I’ve changed the way I eat. This will be a long, intense post because I wasn’t on the ball blogging when I was in the middle of it – so bear with me. I want to really explain where I’m coming from, and why this was such a good experience because it will affect alot of things I write about on the blog (meal plans and recipes along with life in general)
I’ve always been one of those people that scoffed at eating plans that limited or cut out food groups. I thought they wouldn’t be sustainable, or that I’d feel deprived, and I wrote off “paleo” style eating as just another fad that would disappear as fast as it arrived…and thought it was only those intense Crossfitters that really ate a paleo-style diet (though I’ve always wanted to try Crossfit).
So, I always focused on calorie counting for my weight loss/health goals, using things like Weightwatchers and MyFitnessPal to count calories/points. Did I have success? Yes, marginally. I would lose some weight, but I didn’t keep it off. I was focusing less on eating whole foods and more on fitting into my calorie or points goal for the day. Thinking about it, I realize how deeply ensconsed I was in “conventional wisdom” and that it really wasn’t doing me any good. I find that calorie counting isn’t sustainable for me. I would always be hungry and would end up asking the question “can I fit this into my calorie/point allowance” instead of “is this going to make me healthier?” or “How will this make me feel?”
Most recently, I struggled with finding a balance between the calorie needs required while supporting a nursing child and trying to make myself FEEL better. When September of this year rolled around, I was forced to admit that I was miserable. My stomach never really felt quite right, my joints were constantly sore, my skin was in a bad place, and I had dry, itchy, cracked hands (that I’ve since decided is eczema) that started after David was born had yet to go away. In truth, I hadn’t really managed get myself “back to comfortable” (to use my own words) after Dave was born and I didn’t know how to fix it. I started digging around looking for some kind of diet reset. I dismissed juice detoxes right away (nut milk? Nothing but juice? You have got to be freaking kidding me. Not a good plan for a nursing mother.), and considered cutting out all processed food – but I wasn’t sure how to do that. I know it seems simple, but you really don’t realize how much processed food you eat in a day until you really step back and take a look at it.
Then, I read about the Whole30 my friend Ann @ Twelve in Twelve was doing. I immediately jumped on the website for the Whole30 and…essentially read through the whole thing in an evening. I downloaded a Kindle copy of their book It Starts with Food, signed up for Whole30 Daily emails and resolved to begin the next Monday.
The Whole30 is essentially a strict 30-day paleo style eating program. You can find it outlined by Melissa & Dallas Hartwig (the creators) on their website here. In reading the book, I found that I loved that they don’t focus on what a caveperson could/could not have gotten his/her hands on, but how certain food groups tend to be more allergenic and inflammatory – and that often people feel better if they eliminate some of these food groups from their lives. The Whole30 is restrictive, yes, but it’s only meant to be 30 days – this is real life after all.
The basic rules of the Whole30 – want to know the basis for this restriction? I’ve linked their informational blog posts. I encourage you to stop over at Whole9 and read more if you’re curious and pick up It Starts with Food (but don’t hesitate to ask me questions either!):
1) No Dairy – find their Dairy Manifesto here.
3) No Added Sugar – find their Sugar Manifesto here.
4) No Grains – find their Grain Manifesto here.
5) No Carageenan, MSG or Sulfites – this crap is nasty any day of the week.
6) No White Potatoes – these are somewhat arbitrary (as they mention on their Whole30 Program page), but aren’t really making anyone any healthier.
7) No Alcohol – find their Alcohol Manifesto here.
I did a Whole30 starting September 24 and ending October 23. Here are my thoughts:
1) The first week was tough. My body was working on converting from sugar-burning to fat-burning, and it left me feeling a bit off. This is very normal though. Whole9 posted a blog post about a typical Whole30 timeline and it’s pretty accurate – and entertaining. :) I was lucky, I hit “the magic” at about Day 8.
2) Before my Whole30, I was eating constantly. CONSTANTLY. I was telling myself it was because of the calorie demand from nursing, but let’s be real.
