Last February, I did my first Whole 30. I’d been working out, but not really losing much weight, and I was terrified of my own eating habits, which didn’t seem to be helping me become trimmer or feel better. I was also worried about the levels of inflammation in my body, the blood sugar levels, and aging. I did my first Whole 30, loved it, felt great and then stayed on and off Whole 30—mostly on—until November 2015. In the process, I lost 23 lbs., lots of inches, and started feeling great.
What’s interesting to me is that, for the past two months, I have been in a bit of a diet and exercise slump. I’ve been working out 1-3 times a week, vs. 3-5, and I’ve stepped away from the Whole 30 for a looser and more permissive “Whole-30-ish” way of eating. Nevertheless, even though my diet has relaxed and my exercise has slowed, I am still losing weight and feeling pretty good. The reason? A lot of what I have learned doing Whole 30—and reading about the science behind it—has permanently shifted the way I move and eat.
What’s really shifted? Here’s a short list:
1) Bread, pasta, grains, gluten are mostly off the plate: I am loving the breakfast plain croissants I’ve been having 2X a week recently, but that doesn’t mean that I’m back in relationship with bread, rolls, pasta, etc—even though I ADORE them. It’s very clear to me that more than a little bit of these grains are really toxic to my body, so even without dieting, it’s been easy to stay off the stuff. And I don’t do much with quiona, either. Just feel so much better without them—and don’t need the sugar they turn into.
2) The cutback on sugar is lasting. I have come to believe that even though sweets are delicious, they are really not good for me. I’ve heavily veered away from sweets as a treat, choosing potato chips, for example, instead of a danish, if I want a major treat and, more typically—choosing a drink of water and then half an apple or a small orange—both of which are really sweet, really. And if I have a sweet thing, it’s a treat, not the start of a pattern.
3) Alcohol: drinking so much less. I had the best time on my birthday weekend drinking champagne and then a light red wine. They were so good and fun! But I’ve stopped drinking most of the time—no more wine at home with dinner, no beer, no hard liquor—I feel so much better with less alcohol in my life.
4) Dairy: Still not my friend. I kind of love ice cream, but I eat it way less than once a month, and when I do, I have one scoop, out. Gave up dairy in my coffee—and all the sweeteners—a year ago, and don’t usually eat cheese or dairy products of any time. And I feel so much better!!
5) Beans. Gave up beans a year ago on my first #Whole30, and decided to never go back. Don’t usually have then, and don’t miss them.
6) Rice: This is one of my addictions. I LOVE rice, and I can tell that it’s not so good for me and that it turns to sugar right in my blood stream. So, I dial it waaaaayyyyy back—brown rice is an occasional treat food with dinner when I am “whole 30-ish,” not strict Whole 30. I also LOVE rice noodles in pho and Thai food–and have that occasionally, with relish.
7) Red meat and other proteins: I’ve been working hard to cut back on eating red meat, because the planet—and also to try to make sure that the red meat I eat is the healthiest—I’d rather eat a small amount of grass-fed, organic beef in a stir-fry than a hamburger, for example. My go-tos are the meats on the cheaper side of the spectrum: organic chicken and turkey in various forms. Also, I make my own chicken broth 1X a month in the slow cooker, then make soups with that.
8) Nightshades: #Whole30 allows white potatoes, which I definitely eat 2-3X a week, especially as part of a breakfast omelet. But I’ve cut way back on the tomatoes, peppers, eggplants etc that I eat, and I think I feel better. Way better.
9) Eating less, and eating less often: I think I am eating far less than I used to every day. I plan out my meals and bring lunch and a fruit snack to work, have breakfast and dinner at home, with no snacking at night. I am just so much less hungry than I was! And I don’t over-eat the way I used to—most of the time (I do occasionally and then it makes me feel REALLY sick.) Eating 3 good meals means that I don’t have to worry about being hungry, and I am eating foods my body can truly process for energy.
10) Exercise: Can’t live without it anymore. Now that I’ve become more active, I walk more, move more, and notice it when I am not exercising. If I take a break from working out, it’s a few days, not weeks, and I really notice it—and go back. True, it’s hard for me to snag all the time to exercise I think I should have—and that I’d like to have, but my basic orientation is to KEEP MOVING and to keep finding new ways to move. I’ve also gotten really into exercise that uses my whole body weight and works all my muscles—and it’s so fun!
CONCLUSION AND OUTCOMES:
Since my first Whole30 last February, my understanding of what’s good for me, and what will feel good, has really evolved and shifted. I’m much less bloated, have a lot more energy, feel trimmer and have seen some significant health improvements, especially:
My hands don’t hurt anymore: I was carpal tunnel-ish and needed to sleep in braces. Now that I eat different and work out, this is almost never an issue. Reduced inflammation, anyone?
My hair is thicker: I was one of those ladies with thinning hair in unfortunate spots on my head. Felt crappy about it, but what could I do about it? Now that my diet has changed, I swear my hair is thicker and the thin spots are gone/no longer an issue. Have no idea what made that happen, but love it.
Stomach aches and stomach knots are G-O-N-E. My feelings that lived in my stomach for my whole life. That means feeling nauseous, bloated, sour stomach, stomach pains, bowel issues are all pretty much GONE. Living without a sensitive stomach is the greatest thing on the planet, and now that I have better eating habits, I don’t get stomach pains.
Energy level: Way up.I’m the CEO of a #techinclusion #techequity education startup and I work really hard. And then I go work out and have fun, And then I play with my dog and see my sweetie, family and friends. And then I work some more and sleep and then I do it all right over again. I need to keep working on the cardio endurance, but I am so much better than I was!
Peace of mind: I feel strong. I lift weights, do high intensity exercises, squats, planks, lunges, carry heavy things—it’s so relaxing, and I feel so much better. And when I do interval running, that feels really good, too. #endorphins.