Editor’s Note: This is Natalie's fourth and final installment chronicling her journey on the Whole 30 Challenge. We've loved having her as a featured contributor on Yoga Travel Tree and can't wait to see what other adventures she'll be sharing in the future! To recap, Natalie has been consuming nothing but whole, healthy, natural, and lean foods for 30 days – The Whole 30 Challenge! ###
Day 30! I Did It!
Phew! I made it and I feel GREAT. Tiger blood is pulsing through my veins. I feel lean, mean, fit, and strong. I also feel well-rested all the time, which for me is HUGE. I know you are dying to hear about the status of The Boston Bloat...but I am going to wait until the end for the big reveal.
Reflecting on the 30 Days: This Shit Was Hard
After completing Whole 30, it is very apparent that my eating habits come from a want and need to feel comforted in this place (Boston) where most of the time I feel uncomfortable. It has been an emotional month and not relying on the comfort of food was challenging and a GREAT learning experience.
Whole 30 is 30 days of eating food for nourishment and not for comfort. For me, that was the hardest part: To come home after a stressful day at work and not have a drink/cookie/huge bowl of pasta. Instead, I would ask for a hug or go for a walk or write! I have been reminded of other healthy emotional outlets besides eating. Go figure! I doubt my emotional eating was conquered in 30 days, but I am keenly aware of it, which is a step in the right direction.
SURPRISE! I lost weight without even trying!
Although I did not do Whole 30 to lose weight, I was definitely curious, so I weighed myself before I started. As I mentioned in my Week 3-Day 22 article, training for my half marathon was not going well. So, I haven’t been working out as often as I usually do, which was one of the reasons I was completely dumbfounded when I stepped on the scale on the morning of day 31 to find that I had lost 8 pounds. I wore pants that I hadn’t worn in over a year... It felt WONDERFUL to put them on!
I am still totally dumbfounded that after 30 days of eating a large amount of food (albeit different food), I was close to the same weight I was when I arrived in Boston 3 years ago. It is a great reminder that there is always the opportunity to reset your body and treat it right! Once you start making good choices, it only takes a few weeks for your body to get the message and start getting rid of excess baggage. The hardest parts are starting to make good choices and then sticking to those good choices even when the payoff is not immediate. It is worth the suffering of the first weeks to feel this great!
Eating My Own Words: Food Does Matter
I used to say that I became a runner so that I could eat whatever I want....I am now eating my words for breakfast, lunch, and dinner sans carbs. Even as a runner, I was eating WAY more carbohydrates than my body needed. I REALLY hate to say this, but the food you eat really DOES matter even if you are active. BUMMER!
This is the time in life (our 30s) when our bodies process carbs differently. ‘Differently’ for me means that all the excess carbs I had been eating were turned into chub and bloat that was unevenly distributed to my beer-gut, hips, and butt. Even when I was training for a marathon and running 30 miles a week, I STILL had a gut. I am not sure how much exercise I would have to do to burn all of the carbs I used to eat, and if it is more exercise than running 30 miles a week, I am not going to find out. 30 miles is A LOT.
Which leads me to my conclusion: I have to maintain a Whole 30-esque diet if I would like to keep the gut, hips, and butt at bay. BOOOOOOOOOOO but also YAY because I have found a
diet nay nutrition plan that makes me feel great!
Beyond the Bloat: Whole 30 Benefits
Clear Skin: I was blessed in high school to not have acne, so I went through adolescence with clear skin. I was grateful and I thought I dodged the acne bullet until I realized that adult acne was a thing. BUMMER! I have gone through iterations of back-ne, chest-ne, and also the classic facial acne. Whole 30 cleared up my skin! It took a while and I didn’t really notice a change until day 25 or so. I felt like I was an acne-free adolescent again! YAY!
Bye Bye Allergies: They suck, right? I have had some type of allergy since I was about 5 years old. This is a total exaggeration, but I feel like my sinuses and nose have been stuffed up for over 25 years... Ok, that is a SUPER exaggeration. BUT, Whole 30 cleared up my congestion! Again, it took a few weeks, but it felt awesome to breathe freely and not be blowing my nose all the time!!
Sweet Dreams: SLEEP! I am a notoriously terrible sleeper. It usually takes me about an hour to fall asleep, and I generally wake up a few times during the night and have a hard time falling back to sleep. After about week 2, I was sleeping like a CHAMP! I would get exhausted around 10pm, fall asleep soon after my head hit the pillow, and wake up at 6:15am feeling refreshed. Sleeping well had such a positive effect on every aspect of my day to day interactions and productivity!
The Boston Bloat: Pronounced Dead on Day 27
So, it took a while, but The Boston Bloat was pronounced dead around day 27. It was a long wait! Actually, in concluding this particular article, I want to emphasize how long it took for my body to react to the good choices I was making. I think sometimes we get discouraged if we don’t feel fabulous after a week or two of a new diet or exercise regime.
In weeks 2 and 3 I was feeling good but not as fantastic as I feel now, which made it hard to keep going...I was doing all the work without feeling tremendous benefits. Little did I know that my body was changing slowly but surely and killing The Boston Bloat at the same time!
The Power of Reflection!
Because of the opportunity Yoga Travel Tree has given me to write about my experience, I have been able to reflect on how my body is changing (or not changing) as I go along. Writing about this experience has been incredibly valuable not only to reflect on how I am feeling and how my body has changed, but to start a discussion with friends about healthy eating and exercise. I highly recommend keeping a journal so you can go back and see how far you have come! I have learned so much about myself and my body throughout this adventure.
If I may speak from my soapbox for a moment: Your self worth, your ability to be a fantastic mom/friend/partner/person, or your ability to make changes to feel healthier has nothing to do with how you look or feel today. Life is dynamic and you have the power to choose how you live it in every single moment. There is power in being comfortable in the body you are in right now AND power in choosing a lifestyle for the benefit of your health and well-being.
I’ve been keeping something from you....
Remember how I said that I dream of the day of moving west? WELL, that day is about to arrive! On August 27th, my fiancé and I are moving to Colorado. I look forward to sharing my adventures from our new home at the foot of the Rocky Mountains!
Until then.... Be well!!
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Natalie Canfield is a California born and Arizona bred lover of sunshine, the outdoors, international adventures, and delicious beer. Challenging humans to dream big is her life’s work and currently it manifests itself through working in study abroad. She lives with her fiancé and his five bicycles in Somerville, MA and they dream about the day when they will move back west. Follow her adventures on Twitter @Life_of_Noods.