Defining Progress

What is progress? It really depends on how you choose to define it. I haven’t been blogging daily about my Whole30 adventure the way I had originally set out to. I wanted to create a journal, and hopefully have it provide guidance and information to others doing Whole30 in the future. Things have changed. The first few days of my Whole30 I spent constantly searching for other people’s accounts of the program. How did they feel? What happens on Day 6? Am I going to lose these last 10 pounds? It only took me a few days to realize that it really doesn’t matter. The details of what happens to me during these 30 days dont matter to you. And shouldn’t matter to you. What should matter to you are your next 30 days, and what matters to me (now) are mine. There are a few things that matter, though: I feel good. I feel happy, I feel confident, I feel in control and so can you.

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Roasted veggies (beets, zucchini, onion, and sweet potato) and salmon..

I have failed on many ‘diet’ plans. Actually, I usually last less time than the average person. If I make it a full week with no slips, ‘cheats’, or ‘off-plan’ choices, I feel accomplished and celebrate with some ice cream (litearlly). That’s the way I am. It’s the way I’ve always been. It’s not that I don’t want to commit, and I don’t want to be healthy; it’s just that it’s exhausting. There is too much guess work for me. Too many choices, too many decisions.. You set out on the latest diet: you eat 1200 calories per day (but no fruit, because fruit has too much sugar), feel STARVING, are constantly focused on/thinking about food (maybe your body is trying to tell you something?) and are surviving off only whole-grain rice cakes and low-fat peanut butter, because you seem to get the most ‘bang for your buck’, calorie and taste wise. Then you start to question if this is even working. You haven’t lost any weight and it’s been 4 days. Your body is craving everything in sight and your brain is foggy. You’re not sure how much longer you can go on. You’re exhausted. Working out is not going to happen. Before you know it you’re head first into a Big Mac and fries (or whatever your thing is). It’s all a blurr, and you feel out of control…next thing you know you’re crying yourself to sleep because you’re such a failure. Sound familiar?

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Apple chicken sausage (so tasty..find this!) and sweet potato ‘stir fry’ with broccoli (and a salad on the side).

Today is Day 17 of my journey. I don’t feel the Tiger Blood. I don’t feel extremely energized, or super focused. But, I haven’t cried, I haven’t eaten ice cream, and I feel good. I don’t feel hungry, and I have almost mastered the art of not constantly obsessing over food. I sleep well through the night, wake up without snoozing, and at 3pm I am still in an up-right position at my desk. I am eating large, healthy, satisfying meals. I have no idea how many calories I consume..but they taste delicious, and each one of them is helping fuel my body. I have learned to distinguish between hunger and a craving. Wanting something sweet after a huge, delicious lunch is not hunger. It’s a craving, and it needs to get away from me. My pants feel looser and my stomach isn’t bloated. My digestion has improved 10-fold and my skin is clear and glowing. I haven’t given up, or even thought about it, because it’s only 30 days, I’m not starving, and I’m seeing positive changes. The expectations are reasonable,  attainable. It’s actually kind of fun…like an experiment with yourself. If this was just like any other typical diet, I wouldn’t have any of those things by this point…and they all seem pretty damn important to me.

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Delicious steak with sautéed onions and mushrooms..complete with a white potato (worth it) with broccoli and green onions!

My pre-Whole30 self is still there, but I’m slowly helping her learn to get her shit together. I still badly want to weigh myself. Every day I wake up, feel good (and skinnier, for lack of a better word), and I think “HOW MUCH WEIGHT HAVE I LOST?!” (in the interest of fulfilling every last detail and rule of the plan, I have not done this). This is something else fun that I’ve learnt, so far. I have let the scale define my progress, sense of worth, and my happiness for too long. I know that if I jumped on the scale right now and saw I hadn’t lost a pound,  I’d stop feeling good. I’d be sad, feel defeated, and want some ice cream. But in reality, why does it matter? If I’m feeling good, gaining energy, learning lots, and fueling my body for physical activity…why do I need to weigh 10 pounds less?  That’s right. I don’t. So basically, you should try this. Go to the website, take a read, and do it for yourself. Spend 30 days commited to yourself. Be selfish. Eat nuts and coconut and free-range eggs. Read labels, learn where your food comes from, and see what works for you. This is life changing.

Now I know what some of you are thinking, because I’ve heard it multiple times already: “one bite won’t hurt”, “it’s too restrictive”, “I could never give up bread”. Wrong, wrong, and very wrong (coming from the queen of bread, herself). It’s actually kind of fun to sit there, knowing you aren’t going to eat something, but just checking it out, and thinking “would that even be that good?”. Is a plain old donut from your local supermarket really worth it? Probably not. Maybe if, after 30 days, you still really want that shitty donut, you can go find a really yummy, deliciously fresh donut…and you can enjoy it without guilt because it was worth it. But trust me, that stale donut sitting on the lunch room table is not that donut. I mean, come on. For 30 days you can’t cut out crap, and just see how you feel? Maybe you’ll think it’s stupid, and maybe after 30 days you’ll go back to your old ways, but I highly doubt it..and really, that’s the worst thing that could happen.

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That’s my Whole30 take, so far. Yours will be completely different. You might lose 20 pounds, you might gain 2 (muscle, of course!). But I can guarantee you one thing, it will change your life.

