DAY TWENTY-NINE (7/11): Another good day. Still don’t know if I’m feeling the “tiger blood” they talk about, but in general doing well. No problems with eating today other than I don’t think I ate enough, or had enough water. I think those factors in conjunction with a long meeting and some emotional stuff at work, contributed to a fierce headache in the evening. Looking forward to re-introduction in a few days. Pretty sure I’m doing gluten first, even though they suggest waiting until last for that one – mostly because I want to have beer. 🙂 Planning to have wheat based products (like pancakes or grape nuts, a sandwich on whole grain bread and maybe a flour tortilla on Day 31. If I do okay, I’ll have a beer on Friday…or maybe I’ll have the beer along with all the other gluten! Not really all that interested in adding these foods (other than beer!) back into my diet on a regular basis, but it will be nice to know how gluten affects me (if at all).
Meal #1: protein salad with chopped vegetables, coffee with coconut milk
Meal #2: half of a giant salad with mixed greens, tomatoes, peppers, hot peppers, cucumber, carrots, broccoli, avocado, canned chicken, two hard boiled eggs, olive oil and lemon juice.
Meal #3: Rest of the salad.
Snack: on the way home from work – was hungry and had a headache, ate apple slices and cashew butter.
Meal #4: Ground beef, browned with diced spicy tomatoes (canned), crushed tomatoes and mixed sauteed vegetables. Unsweetened iced tea with a tiny bit of fruit juice (mango/peach) – delicious!
DAY THIRTY (7/12): I made it!!! Only the rest of today to get through then I can relax a bit. Feeling pretty good today. Did a lot of the exercises and evaluations recommended by the Whole30 team, and read through all the journals I kept this month. Interesting. Planning to compile a summary and post later. Reintroducing gluten tomorrow.
Meal #1: Mixed roasted vegetables (cauliflower, beets, kohlrabi, carrots, sweet potato, fennel) about 1/2 cup, sauteed collard greens and chard topped with two fried eggs. Could not finish it all. Coffee with coconut milk.
Meal #2: Rest of the ground beef, tomatoes and vegetables from last night (a cup, maybe?), salad with greens, tomatoes, sunflower seeds, olive oil and lemon juice.
Meal #3: Protein salad with tuna, avocado and mustard, spiced with curry powder and served over sliced tomatoes.
Snack: Banana with cashew butter.
Meal #4: Grilled chicken, mixed roasted vegetables, greens.
I first heard about Whole30 through my sister. When I heard what she was doing, I looked it up online for myself. I got the book from the library, along with “It Starts with Food” and read them both. Mostly information I’d heard before, but a few things were different: no restrictions on good fats, and a finite amount of time. 30 days. Just 30 days of eating clean could help with so many things it seemed. I had heard this before – that eating clean, whole food could help with many issues that folks struggle with every day. I hear it at work – that nutrition is key to health, that food is medicine, that avoiding substances that cause our bodies invisible harm can do wonders for all kinds of diseases and conditions.
I was waking up every morning feeling sluggish, achy and exhausted. I never felt rested. I woke frequently at night and had some pretty extreme night sweats almost every night. I was constipated and having bleeding sometimes. My belly felt bloated, huge and fat. I got frequent skin breakouts and mouth ulcers when I was stressed. I had awful sugar/carb cravings and my energy level crashed pretty much every day at 3pm. I was having mood swings: happy and content one minute, crabby and annoyed the next, then sad and depressed. I had PMS and bad cramping most months. Frequent headaches. Some nagging shoulder/neck pain that bothered me almost every day. Muscle aches, joint pain and stiffness and about 70 pounds overweight. None of this was severe, but combined, I was realizing that I felt “not good” most days. I don’t want to feel “not good” anymore. I also have a family history of diabetes, heart disease, depression and high cholesterol. I am not on any medications yet, but I knew if I didn’t change something, I would be soon.
I decided I could do it. That I could give myself 30 days to “reset” my body. To learn to like the actual taste of the food I was eating, not the additives in them. That I could give myself 30 days to do this “food experiment” and see what happened.
Here’s what I hoped would happen and the goals I had:
- I wanted to reduce or eliminate all (or at least most) of the symptoms I listed above.:)
- I wanted to feel energetic, with steady energy all day long, not just in fits and starts.
- I wanted to sleep better, reduce the night sweats, feel rested when I awoke.
- I wanted to wake up and be able to move freely without nagging aches and pains, to move smoothly through my day without feeling joint pain, muscle aches, headaches.
- I wanted smoother, clearer skin without monthly breakouts I was getting sometimes. I wanted no mouth ulcers, shiny hair and strong nails.
- I wanted my mood to improve and not feel so erratic.
- I wanted to stop bleeding when I pooped. (I know, TMI, but truth)
- I wanted to stop craving sweets.
- I wanted to lose some fat without losing muscle.
- I wanted to take steps to avoid future illness and disease.
- I wanted to be an example for my kids.
- I wanted to see what it was like for my body to be truly, deeply nourished so I can bloom.
I will admit, there were some days when sticking to the plan felt hard. When it felt like I was missing out, being deprived. When I felt sorry for myself. When I wanted more than anything to just eat a donut already – along with a medium caramel coffee with cream please. I missed having a beer at cookouts. I resented having to scrutinize the menu so closely when we went out. I wished I could order wings or barbeque. I wanted my husband not to have to ask, “Should I rinse the marinade off your chicken?” and “Are you allowed to eat this?” I wanted to stuff my anger and sadness back down with cupcakes. I reached for snacks out of habit, boredom, anxiety, hurt – and snatched my hand back just in time more than once.
