Wednesday, August 13, 2014

My Whole 30 Experience

OK, so I haven't blogged in a really, really, really long time.  Like, really.  But I have to document my experience over the last 30 days because it was kind of a big deal to me and I want to be able to look back and remember how truly awesome it was.

Let's start with a little back story.
I have been less than happy with myself and my state of health for a long time.  I work insane hours.  I am super stressed out.  Exercise just isn't a priority for me right now - something else that is too important would have to give, like time with my husband or my kids, and that's not going to happen.
After my brother died, I gained about 15-20 stubborn lbs that just wouldn't come off, no matter what I did with my diet.
I was tired all. the. time.  I slept horribly.  I survived on 5 Hour Energies and Diet Coke.
I felt helpless.
And then I stumbled upon the Whole 30.
A few months ago, I was looking for a cauliflower rice recipe on Pinterest and I kept seeing "Whole 30".  So I figured I needed to know what this meant.
I Googled it and came across blog after blog after blog of people who had tried this crazy program and how it had changed their lives.  Their skin was clearer, their diabetes was under control, arthritis was gone....I even read some pretty weird stuff, like dry cracked heals all better on day 6 (which I don't believe for a second...maybe this lady forgot to mention she got a pedicure on day 5).
I found the Whole 30 website and after reading through a lot of it, immediately ordered their book, It Starts With Food on Amazon.
I anxiously waited the 2 long days for it to get to my house, and when it did, I couldn't put it down.
It was so interesting!
The science behind food was so interesting and made so much sense.
I felt like I had found the answer to my problems.  Everything made complete sense!  I wanted to start tomorrow!
But we were going on a pioneer trek in a few weeks, so I had to wait until we got back.
So we went, we trekked, we got back, and I started planning and pinning and list writing.
I picked a 30 day date span: July 12 - August 12.  Only one small holiday in there, and no birthdays.
I couldn't wait - it was like Christmas was coming.
So what is this crazy program, you ask?
I'll tell you.
For 30 days you eat protein, vegetables, some fruit, nuts.
No dairy, no soy, no processed foods (no lunch meat with nitrites/nitrates), no grains (AT ALL) and NO SUGAR.  And when I say no sugar, I mean NO SUGAR.  Not even just grams of sugar on the nutritional facts, no sugar in the ingredient list.  Not even trace amounts.  No agave, no honey, no stevia.  None.
No snacking - 3 solid meals a day full of good quality protein, tons of veggies, and fruit.  No measuring or weighing, no calorie counting.  Use common sense in making your meals, and stop eating when you're satiated.  Not "full", satiated.  There's a difference, I've learned.
No meal plan or supplements.  You buy and cook what you would like to eat.
And at the end of 30 days you reintroduce foods one at a time to see how/if your body reacts to dairy, wheat, etc.
No cheat days.  In fact, no cheating at all.  You eat a brownie on day 15 and tomorrow you're back to day 1.
And let me say that this isn't a weight loss program.  I didn't do this because I think I'm fat and wanted to lose a few lbs.  There are much easier ways to do that.  They actually don't want you to even weigh yourself until the 30 days is over because this is so much more than a number on the scale.  They want you to see and feel the changes in your body and not be so preoccupied with how much you weigh.
Crazy, right? Right.
But I was more than jazzed.
Bryan, who didn't read any of the book, decided to try it with me (because he truly is the most supportive husband and doesn't want me to have to do anything alone).  He was less then jazzed.
So July 11, we binged on bread and dessert and dirty Diet Coke in preparation for our 30 days of severe restriction.

And here's a brief overview of how it went:

WEEK 1 - shoot me.  Shoot me now.  And don't talk to me, because I'm ornery and I want a doughnut.  I want everything.  Grocery shopping is depressing because sugar is literally in everything. EVERYTHING. Dreaming about food every night. But it's still a new experience and kind of fun trying new things, so we'll keep going.  Tried some fancy recipes, which was a huge mistake, but I love my spiralizer and zoodles (zucchini noodles) are the best thing ever.

WEEK 2 - if I see another egg I'm going to cry.  Cry like a little baby.  Starting to get over the sugar cravings, but seriously tired of cooking and cleaning and prepping and cutting. Now dreaming about cheating and eating things I shouldn't and waking up being so mad at myself. But sweet potato fritters are amazing and I want to eat them for every meal. I'm going to keep going because I have told too many people about this and have spent a small fortune on groceries. I got a cold this week - mildest cold of my life and lasted only 3 days.  Coincidence?  I think not. Husband is complaining, keep telling him he doesn't have to do this with me and if he would like to stop, he's more than welcome.  He stops complaining.

