“It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle.”
If you’ve been anywhere lately that is not under a rock on an abandoned island, you’ve heard that phrase. I hate that phrase.
But seeing it, reading it, and absorbing it (even under duress!) got me to thinking…
If I am choosing a style of life, how do I truly want it to be?
The answer came to me through my dad, aka: Grandpa Howard.
My dad is amazing. He is the most accepting human that I have ever known. He is intimidatingly intelligent, and he has a beautiful zest for life. He has travelled the world, he is the most well-read person I will ever meet, and I especially love the way he speaks in the exact same manner to a minimum-wage worker as he does to a billionaire CEO. He is honest, fair, supportive, and optimistic in all situations. I think he is one of my biggest fans, but everyone he meets believes that, too.
My dad loves food. He loves the event of enjoying a great meal. It does not have to be fancy, although he loves that, too. I have heard him reminisce about enjoying everything from indulging in multiple course meals in 5-star restaurants in foreign countries with elegant friends in tuxedos and floor-length gowns to sipping a shockingly cold beer while sitting in a dusty country field in Nowhere, Texas with my Grandpa Bennett and anything you can image in between those extremes. He loves spicy foods and big flavors, and he is willing to try it all, especially if said meal is accompanied with a phenomenal bottle of wine, a fun cocktail, or that frosty cold beer. He loves the experience of dining, and I love listening to him share those tales.
When his Crohn’s Disease caused him to go on a liquid-only diet last fall, my heart broke for him. For a man who found so much flavor in life through food and the times of fellowship spent with friends, peers, and loved ones around a table to be forced to drink his meals felt cruel and unfair to me. If a person ever deserved to savor life, it is my dad.
The image I had of him drinking cold packets of tasteless goop 5-8 times a day for all his days not only made my own stomach ache, but it also got me to thinking about all this obsessive, OVER-thinking I do about diets.
I am not a fat person. Would I love to be trimmer? Leaner? More athletic? Well, yeahhhhh!! But I research food programs because they interest me. I’ve read (and still refer to) several famous “This is Not a Diet, It’s a Lifestyle” books over the years such as The South Beach Diet and Tosca Reno’s Clean Eating. I’ve done several protein shake programs such as Visalus, Rockin’ Wellness, and IsaGenix. I’ve even borrowed the containers for a 21-Day Fix. I’ve done my due diligence, and guess what I’ve found?
THEY ALL WORK!
Every single one of those plans is great. Every single one of those products leads to success. And my theory for why they are all worthwhile is this: IT IS ABOUT DISCIPLINE, FOCUS, AND ME. When I follow the rules of the system and stay focused on the daily routine of the system, then the system works for me. The reason these all work is simple…they keep me on track.
So, if they all work, then how do I want my routine – my lifestyle – to look?
Well, after envisioning my precious dad drinking goop for the rest of his life, I can tell you how I do NOT want my life to look: like a liquid diet. I want it to look like crunchy, creamy, steamy, crisp, savory, saucy, sweet, rich, colorful FOOD. I want to chew FOOD. I want to cook FOOD. I want to share, enjoy, and fill up on FOOD.
Enter the #Whole30.
Again, unless you’ve been under that rock on that abandoned island, then you’ve at least seen the hashtag #Whole30. In one sentence #Whole30 is set of nutrition guidelines that eliminates potentially gut-irritating ingredients and allows ingestion of only whole foods for 30 straight days.
I was intrigued. I bought the book. I read the chapters. I perused the recipes. I determined to let this set of rules guide me for one month.
I began March 1st.
I made it 5 days.
Yes, my #Whole30 lasted a whopping 5 days, but surprisingly I don’t feel embarrassed about this one. I made the decision to suspend my #Whole30 when my SonShine switched spring sports mid-day on March 1st. Although I had planned my 30 days in advance using the guidelines and lots of recipes from the book, I had not planned enough to allow for 4 of the next 5 evenings to be spent at a ballpark. I would not trade those evenings at the ballpark for anything on this earth; those are priceless moments to me (and when your baby boy is 17 years old, towering over you, and his school sends home his GRADUATION DATE WHICH IS ONLY 15 MONTHS AWAY you will fully understand!).
Furthermore, the #Whole30 authors, Melissa and Dallas Hartwig, straight up tell us, “There’s no perfect timeline – you’ll have to decide what works for you.” (pg 17)
So, do I feel like a failure? Astonishingly, NO! For the first time ever, I do not feel guilty for having to re-assess, re-plan, and re-prepare after falling short on a goal. Instead, I feel great about a few key truths I learned about myself on my #Whole5:
- I successfully eliminated added sugar, sweets, and dessert, yes ME!
- I successfully incorporated whole foods into every meal with my family while they enjoyed their favorites because our plates don’t have to look identical.
- I successfully, and creatively, used the fruits, veggies, and proteins on hand without over-shopping nor over-spending to “eat clean” three times per day.
Now that I know what my reality will look like over the next 30 days, I am ready to begin again. I know that I will rely heavily on #Whole30 slow cooker recipes. I know that I will need to have a cooler with precut, fresh veggies, almonds, and a piece of fruit with me at the ballpark so that when doubleheaders turn into extra long nights, I have food options besides the concession stand. I know that I can do this because I already have, even if it was only 5 days.
I also know that when my 30 days are up, the first thing I will re-introduce is my IsaGenix Strawberry Cream breakfast shake – it really is a delicious, convenient, nutritious way to start my day. But they say that distance makes the heart grow fonder, I want a life that does not center around drinking my meals, and if I can take a break from soft, fluffy, sweet sugar, then I can make it through without my
crutch shake each morning. Finally, I know those special treats will be there when I get back to them, so I no longer feel panicked to splurge on them today.
Besides, I am rules girl, so for 30 days starting Tuesday, March 15th, it’s the #Whole30 for me. Wish me luck 😉
With hugs and love,
PS: Just a quick note about my dad…after drinking horrendous liquid meals for a while, he told those specialists “No way, no how!” Probably not in those exact words as he is a much more elegant orator than I, but he did wean himself off those nasty goo pouches and is back to real, chewable food. He doesn’t have the luxury of decadent dishes because of the Crohn’s, but he is learning what is tolerable and enjoying the satisfaction of eating as much as is possible. Love you, Dad!