I’ve shared that I struggle with the effects of PCOS, particularly with my weight and the insulin resistance side of the disease, so today I’m sharing how I’ve adapted to a lazy paleo lifestyle. I started my journey with a round of Whole30. It’s essentially an elimination program, and I would be lying if I told you it was easy breezy.
Whole30 is a challenge.
But it’s SO GOOD. It’s a chance to pare down to the basics, give your body a chance to heal from foods that may be triggering responses that wear your natural defenses down, and in most cases, lose some weight. It also eliminates cravings; I noticed that I actually craved fruits and vegetables, not chocolate or carbs. I lost weight (just under 20 pounds), but also noticeably trimmed down because I wasn’t dealing with bloat from foods that my body doesn’t handle well.
It works. It’s a GREAT way to put some distance between you and your cravings. For me, going hardcore with this plan helped me to get over the withdrawals from ‘normal food’ and slip into a totally-doable lazy paleo lifestyle without the frantic OMG-gotta-have-chocolate moments that can plague a lifetime yo-yo dieter.
You don’t need me to dissect the challenge or break it down into step-by-step instructables because you can find a million amazing recipes and hacks and lists and tips on Pinterest about Whole30. I’d be a crazy fool to try and convince you I’m an expert at any of this. That isn’t me, y’all. But what I CAN do is get real about my takeaways from the experience. Here’s a couple of things that help me through Whole30:
- READ THE BOOK. I’ll be the first one to admit that I hate when people tell me that. Like – Cliff’s notes are a thing. I can handle the abridged version. Just give me the highlights. But it’s important to grasp the why and the how. As much of a shortcut Susie as I am, I NEED to know the essentials, and the book lays them out for you.
- PLAN AHEAD. Y’all, planning and list making is like my love language. I know this sounds torturous to some people, but I know myself all too well. If I don’t plan ahead, I won’t stick with it. I plan my menus a week at a time (before my weekly grocery run) and I always, always give myself room for choices. For example, I plan for weekly snacks. I practice intermittent fasting, and I’m usually hungry when I’m making dinner, so having a plan for snacking that won’t derail me is important in my world. I also plan for 3 weeknight meals, not 5. Whether it’s because I’ve made an overabundance of a certain dish (because I habitually cook for the entire army that my little two-year old IS NOT) or because I literally can’t even one day and need to hit up the Chick-fil-A drive through, I’ve learned that planning, buying, and prepping for three meals is my happy medium.
As an aside, planning ahead, for me, includes knowing what I can and cannot have when I end up in a drive through line. I’m mama to a toddler, working full time, with a spouse overseas. Sometimes life is exhausting and I’m running behind and I absolutely have to give myself the option of planning for the ‘unplanned’. It’s not rocket science, but it was life-altering for me.
- KEEP IT SIMPLE. You can create feasts within the Whole30 guidelines. Edible works of art, if you will. You can go insane driving from grocery store to grocery store, googling all of the on-plan ingredients you’ll need and hoping your little country store has heard of such things. Or maybe that’s me.
Pinterest is amazing and a wealth of information. You can find all manner of recipes and tips and tricks to get (and keep) you going on this journey within the community. But no one knows your preferences better than you do. Stick to what you know you’ll eat. Make swaps that you can live with. Don’t be afraid to repeat recipes your family actually enjoys. Seriously, don’t sweat the repetition. It’s hard enough to stick to a restrictive eating plan, but throw in regular ol’ exhaustion or a long week at work or fussy kids and you’ll find yourself loathing that fancy recipe with 17 ingredients. Buy pre-chopped veggies, if you can swing it. For me, it was worth it to be able to get dinner on the table that much faster. Also, less dishes. WINNING.
- TAKE TIME TO REFLECT. You’ll need to remind yourself why you’re doing this. You’ll have moments that you’ll need to talk yourself off of a ledge. But it will get easier as the weeks roll by. You’ll find yourself becoming stronger and more committed. But that won’t happen if you aren’t focused on YOUR why. Take progress pictures. You’ll surprise yourself (I know I did!) with the changes you’ll see.
- BANANA BROWNIES. This is important enough to be a point all by itself. I will be totally honest and tell you that Whole30 doesn’t condone any sort of substitutions for poor food choices. The idea is to break that cycle of food dependency, and I get it. Boy, do I get it. But I’m also a chocoholic, and I can say, without a doubt, that banana brownies get me through Whole30. If the options are to give up and eat something off-plan, or grab one of these and feel totally indulgent, it’s banana brownies for the win, every time. I make this recipe from Delightful Mom and It. Is. LIFE.
I kicked off my healthier lifestyle choices with Whole30 in May 2019, and did it again in January 2020 after the holidays wrecked my ability to focus on anything other than pumpkin-spiced carbs. I fully intend to make it a yearly commitment, but it feels a little presumptuous to call it an annual event just yet. I’m still learning on this journey; I knew that food and physical health are inextricably linked, but I still find myself amazed at how entwined food and mental and emotional well-being can be, too.
It’s a process, y’all. And I’m in it for the long haul.