Day 18 -
One of the most popular questions I am now receiving as I am past the midway point of this Whole30 food experiment is: “Are you feeling any better?”
And the answer to that is YES!
Here’s what has gotten better and what hasn’t changed yet:
- I am sleeping pretty solid and not waking up throughout the night
- I am able to stay up later and still get up early without feeling exhausted
- The everyday waves of nausea have disappeared
- Other than the earliest adjustment days, I haven’t had a single headache
- I have more energy
- My mental clarity has vastly improved
- I am able to focus more – and stay focused
- My physical energy is such that I can walk my miles and work at night and still have the ability to do thinkerly work (aka writing and such)
- My arm doesn’t ache when I take photos
- Also, I’m not wiped out after a photo shoot or work
- My mood has stayed pretty even
- Ladies – my cycle was cramp-free, and my mood stayed pretty even, as did my energy
- My runny nose and such have improved (but I also believe part of that issue is that I’m allergic to my pets, which is whatever because I’m not getting rid of them. This still might improve as I go, though.)
- The only stomach pain I’ve had came from eating a bit too much sweet potato. I believe I read that too much can cause pain sometimes. (But they sure are danged tasty!)
- My tremors seem to have gone away
- I spent over an hour under bright lights (Walmart!) and did NOT start shaking badly or feeling dizzy at any point
Basically, the one thing I can say that hasn’t really changed yet is the tingling, numbness, and ice cold feelings I get on my right side. However, since pain isn’t accompanying said issues, I’m still counting this as an improvement. Plus, I still have miles to go (neurological issues can take longer to heal), as well as 12 days of elimination and clean eating, so who knows. I’m still hopeful, but I can honestly say that if it doesn’t go away, as long as the pain and the exhaustion does stay away, I can totally manage. I mean, I’ve gone over a year and half already, right?
Day 19 -
Last night I went to bed around 10 and intended to get up bright and early again. However, when the alarm went off at 5:00, I decided to cut myself some slack. It’s Saturday, right? And a holy weekend, so I slept in until 8 (oh my cow, my dogs let me sleep!) and decided not to walk at all this weekend. A weekend of rest (ish…since I still have to work).
My body has been reflective of the weather today – grey and sleepy. Mind-wise, I’m fine. Mood-wise, I feel a little cranky. Actually, that was last night. So far, I’m not too cranky today. But sometimes the J.O.B. gets to me. I’m probably just preaching to the choir here.
I’ve been extremely hungry all day. While I’ve been eating enough and well, some days are just hungrier than ever. I really think being at the restaurant doesn’t help, but also when my daughter made herself some toast today, my stomach responded with great desire. So much so that I stopped trying to breathe through my nose. I literally just said yesterday that when it’s time to try some reintroduction, I probably won’t even try grains at all.
Today I have wanted bread more than ever. GIVE.ME.BREAD. Now!
Instead, I made myself a little stir-fry of chicken (from the whole chicken I made the other day), green peppers, and onions, with an egg. DELICIOUS! But in all honestly, I still wanted bread. Bread and butter and an egg roll and a bowl of my daughter’s peanut butter Cheerios. Yeah, truth.
But I’m strong and I won’t break. My will is iron.
After today, there are only 10 more days before I officially reach the end of this food experiment. I am at the point now where it just feels like a way of life instead of deprivation. When I feel the cravings the strongest, I just remind myself that feeling awesome all day long and sleeping well all night is so much bigger and better than a piece of toast.
Nothing tastes as good as energy and being pain-free feels. Period.
This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!
With self-righteousness I’d proclaim, “I’ve never turned to drugs or alcohol or thought about killing myself.” It was how I gave myself permission for what I did do — the self-sabotage, the name-calling, the abusive words I flung at myself in front of others, the self-bullying.
Crooked nose. Long face. Small breasts. Wide thighs. Short. Mousy brown. Bad teeth. Boring eyes. Ugly.
The media already tells me I’m not considered pretty, but it was the words of another lifetime that continued to speak to me.
I’d stand in front of a mirror and hide behind a tent of my hair, my one acceptable feature. If someone said I looked pretty, I smiled (not too wide!) and called them a liar under my breath. Compliments were not to be believed. The truth floated on the wind of yesterday’s whispers: worthless. disgusting. stick-girl. freckle-face. stupid.
