Whole30 Results

Prior to my Whole30, I’d been trying to live a predominantly Paleo lifestyle. I just believe in it; it makes sense to me. So, even with all the knowledge I’d already internalized about Paleo (while not sticking to it 100%), my Whole30 results are surprisingly different and more than I expected. Some of the things I’ve noticed include:
  • Clear head and increased concentration—This happened within the first two weeks. I thought the cloudy headedness I’d been experiencing was due to lack of sleep and too much coffee. I haven’t gotten more sleep or lowered my coffee intake during the Whole30, for what it’s worth. I don’t have a lot of data points for this yet, but any work presentation I’ve given in the recent past was terrible; I lost words and trailed off, I stuttered and generally just muddled through. Which I know hasn’t always been the case. The most recent presentation I did on Day 27 was 100% better than any part of the last few years. Maybe it’s because I knew the material inside and out. Maybe. But I can tell you that I felt like I was able to think and talk at the same time. I felt the difference.
  • Less anxiety and more patience—I have an almost 4-year-old and an almost 1-year-old. My husband is in school full time and I work full time. Life is hectic and a bit stressful. I am a worrier by nature and probably have been in a constant state of stress for years. All of this led to me feeling very low about how I was interacting with my family. I’m not sure I can articulate what’s happened here, but I can tell you that the last few weeks I’ve felt less likely to implode. Yes, my 3-year-old, who I love dearly, still gets on my nerves on occasion, but I don’t have the internal struggle to keep my cool (which I was often losing). I feel more collected. Maybe I was on more of a sugar-filled roller coaster than I expected. I don’t know; but I can tell you that I am very thankful for this internal calm that has settled in.
  • Less aches and pains—The aches and pain in my joints cleared up around week 2 also, probably by about 90%. I doubt I’ll ever be at 100%, because I’ve got plenty of damage from basketball, running, all that jazz. But I feel more like 37 and less like a poorly-maintained 67. I can imagine living another 50 years in a body that feels like this. When people want to take the stairs at work, provided I’m not in heels, I can do it! And, I can squat down to look at my daughter in her eyes when she wants to talk to me. That, right there, is worth every minute of the last 30 days.
  • No more mystery pain—I’ve only run a couple of days, but I have not had a single instance of shifting-organ discomfort in weeks. And surprise of all surprises, the two days I did run, no Depends were harmed or even needed. And yes, I do have an appointment with my doctor wherein I’ll discuss my discomfort to make sure it isn’t anything serious, but ladies, you know how long it takes to get in to see those doctors. She’ll tell me losing weight was what I needed to do to make it better anyway.
  • The other things category—This is a catchall for all that I just won’t talk about online. Or with most people. But if you are at my house having a glass of wine and contemplating doing a Whole30, I’ll tell you about it.
  • Weight loss—I wish I had taken body measurements before I did the Whole30. I only have my waist circumference and weight from an annual exam the day before my birthday. And really, I’m pear shaped so most of the inches came off my thighs and butt and aren’t represented here. I’ll also say that I didn’t lose as much weight as my clothes would lead me to believe. Many of the inches I lost happened toward the end of week 2 and seems to have been inflammation related. That probably coincides with why I have less aches and pains. Starting weight: 224
    Starting waist circumference: 36.5″

    Ending weight: 213
    Ending waist circumference: 34″

The granuloma annulare has not cleared up and I can’t tell any difference in it. It’s possible that my body is reacting to something other than what I’m eating or it’s possible that I might just need stay the course longer and let my body continue to heal. It went away when I was pregnant with with my youngest (your immune system lowers during pregnancy) and it took a couple of months for it to resolve then. It’s not too bothersome, so I’m not going to stress out about it; I’ll just keep avoiding pedicures. Sigh.

