My Whole 30 Journey, Take 2

A few years ago, the Whole 30 was recommended to me as a way to clean up my diet and make healthy changes.  I started by reading the book, “It Starts With Food,” by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig, the creators of the Whole 30 program.  I knew after finishing the last page, this would be a journey I would take.  I remember the first time doing the program, it was challenging.  But I did it and felt so good on the inside and outside!

Fast forward three years later, a friend was doing this same challenge and inspired me to go for it once again.  I knew it was time to make changes in my diet.  The first reason, I have been working out in my yoga studio many hours during the week, but those few pounds that I had gained were not coming off, no matter how much sweat came off of me in the hot room.  And the reason for that was 100% about what I was putting in my mouth.  The second reason is that I’ve been on the wellness journey, passionately sharing disease prevention for many years, yet here I was making choices that I knew were not benefiting my health or my body.  You know how the saying goes, you can’t out-exercise a bad diet.  You can’t.  I had a sugar and cheese addiction, along with REALLY loving our weekends of eating out at restaurants.  Something had to give.

The second time around, the decision to do this was easier and the actual 30 days was easier.  It was likely because I knew I could do it.  I’d done it before!  And I was also following my friend who was a bit ahead of me in the process and she continued to inspire me every day.  Everything is always better and easier with a buddy! Since completing these last 30 days, I have had many people ask more about what this entails.  My goal is to outline and share my experience.  Is this something for you?  Only you can make that decision.  No ONE thing is right for every person.  But here is what I do know.  If you tell yourself this is hard, it WILL be hard.  If you believe you can’t do it, you WON’T.  If you complain the entire month, it will make it so much worse.  I love what they say on the Whole 30 website –

“It is not hard. Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Birthing a baby is hard. Losing a parent is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard. You’ve done harder things than this, and you have no excuse not to complete the program as written. It’s only thirty days, and it’s for the most important health cause on earth – the only physical body you will ever have in this lifetime.” 

Way to tell it EXACTLY like it is.  Puts things in perspective, huh?

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So what does this entail?  Cleaning up your diet.  Taking out the bad and putting in the good.  For 30 days you avoid sugar of any kind (real or artificial), dairy, grains, legumes, soy, alcohol, carrageenan, MSG or sulfites.  Nothing processed.  Nothing artificial.  You consume real food.

What do you eat?  Meat, eggs, seafood, tons of vegetables, some fruit, healthy fats from fruits, oils, nuts & seeds.

And you may wonder… HOW is this possible? What will I eat?

I assure you, it is possible and for me, I eat more on this program that I do NOT on this program.  The wonderful thing is that there are so many recipe ideas out there (even a Whole 30 cookbook) and bunch of products that are approved under Whole 30.  You just have to take the time to research and plan ahead before beginning.  You can make your own mayonnaise or salad dressings or purchase the right ones from some amazing companies committed to putting the right ingredients in their products.  Two of the companies that I love the most – Tessamae’s & Primal Kitchen.  Check them out!

I believe that the main thing that this program helps you to do is identify your behaviors around food.  I grew up in a family that loves food.  My great grandparents and grandparents immigrated from Italy.  Food was the center of my childhood.  Cheese, pasta, 3 course meals, dessert…  Truly, I LOVE FOOD.  It is nostalgic for me.  It is often times difficult for me to separate that love of food, or the pictures in my unconscious mind surrounding food, from what I know to be true about what we should consume to keep us healthy.

The great news is that after these past 30 days, I feel as though I’ve gotten a handle on that behavior.  I don’t want to go back to the way I was eating.  I don’t want to feel the way I was feeling.   I want to feed my body what it needs to heal on the inside.  The truth is, none of us can feel prevention, just like we can not feel disease until it is too late.  We have no idea what’s going on behind the curtain.  If I understand from what I read and hear, sugar feeds cancer.  Then why, just by knowing that fact, do we continue to eat ridiculous amounts of sugar (real or artificial)?  How can I understand but not do what I need to do prevent?  This is something we all struggle with because none of us are perfect people.  Food is many times joyous and fun.  It is something we should experience in this one life that we have.  What I feel is that these 30 days have given me perspective.  I needed to change my thinking around food.  And I have.

