Progress and Setbacks on my #Whole30

So I made it through the whole first week of my Whole30! Yay me!

And then day 8 happened.

Let me set the scene. Monday night, I sprain my ankle, so I can’t put any weight on that leg. Then remember that I have to get up three hours earlier than usual on Tuesday morning to take the cat for an eye operation.

Tuesday morning I get up, my son is super-helpful, we manage to catch the cat and put him in his cat box, leave the house (breakfastless, because too much to do and too slowly limping), head towards the vet, and I have to stop for fuel. And there’s my favourite gluten-free piri-piri chicken wrap right in front of me as I go to pay.

Oh well.

So, I’m back to Day 1 again, but to be honest, I’m not feeling too bad about it. This isn’t, as on previous occasions, a failure of my Whole30, it’s a learning experience that yes, I really *do* need to plan to succeed in healthy eating. Which I know that I can do. And also a reminder that hey, sometimes life happens and there’s no point blaming myself for that. No-one eats perfectly all the time.

Plus, despite my slip, I’m a lot better off for having spent a week eating healthily – one wrap doesn’t undo what I achieved already.

So yeah, back to the beginning of the count, but still moving onwards towards my goal of eating more healthily.

Day 2 of #Whole30 

So I’m on day 2 of the Whole30, and so far not so bad. I mean, I’m tired and I want snacks, but I knew that was coming. No horrible migraines this time because I cut out Diet Coke a month back and also cut way back on coffee before I started.

I’m also still using the Fabulous app (see my last post) so that helps too – keeping hydrated and doing just a little exercise (but not too much). 

My son has also agreed that we’re going to do a Pokémon Go walk every single day, and we’re signed up to do Gung Ho! in July (5k with inflatable obstacles, we’re really looking forward to it). 

The other thing that’s helping me in 2017 is Daylio, a mood tracker app. It asks you each day to pick a smiley from 1 to 5, and you can optionally add what you were doing and some notes. It helps me because whenever I’m down I am totally convinced that I’m nearly always down. A quick look back through the app reminds me that I’m actually happy most of the time. I’m hoping that it will also show an improvement from cutting out sugar!

Well done to you if you’re also doing a Whole30 (or anything else) to improve your life and your health. Good luck, and leave a comment if you’re blogging through this too so that I can follow you!

The Fabulous

New Year, New Me, right? Everyone’s saying it, as they always do at this time of year. Okay, it’s a bit phony to say that we should do “New Year’s Resolutions”, but if not now, then when?

I’m doing two things: firstly I’m doing a January Whole30, and secondly I’m trialling a new app called The Fabulous. It claims to be based on behavioural science from Duke University, and it works around setting up ‘rituals’ – habitual behaviours that you do every day – to gradually improve your life.

TL;DR: I really like it. Read on for more detail.

The app is bright, cheerful, colourful, and gives consistently positive, upbeat messages. I typically don’t like “motivate me” apps because I find them a bit patronising, but I’m enjoying this one. It helps, for me, that the app includes some fairly long (for an app) articles explaining what you’re doing and why, so that the advice doesn’t feel glib or superficial. I realise though that the idea of reading long articles explaining what to do will turn some people off. I hope they keep this; it would be a shame if it got dropped.

There’s a subscription element (isn’t there always?) called Sphere, which extends the coaching past the initial few habits. I think it’s pretty much essential: there wasn’t much content in the app until I subscribed. Having said that, you can easily try out the app and the way it works before you buy a subscription, so this seems like a reasonable compromise. I hate being forced to buy a subscription before I can even try an app; this didn’t have that problem. I felt like I understood how it was going to work before I decided to sign up.

The app itself has strengths and weaknesses. Caveat: it’s still under development – although it feels polished already – so new features are being added all the time and some of the weaknesses may be fixed by the time you read this. A major strength is the flexibility: you can set reminders, defer them, leave them open but not nagging – it’s been really well thought out. The weakness is the flexibility: sometimes there are lots of things open, and it’s hard to tell what to do next. The first couple of tries at setting up a ritual didn’t really work for me, and I had to do a ‘restart from scratch’ to figure it out totally. On the other hand, the key points are repeated several times in reminders, so it’s not such a big deal if you don’t quite get it first time.