Beauty does not live among those carefully directed arrows of hurt.
After cutting my hair off yet again (it’s for charity, it’s for a good cause, it’s only hair, it’s not a big deal!), I hated my reflection even more. As I sat across from my counselor, I said “I don’t even like my hair short. Why do I do it?”
But I knew the answer. It was because I like my hair, and if there was one thing I wasn’t supposed to do, it’s to like myself. Because my past tells me so, and I don’t believe the lies of the present.
My counselor let me think on it, to talk it out. It was such an “ah ha!” revelation, I cried. I did a lot of crying in that small room, sitting across from a woman who spoke what she called truth into my heart. It took a while before I saw that she could really be speaking truth, because her words began as lies, as they all are.
Within months, we peeled back the layers of the abuse from the first 22 years of my life, and we revealed a swan hiding beneath the lying mask of an ugly duckling. And somewhere in the time that came after, I started showing up in pictures more often. Sometimes I would cringe – too much smile! too much profile! too much tummy poking out! – but eventually, I accepted that not only was the reflection from the mirror not so bad, but maybe I was even photogenic after all.
Nothing changed, other than my hair growing out. My weight was the same, my freckles still coming and going with the seasons, and my nose certainly hadn’t shrunk. But my heart was mending. I recognized lies for truth, and truth for lies, and upon sorting out what was genuine and what was ghosts from a past of pain, I could see a different woman.
In the last year, I’ve shown up in more pictures than ever. At my son’s wedding, there are many where my tummy is poking out, which is considered unflattering in general. But I look at the photos and I see a beautiful woman, a survivor, a girl who blossomed into glory. Age is starting to creep in, but I’ve lived those lines, those few silver hairs.
I’m a woman with a body that is mine, that has seen almost 39 years of life, that has carried me through the best of times and the ugliest of times. My skinny arms are strong regardless and have held babies and children and family and friends, as well as the weight of more pain than many endure. And those wide hips? They were support for growing three little lives inside my body. Further, I have a profile that I used to always hate, and now I love it. I have stretch marks that are unseen to most, but they are my beautiful scars. And I could go on and on.
I have outlived pain and ugliness, and now when I see myself in pictures, I see a whole person who is loved and cared for and beautiful.
I am beautiful.
And that is truth.
READ MORE MESSY BEAUTIFUL STORIES HERE!
*Original photo in screen shot by Kelsey Ann Photography
Five Bits of Inspiration That Move Me
1 – “You are a writer already. Today. Now. So start writing the book, the novel, the blog, your life’s work. Today is a good time to start. Now is even better.” -ProlificLiving.com
2 – “Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are.” -Kurt Cobain
3 – “The strongest people are not those who show strength in front of us but those who win battles we know nothing about.” -Unknown
4 – “She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.” -Proverbs 31:25
5 – “You can’t edit a blank page.” -Nora Roberts
Do you have any favorite words to share?
Day 16 -
Because I’m trying to forgo caffeine and give up coffee, today I bought some vanilla roast. I think I’m doing it wrong. But I really wanted to try something better and give bulletproof coffee a go. Of course, I haven’t found ghee yet, so it was my own version.
Also, because I’m really quick to notice patterns, I haven’t been going to bed at 8 and 9 lately. I’ve been staying awake longer and later, even with getting up early. That is not to say I can’t sleep, but rather I’m not crashing at 6:00 and trying to hold out until 8:00. I am in fact getting tired around 9 instead, and then winding down from there. But when I climb into bed, I’m out within at least 10 minutes.
Today’s shopping took a long time. Now that I’ve been through all the obvious foods for myself, I’m trying new things. And I shopped in two different places, which is so not like me. I’m a one-stop-fits-all kind of girl. Get in, grab stuff, get out.
I should note: not everything I choose is organic or grass-fed. I’d like to reach that point, but right now, price is an issue. The healthier and cleaner it is, the more it costs. Example: a regular whole chicken was less than $5. A free-range chicken? Over $10. As you can imagine, it’s kind of hard to always choose based on what is better for you. Which is why, for example, people hit the dollar menu at fast food rather than the farmer’s market. It’s more expensive to eat healthy. We all know it.
