If you haven’t read my first three Whole30 posts, you might want to go here to catch up: Getting Started with Whole30 in a Month without Travel, Whole30 Update: Day 10 and Whole30 Update: Day 20.
If you’d told me a month ago I would lose weight by eating a boatload of pork and eggs, I would have laughed in your face.
But 30 days after conquering the Whole30 challenge — no dairy, no grains, no legumes, no sugar, no alcohol for a month — I’m down 8.5 pounds.
And that’s with exercising the same amount I typically do: 30 to 90 minutes of strength training and/or cardio at least five days a week.
Now, this eating plan is not a weight-loss diet, as it’s noted all over the website and in the forum. However, I’ll be honest. I was hoping for some decent weight loss as I gave up favorite foods (and nightly wine!) for the entire month of August. Many people do lose weight on the program, but some do not. Folks jump on the Paleo-style Whole30 bandwagon to reset bad eating habits, learn to love whole foods, tame the “sugar dragon,” and mitigate medical issues.
Did Whole30 “change my life”? Maybe. (Frankly, my life was pretty darn great before starting Whole30.) I think lifelong changes will emerge as I start introducing different foods back into my everyday diet. Still, some questions: What will I eat daily now that bagels, yogurt, and hummus aren’t “forbidden”? Now that what I put in my mouth is a “choice” instead of “rule,” what choices am I going to make?
I can say for sure that I’ve had some nice NSVs (non-scale victories) and I’ve learned a lot as a result of not allowing one iota of sugar, alcohol, dairy, wheat or beans pass my lips in the past 30 days:
- I proved to myself I have more willpower than I ever thought I had. The fact that I did this — not one slip-up — is not much short of a miracle, in my eyes. That makes me feel fabulous.
- My skin is clearer — fewer facial blemishes, for sure.
- I don’t have that daily 3 p.m. energy slump.
- I wake up feeling refreshed, instead of groggy after a carb-heavy dinner and 1 or 2 glasses of wine
- I learned I love sweet potatoes. Like, I crave them now instead of 3 p.m. jelly beans.
- I discovered some yummy recipes; I can make my own sausage patties, and they’re really, really good. I proudly own a vegetable spiralizer.
- I’ve become a label-reading ninja, learning how much sugar is in so many processed foods. (If you haven’t seen Fed Up or That Sugar Film, watch them ASAP.)
But there have also been some bummers:
- I declined dinner invitations in August because I didn’t want to be tempted by non-Whole30 foods. I was pretty much a hermit all month. Not fun.
- When I had to travel to Denver for just one night, I confirmed that going to Red Robin and eating a bun-less, sauce-less burger and passing up a cold beer and chocolate dessert really, really sucks.
- Same with going to the movie theater and saying no to hot buttered popcorn. A real bummer.
- The initial sugar withdrawal in the first five days was horrific. And the digestive issues I faced through the majority of the 30 days are perhaps just now dissipating. Whole30 is not for the faint of heart or the impatient.
- Food was on my mind often. I had to make sure meals were prepped and ready. I needed to have compliant items on hand at all times, lest I “mess up” and eat some non-compliant snack because I was starving.
- I learned to hate the word “compliant” and hope never to use it in my vocabulary again. Ever.
So, what now?
Well, the plan is to crack open a bottle of Meiomi Pinot Noir tonight (or this afternoon). I’ll enjoy that with my Whole30 dinner tonight, because part of this program is a thoughtful “re-introduction” of foods I’d banned from my life for the past month. Every three days I’ll introduce either legumes, gluten grains, non-gluten grains, dairy, alcohol (that’s first!), then monitor how my body reacts.
Do I have any food sensitivities I didn’t know about prior to starting Whole30? We’ll see. I know I miss certain foods — my Cheerios, my homemade bean salads, fresh Parmesan cheese — and I don’t want to live life without them. But maybe instead of eating Cheerios and skim milk most mornings, I’ll continue to make egg casseroles and regularly eat hearty portions for my first meal of the day. I’ve seen how much eggs and sausage keep me satiated most mornings (unless I’ve got heavy exercise on the a.m. agenda; I really do think a slice of whole-wheat toast would help with energy lift for a big hike).
I learned to like almond milk, instead of skim, in my coffee; I’m going to try it with my cereal, too. Maybe, save for cheese sprinkled on my pasta (or Zoodles!) and the occasional yogurt, I’ll lead a dairy-free life. Who knows? I’m guessing I’ll be more conscious of crafting meat-and-veggie meals, instead of carb-centric dinners, more often for my family. I’m thinking I’ll only dig into a restaurant’s bread basket if I know that bread is going to taste really, really good. Same with desserts: I’m not going back to a nightly bowl of mediocre, low-fat ice cream. I’m hoping that if I want a special sweet treat, I’ll eat it — and enjoy it — but not make chocolate or cookies a daily need. Again, we’ll see if I’ve truly tamed my “sugar dragon.”
In all, Whole30 was a good experiment. I lost that vacation weight I’d gained. I am crazy proud of myself for sticking to the program.
But there is no way in hell I’ll ever do it again.
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