One of my favorite benefits of simplicity is clarity. When you remove what doesn’t matter from your life, you get very clear about what does.
Simplifying your space, calendar, and life overall reduces decision fatigue, promotes health, and provides an opportunity to live and work with more purpose and joy.
My simplicity journey didn’t start with decluttering or the external stuff though, it started with the inside; my health. I decluttered from the inside-out by changing my diet, experimenting with food, supplements, exercise, and self-care when I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2006. That process gave me the clarity to see that other changes had to be made, and the confidence to make them.
I really enjoy experimenting with food challenges when I notice that I’m eating too many sweets, or indulging on a regular basis. 10 days ago I gave up sugar, alcohol, grains, dairy, and all processed foods. I’m participating in The Whole 30, a challenge that is testing my willpower, and more importantly demonstrating the power certain foods like sugar and processed, junky carbohydrates have on my body.
Days 1-7 were tough, but since my sister is doing the challenge with me, I’ve had someone to laugh with along the way. She lives in Doha and with the time change most of our conversations have been via text.
Our week one text messages looked something like this.
I have the worst tummy ache. I’m so sleepy. I think I’m eating too much. Got super hungry today. I’m really gassy. In a few days we will feel so good. I have a headache. I am sleepy. My sugar cravings are gone. OMG, I’m dying. Feel like I have the flu. Headache. I’m getting sick. You aren’t getting sick. It’s detox. People say they feel the magic between day 7 and 10. I feel the opposite of magic.
It doesn’t matter who said what because we were both feeling all the things!
Our conversation began to shift this week.
I ran 8km today, was awesome. I went to yoga. I feel better today. I feel the magic. Day 10! We are amazing.
I didn’t start the challenge to lose weight, but to dump the distractions of …
- sugar cravings
- feeling stuffed after a pasta dinner
- being fuzzy after a glass of wine or two
- decision fatigue at the grocery store
- comfort food (it calls my name this time of year)
In fact, one of the rules of The Whole 30 is that you can’t weigh yourself until the end. No measuring the success of the program by what the scale says.
The magic happened for me on Day 8. I woke up wide awake and I felt lighter. I had clarity. I could see and hear things more clearly, and thinking felt effortless. By day 8, the cravings were gone, and the detox symptoms felt like ancient history. I didn’t notice how sluggish I was feeling until I had this new energy to compare how I was feeling now to before I cut out the junk.
I am only a third of the way through this 30 day challenge, and am already reminded that while we can change things on the outside to improve clarity, the inside matters too, matters more. Our bodies have the power to heal and desperately want to function at the highest level possible. It’s up to us to give them that opportunity.
For extra inspiration as I broke up with sugar and bread and my favorite pasta dishes, I read Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar–Your Brain’s Silent Killers by David Perlmutter. My friend Jules Clancy recommend the book during a recent Simple Year webinar, and the research is shocking. I think we forget that what we eat affects more than our weight. If you are thinking about cutting back on the white stuff, I highly recommend reading this book at the same time.
I’ve tried other food challenges, and each time, I pick up new information about what my body needs, and what I can do to continue to improve my health, and clarity.
Week one was tough, as it usually is for any change, but not hard enough not to try, not to learn. Whole 30 Founders say, “It is not hard. Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Birthing a baby is hard. Losing a parent is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard. It’s only 30 days, and it’s for the most important health cause on earth-the only physical body you will ever have in this lifetime.”
Any time I think about a little slip or cheat, I remember hard things I’ve experienced, and hard things other people have to face everyday. That is motivation enough to stay strong.
30 days is enough time to make a powerful change in your diet, your home, your relationships, or just about anything. It’s a powerful start to figuring out how you want to feel and how you want to be.