My first Whole30


Saree_maree

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I finished my first Whole30 yesterday, September 24, and I wanted to share my results.

 

My goals in doing a Whole30 were to achieve consistent energy levels throughout my long (13+ hour) workdays, improve athletic (primarily running) performance and recovery, work on healing an injury that’s on its way to becoming chronic, and last but most important to regain a sense of power and control over food.

 

I have struggled with anorexia and bulimia since I was a teenager. Tomorrow I turn 33. While I have made huge strides in my recovery over the last five to seven years and am now living a normal and productive life outside the revolving door of hospitals and inpatient treatment centers, I was still restricting, bingeing, and purging on a fairly regular basis. And I still felt totally powerless over food, obsessed with it, with eating it or not eating it, with throwing it up if I perceived I had eaten anything in excess or any forbidden item, and above all with my weight.

 

I’ll start off by saying that I did not achieve all of my goals. The injury in my back has not improved, and I have had to embark on a course of physical therapy. I guess it starts with food, but it doesn’t always end there!

 

Energy-wise, it took me several weeks to figure out how to eat meals large enough (and sometimes frequently enough, up to 4 a day) to sustain me through my long workdays or my heavy training days. And to be honest I’m still figuring that out, but I’ve come a long way and I definitely no longer crash at 3:00PM or get that feeling like I’m going to pass out (or kill someone!) if I don’t eat some sugary high-carb snack. And I now know that I can go 7 or 8 hours without eating if I have to (although I certainly prefer not to!) and I’ll be fine.

 

I have been very pleased with my running performance, especially in the last week to 10 days. I had a couple of breakthrough runs, and I did them with no gels or Gatorade. And this is with my back injury!

 

Some other NSVs I hadn’t anticipated but have been nice bonuses: clear, glowing skin; deep, solid sleep; and a consistently flat, taut tummy, even right after eating.

 

I saved the best for last: I haven’t restricted, binged, or purged for 30 days. Outside of times I’ve been in some kind of inpatient facility, I haven’t been able to say that for over fifteen years. I don’t feel ruled by food, by my obsessive thoughts, and by uncontrollable urges and desires. I feel in control. And not the anorexic, I’m-only-gonna-eat-50-calories-of-lettuce-today type of control. True, purposeful, healthy control that comes with the knowledge that I know how to nourish by body, fuel my performance, and energize my mind.

 

This write-up wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t say that I did lose about 4 pounds, going from just under 90 to 86 this morning (I’m only 4’11”). That’s obviously weight I didn’t need to lose and I still need to figure out what tweaks I need to make to gain it back. The silver lining, though, is that the weight loss is mostly if not all body fat and not lean mass, since (according to my home scale, at least) I dropped almost 3% body fat in the last 30 days, down to a lean 17%.

 

I’m looking forward to the reintroduction phase – after some off-roading with a couple of alcoholic drinks for my 33rd birthday this weekend, that is! May this year be my healthiest one yet!

 

Thank you, Whole30!

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If there are people out there struggling with similar issues to mine, and I'm sure there are, I want to share one tip that I feel had a huge impact on the overall success of my Whole30: I kept all of my food preparation and meals extremely simple and ate pretty much the same thing almost every day.

 

In It Starts With Food, Melissa and Dallas talk about processed foods being hyperpalatable and basically causing the reward feedback systems in our brains to go haywire. Well, for people like me, even non-processed foods can have that effect. I find I can effectively combat that by making sure my food is simple, plain, and not highly seasoned. Boiled eggs, plain baked potatoes, plain baked chicken or plain pan-grilled meats, and plain raw fruits and vegetables were the mainstays of my Whole30 eating plan. My only seasoning was salt. My only dressings were lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, or very occasionally balsamic vinegar. This is not to say my food didn't taste good. I really enjoyed the natural flavors of these simple, unadorned foods. But they did not trigger ANY desire to eat more. The only exceptions were two occasions when I overate fruit, which, being naturally so sweet, did make me start to feel like I was on the verge of a binge. But I stopped myself before going too far, and did not compensate by purging.

 

I know a lot of people really love getting into the kitchen and experimenting with new recipes and trying new foods, and find those to be some of the most rewarding aspects of doing a Whole30. But I needed to take a different route, and focus on food as little as possible. And that's okay too!

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Thanks, Laurie! I do feel great. It's been about 10 days since I completed my Whole30 and I am still symptom-free while doing structured reintroductions. I've even thought that I might be ready to stop taking a medication I've taken for YEARS - but my doctor thinks it's too soon to make that decision and I'm going to take his advice.

 

Eating "enough" has always, always, always been such a challenge for me, usually seemingly impossible. I have always eaten either way too little or waaayyyyy too much, and then compensated by purging. But I think I am finally getting the hang of it. Thank you so much for your kind words!

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Saree - when I read your words, it brings tears to my eyes.  Since I was 19 (currently 52), I had issues with food, body image, etc.  I was never A or B, but I was diagnosed as eating disorder nonspecified other.  I can eat too much (especially processed foods) but I can overindulge on anything.  Restriction was more a thing of my younger years.  At times, I used exercise to compensate for the extra calories but I wasn't exercising enough for that to make a difference.   I've been mostly paleo/whole 30 since June 2014  (Higs and Meadow were part of that group) but it hasn't been anywhere near perfect.  So I'm trying again.  For my mental sanity, I need to have a great whole 30.  I feel so out of control in life due to Steve's illness, and food is the only area in which I can get some control.  Unfortunately, I have also struggled with pretty bad depression for a long time and never found the right medication to control it.

 

I am going to keep following your journey because it is extremely inspirational.  I hope others will read your success and cheer you on. 

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Hi Saree,

 

I'm so glad you shared your story. I think your results are nothing short of amazing. You must be very proud of yourself!!!

And I find it so inspiring. 

 

I'm just on day 2 of my very first whole 30. I was reluctant to try it because I have a history with super restrictive dieting/body image issues,

and thought that this might trigger those patterns again. But, as I read more about it and read lots of people's stories, I saw that this is a

very sane plan that can foster a healthier relationship with food.

 

I'm doing it to boost my immunity and to get off sugar and the other "no-brakes" foods that I've allowed to kind of take over my life

in the past few months. I want to feel energized and clear again. It's time.

 

Cheers to you!

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