Today marks Day 1 of a project that I'm doing for the next 30 days called a Whole30. A Whole30 is basically a "nutrition reset," a commitment to eat whole, nutrient-rich, unprocessed foods for 30 days. All other foods and drinks are off limits. You can read more about the details of the program on the website.
I'm not calling this project a diet because I'm not doing it to lose weight. One of the main points of the Whole30 is to learn what processed foods, grains, dairy, and alcohol do to the body, as after 30 days, these kinds of food are reintroduced one day at a time to observe the effects on a recalibrated and healthy gut (meaning the small intestine specifically).
I don't talk about this very much, but I have a difficult time with food. I don't have a lot of self-control, particularly around foods that I like to eat, which tend to be carbohydrates and cheese. I'm fairly successful at keeping these foods out of my house, but avoiding the problem is not really addressing the problem. I also know that I use food as a distraction, eating because I feel stressed or bored or lonely or depressed. Because I exercise on a fairly regular basis and make generally decent food choices, I don't gain a lot of weight. However, that doesn't change the psychological impacts of my choices. The food and drink have more of a handle on me right now than I have a handle on them. In the last three months, I've been experiencing a heavy, bloated feeling, less energy, and less motivation to exercise. My workouts have lacked consistency as well, vacillating from good to frustrating, particularly my running. I also feel like my eating and drinking patterns have gotten a little more erratic. I read about the Whole30 and decided to give it a shot.
When I was 18, a senior in high school, I lost a lot of weight in a short period of time. I went from 165lbs to 135lbs in about three months. I did it with some exercise but mostly by drastically cutting back my food intake, basically in half. It was probably the right thing to do, as I was eating a lot of garbage, particularly at lunch, but I think I lost too much weight too quickly. By the time I went away to college, I wasn't looking so good. It didn't help that I wore all of my clothes entirely too big. It was something of a style in the late 80s, but it was more because I had a completely warped sense of what size I was and what clothes I should wear.
Fast forward to 44, and my overall lifestyle is much healthier, but there are still daily challenges. What I see in the mirror and how my body feels to me doesn't entirely match what's actually there, but I've accepted that as an ongoing part of being me and also being gay in a city that tends to validate men for having zero body fat, muscles for days, and incessantly flawless skin. (Happy Pride, I think???). As I read about the Whole30, the plan made some excellent points about how processed foods, grains, and dairy can have adverse physical and psychological effects, so I'm going to see if this 30 days of cleaner eating has any psychological benefits for me as well.
My trainer has been talking with me for a few months now about the possibility of cutting out the grains, but I've always said I could never do it. Well, here I go. There are certainly adventurous elements to this undertaking, but I'm looking forward to it. I have limited expectations about changes in my physical appearance and more curiosity about how I might feel about myself, my body, and food when it's all done. Obviously, I'll keep you posted.