My results: better sleep, glowing skin, zero stomach aches or cramps, very little cravings, more energy & 7 pounds lost.  I know many could read this and think that because I was a fairly healthy weight, WHY would I need something like this?  First of all, it’s not a diet.  Second of all, just because I appear healthy does not mean that I am.  Third, if I don’t feel comfortable in my clothes, I have the right to make the changes that I need to be comfortable.  Let the judgments slide and focus on what you need for YOUR journey, not what you think that I may need for mine.

Give this a try if you want to give your body what it needs.  First start by reading the book.  The best results for your life always begin with an understanding as to why you’re doing this in the first place.

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I will continue on with this way of eating.  Since my 30 days has ended, I have added back my Juice Plus+ Complete smoothie, which has been a lifeline for me for many years.  I’m happy to say that my body had no reaction.  Yippee!  So the Whole 30 life will continue on, with Complete being a part of it.

Best of luck on your journey.  You do what’s right for you.  If this is something you think you should try, take the time to understand it and then go for it.  You will never know how good your body is designed to feel unless you give it what it needs and take away from it, the things that it doesn’t.

Here’s to your health!

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The Gift of the Present

The quote says, “Yesterday is history.  Tomorrow is a mystery.  Today is a gift, that’s why it’s called the Present.”

My journey of discovery through yoga in the last year has given me a huge gift. Respect for the present.  

I know I’ve been pretty open about my journey over these last few months of blogging, but let me recap.  About one year ago, things shifted for me.  I had been happily working hard in my business for 6 solid years, forging ahead, very focused on my goals.  Within that 6 year period, I also moved my family twice from Georgia to Pennsylvania and back to Georgia.  I really never rested.  Never gave myself a break. Never allowed myself to let things go for a bit.  You know, goals can be a tricky thing. So can desire for success.

I heard the call to be still.  I listened.  Then a door opened.  Remember that passion you had, Jackie? Remember how much you loved yoga?  How alive you felt when you practiced?  

Yes.

Then go and do that.

I had no idea one year ago when I began practicing at Ember Yoga, how my life would transform.  God did.  And I’m so grateful that is the place he used to redirect me.

I spent years focused on my goals.  There is perfection in that, I promise you.  Beauty.  It’s amazing to work towards something and achieve it.  But then this happens.  You’re working towards something that just isn’t happening in YOUR time.  You’re going forward, God is saying NO, not right now.  And you know, God has a way of bringing you down to your knees and stopping you in your tracks in order to redirect your path or maybe even your mind, to get you back to the truth.  That it’s all in His time for His purpose. 

Here’s where I got lost.  I was so focused on the future that I forgot about the present. Simple as that.  

For those that don’t practice yoga, I don’t expect you to understand what it’s all about. I’ve heard so many misconceptions and judgements over this past year.  But it’s ok, that’s what people do when they don’t know or want to understand.  They judge, right?  

For the past 8 months, I have been on my mat on the average of 6 days per week, usually 8 different classes.  I’ve done some tough personal growth over the last 6 years, but me and my mat, it’s been the biggest growth I’ve experienced in my life so far.

When you stand on your mat and you work through the asanas of whatever type of yoga you are practicing, you have one focus.  The present.  There’s no time to get lost in the thoughts of what may happen tomorrow or in two months or six months or a year.  This doesn’t happen right away, it takes time to train your mind to focus on the moment and your breath. When I’m in a balancing posture or an inversion, it’s pretty difficult to think about what I’m making for dinner or what phone call I need to make when I walk out the door.

The present moment was the gift I was missing all along.  The thing that would bring peace. 

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If you are caught up in the race for the future, I’m not saying to stop.  I know it can be fun and exciting and exhilarating.  But I hope you can learn from my story and take time to live and love the moment each day.  I found that on my mat.  You may find it on a hike or a bike ride or on a ski slope.  Your present is your present.  I just hope you don’t miss it.