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Day 29 - takeaways


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I’m on Day 29, and I wanted to share some of my non-scale victories. Partly so I could see the little successes I’ve had so far, partly to share, but also to remind myself of all the things that are changing besides whatever number readout I get when I step on the scale Wednesday morning.
My checkmarks from the list in the book

  • Clothes fit looser (pants and bras especially)
  • Face looks thinner
  • Clearer skin on face
  • Mood improved (had been fighting depression)
  • Sleeping better
  • Move energy
  • No digestive issues or bloating
  • No going to sleep feeling like there was a rock in my stomach
  • No waking up feeling like a grease pit
  • Don’t feel deprived eating this way
  • Feel like I have a more sophisticated style of cooking now, which is awesome
  • Feel better about myself
  • Usually not hungry between meals
  • No longer wake up feeling like I’m starving for food
  • Getting better at reading food labels (actually caring about what’s being added to food!)

Now some scenarios from the last few weeks.

  • Energy: Came home Friday night after working 5 straight days. Normally I just want to collapse in my recliner and zone out. But on Friday, I got home, ate my dinner and felt like doing something. So I finished meal planning for week 2, made my grocery list and went shopping!
  • Sugar: I thought cutting sugar would be disastrous because I have a longstanding sugar addiction. (As in open bag of candy and feel compelled to finish it in one sitting, regardless of how I felt. … Sneaking from a communal candy bowl at work when no one is around.) But the side effects weren’t that bad. I didn’t go hogwild in the week leading up to starting Whole30, so I’m sure that helped me out. I do miss being able to suck on hard candy (“sugar free” but we know it’s really not), but I know that’s more of a boredom factor and just a habit, another way of feeding the sugar intake. I’ve tried some fruit infused water, but it doesn’t seem like enough flavor to make it worthwhile. It just seems like I’m wasting fruit. Maybe I need to change up the amounts? I’ve had a few sparkling waters from the store, which help break the boredom but it means another way of spending money. So I’m trying to make do with cold, plain water. I drink more than enough during the day, so it’s not a matter of being dehydrated. It’s about wanting that flavor. But I’m coming around to straight water.
  • Going nuts: There were two instances when I got caught in a situation and reached for a snack of raw cashews or walnuts because they were handy. The first one should have been avoided. I had been out grocery shopping and running errands and I got home for a much later lunch than I planned. I grabbed a handful of cashews to help ease the transition as I warmed up lunch. Well, that lead to an additional handful. And I remembered why I love cashews so much, even the non-salted kind. So I vowed not to buy any more for the time being. It’s an easy food with no breaks. So while it lead to eating more than I should, it was at least a compliant food. And it prompted a realization that I need to really really watch this particular food. I’m trying to work on viewing this a success instead of shaming myself. It’s a learning process. 

