Sunday, July 12, 2015

Whole30: A Retrospective

I was originally going to write a weekly update for my time on the Whole30 program, and then life got in the way (see title of blog), so it's now more than a week after day 30 and I have time to write.

 What is Whole30? It's a short-term nutritional reset, designed to help you put to an end unhealthy cravings, restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, and balance your immune system. From the Whole30 website:

"Certain food groups (like sugar, grains, dairy and legumes) could be having a negative impact on your health and fitness without you even realizing it. Are your energy levels inconsistent or non-existent? Do you have aches and pains that can’t be explained by over-use or injury? Are you having a hard time losing weight no matter how hard you try? Do you have some sort of condition (like skin issues, digestive ailments, seasonal allergies or fertility issues) that medication hasn’t helped? These symptoms may be directly related to the foods you eat—even the “healthy” stuff."

Here are the rules: 
  • Yes: eat real food
  • No: added sugar of any kind (read your labels!); alcohol in any form, not even for cooking; grains; legumes (beans, peas, peanuts, soy, etc.); dairy; carrageenan, MSG, or sulfites; recreations of baked goods, junk food, or treats with "approved" ingredients (a pancake is a pancake)
I had a number of friends who I knew had tried the program, and was beginning to see it mentioned more and more on Pinterest and Facebook, so I decided to give it a try. At its core, Whole30 is not a weight loss program, although many of the finishers do see a decrease in weight. What follows is my experience on the program. 

Zach and I eat pretty healthily. We both like fruits and vegetables, and I make them at every meal. We don't go out to eat often because I plan our meals each week and go grocery shopping on Sunday. The problem is, we both like unhealthy foods as well. For me, it's sugar. Baked goods, candy, chocolate.  For Zach, it's something more along the lines of chips and salsa. For us, these are foods with no "brakes." Once we start eating them, it is hard to stop and we just continue the cycle of overeating. 

I started this journey at 205 pounds. Wow. That was hard to type. The rules of the program say that you can weigh yourself at the beginning of the month, but then not again until the end. Again, it is not about weight loss. It is about the food. 

Here are some of the foods I ate this month:

Fried eggs, sweet potato hash browns, Italian chicken sausage, and a clementine

Lime La Croix with fruit
Water got incredibly boring on the program so I was trying to find ways to mix it up. I now really enjoy the La Croix (sparkling water with natural flavors) and it helps curb my craving for carbonated beverages. 

Quiche with a Sweet Potato Crust

Monkey Salad (banana, coconut, cashew) + Blueberries 

Oven roasted vegetables - Zach and I can polish off an entire pan of these by ourselves

Before I started, I made myself a calendar to put up at work as a constant reminder to me that I made a commitment this month to better myself. It is much easier to say no to bagels and chocolates and Thin Mints when you have this calendar hanging over your head.

I also have started to receive food from Bountiful Baskets every other week. $15 for what you see below. This has been great to use while on the program since I can eat everything in it! 50% fruit, 50% vegetables, 100% compliant! 

That honeydew was the BOMB.COM

Zach started the program a week after I did, so technically I did a Whole37. We are now in the reintroduction phase, where we start introducing the foods we had cut out at the beginning of the month. So far, so good.

Findings: I am falling asleep faster at night and staying asleep better. I no longer wake up 2-4 times in the middle of the night.  My skin has really cleared up. My nails are growing faster and thicker. And here's the silver lining for me: I lost 13 pounds. By only changing the food I was eating.  I think the "no added sugar" rule really did it. 

Do I feel better? No, not really. But I didn't feel badly to begin with. I feel good, so there's that.

If you are having trouble and wrestling with yourself every time you eat, I'd encourage you to at least give this program a try. If I had one piece of advice to give: Make sure you have a support system. Zach did the program with me, so it was much easier for me to plan meals that the both of us would eat, rather than one for me, one for him. I'm not saying that isn't doable- I've seen people do the program with their kids- but it definitely makes it easier.