soul and body meet in faith, food, and fitness


What I learned from Whole30

At varying points in my Whole30 journey I felt great, terrible, bloated, like it was the easiest and greatest, and like it was the worst and would never end.  It was a bit of a roller coaster at times, but overall, I’m quite glad I tried it out and think I have a few things I can carry along with me for the long term.

What is Whole30 you ask? In a nutshell, for 30 days you remove all sugar, dairy, legumes, and grains from your diet to hit a reset button in your body and let it heal from years of poor eating.*  There’s a whole science behind it if you care to learn more (it’s quite interesting and even though my Whole30 is over, I still want to finish reading the book).

Sausage veggie goodness

One of my favorite meals of the month

Let me start off by admitting that I didn’t even make it the full 30 days and my Whole30 was far from perfectly compliant.  Eating meals can be so community driven. For example, when I was eating in groups, celebrating with others (weddings! milestones! Yay!), it was hardest to stay compliant. I also slipped on the rules when travel complicated my ability to control my meals.

Doing Whole30 forced me away from my addiction to sugar and away from my reliance on grains to round out a meal.  Prior to Whole30 I felt I ate a fairly balanced diet already and stayed away from most highly processed foods.  However, I would be the first to admit my reliance on sugar.  Not simply as a quick energy source, but also for emotional reasons – rewards, a crutch during stressful times, etc.

breadless sandwich

Trying a breadless sandwich idea from Amazon_Ashley

Whole30 helped me begin to recognize my emotional reliance on food a bit more and try to address it slowly. Thirty days is not long enough for me to completely break out of those habits, but it did highlight for me how closely my eating can be tied to emotions. Instead of not eating at all, I would substitute for something Whole30 approved to munch on.  That’s not exactly the point – but feeding my body something good is a step in the right direction, rather than eating sugar or salty processed foods.

Whole30 also gotten rid of that 3 o’clock haze that I often experience at work.  In feeding my body well with fruits, vegetables, and proteins, I was able to rid myself of that most dreaded part of the afternoon where my mind goes a bit fuzzy after lunch and I hit a slump.  Ding, ding, ding – it’s tied to lunchtime carbs and how I process them.  Cleaner lunches helped me stay more focused at work, and I also wasn’t dipping in energy from a sugar crash – extra bonus points.

My body feels well nourished, my mind is sharp, I know I’m fueling myself well so why quit? Why not make Whole30 a permanent part of my life?

brining pork chops

Brining pork chops is a revelation!

Food is about more than nourishing my body.  Of course that’s the bulk of it, but as I alluded to earlier, the toughest moments of Whole30 were when I was with my community and I couldn’t fully participate because of my chosen diet.  Especially when eating as a guest in someone’s home, I did not always have the option to be compliant. I also had a work trip during my Whole30 that completely derailed my efforts to stay compliant.  Trying to figure out compliance while traveling deserves it’s own full post, to be honest.  I did try my best for the first few days of the trip but there was an emotionally exhausting piece of trying to balance a new work situation, travel in a new locale, and the funky way of eating. Hence the derailment after a while.

All that said and done, I do hope to incorporate what I’ve learned from Whole30 into my every day life going forward.  I hope to keep grains to a minimum still (after going a bit grain and sugar crazy this first weekend off Whole30) and also keep off the addiction to sugar.  Sugar cycles are crazy quick to take hold in my body and I have a major sweet tooth.  So, my goals are to figure out the balance of celebrating and enjoying food, but not letting the hormonal affects of food dictate what I’m putting into my body.  I also have been entirely convinced that long term, to fuel my body well, I may need to take drastic measures (drastic as in Whole30) when I find myself in a season of poor food decisions.  It’s the reset I needed after summer sweets and treats.

I know some of you other Catholic bloggers did Whole30 – what are your reflections now that it’s over? Link in the comments and I’ll be sure to click over too!

*I also modified to continue drinking Shakeology throughout my Whole30 experience, after having followed another Beachbody coach’s experience of going off Shakeology and doing Whole30.



Meaghan’s Change to Clean Eating

I’m pleased to introduce a fellow runner and college friend of my sister, Meaghan Arzberger, for a guest post today. She’s had quite a journey the first couple months of 2014 as she started eating cleaner and realizing how much diet impacts health – not simply exercise. 

Guatemalan Market

I ran my first race at age 7, and I haven’t stopped running since.  At almost 29 years old, I have completed more 5ks, 10ks, 15ks, etc than I can count, about a dozen half marathons and four marathons.  I have also completed Insanity twice and regularly attend a beach boot camp three days a week (I live in Maine).  Basically, I have always thought to myself, “I am healthy.  I exercise!”
As I am sure many of you know, our health is so intertwined with other aspects of our life.  About five years ago, I lost my mother-in-law quite suddenly, which put a lot of strain on our family.  Unfortunately, our bad luck continued.  My husband’s cousin was in a terrible ATV accident resulting in serious brain damage, his sister was in a car accident and nearly lost her life, and his step-father passed away after a failed liver transplant.  All of these events occurred in about a three year period for our family.  We also had our share of happy moments such as the birth of my niece and a couple of beautiful weddings!
I continued my strenuous exercise routine throughout all of these ups and downs.  I still believed that I was healthy.  About a year ago, I started seeing a therapist.  I didn’t really have any set agenda. I just knew that I had been through a lot and felt like I wanted to just process some of the things that I had been through.  I finished my meetings this past fall with new clarity and priorities in life.  My mental and emotional health process helped me reconnect in a positive way with my exercise, my marriage, and my faith.  “Finally!”, I thought to myself.  “I am now truly healthy!”

Again though, I was mistaken.  One of the ways I had coped with our family struggles was with food.  While I was still exercising and had taken the time to focus on my spiritual, mental and emotional well-being, I had neglected my diet.  I thought, “I am exercising so I can eat what I want!!”

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