Day 47 – Whole 30 Recap

IMG_6725Reintroduction is over and my new life begins now. Here’s a quick recap of the last two weeks:

Bean Day: worst gas of my entire life, which is saying  A LOT. As in, make excuses to quickly leave the room for fear of poisoning friends and coworkers with pure methane. Real bad. Real Real Real BAD. This was not entirely surprising, as we’ve known all along that beans are in fact the magical fruit, and, well, you know the rest.

Dairy Day: Okay, I over-did Dairy Day. I ate my weight in cheese and subsequently stopped all movement of my insides for the next 48 hours. I think the lesson here is Do Not Binge On Dairy.

Non-gluten grains: Success! I had quinoa and oats to total satisfaction. No belly aches or regrets.

Beer & Bread Day: Delicious day indeed! Fortunately, I haven’t had any gastric distress from the tortillas, cupcakes, beer or bread – but my dang hands swole up like baby sausages. Little, uncomfortable frank n’weenies.

So now what?

Well as most of you know, I began my latest misadventures with treatment about two weeks ago. Again, this is essentially to make sure that all of the remaining endometriosis is “killed off”, so that I’m not in pain, and so that some day Brett and I can have a (hopefully) easier time with family planning (that’s an insane thought, by the way).

But that also means that the next few months represent a giant question mark – there’s really no way to predict wild mood swings, hot flashes, or any of the other fun side-effects of womanhood. In many ways I am grateful I started the Whole 30 when I did. I learned a ton about meal planning, personal habits, and I proved to myself that I can and do have control over my own actions and behavior (and not just with food!). So, if anything, my 30 day practice in self-discipline might pay off when faced with the inevitable urge to throw myself wine-soaked pity parties. We shall see.

New Life, New Choices

Here are a few nuggets I’ll keep with me:

  • Do not keep binge triggers in the house. For me that means chips, crackers, and marinated mozzarella. Because one is never enough…!
  • You don’t need to drink 7 days/week. Nobody needs to drink 7 days/week.
  • Plan ahead. Meal planning makes all the difference, and it doesn’t need to be complicated. Just having the fridge stocked prevents the downward spiral of snack-ageddon.
  • Homemade mayo is still amazing and absolutely worth making. This has been the best/easiest way to make awesome dressings and dips, and it truly was a game changer. Yay mayo!

Thank you to everyone who has reached out over the last month and a half – I have loved sharing this story and am so encouraged by everyone who has shared their own experiences with me. And who knows what adventures await!

Until next time!

 

 

Day 33 – The Experiment Continues!

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Hooray wine! And headaches! But heck, at least I know what it’s in store for me should I choose to have two large glasses of red wine without equal amounts of water. Shout out to my gal pals, Keener, Kayse and Aly for the awesome wine basket – yall sure know the way to a girl’s heart!

On Wednesday I’ll try beans and soy, and Saturday is DAIRY DAY (the second best day after Wine Day)!! This is definitely the fun part of Whole 30.

A few people have asked me how I’m feeling now that the Whole 30 is technically over, but that is actually a really loaded question. This past month has been… ____________. I’m not even sure how to describe all that has happened. I have had a blast, I’ve learned a ton, I’ve been surrounded by support and love, and I’m still so encouraged to continue engaging in my new healthy habits. But.

Yes, there is a but. (Warning: personal sharing ahead)

This Tuesday I’ll start treatment for my surprise endometriosis. Treatment involves shutting down all sex hormones for 6 months to essentially “kill off” the rest of the endo. Total shut down = menopause. Yup. Menopause. Woo!

On the bright side, it’s only 6 months. Clearly, I haven’t totally processed all of this, and probably won’t for some time (until the hot flashes set in!). My hope is that I can use what I’ve learned from Whole 30 to find balance amidst the future life challenges. Because, let’s be real, in the past I would’ve relied on the comforts of food and alcohol to manage. And if we’re being really honest, I’ll probably have some slip-ups along the way. But – those slip-ups are now choices, not actions out of my control. I know now that I can and do have control over the choices I make, and that is incredibly empowering.

I’m really looking forward to this coming week! No, really! I FINALLY get to have protein powder again on Dairy Day, and I really hope that my body tolerates it well. In fact, I might want that more than cheese. (GASP!)

And so, the experiment continues!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 27 – Hindsight

IMG_6672Yes, those are prunes – I’ll get to that soon. Today I begin with an admission of embarrassment, however the full story must be told! I think that’s the connecting theme of the past 30 days – life throws you curve balls and you have a choice in how you respond. As it turns out, I respond by drinking wine and eating cheese, or cheese-like products (gold fish, cheeze-its, flaming hot cheetos with lime, etc). Not giving in to comfort foods has forced me to sit in discomfort, and *maybe* even grow up a little.