    The second scenario involved driving. Driving more than an hour has usually prompted this urge for food. But I can’t exactly give up driving. I went to my parents’ house during week 3. So on the 2.5 hour drive up, my solution was to leave immediately after eating breakfast. That worked out so well! I was full and alert. I drank water on the drive. Everything was good. I planned to do the same on the drive back, but I got delayed in my departure. I did eat a good lunch, so that was on my side. But while driving back, I started getting sleepy, hungry, and then there was a severe downpour. So I pulled over to wait out the rain some and I grabbed some walnuts to help perk me up. The only other food item available was a bag of kale, and that just wasn’t going to happen. Again, though, while I wish it was a better option, at least it was a compliant food. It was a reasonable serving, and I didn’t inhale the entire bag. 
  • Snacks: I know snacks aren’t technically part of the program. And I’m doing my best to avoid them because I’ve got a long track record of being a grazer. Not just a binge eater but a grazer. I was skeptical of how eating 3 meals a day would go, but it’s been working out. But trying to convert those unhealthy snacking habits into healthier ones for emergency situations isn’t exactly easy. I don’t like hummus or guacamole (no avocados for me which really limits the options for healthy eating fats). I love peanut butter, probably because of the sugar. But that’s not allowed on the program, and for good reason. It’s a “no brakes” item for me. So I tried almond butter for the first time. Not a big fan of that, but I’ll eventually finish off the small bottle I bought. So it’s difficult to find a way of eating raw veggies with some type of dip (I don’t like ranch dressing or mayonaisse. … I do need to try making my own salsa. That could be a good alternative. Haven’t gotten there yet. I realize the program’s goal for emergency snacks is to combine macro nutrients (protein/fat/carb). But I don’t like boiled eggs and it’s hard to find compliant deli meat, so portable protein can be tricky. I will have to look into Primal Pacs.  
  • Coworkers: I have thoroughly enjoyed hearing comments of “that smells good” from coworkers on the few times I’ve eaten around them. I’m trying to do better at stepping away from my desk to eat, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. There was one instance when we had a farewell pizza lunch for a coworker who was leaving for another job. I told the person ordering the pizza that “my doctor is asking me to make dietary changes” (which is true but also quicker than explaining Whole30). I said I’d be happy to join in while bringing my own meal, but I wouldn’t be eating the pizza. So that’s what I did. I knew I couldn’t just bring a salad with grilled chicken, it needed to be more appealing than that. So I brought garlic shrimp on zucchini noodles with other veggies and pesto sauce. Got a few “that smells so good” comments and one quick “you don’t want pizza?” but aside from that, no focus on me.
  • Visiting my parents: Week three meant an extended weekend with my parents. I wanted to remain compliant. I mentally prepared myself that maybe all I needed to do was request that whatever protein Mom was using, that she set some aside and let me fix my own. She likes to use lots of cheese and creamy sauces and ingredients that aren’t compliant. Eventually we settled on the idea that I would cook dinner each night. So I did that, making sure to prepare enough that I’d have lunch all squared away for the next day. That worked out so well because I was in control of how the food was prepared and could show my parents what was allowed on this program that seems so restrictive. “You eat very well” was one of the comments my dad made. We had variety and color. They enjoyed the meals, and Mom got a break from cooking. It was a win all around. 
  • Dining out: I’ve had three experiences with eating at a restaurant. It was scary, but I scoured the online menu to find something compliant. The first was at a family-owned place. My game plan was to make use of their salad bar and order grilled chicken. Well, they weren’t able to do the salad bar because produce prices are too high for them. So I had to find an alternative. I remembered reading in the book about bunless burgers or even double patties and using the patties as buns. So that’s what I did. I ordered a double patty burger. Sadly none of the sides seemed like compliant options. While they had lettuce and tomato and onion for sandwiches, they didn’t have enough that they could offer a small side salad. So I skipped the sides. While it was a filling meal, I clearly didn’t get enough vegetables. I made up for it later at dinner. 

    The second experience was at IHOP. I didn’t want to mess with asking for “shelled eggs” and hoping the waitress understood what that meant and hoping the cooks would follow. I went with a grilled chicken sandwich (hold the bun) and a side salad. Brought my own condiments. And my eating companions didn’t seem to care that it was breakfast. No one questioned me. And it was delicious!

    The third experience was Outback. I was in the mood for a steak. So this was the easiest ordering of them all. I had the steak, steamed broccoli and a plain baked potato. Delicious. 

I know I’m going to extend my Whole30. Right now I’m debating adding another 15 days or even 30. I know I want more time absorbing the feeling of this Tiger Blood. And continuing to note how I feel eating this way. That it should be normal to wake up feeling good and not in a sugar coma, or without the greasy feeling of so much processed garbage. And I want to continue proving to myself that I don’t need the added sugar to function. 
I realize the goal of reintroduction is not to add in donuts or something that is essentially pure sugar. I do want to get away from eating cookies and chips and candy because it’s just bad for you, period. I want to get to a point where I can reasonably enjoy and savor a serving of ice cream without going face-first into the remaining carton. That will require a lot of discipline. 
I guess, I just want a firmer grasp of what should be considered normal eating, what foods should be on my plate on a daily basis. So that I can better recognize what it really means for certain items to be limited or occasional. I haven’t done so well with that in the past. 

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  • 1 month later...

Glad you could find it helpful, and thanks for asking!

I decided to do a slow rollout approach to reintroduction. After posting the idea of doing another Whole30, I thought maybe I was subconsciously trying to avoid returning to previous habits instead of trying to build something stronger. So since finishing my Whole30 on May 30 through yesterday (about 40 days), I've been working through reintroduction. 