To see what I was eating in a day at work pre-whole30 you can click here, or just scroll down if you’re on my homepage. Good grief, that was alot of food! Tons of sugar, fruit and dairy….and this was often not enough and I would have to supplement or get headaches and painful hunger. This doesn’t even include dinner. No wonder my weight was stagnant and…obviously – I thought I was choosing healthy things. *facepalm*
Enter the Whole30. Here’s an example day:
Breakfast: 2 eggs scrambled with leftover 5 spice pork ribs, mushrooms and kale in ghee (clarified butter). (I would normally have 3 or 4 eggs, but since I had some pork in there as well – I only had 2 this particular day).
AM Snack: 1 or 2 hard boiled eggs, a small banana + organic Sunbutter. (It is recommended that you focus on 3 meals a day + pre & post-workout meals, but I found that I need to add in an extra meal in the morning to support Dave’s calorie needs.
Lunch: Crockpot shredded beef, green beans (technically a legume, but more pod than bean and Dallas & Melissa say it’s OK), sweet potatoes and a small avocado (yes, the WHOLE THING).
Dinner: Roasted chicken thighs with mediterranean seasoning, roasted butternut squash and garlicky mushrooms with kale.
Protein + veggies (including starchy veggies) + healthy fat. Easy to throw together, healthy and, most importantly delicious and filling!
3) I love the focus on making yourself healthier. The focus on choosing healthy whole foods (and not paleoifying junk food – referred to as sex-with-your-pants-on or SWYPO) – only eating when you’re actually hungry (Melissa’s tip is great – Does steamed fish and broccoli sound appetizing? No? Then you’re not hungry.). I’ve learned how to regulate what I’m eating WITHOUT calorie counting and it’s taken so much stress out of my day. It’s incredibly liberating to go from feeling hopeless to realizing that you found a way of eating that keeps you full and comfortable without calorie counting that makes the weight fall off like it was never there.
4) I enjoy that Post-W30 it’s advocated that you figure out what works for YOU, in your life. As Dallas and Melissa say, it’s a Whole30 NOT a Whole365. This is real life and real life isn’t perfect.
And my Results:
- Eczema-like rash on my hands is better (if not completely gone).
- My skin might be more glowing… I can’t decide. It’s definitely clearer.
- 13lbs, gone. There probably would have been more if I weren’t supporting a 6-month old who drinks almost exclusively breastmilk (he has recently started solids, however) and I’m not one of those people who effortlessly drops weight while breastfeeding.
- I’m not so ridiculously hungry all the time. I used to get SO frustrated about my hunger and get shaky and uncomfortable. I thought it was the breastfeeding. Apparently not.
- My pre-pregnancy clothes are fitting again – which is nice! I feel much better about my body, and am less bloated and more comfortable on a daily basis.
- More energy. Also, interestingly, both myself AND my little guy are sleeping better (still not enough, but with a little one you can only do so much about that).
- I used to park closer to work (in a more expensive ramp) because I was just SO tired I couldn’t imagine walking the 5 blocks from the cheaper lot. Now I’ve started parking in the cheap lot when I drive and really miss my walk when I’m in a hurry and have to park in the close lot.
- No sugar addiction. Luckily, my sugar dragon is pretty wimpy so I only really had a headache the first day and that was the extent of my withdrawals.
- My joint pain is better, and my back is not such a mess. Less stress maybe?
I’ve done a fair bit of nutritional off-roading (as the Hartwigs call it) since I finished my W30 – so my weight loss has stagnated a bit and I’m a little more tired. I’m working on being as healthy as possible between Holiday events right now, and will get right back to business in January. I won’t be Whole30 compliant all the time, but I plan on following this eating style because I know that it makes me feel good.
Speaking of January – there’ll be a big New Year’s Whole30 happening! I’ll be joining in, and my friend Jenna @ Our Life Uncorked http://ourlifeuncorked.wordpress.com/ (WP won’t let me make a hyperlink. WTH WP?) sounds like she’ll be joining too. If you’re interested – January’s the perfect month! If you have a Kindle or Kindle App and want to borrow my copy of It Starts with Food – let me know. I can lend it to you through Kindle.
So…there it is. I’ll write more about it during my next W30 I think. I’d love to hear your opinions (good AND bad).