Whole 30 completed - the good and the bad


sknapp

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I finished my first Whole30 about six days ago. I had been eating mostly Primal for about the last 18 months, so it wasn't a completely new way of life. The Whole30 is definitely more strict than Primal, however, and I'm glad as it gave me the opportunity to try giving up dairy, alcohol and caffeine -- even though caffeine wasn't necessary, I gave it up cold turkey on Day 1.

So, here's the good: I feel more enegetic than I've felt in the past. My allergies seem to be better, and I can actually wake up in the morning on my own, even before my 3-year-old daughter bounces on the bed and forces me up! I am often the first person awake, actually, which would shock everyone who has ever known me -- I've never been a morning person. At all!

I've been feeling healthier, and finally felt like I could add some exercise during the last couple weeks without feeling wiped out. Prior to finding Primal/Paleo, whenever I tried to exercise I would give up after a few weeks b/c I just felt exhausted. Now, I feel like I'm eating enough protein to sustain myself, so I've added in brisk walks about 5 days per week, and some strength training 2 days per week (the Primal Blueprint fitness plan of pull-ups, squats, push-ups and planks...all modified to the very beginning stages). I plan to add weekly sprints in sometime over the next week or two.

And here's the bad: I actually gained 3 lbs. since I started! I started at 5'3" and 127 lbs. now am almost 130 lbs. I am completely perplexed and disappointed. I was very diligent in following the program to the letter and didn't cheat. I ate enough to full satisfied and made sure I had good amounts of protein and fat with each meal. I kept fruit to a minimum and when I ate it, usually just had berries or an occasional 1/2 banana. I did add a daily sweet potato in toward the end b/c I was absolutely exhausted and had no energy, but it was one small one that I split among my meals, bringing my carb load up to about 90 g per day and definitely improving my energy. And although I started stregth training at the end, I've only done it a couple times, so not enough to build muscle. Sadly, I took my measurements which confirmed a slight weight gain -- added 1/2" to my hips.

I had routine blood work done a few weeks ago, including a thyroid test, and I'm waiting on the results. I'm guessing they'll be fine, since I actually feel pretty good, but who knows. Also, I'm at the end of my monthly cycle, and usually I've lost any extra water weight by now that I've gained during this time. I'm also puzzled b/c over the past 18 months of being Primal, when I've gotten sloppy with my food and gained a few pounds, it has been pretty easy to just tighten up my eating and watch the pounds slip off without much effort. I don't know why it's the opposite this time.

So...I'm not sure what to think. I won't be going back to my old eating habits; I truly believe this is healthier, and I do feel better. And I know Whole30 is not a weight loss program, but really, who wants to gain weight during it?!? (The exception, obviously, being those who do need to gain.) My motivation for doing this was that I'm about to turn 40 (next week, in fact) and wanted to go into my 40's in a positive way -- feeling energized, healthy, confident and attractive. I'm glad that I do physically feel better, but I'll admit that my vanity is hurting a bit -- if I gain 2-3 lbs. per month, I'll be quite a bit bigger by the time I hit 41!!!

A mixed result then -- feeling good and energized, but confused as to the weight gain. Trying to stay positive and think of this as my long-term lifestyle, but a little scared if I am somehow the weird person who will manage to gain weight eating this way.

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it's only 3lbs, and it's totally insignificant. People's weight fluctuate between 3-5lbs every day. Don't sweat it!

It could be water retention from something salty that you ate, your muscles could be a little swollen from the bw exercises that you've just recently added in, it could be anything and nothing all at the same time. How do your clothes fit? Did you take before and after pics? 5'3"/130 is not so unreasonable of a weight, btw...body comp is more important. What's all that stuff looking like?

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I did not actually take pictures prior to starting, unfortunately. 130 feels quite high for me, as the 127 I started with was higher than my normal weight -- I assumed it was water weight because I was at the beginning of my cycle. Usually I weigh 120-125 lbs. So, the fact that I'm now 130, which is 5-10 lbs. more than usual (and 3 lbs more than that high weight I started on) just seems depressing and kind of discouraging. It makes me wonder if I'm doing something wrong -- too much coconut? Is fat really okay for me? I'm doubting all the nutrition info I believe in and wondering how I've gained 5-10 lbs in the last 2 months, when one of them was a Whole30?

