Sunday, November 10, 2013

The end of my Whole 30

For 30 days I followed a food plan called the Whole 30.  (My last day was last Thursday) It is roughly a paleo diet, with some more stringent guidelines.  The plan is no sugar/sweeteners of any kind (including honey, agave, etc) no artificial sweetener (What? sweet-n-low is like an entire food group for me!), no alcohol, no dairy, no soy, no grains of any kind (including corn, rice, etc...), and no legumes.  So what do you eat?  Meat, eggs, fruits, vegetables, some nuts (not peanuts, which apparently are not nuts but a legume.  Who knew??) and healthy fats.  you eat 3 meals a day and try not to snack in between.   I learned about the diet from the book "It Starts with Food".  The book outlines each of the categories and why each of these foods is potentially a problem food.
Before--excuse the horrible hair!

Why did I decide to do it?  Several little reasons.  I had gained about 5+ pounds this year, partly secondary to the fact that I was injured and couldn't run for 5 months.  5 lbs may not sound like a lot, but when you are 5' 1.5" it means clothes don't fit right anymore.  Try as I might, I could not drop the weight, even while exercising other ways and monitoring my eating.  Another reason was stomach aches.  For a couple of years I have been having frequent stomach aches in the afternoon.  I couldn't figure out what was causing it.  Most of all to deal with my constant sugar cravings.  I feel the need for something sweet after every single meal.  I am constantly snacking and picking between dinner time and bedtime, in an attempt to feed the damn sugar dragon.  I read the book (which was recommended by my cousin and aunt) and thought, what the heck?  Why not give this a try?  It is only 30 days.

But wait Michelle??  Haven't you been a vegetarian for 22 years?? I have been.  There is a section in the book that addresses a vegetarian diet.  They state that while it is best to avoid all soy, eating tempeh (a fermented soy product) is the best of the soy products and is what they recommend as a protein source.
Do you know how easy it is to make your own mayo?  So much healthier!

So I picked my day and I was all ready (I thought).  I went to store and bought a bunch of tempeh and vegetables.  Let's do this!  I tried the tempeh for lunch that day and was beyond disgusted. It was coated with patchy black fungus which I had to scrape off (I read on line that it is normal!!  blech!!).  It smelled horrible and tasted worse.  I decided if I was truly going to stick with this plan, and do it right,  I was going to have to eat meat.  It took me several days to work up the nerve before I finally did it.  It was really just ok.  Ground beef was the thing that went down the best.  Steak was ok and chicken was very eh.  Given the choice I would pick tofu or a black bean burger hands down, no contest.  I powered through, but truly was never able to eat the amount that I really should have to meet my protein needs.
Delicious food!  That is actually a portabello mushroom, not meat.

What did I learn the last 30 days?

--It was an eye opening experience to read the labels.  I was shocked at all the things that sugar was in.  Garlic salt?? lemon pepper?  Pizza sauce?  The list goes on.  Very educational indeed.

--Nuts are a yummy snack!  I have always avoided them because of fat and calories, but really enjoyed eating them, especially cashews, almonds and macadamia nuts.

-- I always thought I ate a lot of vegetables before, but realized I did not.  Holy shit did I consume a ton of veggies the last month and found some amazing ways to cook them.

--I was not nearly as prepared to start this as I thought.  It was dumb of me to not try the tempeh before.  Also, while I had a fridge full of veggies, I really didn't have any plans of what to do with them and was really scrambling for the first week or so.  I eventually bought a cookbook entitled Well Fed, which is all Whole30 approved recipes.  Wonderful, and made the rest of the month goes smoothly.

--Despite what other people told me, I never got used to drinking my coffee without some kind of sweetener and I missed it terribly.  In fact, I would say that was the thing I missed the most, with cheese a close second.

My results:
After--a little better.  Still work to do!

After 30 days I had lost about 4 pounds.  While that was initially my weight loss goal, I was disappointed because I lost it all the first 2 weeks, then my weight did not budge after that.  And maybe that is because I really didn't need to lose any more.  The other disappointment was that my body fat and muscle mass percentages did not change at all.  I lost a full inch from my hips, a quarter inch from my waist, and had various small losses from all my other measurements EXCEPT my thighs which went up a bit (I am blaming you Crossfit!)   I never had a single stomach ache the entire month, which was awesome!  The biggest bummer was my energy level.  I feel like in general I am a fairly low energy person who struggles to stay up past 9, and who needs a full 8 hours of sleep.  Reading testimonials from other people about the "boundless energy" they had after the initial detox period really got my hopes up.  Nope.  Not even close.  In fact, I maybe had even less energy.

Soooo, now what?  Honestly my changes were not drastic enough to make me want to stick with such a stringent eating plan.  I really have to wonder if things would have been better if I had more protein.  But the fact is, by in large I did not enjoy eating the meat and could not eat more than I did.  Some things I do want to stick with.  I will not go back to the artificial sweetener, because that stuff really is just poison.  I am going to keep eating all the great veggie recipes I now have.  I am going to stick with 3 meals a day with minimal to no snacking.   I am going to do another little experiment.  I am going to add back my dairy, soy and legume protein sources.  I will continue to eliminate all grains, at least a vast majority of the time.  Maybe the improved protein eating will make me feel a lot better.  As an aside, I have been running 5 miles, 3 times a week for the last few weeks.  I have been dragging, and have been frustrated with how slow I have been, and how I have not improved that at all.  Today, after loosening my eating for the last couple of days, I ran the 5 miles a full 2 1/2 minutes faster than my previous fastest time in the last month, and a full 4 minutes faster than my average has been. Coincidence?  Maybe, but probably not.  I will let you know how the next month goes.


Suzanne said...

Very interesting! It sounds like you learned a few things from the process and so did I. (Thanks to you, I started really looking at how much artificial sweetener I was using as well.)

I'm curious about the mayo. I have heard it's easy to prepare but I've never done it. Which recipe did you use?

As for the label reading, I can attest to that from my experience too. Sugar IS hidden in many unlikely items and likewise when fat is eliminated, its evil substitute is high fructose corn sweetener. It's not impossible to eat well but it definitely involves time and diligence.

I'm glad you did the experiment and I hope you are able to continue with the parts that worked well for you.

Katie said...

I find the paleo/whole30 stuff interesting, but not so interesting that I would try it. I am absolutely in love with peanut butter. You couldn't pay me to give up my natural peanut butter...also, I love cream in my coffee. I often make chili in the crockpot too (with beans). So it's not for me. I don't usually eat pasta or rice. Occasionally I have bread.

Reading labels is a huge eye opener. I started about 6 years ago, when we found out soy makes Kaylee very ill. It was so frustrating at first.

Over the last year I've lost about 10 pounds. I have noticed that (for me) eating 3 meals a day is helpful. In the past, I've tried eating 6 small meals and found I was just hungry all the time. I also really need to think about how many calories I'm taking in. Running makes me hungry and without much thought I can eat more calories than I've burned.

I think both of your pics looked great by the way.

michelle contini said...

Suzie-- The recipe is from the book Well Fed-- I will send you a link for it!

Katie--I missed the dairy the most! I was used to coffee every morning with vanilla creamer and sweet n low. I now use real cream and a bit of sugar, figuring that is better than the chemical laden creamer I was using. A girl has to enjoy her coffee!

Jocelyn said...

Oh my goodness, you look awesome!!! I just might have to try this...