Over the last few months I've made a series of choices and decisions - some small, some larger - all of which have pushed me to where I currently am health, training and lifestyle-wise. From leaving hospitality and taking a job at a Fitness First, to changes in training, diet and discipline... choosing to do the Whole 30 was one of the most pivotal.
It was back in November that I decided to challenge myself to do the Whole30. I'd seen it online and read a few reviews (seen the before and after pics of course), and it didn't strike me as a 'fad diet' or marketing scheme - particularly as all the information is available free and online!
Though do I highly recommend reading 'It Starts with Food' by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig as it goes into all the detail about WHY you do these 'insane' things to your diet! ...Friends I have the e-book and pdf if you want it :)
So what is it?
The Whole30 is a short term (30 day) full-body dietary cleanse plan very similar to the Paleo diet.
It is designed to cleanse your body, reset your gut and other body systems, to re-teach your body to burn fat as an energy source (this ability can become inhibited by eating the wrong foods) and to help diagnose the causes of constant ailments we suffer from as individuals (and often don't even realise).
For me this is chronic allergies/hay-fever/sinusitis, though for you it could be joint pain, acne, diabetes, poor quality sleep or the inability to lose weight etc.
For those who don't know, the Paleo diet is what humans ate in the Paleolithic era, pre-agriculture, and the use of it in the Whole30 is on a basis that our DNA and dietary needs haven't changed that much since then. The 'cave-man diet'. Agriculture brought grains into our diets, and enabled societies to be formed and remain in one place. Grain provided a reliable and convenient source of energy - but that doesn't make it an optimal source of nutrition!
In the Whole30 grains (all of them, not just the gluten-y ones) get cut out, along with sugar and sugar substitutes, legumes, dairy and alcohol... but ONLY for 30 days!
"What can you eat???" was the question I got asked most... basically nothing processed - fruit, veggies, meat, eggs and some nuts and seeds (though I didn't have much of these last two due to intolerances/allergies).
It seems pretty daunting at first, particularly if you're one to rely on grain-based carbs and have a cheese obsession, but I found that by telling myself it's only 30 days, and not a permanent change, it made the cleanse a whole lot easier.
The Whole30 made it hard to go out for meals, and made prepping meals pretty essential. I did sometimes feel like I was inconveniencing others... But the benefits FAR outweighed any negatives or challenges.
I learnt way more about nutrition, and discovered the sorts of foods (and macros) that my body thrives on.
I worked out how to feel full and satiated without being bloated and physically full of food - I was able to stop myself over-eating. My allergies/hay-fever vanished within the first week, my skin cleared up.
I felt better - positive, accomplished, stronger.
Weight loss wasn't a goal and while most people who do the Whole30 do lose weight, mine stayed nearly the same. However, I definitely lost fat, and probably gained muscle. I looked better in the mirror, and felt better in myself - and that is far more important than a number on the scale!
After the 30 days I slowly re-introduced the banned food groups into my diet - to see what triggered my allergies/perpetual runny nose - I dealt reasonably well with each food group, but noticed minor reactions to most: I got bloated after eating legumes, gluten caused my skin to break out (I only noticed this as my skin had cleared up so much), dairy blocked my nose up, though no way near as much as the combination of sugar and dairy which was even worse with gluten in the mix.
I took a couple of weeks before I drank alcohol again, and my reaction to it was probably the worst. My once pretty decent tolerance (thanks bar work) had completely evaporated, and I could feel the alcohol hit me halfway through a cocktail!
I was out with some girlfriends drinking cocktails and while I didn't get drunk, or messy in any way, I could feel the effects of the alcohol so much more strongly ...actually every group added back post-whole 30 I could physically feel my body reacting to in some way. A change in the system.
While I felt the alcohol sooner, the effects also wore off more quickly. I was completely sober by the time I got home, yet started to feel unwell. I was so nauseous I couldn't get to sleep for TWO HOURS.
The next morning there was no hangover, just an incredibly negative feeling and heaps of grogginess - not fun.
Every time I've had a night out since - none large or over-the-top, always home sober - I've had a similar reaction. And while it's something a lot of my friends/colleagues struggle to accept, and respect even, I really don't enjoy drinking anymore. I don't like the idea of going out bar-hopping, or spending a night at Wharfy or the Steyne, as everything at these places revolves around the consumption of alcohol. Even when I go out with people who respect my decision (while sober) to drink minimally, as soon as they drink there is suddenly this overwhelming pressure placed on me to keep up, have a glass in my hand and not be 'boring'.