I'm on a budget for one, so it didn't seem reasonable to buy a bag of brown rice or a lot of items to test legumes, for instance, over the course of one day and then after the two days back on the Whole30 eating of testing out another category ... that all sounded like too many extra items for a single serving. I didn't want things to go to waste. So I stuck to one or two items (depending on the category) and tested those twice in the same week. For instance, I opened a can of black beans and ate two servings during the first test day and saved the final serving the second test. That was beneficial for seeing the effects and weighing how it impacted me, as well as making sure food items didn't go to waste. 

This approach to reintroduction has helped me continue getting a firm grasp on this way of eating as well as training me to get back on track once trying a non-compliant food item. Needing at least two days of Whole30 eating in between food trials reinforces the method for getting back on track.

Two big flags I've encountered with reintroduction: Sugar and gluten.

With sugar, I knew I had a problem. Diving headfirst into a bag of candy and having trouble stepping away is a definite sign of a problem. But I needed further evidence, I guess. So my first big reintroduction test was with added sugar. I had a drink mix that was supposed to be a better alternative to other items on the market (made with beets!) but it was also mixed with Stevia. So it was off limits for my Whole30 but I wanted to see how it tasted afterward. Before doing Whole30, this mix didn't seem to have too much flavor. It was basically a glorified flavored water. But after? After it tasted like I was drinking sugar water. No joke, After eliminating so much added sugar for a whole month, this drink mix became like a shock to the system. And the impact? I could a definite increase in cravings and feeling hungry. Lesson learned: I definitely need to watch my added sugar!

But sugar or sweets aren't something I can reasonably expect to completely omit from my life. But I now am more convinced that I need to find better quality options with real nutritional value so that I can eat a normal serving size and feel satisfied. HOWEVER, I went a full two months without eating chocolate or candy and I did in fact survive! So I don't need it every single day, but I need to find a better way to accommodate certain treats on occasion without feeling like I've lost all control.

Yesterday I was with my parents and had access to their loaf of whole wheat bread. My final reintroduction test was for gluten. I didn't seem to have a problem during the day but I didn't sleep through the night. I had been just fine the last few days, and honestly no real trouble sleeping through the night since hitting my stride on Whole30. But the only difference was the gluten, the wheat bread. That seems like too much of a coincidence to brush off. I'm going to need another test to confirm this, but it's starting to look like maybe the gluten (and I've been a major lover of whole wheat pasta, bread, pizza yadda yadda yadda for a long time) is a contributing culprit for trouble sleeping. 

Weighing myself on a monthly basis is helping me break free of the end all, be all readout of the scale. According to the scale, I'm down about 10 pounds in two months. Which is awesome! My first reaction is that it should be more because my clothes are feeling much looser that it must be more of a loss. But as we know there are plenty of factors that impact the scale, and it's a snapshot of a single moment. The other thing I'm having to remind myself is that eating Whole30 is not intended to be a weight loss plan. It's a way of eating better and healthier, cutting out preservatives and other things that can negatively impact us. I'm not on a calorie-reduced eating plan. And yet, there's still some weight loss happening. So that's totally awesome. And it will be a slow process. That's fine by me. And I have to remind myself all the time that I want a slow process. I've been through the rapid weight loss experience before, and I don't want to repeat it. 

Trying out new recipes has been a life saver! It's so incredible to find new ways of preparing things, new ingredient combos. It's remarkable. And everything has so much flavor!!

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  • 4 months later...

I'm now on day 29 myself and can report the same benefical observations as the first post, with few challenges.  Other than a couple of sluggish days and a couple of nauseous moments, this thirty day experience has been relatively easy for me.

Looking ahead at re-intro, I'm going to hold off until day 30+3 to start, as weekends are busy and I need full energy without gastro-interruptions (not having a workplace bathroom is a challenge).  My first re-intro item will be rice, either brown or wild, and that's it before turkey day.  

After recovering from whatever Thanksgiving dinner yields, I plan to do one reintroduction a week.  I was considering a three day rotation as suggested, and that would've played out for 4-5 weeks.  At this point, I'm not in a hurry to get all the results that fast, as I wish to maintain a certain level of normal that W30 has allowed me.

Thruout this program, I have been paying attention to some surprise food allergies / sensitivities that may or may not have been identified in a previous allergy test.  Eliminate / re-intro of suspicious 'healthy' foods has revealed that I have a major allergy to melon and am quite sensitive to banana and chamomile.

I'm looking forward to continuing with a W30 inspired food plan for a long time!

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