whole30 ~ looking back

whole30 is an elimination diet.  think of it as science experiment to determine how certain foods effect our bodies both internally and externally.  i finished the whole30 program on july 17, 2014.

here i am, day 1 [left] and day 30 [middle and right]. over the course of the last 30 days i have lost 9 pounds, 3.75" off my waist and 1.25" off my hips/butt but besides this, i feel incredible.  my workout was strong this morning, my energy is high, i'm sleeping so well and waking up fully rested.  i've laid off the ibuprofen considerably.  i'm regular!!  this alone is huge for me.  no bloating, no gas, no constipation. my period came and went without a huge notice in a change in my demeanor.  this is worth a celebration all on it's own.

ever since i started having babies, i have struggled to keep unwanted weight off of my body.  i have made exercise a daily habit for the last nine years and tried to keep my diet in check but still, i've struggled.  there have been times when i've gotten frustrated with having to count every calorie, weigh/measure every serving, log every bite into a journal while eating clean yet still going to bed hungry every night.  if i lost focus for even a week i'd gain five pounds in a snap [no lie].  if i gave into to sugar cravings it would inevitably lead to that slippery slope which becomes another five pounds despite exercise and otherwise healthy meals. when i'm not focusing on clean eating and instead living by the mantra "life is short," i might enjoy the moment of eating foods that satisfy a certain emotional or mental need but i walk around bloated and gassy with nothing to wear because none of my clothes fit.  i sleep horrible and i eat ibuprofen like it's candy.  so the cycle continues of me trying to figure out a way to balance both worlds.  it has to be possible.  all thin and healthy people can't possibly go to bed hungry at night and politely refuse every decadent food item that crosses their plate.

in the first picture, i'm at the heaviest weight i've been in a real long time.  battling every month to get my sugar cravings under control while simultaneously trying to be kind to myself, to love my body and not feel guilty or ashamed over the fact that i have put on weight.  i refuse to be defined by a number of any kind.  my exterior is not what makes me who i am.  i approach my life with a deliberate confidence knowing that i can do anything i set my mind to and i won't allow any societal stigma to make me feel less-than for not fitting into a mold. i believe wholeheartedly that the first step to wellness is self-love and when you love yourself, it's easier to care for yourself.  when i am not caring for myself, i feel it.  i feel it physically, emotionally, mentally ... it's all draining.  and for what?  food cravings.  how strange that something so simple, something we have complete control over, can have complete control over us.

as i've gotten older i've noticed my hormones are terribly out of whack each time my period approaches.  it's easy to chalk it up to depression but i knew better.  i started keeping track of my cycle on this cool little app on my phone.  mapping my mood swings, my food cravings, my sleep patterns, etc. it became very clear that something was not right and as i researched my "symptoms" i found a disorder called PMDD.  now, i haven't been to a dr for this.  i simply researched and had several "yes!" moments where i knew this was something that i was dealing with (or not dealing with).  my next step was to figure out holistic approaches to resolving some of the displeasures i was experiencing and no matter how many different resources i came across, every time the same two suggestions popped up; stop eating sugar and stop consuming caffeine.

did i mention i'm a coffee addict?

and a sugar addict?

big. fat. sigh.

so i sat on it.  twiddled my thumbs, had a few more rough months of awful pms and then i came across the whole30 blog.  i knew what elimination diets were and have always been intrigued but this time, i went out and bought the book, read it in one day and then sat on it again for another month.  it sounded so hard! how could i possibly give up my coffee creamer?

did i mention it's a paleo way of eating?

did i mention that i've always been really turned off by paleo diets? i'm not totally sure why besides that i'm turned off by most fads. eat healthy and exercise, it's not that hard. but, i digress ...

enough became enough and i decided, on a monday, that i would start the whole30 program that next day.  i could do it.  i've given birth, ran marathons, and lost a lot of weight before in the past by eating so restrictively, this shouldn't be that bad.

so for 30 days i didn't have even a tiny taste of anything sugar, dairy, grain, legumes, caffeine, processed, or artificial.  no honey, no stevia, no syrup and no peanut butter.

for 30 days i've eaten only organic meat, a ton of eggs, bacon, vegetables, some fruit, a few nuts and high quality fats (ghee, evoo, coconut oil, coconut butter etc.).  i have had only decaf coffee, no gum, no mints, no breath fresheners (lots more teeth brushing).  i continued with my exercise regiment and guzzled 100+ ounces of water every day. i tried for adequate amounts of sleep.  i didn't co unt a single calorie, i never went to bed hungry and i only ate three meals a day (plus an after workout snack if i exercised).