Defining Moments

Yesterday, my Dad must have been taking a trip down memory lane as I received a few consecutive pictures in my Facebook inbox. There I was. A beautiful, dark haired little girl with her bangs cut straight across, wearing my early 90’s finest and blowing out the candles on my birthday cake. What was I thinking in that moment? I bet I was excited it was my birthday, and even more excited for cake.

I wonder what my wish was?
I wonder what my wish was?

The picture made me sad, almost instantly. I’ve never seen it before and I feel like I have no idea who that little girl is. I can see my round little nose and my big brown eyes and my dark hair..I can see it all. That’s me. That’s where I started. It made me wonder where things changed. When did I stop being this innocent, happy little girl? When did I become this person who is so critical of herself? This girl who spent years crying when she looked in the mirror, wishing she could have a different nose and a skinnier body, and no stretch marks, and even longer agnoizing over her future and what it would be like. What changed?

I wasn’t born fat, but I got there pretty quickly. I was a chubby kid (not quite unhealthy, but plump). When I started kindergarten I was bigger than the other kids, but I was always tall and had a large structure (I won’t say big boned, because we won’t go there…haha). I didn’t feel weird or out of place then.

My Dad left when I was 3. I have no memories of my family as a perfect little “unit”. My mom went to school and worked a night job–I spent most of my younger years at my Grandma’s. She fed me whatever I wantedfood is love, you know. It is abnormal for a 7-year old child to feel like I felt. I developed OCD and ate like crazy. Food made me feel safe. Hiding in my room made me feel safe. My Mom was stressed and she was busy.. She had so much going on, but she still did everything she could have done. She yelled sometimes like any normal parent, but I don’t think it ever crossed the line of ‘normal’. I hope one day I will be as amazing of a parent as she was. I don’t know what distinguished me from the other kids, or what made me have these feelings, but I don’t believe anything my family could have said or done would have changed it.. It was something deep inside of me. It’s who I was. By the time I was in my first year at University, I was 220lbs and miserable. I was just existing.

There are several, defining moments that stick out when I think about when everything changed. When did I loose that happiness, and that innocence? When did I stop feeling like that happy little girl in the picture and star feeling like the fat, unhappy  girl (the one that still lives in a big part of my heart and soul). Now of course, my life isn’t defined by these moments but they definitely made an impact. They are so small and so seemingly insignificant, but I think they’ll always be etched in my memories.

I remember in Second Grade, measuring the school field with a partner–we had one of those wheels on a stick that clicks for every meter travelled? I was pushing it around and he was walking slightly behind me. He said he was cold and I said I wasn’t.

“It’s because of all your whale blubber.”

It’s funny now, I guess. It was a witty comment for a second grader, but man it hurt.. I remember waiting until I got home after school, locking myself in my room and crying. I’m sure that little boy doesn’t remember that. I’m sure he said it, and that was that. Funny how that works.

I vividly remember standing outside my fourth grade classroom in my purple leggings and having kids tease me as they walked by.  I remember leaning up against the hard, brick wall with my backpack in front me, feeling so alone and trying to hide my pants from the kids as they walked by. All the other girls could wear leggings..but I was different. I was fat. I remember trying to hide the fact that I got teased. I didn’t want my Mom to think less of me or to be embarassed of me. From such an early age I was so worried about disapointing her..I didn’t want her to know she had the fat daughter that no one liked–she deserved more.

And then there was  back-to-school shopping. The one, dreadful year that I transitioned into adult clothes. I hated them. I didn’t want to wear old lady clothes..but I didn’t fit into kids clothes anymore. This was probably around Grade 5. I remember my Mom standing outside the change room while I tried to hold back my tears, telling me it wasn’t her fault I didn’t fit in kids clothes–I was just too big. I remember this day so vividly. I remember the feeling I had, and being so hurt by my Mom.  I’ve never told her this, and I’m sure I never will.

I wish I could go back to that happy little girl blowing out her candles and tell her she was beautiful. I wish I could help her become a confident, happy young lady. I wish I could go back to that 14-year old who quit basketball because she didn’t want to wear shorts and tell her she was GORGEOUS. I wish I could run back and tell her everything would be okay, and she’d be getting married to the man of her dreams (who is SO, so, so, SO, SO, SO handsome), and that she’d have a beautiful home, and beautiful puppies, and a happy, happy life. But I can’t go back, all I can do is go forward…and going forward, my outlook is going to change.

I can’t explain how this strange, random sequence of thoughts has occured in the past few days since receiving those pictures…but this is one of those moments. All I’ve been thinking about is how I wish I could go back and change so many things, but I can’t. All of them are just thoughts, and feelings, too: I wish I had more confidence, I wish I was happier and that I’d made different choices. But maybe I don’t need to go back, maybe all those things made me the woman I am today. I am learning to love her. She is a beautiful, compassionate person. She has more empathy than a lot of people, and loves deeper than anyone I’ve met. From this day forward, I am going to start loving that girl. I’m going to eat chocolate when I want and not feel guilty, and I’m going to run like the wind. I’m going to wear a bikini on my honeymoon and rock it, stretch marks and all. Everything is going to be okay. I’m going to make that little girl proud.

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