doing-the-whole30

Whole30 Day 27: Life on the road to Getting Wholly Healthy

doing-the-whole30

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!

Fresh vegetables are important components of a...
Veggies: Learn to love them!

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.

Cheating?

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.

Fudge Babies
Fudge Babies

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!

Exercise

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?

The Plank
The Plank

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.

Results

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?

Continuance

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!

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Layers of delicious

Breakfast Smoothie Extraordinaire

(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 start with coconut milk
I start with coconut milk
Then I add some almond butter
Then I add some almond butter
A cut-up banana is next
A cut-up banana is next
...followed by a handful of spinach
…followed by a handful of spinach
...some flax seed
…some ground flax seed
And, to make it pretty and round out the flavour, frozen blueberries
And, to make it pretty and round out the flavour, frozen blueberries

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)
Scale no weighing

Whole30 and Getting Wholly Healthy

Scale no weighing

On the Whole9 people’s list of guidelines for the Whole30 diet (which I started on February 22, 2012), there is a bit of a strange stipulation against weighing and measuring yourself:

One last and final rule. You are not allowed to step on the scale or take any body measurements for the duration of the program. This is about so much more than just weight loss, and to focus on your body composition means you’ll miss out on the most dramatic and lifelong benefits this plan has to offer. So, no weighing yourself, analyzing body fat or taking comparative measurements during your Whole30. (We do encourage you to weigh yourself before and after, however, so you can see one of the more tangible results of your efforts when your program is over.

This, of course, flies in the face of everything that we know to be normal about diets and weight loss programs, right? We’re all familiar with that Before and After series of torso shots of people standing in their bathroom in underwear. We hear of people stepping on the scale to monitor their progress.

It’s natural. We are curious: we want to know!

One of the things I really like about the Whole9 mindset is that health is not only about weight loss. Instead, it’s all about balance.

Balance between quality and quantity, between getting healthy and staying healthy.

I forgot to take the requisite torso shot on the first day of my diet, and again at the one-week mark. I regret that, and I regret that I didn’t realize this final rule until I went back after I started my second week to make sure I was doing things right.

But I’m excited. I am so proud that I made the decision to do something that is so against the grain in order to not lose control of my body and my health to comfort foods and convenience. I’m thrilled at how energetic I feel and that I have been motivated to take up running. For years, I have felt a distinct lack of discipline in my life, and I feel like I finally am gathering the skills to be more disciplined.

I’m actually considering making this endeavour a Whole45 or Whole60, in an attempt to completely break my dependence on sweets and any remaining emotional connection with food. It sounds a bit hokey for those of us that looooooove to eat, but I don’t want to be ruled by hunger pangs or enslaved to potato chips.

I want to be clear: this is not about shedding pounds. Yes, I would like to avoid having to buy another wardrobe, which means losing some girth in the hip-thigh-tummy region, and I’m afraid of “letting myself go”, which could so very easily happen. But I want to make the decision to be healthy, not just skinnier. Healthy.

Please comment with your perspective on our tendency to have an emotional connection with food…

Pancakes

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: The one where my new diet accidentally coincides with Lent

Pancakes
"the last supper"

When I posted yesterday’s blog about starting a fairly strict diet today, it didn’t even dawn on me that today is Ash Wednesday.

For those that are completely ignorant of Christian traditions, Ash Wednesday is the day after Shrove Tuesday (or Fat Tuesday, or Pancake Tuesday). It’s the beginning of Lent, the 40-day season leading up to Easter. A season in which it is traditional for people to give up (refuse to indulge in) something they love for the purpose of prioritizing God or their faith over that thing (food or entertainment, etc.).

I didn’t intend to start my Whole30 diet on the first day of Lent, but here I am, on Ash Wednesday, beginning a 30- or 60-day journey that excludes several of my favourite things: bread, wine, pastry, beer, chocolate, yogurt, cheese. CHEESE!

Last night, true to Pancake Tuesday custom, I ate pancakes as a “last meal” before the “fasting” that starts today.