i spent a lot of time in the kitchen.  after all, healthy habits start in the kitchen.  don't be turned off by the fact that you have to cook your meals and plan ahead.  it is this very fact, that people are too busy/lazy to prepare their own foods, that makes america the country with the highest obesity rate in the world.  not a statistic to be proud of.

i kept a journal and shared pictures of my meals.

day 1: "i had to choke down the eggs.  really tired when i woke up today."

day 2: "i am miserable, tired and i have a headache."

day 3: "i slept horrible last night.  my hips, legs and back are so achey."

day 4: "woke up in the middle of the night with horrible hip and back pain.  kidneys?"

day 5: "i haven't felt hungry at all.  took ibuprofen at 2:00 this afternoon for hip pain."

day 6: "i slept really good last night.  tmi but i realized the hip and back pain were caused by severe constipation.  the problem has been remedied."

day 8: "i can't believe how well i have been sleeping and how rested i feel when i wake up! i measured my waist today.  2" off in one week! workout was brutal though.  my muscles feel weak and depleted.  i have felt good otherwise."

day 9: " today was rough mentally.  outside stressors left me wanting a green tea frappuccino from starbucks and nap."

day 10: "food cravings feel more like control issues.  i get really resentful and angry over not being able to have my favorite foods while simultaneously feeling angry that they have that much control over me in the first place."

day 11: "waking up so easily and not groggy at all.  i am really bloated and gassy though."

day 14: "i haven't taken ibuprofen for aches ore pains for over a weeks."

day 15: "my workout felt relatively energized today.  finally."

day 17: "oh man, i was jonesing for sugar today."

day 19: "my clothes are getting looser.  i'm sick of eggs."

day 23: "one more week!"

day 25: " eating dinner late last night resulted in a horrible night's sleep."

day 27: "i was thinking today about how easy this has been."

day 29: "i'm sick of salad."

now i'm here, one day post whole30 and i have still eaten compliant.  it's too easy not to right now.  my plan is to continue on as often as i am able.  i have more weight i'd like to lose and i feel so great, there's no reason to stop.  we are going camping for a few days so i won't be starting the reintroduction phase until later but even then, i don't know how far i'll take it.  no lies, the thought of eating any sugar makes me nervous.  my addiction is real and powerful.

i do not strive for perfection.  my only goal is to do the best i can when i can and my "best" varies from time to time.  i figure as long as i'm trying, that's all i need to do!

maybe someone will be inspired to give this program a shot.  i would highly recommend it!


Unknown said...

Congrats, Em! It's like reading my own journal from 2010. :) "did i mention that i've always been really turned off by paleo diets?" Ha! Now there's an understatement!

It makes me so happy when people really GET the connection between food and how we feel. We're a rare breed.

I never intentionally ate sugar again. There's no reason to. You know it will make an appearance at some point and really....there's no mystery as to how it will affect you. No need to test that, but definitely go through the steps for the biggies like gluten and dairy. You want to know specific triggers (if there are any) so your 30 days weren't wasted. As nice as it is to just stay on the WholeXX train, you do want to do those experiments at some point so you can live life and safely go off the rails if/when it seems worth it.

Personal anecdote - when I tested gluten back in the day, it slightly impacted my mood. 4+ years later....I was glutened two weeks ago. I had a two-day long anxiety attack and I'm still not back to normal *ahem* digestion. All that to say - pay super close attention when you test things out. Reactions could be subtle with only 30ish days of clean.

Great job!

Becky said...

Em, this post made me so happy to read. In all the years I've known you, I don't think I've ever heard you sound so peaceful with your nutrition. Does that sound strange to say? As you know, I've found my groove as well. Your post is confirmation that when we find what we're supposed to be doing for our bodies, it just clicks, and feels right and goes pretty easily. So happy for you! You look great. I'm so anxious to follow along on your journey as you begin to reintroduce.

wrain74 said...

em! I am excited to have found you through Becky.

Miss you often but I knew you were out there somewhere.

Your Fan,

Sarah in Virginia

Clare Gravolet said...

I just recently discovered your blog :) I haven't completed Whole 30, but I do follow a paleo diet. After starting the diet, I felt a lot better. Similarly to you, I found more energy and bloating and gassyness disappeared. It made me so happy, I started a blog just to talk about it.
I'm glad I found your blog and I look forward to more posts!

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