But when I see something like a huge bag of organic carrots for $3-something, I go for it. Or if the price difference isn’t too severe. Still, it’s hard to make your dollars stretch and make the best choices. Also hard when the selection of good foods is so small. The supposed gluten-free section at my local Walmart (I’m not getting anything from that section but I’ve looked at it) is a mere foot wide with barely anything kept in stock. Kind of sad. I think next week, I’d like to venture to The Asian Market and Whole Foods in Colorado Springs, since the selections in my small town are slim.
Oh, but it IS almost farmer’s market time, so I can’t wait to really jump into that this year!
Heath-wise: I feel pretty good. I woke up to another round of breaking out and a sty on my eye, but otherwise, I’m good. It comes in waves — good good good, then a little tired…but then good good good. My mood is still even, and my mental concentration is getting better and better. I’m feeling good about my future work if this clarity keeps up.
Day 17 -
Twenty-four hours later and I happen to glance at the vanilla extract that I bought yesterday and whoa! I almost stumbled! The bottle I looked at was approved, but for whatever reason, I grabbed the bottle beside it. It has alcohol AND corn syrup. Glad I looked first, but I have no idea how I ended up with the wrong one. Go figure.
I ended up working late last night. From home, that is. I closed down at 9:30, when my family returned from work, and I was surprised at how much mental and physical energy I still had. And yet, when I went to bed an hour later (after some reading for pleasure to wind down), I was asleep before I even had time to think about falling asleep. Then? Up shortly after 5. And ready to go.
My eye sty was gone when I woke up this morning, too. Weird, but glad to see it go. I don’t really have any complaints in general. I walked my miles, worked on several projects, and then had a steadyish night at my J.O.B. All good to go.
I did buy a package of LARABARs yesterday (with approved ingredients) so that I can take one with me to work each night. Just in case. I also cooked a whole chicken today for an early dinner before work, as I really don’t like the “hope I get off early enough” approach to dinner I took last week. Eating heavy later in the night is not my thing. Plus, it was pushing back my whole eating schedule. So this is a new approach for the nights when I work.
In the next update, I’ll share what has improved for me, what has stayed the same, and what I will be doing when the 30 days end.
Incidentally, I had to remove watermelon juice from my keyboard this morning. I was noming on it (the melon, of course, not the keyboard) yesterday – the day that shall forever live as The Day I Couldn’t Get Enough to Eat! (And that kind of breaks one of the Whole30 tenants, that we shouldn’t eat at our desk, but that issue will take a bit longer to get ahold of since I have a ton of work to do and on days when I can’t stop eating, I certainly can’t leave me desk. Excuses much?)
In other food-related news, a long time ago, I wrote on my abuse awareness site about reclaiming butter pecan ice cream (note: sensitive material). Well, now I can say I have reclaimed cayenne pepper! What was once used as a form of punishment and abuse is now a spice I love adding to my food. It’s mine now, not a weapon!
I’m really excited about reaching Day 15. I remember the thought of giving up sugar for Lent crossed my mind in early March, and I dismissed it because I thought there was no way I was ready for that. I am stronger than I think! Fifteen days without grains, dairy, and sugar — wowsa!
Another thing the Whole30 program discourages is juicing and smoothies. However, I like them and find that for me, they are a helpful addition. I also don’t make mine mainly of fruits. In fact, I’d say mine are 80% vegetables, usually the ones I’m not going to be able to eat tons of (or much of). Greens, kale, celery, and carrots make up the bulk of my juices, with an apple thrown in. And my smoothies are green as well, with a base of coconut milk, coconut water, water, a banana, and then a few pieces of other fruits, depending on what I have on hand. We’re not talking handfuls – just maybe 3 strawberries, a chunk of melon, whatever. And neither a juice or a smoothie ever take the place of a meal. It works for me, and that’s how I’m proceeding.
All in all, I’m more and more excited each day as I feel better, think more clearly, and feel more energetic. Fifteen days to go, and I can’t wait to see what’s next!
Dinner Tonight: slow cooked beef stew with fresh parsley, onions, green peppers, and carrots. Yes, yum!
Day 13 -
Today…meh on the energy scale. Not really hungry, not really feeling like doing much. With snow coming down after a couple of days of beautiful weather and warmer temps, my energy seems to be in sync with the grey of this day.
