In the name of health, I’ll try anything at least once.
I can tick off a long list of programs, pills and potions I’ve swallowed in an effort to lose weight. There was acupuncture, electrical stimulation, some weird-smelling Australian cream and medication for the neuropathy in my lower legs and feet. I have downed handfuls of supplements designed to kick-start my metabolism, which seems to operate these days like a wonky boat motor — it sputters, kicks in for a minute, then sputters some more. Truly, there is not much I can do for the colostomy except maybe draw pictures on the bags, but I am willing to undergo experimental surgery when a bionic rectum is developed.
Fifteen days ago, the lovely Sarah and I jumped into something called the Whole 30. The Whole 30 is a program designed to help the body heal from the negative effects certain foods can have on our overall health and fitness. During the Whole 30, participants eat three meals a day consisting of fats, meats, fruits and vegetables. Emphasis on the vegetables. What you can’t eat might make your head spin: no sugar, no sugar replacements, no artificial sweeteners, no soy, no legumes, no grains of any kind, no carbohydrates except those found in fruits and vegetables and no alcohol.
I wanted to try the Whole 30 after spending a couple weeks eating higher than normal amounts of protein and very little in the way of carbs. I noticed that the neuropathy got markedly better if I ate fewer carbs. So, I reasoned, eliminating everything in the food system that causes an inflammation response in the body might help even more.
Sounds hard, right? I’m not going to lie. It’s not for the faint of heart. There is much cooking — and dishes, my God the dishes — and you have to learn how to re-read nutrition labels to find the hidden sources of sugar and other junk, and you’ll suffer through the “carb flu” while your body adjusts to burning fuel from other sources besides carbs (for me, it was like four days of chemo fatigue all over again). But it’s doable, I promise. Hell, even the book says having cancer is harder than doing the Whole 30.
I can tell you, at 15 days in, that I’m already seeing major benefits.
Mental Clarity — My mind is sharp, my thoughts are clear and I’m struggling less with memory loss and “dropping” words. Honestly, I haven’t felt this well in the head since the moments before I popped the first oral chemotherapy pill in April 2012. The electrical buzzing in my ears seems to have stopped.
Less Neuropathy — The burning and tingling of neuropathy has lessened somewhat.
More Energy — Do you want me to paint your house after work? I have the energy to do that.
Better Sleep — This is a big one. I haven’t had a real good night’s sleep since the night of my diagnosis, and chemotherapy made my insomnia worse. Some nights I would text chat with a fellow insomniac. While I miss our conversations, I like sleeping longer and deeper a whole lot better.
Less Hungry — I don’t feel compelled to eat more than three meals a day. I’m not constantly thinking about my next meal while eating the meal in front of me.
Loose Pants — I intentionally saved this for last because the point of the Whole 30 isn’t about losing weight, but it’s a great side effect. I don’t know how much I’ve lost because the scale is off limits until 30 days are over, but I’ve had to give up one pair of pants already because they won’t stay up which means my belly is shrinking. Thank you, Jesus!
My biggest challenge with the Whole 30 begins Sunday, when I head out for six straight days of travel and meetings. I won’t have control of the meeting menus, so I’ll have to carry Whole 30 compliant foods with me. I think I’m up for the challenge.
It sounds daunting, but if you have reason to give the Whole 30 a try, do it. It just might change your life.