I officially finished my first Whole30 on March 22nd, so I weighed myself that night. Since I historically weigh myself in the morning, I stepped on the scale the following morning, too.
As far as I can tell, I have lost about 4 or 5 pounds in my first month, but there is so much more to the list of benefits I chalk up to my nutritional reset:
I no longer feel like a stuffed sausage in my clothes. I had been bursting out of all of my underwear and jeans, but no more! It feels so great!
I feel good. All the time. Except when I go too long without protein.
I have lots of energy. I no longer “flag” in the evening.
I don’t have that afternoon “slump” I used to have. Some days I still feel a bit of a psychological need to drink some (black decaf) coffee in the afternoons, but I don’t lose energy midday, which means that I don’t have the need to binge on sweets or caffeine!
I took up running. I started the Couch to 5K program a few weeks ago, and I really enjoy it! I’ll be blogging more about that experience in the future.
I have the motivation to do regular ab workouts. The battle against belly flab is ON!
I have learned so much about food. I have realized that poor nutrition is the culprit for so many of life’s difficulties (poor energy, disease, obesity, high blood pressure, inflammation, etc.), and combating it is easy! It seems tough at the beginning, but, once you get the hang of it, it’s easy. Anyone could do it.
I have (almost) eradicated cravings for refined carbs, aka poison. The Hartwigs (the creators of Whole30) say that the only way to slay the sugar dragon is to starve it. My dragon isn’t dead yet, and unfortunately this past weekend breathed some life back into him, but he won’t survive much longer. If he knows what’s good for him, that is.
My would-be chronic tailbone pain bothers me much less. I didn’t notice this one until last week. 12 years ago, I fell and injured my tailbone. About 5 or 6 years ago, I started experiencing what became a constant irritation or inflammation in my tailbone that has made long trips and long days of class very uncomfortable, and in some cases unbearable without Advil. Over the last couple of weeks, I stopped taking Advil, and noticed that I wasn’t nearly as bothered about sitting as I used to be. Hmm.
Potential for reduced PMS symptoms…? I have a slight suspicious hope that my sometimes mama-bear-like PMS symptoms have been reduced with the addition of awesome nutrition. I don’t know if it’s true – only time will tell, but I will continue to hope.
There you have it – my results! I unfortunately didn’t take a first-day picture, so I didn’t bother taking a Day 30 picture. Perhaps I’ll remedy that for my second Whole30, which starts today.
Speaking of which, if you’re interested in what I eat on the Whole30, check out my Whole30 Eats section in the menu bar.
I finished my first Whole30 last week. Thursday was the official day 30, but I continued the diet through Friday.
Then, to be able to celebrate my friend’s birthday on Saturday and celebrate finishing the Whole30 with my boyfriend on Sunday, I took a two-day diet break. I pretty much fell off the wagon for two days: On Saturday I had a muffin for breakfast (tried two but couldn’t even eat the first one), and cream in two coffees.Then, my body was freaking out, so I gave it two bananas and a whole bunch of raw veggies. It didn’t get any protein until around 5:00 pm. Bad scene, not to be repeated.
Dinner on Saturday was a delightful catered party spread that included homemade salsa and tapenade and fruit and veggies and meats and artesanal (sp?) cheeses and wraps with goat cheese and sauces and crackers and… SOOO good! Definitely worth “falling off the wagon” for. Or horse. I started with horse, I had probably continue with horse.
The bite-sized finger-food party grazing spread was fantastic. I had been in touch with the caterers beforehand to make sure I wasn’t falling off the horse for a meal full of deep-fried food and breads and sugars, etc. But no, of course no. These people are way too classy for that.
I also tried a couple of the signature drink, The Justin, named in honour of the birthday boy. After no alcohol for a month, I felt like two was enough, and what with a glass of punch besides, I started having a major thirst issue and couldn’t drink enough water.
But I’m pretty sure it was the dessert that caused the painful pangs in my belly the next morning. Justin’s mom is the dessert queen. I do not exaggerate. In all honesty, she is the Martha Stewart of our region, but dessert is possibly one of her brightest stars.
