Day 31!

I completed my Whole 30 yesterday.  Do I feel amazing?  Do I feel like a different human being?  Look, it’s not a miracle.  It’s not a cure.  It’s a reset.  It’s a journey into nutritional consciousness.  It’s not a lose weight quick with another Adkins-like rendition of paleo.  It’s removing all the crap from your daily eating habits and assessing your health.  Not just your physical health, but your mental health. Although it is not a miracle, it will change your life.

whole30

What did I learn physically?

I learned that I can eat and feel full without snacking.  I learned that my body will take me where I want to go if I trust it to let me know what it needs.  I learned that I do not need to carb load before a running event or a skating event–that a sweet potato, some healthy fat and a couple of hard boiled eggs will do me just fine.  I also learned to rely on water.  Most of the time when I was hungry or foggy, it was because I was dehydrated.

Did I mention that I haven’t had any allergies this spring?  It’s like all of my spring time mucus is extinct.

I also learned that PMS is fueled by inflammation and that if I cut these awful foods out of my diet, I didn’t feel like I was going to kill someone…although I did feel like I was going to bleed to death and got very, very emotional.

What did I learn mentally?

I learned to eat mindfully.  I learned that much of my eating was out of being bored, anxious or emotional about something.  I also learned that I could say no to things like cupcakes, diet Dr. Pepper, pizza, sour cream, whipped topping and sugar in general.  I learned that if a food popped into my head that I didn’t have to make room for it on my plate.   I also learned to push myself.  Most importantly, I learned that I was in control.  Just of myself.

Finished-the-Whole30-LARGE

Other things I learned:

-Paleo is a privileged place to be.  I spent a lot of time and money at the grocery store.  I bought about 5 lbs. of meat a week, but produce really killed me.  Also things like ghee, coconut oil, coconut milk, coconut flakes, and nuts add up very quickly.  I might add that I’m a single mother living on a very tight budget and I made it through this with careful planning and some sacrifice because it was important to me.

-You have to be prepared and plan ahead.  I was constantly flipping through cookbooks based on ingredients I had (thank you indexes), looking at other blogs, and making lists for the week.  I would start with a few different kinds of meat, a few sides and go from there.  I then pre-packed my meals 1 and 2 for the work week, leaving meal 3 in bulk for plating.  I also made sauces and dressings for the week, because trying to find a sugar-free, non-seed oil laden salad dressing or dipping sauce is virtually impossible.

-Everything in the store is bad for you.  Stick to the meat and produce sections.  Seriously.  If you foray into the middle aisles, you will just be disappointed as you read label after label—soy, sugar, carrageenan,  dairy, etc.  I could not find one brand of bacon that did not have sugar.  Not even the local kind that the paleo food truck sells in its dishes is technically paleo or whole 30 safe.  Tuna has soy in it most of the time, so check before you buy.  Even spices are suspect.  It is really a wake up call to how our society eats and why we are so fat.

-There is no “good” time to do this.  Life happens every single day.  I chose to do this at the end of an academic year, as a higher education professional.  Duh.  I went to at least three parties where cupcakes were being served.  I attended dinners where I had to order off the menu, a staff breakfast where I had to beg the lady at the counter for hard boiled eggs to go with my fruit, a pizza dinner where I ordered a chicken salad, a mother’s day dinner at a seafood restaurant located between two cupcake places, a roller derby road trip, and a day at the Indy 500–not to mention Memorial Day weekend.  In spite of all these tempting “occasions,” I reminded myself that health is an every day occasion.  It’s only 30 days.  Only.  All of that crap will be there when those 30 days are over.  It’s likely that when you get to day 31, you will still think about that crap but none of it will be anything that you actually want to eat.

-Dishes.  I have never done so many dishes.  I have posted about this in my journal entries.  I want to reiterate that the next time I do a Whole 30 (scheduled for September after I move back to Texas,) I will have a dishwasher.

Take Aways

1. I am not afraid to share my food with baby Dean.  He loves coconut flakes on his strawberries and bananas, he likes beef fajitas, and he steals fennel out of my pork and fennel stew and shouts, “mmmm” as he mashes it between his four front teeth and gums.  I don’t wonder if any of this is good for him.  I don’t feel bad for sharing it with him.  I feel good for being a good example and raising him on whole foods and a clean diet.  I can’t eat like I did before and later tell him that he can’t have any of what I’m having because it’s not good for him.  There is more than dietary wealth in doing this and all parents should think about that before they indulge in spite of themselves.

steamed-fish

2. The mental picture of steamed fish is often strong enough to remind me that I’m not always hungry.  I’m starving for companionship, knowledge, and humanity instead.  Instead, I text or call a friend, go for a run or walk, read a book or an article, and make a list of all the things I would like to do in my lifetime.  Not a bucket list, but an experiential knowledge list.  I’m not going to learn anything by sky diving because I already know that I’m terrified of heights and that gravity is in fact a thing.  What can I learn by doing?  In any case, once I’m on a roll, it takes out the need to eat out of boredom.

