I’m on Day 29, and I wanted to share some of my non-scale victories. Partly so I could see the little successes I’ve had so far, partly to share, but also to remind myself of all the things that are changing besides whatever number readout I get when I step on the scale Wednesday morning.
My checkmarks from the list in the book
Clothes fit looser (pants and bras especially)
Face looks thinner
Clearer skin on face
Mood improved (had been fighting depression)
No digestive issues or bloating
No going to sleep feeling like there was a rock in my stomach
No waking up feeling like a grease pit
Don’t feel deprived eating this way
Feel like I have a more sophisticated style of cooking now, which is awesome
Feel better about myself
Usually not hungry between meals
No longer wake up feeling like I’m starving for food
Getting better at reading food labels (actually caring about what’s being added to food!)
Now some scenarios from the last few weeks.
Energy: Came home Friday night after working 5 straight days. Normally I just want to collapse in my recliner and zone out. But on Friday, I got home, ate my dinner and felt like doing something. So I finished meal planning for week 2, made my grocery list and went shopping!
Sugar: I thought cutting sugar would be disastrous because I have a longstanding sugar addiction. (As in open bag of candy and feel compelled to finish it in one sitting, regardless of how I felt. … Sneaking from a communal candy bowl at work when no one is around.) But the side effects weren’t that bad. I didn’t go hogwild in the week leading up to starting Whole30, so I’m sure that helped me out. I do miss being able to suck on hard candy (“sugar free” but we know it’s really not), but I know that’s more of a boredom factor and just a habit, another way of feeding the sugar intake. I’ve tried some fruit infused water, but it doesn’t seem like enough flavor to make it worthwhile. It just seems like I’m wasting fruit. Maybe I need to change up the amounts? I’ve had a few sparkling waters from the store, which help break the boredom but it means another way of spending money. So I’m trying to make do with cold, plain water. I drink more than enough during the day, so it’s not a matter of being dehydrated. It’s about wanting that flavor. But I’m coming around to straight water.
Going nuts: There were two instances when I got caught in a situation and reached for a snack of raw cashews or walnuts because they were handy. The first one should have been avoided. I had been out grocery shopping and running errands and I got home for a much later lunch than I planned. I grabbed a handful of cashews to help ease the transition as I warmed up lunch. Well, that lead to an additional handful. And I remembered why I love cashews so much, even the non-salted kind. So I vowed not to buy any more for the time being. It’s an easy food with no breaks. So while it lead to eating more than I should, it was at least a compliant food. And it prompted a realization that I need to really really watch this particular food. I’m trying to work on viewing this a success instead of shaming myself. It’s a learning process.
The second scenario involved driving. Driving more than an hour has usually prompted this urge for food. But I can’t exactly give up driving. I went to my parents’ house during week 3. So on the 2.5 hour drive up, my solution was to leave immediately after eating breakfast. That worked out so well! I was full and alert. I drank water on the drive. Everything was good. I planned to do the same on the drive back, but I got delayed in my departure. I did eat a good lunch, so that was on my side. But while driving back, I started getting sleepy, hungry, and then there was a severe downpour. So I pulled over to wait out the rain some and I grabbed some walnuts to help perk me up. The only other food item available was a bag of kale, and that just wasn’t going to happen. Again, though, while I wish it was a better option, at least it was a compliant food. It was a reasonable serving, and I didn’t inhale the entire bag.
Snacks: I know snacks aren’t technically part of the program. And I’m doing my best to avoid them because I’ve got a long track record of being a grazer. Not just a binge eater but a grazer. I was skeptical of how eating 3 meals a day would go, but it’s been working out. But trying to convert those unhealthy snacking habits into healthier ones for emergency situations isn’t exactly easy. I don’t like hummus or guacamole (no avocados for me which really limits the options for healthy eating fats). I love peanut butter, probably because of the sugar. But that’s not allowed on the program, and for good reason. It’s a “no brakes” item for me. So I tried almond butter for the first time. Not a big fan of that, but I’ll eventually finish off the small bottle I bought. So it’s difficult to find a way of eating raw veggies with some type of dip (I don’t like ranch dressing or mayonaisse. … I do need to try making my own salsa. That could be a good alternative. Haven’t gotten there yet. I realize the program’s goal for emergency snacks is to combine macro nutrients (protein/fat/carb). But I don’t like boiled eggs and it’s hard to find compliant deli meat, so portable protein can be tricky. I will have to look into Primal Pacs.
