I admit that I've always taken my health for granted. I remember when I was pregnant with my first son, my mom told me: "Have pictures taken of yourself! You won't ever look this good pregnant again." I did not have a picture taken and turned up my nose at that remark, but as much as I denied it at the time, some changes are inevitable. And 8 years and 3 boys later, I can see some new challenges and changes when it comes to my health and to the effort it takes to stay in shape.
I do try to maintain general baselines: while I am far from my old "cross country" running self, I still can manage a 6 minute mile... under duress. But my skin is dry, red, and itchy more and more each year. My stomach is easily upset when I chow down on junk food (hey, we all have those days!), and now that I spend way too much time sitting in the car driving kids around and sitting at a computer at work-- well, my body is just tired and less resilliant than it was 8 years ago.
Enter: my decision to try Whole30. Well, it seemed obvious enough that I should try it-- working at Cooked Chicago I have an abundance of ready made Whole30 compliant snacks and meals available to me. However, I've never been a dieter and I balked at the idea of cutting out so many staples. This summer, due to a variety of factors (fatigue, for example)-- I decided to go for it!
So here's what had to go, as per Whole30 rules:
- No added sugar (this includes real or artificial)
- No alcohol (not even for cooking)
- No grains
- No legumes
- No dairy
- No carrageenan, MSG, or sulfites
- No baked goods, junk foods, or treats with “approved” ingredients
- No weighing yourself or taking body measurements while on the program
And so, yes, I did this. And? What happened?
Well, first of all, I will be the first to say that I had hugely more energy, almost instantly-- within days. While coffee is allowed on Whole30, I chose to cut back a bit on coffee while cutting out alcohol completely and I suspect this was one of my biggest gains during the 30 days. Furthermore, within a week or two, I felt like my system was functioning better than it has for years-- no bloating, no cravings, and no crashes. One of the biggest differences was to my dry, red skin: it totally calmed down, which I was not expecting at the outset of this endeavor. No more dryness, no more crackling, and less redness.
So, now that the 30 days are over, what to do? Well, I personally love cheese and I adore baked goods, and I will be indulging in these favorites with great glee this week. However, the reset did remind me of the importance of whole foods and my need to make those foods the base of my diet as much as possible. Now that the challenge is over, I'll be focusing more on maintaining balance-- because in the end, that's it is all about.
Erin Silva Winston is a blogger and marketing manager for Cooked Chicago. Her husband Jona is the Chef and entrepreneur responsible for the delicious meals coming from the Cooked kitchen.