Here is what it boils down to: if I ever want to get pregnant again, then in prudence I need to lose weight. Not because I think I'm fat, although I still weigh twenty pounds more than I did when I conceived William, but because the high blood pressure issues which have progressed with each pregnancy mean that I simply need to start at a lower base weight to avoid extra stress on my veins, and on my system in general.
This isn't really a matter of vanity, though of course that plays in because I'm human, you know. I'm softer than I used to be, and rounder, but I don't look particularly overweight. Though I would like to fit in the lower pants size of all the jeans I have packed away in a box, I'm not at an unreasonable point for a 37-year-old woman who's had six kids. I could hang at this point indefinitely, putting off pregnancy month after month.
Is the weight issue a serious reason to avoid pregnancy? I think it is, seeing as each pregnancy gets more difficult and takes more out of me (except weight -- I get more of that). But I feel convicted that I really ought to be doing something to change the situation, both for future health reasons and because although I'm at a point where NFP is effective and predictable, I don't want to become spiritually complacent. Oh well, reason to avoid! I'm good! Now, as it is, I'd be perfectly happy to never be pregnant again. But I like babies, and my family likes babies, and I have lots of helpers now that my older girls are growing up. I don't say that lightly; I had to lean on them heavily last time I was pregnant, and it's likely I'd need them to take on even more work next time around.
I also note that I write about this not because it's anyone's business, but because many people are making the same kind of decisions and find it helpful to know what other people are doing. I'm not looking for affirmation or criticism.
So, the diet. On the first Monday of Lent, I started the Whole30 program. Why? Mainly because everyone I know who'd tried it had lost weight in a satisfyingly dramatic fashion. Here's what's allowed on the diet:
Eat meat, seafood, eggs, tons of vegetables, some fruit, and plenty of good fats from fruits, oils, nuts and seeds. Eat foods with very few ingredients, all pronounceable ingredients, or better yet, no ingredients listed at all because they’re totally natural and unprocessed.Here's what's not allowed.
More importantly, here’s what NOT to eat during the duration of your Whole30 program. Omitting all of these foods and beverages will help you regain your healthy metabolism, reduce systemic inflammation, and help you discover how these foods are truly impacting your health, fitness and quality of life.
Do not consume added sugar of any kind, real or artificial. No maple syrup, honey, agave nectar, coconut sugar, Splenda, Equal, Nutrasweet, xylitol, stevia, etc. Read your labels, because companies sneak sugar into products in ways you might not recognize.
Do not consume alcohol in any form, not even for cooking. (And it should go without saying, but no tobacco products of any sort, either.)
Do not eat grains. This includes (but is not limited to) wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, rice, millet, bulgur, sorghum, amaranth, buckwheat, sprouted grains and all of those gluten-free pseudo-grains like quinoa. This also includes all the ways we add wheat, corn and rice into our foods in the form of bran, germ, starch and so on. Again, read your labels.
Do not eat legumes. This includes beans of all kinds (black, red, pinto, navy, white, kidney, lima, fava, etc.), peas, chickpeas, lentils, and peanuts. No peanut butter, either. This also includes all forms of soy – soy sauce, miso, tofu, tempeh, edamame, and all the ways we sneak soy into foods (like lecithin).
Do not eat dairy. This includes cow, goat or sheep’s milk products such as cream, cheese (hard or soft), kefir, yogurt (even Greek), and sour cream… with the exception of clarified butter or ghee. (See below for details.)
Do not consume carrageenan, MSG or sulfites. If these ingredients appear in any form on the label of your processed food or beverage, it’s out for the Whole30.
Do not try to re-create baked goods, junk foods, or treats* with “approved” ingredients. Continuing to eat your old, unhealthy foods made with Whole30 ingredients is totally missing the point, and will tank your results faster than you can say “Paleo Pop-Tarts.” Remember, these are the same foods that got you into health-trouble in the first place—and a pancake is still a pancake, regardless of the ingredients.
One last and final rule: You are not allowed to step on the scale or take any body measurements for the duration of the program. This is about so much more than just weight loss, and to focus on your body composition means you’ll miss out on the most dramatic and lifelong benefits this plan has to offer. So, no weighing yourself, analyzing body fat or taking comparative measurements during your Whole30. (We do encourage you to weigh yourself before and after, however, so you can see one of the more tangible results of your efforts when your program is over.)
*A few off-limits foods that fall under this rule include pancakes, bread, tortillas, biscuits, muffins, cupcakes, cookies, pizza crust, waffles, cereal, potato chips, French fries, and this one recipe where eggs, date paste, and coconut milk are combined with prayers to create a thick, creamy concoction that can once again transform your undrinkable black coffee into sweet, dreamy caffeine. However, this list is not limited to these items—there may be other foods that you find are not psychologically healthy for your Whole30. Use your best judgment with those foods that aren’t on this list, but that you suspect are not helping you change your habits or break those cravings.Well, I've broken the scale rule, obviously, since I can tell you that two weeks on this diet has lost me a grand total of two pounds, but with the exception of our trip to New York, I have been off all the verboten stuff on the list. It hasn't been hard, really. It has been boring.
Here's what I've learned:
- I already knew this, but no food causes me allergies, inflammation, whatever.
- My friends who lost lots of weight were drinking sodas, alcohol, eating a bunch of junk. I had very little of that to cut out of my diet anyway. Ergo, few empty calories to cut means no silver bullet.
- Cut out the foods that fill you up, and you're hungry all the time. Lots to offer up there for Lent.
- Oh Lord, I miss chocolate. And my cheese toast.
- Really, I probably just need to take up running again. I hate running.
Darwin is doing this with me because he's a rock of support, and since it's fruitless to compare male/female ability to drop pounds quickly, I won't even talk about it. (He also isn't carrying 20 extra pounds.) We're going to stick it out for the rest of Lent because it's a good discipline, and so much the better for my mortification if I don't see any results.