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Days 15 through 30 and Reintroduction

Sorry this has taken me so long to write.  I started a new job and life became very busy and active.  The results are in and it’s a mixed bag of good and bad.  First, let’s recap the last days of my Whole30.

I completely stopped eating nuts of all kinds and my face finally cleared up again.  I did have one more large blemish but I think that was hormonal, not chemical.  I do hope I can go back to eating nuts again post-Whole30 because I love them.  I am also happy to report that my digestive distress finally cleared up completely during the last 2 weeks.  Both of these are very good things.

According to the book, the “Tiger Blood” phase was supposed to kick in during the third or fourth of the Whole30.  This is when people get very high levels of energy and often beat personal bests in sports and at the gym.  That was one of the benefits I was hoping to receive.  Sadly, I did not get this benefit.  I also did not get the benefit of better sleep.  Both of these things were big reasons for trying this and I am disappointed that I didn’t get either of them.

On the other hand, while I didn’t get an increase in energy, my energy levels did even out and I stopped “hitting the wall” in the mid-afternoon.  My hunger signals also changed from being ravenous, shaky and light-headed to just slightly light-headed.  In fact, my stomach hardly ever growled during the entire 30 days.

The best part is I lost 10 pounds!  I also reduced my measurements on nearly every part of my body except my arms.  Not surprisingly, my abdomen had the greatest reduction in size.  I lost 2.25 inches from my upper abdomen and 2.5 inches from my lower abdomen.  My BMI went down 1.5 points, too.  I am at the lowest weight I have been in 13 years.  I am thrilled about that!

Even with the weight loss and measurement improvements, I am not sure I would ever do an entire Whole30 again.  I have read comments from participants online and in the book who say they could eat this way forever.  I am not one of those people.  The authors of the book make it a point to say that the Whole30 is not hard…cancer is hard.  Well, when you put dietary changes in the same category as fighting cancer then I have to admit, the diet isn’t hard.  However, when you put the Whole30 in the category it belongs in…with other diets, not diseases… it IS hard.  At least it was hard for me.  I missed things like whole wheat tortillas, whole wheat English muffins with almond butter, and steel-cut oats.  I also really missed cream in my coffee, although I think I could drink it with just cream and leave out the sugar-laden flavored creamer now.

In fact, the first day of reintroduction was Dairy and you guessed it…I had CREAMER in my COFFEE!  It was heavenly, to say the least! 🙂  During reintroduction you add back one of the food groups that you have eliminated, while keeping the rest of your diet Whole30 compliant.  I had some dairy with Meals 1, 2 and 3 that day and then I waited 2 days to see what would happen.  The next group was wheat (or gluten).  After 2 days I added non-gluten grains and then 2 days later I added legumes.  I am happy to report that the only “side-effect” I received from adding Dairy and non-gluten grains was a little bit  of gas an hour or so after eating it.  The other groups, including legumes, did not give me any side-effects at all.

All in all, I am glad I did the Whole30.  I needed to clean up my diet and get things back on track.  I also needed to stop eating carbs (aside from natural carbs found in veggies) with my evening meal and stop eating 2 hours before bedtime.  I had allowed too many unhealthy foods and habits to creep back into my diet and doing the Whole30 helped me eliminate them.

If you are looking for a way to thoroughly clean up your diet and make some drastic changes to the way you eat, I would recommend trying it.  But be prepared for it to challenge you in ways you have never been challenged before.  If I had done this before making the changes I did 3 years ago, I’m not sure I would have been able to endure it.  I have a lot of respect for those who start a Whole30 from a diet that contains mostly processed foods.  It would take a tremendous amount of perseverance for that.

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Mission Accomplished

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The summer has gone by quickly and my challenge has ended. At the beginning I stated my goal as follows:

My challenge is to be in the gym every morning before work Monday through Friday. The only reason I won’t be in the gym is if I’m too sick to be there. Otherwise, no excuses. My goal is to gain more muscle mass, shed more fat and reduce my BMI.

I was in the gym every, single morning this summer except for when I traveled for and was on my vacation. While I battled a couple of “bugs,” none of them were ever bad enough to keep me out of the gym. I did gain more muscle and shed fat. I also reduced my BMI. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!