There was an entire table full of desserts that she had made. Cupcakes. Cheesecakes. Pies. A gigantic red velvet black forest trifle cake. Chocolate. Peanut butter. Strawberries. Skor. Caramel. Whipped cream. HEAVEN!!!!
I couldn’t help it. If the dessert was going to kill me from the insides out, I was going to die with the best dessert in the world on my lips. So I tried at least a bite from three desserts, including a whole (small) slice of pecan pie. Mmmmmmmm!!! I didn’t even have the presence of mind to take a picture of that plate of goodness, such was my eagerness to devour it.
Yesterday morning, for a few minutes, I felt cramp-like pangs in my belly. Then I got up and added cheddar and sriracha to an otherwise Whole30-compliant omelette, and cream to my coffee. Ahh dairy, I’ve missed you! In the afternoon, I ate leftover braised cabbage, aware I would be sinning majorly that night.
Knowing I’d be going another month without any kind of grains or dairy, I decided to pile on another layer of dirty eating and make pizza for my celebratory dinner with Johnathan. Caveats? I put lots of veggies on mine, and made the dough and sauce from scratch. Both involve non-kosher ingredients. It was a cheat or bust kind of weekend, I guess.
Then I proceeded to deviate further and I ate an absolutely heavenly leftover cupcake from the party the night before, and then one my most favourite awful foods: a Cadbury Creme Egg.
Oh, and full disclosure: I had 2 glasses of wine with my pizza.
By now, all the Paleo people are cringing. Sorry, guys.
As much as I enjoyed all of those flavours that I had missed and will continue to miss, I was glad to get back to the strictness of the Whole30: I’ve gotten used to feeling great all the time, and all the cheese and chocolate and cupcakes in the world can’t give that to me.
Pushing the reset button
Today was supposed to be the first day of my second Whole30. It started well, but when dinner-time hunger pangs hit, I felt the need to not waste the two pieces of leftover pizza in my fridge. So I had to strike the attempt and postpone Second Whole30, Day until tomorrow.
This second edition of the Whole30 is going to be even more hard-core than the first: no Fudge Babies. Less fruit. Less almond butter, less smoothies.
I’ve been inspired by a great opportunity which I will tell you about tomorrow. Stay tuned!
Meanwhile, I’m excited to get my good sleep back and lose the residual tailbone pain…
Last night, we joined about 50 other people in surprising Justin for his 30th birthday. We dressed up in as much gold and silver as we could find, and spent the evening enjoying the homemade delicacies prepared by Coastal Coffee Company‘s Ben and Bree Gingerich (I’m SOOO glad my Whole30 break fell on this weekend!).
30 is a bit of a turning point in life, I think, so you might as well do it in style. Justin and his wife Hayley (the mastermind) did not disappoint.
My pictures do, however, disappoint. My apologies.
All I can give you is a tiny glimpse into what was really a great party. A night full of catching up with old friends, solidifying acquaintances, and making new connections. A chance to enjoy some fabulous culinary and decor skills. An opportunity to admire the cocktail outfits we never get to see on our friends.
And a time for me to forget the zombie that the next two weeks will make of me as I slog through four papers due within 5 days of each other (Yes, feel bad, it’s gonna be hell).
Meanwhile, today is the last day of my “break” before starting another Whole30, and I have pretty much fallen off the wagon. Either that or I’m testing my body’s tolerance for eating things I used to love, to see whether I still do love them, and whether I think I can live without them. The jury is still out, but perhaps after tonight’s as-healthy-as-I-can-manage-while-still-including-flour-and-cheese pizza, I’ll know better.
I picked up my first Good Food Box yesterday! Okay, my friend Hayley picked it up for me on Thursday, but I picked it up from her.
I’m excited to a) get more involved in my community, b) pay less than supermarket prices for produce, c) get better than supermarket value for produce, and d) eat locally-grown produce!
My box this month includes: red potatoes, apples, a cucumber, carrots, a coleslaw mix of chopped cabbage and carrots, a large turnip, a bag of mixed onions, and some Weth mushrooms.
A booklet with information and recipes was included, too.
I’m really impressed and I can’t wait to start eating this food!
