So ends my first Whole30 challenge. It has been a truly positive experience and I haven’t been left feeling deprived or starved over the last few weeks. As someone who recently did the Weight Watchers program (3rd times the charm right?) I found it so freeing to not feel like a complete failure every single saturday. No weighing meant I had to look for other signs of change and progress and I found many. Not restricting my food intake but rather trusting myself to actually differentiate between full and empty shifted the responsibility and relationship between my physical and mental self. I am amazed at how I have altered my mindset and how my body has responded to these improvements.
So just to recap what I’ve done over the last 30 days. The Whole30 program is a diet challenge that is designed to remove many of the common irritants from your diet to see how you feel without them. A large part of the process is the reintroduction phase which then trials the foods one by one to see how you react. For some there is no noticeable difference for others there is a big distinction and its easy to see what works and doesn’t. If you want to find out more about the program please visit the Whole30 website as there is a wealth of information there to get you started. In fact I was able to do all of this without needing to purchase the book. In my case I didn’t need to be convinced about the research behind the challenge. What I needed was the support of a group of like minded people and a place to start. I found a fantastic group of people through FaceBook who were doing the challenge at the same time which worked better for me as I am not on my computer much during the day, my mobile is apparently however attached to my arm.
In summary the Whole30 Challenge removed Dairy, Grains (and as a result Gluten), Legumes, Processed Foods, Preservatives, Artificial’s, Sugars (excepting those found in fruit and vegetables in their whole form), Pseudo Grains and Alcohol. In my case I also removed all potato except sweet potato though this is just my choice. There is also guidelines about the types of fat to include, choosing grass fed meats and so on. Seriously Melissa and Dallas Hartwig have put this stuff up freely and made it available to everyone, you don’t need much more encouragement to make some changes.
On the left is where I was at the start and the middle shows where I am now. Green text shows areas where I have improved, red areas that have gotten worse and the rest has stayed the same or I haven’t noticed a big change. At the right is a list of my Non Scale Victories or NSV’s where I have found or discovered a positive change as a result of this process.
Height: 164cm (this won’t change but it helps with BMI etc)
Weight: 87.5kg yes this is now heavier than my biggest pregnancy.
Under Bust: 94cm
Waist: 105cm(measuring around belly my gap between ribs and hips)
Tummy: 122cm(measuring around widest part)
Health Issues or Annoyances:
- Fatigue and exhaustion, no matter how early I try go to bed am tired all the time (some of this is due to kids waking me in the night which is just a part of life)
- Headaches that linger for days and appears to be related to the occipital nerves.
- Bumps on the back of my arms that have been there for years.
- Acne, seriously at 30 something this should be gone now right?
- No core strength or pelvic strength at all (months of inability to move due to Pelvic Girdle and Pubic Symphysis pain during the creation of my kids didn’t help). I have exercises that I need to do to help with this so fingers crossed it works.
- Fatty liver that shows impairment on blood work.
- Insulin Resistant though not on medication as Diabex was doing weird things to me.
- Can’t walk for more than 20min on hard surfaces though I can bush walk with kids for an hour or two as by pelvic joints flare up. Seriously limits exercise options BTW but I have a cunning plan.
- Can’t see my toes when I stand up and look down, thats just sad.
- The foods I have been eating create abdominal upset ranging from sever cramping and bloating through to what the kids refer to as “fire poo”. This is a TMI area but if you look up what happens when you have a reaction to gluten, dairy or irritable bowl syndrome (I don’t have IBS to my knowledge but their symptoms are fairly similar) you can get the idea.
- Mental fogg and a spaced out disconnected feeling that gets worse or better based on what I eat. Cheese gives me the nicest warm fussy mental state, well until the downside hits.
- Ulcer in the mouth, really irritating.
Height: 164cm (this won’t change but it helps with BMI etc)
Weight: 84.3kg a loss of 3.2kg
BMI: 31 down 1.5
Bust: 107.5cm loss of 9.5cm
Under Bust: 91cm loss of 3cm
Waist: 94cm loss of 11cm
Tummy: 110.5 loss of 11.5cm (down to 13.5cm loss at one point)
Health Issues or Annoyances:
- I am now noticing that my ability to get through the day has increased dramatically and I am able to focus and get through so much more. Exercise and improving my overall fitness will probably improve this further.
- I did end up having another headache in the last week however I know I have issues with stress management.
- Bumps on the back of my arms are still there however some of the redness has reduced.
- Acne, still have a few odd spots though not as many as before and its more having a few odd ones on my body rather than just the face.
- Exercises to improve my core strength and pelvic floor are working though I have slacked off in the last week. I certainly notice my muscles actually engaging and trying to stabilise me now so that is a big positive.
- Fatty liver – will have to wait until my next blood tests.
- Insulin Resistant- will wait on blood tests however I have noticed a lack of highs and lows during the day so no big energy drops and sugar lows which have been known to have me pulling the car over feeling shaky and dizzy.
- I can now do up to a 40min walk in a day and while I will feel tired and sore afterwards I am usually good to go again the next day. I did do two of these on one of the days and that did flare up the pelvic pain however it was all ok a few days later.
- Still can’t see my toes BUT my tummy is now visibly smaller than my boobs, huge improvement does a lot to improve your overall appearance when there is a distinction between the two again.
