Do you have any issues that you seem to struggle with year after year after year? Issues that you feel like you’ve mastered and have seen significant progress with only to later find yourself sliding back to where you first started?!? Making changes stick is so hard!
I have several issues that would fall into this category, however, the one I’m going to talk about today is my weight. I know I’ve written about this before. But ever since I hit my 30s, I’ve struggled with my weight. And now is no different.
For some time, my husband has been suffering from lots of joint pain, he wasn’t sleeping well, and he was having a hard time dealing with various life issues. We were struggling to make it through that difficult phase but it seemed like we couldn’t get out from under it all. Our energy was gone and we were tired of everything feeling so difficult.
A few months back, my husband also realized that we had gone back up in weight again. And we knew it was because we had fallen off the wagon when it comes to eating good food and exercising. He had heard about an elimination diet called Whole 30 and he thought we should give it a try. He thought that maybe part of the reason we were feeling so overwhelmed with life was how we were eating.
Whole 30 is a way of eating where you eliminate all sugar, grains, dairy, legumes, and processed food from your diet for 30 days. This basically resets your digestive system. After that, you are able to slowly add foods back in one at a time to see how your body reacts. If you have any food sensitivities, you’ll be able to tell much more easily after having eliminated them from your diet for a month.
The thought of doing this diet scared me.
Eating Whole 30 wasn’t a problem. But I knew that preparing all of our meals without using any processed food was going to be time-consuming. And the last thing I wanted to do at that point was to add any additional responsibilities to my already-packed schedule.
If there was a glimmer of hope that this clean eating would help my husband to feel better, though, then I knew I needed to give it a try.
That was in April. In the beginning of May, we started our new way of eating. This was a complicated process because not only were we going to eat Whole 30 compliant meals but I’m also a vegetarian. That adds a level of complexity to what we can eat.
Fortunately, with many Google searches, I was able to find enough recipes for us to get us through a week so we began. Some of the recipes ended up being winners and some were thrown into the garbage. But it wasn’t long before we both started to feel better.
My husband’s joints stopped hurting quite so much.
He started sleeping a little bit better.
And we both started to lose weight.
Other positive side effects I noticed was that I wasn’t struggling with acne anymore and my skin wasn’t as red. I had more energy and a more positive outlook on life. And that’s saying something since I’m currently in that crazy peri-menopausal stage.
So, we ate Whole 30 for the entire month of May and were happy with how we felt, so much so that we decided to continue eating clean after our time was up. We were also surprised that our food cravings were completely gone! That was something that we normally struggled with every time we gave up junk food.
Here are some observations I learned eating a Whole 30 compliant diet:
You can eat this way as a vegetarian.
It’s important to find recipes which are heavy on the veggies. In the last few days, I’ve started to add back in pinto beans and rice and I feel that those have been good additions for me. Your body may be different.
It’s vital to completely eliminate sugar.
This isn’t the easiest thing to do because sugar is hidden in everything – even some meat. I have found one flavor of sausage at Trader Joe’s which doesn’t have sugar and my family has loved it!
Using canned tomato products helps.
I have been adding Rotel to several of our meals. Also, Trader Joe’s is the only place I’ve found in my area which carries Tomato Sauce with no sugar added and it’s delicious!
Food prep is key.
You can’t wait until you’re hungry to start preparing food. It’s important to keep some hard-boiled eggs, chicken salad, apples, almond butter, and other Whole 30 compliant snacks ready in the fridge.
Potatoes are your friend.
An important aspect to not cheating while eating this way is not to let yourself get too hungry. White potatoes are allowed on this diet plan and that has been extremely helpful. I dice up a bunch of potatoes and sweet potatoes and roast them in the oven. Then, we can have some of these with our meals or as a snack. Yum!
So, we’re losing weight and feeling better. But we’ve been on this train before and have fallen off. What makes me think that this time will be any different?
Well, part of me doesn’t. We have a family vacation coming up in August and part of me is terrified that we’ll go back to our old ways on this vacation. And part of me is excited about the thought of an excuse to eat some of our old foods. These two sides of my brain are warring with each other.
Here are some tips for when we’re trying to make changes permanent:
Have a compelling reason.
Apparently, it’s not enough for me to see that I’ve lost weight. The other positive side effects such as getting rid of my acne issue will hopefully be enough to help me to see the value in continuing to eat this way rather than falling back into my negative eating patterns. What’s YOUR compelling reason?
Remind yourself often.
Making major changes in our lives can be a long and arduous process. And results are gradual. Because of this, it can be easy to forget where we’ve come from. Post a picture of yourself somewhere prominent. If you’re dealing with a financial issue, print a graph of your finances so you can remember where you started. Track your momentum!
It’s easy to backslide when we’re on a journey alone. Tell people what you’re doing. Ask them to hold you accountable. Better yet, find someone else to take this journey with you. It’s so much easier to stay strong when you’re making changes with a friend. I can’t imagine trying to change my eating habits if my husband wasn’t also on board.
Ask for help.
When you want to give up, and you will, reach out to someone to get the encouragement that you need to continue. You may want to designate a few go-to people before you have a moment of weakness so that they will understand their job. Otherwise, they might think you want validation to quit rather than motivation to continue.
My hope and prayer is that this will be my final attempt to lose weight and that I will keep it off this time. Making changes and sticking with them, however, can be extremely difficult. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve dieted, given up pop, attempted to be consistent with my daily prayer time and devotions, and more only to wake up weeks or months later back where I started – or worse.
But with the above tips, I know that it’s possible to not only attempt permanent changes in our lives but to do it successfully.
Are you attempting to make positive changes in your life? Have you been frustrated by setbacks? I’d love to hear any lessons you’ve learned along the way. Please leave a comment below.