Wednesday, February 26, 2014

My Experience with Whole30

If you aren't familiar with Whole30, check it out here. Basically it's a 30 day nutritional program that serves as a sort of metabolic "reset." Starting 30 days ago I completely cut out the following: grains, dairy, added sugar (everything but fruit), legumes. I also modified the fats that I was eating, so no vegetable oil, canola oil, etc.. I mainly used coconut oil for cooking, but occasionally used ghee, which is clarified butter. Think about this for a second: EVERYTHING YOU EAT AFFECTS YOU. I mean, duh, right? It's a pretty obvious statement, but how many times have you eaten a sandwich and thought, "how will this bread affect me?" Probably exactly zero times. The goal with this program (for me anyway) is to identify any foods that are causing problems, such as my lovely mid-20s acne or my constant joint pain. 

veggie casserole + sausage; fried eggs + pistachios; veggie casserole + fried eggs; veggie and bacon omelet

My goals during Whole30:
  1. Clear up skin
  2. Reduce joint pain when running
  3. Improve overall energy levels
  4. Lessen abdominal bloating
My skin didn't really clear up like I hoped. It may have improved a little bit, but it's been up and down over the last year, so I don't really credit Whole30 with the little improvement I've seen. Technically I was supposed to be getting grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, etc.. and I didn't. That might have been part of the problem because I would assume the acne is related to hormones. Now my joint pain DID improve. Prior to Whole30, I had taken a break from running to try to help my ankle heal, but it didn't help. I decided to resume running and just deal with the achy ankle. Well, turns out the pain went away shortly after I started Whole30. Hooray! I haven't had a lot of pain at all on my shorter runs, which is wonderful. Of course my knees still ache on long runs, but that's normal. Ok, energy levels. This is where I've been the most disappointed. People are always talking about feeling AWESOME during weeks 3 and 4, and just having so much energy! I didn't get that at all. Maybe I just didn't eat enough most days? I snacked on extra nuts or fruit some days, which helped increase calories, but I may have still been deficient most days because I did lose some weight (which I didn't intend). Ok last goal: bloating. This is something that did improve! Before I started I could poke my stomach out far enough to look like I was a few months pregnant (I'm not), and I felt like a balloon in the middle. I'm sitting here right now and when I relax my stomach, it doesn't bloat out much at all. Score! I know that seems like a dumb thing to be excited about, but when I'm sitting all day in jeans and my stomach is bloated, it's really uncomfortable. I'm anxious to see which of the food groups is causing that. I'll be reintroducing them one at a time, so hopefully I'll be able to figure it out.

I think part of the reason I didn't see a huge change in my energy levels is because I didn't exactly eat like trash to begin with. I have eaten relatively healthily in recent years, so it's not like I went from eating fast food 5 times a week to Whole 30. I think someone going from a horrible diet to Whole 30 would probably see more changes in the way they feel after the program. They'd probably feel like crap the first week or two though, from weening off all the junk!

tacos; hamburger; fajitas; porkchop + sweet potato

I have discovered some great modifications to my favorite foods that I can totally maintain even past Whole 30. For one thing, I didn't really miss the tortillas in tacos/fajitas. A piece of iceburg lettuce worked just fine! Same with the hamburger bun. Now, don't get me wrong, I am in no way going to continue fasting from bread. I have missed pastries like you wouldn't believe, but I'm not going to eat grains when it's not something I am going to drool over. Does that make sense? If I'm going to eat something outside of the Whole 30 approved foods, it's going to be something WORTH IT.

Another great modification I found was subbing salsa for salad dressing. Obviously that only works with certain salads, because salsa wouldn't go well on a spinach and berry salad. But lettuce, bell pepper, chicken and avo topped with some salsa is dang good! I was careful to get salsa without added sugar. Herdez hot salsa is my absolute favorite. The chicken was just cooked on the stove with tons of chili powder and whatever other spices I felt like adding. I also made this Tex-Mex Veggie Casserole that is probably one of my favorite dishes ever. I will definitely be making it again! Rhett didn't even try it, so I got a whole 9x13 pan of it to myself...twice. It doubles as a good breakfast with a couple of fried eggs on top. 

turkey burger; salad + blackened chicken; salad + chicken + asparagus and bacon; salad + nuts

If you're thinking "I could NEVER do that!" you need to silence that voice right now. Don't ever think you can't give up certain foods, because you absolutely can. It's 100% mental, so if you think you can't do it, you just need to change your attitude. I didn't think I could do it, but once I set my mind to it, I just handled it. Sure there were days when I teared up a little thinking about brownies, but I got over it. 

chicken tortilla(less) soup + avo; tuna and avo lettuce wrap; turkey "sandwich" + pistachios + cuties; bacon wrapped chicken + green beans + cuties

A few other things I learned along the way: I just can't do ground turkey, it's disgusting. You can keep your turkey burgers. I can totally do Whole 30 with a husband who has no interest in it. Not stuffing myself to the point of pain is actually a great idea...I should keep doing that. Sweet potatoes are literally the best vegetable. I can photograph a wedding without eating a piece of the cake (I previously thought this to be impossible).

I think I want to maintain a Whole 30 compliant diet at least 80% of the time from now on, but I'm glad to be out of the "reset" phase so that I can feel ok about eating popcorn at the movies and putting cream in my coffee. And just to be clear, this is NOT A WEIGHT LOSS PLAN. I didn't plan to lose weight, but I have been increasing my mileage and running frequency, so it translated to weight loss. I also ate far less on Whole 30 just because bread usually accounted for most of my calories. It was a side effect, but not a reason to do Whole 30 (in my opinion).

I'd love to hear from you if you've done Whole 30! I probably didn't do it exactly right because I didn't read the book, but I think I got the gist of it down. Also, feel free to ask me questions about it, and I'll do my best to answer them. 

1 comment:

Hollie Nickolls said...

I loved the whole 30, and aside from not eating cheese, I didn't think it was *too* hard.

I want to do another one soon. Maybe the 1st, since it's coming up!