Always room for improvement: my Whole30 success story


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All things considered, I was in pretty good shape before starting Whole30. My wife and I had adopted a “mostly paleo†diet in February of last year after reading Robb Wolf's Paleo Solution. This past November, I ran my very first marathon and finished with a time of four hours and seven minutes. I even used Loren Cordain's Paleo Diet for Athletes as my primary reference for eating while training for this event. Everything sounds good so far, right?


So what wasn't going so well? First, I was still trying to live on six or seven hours of sleep per night, which I supplemented with four cups of coffee per day. Second, I had very recently found myself taking daily trips to the workplace vending machine each afternoon to purchase a sugary snack. This habit coincided with a recent workplace promotion that meant additional responsibilities and stress.


Another health issue that my “mostly paleo†diet had improved was my dysphagia, or difficulty with swallowing. During an episode of this condition, I would feel like food was stuck in my chest, and I would sometimes need to regurgitate it before I could continue eating. The foods that usually prompted this reaction in the past, I thought, were meats like pot roast or whole chicken breast. Although I continued to eat these types of meat, I saw a significant reduction in the frequency of these dysphagia episodes while eating “mostly paleo.â€


Since starting the Whole30, I haven't experienced a single episode of my dysphagia. This leads me to believe that one or more of the foods that I removed from my diet in Whole30, not meat, was contributing to the inflammation of my esophagus. I'm looking forward to the reintroduction phase of Whole30 so that I might discover the exact source of my esophageal irritation.


As far as sleep is concerned, let's just say that eight hours per night is now the norm. There may be one or two nights per week where I only sleep six or seven hours, but my body is in a good enough biorhythm that I am ready to fall asleep at 10:00 p.m. each night. As a result of better sleep habits, I have been able to reduce my caffeine consumption to two cups of coffee a day -  a cup with breakfast and a cup after lunch. Sometimes I won't finish either cup. Cutting out the nightly alcoholic drink or two has contributed to better sleep, also.


Stress management, I have discovered, is also much easier when you rest your body properly and maintain a consistent level of energy throughout the day. Consumption of caffeine, sugar, and alcohol had complicated matters instead of contributing to a solution for handling the stressors. My experience with Whole30 has empowered me to manage stress through improved organization and productivity instead of "self-medication."


I did experience some afternoon “fogginess†during the first two weeks of Whole 30, but this has stopped now that my body has adjusted. The Whole30-compliant meals that I eat leave me full and satisfied until the next mealtime. Because of my work schedule, this can occasionally be as long as eight hours between lunch and supper. I am also planning to run my first ultramarathon (50k) in January of next year, and I am excited to see how my training progresses this fall now that I have better confidence in the food that I am putting into my body and better recovery habits.

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Congrats on your successful W30.  My husband has dysphagia.  He's not been willing to try an elimination diet of any kind despite my many attempts. I will have to tell him that W30 eliminated yours and try once again to get him to try it.

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Congratulations! Interesting observation about the dysphagia....I also suffered from it on a pretty regular basis and while I didn't pay particular attention to it, I do know that I have had significantly fewer episodes since completing my first while30 last summer. We have continued to eat mostly paleo after the whole30 ended last July. I think the episodes I have had come after a round of not-so-compliant eating. Like you said, I wonder if things like dairy or grain are causing an inflammatory response and that is what causes the dysphagia? We just started another whole30, so I am going to play closer attention to it this time!

Good luck as you move forward!

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