My Whole30: Day 12 - Sweet Temptations

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They say that there are seven deadly sins.

Mine are cheese, ice cream, gummy bears, chocolate, french fries, pizza, and wine.

Remaining pure from all of these "sins" for 30 days while on my Whole30 program has been anything but easy. Sure, I knew that giving up my favorite edible delights would be tough, but little did I know the full effect it would have on my body. Let me enlighten you on the existence of a terrible little thing called the carb flu.

The carb flu, which isn't actually influenza, is something that many people experience when drastically cutting sugar and sugary carbohydrates out of their diet. The symptoms are much like a flu, including heavy fatigue and high fever. When reading about the possibility of experiencing carb flu in "It Starts With Food," I didn't think much of it and figured that it only happened to people who were super unhealthy to begin with.

I was wrong.

Friday morning, day five of my Whole30 program, I woke up early in a cold sweat. The sun wasn't even up yet but my room felt like a hot yoga studio. I eventually fell back asleep but when I woke up to go on my morning run, I could barely get out of bed. I was shaky and too fatigued to even walk. "Maybe I'm just really tired from not enough sleep?" I thought. I skipped the run and went back to sleep, but when it came time to get up for work, I felt even worse.

Have you ever taken a shower while sitting down in the bathtub? Because I have. I was too weak to stand and scrubbing the shampoo through my hair felt like holding two 30 pound dumbbells above my head. Torture. I made myself breakfast and while my eggs cooked, I uncontrollably ate seven to eight handfuls of blueberries. It was like my body knew I needed sugar and it was determined to get it in any way possible.

I had no idea what was going on with my body. I was scared! I called into work sick and went back to bed hoping that sleep would cure my mystery symptoms. A couple of hours later I talked to my boyfriend and he said, "It almost sounds like you are going through a withdrawal." Withdrawal. I thought that was only something drug addicts went through, but as it turns out, he was right. I had the carb flu.

"When was the last time you drastically cut sugar out of your diet?" he asked. "Never," I said. Never in my 25 years of life have I ever done something like this. Sugar and I have always been besties, and now that I have banished it, it turns out my body needed to do a bit of mourning.

The good news is, after one day, I was feeling much better. On Sunday I was even able to enjoy a seven-mile rollerblade ride to the beach (People in San Diego rollerblade. It's a thing. Do not judge). While some people experience the carb flu for weeks, mine had thankfully came in like a bolt of lightning, allowing me to get back to myself after just one day of feeling like death.

Over the following seven days since then, I am happy to report that I am seeing and feeling changes! I am sleeping better, feeling less bloated and tired during the day, and my pants are already starting to feel a little less tight. But perhaps the best benefit from my Whole30 that I am seeing thus far is my increased creativity with food.

I'm cooking! I mean, really cooking. Not just dumping something out of a box and heating it up in the pan. I have gotten into a good habit of making a big dinner so that I can eat the leftovers for lunch the next day. This has really helped me from feeling the urge to hit up Chipotle or Panera Bread on my lunch breaks. But it doesn't mean I don't get the craving to.

Although my carb flu has passed, I have not quite gotten over my craving for sugar. It seems that the rest of the world doesn't care that you are on the Whole30 and hopes to tempt you to cave in any way possible. For example, when business partners keep sending boxes of candy to the office:

Take it away!

Sweet temptations to return to my sugary habits seem to show up at every corner, whether they are in the grocery store or across the table on my neighbor's plate. While it has been a challenge, I do feel it getting easier and easier to say no to sugar. Instead, when I have the urge for something sweet, I reach for a mango or a handful of raspberries. And strangely enough, these foods taste more delectable than they ever have. The body adjusts. 

Keisha's Paleo Story
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In my last blog I explained that my desire to do the Whole30 stemmed from my desire to have a more balanced diet. While this is true, it is often difficult for me to decide to make such a big decision without first being inspired to do so. 

Let me introduce you to Keisha. 

Besides being an extremely ambitious and compassionate young woman who strives to bring out the best in others (seriously guys, check this out), she is also very good at taking care of herself. As a sophomore in college, in a time when most students happily poison their bodies with late night pizza, beer and Top Ramen, Keisha has completed two Whole30 programs and continues to carry out a healthy, paleo lifestyle. While she certainly doesn't regret her health decisions, she admits that they haven't always been easy to carry out. 

"[Being on a paleo diet] made my first year at college a little bit more difficult because I don't drink alcohol, or party, or do anything that would damage my health, and most college kids don't understand that. I actually became known as the girl who cooked all of her own meals and worked out a ton in the dorms. No Easy Mac or Top Ramen for me. I had to keep telling myself that even though it was hard making friends that I clicked with, I would eventually meet some people who cared about health and fitness as much as me, and eventually I did!"

Keisha was introduced to the idea of a paleo diet back in 2012. She was still in high school so while she tried the eat paleo, she wasn't usually cooking her own meals, which made things difficult. 

"I'm a little embarrassed that I didn't know how to cook anything that wasn't from a box or some sort of packaging with instructions," said Keisha, the 19-year-old, to Amanda, the 25-year-old who still does not really know how to cook. Talk about embarrassing! 
"So through the summer following my senior year, I attempted to be paleo and I did this through the rest of the year in 2012. I lost 20 pounds pretty quickly just from cutting out processed carbs and refined sugars and limiting a lot of the foods that weren't really good for me. But I ate a lot of nuts, and tried "paleo-fying" a lot of foods, mostly unsuccessfully. The Whole30 was a new approach to paleo."

While I certainly did not share Keisha's passion for health in my college years (Oh hey, freshman fifteen!), I now relate to her desire to give the body the food and fitness that will allow you to have healthy and balanced life. 

"The Whole30 changed my relationship with food. I've always been an emotional eater and a lot of people are, but the Whole30 has taught me that food is the fuel for your body. Sure, we all have certain special foods that are worth the consequences, but for the most part, eat to make yourself healthier."
Keisha's Paleo Transformation

Learning of Keisha's transformation after going paleo was a big part of me wanting to give the Whole30 a try. While her weight loss was a huge success, Keisha says that a smaller size was not her greatest achievement.  

"I've always struggled with a lot of body image problems, being a heavier girl through my younger and teenage years, so the Whole30 taught me how to feel happy with my healthy body. It also taught me that I'm capable of so much more than I ever imagined and that you can do anything you set your mind to."

I am so inspired by not only Keisha's dedication to her health at such a young age, but also her ability to take all of the the media's pressure to "eat less" and "be skinny" and throw it to the wind. She is a strong, healthy and beautiful young woman that I know will continue to inspire those around her for years to come.  

Follow Keisha on her blog "Soul of a Redhead" and on Twitter @keishaengley

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