Results

Weight: -8.6 lbs.
Inches: 11 total

I wasn’t sure how much to expect to lose.  I did lose a pants/dress size.  I went from a 16 to a snug 14.  I haven’t worn a size 14 since 1997 and even then, it was questionable.  To date, I have lost 41.9 lbs. this year and 62.2 since having Dean last April.  I am exactly where I was when I moved to Houston 10 years ago, except for one size smaller.  I’m about four pounds away from my second 10% goal and 55 lbs. away from my overall goal.

I will say this.  I ate more enjoyable whole foods over the past 30 days than when I was losing weight using fake sugar, low-fat, processed foods.  I also ate more food.  I certainly ate more fat.  Guess what?  I still lost weight.

What now? 

I have to admit that I feel a little lost.  No rules?  Oh my gosh!

The truth is that as much as I like a bunch of wrong for me stuff, I don’t really want any of it.  I feel like I’ve worked so hard to get here, to this 30 day mark that I don’t want it to be in vain.  All the dishes, all the cooking, all the shopping, all the bringing my own stuff to staff retreats and eating before parties.  This was not easy.  Making new habits never are.  I can think of one thing I want.  Chicken Tikka Masala.  I don’t want rice, I don’t want naan.  Am I going to eat it?  Yes.  Can I eat this and not feel like I wasted everything?  Absolutely.  To make it easier, when I want to deviate, I will use this Nutritional Off-Roading process chart to help me make my decision.

The upcoming challenges I face are daunting.  I have a divorce I’ve been trying to finalize for nearly 18 months, I am trying to move to Texas to attend law school, I’m working in a job that I am not fond of and I’m barely making rent.  In trying to discern what food was going to look like for the next several weeks while I am trying to not spend any money, I took an inventory of all the food in my house and devised a six-week menu plan.  Not everything on it is paleo, but everything is whole, not fake, not processed, gluten-free, etc.  Except for that frozen pizza in the deep freezer downstairs…  So my next challenge is to use only the items currently in my pantry, only purchasing produce for the next six weeks.  I have already gone through the list, the cookbooks and made the plan–now for the interesting part of following it…

I know that I want to do another Whole 30, but I’m going to wait until I relocate, start a new job and settle into law school for at least two weeks.  I’ve already got September 3-October 2 scheduled into my calendar.

Week Four Recap

The cravings snuck back in this week…like wham-pow!  I really wanted fajitas a couple of times and then chocolate.  I think I said the word cupcake to someone at least seven different times in a conversation.  At my WW meeting, my weight stayed the same.  Fine.  Whatever.  I have these mixed emotions of stress, sadness and confusion around some situations going on in my personal life–family, divorce, work, school, etc.  This wasn’t helping this week at all.  I didn’t give in.  I control this mind and this body.

…And that is exactly it.  I am in control of what I eat, what I say, what I do and who I am.  Letting go of that renders me useless to myself.  Trying to control things outside of myself will also be a losing battle.  One that I am not willing to fight.  Realizing this, I know that the last two days of this challenge will not be the last two days of my weight loss journey–although the focus of the Whole 30 is not weight loss, it’s resetting your cellular health and cutting all the crap out of your body in order to heal it.

The thing is that during this 30 days, my mind has healed a little bit too.  I don’t need to eat because I’m frustrated with my mother.  I don’t need to eat because I’m bored.  I don’t need to eat because something tastes good.  I also don’t need to eat because a craving pops into my head.

Now for the next two days…

Day 23!

Well, with math and all, I have seven more days to go!  My body still feels tired, my neck aches, and my cravings reappear at the oddest times.  I thought last week was a little willy-nilly with the preparedness, but this week is way worse.  I grilled some meat this weekend, but made no sides, no salads for lunches and I pared down the grocery shopping quite a bit due to money constraints.  I’m overwhelmed by the messiness of my house and the clingy-ness of a one year old who won’t let me clean because it means I have to pay attention to something other than him.  (If you know a single mother, offer to watch her kid at her house for a few hours to give her an opportunity to clean.)

