Today marks my 31st day of my Whole30. It’s been a wild ride and a life-changing experience. Today I start phase 2 – which is the re-introduction of the foods that I haven’t eaten for the 30 days to see how my body responds to them. I’ll keep you posted on how that goes, but for now, I’ll tell you about my Whole30 Journey so far.
I try to do a Whole30 or a strict paleo reset every year. More often then not, I will tackle it at the beginning of the new year. You know…new year goals and that magical motivation bus that comes with it. Yea…I just hop on that bus 😉 It was a 30 day challenge that converted me to adopt the paleo diet into my life in the first place. I leaned out a little and felt so good during that 30 days that I just couldn’t ignore it. So for 10 years now, I’ve been eating a mostly paleo diet. Two side notes: 1. Most people who eat a paleo diet follow the 80/20 rule – meaning they eat paleo foods 80% of the time and then “other” foods about 20% of the time – I’m also in this boat. Most of my meals consist of meats, fats and veggies and occasionally I eat brownies 🙂 Because life is better with brownies. AND 2. I HATE that it’s called the paleo diet. To me that comes off as some fad/gimmicky diet – “eat like our ancestors.” Our food is so different from our ancestors’ food. Our lives are so different. I don’t eat this way to try to mimc exactly what my ancestors did. That would be hella hard. I eat this way because it makes sense to me that whole foods chalked full of nutrients that make me feel full and satisfied and are damn near impossible to binge on are doing my body way more good than overly sweetened and flavored processed foods that are full of questionable ingredients, have little to no naturally occurring nutrients and that I could easily eat 3,000+ calories of in a day. And most importantly – I eat this way because it makes me look and feel AMAZING! Rant over.
The past few years I have loosened up on my diet. My love life, and running a restaurant had taken priority in my life and what I was putting into my body was set on the back burner. I was drinking sweet iced coffee every day and fast food a few times a week late at night – justifying it because I was just too tired or stressed and I needed to eat after all…I was working my tail off. It eventually became a habit and something I started to crave. I always say that when food is controlling you and you are no longer controlling it…you have an addiction that you should explore. I had realized this, but I kept on justifying it because I was able to keep my weight down so…as long as I looked good It was all ok right…? Wrong. So very wrong.
I have noticed especially in the past 2 years that I was really starting to accumulate some wear and tear – some health issues that had not been issues before and just thought….well, this must just be what your thirties feel like. And that depressed me. I was getting headaches quite frequently, It was sometimes hard finding the energy to just get through the day. I’d often grab coffee or sweet snacks for a quick burst of energy. My shoulder that I had previously injured kept being a nuisance and hurt a lot. I wasn’t sleeping well and I had NEVER had a problem with that before. And then…during the past 4-6 months. Things really started to show up. I had constant mucus in my throat, I was getting acid reflux, my ear was popping and painful a lot and would not get better, my bowels were either over or under active, I was really hangry a lot of the time and seemed to be constantly bloated. The last few months of 2018 really got my attention – so when it was time to make my goals for the new year, I knew that a Whole30 was on the top of my list. I hadn’t completed a strict Whole30 in several years and I needed a reset.
My Whole30 this year was much like ones I’ve done in previous years, however there were a few differences this year. One thing was that, since this wasn’t my first Whole30, I’d learned the ins and outs of how to prep for it and which foods have sneaky sugars in them that I know I missed in previous years. (ham, salami and broth…I see you) I took the “no snacking” thing seriously. I gathered some friends who were along for the ride – so I wasn’t in it alone. That was refreshing! Also…I wanted it more this time. I had more reasons to want it. I knew that many of the things I had been dealing with could be turned around with cleaning up my diet. I was in it to win it and I did not cheat at all. Here’s how it went.
I wanted this. I was determined! I had food prepped I was ready to tackle this thing! And then…I immediately had to start combatting some hard cravings. It was mostly just the craving for sweet iced coffee. I always get one on meal prep day! ALWAYS! it’s my special treat for cooking for 6 hours straight. I deserved it!! I sat in my car outside of the coffee shop more than once trying to “talk myself off the ledge.” Everything inside of me said “just do it. No one will know. You’re an adult, you get to do what you want – nobody tells me no!” I had to step outside of myself. Outside of my cravings and was eventually able to tell myself that I was doing this for myself – because I wanted to do it and nobody was telling me no – I was saying yes to my health. It wasn’t easy, but it worked. I ate quite a bit that first week. I tried to stay full to combat the cravings. I immediately lost my bloat and could see more definition than normal. On day 4, I crashed. I was Soooo sleepy. I grabbed some espresso on the fifth day at like 4:00 just to push through the day. I remember thinking “at least I’m too tired to care about craving the foods.” On day 6 – that was all behind me. I had tons of energy, felt great and had the best workout I’d had in a long time.
I ate less on week two. I felt full for longer and hardly ever felt SUPER hungry. I was drinking less coffee and noticed that at this point…I was drinking coffee randomly because I like the taste – I no longer needed it first thing in the morning to wake me up or at 3:00 to keep me going. I did seem to notice that espresso makes me sweat and it was more potent. I was constantly thirsty – but I probably wasn’t drinking enough water. I got pretty bloated at the tail end of the first week, and I hadn’t pooped for a few days. I pooped real big on Monday of week two and the bloating was gone. I also had too much energy. Like it was annoying how much energy I had. Especially when it came to bed time and sleep was nowhere to be found and I was still super amped. I also had some weird dreams about food during week two. My ear stopped popping/hurting this week and never came back!