I’m glad I said early on that I wasn’t going to focus on the number on the scale or set a specific weight goal for myself. Even without that goal, I was frustrated numerous times by the scale. I worked harder in this last week than I ever have in the gym and the scale didn’t budge. I weighed in this morning at 166 lbs. That has been my weight for the last 2 weeks…even during the week of crazy hormones.

But the rubber met the road when I measured. There were a couple of areas that didn’t change much or actually got slightly larger. Where I found the biggest improvement was in my abdomen. I lost 4 inches around the lower part of my waist. I lost nearly an inch in the upper part. You’d have to see my abdomen to understand the size differences (and no, I’m not posting pics of that…sorry) between my “upper” waist where the curves are and my “lower” waist where my belly button is (and where the waist in the style of today’s jeans sits). I can visually see the difference in my abs since before I started. That alone was reward for all the hard work I put in this summer.

Here are my final stats as measured this morning and compared to June 3:

September 2, 2012                                                    June 3, 2012

Weight: 166 Lbs                                                          168 lbs

BMI: 26.8                                                                       27.1

Upper Arms: L 11 5/8 R 11 1/2                             L 12 1/4 R 12 1/4

Forearms: L 9 7/8 R 9 7/8                                     L 9 7/8 R 9 5/8

Chest: 34 7/8                                                               35 6/8

Waist: (lower) 32 (upper) 30 7/8                       (lower) 36 (upper) 31 3/4

Hips: 42 7/8                                                                 43 7/8

Thighs: L 24 3/8 R 24 7/8                                      L 24 3/4 R 24 3/4

Knees: L 16 1/4 R 16 1/8                                         L 16 R 16 1/2

Calves: L 15 3/8 R 15 5/8                                       L 15 1/2 R 15 1/2

I want to thank God for helping me do this. I talked to Him a lot in the gym and throughout this journey. I am so grateful to have the Lord in my life, not just for times like this but always…no matter the circumstance…no matter the significance…He is my Rock and my Salvation every single day of my life and without Him I can do nothing.

Next I want to thank my friends and my family whose support and encouragement have meant the world to me. I love you all. Thank you to those of you who have told me you’ve read my blog. It is always humbling…and a little embarrassing…to know you’ve read it because I’ve been pretty detailed and honest in the things I’ve talked about here. But the support you give me in telling me you read it is something so wonderful. You will never know how very much it has meant to me.

Finally, I want to thank my readers & subscribers. I don’t know who most of you are but your numbers show up in my stats on WordPress so I know my blog is being read by others. The kind comments and encouragement I have received from total strangers is so amazing to me. Knowing that you are even interested in what this average woman in her 40’s decided to do with her summer is overwhelming. Thank you for your interest.

I haven’t decided what to do with my blog now that my summer challenge is over. My journey certainly hasn’t ended. I will still be in the gym every week but not with the intensity I was this summer. I will be “striving for fitness” for the rest of my life. I may continue to use this blog to document my ongoing journey.

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Week 13 – Crossing the Finish Line

It has finally arrived…Week 13.  The final week of my summer challenge.  I can’t believe it’s here already and I’m wondering what took so long?  🙂  It is certainly bittersweet.

MONDAY:  Today’s workout was the hardest yet.  It didn’t help that I slept horribly last night and there’s that “hormone thing” I mentioned earlier.  I am taking comfort in the knowledge that today is the hardest it is going to be because I will feel better as the week goes on and by Friday I will have nailed it.

Today I added one more weight/cardio combo set bringing the total to 8.  I reduced my reps with the weights from 10 to 8 and added 15 seconds to the cardio going from 45 to 60 seconds.  Once again, that extra 15 seconds doesn’t seem like much on the surface but I’m here to tell you it kicked my butt!  The new combo is flat bench dumbbell presses with pop squats.  I was not able to do the full 60 seconds of pop squats today without stopping.  Can you feel the burn??  I definitely could!  Jump rope was a disaster.  In the second circuit I couldn’t go more than 20 continuous seconds and I must have missed at least 4 times.  One of the misses left a welt on my arm where the rope, which is very hard plastic, snapped back and hit me.  Fun times, people, make no mistake about it!  I got it together a little better in the third circuit but I had nothing left to give when it was over.

TUESDAY:  Today I was supposed to start the new week 4 cardio circuit.  When I looked at my workout sheet I noticed there was a discrepancy.  It said to do 30 second sprints and 30 second jogs for 12 intervals and a total of 24 minutes.  That doesn’t add up.  That’s only 12 minutes, not 24.  I also wasn’t sure I could manage 30 second sprints with only a 30 second recovery before I had to sprint again.  So…I changed things up a bit.  I figured the length of time was as important as the difficulty so I did 60 second sprints and 60 second walks (because that’s better for my heart rate than a jog).  I did 12 intervals and a total of 24 minutes.  I started out at 7.0 sprints but that was WAY too fast so I backed down to 6.5 on the next one but it was still too much.  I finally settled at 6.0 for the rest of the intervals.  By the time I was done I was drenched in sweat.  It was hard but it was good!

I told my nephew about this and his reaction was, “HOLY COW!”  He said I did a lot in that workout.  He said the math was wrong and I only needed to do 12 minutes of the 30/30 circuits but he encouraged  me to do it my way again on Thursday.  I think I probably will.

WEDNESDAY:  Things are beginning to get back to normal in Hormone Land which made today’s workout a little easier.  I didn’t seem to slog through it like I did on Monday.  My biggest challenge today was jump rope…again.  I just can’t seem to sustain it for more than 24 seconds.  I must have missed 4 times on the third circuit.  Who knew it could be so hard?  Pop squats are also proving to be the bane of my existence.  I can’t do those for more than 45 seconds either before my thighs feel like they’re going to ignite.  But…if it wasn’t hard it wouldn’t be worth it, right?  The hard is still what makes it great!  🙂

I do have a sense of accomplishment every time I am able to get through all 3 circuits of this workout.  I’m seriously leaving it ALL in the gym.  It is taking a lot out of me but there’s no way I’m quitting.  Two more days…I’ve got this!

THURSDAY:  Cardio went great this morning!  I did the same thing I did on Tuesday and it seemed a little easier today.  Of course, my brain was trying to psyche me out with thoughts of, “It’s only supposed to be for 12 minutes….you could just do 6 intervals and call it good…..”  Thankfully, I didn’t listen to that garbage and I pushed through to do all 12 intervals.  I may keep this interval style going into the maintenance period.  I may also keep some of the weight/cardio combo sets.  I like the results I’m getting from that sort of workout.  My body seems to be responding well to the format and intensity.

FRIDAY:  And here we are…the last day of my summer challenge journey.  I was awake nearly every hour last night, fearful I would sleep through my alarm and miss my opportunity to finish strong in the gym this morning.  Even with the lack of sleep I was up on time and in the gym.  I got it all done and I did finish strong.  I feel a great sense of accomplishment and it is wonderful.

Yesterday I ate something that made me a little sick.  I think it was the side salad I had at lunch.  I have to be careful of salads because most restaurants use pre-chopped, bagged lettuce and the preservative on it makes me sick every time I eat it.  I asked the girl who took my order on the phone and she assured me they chop their own lettuce at that restaurant.  I should have made her ask the chef.  Anyway…when I get sick from eating bagged lettuce it sometimes takes 24 hours for it to work through my system.  I was concerned it would become an issue in the middle of my workout.  But as I was half way through the second circuit I knew I was going to be OK and I started to get emotional.  It was hard to keep the lid on things.  I knew if I gave into my feelings I would never finish the workout.

Jump rope continued to be a challenge.  All I could do was laugh at how ridiculous it was.  However, I beat the pop squats!  I managed to do 60 seconds on all 3 circuits and THAT felt good.  It was progress.  The jump rope thing is coordination and I can work on that.  Pop squats were endurance.  It feels good to have gained endurance.

This last month has been grueling.  This workout has been extremely challenging and just managing to get through it all over the last 4 weeks feels amazing.  I can’t wait to measure myself on Sunday because I KNOW my body has changed during the last month even if the number on the scale remains the same.  I put a pair of jeans on today that I haven’t worn all summer and they are big on me.  There is no doubt my body composition has changed.

So I look forward to what Sunday brings when I will measure, weigh and take a picture to finish up my summer challenge.  WHOOP!

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