POST #3 – The Whole30 and me

Dear Reader:

After starting this blog with all good intentions to keep it up and running, posting at least once a week, here I am 44 days after my last (and only second) post.  I am guessing the momentum has fallen by the way side.

Life can get in the way, but it is not how many times you fall down that counts; it is getting up and trying again!

Lots of stuff has been going on since I last posted, but I am not sure if I will reflect back on any of it.  As the days melted into weeks, I was nervous about writing another post after being off for so long, but keeping this blog up and running is important to me so here I am.

What’s new, you ask?

Today is my third day on the Whole30.  My middle one did it about two months ago and has been raving about the positive effects – even now, four weeks after completion.

She didn’t do it to lose weight; she’s a former NCAA Div I athlete and continues to live a healthy lifestyle.  She has always been super careful about her diet and exercise.  She did the Whole30 because, while she doesn’t eat a ton of sweets, she had been wondering about food intolerances (such as dairy) and she liked the whole idea of “resetting”, taking away the extra stuff – – no matter how infrequently she consumed it – – and seeing where she ended up after 30 days.  Would she notice a difference in her energy?  Her skin?  Her sleep?  Her digestion?  Food intolerances?

The answer was a resounding yes.  Well, her skin wasn’t an issue, but she has noticed her energy staying constant and her focus, which has always been pretty good, remaining sharp throughout the day.  She no longer experiences stomach aches after consuming dairy because it was on the “no” list.  She reintroduced a few foods she loves, such as chick peas and rice, and hasn’t noticed any bad reaction so those went back on her food list.  Leading up to Easter and over the weekend, she indulged in sweets and realized that effected her energy, so things like sugar and dairy are out save for special occasions.  And she won’t be eating bread or pasta any time soon either.  She doesn’t miss them so she hasn’t reintroduced them.

Why did I decide to give it a try?  I tend to eat a diet heavy on fresh vegetables with lean protein as a compliment.  Pasta is reserved for those evenings when I am in a bind to get dinner on the table fast.  It is also a favorite comfort food for me, especially with pesto, but it is not a weekly indulgence.  I like bread, but I don’t consume it regularly, although I did eat these amazing multigrain flatbread crackers while visiting my mother for five days last month.  Every.  Single.  Night.  And toast is my go-to whenever I feel yucky, but my general diet is not a concern.

My real problem is sugar.

For a long while now I have felt I might be addicted to it.  It’s not like I eat a lot of junk food and sweets, and certainly not every day, BUT I do have a special way of making my coffee that includes sugar and dairy – – I start with hot skim milk, roughly half of the mug, then add a heaping spoon of sugar, and top it off with strongly brewed coffee.  You should know that I used to take two heaping spoonfuls of sugar, but in recent months I lowered that to just one.  However, that one is still heaping!  Wile I may not have more than one mug in the morning, I definitely have a second mug in the afternoon, say around 2pm.  Some days, I admit, I consume three or four mugs of this deliciously wonderful concoction.  The other problem for me is that it’s all wrapped up in the ritual.

I am a highly ritualistic person.  I thrive on it.  Rituals of sight, touch, taste, and smell, even sound.  I am highly attuned to my senses and they kinda run my life.  I do best when I can follow through with the way I prepare my coffee, make my salads, set the table, make the beds, organize my belongings, even the route I took on my daily jogs  with my dog when I lived in New England – – you get the picture.  Now that I write it all down, I sound like a freak! Anyone else out there like me?

At any rate, worried about the long term effects of so much sugar on my health, I decided I needed to try to cure my sugar addiction.  Now, I realize addicts have to give up their addiction for life, but, seeing as my love of coffee is tied up in the way I prepare it, when this is all over I  hope I will find a way to enjoy coffee again.  Sans sugar.  I know – – milk contains sugar.  That is something else I am contemplating over the remaining 27 days, since dairy is also out of the picture.  UGH!

Day three and what I am really noticing is the absence of my morning and afternoon ritual: taking the long-handled, two tablespoon measurer out of the vintage, cut glass, handle-less sugar bowl (given to me years ago by my aunt to corral my collection, which she helped start, of antique and vintage silver teaspoons); measuring out two scoops of beans and one heaping teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa; the sound of the beans as I grind them; the smell of the coffee, tinged with cocoa, brewing; the act of measuring out the milk in my pyrex measuring cup (the one I use ONLY for heating milk); the ding alerting me to both coffee and milk being ready to pour into any one of my special mugs (Yes, I have a collection; are you surprised?  Each one actually means something to me.  Right now I am favoring my millennial pink, short, squat mug that makes me smile because it reads “hello gorgeous”); milk first, then comes the sugar, followed by coffee and topped off with cinnamon.  I pause briefly, both hands wrapped around the mug, as I bring it towards my face.  The warmth transfers from the mug to my hands, which always run cold.  The aroma wafts up, around my head and inside my nasal cavity.  Gosh, I genuinely love that moment.  I take my first sip leaning back against the counter.  Often I will say, to no one in particular, “Wow, now that’s a cup of coffee!”  Then I move to the kitchen table or living room couch or back deck to fully enjoy every single sip.

This time is for me, usually, and mostly I simply sit and enjoy the mountains beyond the back of our house in NEPA or the view from the living room couch into the dining room or the woods behind our Maine cottage or the flames flickering in our gas stove up there.  Sometimes I read an article or three.  Often music is playing; sometimes NPR news on our little kitchen radio.  And there are days when I barely get it made before I have to run out to take my youngest to class, so the coffee is enjoyed in the car with country music playing on the radio and the passenger seat occupied.

Before I started this journey, I tried several different ways to prepare my coffee  – – with almond or coconut milk and vanilla extract – – but nothing tasted good enough to warrant me taking the time and energy to put it together.  I may change my mind after another few days, but I decided to go without coffee altogether!

I don’t seem to have an issue with caffeine.  It rarely, if ever, keeps me awake at night.  On mornings when I rise feeling sluggish and tired, I don’t think it is the caffeine that gets me up and going.  Honestly, I believe it’s the sugar.  Sadly, I think I kinda run on it.

So, on this third day of the Whole30, it seems my main complaint is missing out on my morning and afternoon coffee ritual.

Have you heard of the Whole30?  Tried it?  If so, what was your experience?

Time to get ready for my Wednesday early evening slow flow/restorative yoga class.  I had worried my yoga practice would be effected this first week on the Whole30, but yesterday morning’s class was definitely one of the best I have experienced since moving to NEPA.  While I was a bit tired and sluggish, I found I was able to rise to the occasion and put in a really positive effort.  Interested to see if tonight is the same.

Until next time, which I hope won’t be too long…..

E.M.