Well – I just finished my first official Whole 30 Challenge and what better way to start off this blog I’ve been meaning to start! I have to say it was a wonderful, challenging, and educational adventure. I’m going to try to break this up, since it will be a long winded overview of the last 30 days!
Scroll to the bottom if you just want to read about the results!
History and why I decided to try the Whole 30 Challenge:
I wanted to see if I could actually do it.
For a few years I have struggled with fluctuations in weight (despite working out), stomach problems, and unknown causes – I have tried to remove gluten and I have tried to remove dairy – but I’ve never been able to pinpoint my problems. I have always felt bloated and just an overall heavy feeling too, which is annoying when you’re consistently working out and *trying* to eat well.
My husband is one of those men that can eat ANYTHING, he works hard in the gym and has a wonderful metabolism. (I know, right!?) He and I both love food, so I go through periods of letting my diet slip because I don’t want to miss out on “the good stuff”. But as a curvier woman- that doesn’t fly!
Another ongoing problem, (that wasn’t on my radar to fix with diet) was ongoing aches, pains, and headaches. I was suffering from some lingering pain and seeking chiropractic care for injuries from my car accident in March – but was still having pain after completely my allotted treatment time. Still waking up with a tight and aching back, and headaches that literally take over the right side of my head and neck – pain up my neck, through the back of my head, into my jaw, ears and eye sockets- headaches that stop me from working and take a toll on my energy levels.
Coffee monster: I could easily drink 2 cups of coffee and still fall asleep while editing and needing a nap mid-afternoon. I definitely had issues with energy and caffeine barely touched how tired I was.
Pre-Whole 30 and planning:
I previously tried the Whole 30 back in March of 2015, but ended up getting in a car accident while my husband was gone so I fell off the wagon after 2 weeks! I don’t think my heart was completely in it. I talked to my best friend Carla about the challenge and she was really interested in trying it for herself. We decided to complete the challenge together in June 2015 and to keep each other motivated along the way!
The best way we knew how to help each other and stay sane was to switch off turns meal planning – we “pinned” lots of ideas to Pinterest and kept researching new meals to keep things interesting. I was pleasantly surprised with how many delicious recipes we found!
Whole 30 meals:
WEEK 1 (with recipes):
**Please review all recipes, some ingredients must be removed or changed to stay Whole30 approved**
Pulled chicken in the crock pot: https://dashingdish.com/recipe/the-easiest-shredded-crockpot-chicken/
BBQ sauce: http://www.thebewitchinkitchen.com/paleo-bbq-sauce/
Taco seasoning: http://www.tweetpotatopie.com/2014/07/clean-and-easy-taco-seasoning.html
Baked cauliflower: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/roasted-cauliflower-recipe.html
Salad dressings: http://paleoleap.com/salad-dressing-and-vinaigrettes/
Spaghetti Squash: http://www.marthastewart.com/1048761/roasted-spaghetti-squash
I didn’t put together lunches because I had leftovers and salads. For breakfast I made those egg muffins for part of the week and omelettes with veggie leftovers.
Monday: Balsamic chicken
A recipe I made up. Chicken breasts cut up in pieces, mix together balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic salt and a dash of oregano. In a separate pan, sauteed bell peppers, onions and garlic. Add chicken to veggie when cooked and add spinach in last until “wilted”. We made sweet potatoes with it (microwaved)
Tuesday: Spinach meatballs with veggies.
Wednesday: Seasoned chicken with mixed veggies.
Thursday: Aidells Apple Chicken Sausages in a skillet with asparagus and red potatoes.
Friday: Jalepeno burger s with guacamole (same recipe from last week)
Saturday: Chicken fajitas. I ate just meat with veggies.
Sunday: “Refrigerator surprise” 😉
Monday: Zuppa Toscana – http://www.paleocupboard.com/zuppa-toscana-soup.html
Tuesday: Seasoned chicken and asparagus
How I felt during the Whole 30:
Week 1: Cheese. Good Lord- cheese was my greatest craving in the beginning – I dreamt about cheddar cheese, parmesan cheese, brie cheese. I wanted it all. My husband was not fully participating in the challenge this week and decided to buy a *large* package of donuts that sat on the counter the whole week… seriously!? This week was hard, because I still felt yucky and still needed quite a bit of coffee early in the week to keep my energy up. The recipes were pretty simple and delicious, except the cheese. Ugh.
Fun fact – correcting your diet changes your bathroom habits for the better. I’m just going to let you sit on that. (Pun intended)
Day 5 was also National Donut Day – go figure!
By the end of the week, my coffee intake was down and I was starting to feel less bloated.
Week 2: Around day 8 I started having pretty excruciating stomach pain right below my sternum/above my belly button. It was almost a hunger pain – but much more intense. It lasted about 2-3 days, even after meals.
