Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Whole30, holy moly!

Whew! Tom and I just completed our first Whole30. Thirty consecutive days of clean, healthy eating. Saying it was our “first” implies that we might intend to do it again, and you know, we just might! We’re feeling so great!

A little bit about the program:
In a very quick and not at all inclusive explanation, Whole30 is a nutritional program aimed at eliminating inflammatory foods from your diet while resetting your body’s metabolism and food cravings. The list of “don’t eat” foods is daunting, and includes dairy, grains, legumes (beans), sugar, and alcohol. It’s probably better to view it from the “allowed to eat” standpoint of: vegetables, meats, eggs, fruits, tree nuts, oils and seeds. The Whole30 program is based around a book, It's Starts with Food, but truthfully, I haven't read it.My friend Katie read it,and she said, while it is a little extreme, it really made her think about food in a very different way. Maybe I'll get around to reading it someday, when Maddie is grown ;)

What made me hesitant:
I’m no stranger to dietary restrictions, so I wasn’t all that intimidated by the strict Whole30 rules. While I was pregnant, I avoided dairy meats, soft cheeses, alcohol and caffeine.  Once I had Maddie, I nixed dairy products due to her milk allergy. My biggest concern with the program was sugar. I have such a major sweet tooth! As in, chocolate, without fail. I honestly cannot remember a time before Whole30 where I went without chocolate on any one given day. Chocolate makes me happy! Mmmmm, I’m imagining a hershey’s kiss melting in my mouth right now, popping a handful of M&Ms, smelling warm brownies in the oven, topped with a chocolate chip cookie, and a scoop of rocky road ice cream. And I’m in heaven! Except that, chocolate also makes me feel…. fat. I’m not saying I’m fat, don’t jump me, just hear me out. Eating chocolate does not make me feel healthy. And in the past 30 days, I’ve realized that feeling healthy makes me happy too! So my main takeaway in regards to sugar is, everything in moderation. I’m still going to eat Oreos occasionally. Just not an entire bag every week (yes, that was real life before Whole30).

What I most enjoyed:
I LOVED that I didn’t have to count calories. That would be difficult anyway since tomatoes don’t  come with a nutrition label ;) I’ve always been one to read nutrition labels, and to obnoxiously call Tom out. You know that thing has like half your saturated fats for the day, right!? Nevermind the fact that one package of Oreos has 1,920 calories in it. Every week I was eating a whole day's worth of calories in Oreos! Although the program encourages you to eat 3 meals a day and not snack, as a nursing mother, I am hungry around the clock. But I didn’t feel guilty at all for grabbing a banana or an orange in between meals!
(Side story - one time, while I was pregnant, that’s my “excuse” – we went to dairy queen and I ordered my favorite Georgia Mud Fudge Blizzard. Tom initally said he wasn’t going to get anything, he didn’t need any ice cream – politely implying that maybe a third Blizzard in one week wasn’t my healthiest meal choice. At the last minute, he added on cheese sticks to my order! I informed him that cheese sticks were worse than a Blizzard, but his disbelief directed me to the DQ website nutrition facts. And the truth? A medium DQ Georgia Mud Fudge blizzard = 850 calories VS. a large box of cheese sticks = 440 calories. Ouch! That's nearly twice as much in the Blizzard!)

The Scale:
Weight loss is certainly not the purpose of Whole30. But most participants do see a significant difference in their body composition. I had just 5 little pounds left to lose to be back at my pre-baby weight, and I was hopeful, after ready so many success stories, that I could kick those last few pounds. According to the program rules, you're not supposed to weigh yourself or take any measurements during the 30 days. And I held off all the way until Day 29, when I caved and pulled out the scale. I was feeling awesome. My pre-baby clothes were fitting, I felt light as a feather, floating on air. I was fully expecting the scale to give me a number lower than my pre-baby weight. And then BAM. I'd only lost 4 pounds. At first I was really ticked. WTF, all this healthy food and I only lost 4 pounds!? But as I gave it time to settle in... I was actually totally okay with the result. Even though the scale said 4 pounds lost, I felt so good when I looked in the mirror! It really showed me that the scale shouldn't dictate how I feel about my body and my health. It's just a number.
Now, Tom, on the other hand, lost 13 pounds! Isn't that crazy good!? And he is feeling so great, that he is still maintaining the Whole30 diet! (Ok ok, he did eat some popcorn tonight.. but he reported that it didn't even taste good and he felt guilty eating it!)

Full Disclosure:
I should tell you though, that I did cheat. The program guidelines tell you not even to contemplate what to do if you cheat, to not let it be an option. But I’ll be truthful in telling you, I cheated. I cheated by having a glass of wine (ok ok and a beer and a piece of cake) at my best friend’s wedding. I cheated by having a beer at ACL fest. I cheated at my parent’s house when I ate a dollop of mango coconut sauce with my veggie shish-ka-bob. I may have incidentally cheated when I ate out at restaurants and did my absolute best to pick the cleanest, healthiest option on the menu (that still might have been cooked in butter). I cheated by eating oatmeal for breakfast some mornings (I swear by it for milk production). And I cheated the one time I ate a chocolate Luna bar because my milk supply was tanking and I was panicked. Whew! I feel better getting all that off my chest. I am such a rule follower, and clearly, all of those cheats really made an impact on me because I remember every single one! I still feel like I got many benefits of the program despite my oopsies. So cut yourself some slack and don’t give up even if you do slip.

Favorite Recipes:
Crockpot Beef fajitas -

Mustard Chicken -

Roasted sweet potatoes -

Chicken apple sausage -

Burger salad - burgers on the grill, over a salad instead of on a bun

Mexican meat loaf -

Stuffed peppers -

Shrimp kabob, pineapple kabob -

Cauliflower rice -

Fried apple dessert -

Tools of the trade:

Have I convinved you yet?? :)  Happy to answer any questions you might have and support you if you decide to give it a try!

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