This was the week before my period and I managed it without chocolate! During week three I still wasn’t pooping regularly and had some more bloating. My eating increased again – I’m assuming because I’m always hungry-er the week before my period. I was feeling a little like…shouldn’t all this be sorted out by now!? This week – I did started sleeping really well. I ate out for the first time since I started and was disappointed because the food I make is better. I did crave sweets very badly this week. (period?) Since I did have some pretty strong cravings on week three – I got to sit in them and explore them. They say that it takes three weeks to build new habits. I feel like I could sense that. This week I could feel more of a mental shift. taking certain foods out let me really explore what role that they were playing in my life. And at the end of week three…I wasn’t really missing hardly any of those foods anymore.
I woke up on Monday of week four, and that morning I had a “birthday poop” (basically the best poop ever) and felt like it was the end of my constipation. I was right…my body must have finally adjusted. I pooped the next morning. Same time – same awesome consistency – it’s pretty much stayed there! Also on day 2 of week four, I noticed that I was able to do something that I hadn’t been able to do in over 4 years. I made a turn in my car with my right arm, and my shoulder didn’t hurt. What was even happening?! This was something I couldn’t have imagined. I tested out my awesome feeling shoulder in yoga that night. I was able to do a slow and controlled lower from full plank four times w/no pain! I was so excited, but also nervous that the pain would be back the next day…but it did not come back. Not after the yoga. Not after pushing it during CrossFit the next day. Not after doing 50 banded pull-ups and 100 elevated push-ups that weekend. Not even after I pushed it a tad too far during some power style yoga that was new to me. I felt some slight discomfort during – but the inflammation that was keeping it tight and not allowing it to move without pain did not come back! Out of everything that I experienced…this was definitely the best part of my Whole30. Not the weight-loss, not the energy, not even the birthday poop. Having a healthy feeling shoulder again. This last week was pretty magical all in all. I had great energy all week. I was handling stressful situations with grace. I was thinking super clear and getting SO much work done! Week four really drove everything home. In the past – some years I hadn’t completed the full 30 days – I had made it to 2.5/3 weeks and decided that was “good enough.” Now I feel like I have a whole new respect for the whole 30 days. And I was really surprised to see how much my own personal journey matched the Whole30 timeline. I’d never paid attention to that before.
I lost 6 lbs, 5.5 inches, my resting HR dropped 12 bpm and my blood pressure went from 115/75 to 110/70. AND…I still have work to do. 🙂 If you tackle a Whole30 – know that to get the full benefits – you do carry out phase 2 – which is the re-introduction phase. That’s what I’m starting today. I’m re-introducing legumes today to see how my body responds to them. Which for me will include peanut butter, hummus and black beans. The re-introduction takes 10 days 🙂
I’m also still exploring some things with my own body and diet. The Whole30 is one of the best tools I’ve found when it comes to figuring out what you want your own nutrition to look like. It allows you to get a taste of what “good” feels like. It’s enough time to establish some healthy new habits which may just last a lifetime. It forces you to read nutrition labels and really get an understanding of what exactly you are putting into your body everyday. It also pushes you to explore your own personal attachments to food. That’s a killer combination that can set you up for some long term success if you allow it to. And tackling it with the right mindset is key! I think I owe a lot of my success to that. Years when I tackled a Whole30 to just get through it or drop weight – did not go as well. Years when I completely opened myself up to learn and explore and step out of myself to kind of watch the process from a distance – those are the years where the Whole30 has really changed my life. It wasn’t a “means to an end” it was “a means to learn as much about my body as I could.” I am very shocked at how closely my personal journey lined up with the Whole30 timeline.
And like I said…I still have work to do. The mucus in my throat wasn’t getting better during my Whole30, however It did clear me out enough to be able to listen to my body a little better. And when I could do that – I started to notice that it was worse after eating spicy food – so I took them out of my diet for the last 10 days along with supplementing some aloe juice- and I’ve seen great improvement there! I did get one pretty bad headache last week. I’m wondering if I was dehydrated, but that’s something to explore. I also had a pretty violent bowel movement one day last week. It was after I ate some roasted acorn squash seeds that I had made. Corn does that to me as well – wondering if it was the seeds and if there is a relation there.
Where Do I Go From Here?
From here I will carry out my re-Introduction and from there I have some decisions to make. Which foods are “worth it” which foods are not. Which foods will make up the bulk of my diet, which will have an occasional appearance and which foods I’ll leave behind. I think I may play with some fasting and experiment a little more with keto. I’ve got a few more goals I would like to achieve and I’d like to explore some things. In my world, things like keto and fasting are tools or additions that should only be added on top of a solid foundation of nutrition. In my experience, trying to go straight to something like keto without already eating a pretty clean diet usually leads to deprivation, followed by binged and can trigger anxieties you may or may not have around food. Plus…once you kick the carb cravings…it’s just a heck of a lot easier to adhere to.
I’m also in the process of becoming a Whole30 coach. I’m super excited to add some new tools and qualifications to my trainer tool belt so that I can be a better service to people looking to improve their health! Stay Healthy my friends!