Note: Just sharing my personal experience. I am not a physician or trained medical professional.
And just like that, 30 days was over!
I literally feel as good as this cat-thing riding the unicorn.
About Whole30: Whole30 is a nutritional program by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig designed to change your life in 30 days. Think of it as a short-term nutritional reset, designed to help you put an end to unhealthy cravings and habits, restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, and balance your immune system.
As I mentioned, after my divorce, I was living on gluten free pizza and red wine. Sure, I didn't have a binge (super victory for someone with binge eating disorder), but there was basically no nutritional value in what I was eating, and the wine fog certainly didn't help my emotionally-charged situation. I had done Whole30 before when I got my Hashimotos diagnosis and had to cut gluten, and I felt good doing it.
I wanted to get back to that point where I felt good in my body, not sluggish, exhausted, with perma-headache, leg swelling, and knee pain. Previously, I blamed all of these pings and pains on my weight, and just tried to hack away at the number on the scale without focusing on health and how I felt. Health and weight aren't exclusive, and for me, embarking on Whole30 again would hopefully give me those feelings again that escaped me the past several months: my body is strong, I provide it with what it needs, and it gets me through the everyday with ease.
Oh my, did it work.
Throughout the 30 days, I was hyper-focused on myself and making conscious decisions. Basically, I had to break out of the zombie-state I was in before. I meal-planned, made grocery lists, and cooked nearly every meal at home (only ate out 1 meal the 30 days). I enjoyed my food, and more than that, I felt human again. My brain fog, swelling, headaches, and sluggishness lifted. I had ENERGY again, and my body began to feel stronger and more capable with each workout.
The first day back to the gym after starting Whole30, I couldn't finish the workout. It wasn't even a hard one! My body just crashed. I seriously didn't want to go back – I felt I had “let myself go” so much that I lost all of the strength and conditioning I'd worked on for so long. Thankfully I kept going, and my body rebounded. I'm not even kidding when I say I'm getting misty-eyed thinking about it. Last week, I did a 5K distance (walking) in the fastest time I've ever done. It might have been because I was listening to Serial, but I really think it's because I felt great!
Then yesterday at the gym (a day after my Whole30 ended), I was able to deadlift over 50 pounds more than I was able to at the beginning of the month – when I had to stop my workout.
I went from feeling super uncomfortable in my skin to feeling proud.
I am grateful for this body and what it allows me to do.
I've gotten lots of questions about Whole30 and what I liked and disliked, so here's a quick rundown.
Favorite things about Whole30:
- FEELING AMAZING
- Getting into the routine of planning and prepping meals at home
- Kicking the sugar cravings
- Unintentional, but I *gasp* only had about 6 cups of coffee for the month (coming from a 4 cup a day drinker). I like cream in my coffee, so the absence of it made me gravitate towards hot tea.
Least favorite things about Whole30:
- Social time suffers. Seeing as I've been in hibernation the past few months, this wasn't awesome, but you make it work. I asked friends to meet me at coffee shops instead of restaurants. For my Bunco group (yes, Bunco.) I took my own food. For book club at the Mexican restaurant, I had a salad with fajita vegetables and chicken with salsa and then snacked on some food when I got home.
- People think it would be hard to follow, but since I was already gluten-free it wasn't bad. I did miss my dairy though in my coffee.
- It takes time. I planned out my prepping and cooking times and most of the time made foods that I could eat for a few meals. It's easier for me as I work from home, but I could see if you're a busy parent rushing home after work that it's just quicker to grab something to bring home. Since I was looking for fresh, organic meats and produce, I went to the grocery 2 times per week. It became routine though, as I knew exactly what I needed and could zip in and out.
I am a creature of habit with my food, and if I make things I like, I know I'll eat them. For that reason, I primarily stuck to 3 favorite recipes. The rest of the time, I ate pretty standard protein + veg. Salmon + sweet potato + salad being my favorite no-recipe meal.
It's no surprise that my favorite recipes are from Nom Nom Paleo. She's the best.
- Asian Meatballs – they're like flavor bombs, and I know the recipe by memory now
- Slow Cooker Kalua Pig – it takes 12-16 hours and it's 100% worth it. Amazing as leftovers – take salad greens, chopped avocados, chopped cilantro, sea salt, juice from 1/2 a lime, a sprinkle of olive oil, and top with this pork. You won't regret it.
- Oven Braised Mexican Beef (though I made it in a slow cooker) – Super tasty, super quick prep
- Tessemaes – Not a recipe, but I'd be remiss not to include them. They're all natural dressings and condiments, and have 9 Whole30 approved varieties. I LOVE the Zesty Ranch on salads. It's basically just olive oil and herbs – not creamy. So tasty though. The Lemon Garlic is awesome on chicken, and I loved pan-cooking my salmon fillets in it. These are kitchen staples for me now.
The benefits for me doing this were 100% for feeling better, but I know people want to know if I lost weight. I weighed and measured on Day 1 and Day 31. Weight lost: 16 pounds. Inches lost: 9.5″
I'm not putting stock into those numbers though because the scale screws with my head. The numbers that matter more are the speed/ease of my 5K distance and increase in my deadlift. Those are the markers that will make a difference in my life.
Sorry if I sound like a raving happy person in this post, but I felt so horrible before that I'm just happy to feel like I'm in my skin again.