Do a Good Deed
And, as a bonus, I learned that you can purchase a Good Food Box for people that can’t necessarily afford one. Hayley told me that there was a month when she wasn’t able to pick up her box on the distribution day, and found out later that it had been donated to a family who had not eaten for a few days. Chances are, that family would have been forced to survive on Kraft Dinner and pork & beans before Hayley’s unwitting gift.
Do a good deed: buy a Good Food Box for your family, and one for another family if you can!
Distribution Sites and Payment Information
You can currently order and pick up your Good Food Box in Bayfield, Blyth, Clinton, Exeter, Ethel, Goderich, Grand Bend, Hensall, Seaforth, Vanastra, Wingham, and Zurich.
One box costs $15 cash (no cheques).
For April, order and pay for your box by Friday, April 6th, and pick it up on Tuesday, April 17th.
In May, order and pay by Friday, May 4th, and pick it up on May 17th.
Before I embarked on the Whole30 nutrition journey, I hardly ever read labels. I thought label-readers were obsessive calorie-counting control freaks too concerned with numbers to enjoy food (no offense, calorie-counters that I know!).
Before I started reading labels, I had no clue how prevalent sugar is in food items that we would consider staples. It comes in so many forms! Dextrose, sucrose, glucose, the list goes on.
Sweetness isn’t inherently bad for us, but we love it so much that we compulsively over-indulge, and that’s when things start going pear-shaped. Literally.
There are many forms of naturally-occurring sugars. Primarily, they are found in fruit, but there is also honey *and maple syrup.
Should you choose to accept this no-sugar-for-a-week challenge, those naturally-occurring sugars are acceptable, but none others. That includes “naturally-occurring” brown sugar and white sugar: cut them out for a week. Especially avoid any artificial sweeteners: become a label-scanner for a week!
But you have a sweet tooth and you can’t help yourself? You can do it. All you need is some determination, some “healthy” sugars, and some creative ideas.
Idea #1: Make or buy a cocoa, vanilla**, nut (walnuts or almonds), and date blend that looks and tastes pretty close to brownies. The recipe I use is called Fudge Babies. No, they’re not as sweet as the brownies you’re used to, but they’re good! You’ll see.
Idea #2: Cut bananas into bite-sized chunks. Line a freezer-prooftray with waxed paper, and lay the banana pieces on it to flash-freeze until hard. Then store in an air-tight container in the freezer. You can use these just to munch on, or blend them into smoothies, or even a sort of “ice cream” with coconut milk, a bit of vanilla, cocoa if you want, perhaps some pineapple or orange… Yum, right?
I have also mixed some coconut milk and vanilla and drizzled it over banana chunks and then frozen them for some added deliciousness.
Other ideas: Try honey or maple syrup in your coffee or tea, spread honey on your (whole grain) toast, put maple syrup on your oatmeal, and try using fruit juice as a sweetener in a dressing or a sauce.
There really are so many ideas for recipes that avoid sugars–look for some!
I have relied heavily on other people’s food ideas this past month, and so I thought I would share what’s on my plate daily and where I get my recipes from, to inspire others who are trying to get “wholly healthy,” too.
Check out my new page, “Whole30 Eats”. You can see it in the menu bar just under the header of my page, between “Weekly Series” and “What I’m Reading” (who would have guessed that I’d have more “W” titles than any other letter?! Random!).
When you hover your mouse over “Whole30 Eats” in the menu, you will see a list of sub-menus or sub-pages come up. If you click “Whole30 Eats”, you’ll be taken to the intro/explanation page. To see each day’s food report, choose a page from the drop-down list.
Since I started the Whole30 diet four weeks ago ago tomorrow (has it already been that long?!), the way I think and feel about food, as well as the way I interact with it, has changed.
My carb cravings have all but disappeared. I confess I really wanted to snatch one of Johnathan’s McDonald’s fries last week, but I restrained myself.
I am getting used to waiting a while for my food to be done. That and stocking up on pre-cooked veggies and raw veggies and stuff like that. Good food takes time!
Every time I go to the store, I buy avocados. And coconut milk. And tomatoes.
