that couldn’t imagine never eating processed carbs or refined sugar ever again. Or never drinking a beer, for that matter! But by week 2, it was a done deal for me, and that is saying a LOT!! Those that know me well, well, they know that I love my beer and my pizza. Heck, even those that don’t know me could probably figure that one out just by looking at me. But no more. People who look at me might still think that I like to eat, but that will change over time. I do still love to eat. Do not get me wrong. I love food. Only now I eat whole foods…real foods. 100% of the time.
I was definitely one of those people that would give you that line as an excuse as to why I was overweight. I LOVE food. I have to eat. I am a foodie. In my mind, that meant not limiting myself. It meant tasting everything. Enjoying it all whenever it was placed in front of me. A meal in a nice restaurant called for a decadent dessert to make sure I got the full experience. A trip to an out-of-the-way dive meant that I would have an appetizer and the burger with the fried egg on top because I had come so far. When heading down ocean side for a meal at a place that doesn’t allow kids, it would be OK (even expected) to enjoy 2-3 beers because we were on the deck sans kids. Excuses. Excuses. Excuses…and good ones in my mind. It all made perfect sense. I was just following my heart and passion for food. I was just doing what I was supposed to be doing.
Until I wasn’t…and I had been waiting for that day literally all of my life. I had been banking on it. I was waiting for the day when I would be OK if I didn’t have the desert or the appetizer or the beer or even if I missed a meal altogether. I have always felt like that day would come, like the snapping of a twig, and my life would do a 180. It came, but it wasn’t as dramatic as I thought it would be. It was nothing like I had imagined. I had a conversation, and it changed my life.
I remember in high school, the thought that I was overweight plagued me. Every day. Even though I only weighed 135 (ummm, NOT fat!), I was one of the heaviest on the drill team and though I was a great dancer, it didn’t make up for it. Certainly, not in my mind. I thought everyone else thought the same way (and maybe they did). I never really fit in. I wanted to be one of the popular girls, never really stopping to think…why? Why couldn’t I just be me? What was wrong with me that “me” wasn’t good enough? So, I tried to be popular. Oh my goodness how I tried, but it never really worked out. At least not in my mind, and that’s where the trouble starts, right? In your own mind. Little did I know how deep that “trouble” had already planted it’s seed.
In college, I finally found a place where I felt accepted. I had lots of friends. We were on the beach, and I was living my dream. But even there, in a place where I felt safe, my weight haunted me, and this was still before my freshman fifteen. I am going to tell you a little story here. I am going to repeat something that was said to me that hurt me on many levels and worked to reinforce what I felt of me as a person and what I thought the world thought of me. I have never told anyone this before because for me it goes to the core of my insecurities and those are things of which I do not speak. That is getting ready to change. I am in the middle of a life 180, remember? I am fixing to come to terms with this. Watch.
I remember being at a beach house party on the west end of the island. I had worn my friend’s white mini skirt and a cute top. The thing to know here is that I do not wear short skirts or dresses. Period. Ever. Ask anyone that knows me, they will tell you. On this night though, I mustered the courage. I was having a good night I guess and took a chance. Anyway, I was dressed, I was feeling good and I thought I was looking good (and I probably did look good). I was walking down the stairs to get another drink as some (idiot) guy was coming up…as he passed me he said, under his breath but loud enough for me to hear it, “Nice tree trunks”….meaning my legs. My legs are the worst part of me (in my head) but, while not terribly shapely, they were not flabby…they were muscular. But this guy, this no name person whom I had never seen before or since, for that matter, hit the button. Not a button, but the button. I was mortified and, of course, I thought that everyone at the party felt the same way. I couldn’t wait to get home that night, and I promise you I have not had on a short skirt since. You know, I find it is amazing how three stupid words can stay with you for the rest of your life. That was 20 years ago. 20 YEARS! Half of my life. That is insanity. Insanity in my own mind. Trouble brewing, taking hold and sinking it’s teeth into my psyche.
Unfortunately, by that time, it had taken a pretty good hold, and I had convinced myself that I was destined to be fat. I do not believe it was a conscious decision (why would you consciously decide to be fat?), but somehow my mind decided. Enter the freshman fifteen. Then marriage. and a baby. and fifty more pounds. plus twenty. OK, twenty five. Yikes! Through it all, though, I was still convinced that my day would come. The day when I got sick of being fat. I was sure of it. I would just have to wait for it…and I did. I waited.
I waited until the day I had a conversation with Joe Farley. He is what he calls a Paleo Evangelist. We got to talking one Friday, and before I knew it I had cleaned out my fridge and pantry and was well on my way to my very own life 180. It amazes me that a simple conversation has led me to this point, but it did. The specifics of the conversation are not important and, to be honest, I don’t even remember how we got on the subject, but here I am. I am reading everything I can get my hands on including Robb Wolf’s, The Paleo Solution (and I suggest you do, too) and I am following ten tons of Paleo blogs, which I plan to get into more later. I am educating myself, and it has been eye-opening, to say the least. I have a medical background being a nurse, but when I finished Robb’s book, I felt like I have been bamboozled by the system into thinking that how I was eating was healthy. I was drinking the kool-aid and I didn’t even know it.
I realize now that I could’ve had “that day” any day. All I had to do was put my mind to it. The problem was, I was too busy believing what I thought the world thought of me. Not any more. I am worth it, I deserve it and there is nothing wrong with me. Now, when I feel hungry, I think to myself, “when did I last eat”? “Am I really hungry or am I bored”? If the answer is, “yes, I am really hungry”, then I THINK about what I am going to eat. I no longer grab for something blindly or without thought. If I put something in my mouth, it is because I have thought about it and decided that I want to eat it. The flavors now are like none I have ever known. I thought I was experiencing all there is to eat before, but if the goal was to be a foodie and taste it all…how is it that I had never eaten a turnip? One of my favorite things now is pureed turnips. I eat them with steak, in my breakfast scramble, with fish…pretty much anything. I had no idea what all I had been missing or what I wouldn’t be missing. In the last 30 days, I have not had dessert (not even once), I have not eaten out at a restaurant, I have skipped more than a few meals because I wasn’t hungry and I have not drank a beer! Not even one. and get this…I haven’t missed any of it…the restaurants, the dessert or the beer. In our house, Friday Fun Pizza Nights have become steak nights. The kids still eat pizza (I am working on them), but the hubs and I grill steaks and whatever veggies we have left in the fridge from the week. When you look at it like that…like, I am now having a grilled, grass-fed steak instead of pizza…it doesn’t seem like such a hard choice, does it?
In my heart of hearts, I know that food was, is and always will be my life. It IS what I am supposed to be doing. I am sure that there will be times when I fall off of the wagon and have a “paleo treat” or honey or dairy or maybe even a beer, but the majority of the time, the majority of my food intake will consist of whole foods. I eat a Paleo diet now, and I am never turning back. To those of you that have been in my shoes, you know what it feels like to make a statement like that. To feel so convicted about something that you can make one of those ‘never say never because they will come back to haunt you’ statements. It feels amazing. It feels like…freedom. To those of you that do not know what that feels like…I challenge you to try it. Take the Whole 30 Challenge. IT. WILL. CHANGE. YOUR. LIFE. It has changed mine and I no where near being done. The only thing I am done with is the waiting. I am done waiting…