These lines have been running through my head all week:
“He HADN’T stopped Christmas from coming!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!”
No, I wasn’t extending the holidays. I’m talking about the dreaded week every month when normal Kat goes on vacation, only to be replaced by her irritable, overly sensitive, dramatic doppelganger. I had hoped with all this clean living and over the top optimism, somehow my moodiness would fade into the background. But no. It came. It came just the same.
Ok, not quite the same. I would say overall, the hormonal crabbiness was better this month. Instead of full days of breathing fire, my irritability was relegated to a few specific moments. Improvement is good. But after feeling SO GOOD they first two weeks on Whole 30, I guess I had bright-eyed dreams of just skipping over that danger zone week entirely. Yes, it was a far fetched idea, but I prefer to think big.
I’ve talked with other friends around my same age (I am 42) and was surprised to find similarities in our experience. It seemed as soon as we entered our 40’s what used to be a manageable part of life became this crazed monster. Crying. Flying off the handle. Being in a bad mood. No patience. One week every month where outsiders might want to keep their distance.
I was flooded with relief when I did some reading and discovered, no, we’re not just getting bitchy in our old age. It’s perimenopause. It’s an actual thing. Increased irritability and risk of depression. Weight gain, particularly in the abdomen. Sleep problems. Dry who-ha’s, and incontinence problems. This all sounds so awesome! And it can come on a full ten years before you go through actual menopause. Yeah! Another win for the ladies!
The irritability was one of the major reasons for me to try Whole 30. A week every month of just not feeling good is a lot. If somehow my diet could improve that week, I wanted in. And it did improve. But Whole 30 is not a magic wand.
What I noticed is that instead of being straight up grouchy, I was more sensitive this month. Let me be careful to say, I don’t know if it is diet related. I need more time in this lifestyle to affirm that. I am simply describing changes I saw this month. I noticed instead of flying off the handle, yelling, etc, I was more likely to feel hurt when people did something to me I deemed insensitive. Things that would have normally rolled off my back adhered. There were less of those instances, and I felt more patient in handling them, but they were there.
I thought the food would be the difficult part of the Whole 30, but I am finding social interactions are one of the more challenging aspects. The food continues to be delicious, provided I make time to shop and prepare. But eating differently than your friends makes them feel uncomfortable. I don’t know quite how to word it. They seem to take on guilt for the shortcomings they feel in their own diets, even if their diets are fine and I have not implied otherwise. And they seem to feel almost angry for my lifestyle change, at the very least annoyed. I think they miss party girl Kat (I miss her too sometimes), as my motto has always been eat, drink and be merry. Maybe they feel like they don’t know me as this person?
I went out to dinner with some girlfriends last week. I chose a specific restaurant where I knew it would be easy for me to find something on the menu, but it was a place we normally dine at. At first, it was just me and one other gal perusing the menu. Another friend arrived a few minutes late. The first friend’s face relaxed in relief as she said “Thank god you showed up. I really wanted to have a drink but didn’t feel like I could,” as she jokingly motioned toward me. I guess she felt like if it was just her and me, she needed to mimic my eating habits. But with another friend, she had the strength in numbers to eat and drink how she wanted.
I have noticed people do not feel like they can drink around me, eat certain things around me, as if I am going to turn into some raging carboholic who rips the bottle from their hands while jamming brownies chubby-bunny-style into my mouth. Some of this I know is people trying to be respectful and supportive of my change, and I appreciate that. But when it creates distance within my relationships, it isn’t really helpful.
One of my friends said “I wish you were struggling with it.” Internally I thought thanks for the support! But as I talked to her more, I got to the heart of the matter. She saw me making changes, and it made her feel like she should be changing too, but she didn’t believe she could. That is something I understand. But everyone comes to things in their own time. And as much as I hate to admit it, if I looked like her, no matter how horribly I felt, I probably would not be trying to make these changes. She is thin and toned without trying and it makes me jealous. I tried the Whole 30 because I just didn’t feel good. But as the weeks go on, I find myself being tempted at the idea of losing weight, and I HATE those thoughts entering my mind. I hate that I have not overcome that type of thinking for myself. It is strange how much of our identity is tied to how we look and what we eat.
Even when it is not outwardly projected by friends, there are social challenges I present to myself. My husband and I had a date night this past weekend. The date illustrated perfectly how much of our lives revolve around eating and drinking. Normally we would visit a new brewery to sample beers, or meet up with friends for happy hour. How were we going to have a date with no booze involved?
We opted to stay home, play Scrabble and cook- all things we really enjoy. The food continues to be fantastic. Here is this week’s obligatory food pic, spaghetti squash noodles with pesto (no Parmesan), grilled chicken, and salad with tangelos, pomegranate seeds and balsamic vinaigrette:
Over dinner, we discussed our “after plan” for when our 30 days is completed. Because even though I have enjoyed the Whole 30 plan, there are things I miss and would like to enjoy. But figuring that out is hard. It is weird to think that denying everything (sugar, grains, booze, etc) is easier than having those things in appropriate amounts. I’d love to have a couple of beers a week, a treat every now and then, but I have a hard time saying no after one. Eat one cookie, eat a dozen cookies. Hoping that this stint on Whole 30 will build confidence in me that I can say no and set limits. Ideally, I’d love to follow an 80/20 plan- eat whole and healthy 80% of the time, allow 20% of the time to eat exactly what I want. Seems like a good compromise.
This week, time got away from me one evening, and it was 5:45pm before I even thought about cooking. I was too drained from the day and ordered a pizza. No, I did not eat the pizza. I ate one of my frozen meals while I watched my sons tear into a delicious cheesy heavenly smelling pizza with bacon on top. And I felt very deprived. For a few minutes. Then I remembered its 30 days. I will eat pizza again. Its not the end of the world. In fact, it’s just plain silly.
Hoping this irritability, hyper-sensitivity thing is on its way out the door, and return of the uber annoying good mood is just around the corner. Happy eating!