For the first time in my grown-up, shopping-for-myself life, I go through fruit and vegetables before they go bad! Though that pineapple that’s been around for a couple weeks might be done for. Oops. In my defense, I bought it in the first couple of weeks of my Whole30, when the sweets cravings were pretty strong, and I was eating about a case of clementines every day. Well, at least a handful of them, anyway.
That was before I found out I was supposed to take it easy on the fruit, lest my body not be allowed to learn that what it needs most is vegetables!
My “Whole30 and Getting Wholly Healthy” post talks about how I stopped weighing myself, even on the Wii Fit. This diet, this process is not about losing weight, as much as I would love it if my little paunch would just disappear forever (Keep reading to see what I am doing about that).
I make my own salad dressings, either using extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) and balsamic vinegar or another vinegar, or using my homemade dairy-free mayo as a base and adding garlic and/or spices, etc.
Instead of ketchup or barbecue sauce on meats, I use salsa or guacamole.
Real food tastes good, people! You just have to get out of the habit of relying on processed, sugar- and preservative-laden ingredients, and you’ll discover that the grass really is greener on the other side.
A few people have asked me whether I have cheated on the diet. Since I am a goody-goody that tries not to break clearly-defined rules, the simple answer is no. Technically, before I realized that not all bacon was made alike, I ate a lot of bacon the first week on the diet. I also ate a lot of fruit that first week or two, not remembering that thing about going easy on the fruit.
Also, even though Dallas and Melissa of Whole9Life are adamant about not trying to “Paleo-ify” dessert items while on the Whole30 by making cakes with almond flour or coconut flour, or breads, etc., I have to confess to a lingering sweet tooth which led me to the Fudge Babies recipe. I have made two batches of these over the past couple of weeks. Each batch makes about 10 balls of chocolatey goodness, and most days I only eat one, if any. Since they’re made with mostly raw, Whole30-approved ingredients, I don’t consider this a cheat. Though, if I were more hard-core, I would ix-nay those, too, I suppose. My sweet tooth has also influenced me to keep a container of banana pieces in the freezer for those moments in the evening when I’m studying or reading and could really use something that tastes yummy.
There have been a few times, while making a Whole30-approved recipe, that I have used something like curry paste which was already in my cupboard, that may have contained traces of things I’m not supposed to eat, like soy and peanuts, or a common preservative. Again, I don’t consider this a cheat because it was in such small amounts and because I’m a poor and starving student: I can’t afford to buy everything brand new!
Yes, I have begun a regimen of regular exercise as part of this whole personal get-healthy endeavour. Many Paleo eaters are also Crossfit-ers. That is WAYYY too intense for me right now. I am getting my body in shape more slowly and easily.
A couple of weeks ago, I started the Couch to 5K running program. I will officially do the third run of the second week. Couch to 5K is an interval training program designed to get beginners out and running at a pace they can handle, then build their endurance until they can run 5K non-stop, 9 weeks later.
In week two, I warm up with a brisk five-minute walk, then run for ninety seconds, then walk for two minutes. I repeat the run and walk six times, then do a five-minute walk to cool down. On Friday, I will run ninety seconds, walk ninety seconds, then run three minutes and walk three minutes. The first week was one minute running, ninety seconds walking. You can see how easy it is for the couch potato to get their rear in gear. (More about the Couch to 5K in an upcoming post)
Then there’s the wee paunch I mentioned earlier. You probably never noticed it – I apparently have a gift for hiding excess weight. I have no idea how this is possible, because it’s clear to me any time I put on a pair of jeans and flesh squidges up over the belt. Gross, right?
It’s not huge. I’m not fat. I just don’t want to “let myself go”, if that makes sense. Imagine what that little paunch-ette would turn into if I were to start having babies before getting my stomach muscles into good shape! I would probably be a lost cause at that point.
Hence the being proactive in giving my belly flab a run for its money. Every other day, usually on days I run, I do a series of tummy workouts based on this post on the Women’s Health website (thanks for that, Britt and Pinterest). I add as many crunches as I can take, both straight and to the side, some side weight-lifting (holding some weight in one hand, bend sideways so the weighted arm moves down towards the floor, then flex the ab muscles (think: love handles) on the opposite side of your body to pull yourself back to a standing position. Repeat several times, then switch sides.), and then I sit on a chair holding a broomstick across my shoulders (holding weights in my hands, too), and twist as far as I can to one side, feeling the pull in the side muscle on the other side. Then I twist to the other side, and repeat several times. These last two exercises are thanks to Johnathan.
