The Whole 30

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I’m just sharing this information because it has helped me so much. Please understand I don’t advocate doing ANYTHING without first checking with your doctor(s)!

I was so excited to retire seven years ago. I’d been looking forward to it for a couple of years, happy I could now make camping reservations and not worry about what day of the week we had to go. Three shoulder, one knee and one wrist operations later, I found myself sedentary, overweight and unhappy. I couldn’t hike, ride my bike or exercise like I was used to for fear I’d hurt myself again and go through all the pain that comes with it. Pain was not my friend. Pain can change a person. I did get a lot of art work done, which does make me happy, but I hurt ALL THE TIME. I was also diagnosed with osteoarthritis during this time. My problems are manageable and I know how lucky I am that it’s not something worse, but I’m writing this as someone who was constantly active and had an extreme set back on the road to enjoying retirement. I made some really bad choices to comfort myself. Maybe you also made some bad choices recently and want to change them. Maybe you are facing the same situation of hurting all over and don’t like taking nsaids and other pain killers. (I took so many I am concerned about my liver and kidneys).

I began to eat copious amounts of comfort foods: potatoes, chocolate, creamy sauces, flavored coffee creamers, etc. I also began drinking A little too much. Drinking helped with the overall malaise and I took great joy in fatty, sugary foods. I wasn’t moving much at all because it hurt and it took too much energy. Plus, I just didn’t want to.

Becky and I fell into a horrible pattern. She was joining me on the bad food/drinking habits and gained a lot of weight. To her credit, she continued to exercise and we ate at home most of the time so we didn’t consume a lot of junk food (but she found delicious fatty sauces to DIE for). She has thyroid issues and recently has been thrown into a-fib. She also noticed her immune system was starting to fail. We both decided that something had to give. What’s the saying…car mechanics own the worst-running cars and nurses make the worst patients? We are physical educators and we certainly know better! (We used excuses like, “We’ve exercised all our lives, we earned this _________ (fill in the blank with the fattiest food and drink you can imagine), and, “Life is short and food is good and we won’t miss any of it!”) We became gluttons, truly. It was fun while it lasted, but it was time to live a better life.

Becky, being the amazing researcher she is, decided to try The Whole 30 program, which is basically a paleo plan: no sugars, no grains/legumes and no dairy. When she explained this program to me and said this is what she thinks we need to do, I thought, “Just kill me now!” I love (did I say LOVE?) chocolate, milk chocolate – the sugar-ier and fattier the better. The 30 in The Whole 30 means 30 days. I promised to stick with it for “The Whole 14.” That’s all I felt I had in me. Of course, the book says you’ll really feel good after week three. I still have horrible sugar cravings, especially at night watching TV. I found hot/cold teas and grapes are a great substitute for the chocolate I so covet. It works for me.

I feel absolutely fantastic after 13 days. My achiness and overall malaise (what I call “body fire”) are calmed to the point where I don’t look and feel like a 90 year-old when I get up from a chair or out of bed. I’m sleeping through the night (as much as a geriatric dog will let me) and I have more energy throughout the day without sugar dives. What I would call a side effect of The Whole 30 is weight loss and both of us have lost some weight (3-4 lbs per week), which feels amazing! I started exercising and even decided to ride my bike again after telling myself that my health could suffer dramatically again if I ever had an accident and fell off. I decided not to live like that anymore. Anything can happen at any time. I needed to enjoy life a little more and I love biking. I have to mention that meditation – just 5 or 10 minutes a day – also helps. For me, it sets in motion a calm day and I feel more focused. I usually do this before my feet touch the floor in the morning but have been known to fall back asleep for 10 minutes. LOL!

Another thing that I believe helped calm my inflammation besides diet (for me, sugar elimination in particular), are the supplements I take. I took supplements off and on for years but it was always hit and miss. I decided to take my supplements religiously during these 2 weeks because I knew what they could do if taken regularly (why I didn’t do this before, I have no clue!). Two supplements in particular have shown anti-inflammatory properties and I swear by them: Tumeric and Bromelain. Tumeric is a spice that comes from the ginger plant that’s mainly used in Asian dishes and is the main spice in curry. Bromelain is a mixture of enzymes found in pineapples. Tumeric cannot be taken if you are taking blood thinners. If you are interested in this supplement, do some research to decide what kind of turmeric (there are four) is best for your situation and be sure to ask your doctor if this would be a good thing for your health. I also take fish oil, B complex, Evening Primrose, CoQ-10 and glucosamine chondroitin.

Today is my day 14. Tomorrow I have the “right” to add whatever I want back into my diet. That was the agreement between us. She started a week earlier than me so she only has a week left. Both of us think we’ll continue with this paleo plan but I WILL use some half and half in my coffee and I will eat popcorn at the movies. I’m taking a stand on that. We all have our breaking points. 🙂

A few other tidbits:
I had solar nails for 15 years and decided to take them off about 6 months ago. They were paper-thin and hurt. My hair was also dry and brittle after so many operations in a short period of time. I looked for something that would help both and found Biotin, a B vitamin. I have taken one soft chew daily for about 9 weeks and I can’t believe the difference already – even my eyelashes have gotten longer! I guess I was lacking in that vitamin because it sure has helped.

Though I love to move, I’m lazy on some days when I know I should be active. It helps having a dog that bugs me for a walk but she starts and stops so much I don’t get a workout so after I walk her and put her up, I take off on a 20 minute walk by myself. It also helps to have a partner to exercise with. Becky and I are our best motivators (and sometimes our worst but we’re getting better). Maybe your husband or wife doesn’t want to exercise but I bet someone in your neighborhood does. Ask around. Don’t call it “exercise” if that has a bad connotation for you…call it “going for a walk” and take your phone or camera and try to find things as you walk that bring beauty and happiness to your life. xo

This experience follows my previous blog post about my Inner Buddha needing attention. This was one way I paid attention.

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