Last night, I forced myself to put Dean in his stroller and go for a run.  I redid my half marathon training calendar yesterday and even though that program doesn’t start for a few weeks, I need to not let all the progress of the 5k I just did fall by the wayside, so at least 30 minutes twice a week with one long run is necessary for my later success.  I am doing a warm up and then running in five minute intervals with a one minute walk break.  This helps my knees, which still feel funny during all the impact.  A few weeks ago, running for five minutes at time felt like it was never going to happen, but its gotten easier, or at least more manageable.  My mile times have gotten lower, but I’d like to get down to a 10 minute mile average pace by the time the Houston half rolls around in October.  If I can get down to 12 while pushing Dean around, I will feel pretty awesome about life regardless.

I have been thinking a lot about what life will look like after my Whole 30 is over.  I know that I cannot live on plain iced coffee alone.  I need sugar.  Not a lot, but some.  I need bread.  Not everyday, but every once in a while.  I need chocolate.  At least once a week.  Definitely before my period, or I will rip someone’s head off.  I am going to keep all naughty foods out of the house and grocery shop as though I’m on a  Whole 313.  That means that I will allow myself a cheat day once a week—not one whole day, but one meal out–just one meal, not three.  I will calendar these ahead of time and they will not be fast food or junk food.  A trip to the cupcake place counts as one meal.  A trip to the ice cream shop counts as one meal.  I will eat clean for the rest of this day.  This will be manageable for me.  I can go to Mexican food and order paleo and really unless my nana comes back from the dead to make tamales or homemade tortillas, this is okay.  I don’t really like beans and rice anyways—but fajita and shredded beef with guacamole on top–delicious.

The more I think about this past 23 days, the more I realize that I CHOSE to get the way that I did.  I ate to keep people from getting close to me.  It was my defense mechanism.  It was my emotional crutch to be fat.  It gave me an excuse to not do things, to not be available and to be focused on things other than what I needed to actually be doing.  My weight loss commitment this year has been hard.  I have lost 41 lbs. since December 26 when I joined Weight Watchers.  I set a goal one day while looking at my little boy watch me eat a McDonald’s hamburger.  I thought, “I would never feed you this because its horrible for you” and then thought, “why the hell am I eating this?”  With that in mind, I continue to strive towards that goal and am on track to meet it.  Has the Whole 30 changed my life?  Probably not because as a fat person wanting to lose weight, I’ve read every diet book on the market and actually knew what the “forbidden foods” did to my body.  What it has done is focus my energy on eating whole, non-processed foods mindfully without the distractions of cheats and treats.  Not having the allowance to substitute a paleo cookie for a non-paleo cookie has made me question my body’s need for the cookie in the first place.  The answer is clear, my body doesn’t really need the cookie, my hedonic eating habit does.  The Whole 30 has given me the conscious ability to change my habits.  It isn’t easy, but it works.

Week 3 Wrap-up

There are times I have wondered why in the hell I am doing this.  What is life going to look like after next Tuesday?  Will this be the way I always eat?  Will there be a piece of bread or cheese somewhere in my future?  What if after this, I lose all self-control and eat a tray of cupcakes, lose my will to keep being healthy and have to buy size 20 pants again?  This really hit me hard after watching an anniversary video my bosses kids had made her–inadvertently showing her weight loss up and downs throughout the years.  I want to get to one healthy weight and stay there for the rest of my life.  The thought of going backwards scares the shit out of me, but I’d also like to know that it will be okay to have the occasional margarita without freaking out.

This week was full of reflections and some frustrations.  I really want chocolate.  There is a part of me that wants to snack on some Rice Chex when I give Dean a little handful with his banana.  I want a cupcake.  I want to be able to run downstairs and grab a sandwich when I’m too lazy to bring my lunch.  See, these were all the things that got me where I was in the first place.  I’m not sure what all of these cravings and longings are for, but they have been awfully strong this week.  I’ve been able to overcome them, but still find myself frustrated.

I know that time is against me.  I need more of it.  I need time to cook meals, plan meals, grocery shop and to do the crazy amount of dishes that comes with this lifestyle.  I also need time to work so I can make more money, because this way of eating is not cheap.  I’ll just say it.  Paleo living is a very privileged lifestyle.  Did I mention the dishes?