WEEK 3 - I no longer hate this.  Clothes feel looser, stomach is way flatter, people are telling me I look thinner, and my energy is THROUGH THE ROOF all day long.  I WANT TO CLIMB A MOUNTAIN RIGHT NOW!!! No more 3:00 slump.  I feel great ALL THE TIME. My skin is clearer, and my skin tone is better than I ever remember it being in my life.  Starting to sleep better, I fall asleep way faster, but still having food dreams.  Super obnoxious. Husband's pants are all falling off because he's lost so many inches.  Stupid men and their stupid bodies.

WEEK 4 - freaking out a little bit about coming to an end and what to do after.  This has literally changed my life and how I view food and nutrition.  I feel amazing all the time.  I never feel "stuffed" after I eat.  I'm never bloated or gassy.  I rarely get hungry between meals, and I know if I am starving, a handful of raw almonds is enough to get me through to dinner.  My mind is clearer, I can concentrate better.  I know that my body doesn't need sugar - I don't deserve a treat (or 7) because I've had a crazy day. It needs nutrition.  It needs whole, real food.  I don't stress about what or when to eat, because it has become so easy.  Breakfast, lunch, dinner; protein, veggies, fruit, done.  For the first time in my life, I feel completely in control.  

My stats:
  Weight lost: 16.5 lbs
  Inches lost: 11 total (4.5 inches from my waist alone!)      

Here we are on day 31.
We survived.
We went to 2 Sunday dinners (thanks to an amazing MIL who is SO accommodating and made sure we had something to eat - she's so fantastic), a weekend at the cabin, dinner out with friends, date night, dessert get-togethers with our little bowls of berries and crushed almonds (mmmmmm...almost didn't miss the ice cream and cupcakes).
And we never cheated.  Not even once.
There may have been an instance or two where Bryan accidentally threw a goldfish cracker in his mouth when giving them to the kids, but he spit it out. So we don't count that as cheating.
At the beginning, I wasn't sure I was going to be able to do this - I am not known for my willpower - but I decided that I needed to do this.
Bryan thought he would cheat while he was at work, and never expected to do this to the letter, but he did and he is SO glad he did.
We are Whole 30 believers - we're already planning on doing it again in January after the holidays.
We know how to feed our bodies properly with REAL food and make better choices.  
I've already bought groceries for the rest of the week, and though I'm adding in a little dairy here and there for our first food reintroduction, everything else is still Whole 30 approved.
I no longer mind cooking my lunch - an extra 30 minutes throwing something together means I will have an afternoon without cravings and running to the fridge or pantry every hour for a snack.  I'm also in the habit now of making a ton of food for dinner so we both have leftovers for lunch the next day.

Our anniversary and Mya's birthday are in 2 days - am I going to have dessert?  You bet.  Am I scared to see how it makes me feel?  Terrified.  I love feeling this way and am beyond nervous to reintroduce other foods again, but this program isn't designed to be all the time. It's not Whole 365, it's Whole 30.

I took before and after pics, but they're a bit scandalous, and not appropriate for anyone's eyes but mine, so just take my word for it.
My body has changed, not just lost weight.
My figure is completely different, and clothes fit me in a way they never have.

To sum it up, it's been an amazing experience.
I would recommend this to EVERYONE.  Especially if you're like me and looking for a way to have a better, healthier relationship with food and a better quality of life.  And no, it didn't get rid of my dry, cracked heals, my hair didn't become miraculously thick and lustrous, and I still get those fabulous hormonal headaches - you can't win them all, I guess.
But, I warn you, it's hard.  You have to be mentally prepared, or you will fail.  You have to be prepared to bring your own "dessert" to a family party and watch everyone eat ice cream and brownies and know that you're ok with your blueberries and banana.  You have to be prepared for the endless questions and for people to flat out tell you you're crazy and ask "why would you do that to yourself".  And then by week 3 you want to smugly say "you WISH you were this hard core" but you don't because you're a really nice person and nice people don't say things like that.
But it's only 30 days of your life.  30 days is nothing - but it seriously changed my life, and I would (and will) do it again gladly!

**this is not a paid advertisement endorsed by Whole 30 or it's affiliates....though it may sound like it ;)


Angie said...

You are SO awesome! Still working up the nerve to try it. :) I did put the book on hold for pick up at Barnes and Noble. I'll let you know when I start.

Lindsay said...

Oh my gosh-I miss "listening" to you write! :) You have gone and made me excited. It sounds crazy hard, but worthwhile. I love what you said about being ornery and wanting a doughnut. I think hunger makes me somewhat biploar and definitely irrational and raging. Maybe I could give it a whirl and see if I can reign that in a bit. :) I think it's also smart that you read the book first and then had some time to prepare. Great job! I'm so interested in how the reintroducing goes.