Here’s a brief timeline of recent events. Surgery on the 13th, first day of internship on the 17th, followed by 3 12-hour days at The Tribe and Baptist Hospital, then THE WALL. Mind you, I’m not complaining. I LOVE The Tribe and my internship is incredible! But, perhaps, I might have done too much too soon.

By 10AM Friday my whole body felt weak and shaky, coupled with shortness of breath and chest pain with breathing. Normally I call my parents, both of whom are medical oncologists and overall very smart people. However, they’re also world-travelers. Mom’s in Honduras doing medical mission work and dad is climbing 20,000 ft peaks in Peru. They’re busy.

I’ve never fussed over illness. Take a couple ibuprofen and put some ice on it. Rub some dirt in there and call me in the morning. You get the picture. But for the first time ever, I experienced a small level of fear. Those symptoms post-op can be concerning, and my usual support system was out of reach. Here’s where I have to thank God and give a shout out to Dr Karen, friend and fellow Tribe member, and Dr Bennett, mentor and the man who convinced me to pursue my DPT. These two are the busiest humans I know, and both took time to check in and help me throughout the day. That’s a big deal, yall.

Okay, let’s keep this brief. I drove myself to the neighborhood clinic, got an IV, an EKG, blood work, some imaging (to rule out the really bad stuff) and a couple of mega potassium tablets. By 4PM the nice folks behind the counter had called an ambulance to admit me to a hospital for cardiac monitoring. WAIT A GOSH DANG MINUTE. Let’s not overreact here, people!!!

Brett arrives, I cry in public because THERE’S A STRETCHER WAITING FOR ME, and my Knight in Shining Armor politely tells the nurses that we will not be going to the hospital today. Good grief.

I’m chalking this one up to exhaustion, with a side of potassium deficiency. Low K+ can do some funky things, including muscle weakness, fatigue, and it can even show up as EKG abnormalities. By the time I left the clinic I was feeling better, although wildly embarrassed, and the second EKG was completely normal.

So what about the prunes?! As it turns out, prunes are higher in K+ than bananas, and they’re delicious. They also help in other areas, but no need to discuss that now. (I’ve had a half pound of prunes since Saturday… oh man…). I’ve had more K+ filled fruits and veges in the past two days than seems reasonable, but I do feel much better. Lethargic, but better.

Yes, in hindsight, I over did it Recovery is a real thing, and sometimes it takes a little (or a lot) longer than we expect. I can’t believe I’m nearing the “end” of Whole 30 – this has been a rollercoaster of a month, and I’ve learned more than I could have imagined. But! The story’s not over yet. To be continued…!

 

 

 

IMG_6556Day 22 – “Adulting”  

Today I spent an hour doing charts next to homemade carrot cake with cream cheese icing. WHY ME!

Let me back up. I started my first clinical rotation at the Baptist ICU downtown this past Sunday. It is hands down the most incredible experience, and I’m only 4 days in. Downside: doughnuts, and birthday cake, and M&Ms in the break room. Inner dialogue: “Delicious treats in the middle of the afternoon? Yes, please! I’ve come this far, surely I can have a treat! Just a sample. A taste! A smidge! It’s someone’s birthday for goodness sake, it would be rude not to!” And so on and so on.

So apparently I am not immune to temptation like I was hoping. I’m actually pretty sure that my sense of smell has improved, making the cream cheese icing all the more luxurious. But I was able to say ‘no thank you’ without having a complete meltdown, so that’s a win, I suppose.

I have about a week left to complete the Whole 30, but I will do a Reintroduction for two weeks after. Essentially you reintroduce food groups one at a time and monitor your body’s reaction. Day 31 = WINE! Then back to Whole 30 for a few days before trying legumes. Then comes dairy, and finally gluten.The goal is to get a definite understanding of how your body tolerates specific foods, that way you can make informed decisions about what you’re eating. Pizza and beer might be worth the bloating and gas – at least you’ll know ahead of time!

Overall, I’m really glad I started this crazy thing when I did. If anything, it’s a great test of will power during times of stress and unexpected life events. Speaking of life events, I’m recovering really well – 1 week post-op today! I definitely won’t be back to lifting heavy for another few weeks, but that’s alright. My doc has recommended treatment to take care of the remaining endometriosis, and let’s just say – I will most definitely need my new Whole 30 skills for the next 6 months or so. I have a sneaking suspicion I’m going to want to wallow in self pity and the BBC (beer, bread, and cheese). But we’ll save that for another day.

 

 

Day 17 – Truth Will Out

IMG_6624I have discovered several truths during the past two and a half weeks, some encouraging, some requiring a little more brutal honesty. I’ll begin with an update – surgery went well but it wasn’t a dermoid cyst like we thought. The surgeon found endometriosis, which is an entirely different story for another day. That journey, unfortunately, isn’t over yet.