- I had only one evening of abdominal distress and it was directly linked to too many cashew nuts in a dressing I made. The rest of the time my belly was content and without complaint which sure made life more pleasant in general.
- Overall my mental clarity and being able to maintain an active and engaged presence in my daily activities has improved.
- Ulcer in the mouth is gone, went in the first couple of days.
In no particular order here are my various wins and positives at the end of this 30day period.
- I have learnt how to go out to a restaurant or cafe and politely ask for food that is going to reasonably meet my needs. This means that I don’t have to be “forced” into eating what I don’t want to eat, what a great skill to have learnt.
- I have reassessed my assumption that I lack will power, I call BS on this one as I am well and truly able to avoid eating ALL the food I see/smell/have advertised to me and so on. Once you disengage with the advertising you suddenly see just how pervasive and manipulative it is.
- I have been able to break a number of food seeking patterns of behaviour and as a result focus myself back to what is really underlying it all. Feeling overwhelmed, stressed and out of control is a sure fire way to have me looking for comfort and often in a very self destructive way.
- I have gone into difficult situations and been able to maintain my eating patterns of choice rather than follow the herd so to speak. It is good to see that I am able to make choices towards health even in tricky situations. I don’t need to isolate myself from life in order to live.
- I can cook 3 meals and provide 2 snacks for the members of my family from scratch for 30 days straight. I can also keep on top of all those darned dishes too.
- I have learnt some cool ways to trick myself into doing what I want to do rather than feeling unable to make changes to my life.
- I have discovered I probably like the memory and idea of certain foods far more than their actual consumption.
- I have found that you can simplify your shopping dramatically when you avoid vast sections of the shops and just get fresh and frozen ingredients rather than stuff.
- I have discovered that I actually can drink black sugar free coffee, especially if its the Aldi ones (not too strong mind you 4 or 5 does me fine).
- I have for the first time in over 2 years been able to fit into a proper bra again, not the super stretchy crop top style ones I had to resort to as I simply got too big and uncomfortable. To actually feel like a woman rather than a lump is fantastic.
- I have rebalanced my relationship with food and what it means to me. It is a source of nourishment and sustainment first, all the other stuff comes secondary.
So what do I think about the Whole30 program?
I can’t recommend this diet challenge highly enough, if you want to try work out what is best for your body and how to maximise your diet then this is a fantastic way to go about it. I have tried so many things in the past, I have tried anything that looked vaguely credible and a few that frankly are beyond dodgy. Do I think this is for everyone? Hell No! Seriously there are many paths a person can take to good health and I am far from reaching that point myself. I don’t personally think that there is one diet plan for all humans, well apart from that one where you keep eating so you don’t die one. That’s a great one to follow.
I am also highly aware that you need to be in an open and positive frame of mind before trying something like this. There will be hard work and effort involved. Have I mentioned the cooking and dishes? There will also be many moments of self discovery and readjustment – this is good but can be an uncomfortable process. If I had tried to do this when dealing with the worst of my Endometriosis or any one of the other high stress life altering moments there is no way I could have managed it at all. Sometimes you just have to survive. Some moments its all about taking in one breath after another and holding out that the pain will pass or something will change for the better.
If however you are in a positive place, have some flexibility with time (not much but you will have to choose to cook rather than call in take out) and want to see what your body can do then go for it. Get that support in place, prepare yourself mentally and take active steps to put yourself in the best position possible to succeed.
For me I plan on taking each day as it comes. I won’t be returning to normal eating just yet and will stick to the basic eating patterns that I have followed the last 30 days. What I will do however is add back in a few pseudo grains like amaranth and quinoa so that I can add a bit more variety to the mix. I will also allow a few more treat items on a moderate basis. I currently have two small raw vegan cheese cakes in the fridge in preparation for morning teas one strawberry and the other caramel. As my husband is on holiday and the kids are not in school I want to enjoy “baking” and doing nice things for them. However the portions and ingredients is a far cry from the standard diet I can assure you.
I will also see how I go with the types of meals eaten. As I have previously mentioned I enjoy my green smoothies which are not 100% Whole30. I feel they do me good and will continue drinking them. What may change is rather than drinking it with a cooked breakfast I may go back to just the smoothies again which I was doing before all this started. I also am rather comfortable not including animal products in all my meals. What can I say the vegans did show me it wasn’t always necessary to add bacon. I don’t have a fixed ratio or number in my mind, the research is conflicting and inconclusive at this stage. I have certainly seen that the right amount of protein isn’t nearly as much as we are led to believe and can be easily achieved without roasting a suckling pig for each meal (which I couldn’t see me doing at any rate BTW). I guess the next stage will become clearer as I go along. Labels will fit as and when they are needed but by and large it will be a diet that works for me, a lifestyle that improves my quality of life.
What’s my big reward?
Ok apart from allowing for a bit of cheesecake I am planning on visiting the Paleo Cafe tomorrow with the family. I wanted to enjoy some good food and good company without going silly and undoing all the hard work. I know their menu is good for us and will be worth the drive, I may even be able to pick up some more of the coconut wraps I like. I’m also saving up to get a rowing machine as I really want to pick up the exercise now and keep going. This isn’t over yet, I will see my toes and keep up with my kids one way or another.