The last few years of my life have been spent as a cocktail bartender, and working through a number of the best bars in Manly, so believe me I know how fun it can be. But after cutting it out I've realised how damaging alcohol can be, even in small doses.
I do love a good cocktail, but now I'd rather have one (okay maybe two) with a nice meal in good company, on a special occasion.
You do you and I'll do me, all I ask is that if someone doesn't want to drink, saying no should be enough. They shouldn't have to justify that decision to you.
While now I eat a bit of chocolate, love my avo on a piece of sourdough and a margarita is a serious treat, my diet and knowledge of food has vastly improved and I feel so much better for it.
The Whole30 is now something I recommend to everyone, at least to read a bit about it as the theory is so fascinating - you may have bad eating habits that you actually believe to be healthy, that are preventing you from losing weight and your body functioning at it's optimal level. Check out the overview here, and please feel free to message me with any questions about it!
I've included some pics of the food I ate (it was all delicious, I don't believe in food that isn't yummy), as well as my before, halfway, and after pictures - not a dramatic change, but noticeable to me, and the changes felt were far greater.
Hopefully a bit of inspiration... if not to do the Whole30, but to make some little change to your lifestyle for a long-term benefit.
Welcome to my new personal blog!
I guess the first thing to address is why I've started this... here goes.
While fashion and illustration are no less a passion of mine than they have been over the last couple of years, there are sooo many other things I'm doing, and probably equally passionate about that have come into play recently (though they've always had a place), and I've had a sudden urge to record them.
I haven't had the same time to put towards my art - regretful in one view - though I'm pretty proud of the other things I've been working on, which wouldn't have happened if my priorities hadn't shuffled a bit.
Health and fitness/training are the main ones, and I feel that they're going to feature strongly, along with life events, uni, work, challenges, thoughts and whatever else I feel like putting in...
I'll still post on my fashion / illustration blog, but I wanted somewhere where I could record anything and everything I wanted to write about.
This blog may not be everyone's (or anyone's) cup of tea, but really, it's for me. To record this stage of my life, to have a new creative outlet - and something to keep me away from Netflix and my phone - and to share that with whoever wants to know. If you're interested, please read on, if not, get back to looking at the art! :)
2016 was a big one, though maybe not in the ways I expected. I accomplished a fair bit and I'm proud of what I achieved, as well as grateful for all the experiences and opportunities (both good and rather bad) that I gained and learned from.
I completed two trimesters of university, travelled (only interstate, though it was quite an eye-opener), made some incredible new, like-minded friends - like Jo in the cocktail pic, who I'm not sure what I did without before - got my motorcycle licence, saved for and bought a motorcycle, got my bike Ps, my first fine, juggled three jobs, uni, a training program AND an internship, and realised that was a bit much!
My friends and family supported me through a whole lot of big and often inconvenient decisions (going Paleo for 30 days) and helped make 2016 such a valuable year.
I got a new job at Fitness First, and finally made a gradual exit out of the hospitality industry and bar scene (which I will always love, respect and value immensely). This job was a bigger blessing than I could have expected, I was offered a management position, where I've been able to develop incredibly valuable skills, make my own hours and experience the many challenges of coordinating a team.
With the now regular 4:30am starts I've been able to realise my immense passion for fitness, training and health. I'm surrounded everyday by like-minded people who value their physical being and welfare, who want to strengthen and nourish and develop their bodies and help others do the same. This is the environment that has pushed me to try and be my best self, and take the best care possible of the only body I'll ever have.
The Christmas/New Year period messed everything up a little bit, but after eating to much, battling fatigue and a few too many desserts I'm coming out of a tough week on a really high note.
I've pretty much cut out alcohol since doing the Whole30 back in November, as I find I react quite badly to it now... my stomach saying 'No, thank you! What have you done?' So the few drinks and extra sugar and calories etc over the last couple of weeks hit home this week, in combination with the changes in schedule.
