I've delayed writing our family Whole30 recap because, to be honest, I didn't feel like I was the best example. When I look back at my history with pursing health, I see a lot of failures. I see mountains, sure, but man do I see a lot of valleys. I see a lot of starting and a lot of quitting, giving up. I would sit down to type a new blog entry about our 30 day journey, but then I'd just stop. Completely shut down, put it away, and stop thinking about it. Because I didn't feel qualified. Yes, we did 30 days of no grains, no dairy, no legumes, no sugar, no alcohol, no cheats, but then what? The "then what?" is where I would (& still do) get stuck. I can do 30 days. In fact, I did 34. But a complete lifestyle change? For the rest of my life? That overwhelms me and before I know it I'm back to old habits. I was tired of sounding like a broken record, so I thought it was best this time not to talk about it at all.
But while in my Bible study, The Armor of God, I realized being silent was letting Satan win. He knows my struggle with food and my weight. And if he could keep me silent, then someone else would suffer silently, too. You see, I'm convinced I need to share our story because someone needs encouragement. They need to know they are not alone.
You are not alone.
It doesn't have to be a food or weight issue. Maybe it's another kind of addiction. Or maybe you blew it with your kids or spouse and anger exploded out of you, again. Maybe you're trapped in the comparison game. It could be there's an issue with lying, cheating, stealing of time, money, or resources. Maybe fear and anxiety are suffocating you. Perhaps life just keeps knocking you down and you just want to quit altogether. Whatever it is, it's a very real struggle. You have a grip on it one day and the next day it's out of control. And you're overwhelmed.
I get it. I absolutely understand your frustration.
You are not alone.
Don't hide in shame or condemnation. Ask for forgiveness if needed. Surrender the issue. And let grace wash over you as you press on, dear friends. I said on Day 1 of our journey, "Always starting over is a sign of never quitting. I refuse to quit." I'm not quitting and I pray you don't either!
So. With all of that said, here's a quick recap of our Whole30 experience...
It's kind of funny how it came to be. We were leaving a deliciously carb-laden meal at Carraba's with some friends over Christmas break. As we were driving back to their house, all stuffed full of bread, chicken Parmesan, and fettuccini Alfredo, we started talking about making some changes in our food. Both girls mentioned some issues they had and I told them I thought maybe eliminating certain food groups might help. I had completed a Whole 30 last year and threw it out there that maybe we could all do it together. Then we reached our destination and I filled myself to the brim with raspberry almond thumbprint cookies.
We went through the rest of the holiday break and didn't stop eating our favorite foods. We knew a possible change was on the horizon so we went crazy. We normally don't keep soda in the house. But for that last week at home? We panicked if the stock got low. Pretty silly, and we laughed at ourselves, but that's just the truth. We were consuming all junk, nothing of nutritional value.
Towards the end of the break Brandon took us to a local bbq joint. As we sat there eating fried catfish, fried chicken strips, brisket and all the sides (hush puppies!!), we talked again about doing a family Whole 30. The girls were interested and I was definitely ready for a change. As good as food tastes, it really does leave me pretty miserable. As a food addict, I'm well aware of the vicious cycle of overeating and the guilt that follows.
The decision was made and on January 4, 2016 we began a 30 day journey of no grains, no dairy, no legumes, no sugar, no alcohol, and no cheats. That's a lot of no's! I'll admit, I was worried if we could make it. The girls had never attempted a strict eating plan. And the last time B did, well bless him, he lasted 2.5 days & then I found him lying on the floor of our bedroom begging for his phone and wallet. Thirty minutes later a family pack from Papa John's was at our door. So, yeah, I wasn't super optimistic.
For 30 days I all but lived in my kitchen. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner for four people eating whole, nutritious foods is A LOT of prepping and cooking. We decided we would eat at home for the month (except when B had two business trips -- and he totally rocked them & made awesome food choices!) and while it got exhausting, it was worth it. We set ourselves up for success and it worked.
I am so very proud of all of us. It was tough. The food we ate really wasn't a problem, though we all missed things like pizza, chips and salsa, sweets. What we truly missed was convenience. Out running around shopping all day on a Saturday usually meant we'd eat out or at least grab a pizza on the way home. Instead we were eating before we left the house, taking snacks with us, and then I'd cook somethng once we were back home.
One time our snacks didn't cut it and we were all starving. So after grocery shopping we camped out at Whole Foods and devoured a rotisserie chicken. This is probably one of my favorite memories from the 30 days. We still laugh about it. I think I thanked B 100 times for that chicken. Lol!
The girls were champs! I was beyond impressed with how they handled everything. This was a complete change in their eating habits, and not being super fond of vegetables, I was worried if they'd last. But day by day, they were rocking it. One week in, two weeks in, three weeks in, and the downhill slide to day 30 and they were fully committed. It wasn't always easy and there were moanings of "Why did I agree to do this?!", but they did it! They resisted donuts each Sunday, went to Tribe Nights having already eaten and with a smoothie, resisted popcorn and Dr. Pepper one night at Real Life, turned down offers from friends at school (except that one Starburst Caylee ate on day 2 or 3 out of habit and without even realizing), and tried a lot of new things. I'm so proud of you, girls!
They could not have survived without tuna and veggie chips at lunch. Veggie chips aren't typically allowed, but the ingredients were fully compliant and these teenagers needed something to help them survive. Ha!
Brandon was amazing as well and when he made it past his previous personal record of 2.5days, we celebrated! And the next thing we knew he conquered the Whole30. I could not have done it without him. He hates to grocery shop, but we went every Saturday and did the main bulk of it together. He learned how to make delicious breakfast sausage. He kept us laughing when he'd infuse water. He would (& still does) eat breakfast before he left for work. And he didn't let business trips slow him down. At the end of 30 days he had lost 15lbs, was sleeping better, and saw some pretty incredible changes in his health all because of food. I'm so proud of you, boy!
When I wasn't prepping, cooking, or cleaning my kitchen I was meal planning, list making, scouring cookbooks and Pinterest for ideas, and trying to figure out how to keep us on track. It was mentally exhausting and all I wanted to eat was a chocolate chip cookie. And there for awhile I could've put away a coconut cream pie like no one's business. Or a pan of cinnamon rolls. Instead I made things like chicken cattiatorie, shrimp putanessca, chicken pesto rollups, carnitats, crockpot curry, and our favorite standbys of chicken sausages and roasted veggies, almond chicken, pork tenderloin, or steak with hasselbeck potatoes. I'm glad I stuck with it because I lost 17.6lbs, had more energy, and sleep was incredible.
As hard as all food changes were some days, we also survived a snow day (usually full of amazing comfort food and sweets), our oven was out for three days and I had to cook by stovetop, crockpot, and Ninja, we hosted a lifegroup meet and greet at our house, and had friends over for a Sunday lunch all while staying fully Whole30 compliant.
We have all had so much more energy as a result of fueling our bodies properly. B and I used to live for a Sunday afternoon nap, and well, we haven't needed them in a few weeks. We've gone for walks along the river. And this past weekend we climbed Pinnacle Mountain.
I am so glad we decided to start 2016 off with health as a priority. And I might not have the best track record when it comes to maintaining things long term, but like I said on January 4, 2016, I refuse to quit.
Press on, friends! I'm cheering you on!