But really, I was never truly tempted to quit. I promised myself these 30 days, and the thought of having to start over from the beginning with even one small slip was enough to keep me focused. Today, I am done. I did it. I ate completely clean for the whole month! And really, looking back, I would totally do it again. As I said, it was hard, but I learned so much.
I learned that:
- I really like coconut milk in my coffee. I may eventually add a tiny bit of sweetener, but I will probably continue with the coconut milk. I love the cream that forms on the top of the canned stuff!
- I love having a filling breakfast. I wasn’t usually one to eat much breakfast, or just a smoothie most days. Preparing and sitting down to eat breakfast every morning really set the tone for the rest of the day. I feel healthy, satisfied, competent and strong when I take the time to do that. It also helped my energy levels and mood.
- I like vegetables. I always kind of knew this, but being a part of our local CSA and eating so many of them over the last month has really increased my appreciation for the variety and beauty of vegetables.
- I like trying new recipes. Chopping vegetables and cooking feel like meditation sometimes.
- My family is willing to try new things too. Sometimes. 🙂
- There is added sugar in EVERYTHING.
- I don’t need to eat every two hours if I structure my meals appropriately and eat enough. I can go four hours – and eating at 7, 11, 3 and 7 is a a schedule that seems to work for me.
- I love not having to restrict fats. All my life, I’ve been told to lose weight and be healthy, you should watch your fat intake. I have loved not having to worry about how much coconut or olive oil I’m using and that I can eat the WHOLE avocado if I want!
- I use food for things it was never designed to be: comfort, stress relief, a way to combat loneliness or boredom. Becoming mindful of this has been a great gift. I pay so much more attention to what, when and how I am eating than I did before.
So – how’d I do with the goals I set? I never really felt the “magic” or “tiger blood” they talk about in the book. I didn’t wake up one morning and suddenly feel terrific, like a new person. But…
- I wake up easier in the mornings. Still sometimes achy, but not every day, and not nearly as bad as before. I fall asleep quicker, wake up less during the night and am having less intense night sweats.
- My energy is steadier and more consistent throughout the day. No more 3pm slump. I’d like to have even more energy, but not having ups and downs is pretty okay. I did notice as the days progressed, I was outside more, walking, working in the yard, mowing the lawn, etc. Still not exercising every day, which I’d like to work on next. I think that, along with getting more sleep, will definitely help.
- Muscle aches and joint pain are definitely improved. Not gone, but better. Neck/shoulder pain only happened a few times during the month and were easily managed with rest, ibuprofen and massage. After the initial “detox” from sugar and caffeine, I really only had one or two headaches.
- Skin does seem clearer, my under eye bags don’t seem quite so noticeable. I would like to see continued improvement in this. I also don’t think it’s been long enough to have noticed any changes in my hair and nails. No mouth ulcers at all this month!
- Digestion is smoother, not so much bloating, no bleeding, more “regularity”. 🙂
- My moods still vacillate, but they don’t seem to go quite so low as before. Feel steadier emotionally throughout the day and more able to deal with normal stresses.
- Physical, intense cravings for sweets and sugar are gone. I still emotionally crave/want sweets sometimes. And I really want some Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. I am learning to notice what’s going on in my head and heart when I am wanting food. This is a win.
- Pretty sure I’ve lost some weight. My wedding ring is loose and my clothes are fitting better. My belly doesn’t seem to protrude quite as much. I did do my measurements today and I lost almost 7 inches total. That’s pretty good for 30 days. (Note: Weighed myself at work today, on the scales I prefer to use, and I lost 10 pounds!)
PLAN GOING FORWARD
The next 10 days, I’ll spend re-introducing various food groups to see how my body responds. Then I can decide whether or not to let those foods be a part of my regular diet again or not. I am honestly not badly missing anything. Are there things I’d like to be able to have again? Sure – greek yogurt, honey, granola, legumes, cheese, an occasional grain like corn or quinoa, seeds. I am looking forward to not having to read labels quite so scrupulously, but I think I will always be more aware. I am looking forward most to beer and sweet coffee. We’ll see if they actually live up to the hype I’ve given them in my head. 🙂 Although I believe I am addicted to sugar, I am not ready to give up sweet things forever. I love chocolate chip cookie dough and really good cheesecake, cannolis and ice cream. But I am willing to think long and hard about when to have them and how often. I worked hard to get where I am and I don’t want to let what I’ve learned go.
I also realized that although food is definitely medicine, and eating clean can make a big difference, it isn’t the ONLY medicine. Taking food out of the equation so to speak, has made me see that maybe the reason I don’t have a lot of energy some days, or I wake up achy is simply because I don’t sleep enough. Or maybe the reason I am cranky is because I haven’t had any time alone for a week, and solitude is like air to me. Perhaps the reason I have a headache and don’t feel very well is because all I’ve had to drink today is coffee and one glass of water and I am dehydrated. Perhaps I am achy and tired because I am not moving my body enough and it’s protesting. Perhaps I am feeling lonely and empty because I haven’t spent any time alone with God today. Perhaps I am sad because events in my life and in the world are well…sad. And that’s okay.
There are so many parts that go into making a healthy life. I am so glad to have taken this step. I am going to continue on this path to honoring my body and nourishing myself. It’s a pretty awesome gift God gave me. Need to take better care of it. Next step, getting to bed earlier and moving more. Here’s to continuing to grow. <3