Megan Orr, Opinions Editor // Illustration by Emily Rose
If you spent more than five minutes with me in the last 30 days you know that I was doing Whole30. It’s really all I’ve been thinking about and have managed to work it into most unrelated conversations. So, also, if you’ve spent more than five minutes with me in the last 30 days, I’m sorry. For those of you that haven’t heard my explanation (count yourselves lucky), Whole30 is a restricted 30-day diet meant to help people with digestive issues weed out foods that are inflammatory. That means that for 30 days I had no sugar, alcohol, gluten, grains, dairy, processed foods, additives or legumes, among other things.
The idea behind the program, to be brief, is that by cutting these things out you will know what foods are good for you. Whole30 gurus claim that this will change your life, with promises of, “consistently high energy levels, improved athletic performance, better sleep, improved focus and mental clarity, and a sunnier disposition,” along with claims of potential weight loss, glowing skin, broken bad eating habits and a reduction in cravings.
Overall, I don’t know if I feel all the amazingness that you’re supposed to. Mostly I’ve just been hungry, exhausted and daydreaming about donuts and wine. My skin hasn’t cleared up, if anything it looks kind of worse, my pants are still tight and my digestive issues, while definitely more manageable, are still present. This wasn’t an amazing miracle cure-all-my-problems solution like I had secretly been hoping for, but that wasn’t actually the point of doing it.
The point of doing this was to figure out what foods actually made me feel good and what ones didn’t, as well as give myself more awareness about what ingredients are in the foods I eat regularly. Did you guys know there is sugar in almost everything? And I mean everything – salad dressings, soup broths, hot sauces, you name it! Also, so many things that are sugar-free are full of additives to make up the flavour. I definitely learned a lot about all of the shit I was putting in my body and hope to move forward with the same consideration.
However, my biggest takeaway was even more internal than the newfound comfort in my bowels – I realized that I am more capable of self-control than I thought. I am absolutely a hedonist. I do not like to restrict myself in any sense – if I want a donut, I will have a donut. Since I moved out on my own six years ago I have basically been living in one long “treat yourself” moment. Upwards of 50 pounds later and a whole slew of other issues, not just physical, it wasn’t really feeling like a treat anymore but more like a bad habit. I felt ashamed, honestly, like I had no self-control and was trying to brush it off as my not caring.
But I did care. I knew that I was headed down a path and I wasn’t particularly keen on finding the destination. However, I felt like I didn’t have the ability to restrict my habits enough to make any sort of real change. This has been something I have planned on doing for years, but never ever thought I would be able to do. So ya, it isn’t really about the number on the scale (I did lose 15 pounds in the 30 days, which is no small feat), but more about the actual doing of it: setting a goal and sticking to it.
There was quite a bit of temptation too. On day four, my boyfriend made banana bread. I cried literal tears and had to leave the house and go for a walk so I could stop thinking about eating the entire loaf. I don’t even like banana bread, but that’s how seriously I wanted to quit only four days in. By day seven, I had had a migraine for the full week and was absolutely ready to give up. Fridays in the Courier office means pizza, so I had to sit and watch everyone eat cheesy gluteny goodness while I had chicken and cauliflower. There were sushi nights, where I just ate my prepped meals and tried not to stare too longingly at the rice and salty fish delicacies. There was also alcohol tempting me at every corner. My boyfriend’s wine glass and my best friend visiting who wanted to go to her favourite spot for a beer. At least a dozen or so times it would have been easier to give up, but I didn’t.
I realize how self-congratulatory this all sounds and that’s because it is. Congratulations to me! I decided to do something drastic to take control of my health and I actually did it. Whether or not the changes will actually stick remains to be seen, but in the meantime, I am going to continue to gloat and feel self-superior. Cheers to the next 30 days, they will probably be full of at least a couple more donuts than my last 30.