I saw more and different benefits than I expected. I’m not entirely sure why. I suspect that my body is probably more sensitive to sugar and other “things” in the food I’ve been eating than I had recognized. The next step is to try to reintroduce foods that I feel like I cannot live without and see how my body reacts to them; I should have eliminated foods for long enough that I’ll be able to recognize how my body feels after I eat any that are potentially inflammatory. There’s not a ton I’m dying to have back, other than wine, chocolate, and maybe some cheese. But because I now fully recognize that my stress foods are alcohol and sweet stuff, I’m going to really have to monitor those two.

And there you have it. I’m not going to just jump back into the way I was eating. I’ll probably still seem like I’m being a PITA when I don’t eat something that seems incredibly normal to someone else. But I don’t want to go back to feeling like I did (I just can’t), and I still have some things I want to accomplish. I want to see if I can get back into running now that I’m not hurting so much. I want to keep being able to roll around on the floor with Emma and Aurora. I want to be able to run away from the zombies during the Apocalypse without peeing myself because I’m obese and inflamed (did anyone read this far?).

Thanks to everyone who followed along and cheered me on. I really do appreciate it. Facebook* lends to a lot of negativity in the world, I think, but I feel like I was able to use it to my advantage with this project. So, to my friends near and far, I appreciate you all.

One last thing, if you are looking to do a Whole30 of your own, I’d be happy to cheer you on!

*I initially documented my journey on my personal Facebook page.

Whole30: Days 26-30

 w3026 Day 26
Highlight: 26! Also, Chuy’s can do a decent whole30 salad. Chili’s, you are lame. Also, finally I made dinner; pot roast in the Instant Pot. Pressure cookers are super handy.

Lowlightwhat a busy flippin’ day. I’m headed into Austin tomorrow and I’m light on groceries in the house to take as snacks, so I’m a little worried about how difficult tomorrow will be. I‘m comin’ for you day #27.

 w3027 Day 27
Highlight: mmmmmm. I made it through? Whether tempted by gummy bears or brownies, I did not partake.I’m missing a picture of pot roast for dinner. And a small piece with my salad at lunch, since I knew I’d find no clean protein in the office. And a handful of pecans.


LowlightI came for day 27, trying to be all tough. Day 27 gave as good as it got. I’m exhausted.

 w3028 Day 28

Highlightolive to-go packs. Pretty handy. Seeing my sister and dad are also pluses.

Lowlight: no protein in the morning and early afternoon left me starving tonight.

Not pictured: another pack of olives and TWO bananas. Traveling is hard.

 w3029 Day 29
HighlightI don’t have to drive to whole foods any more for my Epic Uncured Bacon! Thank you HEB! My excitement cannot be accurately expressed!

Lowlight
: nada!
 w3030 Day 30
Highlight: day 30
Lowlight: day 30

I’m in the middle of writing up a longer post about my experience. I plan to put it up tomorrow. Plus, I don’t weigh in until tomorrow morning anyway.

Thanks for roughing it out with me. I truly appreciate it.

Whole30: Days 21-25

   w3021 Day 21
Highlight: still mayonnaise.

Lowlight: super busy day. Emma and I bought new clothes for her and sister. I guess that’s back-to-school shopping…although they haven’t had a break from school.

Anyway, switching out closets took all day and I didn’t have much of a food plan, so I ate whatever I could scrounge. So, mayonnaise. But the girls no longer look like ragamuffins, so it’s all good.

  w3022 Day 22
Highlight: dinner! I threw some stuff together because I only had to feed myself. And it might have been the best thing I’ve ever stumbled upon. Ghee-fried potatoes underneath grassfed ground beef with fresh cilantro, red onion, and tomatoes. The cilantro played really well with the richness of the ghee. Damn delicious.

Lowlight: lunch sucked (sad salad from chilis). I knew it would so I tried to have a hearty breakfast, but I ended up overcompensating with cashews (two more handfuls than you see here).

I also solidified today that the food I turn to when stressed (because I’m totally a stress eater) is sweets and alcohol. I was SERIOUSLY jonesing for a dozen donuts and a bottle of red wine today. Rayo, thank you for talking me down.

