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Thank you whole 30!


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I'm on day 30 but decided to write this today because I actually have some free time.


Months after having my first baby (in 2009) I was in the best shape I had been in years. The combination of breastfeeding and taking long walks to soothe a colicky infant melted all the pregnancy weight off effortlessly and then another 20 pounds as well. I was eating well, exercising and feeling my best.


When I got pregnant again in 2011 I suffered from 6 months of constant, unbearable nausea while caring for (and still breastfeeding) a 2 year old. In an attempt to eat anything at all I started getting into some really bad food habits- lots of bread and butter, fast food, processed foods. If it appealed to me, I would eat it. 


I started eating better in the last 3 months of my pregnancy and in the weeks after she was born, but when she was 6 weeks old I was hospitalized with bacterial meningitis and then spent a good month in bed recovering after I was released. With a newborn, a 3 year old and a life threatening illness we went into survival mode and never really came out.


The illness took off all of the weight except 5 pounds, which didn't seem that big a deal to me because I was still breastfeeding and knew I could lose it easily. 


Except I didn't. Her first birthday came and went and I still wasn't back to my old self. I also went through some stressful family issues which didn't help. Around that time my husband and I purchased matching lazyboy chairs and started watching tv series together when the kids were in bed and getting treats. What was once occasional because every night- pizzas and chips and giant chocolate bars. Instead of losing that last few pounds I was GAINING IT!


I got a little better with my habits over this winter but noticed some other issues. I was having unexplained dizzy spells, a lot of bloating and gas, was thirsty all the time, moody and exhausted. Every day by 4 pm I was completely useless, barely able to stand upright long enough to get the kids fed and in bed before collapsing. My house was a mess, I had no energy to enjoy myself and some nights I didn't even have it in me to cook dinner. Something had to give. 


I had been reading up on the paleo way of eating for years and loved the idea but couldn't actually commit to it. I would try a single meal and still feel hungry and unsatisfied afterward. My thought patterns were also becoming obsessive, I constantly worried about what all those bad foods were doing to my body and health and how I should be eating better, but I was too tired and hungry to do much about it. 


In the end what gave me a jump start was vanity. It gets warm enough for summer clothes here around Mid may and at the beginning of April I realized I had just a month left to do something about that last 5 pounds or I was going to spend another summer in frumpy mom capris and baggy t shirts. 5 pounds doesn't seem like much, but around your midsection and upper arms when you're wearing summer clothes it's pretty unpleasant.


On the evening of April 8 I ate an entire medium pizza (8 slices) in one sitting knowing it was my last chance for my favorite food for a long time. The next morning I started....


The first 3 days I was STARVING. All I could think about was food, even foods I don't really like and rarely eat. I went to bed hungry every night, sleep being the only relief from the hunger. But on the 4th day I got used to it and noticed I was feeling pretty good. I had more energy, deeper sleep and no bloating. I knew I had already lost that last bit of baby weight. One night my husband came home and asked why I was wearing his jeans because my own looked so baggy on me.


I hit a road block around days 9-11. I was feeling nauseous and had no appetite, but not eating was making me very dizzy. I'm still breastfeeding 4-6 times a day and wondered if I needed to quit just to be safe, but I had been enjoying the positive changes and was too stubborn to quit. Instead I ate more fruit and bought a bunch of starchy vegetables. I realized I had been eating mainly meat and raw veggies and wasn't getting enough carbs. As soon as I upped my carb intake my appetite came back and it's been smooth sailing ever since. 


In the first weeks the cravings were bad sometimes and I noticed that I tend to crave chocolate or sweet hot drinks when I'm feeling tired, which is why I would indulge during nap time and when the kids were in bed. I started making myself a cup of herbal tea at those times instead and found that after a couple weeks when I was tired I started craving tea instead of sugar. It wasn't the sugar I needed, but the act of sitting down to relax with something hot to drink when I finally got the chance. We have so many flavors of herbal tea now we can't fit them all on the shelf. 


