This is the fourth in a series by Brawlstar skater Just Wingett, continuing each month of 2016 here in the A2D2 blog.
Many of us set lofty New Year's resolutions that are forgotten by March. This year, I'm hoping to change that by taking on a different health challenge every month in a series I'm calling "12 Months of Wellness." The health challenges can be cumulative, so that you continue doing the challenge from month one into month two, and months one and two into month three, or you can just focus on each different challenge as it comes along. Either way, I welcome you to join me for a healthier year! In this sixth part of the series, I will be exploring the Whole30 Program.
This month marks our halfway point with 12 months of wellness! Woohoo! To celebrate, I’ve chosen a particularly challenging challenge for this month: the Whole30 program. This program involves strict dietary changes for thirty days, aiming not just to make you lose weight or have a single healthy month, but to reset your eating patterns and cravings. The goal is really to change your relationship with food by eating healthy, whole foods with minimal processing. It is very similar to the Paleo diet in that you are focusing on eating vegetables, fruits, nuts, and meat, with no grains, beans, peanuts/legumes, dairy or heavily processed foods. It differs from Paleo in that no added sweeteners are used, not even honey or other natural sweeteners. Whole30 also differs from Paleo in that eating three meals a day is a requirement (again, trying to change the relationship with food) and it is not recommended to create replacement foods from the foods you are allowed to eat. For example, making pizza or pancakes out of fruit and vegetable ingredients would not be recommended. Instead, you want to train your brain to want whole, fresh foods. You can read all about the Whole30 program at whole30.com.
I interviewed three of my leaguemates who have been doing the Whole30 program for varying lengths of time. At the time of the interview, El Chupa Cobleigh had been on the program for 45 days, Skorpion had been doing it for 27 days, and Infliction Vixen had been doing it for 20 days.
Me: What has been the most challenging part of the program for you?
Cobleigh: Being mentally exhausted and still having to prepare food has been my downfall.
Flic: Well, since I’ve been gluten free for the past 12 years, I was used to a lot of the cooking and leaving out the grains. I thought the hardest part would be drinking my beloved coffee black, but it turns out that wasn't as bad as I thought. I was adding unnecessary calories and sweets in this whole time! So I would say the sweet tooth is the worst. I try to curb it with fruit, but I don't want to eat too much fruit, as that can be bad as well.
Skorpion: The first few days not eating any sugar or any kind of bread. I felt kinda nauseous giving up all the sugar but then I started feeling better. I always ate some kind of grain with whatever I was eating, so it was hard to adjust.
Me: Have you noticed any benefits since starting Whole30?
Skorpion: I feel like it’s easier to focus and my chronic knee pain has improved a lot.
Cobleigh: I’m sleeping better! I have sleep apnea and eating Whole30 has helped. I’m also feeling less cloudy-headed.
Flic: My pants are fitting more nicely than they used to. I’m feeling less bloated.
Me: What do you order when you eat out?
Flic: Usually a hamburger with an egg on top and either a plain baked potato or veggies (depending on how hungry I am that day). No bun on the burger of course!
Skorpion: I usually get some kind of salad without the cheese. Usually something with avocado and chicken.
Me: What is your favorite Whole30 meal to prepare at home?
Flic: Salmon with broccoli. Nothing too fancy; I've been keeping it pretty simple with my meals.
Skorpion: Baked avocado egg. You take an avocado, cut it in half and remove the pit, crack an egg and put it in the hollow of the avocado. You put it in the oven for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. You can sprinkle chives or bacon on top. It’s super good!
Me: Do you think you will be permanently incorporating any of the changes you’ve made to your diet?
Skorpion: Mostly giving up grains and dairy. I might veer off occasionally, but I’ll also be watching my sugar intake more and not eating things with added sugar.
Cobleigh: Avoiding grains has made a huge difference, and I think I will use Whole30 as lasting guidelines overall. The benefits outshine the hassle for sure. As someone who has struggled with disordered eating much of my life, it's important to remember, though, that food is fuel and slip-ups happen. That doesn't have to derail progress. Avoiding eating because of a mental attachment to the diet is ultimately going to be worse for your body.
Me: Any advice for people who are interested in starting this program?
Cobleigh: Preparation! Familiarize yourself with fast, palatable options like tuna salad or chia seed pudding.
Flic: Planning is the key, and remember, everything is a choice and it's only a month!
Thank you to Infliction Vixen, El Chupacobleigh, and Skorpion for participating in this interview. Good luck to them as they continue their Whole30 program, and good luck to you if you choose to follow along at home!
Just Wingett is not a doctor, but she is passionate about healthy living and how it relates to roller derby.