I’ve managed to stick to the Whole 30 plan, thanks to a giant vat of bone broth from Lesley, my mom’s mashed sweet potatoes, and Brett’s unending encouragement. That, and there’s nothing in the house that can tempt me. I’ve been house-bound for 2 days now, and I’m fairly certain there’s nothing on Netflix (good or bad) that I haven’t seen.

Truth #1: I am beyond fortunate to have such loving family and friends. Knowing that I have people praying for my health and recovery is deeply humbling, and it gives me all the feels. My eyes get a bit soggy… it’s very strange.

Truth #2: Surgery sucks. Well, it could have been a lot worse. I only have 2 incisions and it should be a quick recovery. However – my medical and PT friends will appreciate this – I have been practicing bed mobility and patient transfers so that’s at least interesting. It’s one thing to practice this as a healthy person, and it’s another thing to actually be the patient in pain. It’s a great learning point for patient empathy! (No, really!)

Truth #3: I eat and drink out of boredom. At 6PM yesterday all I wanted was cake. And ice cream. And wine and cheese and ANYTHING UNHEALTHY DANG IT. I JUST HAD SURGERY AND I WANT CAKE, etc etc. All the irrational thoughts of a hungry, sugar deprived, BORED female. It’s not a shocking revelation, but it is the truth. It’s really easy to make up reasons why I deserve to eat whatever I want. I am very good at rationalizing.

It’s Truth #3 that deserves the most attention. Why do I eat and drink when I’m bored? Why do I have a need to fill myself with something? Why am I uncomfortable with just being still and not consuming, whether it’s in the form of food, alcohol, television, social media, and so on. What void am I trying to fill?

Hooray for self discovery!

“As the muggles say, ‘truth will out’ ” – Arthur Weasley

 

 

 

Day 11 – No Booze for the Pity Party

Alright gang, it’s about to get personal. You’ve been warned.

About 6 months aFullSizeRender (1)go I began having severe abdominal pain, the kind where you think your appendix might have ruptured and perhaps a visit to the hospital is warranted. A few tests later and we found cysts. On the ovaries. Yay me. Many women get ovarian cysts – most of them are benign and go away on their own. Sometimes, they’re made of really gross things (google dermoid cyst if you want a nightmare) and they just grow. And grow. And you get the picture.

After working with some very smart people and trying conservative treatment, the powers at be have deemed it necessary to remove these bad boys. Nobody wants teeth in their ovaries (google dermoid cysts, I dare you). (No don’t, it’s really gross).

I had my surgery consultation a few days ago. I waited for 2 hours in the tiniest waiting room, with a stabbing headache and 2 toddlers who, although they were cute, had yet to figure out volume control. This would have been the PERFECT day for a pity party. I would have LOVED to drive myself directly to HEB, buy a bottle of wine, a loaf of fresh french bread, and make a night of it.

HOW CAN YOU HAVE A PITY PARTY WITH NO WINE!?

Well, you can’t. I had a really delicious meal, which was no consolation prize, and I had a really hard time feeling sorry for myself. My pity part was ruined, all thanks to Whole 30 and sobriety.

Now the fun part. Tuesday will be a full day of “clear liquid diet”. I may make my own bone broth after dismantling a chicken carcass… (I can name a 100 things I’d rather do). Then fasting on Wednesday, and hopefully not waking up like a raging, hangry monster Wednesday night. Let me tell you, Brett is in for a real treat!

I do have to admit, despite my efforts in feeling sorry for myself, that I am beyond grateful for access to healthcare and health insurance. We are really blessed and quite fortunate to be able to get things like this taken care of.

This next week promises to be really FUN!!**.

 

**sarcasm

 

 

Day 7 – I survived 

I did it. No alcohol, no breads, no cheeses, no added sugar of any kind. I have to give a huge shout out to my mother in law (BONNIE!!) who made us the most amazing ribs and grilled veges, all of which was totally Whole 30 compliant. That’s a great mom. And yall – I made Whole 30 buffalo wings. With ranch. You can’t beat that.

Brett and I also had to find productive ways to spend the weekend. Typically, we’d find a body of water, take a 6-pack of some ice-cold brews and enjoy the weekend like any other red-blooded American. As it turns out, it’s not fun to be lazy and sober, did you know that? Thankfully, I have an awesome husband who found us some hiking trails in the hill country and we actually had a really fun, gosh-darn-wholesome holiday weekend. Weird.

And today I am physically exhausted. Total body fatigue. The WOD this morning got me on a deep level. Just about put me on the ground…actually it did, and Ed had to yell at me to stand up. I took our dogs on a walk this afternoon and they had to pull me up the hill as I huffed and puffed my way up like I’ve never worked out a day in my life. Yay Whole 30!