I also started my period this week – talk about challenging! I’m a chocolate monster, so I really had to pull myself together this week! I love chocolate, #sorryimnotsorry
Other than the pain – this week wasn’t too bad.
Week 3: Started feeling a lot better this week, a lot more energy, less aches and pains, and significantly less bloated/heavy feeling. A lot of my cravings went away this week too! That definitely helped, remember… cheese. Dammit! Overall this was the best week for me!
Week 4: The home stretch!!! This week I noticed a lot more physical differences. I could see that I had lost weight and my skin feels a lot better! I don’t have bad skin to being with, but my pores are very noticeable. I feel like the look of my face has improved.
This week, I slipped up. I’m human. So sue me. I had 3 bites of a birthday cake and instantly regretted it. I caved in to my inner sugar demon – my temporary possession made me feel like a total failure. My husband just told me to push through to the end and keep my head up.
Other than that –it was a great week and I am super impressed with the results!
Whole 30 results and what I learned:
Starting weight: 144lbs
Ending Weight: 135.8
I forgot to take measurements- my bad!
Total lost – 8.2 lbs
I was working out 4 x a week for the first 2 weeks of the Whole 30 and 1-2 times a week for the last 2 weeks because of some personal unexpected things that happened!
- I can definitely stick to this kind of diet but not 100% all the time- we plan to incorporate this as 80% of our diet from now on!
- I really love cheese – it may be an unhealthy relationship.
- I’m totally fine not incorporating pasta/rice/bread and gluten in my diet and no longer have a craving. (Except cookies… I’m looking forward to chocolate chip cookies)
- I am human and make mistakes – it makes me want to do the whole 30 again- without a slip up!
- Hearing my husband tell me how proud he is for sticking to it really kept me going!
- Staying on a completely sugar/dairy/legume/gluten- free diet is unrealistic for our family.
- Starbucks – get your shit together and offer unsweetened coconut milk. kthxbye!
- Eating at restaurants is challenging BUT not impossible.
- Full fat, unsweetened coconut milk (canned) was a life saver. *use in small quantities*
- I learned a lot about how many foods add CRAP to the ingredients and sugar is basically in everything…. yeah – sneaky bastards.
- Super happy with how I feel!
- Much more energetic! No crashing during the day and I don’t need a bunch of coffee to stay awake.
- LESS PAIN!!! My overall aches (not injury related) have improved tremendously.
- Better restroom habits. Definitely a sign of a healthier inside.
- Better sleep – less waking up throughout the night and less tossing and turning.
- My cravings for fruit juice (sugar) pretty much disappeared.
- Happier mood too (hey that’s a plus right!?)
As a single, young professional I was a bit hesitate that I would be able to meet the demands of the program. Cooking for one is already tough enough: portions, leftovers going bad, plus I’m not exactly Julia Child in the kitchen. Aside from my hesitations, I knew I had a larger underlying issue that I wanted to solve. For the past several years, I have health issues related to my stomach and digestion. I found myself being ill for hours on end after eating on a weekly basis. I had seen a Gastroenterologist before, had numerous tests and nothing alarming came up. I could not pinpoint if it was a particular kind of food that was making me sick, and I just continued to eat the way I had been.
I had heard of the Whole30 program from multiple people, most of whom attempted the program but quit before the 30 days was up. However, Kamrie and I decided to suck it up, give it a try and hold each other accountable. We knew holding each other accountable would consist of daily texts or calls, to just check in on the other person since we both live on opposites of the country. We already knew some of these check-ins would consist of having someone to complain to when we were craving chocolate. Aside from check ins, we divided up the weeks and took turns being responsible for meal plans, sharing what we would be making for each meal of the day with one another. It was fun to be creative with meals (mad props to Pinterest for the inspiration) and being able to laugh about some of our cooking fails.
Once the first hellish week was over, I told myself that week was all about cleansing my body from all the crap food I had put in it, and the second week was when I would start to see some results and feel better. Sure enough, by the end of second week I had lost nearly an inch in my waist. Besides the external results, I was less tired, bloated and had not had any stomach issues. Halfway through I had adjusted well to the program. I was feeling really good and had become a pro (well, almost) in the kitchen. Most of the cravings had subsided and I had gotten used to being around other people eating food that I couldn’t have. Surprisingly, I was okay with all of that.
Cruising into the final week, I was really proud of Kam and myself for sticking with it. Both of us came to the conclusion that even when our 30 days was up that we were going to continue the eating habits we followed on the program long term. I plan on staying gluten and dairy free. Since I have not gotten sick since gluten and dairy have been eliminated from my diet, I decided to keep it that way. I am so happy with how good I feel (especially all the energy I have) since I have been eating more clean. I encourage anyone who is thinking about giving the Whole30 a try to do it! Like any challenge, the beginning is tough, but once you hit your stride, you won’t look back!
Overall, I’m super happy about how this Whole 30 went! If you’re thinking about doing it – you should!