Coworkers: I have thoroughly enjoyed hearing comments of “that smells good” from coworkers on the few times I’ve eaten around them. I’m trying to do better at stepping away from my desk to eat, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. There was one instance when we had a farewell pizza lunch for a coworker who was leaving for another job. I told the person ordering the pizza that “my doctor is asking me to make dietary changes” (which is true but also quicker than explaining Whole30). I said I’d be happy to join in while bringing my own meal, but I wouldn’t be eating the pizza. So that’s what I did. I knew I couldn’t just bring a salad with grilled chicken, it needed to be more appealing than that. So I brought garlic shrimp on zucchini noodles with other veggies and pesto sauce. Got a few “that smells so good” comments and one quick “you don’t want pizza?” but aside from that, no focus on me.
Visiting my parents: Week three meant an extended weekend with my parents. I wanted to remain compliant. I mentally prepared myself that maybe all I needed to do was request that whatever protein Mom was using, that she set some aside and let me fix my own. She likes to use lots of cheese and creamy sauces and ingredients that aren’t compliant. Eventually we settled on the idea that I would cook dinner each night. So I did that, making sure to prepare enough that I’d have lunch all squared away for the next day. That worked out so well because I was in control of how the food was prepared and could show my parents what was allowed on this program that seems so restrictive. “You eat very well” was one of the comments my dad made. We had variety and color. They enjoyed the meals, and Mom got a break from cooking. It was a win all around.
Dining out: I’ve had three experiences with eating at a restaurant. It was scary, but I scoured the online menu to find something compliant. The first was at a family-owned place. My game plan was to make use of their salad bar and order grilled chicken. Well, they weren’t able to do the salad bar because produce prices are too high for them. So I had to find an alternative. I remembered reading in the book about bunless burgers or even double patties and using the patties as buns. So that’s what I did. I ordered a double patty burger. Sadly none of the sides seemed like compliant options. While they had lettuce and tomato and onion for sandwiches, they didn’t have enough that they could offer a small side salad. So I skipped the sides. While it was a filling meal, I clearly didn’t get enough vegetables. I made up for it later at dinner.
The second experience was at IHOP. I didn’t want to mess with asking for “shelled eggs” and hoping the waitress understood what that meant and hoping the cooks would follow. I went with a grilled chicken sandwich (hold the bun) and a side salad. Brought my own condiments. And my eating companions didn’t seem to care that it was breakfast. No one questioned me. And it was delicious!
The third experience was Outback. I was in the mood for a steak. So this was the easiest ordering of them all. I had the steak, steamed broccoli and a plain baked potato. Delicious.
I know I’m going to extend my Whole30. Right now I’m debating adding another 15 days or even 30. I know I want more time absorbing the feeling of this Tiger Blood. And continuing to note how I feel eating this way. That it should be normal to wake up feeling good and not in a sugar coma, or without the greasy feeling of so much processed garbage. And I want to continue proving to myself that I don’t need the added sugar to function.
I realize the goal of reintroduction is not to add in donuts or something that is essentially pure sugar. I do want to get away from eating cookies and chips and candy because it’s just bad for you, period. I want to get to a point where I can reasonably enjoy and savor a serving of ice cream without going face-first into the remaining carton. That will require a lot of discipline.
I guess, I just want a firmer grasp of what should be considered normal eating, what foods should be on my plate on a daily basis. So that I can better recognize what it really means for certain items to be limited or occasional. I haven’t done so well with that in the past.