I am on Day 13 of a Whole30-ish program. I’ve waited to talk about it until I made it this far because I typically quit these types of things like right away. I didn’t want to proclaim to the world that I was doing “Whole30” because that instantly puts pressure on me to follow through. With that kind of pressure I’d probably end up at Yogurtland with my mouth wide open underneath a nozzle of fro yo, skipping the cup entirely.
But here I am – no pressure – and I’m almost 2 weeks in already. I am actually following a protocol prescribed by Dr. Kelly Brogan but the easiest way to explain it to people is to say Whole30 because it’s essentially the same thing (and people are way more familiar with Whole30). The only real difference is that on Kelly’s plan, I can eat quinoa – hallelujah! I genuinely think that one ingredient is what is getting me through this. That beautiful seed that seems so much like a grain, how I love thee.
So what does Whole30 / Kelly’s plan entail for 30 days?
- No dairy
- No grains
- No gluten
- No alcohol
- No sugar (other than fruit)
- No processed food
- No beans, soy or corn
There’s more to it than that, but that’s a good little overview. I am eating a lot of healthy fats and veggies and making sure all my meat is grass-fed, organic and all the other good stuff. I am drinking concoctions containing crazy things like collagen and MCT oil and eating organic, pastured eggs like it’s my job.
And why am I doing this?
It’s not to lose weight. It’s not to change my body composition. In fact, I may have actually gained a couple pounds in the process so far.
I am doing this to remove all potential inflammatory foods from my diet so that I can slowly break up with my ol’ friend, Zoloft. You know, that anti-depressant that MILLIONS of women take every single day for an array of reasons. I’ve been taking antidepressants since I was 22 years old. That is EIGHT YEARS. Before getting on pills, I tried yoga, counseling and lots of running. It wasn’t enough so I finally tried medication. It worked for my sister and sure enough, it worked for me too!
I’ve always believed my depression is due to a chemical imbalance caused by my genetics and I need medication to correct it. I’ve viewed depression much like Type I Diabetes or any other disease you have no control over. You take medication to deal with it. End of story.
That is until I read “A Mind of Your Own” by Kelly Brogan, MD. She completely turned that notion on its head for me and I finished the book in complete shock. I felt betrayed by my doctors and the pharmaceutical industry and to be completely honest, I was pissed. These drugs are scary. Their side effects are intense and getting off of them is even more intense. Dr. Brogan believes depression is due to inflammation and that it has a lot more to do with our gut than we’ve been led to believe. She calls bullshit on the idea that it’s due to a chemical imbalance. She’s not alone in this thinking.
I don’t know if it is true. Maybe I do have a chemical imbalance and maybe millions of other Americans do too. Maybe being medicated is the best thing for me. Maybe it’s exactly what I need. Maybe Zoloft is my best friend.
But maybe it’s not. That is why I’m exploring this alternative. I am experimenting. For 30 days I am removing all potentially inflammatory foods from my diet. I am committing to a daily meditation practice (ok, I need to get better about this one and really stick to it), I’m removing all chemical-laden household products from my home and I am getting regular exercise and some sunshine every day. And then I will slowly taper off my medication when my body and mind are ready.
It’s going to be hard. Withdrawals from anti-depressants are no joke. This is going to be a tough time for me, and I’ve warned everyone close to me to bear with me. I won’t know if I can cure my own depression unless I try. And I am willing to try. I am willing to be my own guinea pig if it means I can potentially be medication-free and happy.
So far, so good as far as the diet goes. Days 3-5 were the absolute worst and I was annoyed by basically every human and animal I came into contact with. It was brutal. My energy was low, my mood was awful and I was ready to quit. But I stuck it out because my friend Susan is doing the plan with me. Having a buddy has helped tremendously! By day 10, I felt 1,000 times better. My energy was back to normal and I was feeling like myself. My running has slowed a bit, probably due to the grain-free situation and lack of easy-to-burn carbs, but it’s OK because it’s for my health. I have to keep my eye on the prize. A running PR is not the goal right now. My mental well-being is the goal.
I don’t know that I’ve ever talked in depth about my depression on the blog and I feel super vulnerable in doing so – but it all goes back to being as transparent as possible. This is what I’m going through right now and this is my blog, so what better place to talk about it? I’m human. We all have our shit. This is mine.
Now wish me luck as I daydream about cookies and red wine… 😉
Have you ever done Whole30 or something like it?
How did you feel afterwards?
*This post is in no way sponsored and I received nothing in exchange for sharing Kelly Brogan’s book. I simply heard an interview with her on The Sessions podcast and I was intrigued.