I can feel the emotional exhaustion creeping up on me too. Fortunately, the smart folks behind the Whole 30 warn you ahead of time that you begin to feel full-on-withdrawal symptoms around day 6 & 7. So, this is normal. This too shall pass.

Apparently I have “tighter pants” to look forward to on days 8 & 9, followed by “the hardest days” on 10-12. **This will be worth it, this will be worth it, this will be worth it, this will be worth it**

Tight pants day is going to be just the best. day. ever. 

 

 

Day 2 – Waiting for the shoe to drop. 

FullSizeRender11AM: Hungry. Normal hungry, not hangry (yet). The photo is of homemade chicken salad with the most awesome mayo ever. I wonder how long I can eat this before I hate it…

1PM: Headache.

4:45PM: I need to read for school. Perhaps I’ll enjoy this reading with a glass of wine – NOOOOOOOO!

This would be a good time to evaluate my goals. By the end of the Whole 30 I will:

  1. Gain an understanding of my body’s nutritional needs to optimize performance, longevity, and mental health
  2. Ensure that I do, in fact, have social skills in the absence of social drinking
  3. Assert control over cravings so that I can choose the foods I consume with the full knowledge of their effect on my health and well-being

So why did I choose Whole 30 over other “diets”? Well, thanks for asking!

When you boil it down, the Whole 30 essentially minimizes sugar intake to those found naturally in whole foods. And there’s pretty solid science behind the sugar detox. It has been established that obesity is a risk factor for heart disease, diabetes, even stroke and cancer. Woah – big jump, right? Not really.

Here’s the thing. We are not inherently rational creatures. My best friend Abby once said “I wouldn’t be crazy if I could help it” (Preach!), and she’s right. We are naturally emotional, reactionary beings and our brains are actually designed that way. The reward system in our brain lights up when we get something we want or like – an achievement at work or the gym, or that cupcake (or wine!). We immediately associate that good thing with our surroundings, then log that piece of information back in the dusty files of our memory. What happens the next time we’re in the same environment is pretty interesting – we begin to anticipate the same reward. You might find yourself salivating when you hear Tejano music (or is that just me?). All of these processes occur relatively unconsciously – that is unless you’ve gone out of your way to crush the sugar dragon.

Recent research has indicated that sugar consumption activates the same pathways and neurotransmitters in our brains as cocaine, and sugar may even be more addicting than the 80’s superstar drug of choice. No big deal. That seems normal. 

So. Sugar is addictive (surprise!). Sugar is EVERYWHERE. It’s estimated that 80% of the food items in America have added sugar. Unknowing consumers purchase items filled with the sweet stuff because the label says “whole grain” or “fiber”. Turns out our bodies can’t handle all the added sugar we’ve been stuffing our faces with for the last few decades and eventually the body revolts (obesity, cardiovascular disease, heart failure, diabetes, and death – to name a few).

Hence, Whole 30. Clean it up. Start over. Understand how my favorite foods may need to be treated as treats, rather than staples. You can’t truly understand how certain foods affect your body until you eliminate them – then slowly, methodically, reintroduce them one by one.

Let’s just say, this is one giant experiment. And I’m the rat.

 

 

Day 1 – June 29 

What have I done?!

Yes, that is a photo of mayonnaise and butter. And it is AWESOME. I made these! Homemade mayonnaise (olive oil, egg, lemon and mustard seasoning) and clarified butter (meaning you simmer the dairy out).

Why on earth am I posting about mayonnaise and butter?

I, Beth DeVos, am embarking on a ridiculous adventure in sugar detox and self-discipline, better known as Whole 30. For the next 30 days I will eat whole, healthy foods, while completely avoiding grains, dairy, added sugar, and sadly – alcohol.

But WHY! Why would you get rid of the best foods known to mankind? And the wine!! Why the wine!!!!!!!

Truly, if I was stuck on a deserted island with nothing but bean and cheese tacos and red wine, I’d be pretty dang happy. In fact, I’m known to order Queso Flameado as my meal – for one.

And therein lies the rub. My belly hurts. All. The. Time. My acid reflux is out of control. I somehow developed eczema and other skin allergies.  I don’t feel rested. This year has been one of the best and yet I am exhausted – physically, mentally, and spiritually.

After some serious self-reflection, I realize I have avoided responsibility and discipline in several areas of my life – all of which seem to be intricately related. And for me, this journey of rediscovery starts with food.

So! For the next month I’ll be posting on the successes, struggles, and *hopefully* the lessons learned when one stops filling the void with transient things.

Day 1: success! By the way, this is the first evening without wine that I can remember. I have a feeling tomorrow won’t be so easy… stay tuned 🙂