Monday, February 1, 2016

10 things I learned from my Whole30


 I got back on the Whole30 train after my cheat day the Sunday that ended my 3rd week.

And I stayed on it for 5 days.

And then I decided that I was done. We had a lot planned for this weekend including a baby shower lunch with my coworkers to celebrate a baby-to-be, a girls night shopping trip to cheer up my sis and a birthday party for Mark's little cousin who was our flower girl in our wedding. Could I have gone to all of those things and stayed compliant? Yea, probably. But I thought it over and in the end decided I was okay with being done just 4 days short of the goal.

I completed 26 days of the Whole30 and I lost 5 pounds throughout the process.

I'm sort of disappointed that I only lost 5 pounds. Granted, I had a cheat day, but for the other 25 days I was hardcore not eating sugar or any processed foods. AND working out 5 days a week. So yea, I was hoping to drop more than 5 pounds. Especially since most of that was lost the first week and was probably water/bloat weight. BUT weight loss wasn't the only goal (albeit a big one), it was really about restarting my eating habits to continue working towards a fit and healthy life and help me reach my goal of finishing the upcoming 1/2 Marathon with a new personal record.

Here's what I learned while Whole30ing it up in the Month of January...

Self denial is a good thing. We all have innate selfishness that makes us want what we want when we want it. Self denial is the cure. Or maybe more like a step in the right direction. Being aware of what you want, having the ability to have it, but still saying no is hard. But hard is not the same thing as bad.

Eating healthy is expensive - I spent $600 dollars in groceries alone this past month!!! YIKES! I did cut waaaaayyy back on our eating out expenses as I didn't have fast food at all (until my cheat day) and even going to a restaurant wasn't appealing since I knew I'd be restricted so we always opted to come home and make a meal. So while $600 was truly way too much for groceries, it was rewarding to know we were eating at home more.

Read labels - even things that say natural and organic can be total frauds. There are better options and sometimes they aren't even the more or most expensive options. You just have to watch out for those crazy ingredients.

I need more food education - having limited options made me want to take the time to find out what foods were considered healthy fats, what food would fuel my long runs and how much protein I should eat to stay full. Nutrition is an interesting thing and its amazing the way our body needs different types of foods for optimal energy and performance.

Planning ahead is crucial! You know those snack attack urges where you just want to grab some chips out of the pantry? Or those busy days where you've been running around so you just throw a frozen pizza in the oven for dinner? Not an option on the Whole30! I had to sit and plan out each meal for the week, thaw out the meat needed for dinner the night before and pre-package fruits and veggies for quick snacks during the day. I'm not the best at that, but I got better. Having something already planned cuts back on those urges to order take out on busy nights as well. Mark and I love Chinese food. ;)

I use food as comfort - as previously disclosed I did have a cheat day when the stress got overwhelming, but it was an eye opener. I craved something to make me feel happy and content. The other 25 days I had to find it in other things besides food like my husband, my sweet girl, journaling, and reading.

I eat as a habit - every time I walk in to the kitchen I want to grab something to eat, even if I'm not hungry! Just because it's there, doesn't mean I need to eat it. Especially at night before bed!

Trying new recipes is fun! Mark and I found this baked chicken thigh recipe that gets the skin deliciously crispy and the meat so moist. I definitely had a few fails, but failing is learning, yea?

Food affects your skin - I've been lamenting over the last year or so that the dark circles and bags under my eyes are worsening. I can get very upset about this if I'm in a particularly vain mood and I picture myself in ten years with sagging, drooping skin pockets under my eyeballs. But I actually noticed a big difference in the way they looked this month! I wasn't even thinking about the benefits my skin could see! I don't know if its the sugar or the dairy or what, but it definitely motivates me to be more conscious of what I'm eating.

Sugar is an addiction - on a spiritual note, I realized I am way too judge-mental towards those who can't break a serious addiction like smoking or alcohol. I struggled to give up sugar for 26 days - just SUGAR, and the day after I decided the fast was over, I had ice cream. Just like an addict who is sober for a few weeks but goes right back to whatever his vice is even though he was doing so well without it. This whole experience has changed the way I look at people that I see smoking. (I'm just using that as an example because I admit, I hate smelling the cigarette smoke). Whenever I go out for a run early in the morning, there is always a lady who sits out on her front porch and smoke a cigarette. On Saturday it was 39 degrees out while I was running and sure enough, there she was all bundled up and sitting on her little bench with a cigarette. I'm a little ashamed to admit, but after 2-3 years of seeing this lady off an on when I go running, I prayed for her for the first time. A prayer that she would allow God to loose the chains of her addiction. Not that I know now what its like to be addicted, I'm not trying to make that claim, but I think a log has been removed from my eye.

So there you have it. 10 main things I learned. My overall Whole30 Whole26 experience was challenging, expensive and despite only losing 5 pounds, it really was rewarding.

I do feel motivated to eat healthy through out the week, I'm still staying away from soda at least until after my 1/2 marathon, and I'm settling into a nice pattern of working out during the week. After 4 weeks of consistent exercising I am starting to see more definition in my legs and arms and that is motivating me to continue!

I think doing a cleanse or restricting yourself to a "clean" diet for a specific amount of time is beneficial as it helps refocus your mind and body. You have to be careful not to binge after coming off of something like this and look at it as kickstart to healthier eating overall. There's no way I could stick to the Whole30 every day of my life - but it's helped me take a step back, shake out some of the junk that my body was craving and say going forward we're going to allow some not so good stuff back in but only in moderation. Eventually I would like to get to the point where we're eating clean 75-80% of the time and allowing the other 20-25% to be room for convenience and treats. Healthy living is a lifelong process and I think you need to give yourself grace but also give yourself goals. I don't want to look back at my life and remember how I was always on a dieting/binging cycle trying to achieve unrealistic goals, but I also want to look back and know that I didn't waste a perfectly healthy body by feeding it junk and not taking care of it.

What about you? Have you stuck to your New Years goals of getting healthier? What have you learned along the way? 

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