I have always considered myself a very healthy person in general. Even before fitness was my profession, I always prioritized working out and did my best to eat a well-rounded and healthful diet.
I survived attending college at UCLA and a modeling and dancing career in LA for many years without ever being on a “diet.” The word ‘diet’ actually scared me and I never wanted to be that girl who had to restrict what she ate. I was pretty lucky that I had good genes and was always active so I never really needed a certain fad diet to keep my body in shape. Even after having kids, I was generally able to eat whatever I wanted and also have the body I wanted, as long as I worked out.
Then I turned 40...
It’s almost like the second I turned 40, my body’s ability to keep up changed. People had always said to me, “Just wait until you turn 40,” blah blah blah. But I never believed them and I told myself that would never apply to me. Clearly, I was more than a little upset when I noticed an undeniable shift in the way I was feeling and I basically tried to ignore it. Only issue (well, gift really) is that I’m so in tune with my body and its direct connection to my mind, that I knew I didn’t want to keep feeling this way.
The most noticeable change I observed once hitting 40, was an overall decrease in my energy. Feeling this lethargic cloud over me was both irritating and upsetting, and it prompted me to make uncharacteristic choices when it came to the food and drinks I was consuming. I started having more coffee early in the day to get me through the mornings which led to lots of snacking later in the day, and then more alcohol in the evening which resulted in poor food choices at night and awful sleep to top it all off. For me, alcohol and bad food choices always go hand in hand. Not that I was stuffing my face with junk every night, but I definitely wasn’t eating squeaky clean like I do now. I would wake up the next day feeling crappy and then the cycle just repeated itself on most days. With my intense classes/teaching style, on top of being a business owner and full-time mom, I soon realized that I needed to be way more mindful of what I was putting into my body if I expected to perform at full capacity in all areas of my life.
Last Summer is when I hit kind of a low. Summer is a tricky one because even though we are in bikinis and poolside, which you would think would make us much more aware of what we are eating and drinking, it’s like the opposite. Summer lends itself to being SO much more relaxed with less rigid schedules, more vacations and lots of get-togethers with friends. The chill summer vibes also pair well with alcohol, as we all know. Alcohol is the little devil on my shoulder that is always telling me to overindulge with food. “Go ahead, have basically the whole bowl of chips, the entire cheese platter, or keep eating dessert until you feel sick.”
Portion control is never something that I’ve been good with. My close friends and family know that I can eat more than any guy we know if you’ll let me. I never had that internal switch that would turn off and tell me enough is enough. I really, really enjoy food, but it took me turning 40 to realize that the effects my food choices were having on the way I was feeling needed to change for the better.
Enter —-> Whole30!!!
“Whole30” has been such a buzzword for the past few years (and still is!) and after hearing so many stories about the life-changing effects that so many people had experienced through the program, I decided it was finally time to give it a try! Although many
Whole30-ers experience weight loss, that wasn’t my goal going into it. My intentions with my first Whole30 were to feel alive again, regain my overall energy and focus (Tiger Blood!) and I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. With the help of my inspiring and knowledgeable friend and Whole30 coach, Erin Johns, and a group of close friends by my side for the challenge, I decided to take the plunge!
Let me start by saying: The Whole30 is not a diet and it is only 30 days of your life! Melissa Hartwig, author and creator of Whole30, gives us this much-needed tough love: “It’s NOT hard. Beating cancer is hard. Losing a parent is hard. Drinking your coffee black Is. Not. Hard.” You’re investing in the improvement of your overall health, and that is definitely worth a month of hard work and dedication!
The Whole30 is intended to completely reset your mindset and body when it comes to nutrition. It’s all about focusing on eating real, whole foods in order to gain a better understanding of how your body reacts to certain foods and ingredients. And remember, this is not meant to be a permanent way of eating. It’s about stripping all the junk out of your diet for 30 days so you can give yourself the gift of nourishing your body with only the best ingredients. Think about it: When have you ever given yourself the chance to see what that would feel like?! And don’t worry… on Day 31, you can start incorporating foods back into your diet, being mindful about how they make you feel and whether they are worth having in your life or not. Trust me- you will feel AMAZING once you get into it! Doing a Whole30 is one of the best decisions I have ever made.
The rules are simple:
Do not consume added sugar of any kind, real or artificial
Do not consume alcohol in any form, not even for cooking
Do not eat legumes, or soy
Do not eat dairy
Do not eat grains
Do not consume carrageenan, MSG, or sulfates
No paleo treats. Even if the ingredients are compliant, recreating a sweet treat will tank your results. (Search “SWYPO”)
Although the rules sound quite restrictive, trust me that you will learn so much about reading labels and what it truly means to eat CLEAN.
Embarking on this initial Whole30 journey and completing the challenge with a group of close friends made this experience so much easier, and much more rewarding! There’s something incredibly inspiring and motivating about being part of a group of women who want to commit to a healthier lifestyle and taking on a new challenge together. We checked in with each other, swapped recipe suggestions, and encouraged each other every step of the way. I always say that community is a game-changer when it comes to LEVELING UP your fitness, and the same is true when it comes to Whole30 success!
This journey was not just about evaluating my relationship with food but also taking a solid, honest look at my relationship with alcohol. I used to say that I “needed” a drink, I “deserved” a drink, like it was a reward that I had earned, when we should really be rewarding ourselves with other things that make us feel better about ourselves and our lives. Overall, this experience gave me the tools I needed to take my energy back and fuel my body with nutritious, whole foods that keep me feeling my best. While I still love the occasional pasta dinner and glass of Sauv Blanc, I know that I can enjoy these treats in moderation and I always ask myself first, “Is this worth it?” If the answer is yes, then I go for it. Life is all about balance and if you are too restrictive with yourself, you set yourself up for failure. But if you have been a little too unbalanced and overindulgent, you aren’t feeling at the top of your game, or you are just looking to completely clean up your act, then doing a Whole30 is for you.
If I can do it, you can do it!
If you’re interested in trying Whole30, you won’t want to miss our September LEVEL UP Whole30 Challenge! We will be starting the Tuesday after Labor Day, September 8th through October 8th, 2020.
I’ll be teaming up with Erin Johns, who as I mentioned above is my dear friend and a certified Whole30 Coach. Erin will provide Whole30 coaching, meal plans and recipes through daily emails filled with motivation and (much needed) humor and reality checks! I will be here to provide a coordinating 30-day LEVEL UP Workout Plan and to encourage you along the way! The accountability and community piece is critical to your Whole30 success and I cannot wait to create a LEVEL UP Whole30 Crew! Keep an eye out for my September Newsletter with more details about the Challenge coming soon!
If I have piqued your interest in Whole30 and you would like to educate yourself more or decide if doing a Whole30 is right for you, I encourage you to check out these books!
Helpful Whole30 Resources:
The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom: https://amzn.to/3arPZFH
The Whole30 Day by Day: Your Daily Guide to Whole30 Success: https://amzn.to/2Y66MJp
The Whole30's Food Freedom Forever: Letting Go of Bad Habits, Guilt, and Anxiety Around Food: https://amzn.to/31UNk3l
It Starts With Food: Discover the Whole30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways: https://amzn.to/3kMpYWk