I had a great training session on Monday - awesome deadlifting session followed by some high intensity, bodyweight leg circuits, but found myself incredibly drained and run down on Tuesday and Wednesday... resulting in 11 hours of sleep on Wednesday night! Rather than feeling guilty for not training I've forced myself to accept that my body needed the rest and to use it as a reset for the rest of the week.
An awesome chiro appointment saw a my back being stuck with a few dry-needles, helping relieve pain from a silly trampolining injury a few months ago - I can't actually do backflips, don't let me try!
Feeling much more myself today (Friday) and I've made great use of my first day off.
I started the morning with a sleep in - 6:15!! Nearly two whole hours :O and a lie in 'til seven, feeling very spoilt!
Back to the gym (they really can't keep me away) to do my first training session with a new Personal Trainer. I'd been looking forward to this session since I booked it in over a week ago, and Ross didn't disappoint!
After taking a few measurements and a warm up we got into a killer upper body program.
Band assisted pull-ups paired with bench press, followed by incline dumbbell presses and bent-over rows. I was feeling muscles I didn't know I had and my forearms have never been so pumped up! Finished off with some rowing intervals. Ouch.
It was fantastic to be pushed to my limits and great to train with someone who understood my goals and I can definitely see getting me there! We've talked programs, both training and nutrition, worked out macros and calorie counts and will keep planning... next week Jo and I are going to get DEXA scans - full body scans that analyse body fat %, muscle %, metabolic rate and so much more. Beyond excited to find out my stats and set some more precise goals.
After training Jo and I headed to Sprout Wholefoods up in Naremburn which is owned by one of our favourite Fitness First members, Joe. Black coffee, eggs, bacon, haloumi, avocado, tomato and a bit of Sourdough definitely hit the spot!
Then a quick stop at Exagym to pick up a rubber band to do some more of those assisted pull-ups.
The rain cleared up in time for me to ride home and finish off a big painting for my step-mum that was meant to be finished for Christmas... then a swim and a bit of sun-baking and reading Game of Thrones (book 2, again) topped off a pretty perfect day.
To improve it even further I've hit all my macros and am just under my calories for the day, pretty proud of that!
Looking forward, here's what I've got in mind for 2017. Not so much resolutions as goals...
The goal I'm most passionate about is health. I want to create a healthy and sustainable training and nutrition program. To train 5 times a week (weights, cardio, yoga etc), hit macros/calories (currently at 1700cal, 150g protein, 70g fats, 130g carbs - though this is tailored for my weight and height and level of training, just included for interests sake). Decrease body fat % while maintaining muscle (this will get more precise after my DEXA) - basically get a lot more lean and toned. Currently at about 69kg but I've been told 62 is an achievable and still healthy weight, so while I care about the fat% let's see how I go!
I want to maintain a healthy, mostly paleo/GF/dairy free diet as I find that works well for me and how I feel best.
A big goal is to watch less TV and use my phone less. I've actually noticed that since upping my training I find it quite hard to sit still for more than one episode (if that) of any show so it's probably more the phone that needs work.
This will free up more time for creativity. I'm aiming to blog once a week, whether it's art or health or lifestyle, I want to be writing and expressing myself. Also get back into creating more art.
Read more books.
When uni starts I want to be fully present and engaged, with a goal to maintain a distinction average and continue to develop my design skills and personal brand.
I'm planning on doing a course or two on advanced motorcycle riding, I think it's important to keep developing my skills and believe you can never be to practiced or informed.
2017 will be the year I turn 21, and the year I finally travel. After working hard since leaving school, and watching so many friends go on incredible adventures overseas I'm desperate for a part of it. USA is the plan, and possibly a bit of South America and Europe depending on time and funds!
Finally, I want to be a better sister and daughter. More helpful and available. More considerate and less selfish.
I want to be available for my mum and sister, while I can't always be with them I want to be as present and supportive of everything they go through in the coming months. They mean the world to me.
That's about it for now. Tonight holds a quiet evening at home, perhaps some drawing and maybe I'll make an inspiration board...
If you've read this far, thank you. I reckon future posts will be shorter (though no promises). Here's to 2017, and the 359 remaining opportunities to improve, grow and create.
If there is only one thing I can achieve in 2017 it is this: do only things that I am passionate about. Be it work, health, relationships, study, travel or anything else. I want to love what I do, and I want to live by that.