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How my first Whole30 changed my life


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I'm dumbfounded at how much of a change I see in myself since starting my Whole30. My history is long and convoluted with bouts of food obsession, food hoarding, binging, purging (I can't believe I'm admitting to this), obsessive exercise, logging, measuring, weighing (both me and my food) to monitoring my body with a Body Bugg and my sleep with a sleep monitor. I've worked with multiple coaches and nutritionists. I've been low carb, low fat, low carb and low fat (omg- the definition of torture!), counting calories, points and portions. I've tried Zone, Atkins, South Beach, Weight Watchers…you name it. Basically, in a nutshell, I had food issues.

Three years ago, I took up triathlon training. It gave me targeted goals and I was able to use races as motivation to stick to my plans and I started losing weight (again). At the start, I was 175 lbs, my highest ever (I'm 5'4â€). I lost a bunch of weight and got to within about 15 lbs of a good goal for me when I decided to give paleo another shot. You see, I tried to do it once before but because I was listening to a ‘coach' who really didn't know what he was talking about and I kept fat out of my diet. I was basically trying to be active on nothing but protein and veggies and it was miserable. No surprise, I lost weight. Also no surprise but I felt awful and gained it all back when I fell off the ‘wagon' on a month later. It was NOT sustainable!

So in August of 2011 when I decided to try Paleo, I did a lot of reading. I ordered all the cookbooks on Amazon! I knew I had to 1) embrace it with my whole lifestyle and 2) eat good fat. It was difficult at first as I hated avocado and the texture of pretty much all fat. Eventually I came around though and I learned to love it. I felt good, I lost a little weight without trying but most importantly, eating this way gave me a freedom from my food obsessions that I'd never experienced before. For the first time in my life, I felt like what I thought ‘normal' people felt about food. That alone was pure gold and I didn't want to ever go back to the way I was. So I stuck with it through the holidays and into the new year. I did bake some paleo treats to celebrate the holidays and that set me up for a few months of paleo plus natural sugars. It's amazing how quickly the sugar demon rears its ugly head!

I severely injured my right foot in early March and spent entirely too much time on crutches and then in rehab. When I got off the crutches, I started to gain weight because I was still eating too much sugar and I was burning WAY less calories than I was when I had to crutch myself everywhere.

This is about the same time I ordered and received my copy of ‘It Starts With Food'. I devoured the book. The whole time, I kept thinking about how I could use the information to help convince a friend of mine who I really, really think needs to try the paleo diet. Then it struck me that it's time I cleaned it up, too. Somehow, I managed to talk my husband into it and we started our first Whole30 on June 27th (no waiting until July 1 for us!).

The beginning was difficult because every time my husband discovered something he wanted to eat but couldn't, I felt that I was the ‘bad guy' for pointing out that it was off limits. But he committed to this the same as I did, so we had quite a few heart to heart conversations over the course of the 30 days. More than once, I found myself saying, I'm sticking with it…it's up to you if you want to do so as well. And every day, I felt better for having made that decision.

The first two weeks were tougher on both of us than I thought they would be. Cravings weren't that bad, but in retrospect, I didn't feel all that great. Somehow, I expected it to be easier than it was since we had already eliminated all grains and legumes. I think the hardest part for me to adapt to was the reduced carbohydrate levels. I will say that when I turned the corner around the end of week 2 I was stunned. All of a sudden, my energy levels were even. My hunger was greatly reduced to where I only needed to eat at meal times and therefore I didn't need to carry a huge pile of food to work with me anymore. In addition, I was more productive, thinking clearer and getting more done in the same hours I had before. I was sleeping like the dead – and let me tell you, that took some adjusting to on my part. I've spent the first 44 years of my life thinking I was a terrible ‘light' sleeper and that I'd learned to just be perpetually short on sleep. Now when I lay my head down at night, I'm out like a light. It still amazes me every morning when I wake up that the night is over so quickly these days!

I lost 9 lbs in the 30 days. That's pretty significant considering that I was only about 20 lbs away from my leanest adult weight when I started. I also did it with virtually zero organized activity as I'm still recovering from that March injury. I'm writing this on day 36 and I've only now been cleared for light exercise.

On day 31, I tried a reintroduction of corn chips. I my stomach responded with violent pain about 45 minutes later. I've had similar (but milder) reactions to popcorn years ago and gave it up. Now it looks like all corn is now off my list. Good to know, right?!

The next meal, I immediately went back to Whole30 standards and I'm sticking with it. I picked up a cold bug earlier this week, felt lousy for two days and then my wonderfully newly functioning body just kicked it to the curb. Day three and I feel great again! Usually colds stick around for a week…sometimes more!

My plan is to stick with this indefinitely. I'm sure I'll increase my carb quantity once I'm cleared to start running and racing again, but I'll be sure to time the foods correctly AND use only ‘clean' carbs like potatoes, fruit and winter squashes to fuel longer workouts.

My Whole30 experience changed my life. First of all, it helped me see just how fantastic I can really feel. I mean, ask my friends! I've been singing the praises of paleo for MONTHS now…I already felt pretty awesome so the fact that I feel even better is truly mind-blowing. But even more important than how I feel is how it has affected my brain. When I first went paleo I kept thinking that I could never be 100%. That would be too hard, too unrealistic in today's world or in my lifestyle, and worst of all, too boring. I mean, life should be enjoyed and food should be a part of that, right? Absolutely. But what doing this Whole30 really and truly taught me was that life is considerably more enjoyable when one feels vibrant and when food contributes to that feeling instead of detracting from it. I learned that 100% is not too hard at all. I learned that 100% is not unrealistic. I learned that I can change my lifestyle for the better and Whole30 has taught me how. And boring? Not even a little bit! (Thank you Well Fed!!)

Thank you Dallas and Melissa for writing ISWF and creating the Whole30. Thank you for showing me in no uncertain terms that I CAN do this and enjoy every minute of it!

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GLC, congratulations on completing your Whole 30 and thank you so much for sharing your results and experiences. I am struggling here on Day 3 and you have no idea what it means (or maybe you do!! :D ) to come to this section of the forum for motivation! The only way I will know if I will feel the same as you did after 2 weeks will be to stick with it, right?

I ordered the Well Fed cookbook and can't wait for it to arrive!

Good luck with your continued recovery and return to your active life.

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Thanks, all! For those that might be at a tough point, keep going. Don't give up...it's worth the struggle!

Just as an update, I'm on day 41 and going strong. I lost another pound in week 5 and I'm still feeling fantastic. I'm going camping (via sea kayaks) this coming weekend and we've spent a few days trying to plan out Whole30 compliant food to take with us. I'm sure the others in the group will find our food to be weird, but I'm determined to stay on track!

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

Aw, thanks all! I'm still maintaining my weight loss and sticking to the plan fairly well. I'm definitely not as strict as I was during the Whole30 but I'm certainly not introducing any of the 'big' issues (like grains). Funny enough, I'm still drinking my coffee black. Turns out, I like it better that way now!

Hi Bambu! Glad to see you here...hope your Whole30 is going well!

I'm starting another official Whole30 in October. I'd do it in September (actually, I probably will anyway) but I'll be on the road for most of the month and I want to do this again to get my husband back on track. That'll be hard to do if I'm not going to be here, so we are going to do it together again in October. :)

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