I do need to figure out how to deal with those triggers when I don’t have the rules of Whole30 to fall back on. I know that this is why my diet was wrecked years ago.

  w3023 Day 23

Highlight: HEB does a pretty decent lactofermented kraut.

Also, Topo Chico with lime was a nice change up.

Lowlight: I‘m definitely feeling a little of the food boredom that’s common at this point in the Whole30. It’s why I’m trying to add one or two surprising/different/interesting things to the rotation. Like lactofermented kraut.

And I snacked a lot today. Stress not alleviated, maybe?

  w3024 Day 24
HighlightI feel kind of settled in with this whole30. I’m not constantly worried about what I’m going to eat. I know what’s been filling me up and what works as a go-to meal. That feels good.

LowlightI made Tator tots for the non-whole30 people in the house. Man. It took a lot to stay away from those. More than I thought it would.

Also, my big ol’ salad bowl is empty. Can someone chop all those veggies for me? Meh, I’ll do it tomorrow.

  w3025 Day 25
Highlightbreakfast dinner salad? It didn’t make me mad.

Lowlight: I should have prepped my big bowl of salad yesterday. I had nothing ready to eat and today was MUCH busier than I expected it to be. You don’t see a handful of almonds. But, it wasn’t really the best food day.

Forgot to take the roast out to defrost. So dinner didn’t do me any favors.

Planning people. It’s all in the planning.

Whole30: Days 16-20

 w3016 Day 16
Highlight: back to work today means less snacking. I think that’s good. Lowlight: nothing today!
 w3017 Day 17

Highlight: bacon! It took me a while to make it to the whole foods so I could find bacon without added sugar. Mmmmmm. I missed it.

Lowlight: none today either.

 w3018 Day 18

Highlight: ran most of a mile today. It’s been a long time my friends.

I also toasted some almonds with paprika on some and cumin on others. Why haven’t I done that before?!

Lowlight: it is hard to keep enough protein cooked and ready to go. I know I’ve said that before, but I still haven’t gotten better at that. I think that made the tortillas on my counter call my name even louder. Shut your mouth tortillas!
 w3019 Day 19

Highlight: friends and dinner! Thank you Sara!

Also, I made mayonnaise today. Pretty easy that.

Lowlight: I had a bit of a headache. Pretty sure I didn’t eat enough early on, but it was a busy day!

And, cooking is an art; you can’t create at a satisfying level if you can’t taste it! I wonder what chefs do on a whole30?

Not pictured: a handful (or two) of nuts and olives.

 w3020 Day 20
Highlight: the ghee I ordered at the start of my whole30 came in today! I know I can make my own. And I have before. But I didn’t want to and I had a coupon. Buttery goodness at dinner time (and now I smell it coming out of my pores, which is odd).Also, egg salad at lunch! Delicious!

Lowlight: pilling raw chicken juice all over the floor and my legs. Pretty much my worst nightmare. I’m OCD with chicken in the kitchen; bleach for days. Sigh.

Whole30: Days 11-15

 w3011 Day 11

Highlight: first time we had friends over for dinner while I’ve been doing this. It was totally fine. I mean meat and potatoes; it’s the basis of all good dinner parties, no? Thank you for the potatoes (and ice cream), Sara!
(Disclosure: I didn’t eat the ice cream)

Lowlight: mealy apple for breakfast. Just gross.
Sorry for the ugly dinner plate; I forgot the picture until round two.

 w3012 Day 12

Highlight: going to Chick-Fil-A with the girls and not hoovering their nugget crumbs.

Lowlight: going to Chick-Fil-A with the girls and not hoovering their nugget crumbs.
I had a big breakfast to preempt temptation. The girls had fun so it was worth it.

 w3013 Day 13

Highlight: nice day with daddy while the kids played with their cousins. Thanks my brother and sister-in-law!
Olives and pistachios for snacks at an afternoon movie.
Lowlight: we ate out twice today and it was rough. Too many modifications for anyone to get my order right apparently. Oh well. My bad. We’re back to eating at home tomorrow.
Missed a picture of the eggs for breakfast and the olives this afternoon.
 w3014 Day 14

Highlight: back home where I don’t have to navigate and negotiate! I can just eat!
It was super nice to have time with Tim, to sleep in, and to know the girls were having a blast with family.