Still, I was mentally clear and energetic again, so while most of the day was spent in my pajamas (save for my walk), I accomplished a lot of sit-down-and-write-and-edit-photos work. Again, this is pretty huge because when my mood is low and my energy is low, typically so is my ability to work on writing projects and such. I’ve had nights alone where I could have written hundreds of words, but instead I only had the mental capacity to stare at yet another repeated episode of Grey’s Anatomy.
As someone who is a go-getter with big goals and dreams, it’s rather difficult to find myself so mentally exhausted so often, so I’m truly excited about the changes here. It feels like I can work now – really work toward – my goals, book, sites, etc. without just writing plans and lists to do them later. So, score 100 for mental clarity so far!
Day 14 -
I can see why people reach the two-week point of this Whole30 plan/experiment/challenge and think, “Eh, good enough!” It can feel like you’ve plateaued, so to speak, and it’s better than before, so good enough, right?
I honestly don’t find myself counting down the days until this is over. In fact, I’m so immersed in this journey that it just feels like a new way of life instead. I’m not longing for the things I cannot have but rather looking forward to feeling even better. My almost-accidents come more from the habit of grazing when at home or work rather than strong desires to have the foods I now pass up. Sometimes I almost pop a wafer or pepperoni into my mouth, but I realized as the thought crossed my mind that it was less about wanting it than my body was just going through the motions of the last 38ish years of random eating.
Last week I tried coconut milk in my coffee and found it quite tasty. Too tasty, in fact. So, today I decided to go back to just a cup of black coffee. Just a bit of a morning wakeup and then onward to food. I initially stated that I had hopes of giving up coffee through this experiment, so making it yummy with coconut milk was me going in the wrong direction. Besides, I won’t be having coffee at all during this year’s Live Below the Line event, so might as well step away again. (Pssst: SPONSOR ME!)
But with all the other things I’m working on letting go of, don’t hold me to it if I end up keeping coffee.
Maternity photo shoot with my son and daughter-in-law today. Ummmm…no pain, no exhaustion after! I had weakness in my arm again during (but I WAS using my biggest, heaviest lens), but I was able to shake it off. WIN!
“There will be a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning.” -Louis L’Amour
So, I’m in this place where I’m beginning something again that is new but is also old. I’ve been a writer before – have still been a writer but not on a professional level – and I’m stepping into the arena to be a professional writer again.
It feels all brand new. I’ve been getting my feet wet at MiddlePlaces.com and Live-Brave.com, but the time to step out of my comfort zone is here. With the excellent advice from Mridu Khullar Relph through her awesome ecourse “30 Days, 30 Queries,” I’m feeling much more prepared to just do this.
But first, I have to rearrange my office. Of course. And wash the dishes. Obviously. And vacuum. Duh.
These are my processes. Some people refer to them as procrastination or avoidance, but these things open my mind. When engaged in the white noise of domestic chores or the creative feelings of a room shift, the ideas roll in.
These activities then feed into my “morning” pages, which are actually my any-time-of-the-day pages because they will often take me running back and forth to pour out ideas versus the standard sit and write for 3 pages deal.
Here’s the thing: I gave up writing for good a few years ago. This is different than the “I quit writing” cycle I go through every couple of months. I threw in the towel, closed down my writing sites (remember The Writing Parent? Despite all appearances to the contrary, this is no longer my site. I wish it was, though. However…stay tuned?), stopped writing articles, essays, whatever. I blogged here and there, then quit, then blogged, then quit, and then blogged without quitting (although I have cleared out my archives on occasion).
I guess I just needed to release it so I could come back to it on my own, because for a long time, I questioned whether I was a writer because I’d always been a writer and was therefore expected to be a writer, or if I was writing because I wanted to write.
I want to write.
I’m still navigating in the how and where of it all, but I do know I want to write. And so I shall. Am. I am writing. Not one day, not starting tomorrow, but now. Writing and trying to practice this art every day in some fashion or another.
Because of this journey with my writing, I’m leaving my heart and mind open to photography. I’m hopeful with healing, I can find my way to being able to work with clients again. But I know this: much like I had to circle back around to writing more on my terms and less on what the experts say, I will make my way with photography in the same way. My way.
I want to take photos – beautiful and fun and heartfelt photos – for people and for myself.
I have twice looked at my art, my writing and photography, and thought it was over and behind me. And I’ve twice been reminded that there are more chances, more opportunities, if I will just release long enough to gain a better understanding of what waits for me to grab hold of.
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