Turns out our brains are a lot more elastic or plastic than was originally thought. The old thinking was once you reached a certain age, your brain was, for lack of a better way to say it, set in stone. The neurons were thought to migrate to predetermined locations in the brain. Once there, they performed only certain functions. New research has shown that it is possible to change our brains. This is good news. No, really, this is great news. We are no longer necessarily stuck with a brain that does not work for us, and by this I mean that when I accidentally rewired my brain to crave sugar and carbs and other things that are not good for my overall health, I have the ability to change it, to rewire it again.
After my attack 4 1/2 years ago, to help me feel better, I started eating cupcakes and macaroni and cheese and soft pretzels and rolls and, well, you get the picture. In 2010, for the most part, I stopped eating bread and pasta. And even more importantly, I stopped eating most processes sugars. No coke, no more of my beloved (sad, but true) slurpees, no sweet tarts or jelly beans. Or if I did have a treat, it was not very often and I never went overboard. When I was sexually assaulted in September of 2011, that all changed. I was doing my best to heal and part of that, unfortunately, involved self-soothing, which took the form of eating comfort foods. Over time, my brain changed, and through the long process of healing and reclaiming my life, I inadvertently created another problem, though it has taken several years for me to completely understand exactly what I did.
I’ve always been a huge reader and though I enjoy fiction tremendously, I also love inspirational, self-help-type books, too. Since I am always working on improving myself and my life, I am pretty open to most books that encourage that. I am also a life-long athlete and, as I’ve written about before, after my attack, I went from walking 60-90 miles a week to zero. Luckily, I found yoga a couple of weeks before my attack and I was no longer able to walk outside alone. Still, not having that outlet for stress release and staying in shape was a huge loss. HUGE. So, I was on the lookout for books to, perhaps, change my life. I read (listened to, actually) Grain Brain and Brain Maker by Kristin Loberg and Dr. David Perlmutter, Wheat Belly by William Davis, Use Your Brain to Change Your Age by Dr. Daniel Amen, The Wisdom of Your Cells by Dr. Bruce Lipton, The New Sugar Busters by H. Leighton Steward, Morrison Bethea, Sam Andrews and Luis Balart, and countless others. While all were good, and some I’ve even listened to more than once, and all had good advise and wisdom to pass along, I still was not ‘getting it.’ I might try out a few of the suggestions, but nothing stuck for long.
A walk with a friend a couple of weeks ago ended up supplying the missing link, so to speak. Just in passing he mentioned It Starts With Food by Melissa Hartwig and Dallas Hartwig. I cannot tell you now what it was he said that made me go home and check if the book was available on audible.com. It was, and I got it. From practically the first sentence I realized this was the book that was going to literally change my life. I finally got it. I also knew that I needed the actual book to refer to. At the bookstore, however, I ended up with their followup book, The Whole30, subtitled The 30-Day Guide to TOTAL HEALTH and FOOD FREEDOM, which is the one I really needed. This book explains the entire program and how to accomplish it. It contains recipes, tips, hints and, basically, a blueprint for (my words) a new life! And today starts that 30-day trip.
I will be chronicling my journey here, partly so that I am accountable and partly so that others may, hopefully, be helped, as well. I keep hearing from people who have done the Whole30 that it is hard, that you always end up ‘falling off the wagon’ at some point. While this may be true, I am confident that I am truly ready for the changes that eating clean will bring about. I am so ready to be clean of my sugar habit. I’ve spoken about it before and the trouble I’ve had with kicking the habit. Like I just said, I AM READY, and this, I think, will make all the difference. Will I never eat something that is less than perfectly healthy again? In all likelihood, I probably will, but once I have rewired my brain to crave healthy, whole foods again, a slip or, rather, a conscious choice to eat something that is less than ‘good’ will not result in disaster. It took a long time to wire my brain to want a cupcake once a week. Likewise, once I am where I want to be with regard to food, one soft pretzel or martini will not create a new, unwanted neural pathway in my brain.
We all always have a choice. My choice is to eat clean to reset my brain and hormones.
If you would like, please join me on this journey. We can help each other along the way.