Lowlight: running low on supplies. Gonna have to hit up the grocery store asap tomorrow.

 w3015 Day 15

Highlight: half way done! Roasted okra is my new obsession. Tastes like fried without the work. Where has this been all my life?!
Ran a bit today without my knees hurting me. It’s been a longtime since I could even walk without that pain. Generally speaking, my joint pain is almost nonexistent. 15 days ago I hurt almost all day. I did not feel 37. For real.

Lowlight: nothing? Yeah. I got nothing today.

Whole30: Days 6-10

 w306 Day 6
Highlight: I was not starving all day long today. And the stuffed Poblanos for dinner were pretty good.
Lowlight: I CANNOT DRINK A GLASS OF WINE THE FRIDAY NIGHT MY VACAY STARTS! My planning sucked on this one.
 w307 Day 7
Highlight: Not really jonesing for anything today. Definitely feeling less…mired down? Foggy? I don’t know the best description, but I feel less bleh.
Lowlight: Did not plan well this morning. My oldest daughter and I had an early morning so breakfast was a half a peach before we left, and a banana in the Costco parking lot. It wasn’t enough or ideal.
Tomorrow I’m road tripping, so I’m packing good snacks tonight to avoid the temptation of gas station Doritos.
 w308 Day 8
Highlight: Friends and family time! Having snacks packed really helped me. Thanks to my friends Linda and Scott for a great dinner! Forgot to snap a pic though!
Lowlight: Not packing enough protein or fatty snacks. Fruit is only satisfying for a short time.
A great day though!
 w309 Day 9
Highlight: My appetite seems to have evened out. I’m not panicky-hungry between meals. This picture doesn’t include a peach and the mixed fruit my friend Sara brought over (thanks for thinking about my high maintenance-ness!).
Lowlight: I needed meat. Not enough the last few days, so we made a double batch of Salisbury steak; it was a good idea, but really they just tasted like onion burgers. Sigh. Oh well. It’s meat.
 w3010 Day 10
Highlight: 1/3 of the way through this! My goal this week is to rely less on fruit and nuts. More veggies and good fats. The rules say no stepping on a scale (weight loss is not the point of the program) but I can say I’m buttoning shorts that haven’t seen buttoning in quite some time.
Lowlight: It’s a struggle to have enough clean protein ready to eat. Eggs are easy, but I am getting a bit weary of them.

Post-Whole30 Reintroduction: Words of Wisdom

After my Whole30, I didn’t start reintroducing food according to their suggested reintroduction plan. Instead, I decided to keep Whole30 for as long as I could because I was feeling really good and I was hoping to keep losing weight. I was, for the most part, successful until this past weekend. We threw a party for my daughter’s first birthday, and even though I planned paleo treats and mostly Whole30 meals, I allowed myself to try other foods.

Today I’ve been having joint pain in my knees, my tummy hurt for several hours, and judging by the rings on my hand, I’ve got some bloating going on.

The cast of non-Whole30 compliant potential irritants:

  • Paleo chocolate cake—It was delicious and I was fine the first day I tried a tiny piece, but I had some today, and I think I had a bit too much. My tummy was upset for several hours. Still, make that cake. And have a tiny piece. When you re-introduce properly.
  • Wine—I don’t think this caused it because I’ve had a glass or two of wine since I stopped Whole30. But anything is possible.
  • Potato chips—Organic, fried in sunflower oil, with sea salt. Not the best choice, also not the worst.
  • Hot dogs—I’m pretty sure most of the ones I ate were the Apple Gate Farms Grassfed Beef dogs with none of the bad additives. But, a lesser hotdog might have snuck in when I had leftovers yesterday. Sigh.
  • Cheese—I ordered a salad at a restaurant on Sunday and asked for no cheese. They didn’t get it right and instead of sending it back, I picked off most of it off because I was starving.