One thing I didn't miss at all was eating grains and potatoes with my meals. Eating just the meat and vegetables is actually more satisfying and more tasty. As the month went off I found I missed very little and the cravings narrowed down to just two foods- pizza and milk chocolate. 


I had some rough moments. One time I took my daughter to the mall without bringing anything to eat and got hungry. I had to walk through the food court and sit while she ate an ice cream without eating anything myself. I went to the movies and smelled everyone eating popcorn. I had to say no to most of the yummy samples at costco. I also had to attend 3 parties full of off limit foods like cake, candy, chips and cupcakes. I had to put my Easter chocolate gifts in a drawer uneaten. But I remained strong. The idea of starting over seemed much harder than doing another few weeks, another week, another few days.


On the evening of day 24 I must have been hormonal because I had a craving for pizza so strong it was almost like being pregnant. My husband found me drooling over pictures of pizzas I had pulled up on google images and told me I was looking at 'pizza porn'. It was awful. But I went to bed hungry and woke up feeling fine, the intensity of the craving had passed. 


The actual food preparation has been very easy. My husband has been paleo for some time (but eats white potatoes and chocolate) and my oldest daughter is gluten intolerant so most of our meals were already paleo and made from scratch. I also found that my appetite really stabilized and I was going longer periods between meals so I actually was doing less work food wise than before. I can't stand boiled potatoes but he and the kids love them so I made those most nights for them and didn't mind skipping them at all.


My occasional cravings and hunger eventually caused me to experiment within the compliant, which meant trying new foods and recipes, and buying more expensive items (like steak) that I normally couldn't justify simply because I was allowed to eat them. Because I was no longer eating take out, processed foods or treats I was already spending far less money, so the steaks or more expensive produce didn't break the bank after all. I made things like layered baked eggplant, zuchinni noodles, spaghetti squash, fried plantains and scalloped turnips as well as enjoying old favorites like carrots, asparagus, butternut squash and sweet potatoes. When I got sick with a cold, instead of reaching for a can of chemicals I made a delicious carrot and parsnip chicken soup. 


Within the confines of compliant foods I was able to determine that almonds don't agree with me, and sweet potatoes bloat me up and give me gas in the same way white potatoes and grains probably do. I learned that too much fatty meat or coconut oil makes me nauseous, that eating the same salad every day is still delicious and that bananas aren't worth the sugar and starch when there are better fruits out there. 


As for the benefits? It's been life changing.


Dizzy spells- gone (unless I go WAY too long without eating, especially first thing in the morning if I get busy with the kids

Excessive thirst and peeing- gone.

Bloating and gas- gone (unless I eat sweet potatoes)

Exhaustion and 4 pm crashes? Gone. I feel energetic until I crawl into bed every single night. I don't walk around feeling heavy and miserable in the afternoons and evenings anymore.

Constant hunger, nausea, dizziness and shakes from low blood sugar? gone

Weight lost- 7 pounds.


I noticed in the past couple of days that I'm starting to get abs! And I don't even do sit ups! The only exercise I've had this month has been chasing my kids around and going on walks to run errands like I always do. 


I start reintro tomorrow for cheese, then rice, gluten and maybe some kidney beans in the next couple weeks. I don't really eat any other things. I still want to indulge at social events or restaurants when the chance comes up.The difference is that now I will make a better choice as to which foods are 'worth it' and which ones I will skip. The cake at a party? Yep. The bowl of chips? No thanks. It takes time to realize which foods really do bring you enjoyment and which do not. I plan to continue eating whole 30 at home, except for an occasional chocolate or pizza treat.


Thank you whole 30 for everything. Thanks for the energy, the extra patience I have with my children, the added productivity, the great sleep, the non bloated belly, the lack of dizziness and the great body just in time for summer. The warm weather actually started today ironically enough and I went for a walk in a form fitting t shirt and shorts instead of frumpy baggy 'mom' clothes and it felt great. Vanity may not be the best reason, but it sure was a great motivator to get it started.





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