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Just Finished - Success

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Just finished my first Whole30 this past week. First, a bit of background, and then some observations.

I’m a 63 year-old male, I generally eat healthy and have avoided gluten for 7 years. My weight has been slowly increasing over the past 5-7 years, and it seemed nothing I did or didn’t do altered the slow progression. During an overseas trip in 2021, I surprisingly gained 10 lbs, and was not able to shake it. I have done intermittent fasting, low carb, exercised, etc. and the weight was there to stay, it seemed.

In joking with a work colleague about my weight gain, he suggested looking into Whole30, which I’d never heard of (he said he lost 15 lbs in 30 days, just doing Whole30 without exercising). I was intrigued. I did some research, and decided to start prepping. I hadn’t read the book yet, but for the 10 days ahead of my start, I cut out dairy and sugar, not quite 100%, for 10 days. Finally got and read the book, went shopping, and started in earnest.

After 30 days, I’ve lost 4 lbs; I’m not disheartened at all about the “measly” 4 lbs, though. First, If you include the 10 days of dairy and sugar wind-down leading into to my Whole30, I’ve actually lost 12 lbs. I know I’m eating more calories, but I can tell I’ve lost fat tissue (my lipomas are smaller), and my clothes are fitting better. And, I feel very good. My sleep hasn’t been stellar, but normally if I don’t sleep well or much, after 2-3 nights I’m foggy. Not so now: no brain fog at all. I enjoy most of the food, and didn’t much miss bread or even dairy.

A few surprises along the way:

  1. I’m shocked at how many items in the grocery store have hidden soy and/or sugars. One example is a lot of the name brand canned and packaged tuna in "water” actually contains soy.
  2. No dairy keeps my sinuses clearer.
  3. I really like ghee, unsweetened coconut, and whole coconut milk.
  4. Primal Kitchen makes some excellent stuff (their catsup and buffalo sauce are both amazing).
  5. I can get full eating less sugar and a more balanced diet, including good fats.
  6. I can lose weight actually eating more but better calories, and more regularly.
  7. My sense of hunger and satiety seems changed now. I had a few times when I didn’t get a meal on time or had to snack, but surprisingly I never got “hangry”. And now when I’m hungry, I’m not famished or faint, but I just sense and recognize I need to eat. And after I eat a balanced meal, it’s gone.

Some of my biggest challenges – in no particular order – were cooking, meal timing, eating with the right variety and mix, and gauging how much to eat of which food groups. I probably overate in the first two weeks, just trying to figure out what/how much to eat to get full. The two biggest challenges however that compounded the other challenges, were a) doing it alone, and b) doing it during a 30-day period when my wife underwent two major medical procedures, one of them being back surgery. She understandably didn’t want to join me on Whole30 given her pending procedures, and as a result I often ended up making two entrees instead of one per meal.

I have never cooked much, so during the 30 days I certainly gained a greater appreciation for the art of cooking, and especially all the years my wife has prepared meals for our family. I did make a few good meals, but not as many as I would have liked (I tell people, I’ve learned the art of making glorious messes, and average food). I made it through the 30 days without a slip, but there were days when I ended up eating meals on a much later schedule than I’d like, and I depended on snacks – the right ones, mind you – to tide me over more than I likely should have. But I made it, and with a decent measure of weight loss success.

I should note: I did decide continue partaking of Communion at my church, although I broke my small piece of bread into an even smaller piece to eat. And, I decided not to worry about the ~1 ½ teaspoons of wine, which has less alcohol than a teaspoon of vanilla extract (which is allowed). Splitting hairs maybe, but that’s how I handled it.

Looking back, I think that easing into Whole30 by cutting back on sugar and dairy for a week+ beforehand helped me a lot from the get-go, and contributed to my success (less of a shock to my system and taste-buds). Personally, I’d recommend this approach to anyone considering Whole30.

I’m really grateful for the Whole30 program and lifestyle, and the opportunity to learn more about food, diet, personal habits, and my capacity for change in this area. I certainly have a lot more to learn, so now that I feel like I’ve got a rhythm, I’m going to keep going for another 30 days. I’m expecting the first thing I add back will be legumes (sans peanuts and soy), and the last thing will be sugar. Probably done with dairy, but we’ll see. Will report back after I’m done.

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