I really can’t tell you what I’m reacting to because I didn’t reintroduce foods one at a time. And if you are going to put the effort in to do the Whole30, then reintroduce properly! At the very least, if you have a special event coming up, plan for it. Give yourself enough time after your Whole30 to reintroduce, one at a time, some of the foods or drinks you know you might have at your special event.

I plan on getting back on track with Whole30 eating this week, and I’ll get a couple of strict weeks under my belt. Then when I know I’ll be able to gauge any reaction, I’ll start reintroducing foods the right way. I’ll probably start with wine. Then I guess I should try chocolate.


Resources:

Whole30: What You Can Do to Prepare

I imagine there are some people who can decide, “Today, I’m just going to do x”, and they go out there and do it. But the other 99% of us need to psych ourselves up for something; we need to spend time removing barriers to our goals.

Here is the prep work I found helpful to do in the week or so leading up to my Whole30.

  • Prepare Mentally—Making a change as fundamental as the Whole30 can be shocking on your entire system. In addition to reading through the forums at whole30.com to see what people are experiencing, check out the Whole30 timeline to see what you can expect to feel at points throughout your Whole30. You might also give the people you live with a heads up that the first 11-ish days are going to be a roller coaster (and they are). If you know there are things that are going to be really hard for you to give up, consider prefacing your Whole30 by giving those up a week or two in advance. That can help you feel less stressed in the beginning as you fight the thoughts of, “I can’t eat ANYTHING” (which, you can, you can eat a LOT of things).
  • Conduct a Social Media Blitz—This is probably a continuation of preparing mentally. We live in a very social media-centric time, so why not use that to your advantage? Surround yourself with motivation by filling your feeds with images and posts specifically related to your goal. For a Whole30, consider:

    I also follow to a TON of general Paleo bloggers on those sites, so I saw a lot of pretty plates of food to keep me on track. Annnnnd, I already had a several Paleo cookbooks, so I scoured those for Whole30-approved or easily convertible recipes.

  • Alert the Loved Ones—This is a tough one. Chances are that there are plenty of people you interact with on a daily basis who aren’t going to understand, really, what you are doing and why. But I found it was important to my success that the people I live with actively support me even if they didn’t participate. I’ve tried to make changes in the past, and was always a little timid in explaining why I  needed to enact the change. Because of that, I didn’t give people the information they needed to support me. Off-handed remarks by loved ones to others about “that thing” I was doing or impatience with me saying “No, we can’t eat there; I won’t be able to” was always enough to slam the breaks on any initiative. I don’t like inconveniencing others. This time though, I sat down with my husband (the kids are too young) and explained that I wasn’t happy with how I felt, giving concrete examples, and described how this change would help me. I also addressed specific needs like asking that no one make fun of what I might be eating. I suspect that it was a combination of directness on my part and the already-existing a slow movement toward Paleo that was the foundation for my family’s support. If you are contemplating your conversation being a difficult one, consider writing down and practicing your points.
    • Describe the change you want to make. Offer to provide more information if they want to understand it better.
    • Let them know how you hope your life will be impacted by this change. Give concrete examples.
    • Let them know how they might be affected by the change you are making. In most cases they will be affected in some way, acknowledging that is good. But you can find ways to minimize how they are affected if they aren’t comfortable making the change too.
    • Let them know what concerns you have about things that might derail you and tell them the specific needs you have for how they can support you.
    • Ask them what questions and concerns they have and answer as honestly as you can. “I don’t know” is always an okay answer, just strive to give a full answer as soon as you can.
  • Prepare Your House—I didn’t trash all the non-Whole30 compliant food and drinks in the house, mainly because not everyone in my house was Whole30ing with me. But I did significantly pare down those items. For my kids, I offered them less choice in their non-Whole30 snacks (one option for each of them in the pantry) and upped the variety of Whole30 snacks (a rainbow of fruits and veggies to choose from at snack time). That helped me to not be tempted by things (I really don’t have a desire to eat Goldfish or baby puffs) and it helped them make better choices. I also made sure that the things that I’m most tempted by were not in the house. So, I ate all the chocolate and chips and drank all the wine before I began. Haha!