(And my clothes feel about the same, maybe a little tight. ARRGHGHGH.)

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Thanks for asking, kaadu12. I did keep nuts to a minimum -- had them occasionally in small doses as an accent (eg, adding texture to a salad) rather than a snack. My fruits were generally one serving of berries -- strawberry or wild blueberries.

I felt bummed about actually gaining weight on a Whole30 b/c next week I'm turning 40. I had hoped to go into my 40's feeling pretty trim and positive, so it was kind of a let down to be one of the rare people who not only didn't lose, but actually put on weight. Still, I do feel better in general and have more energy, so I will try to stay positive and focus on that.

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Some would suggest that you try staying on the Whole30 and upping your fat intake. Add coconut butter, 2tablespoons before bed and use plenty of beef tallow when cooking breakfast. Also, on workout days, eat a whole, smallish sweet potato with ghee and/or coconut oil mixed in. At your age, I was about your size and very active. Adding good calories has allowed me to become really lean. Maybe a moderator would like to chime in here, but I've read quite a bit about and experienced the positive effects of upping good fat intake. If you try it for a month and gain weight, you'll know what to dial back.

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I know that Whole30 isn't a calorie or gram counting plan AT ALL - I totally get that - but given that you're now 10 pounds above your ideal weight, maybe go back to Mark Sisson's advice in The Primal Blueprint - doesn't he refer to 50 grams of carbs as day as the "sweet spot" for effortless weight loss ?? Since the Whole30 is all about self-experimentation, maybe take the Whole30 foods and DO count grams of carbs for a week or two ... trying to keep it around the 50 grams recommended by Sisson - and see what happens.

I'm new here, and no expert, so feel free to ignore anything I say ! But I know from personal experience, I can't lose weight while eating potatoes of ANY type, sweet potatoes or not.

Please let us know what works for you !!

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  • 2 weeks later...

And here's the bad: I actually gained 3 lbs. since I started! I started at 5'3" and 127 lbs. now am almost 130 lbs. I am completely perplexed and disappointed. I was very diligent in following the program to the letter and didn't cheat.

I know this is my first post here in the forum, but I've been around the Whole9 block since August 2010. I think you are missing the point of a Whole30. Ask yourself this question: "how do you FEEL?" Did you read the book? It's not about weight loss, it's about changing your emotional connection to food. Changing your life. Who cares if you have an extra inch if your clothes fit good and you feel vibrant? Good luck for your next step in the process!

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I totally "get" that you would be upset about gaining weight, even though weight loss was not your primary goal. Who wants to do all that work and then gain weight?

I guess I would just say to stay the course. I didn't lose as much as I wanted to with my W30, but then today I am down 2 more pounds. There's no accounting for weight fluctuations, especially for us women. Good luck!

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Thanks, everyone, for the responses and suggestions. And Ereiam, you hit the nail right on the head -- "who wants to do all that work and then gain weight?" Exactly. As I had mentioned above, I do feel better in a lot of ways, but I can't imagine most people (except megelkins, I guess) wouldn't be slightly discouraged to find that they had actually put on inches and gained a little weight during the process.

I am feeling pretty good and mostly continuing the strict paleo eating, with occasional slip-ups and deviations. I don't plan to go back to my old eating habits, but I will do some tinkering with fat and carb levels based on the suggestions above.

Right now, I have a bad cold but when I'm over it I plan to start the "Convict Conditioning" strength program, as it breaks down the basic bodyweight strength moves into even smaller progressions, which would be good for me. Hoping that will help me with even more energy and feeling positive about my body. Also plan to continue my daily walks when I feel better and add in some weekly sprinting -- hopefully, I won't get too far off track once winter sets in and it's so cold outside!

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Your results sound too familiar. I just completed my whole30 yesterday and have gained 3 lbs. I was very compliant like you as well. When you work hard to avoid things that are supposed to be the cause of obesity and weight gain, yet still gain weight it makes you question that theory. I've tried Paleo also with similar results and I thought it might have been the honey and fruit that I was eating or the alcohol. But after eliminating that completely I can rule that out. Everyone is different. No one way of eating will work for everyone. But the only way you will find what works for you is through self-experiment, trial and error. I was the most successful when I followed Zone and will be going back to that, taking some whole30 principles with me.

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