i’m alive. sure, it’s been nearly six months since i’ve written a new post, and yes, i’m fairly certain the last couple i wrote had decent sized gaps of time between their publishings. it’s been a busy year, and i haven’t felt inspired or energized enough to devote much time to writing. if you follow along on my instagram, you will see that i haven’t stopped cooking, baking, traveling (most recently on a quick beach getaway on florida’s emerald coast, featured in this post), exercising, or creating; i simply needed to take a break from curating my blog and focus on relationships, a new job (and relearning how to have a work/life balance when i’m not creating my own work schedule), and my health.
speaking of my health, 13 days ago marked the beginning of something i swore i would never do–my husband and i started the whole30 program; i tried the whole30 one other time a few years ago, and i made it four days before quitting for fear it would make me hate eggs, sweet potatoes, and avocados. i’ve always gravitated toward a more plant-based diet, only eating meat on occasion. i love grains, legumes, wine, and sugar. why on earth would i intentionally put myself in a situation that restricted me from that which i love while pushing upon me the things i could easily go without?
because sometimes the things we love aren’t what’s best for us.
let me back up. starting in the winter, i noticed that i was losing more hair than usual; i attributed it and the fatigue i was experiencing to stress, and i tried my best to keep up my normal pace of life. a couple months and a few doctors appointments, blood tests, and a thyroid ultrasound later, and an endocrinologist told me i am likely in the early stages of hashimoto’s thyroiditis, a hypothyroid disease in which the immune system produces antibodies that attack the thyroid until it no longer produces the necessary thyroid hormones. this explained why on many mornings i’d wake up fully rested after 8 hours of sleep yet find myself inexplicably exhausted by 10:00am. to finally have an answer to something that continued to confuse me and those who know me most closely (it’s hard explaining to husband why i’d climbed back into bed and canceled my morning appointments when all i could say was, “i just don’t feel well“) then freed me up to be proactive in reclaiming my health to the best of my ability. because the doctors found the thyroid issues early enough, my t3 and t4 hormone levels hadn’t dipped below the average range; if this happens, a synthetic hormone supplement is prescribed indefinitely. i decided to try to keep that option off the table for as long as i can. i talked with friends with hashimoto’s and other autoimmune diseases, and i scoured the internet for holistic remedies. everything pointed back to paleo.
which led me to whole30.
which has led to me starting to feel normal again after less than 2 weeks of shifting my dietary habits.
i am waking up before my alarm most mornings, usually around 6:00am. i am not drinking multiple cups of coffee to survive my later work hours. i am not craving sugar, alcohol, or junk food. i am actually enjoying the reasonably-sized portions of organic meat that accompany my platefuls of veggies and healthy fats. i’m rarely hungry between meals. my exercise regime feels sustainable. i am once again having fun and feeling inspired to cook. i feel like the old me but better.
i understand that for many the whole30 is difficult. it requires planning, preparation, and creativity in order to keep it interesting and sustainable. i would also imagine that it is difficult for someone who is looking to it as a 30-day fix versus a lifestyle shift. if a person looks to it as a way to lose a few pounds in the course of a month, that weight will inevitably be gained back; i am looking to this way of eating as a path to internal healing and preventative action toward needing medicine. i had also already eliminated gluten and dairy from my diet a few years ago, so fully cutting out grains, legumes, sugar, alcohol, and soy wasn’t going to be quite as much of a shock for me as it would for true omnivores. most will agree that we can’t plead a strong case for refined sugar’s nutritional benefits, and i knew i had an unhealthy reliance, both physically and mentally, on it. since soy contains phytoestrogens and my hormonal levels were already at risk of becoming unbalanced, it was another no-brainer for me. soy is also an additive in the majority of processed foods, whether as an oil, lecithin, isolate, or anything else, and one of my goals for this year is to remove anything heavily processed from my diet. that leaves grains, legumes, and alcohol. thus far, i haven’t missed them. a couple weeks from now, i may try to reintroduce some peas or buckwheat groats into a meal and see how my body responds; i will do that whenever i truly feel interested in it. for the time, though, i don’t see myself eating rice, oats, or anything made with corn any time soon.
but i most definitely will have a glass of wine at the end of this. wine will more than likely be my celebratory treat from here on; i don’t need a daily or even a weekly glass, but i will most certainly indulge when the time feels right. life is about balance, and while one end of my scale is loaded with brussels sprouts, beets, garlic, and turkey meatballs, the other end holds a perfectly crisp glass of sauvignon blanc.
if you are considering trying the whole30, i recommend first reading It Starts With Food. i plan on posting my favorite recipes from the whole30 over the next few weeks, and you can find more whole30-compliant meal inspiration on my instagram.