Before you embark on your Whole30, make a plan to remove barriers and psych yourself up! Let me know if you find other prep work that is useful!


Resources:

Whole30: Days 1-5

When I started my Whole30 journey, I thought I’d just capture the best part and the biggest struggle of my experience each day. Then I realized that taking pictures of the food that I was eating could be a useful accountability tool. By day 3, I made the switch to trying to capture all that I was eating. I wasn’t always successful with recording every item in photos, and that’s okay. Documentation perfection was not my goal, instead I wanted to use the act of taking pictures as a prompt for mindfulness.

My pictures can serve the dual purpose of giving you an idea of how my Whole30 progressed. For example, I ate a lot more snacks in the beginning as I struggled with getting the right amount of fats with each meal, and I think that’s clearly evident in what you see.

Tip: Document your Whole30 in a way that works for you. It’s hard to remember what happened each day, but if you find yourself needing to troubleshoot your Whole30, having notes or visuals can be helpful! You don’t have to post it or make it public; this can be just for you.

 w301 Day 1
Highlight: Eat the rainbow!
Lowlight: Realizing I have 29 more days before I can crack open this wonderful birthday present (wherein “meh” is really all I can do to keep from crying).
 w302 Day 2
Highlight: Still eating the rainbow.
Lowlight: What the rest of the family had for dinner. Chick-Fil-A is my kryptonite!
 w303 Day 3
Highlight: Purple cauliflower (or, as my daughter called it, princess flower).
Lowlight: None. It was a pretty great day!
 w304 Day 4
Highlight: Savory sweet potatoes are the bomb.
Lowlight: Poor planning led to ugly plates. And too few veggies. And really I had two apples. And 4 sausage patties. And I could go for a Blizzard.
 w305 Day 5
Highlight: Veggies are back and I really did miss them! Not pictured: pecans for a snack.
Lowlight: I love leftovers, but I need some new leftovers. I still have one more day to go on these leftovers though. Sigh.

Whole30: Food Planning Tips

In all likelihood, sticking to the Whole30 rules means you’ll be eating at home A LOT. The only way to know what you are eating is to prepare your own food. Sorry y’all. While meal planning goes a long way and will keep you from getting bored, make sure you have some staples around so you never find yourself in a jam!

Here are some strategies that set me up to make good food choices on a day-to-day basis.

  • Batch cook protein—I have some nifty Pyrex dishes with lids. These made it really easy to bake batches of protein, cool them off, and then stick them directly in the fridge for meals throughout the week. Breakfast casseroles and chicken thighs were some of my favorite items to do this with.
  • Prep a large salad—Having the makings of a salad readily available saved me on more Whole30 days than I can count. I have a very old 26-cup Tupperware bowl that I filled with good lettuce and chopped up, hardy veggies. I didn’t pre-chop and add tomatoes (too much moisture) or onions (too much odor) to the bowl; those I did on-demand. I found I had to re-fill this bowl about twice a week.
  • Hard boil eggs—When you’re running short on time, grabbing an egg or two on your way out the door, or chopping them and throwing them on your salad can keep you fueled until you can get a better serving of fats and protein. Peel them and keep them in the fridge until you need them.
  • Ready-to-go snacks—Even though a Whole30 goal is to keep snacking to a minimum, keeping compliant, healthy snacks within easy reach is a must. In addition to easily-portable things like apples and bananas, I always had various nuts, single-serve black olives, and my favorite Epic Uncured Bacon Bites nearby. Higher fat and protein levels helped to keep me satiated until I could get a decent meal.

Resources: