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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.

Days 14 through 21

I have battled with cystic acne for nearly my entire life.  My breakouts started when I was 8 or 9 years old (4th grade).  At that age, they were mainly just little pimples that started at my hairline and then eventually moved down my forehead.  As I got older and into puberty, they developed on the rest of my face and became cystic.  This type of acne tends to be hereditary and I inherited mine from my father’s side of the family.  I have gone to dermatologists and used over-the-counter or specialty products like Artistry, Mary Kay, Proactiv and Acne Free throughout the years.  With each new treatment I would get temporary relief and then eventually my skin would grow used to it and the acne would return.

As you may already know from reading my blog, three years ago I found Jillian Michael’s book, Master Your Metabolism, and I began following her recommendations for dietary changes.  One of the most astounding things that occurred during that transition was my face cleared up.  I mean CLEARED UP!  I would go weeks sometimes without even a small blemish.  It has continued to stay clear with very few breakouts.  That is, until the Whole30.

Going into it my skin was completely clear and it stayed that way until around Day 14.  Imagine my surprise when suddenly I began having a bad breakout.  I’m not talking just a few small pimples either.  They were very large, cystic blemishes and there were as many as 8 of them all at the same time.  This has not happened in YEARS!!  I am distraught over it, to say the least.  For several days my skin was sore and sensitive, as though it was going to erupt at that very moment with a new one.  The fresh eruptions seem to have subsided now but I still have 3 livid blemishes on my face.

I reached out to the Whole30 community on Facebook and I read some of the blog posts on Whole9life.com.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get any clear answers but I did find some suggestions as to what might be causing it.  I have been eating a lot of cashews since I started the Whole30.  I love cashews and they are one of the nuts on the diet that you don’t have to limit.  I have decided that I am not going to eat another one until I am done with the Whole30.  Hopefully, that does the trick.

Another bummer is my digestive distress is back again.  It seemed to return to normal around the time my face started breaking out, but not any more.

At this point, I’m not sure the good outweighs the bad for me and my Whole30.  I am anxious to measure and get on the scale at the end and see what the numbers look like.  I can tell by how my clothes fit that there has been improvement but at this point I really just can’t wait for it to be over.  Nine more days…

Day 8 through 13

Ok…remember when I said I overdid it on Day 5 with the macadamia nuts and raisins? Well, it turns out my stomach problems didn’t have anything to do with what I ate that day at all. In fact, the problem persisted and got worse on Day 10 and I hadn’t even so much as sniffed a macadamia or a raisin.

I posted a question about it on the Whole30 Facebook page and then I remembered something I had read in It Starts With Food. In Chapter 18 there is a timeline that gives you an idea of what to expect (I think I mentioned this in a previous post). On days 8 through 14 people often have digestive distress. The book explains that the distress is happening because my intestinal lining is healing and during this time some gut bacteria die off and the protective layer that has formed as a result of all the inflammatory foods I’ve been eating begins to leave. I am very glad to know that while this has not been a pleasant experience, it is a good sign that my gut is beginning to heal. Who knew digestive distress could ever be a good thing?

This week I began to experiment a little bit with some other Whole30-friendly recipes because I’m already getting tired of the ground beef, turkey and pork. I did some searching on a Pinterest board from a blogger called ChowStalker. I found lots of great-looking recipes on there and decided to try one called Slow Simmered Spaghetti Sauce http://chowstalker.com/2013/01/slow-simmered-spaghetti-sauce/. My only complaint was that the recipe wasn’t specific about the size of the cans of tomatoes to use. I put in 2 14.5 oz cans of diced tomatoes and that did not look like near enough. So I added 2 more thinking perhaps the recipe really called for 2 28 oz cans of tomatoes. However, after it fully cooked it had way too much fluid in it so I’m thinking it probably was 2 of the smaller cans. Even with the extra tomatoes, it was still very tasty. I would make it again but probably not with so many tomatoes.

I was also inspired by another recipe for shrimp that I found on Chowstalker and I decided to make some alterations to it and had it for Meal 3 on Day 8. I sauteed the shrimp in clarified butter with salt, pepper and paprika. Then I added a clove of crushed garlic near the end. The shrimp was starting to stick a little bit so I used a small amount of chicken broth to deglaze the pan just before I took the shrimp out. All I can say is YUM! I don’t usually do very well with food experimentation but I have to say this one was really, really good. In fact, it was so good, I made it again for Meal 3 on Day 10 and added scallops to it. I didn’t end up needing to deglaze the pan this time so I didn’t use any chicken broth. It was still fantastic. My daughter said she would eat it again so I know it really was good 🙂

During the first week I made the recipe for Classic Pantry Vinaigrette dressing in the book. It was ok but it didn’t really do anything for me. I also didn’t care for all the fresh parsley in it. This week I decided to do an online search and I found a recipe on Food.com that didn’t call for any sugar http://www.food.com/recipe/garlic-red-wine-vinegar-salad-dressing-37183 . This one tasted better to me and was very easy to make. I will likely continue to make it for the rest of my Whole30.

I definitely feel like I have more energy this week. I haven’t been feeling extreme fatigue at small exertions like last week. I have been able to get through the day without hitting the wall around 2 or 3 PM. I am very encouraged by that. It gives me motivation to keep going. I am also starting to notice that my clothes are fitting better, especially around my abdomen which is a HUGE encouragement 🙂 I can also visibly see a difference in that area but I am attributing most of that to the reduction of inflammation as opposed to fat loss at this point.

Sunday will mark the half-way point. In a way it seems like it went by really fast but in another way I can’t wait for it to be over. I have been without a full-time job since early February and today I had my very first face-to-face interview and I was offered the job. I am very happy and excited about this change of events and I would have loved to have a celebratory dinner with a decadent dessert but that will have to wait a bit longer.

This also means I will have to be much more diligent in my prep work and shopping because I will have to make sure I bring enough food with me to get me through the work day. I can already feel the added stress this will cause but I am not going to quit in the middle of my Whole30. One way or another I will make it work. I want the best results I can possibly achieve. There’s no turning back.

Here is a picture of the shrimp and scallops:

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Days 4 through 7

Food cravings have begun where food dreams have left off. The desire for sweets has remained about the same but cravings for dairy have kicked in. I especially miss cheese and sauces that are sour cream and/or mayonnaise-based (tartar and dill sauce specifically). There is a recipe for tartar sauce in It Starts With Food (ISWF) but it contains eggs. I am allergic to eggs and since I am supposed to avoid all things inflammatory, I can’t even have small amounts of egg for the entire 30 days.

Day 5 was the first time I had to be out of the house during a meal time so I was faced with my first challenge. I had to eat Meal 2 (lunch) at work (remember, I am supposed to be thinking in terms of meal numbers, not breakfast, lunch and dinner).  I packed left-overs from the previous night’s Meal 3 (dinner – Tarragon Cream Chicken with roasted veggies…YUM!) and some chopped macadamia nuts with white raisins in case I needed a little “help” between meals. As it turned out, I did need some help because I ate Meal 1 ( breakfast) at 6:30 AM in order to get out of the house on time. I ate half of my nut/raisin combo before Meal 2. Then, I needed help again before Meal 3 (because I ate Meal 2 at 11:15 AM) so I ate the other half. In the interest of avoiding TMI (too much information), let’s just say I think I overdid it on the macadamias and raisins. My stomach did NOT agree with the excessiveness of this snack choice and rebelled in a big way. I won’t make that mistake again. Lesson learned!

Day 6 brought my first opportunity to eat out in a restaurant. I didn’t find the link to the Whole30 Dining Guide http://whole9life.com/book/ISWF-Dining-Guide.pdf before my excursion so I went into it a bit blind. I was quite stressed over the situation because I didn’t want to have any slip ups. My family and I ended up eating at a steakhouse chain restaurant where I knew I could at least find baked sweet potatoes. I ended up ordering from their “healthy” menu and had a plain baked sweet potato (which was HUGE…I brought half of it home with me) grilled salmon with lemon pepper seasoning (no sauce, butter or oil) and steamed broccoli. I was even able to persevere while my family had some of the yummiest yeast rolls you will ever taste. I would call that first time eating out a success!

Day 7 brings me back to the grocery store and another round of prep for next week. My stomach is still a little “off” from Day 5’s over-indulgence but it doesn’t hurt any more. I hope this gets a little easier by the end of next week. If that “fat burner” switch flips, I know my energy will improve.

Here is a photo of Meal 1 on Day 6. It is 10-Minute Chili. YUM!

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First 3 Days

Before I begin, I have to make a small public service announcement. My last post had some good and bad information. That’s what I get for posting in my blog before I finished the book! 😉 The good info is Whole30 is designed to help you find the way of eating that is right for YOUR body. The bad info is that Whole30 is a diet. While the very strict segment of it IS meant to be temporary (like a diet), the writers of It Starts With Food hope Whole30 participants will choose to eat this way for the rest of their lives (like a lifestyle).

The premise is to eliminate all foods that can cause systemic inflammation. The foods being eliminated are grains (all types), dairy, sugar and sugar substitutes, legumes and alcohol. Your diet will consist of meats (poultry, beef, chicken, fish), eggs, fruits and veggies, and some nuts and seeds. There is a reintroduction period at the end of the 30 days (or 45, 60, 90 days or longer depending on the individual) where you slowly add the eliminated foods back into your diet. By paying attention to how your body reacts in the reintroduction phase, you will discover the foods that cause inflammation in your body and you will know to avoid them completely or eat them only occasionally going forward. That is where the lifestyle phase kicks in and you continue to eat the optimal diet for you for the rest of your life…hopefully 🙂

My Whole30 started on Sunday. I did some prep work on Saturday afternoon but wasn’t able to do quite as much as I would have liked due to limited time. I made some vinaigrette dressing and some pesto. I also browned 2 lbs of ground pork, 2 lbs of ground beef and 1 lb of ground turkey. On Day 3, I am starting to grow a little weary of all the ground meat so today I had Moroccan Fish with cauliflower rice and tomatoes for breakfast and salmon cakes with a large salad and vinaigrette for lunch. I am looking forward to experimenting more with different recipes I find online when I have the time and I get more adapted to this way of eating. Cauliflower rice is something I found online and it is really great.

In Chapter 18 of It Starts With Food, the authors tell you what you can expect as the weeks progress. In week one it says you can experience “withdrawal” symptoms like headaches, lethargy and crankiness (aka “carb flu”) as your body adjusts to not having carbs (or sugar) as a fuel source. I haven’t really been cranky but I have felt drained of energy and find it difficult to do simple things like walking up and down the stairs without being winded. I also had a headache yesterday afternoon and I’m beginning to get another one. But I know this is temporary and very soon my body will become fat adapted (burn FAT for fuel) and I will have more stable energy levels and even some extra energy. I am looking forward to that!

Apparently, people also have some pretty vivid food dreams during this first week. I have had dreams containing food every night so far but nothing too vivid. I am finding that I want sweets but I wouldn’t say it’s an overwhelming craving at this point. I do miss hazelnut creamer in my coffee though. I have been using coconut milk instead. It’s better than drinking it black but it is a far cry from sweetened, flavored creamer.

I took some measurements on Sunday and was not surprised to see that I had gained inches. My waist was probably the most astounding. At my best fitness level back in September I had a 32 inch waist below my belly button. On Sunday, I measured 42 3/4!! No wonder my jeans and skirts are so tight!! I have only gained 6 lbs though which is interesting (from 166 in Sept to 172 on Sunday). I am attributing the difference in size to bloat and inflammation as well as fat accumulation.

During the Whole30 I am not supposed to weigh or measure again until the end of the 30 days so I will update you on my stats again at that time. Until then, I will continue to write about my experiences along the way.

It really DOES start with food

When last I wrote in January I was beginning to experiment with a new running program formerly known as Couch to 5K (now known as Ease into 5K). I found the program interesting and for a while I did OK with it. Then in early December, I took a deep breath, looked at all the holiday events coming up during the month and decided to just leave the gym alone for a while. Trying to force the issue and “just go” after work when it was late at night and I was way too tired only served to make me miserable and guilty. So for the month of December I was persona non grata in the gym.

Even though I was trying from September until December to at least run on the treadmill, it wasn’t enough to maintain the fitness level I had attained over the previous 15 months. While the scale wasn’t moving much my body composition changed A LOT! I lost my muscle tone and my jeans became uncomfortably tight. I am a walking example of what our trainers tell us all the time about the number on the scale. Skinny-fat is the real deal, people! I’m still a size 14 but it is a very different feeling/fitting size 14 (or 12 depending on the jeans) than the one I had back in August and it’s getting worse.

In January, I put an end to all the slacking and finally…FINALLY…went back to the gym and ventured into the weight room for the first time in 3 months. It wasn’t quite the fish-out-of-water feeling but it was close. Not wanting to over-do, I only did 2 sets of 12 reps for the 3 muscle groups I chose to work (chest, shoulders, tris). The most sobering aspect of it all was how low I had to go on the weights. I basically had to start all over again at square one.

I went with less sets and lighter weights because I didn’t want to be immobile the next day. I know that was a good move because I’m old and I didn’t want to risk injury right out of the gate. 🙂 But seriously, it was sobering and even a little humiliating to realize how far I had fallen in 4 months. It took me 15 months to get where I was previously and only 1/3 of that time to lose it all.

I also decided to start all over at Week 1 Day 1 with the 5K running program. It felt pretty easy starting there but just like the weights, I didn’t want to over-do after not running at all for a month and I also didn’t want to discourage myself by trying to pick up where I left off and not be able to do it. I felt it was best to give myself the opportunity to work out and finish strong.

I wish I could say that since January I have progressed steadily along and have made it back to my former weight levels but I can’t. While I have made some advances, I continue to struggle with wanting to be in the gym. Even the Couch 2 5K program isn’t motivating for me. I can’t put my finger on it. I seriously do NOT understand it. The passion for it is just gone.

One thing I am finding a renewed passion for, however, is eating healthy. Both diet and exercise are important for good health but about 80% of the battle is diet. Fueling my renewed interest is a book I recently learned about called It Starts With Food by Dallas & Melissa Hartwig. I am about 2/3 of the way through the book and I am fascinated by the improved health possibilities offered by following their diet regimen called Whole30. Whole30 is designed to be a temporary change in dietary habits (for 30 days) in order to reset your hormonal and digestive health. However, sometimes people stick with it for longer than 30 days because they get such amazing results from following it. I’m not just talking about weight loss either. Their testimonials chronicle reduced or eliminated symptoms from things like chronic fatigue, migraines, Chrohn’s Disease, depression, fibromyalgia, ADHD, MS and so many more.

I think what I’m learning is having muscles and a tight physique are not a big enough motivator for me to make changes in my life in order to obtain them. Neither is trying to gain enough stamina to run a 5K. What got me interested in fitness in the first place was being 42 years old and in the worst health of my life. I felt 82, not 42, and I wanted to have a life. So I made drastic changes to my DIET, and the resulting renewed energy lead me to want to be more fit, too. It was how I FELT physically, not how I LOOKED physically that was my driving motivation.

That being the case I have made a decision to improve how I feel once again. On April 21st I am going to start my first Whole30. I am apprehensive and excited because I know from prior experience with the Master Your Metabolism way of eating that this will be difficult. But I also know from that experience that the results will be WORTH IT and I will FEEL BETTER.

I’ll be honest…I’m waiting till the 21st because I am going to a party on the 20th and the person throwing it is a great cook. 🙂 I want to be able to indulge in all that will be offered and not have to abstain because of my new diet. And this will be more of a “diet” than Master Your Metabolism is. The Whole30 is meant to be temporary. It is designed to help you find what is the optimal way of eating for YOU and it is NOT about weight loss like so many “diets” are. It is about feeling better and achieving optimal health.

Since my blog was such a huge help in keeping me on track and accountable when I did my summer fitness challenge last year, I thought I would use it again to do the same thing during my Whole30. I will be posting statistics again but probably not in the same “no holds barred” fashion I did before. I will also be posting pics but not pics of me. I’ll be posting pics of yummy food instead 🙂

I hope you will come along for the ride to offer your comments and encouragement along the way. I hope during the process or at the end I will find myself wanting to get into the gym regularly again. I also hope that this will inspire others to do the same thing and maybe even take this challenge along with me.

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