Overall, it really shows that this app is based on science. Little tips and reminders make it much easier to actually do what you intend. They mean that you can change your life without it really seeming like too much effort.

Of course, it’s only Jan 3rd, so we’ll see whether this stands the test of time, but right now I would really recommend this app to anyone who wants to make some positive changes in their life for 2017.

A Word About Being Fat

So… I’m currently heavier than I’m happy with. Like, a lot. I’m a size 18 (UK). I know that there are people bigger than me, but being this size means:

  • My feet ache
  • My back aches
  • I don’t sleep well
  • Digestive problems
  • Not being able to wear clothes I like
  • Being rubbish at sports with my son
  • Long-term health impacts

… etc.

So I want to lose weight. But here’s the thing.

I am not ashamed of being fat.

This is important. Because there are a lot of messages out there that say that I should be ashamed. There are a lot of messages that fat people are weak, useless, worthless, bad people. I just saw this video, and I’m sure everyone who is, or fears that they are overweight knows what this is like.

This is bullshit. Allow me to demonstrate.

  • Do you believe that fat people are to blame for being fat, and that being fat is a choice?
  • Do you believe that fat people are weak people who are unable to control themselves?

Well, which is it? I mean seriously, it can’t be both. You’re either someone makes bad choices or someone who has no choices – you can’t be both! Of course, neither is true.

Firstly, being overweight isn’t a moral issue. It’s a health issue. And yes I’m sorry, it is a health issue. It’s all very well saying that everyone should just be comfortable with their own bodies, but if I’m obese then I am more likely to suffer from quite a few illnesses. Those are avoidable. Why wouldn’t I avoid them?

Secondly, I can choose to change my weight. I’m not a better person if I’m a bit thinner. But I’m a healthier person, and therefore a happier person (so long as I go about it the right way). Because this is the second horrible message that gets sent to fat people: “You’re powerless to stop yourself. You have to stay like you are. You’re helpless”. It’s just not true. Is it hard for me to lose weight, and get healthier eating habits? Yes. Will it take several attempts, gradually improving over time? Yes. Will I have slips? Yes. Will it involve breaking old habits, learning new skills? Yes. Is it hard? Yes. Is it too hard? No.

So, I’m not ashamed of being overweight, but I want to change it. I know that it’s hard to change eating habits, especially because I eat emotionally. And I also know that being overweight makes me less healthy. But it doesn’t make me a less worthwhile person. And I will improve my eating habits, and keep working at it until I get to a healthy weight.

For anyone else who feels the same, I like Melissa Hartwig’s book “Food Freedom Forever”, which has a positive message about this. (I don’t get paid for that recommendation, I just like it). “The Start Here Diet” by Tosca Reno is also good.

Decisions, decisions #Whole30

I’ve been trying to decide the rules for my September #Whole30. Yes, I know you can’t vary the rules of the Whole 30. But.

The first time I did a Whole30, I did the AIP version. It was really tough, but I really noticed the difference to my health. For the first time since school, I could run without pain. But since I fluffed the reintroduction from that Whole30, I don’t really know which foods made the difference. So I’ve been trying to decide whether to do AIP again or just a regular Whole30.

I do have a gut feel, which is that nightshades don’t agree with me, but I think I’m fine with eggs. So I’ve decided to go with that: Whole30, plus no nightshades. It rules out potatoes, but that’s probably a good thing for me anyway. The really painful bit is ruling out any tomato-based sauces. No chilli. No bolognese. No pico de gallo. Still, hopefully it won’t be forever: if I do the reintroduction properly this time, I can work out whether I actually am affected by them or not.

I struggled with whether to leave out eggs: I didn’t include them for the first Whole30, and I was really worried that I might not get the same benefits if I include them. But I realised that there is no perfect answer. Eggs are allowed on the Whole30, so I’m totally allowed to eat them. If I do the entire 30 days and don’t see the same benefits, then maybe I’ll cut out eggs too. But for now I’ll just run with my best guess.

So: looking up AIP recipes 🙂 But I can still have egg-based breakfasts. 🙂 🙂 Although frankly, I’m not a morning person until at least week 3 of the W30, so breakfast will most likely be some shredded chicken/turkey and steamed veg until then!

Prep: making progress.

Re-reading “It Starts With Food”: well underway.

Days to Whole30: 4 (eek!)

Days to first exam: 12 (argh!)

Being Accountable #2

Sugar fail.

Manic day, running around after the sprog, which ended up with me spending too much in a shop because the salesman had talked to my son for so long I felt guilty not buying something, which led to me feeling guilty about spending money I shouldn’t, which led…. anyway, you get the idea. Ending up in willpower failure and chocolate.

Two things to learn. (1) Just say no – to people who want money from you. (2) Tomorrow’s a new day.

Anyway, I kept the Diet Coke limited to one, despite temptation, so not a total fail. Next!

Being Accountable #1

I’m going to post a few short posts, just to hold myself accountable, confirming that I’m keeping to my goals. There will be longer posts, but when I just don’t have time to write something longer, I’ll still do a quick check-in.

So from my pre-Whole 30 targets:

29th August. Target: No sugar. Status: Achieved!

30th August. Target: No sugar, max one Diet Coke. Status: Achieved!

September #Whole30 Prep

So, as I’ve talked about previously, I can’t just jump into a #Whole30 straight from bad eating. Right now, I’m not eating great. I’m not eating dairy or gluten, but I’m eating sugar and drinking Diet Coke, neither of which is any good for me.

I need to get ahead before September 5th by cutting out sugar and Diet Coke before I move into the Whole 30 on September 5th, otherwise it’s just going to be impossible. Unfortunately, cutting out Diet Coke gives me a stinking migraine and I can’t do anything all day, and I’ve got a busy week ahead. So here’s my plan.

Today (29 Aug) Cut out sugar.
Tomorrow (30 Aug) Max one Diet Coke per day. No sugar.
Friday (2 Sep) No sugar or Diet Cokes, no crisps.
#Whole30 (Sep 5) The Whole 30 begins properly.

Honestly, each time I try to cut this stuff, I wonder why I was so stupid to start drinking Diet Coke again anyway. Usually it was a trip to the pub and feeling too embarrassed to drink water, or else needing to do without much sleep for a while… Ah well. It’ll be nice to get rid of it from my life again.

Here’s to September!

September #Whole30

So, I’ve been eating more-healthy, less-healthy on and off for a while, but right now I’m in a rut. Lo and behold, what should turn up in my email box but the September #Whole30. Yay!

It’s running from Sep 5th to Oct 4th, timed to end just with the release of Melissa Hartwig’s book on reintroduction. So yeah, it’s kind of a marketing stunt. But if you’re a Whole 30 fan already, you won’t really care (and were maybe going to buy the book anyway). If you’re not, and you don’t try or don’t like the Whole 30, you probably won’t buy the new book anyway. So really, it all stands and falls on the basis of whether Whole30 works for you.

I’m in.

Comment if you’re joining in too, and leave the link to your blog, so we can support each other through.

EDIT: I forgot to mention: I’m doing this in a month when I have four exams. So if I can do it, you definitely can 🙂

Eating Better, Eating Worse

I have noticed over the years that there are patterns in what has worked and what has failed. Particularly as my diet gets worse, I always move on to worse foods in the same order, and I improve by reversing that.

I have also noticed that I can never successfully make more than one improvement at a time. Very occasionally, when I have had lots of free time, I have improved two things at once – but that was a full-time project. So it’s important for me to know where I am in my eating habits, and what a realistic goal is. The table below helps me to do that. I can easily see which level I’m on, and what I need to add/cut to improve one level.

Please note, I’m not saying that this is true for everyone, this is purely what I have noticed in my own diet. If you’re reading this, you may find that you have different “trigger” foods, or that you don’t have this kind of “slippery slope” at all.

Better-Worse Lifestyles

The other thing I’ve noticed, which depresses me a bit, is that I can’t get to the top level as a vegetarian or vegan. I get to level 2 at best. I was vegetarian for 20 years, and would like to cut out meat again for ethical and environmental reasons – but it just doesn’t work for me. I eat too many carbs and not nearly enough protein. I haven’t given up, but I haven’t found a solution for that one yet. I’m living in hope.

I’d love to have comments from anyone else who has noticed similar patterns what works or doesn’t work for you.