Day 19 Reflections

Well, that four days just flew by.  It’s hard to believe that I am nearly two-thirds of the way to the end of this challenge.  Last night, a friend at derby was talking about paleo cookies.  I told her I couldn’t until my 30 days was up.  So, therein lies the strictness of what I am doing.  No sweats, no cheats, no treats.  Not even honey in my coffee.  Nothing.  No sugar in any form, except fruit.  Is it hard?  Absolutely.  Is it killing me?  No.  I’m not dead…yet.

I keep noticing how I want to keep sleeping when its time to wake up.  Tuesdays and Thursdays are especially hard when I’m still wound up from derby practice at 10 p.m.  I’m trying to go to bed by 11, but find it difficult when my mind is racing with all the crap I have to do.  I’m also pretty pressed for time to just take care of me.  I’d like to find five minutes to shave my legs, but often choose to do the sink full of dishes instead.  Forget painted toenails and getting my hair did.

Recently, I read the Gabriel Method, which really focuses on FAT programs and how to turn them off.  I need less stress in my life.  I need to sleep more.  I need to do what makes me happy.  More than anything, I need to let go.  I’m working on all of this.  I’m exercising outside of roller derby, trying to spend more time outdoors, and imagining being chased by a bear when I’m running to trigger my primal skinny programs.  I don’t know if any of that is working on top of the Whole 30, but my new smaller sized clothes are definitely fitting better.  Now if the stressful things in my life (i.e.: a job I’m not excited about, divorce, relocation, etc.) would just subside, I’d feel better about life.  I’m working hard to not let me down in spite of the days I feel like I need to breathe through a paper bag.

Tomorrow, I have a Weight Watchers meeting.  I’ve been weighing in, even though you aren’t supposed to weigh yourself during the Whole 30.  I think the reasoning behind this is because they want you to focus on how much you are eating and what your body is telling you instead of getting caught up in the mentality of losing weight.  I had already resolved how I was going to deal with this when I started the Whole 30.  My weight had plateaued and it was because I was consistently hungry and feeding myself the wrong kinds of foods.  Fake sugars, diet foods, etc.  The balance of whole foods during these last few weeks has created some balance in diet.  I don’t crave junk and the “rules” keep me from eating or wanting things I “can’t” have.

Oddly, enough, with the new way that WW Points Plus program works, you have a weekly topic where you focus on one aspect of your weight loss journey.  These topics have fit into each week I’ve been on the Whole 30.  This week’s topic was mindful eating.  Perfect, because that is really what it is all about.  You have to be mindful of your food, your body and how they form a relationship with each other.  Does the food you eat sustain you?  Are you eating because you are truly hungry?  Is the food you are giving your body nourishing it or poisoning it?

Just some stuff to chew on…

Day 15

Today marks the second half of my Whole 30.  I am still pretty excited.  I don’t know why people give up.  I don’t know why people cheat.  There really is nothing to lose in sticking to it.  There are things I wanted to put in my recap for week 2 that I forgot, so I’m going to go over them today.

1.  I have not been hungry outside of meals.  On days that I run, have derby practice or work out otherwise, I plan a snack and that has worked out wonderfully.  I’m also a big believer in refueling for recovery, so I’m mindful about mixing a carb such as a sweet potato with a small piece of chicken or having a banana with almonds and coconut creme.

2. I didn’t recognize any PMS symptoms before my cycle started.  I think my usual veracious hunger was fed by my Week 1 adjustment period, so I didn’t even realize that it was going to happen.  However, I bled heavy, had some cramping, but none of it was as bad as normal.  (Also, if this makes you uncomfortable to know about me, grow up dude, it happens to a little more than half of the population.)

3. My pants fit better and there are some that I just bought in a smaller size that are already a little too loose.  I know I’ve lost weight, but I’ve also lost inches.  It would be nice to come off of this at my current goal weight.

4.  I sleep really well.

5. This morning one of my co workers told me that my skin looked brighter.

This week, my goals are to continue being prepared, to eat mindfully, and a new one: eat dinner while sitting down with no distractions.

Food Additive Monday

Sulfites

Sulfites slow bacterial growth and prevent oxidation.  They are found in seafood, meats, vegetables and wine.  Side effects could include an allergic reaction, asthma attack, trouble breathing, and hives.  Allergists don’t know what causes or how much causes a reaction.

There are different kinds of sulfates in food, some more harmful than others.  I was curious about sulfates because I saw sodium bisulfite listed on a package of seaweed and wondered what it was.  When I googled it, pool chemicals and the like came up.  I think I will just abstain entirely, thank you very much.