We were out of town for most of the past week so I didn’t plan a menu or do any cooking really. I did make dinner for the family on Wednesday night in Palm Springs. My dad was not thrilled with my choice of spaghetti squash with meat sauce but I’m happy to report that after actually trying it, he deemed it delicious and said he felt better than if he had eaten actual pasta. Win!
I really wish I could report that the last thirty days post-Whole30 have been full of super nutritious food and me feeling great. But if I’m being honest, they haven’t been. I’ve been doing a little reflecting on where things took a turn. Here’s (roughly) how the last four weeks went.
Still feeling the Whole30 tiger blood, I kept things really clean and off-roaded smartly. After a month of eating out twice I wanted to try a few of our go-to take-out dishes to see how I’d feel and get a break from the kitchen. I had pho and also tried my favorite lamb gyro salad from a local Greek place. I avoided all the holiday candy and baked goods around the office. Overall, I was feeling pretty good.
I added a little caffeine back into my morning (why do we do things we know won’t end well?) and ended up messing up my sleep for a few days. Yes, I’m that sensitive to a cup of coffee in the morning. And yes, it sucks. What happened next is not pretty but I learned a valuable lesson. When I get tired, my ability to make good food choices is amazingly low. I think I always realized this, but watching it happen this week made me realize just how much a lack of sleep impacts me.
This poor sleep week happened to coincide with a rough week at work and conference room tables full of leftover Halloween candy. I couldn’t resist. In one meeting, my coworkers, used to me turning down candy and baked goods, were openly gawking (and probably silently cheering) as I took down mini candy after mini candy.
I was full on in the bad food leading to bad sleep leading to more bad food choices cycle. It’s a real fun one. My candy binging led me to having “just one” eggnog latte. I’ll let you guess if I stuck to my just one or not. Hint: I did not. Lots of other poor choices were made and I started to feel gross. There’s not really any other word for it.
I knew things needed to change but I was struggling to find motivation. Then I went to my 28 week appointment. And while I don’t put a lot of faith in scales as a good metric of health, they do tell a part of the story. This scale was brutally honest and my midwife was not happy. Week four happened to be Thanksgiving and a trip to Palm Springs to celebrate the holiday with my family. I tried to make good choices, but I didn’t succeed as often as I would have liked. There was pie for breakfast.
What Went Wrong
I hate that I was feeling so damn good a month ago and now I am on the verge of a cold and feel like I could and need to sleep for days. First and foremost, a lack of sleep combined with stress happened. Some of the stress was out of my control (work) and some was totally under my control (making a way too large to-do list for November that I put before health priorities). I also am at the end of last year’s meat, which means I only have a few cuts left and they are not my favorites. It became really easy to justify eating out or junk instead of making good food.
I’m not beating myself up about any of this. I’m not letting myself go to the “how can I be a good nutritional therapist if I can’t take my own advice” place. If anything, I’m using it as a lesson about myself and something to keep in mind with future clients. I am reflecting and making a plan to get back on track. I have no desire or plans to let myself slide down this slope through the rest of the holiday. It would be really easy to say that I’ll pick things back up in January, but that’s not fair to me, to the baby, or to those that get to spend ample time with me. Have I mentioned I’m much more pleasant when I’ve slept and don’t feel on the verge of a cold? It’s time to just do it. To start now. Here are four things I plan to do over the next few weeks to get myself back on track.
Prioritize food and exercise. As usual, I have a set of goals for December, but I am changing up how I think about them after going a little crazy in November. My goals will be getting 30 minutes of exercise every day (midwife’s orders) and committing to having real food prepped for every meal. After, and only after, those are met I will work on other things like my website and December Daily.
Don’t get fancy. I went to the store on Sunday to do my weekly shopping. When I planned my menu, I was careful to make it reasonable. Real food doesn’t have to be fancy or time consuming to be nourishing, filling, and delicious. I added a few recipes and then stocked up on easy foods like frozen veggies and sausages. And I bribed myself a little with prepared guac and salsa and totally out of season mango. While I try to eat seasonally, these favorites will keep me looking forward to lunch salads. Not everything is Whole30 compliant. I have no probably staying on a Whole30, I am ridiculously good at following rules. It’s the post-rules time that I struggle with and am trying to work through.
Sleep. This means sticking to my bedtime routine that helps me wind down and staying off the caffeine-sauce. It also means being really, really selective about when I chose to eat sugar. I’m not trying to be a saint through the holidays, but sugar makes me more wired than caffeine so anything I decide to eat needs to be 100% worth it and 100% intentional.
Surround myself with real food talk. This might sound silly and hippie-dippie, but I’ve realized that the more engrossed I am in the real food world the easier it is for me to stay on track. All it takes is listening to podcasts while I drive and exercise and I’m back in my happy place.
So that’s my story and my plan. I hope to report at the end of December that I have a log full of exercise, a belly full of good food, and a few holiday treats that were totally worth it but didn’t sent me spiraling out of control.