Is it magic? The Whole30? The exercising? No, none of it is magic. It is all part of a process. A time-consuming, effort-involving process that requires dedication and discipline.
But is it worth it? Absolutely. You will feel great by the end of your first week on the Whole30, ’cause you’re not putting ANY junk in your body anymore! Everything worth having requires some effort to keep, including your health.
If you’ve been following my posts, you may have read about how our new apartment must have a dishwasher. John hates to do dishes, and I’m not a huge fan, either. Doing the Whole30 has made the dirty dish situation infinitely worse: practically every time I walk in the kitchen translates into an extra ten minutes of dish-washing!
But even so, it is still worth it. I am willing to pay more, do more work, establish new habits, and learn new skills, all in the name of being “wholly healthy”. Aren’t you?
That’s why I’m going to do another Whole30, back-to-back with this one, a Whole60, if you will.
At the end of this week, I’m going to have a glass of wine, a slice of cheese, a piece of whole-grain bread, and a small piece of dark chocolate, and then the next day it’s back to grain-free, sweetener-free, legume-free, dairy-free, additive-free living, until it’s practically second nature!
Yeah, I went there. (Thanks to my darling husband for suggesting such a mind-blowingly smart title.)
Weekends are for two things: sleeping and big breakfasts. Well, maybe only for big breakfasts if you have kids. I don’t, so I sleep in and then eat a big breakfast.
This past weekend I decided to try a little experiment. Yes, with eggs. One egg was free range, pasture fed, hormone and antibiotic free. The other was the grocery store brand. Here are the eggs in question:
I took these eggs and fried them:
Notice the first egg. It looks like a nice enough egg and is frying up splendidly. But notice the second egg. Look at that yolk! It is such a lovely shade of gold-ish orange!
Guess what I discovered after my very serious eggsperiment? The grocery store egg didn’t taste like much, but the free range egg tasted like the…
(Update July 4, 2013. I removed “a la Whole30” from the title of this post because I keep finding it on Pinterest, with comments from Whole30-ers cautioning against consuming smoothies during a Whole30. Is this still a good recipe? I think so, yes. Is it “Whole30”? Not quite. If you’re doing a Whole30, consider this as an occasional treat rather than as a key nutritional go-to.)
(Update March 27, 2012. In a recent conversation with Melissa Hartwig, co-founder of the Whole30, I learned that smoothies are less than ideal for the Whole30 program for a few reasons: 1) the spotlight tends to be on the fruit rather than the veggies or protein; 2) almond butter is classified as a fat that should be consumed occasionally, not a protein that should be consumed daily; 3) flax seeds are on the “limit” list for fats; and 4) liquid foods are easier to overeat than solid foods. That being said, make the adjustments you need to for your Whole30 and enjoy!)
In the 21 days since I started my (first) Whole30, I’ve become increasingly competent in the art of the breakfast smoothie.
The smoothie that I blogged about week before last has evolved past the alpha stage into a more complex, flavorful, and healthy version. Each morning, I look forward to my smoothie with greater anticipation.
I know I have not reached the level of Smoothie Expert yet, but I am sufficiently satisfied with this stage to submit it to you for beta testing.
Please give it a go and let me know what you think my next step should be.
Sarah’s Whole30 Paleo Smoothie, Beta Version
1/3 cup high-fat coconut milk (read the labels and choose one that uses only guar gum as a “stabilizer”, and has about a 30% fat content. Good fat, remember!)
1-2 Tablespoons almond butter
1 banana, cut into 1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cup (or as much as you think you would enjoy) organic spinach or kale (you might want to blend the kale first before adding the other ingredients: I chewed each mouthful of this morning’s smoothie!)
1 Tablespoon flax seeds (I use a version that is already pre-ground) (flax is a great source of Omega fatty acids)
1/4 cup frozen blueberries
A couple splashes of orange juice (sweetener and consistency regulator: my coconut milk tends to be thick, and adding OJ makes it pourable)