Bill and Eileen’s excellent Whole30 adventure: post-challenge report


EileenRBe

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Here is the writeup I posted to my blog on Day 30, also at Eileen's Everyone Eats Right.

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Was our January Whole30 challenge worth the extra work, sacrifice of favorite foods, revamped eating habits, and changes in social eating? Yes, yes, yes, and yes.

Starting Saturday, January 5, my husband and I began the Whole30 program. The plan excludes grains, dairy, legumes, soy, sugars, desserts, juices, smoothies, and alcohol. It encourages whole, unprocessed foods, lots of vegetables, and high-quality and grassfed animal protein, along with exercise and plenty of water and sleep. It prohibits counting calories, taking body measurements, and weighing yourself during the program. The emphasis is on health and gut healing rather than numbers, and on transitioning from burning sugar to burning fat.

Goals

My chief goal was to have more energy. I also wanted to walk a mile in my husband's shoes. He's gluten-intolerant, and I wanted to experience firsthand what he feels and faces. In addition, I was hoping to lose my holidays/December vacation pounds.

What were the outcomes?

While I don't have the get-up-and-go I was hoping for, I definitely have better reserves to keep going. On Friday evenings I found that I wanted to go out to dinner (salad bar) and a movie (no popcorn!), when before I was always too tired and just wanted to hibernate at home. My husband has told me my attitude and mood are better. And I found it's not horrible to turn down breads and sweets or a glass of wine. There's a whole world of food out there to be enjoyed, and I never felt deprived.

Takeaways

What else did I take away? First, a great feeling of accomplishment that I stayed on the plan and didn't cheat once, even at the movies, a wedding reception, and an appreciation dinner put on by a business I do work for. Staying on-plan wasn't hard because you're allowed such delicious food and reasonable amounts.

Second, I discovered and increased my appreciation for wholesome food. I would get excited in the produce department when I saw treasures like green and orange cauliflower, pink and golden beets, and celery root. I savored grilled bison or lamb patties (no bun needed) topped with a little homemade mayonnaise. Kombucha, a fizzy cultured drink made from tea, was a revelation.

Third, I've found new creativity and proficiency with foods. I've started to devise more of my own recipes, which as a food writer, I've been striving for. I created a recipe for Thai shrimp and coconut soup and just recently a salad of roasted beets, figs, and pistachios that I absolutely loved. I've learned to whip cauliflower with oil and garlic (amazing) and roast sweet potato cubes to a perfect caramelized finish. I've also discovered wonderful new recipe websites like The Clothes Make The Girl and Nom Nom Paleo.

Support

The challenge was made possible with the help of enthusiastic members on the Whole30 forum. I'm thankful for the support of and lively discussion with several who I came to think of as friends. They and responsive moderators kept me on the path. One member read my food log and told me early on to “eat more veggies.†I needed that!

Drawbacks

Were there drawbacks? Yes, a few. It's a lot of extra work. Besides mayonnaise we made our own almond milk and coconut milk, plus we had to prep good breakfasts, take-along lunches, and healthy snacks. Kitchen work got tiring and we had huge piles of dishes. However, I do tend to go all-out to make really appetizing meals, so a person could do the plan more simply.

Social situations were daunting to anticipate. But we found that at the wedding reception, sipping coffee was just fine and no one cared that we didn't drink wine or nibble hors d'oeuvres. At the business dinner we brought our own grilled salmon and added it to the allowable items from the taco salad bar, and we poured Kombucha into our wine glasses. Again, no one seemed to care and some were interested.

In the early days we had times of crabbiness and being out of sorts, most likely from sugar withdrawal. I had times of feeling hungry but knowing I really wasn't.

Going Forward

Where to go from here? We plan on extending another seven days and then reevaluating. We might keep eating this way at home but ease up on what we allow for social occasions. I feel so good eating this way that I'm hesitant to introduce foods that might drain my energy. Either way, I'll have the opportunity to re-introduce foods one by one so I can observe what they do to my energy level.

What the Scale Said

Were you wondering whether I lost weight? I wasn't sure whether I had because I only worked out twice during my 30 days, ate perhaps more than the recommended amounts of food so as not to go off-plan because of hunger, and didn't always get the recommended eight to nine hours per night of sleep. Also, I was still aware of fatty areas around my middle.

Well, I broke down and stepped on the scale today because I wanted to include that statistic in my write-up. I'm happy to report that I lost all six pounds of holiday weight, without feeling terribly deprived.

And, I made a discovery with regard to that number on the scale. In the past, when I got to this weight I figured I was finished losing because I reached a “healthy†body mass index of 25. Becoming aware of my body composition is teaching me that it's more relevant than what the numbers say. I believe continuing to eat this way will help me burn the fat that's unhealthy and an energy drain to carry around.

Recommended?

Do I recommend Whole30? Of course everyone's needs are different and it might not be right for some, but for us it has truly been an excellent adventure, and you might just love it too.

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Staying on-plan wasn't hard because you're allowed such delicious food and reasonable amounts.

I agree, staying on plan wasn't hard. Don't know what you mean by "reasonable amounts" though -- I ate huge amounts! :)

Nice write-up, Eileen. The 30 days flew by with good companions like you along the way.

Terez

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I agree, staying on plan wasn't hard. Don't know what you mean by "reasonable amounts" though -- I ate huge amounts!

Nice write-up, Eileen. The 30 days flew by with good companions like you along the way.

Teresa

I had to do a rough sketch, plus I do need to watch my fats. I could do 3 or 4 thumbs of mayo easy. Thanks for your kind words.

I was looking for your wrapup--did you post one on the forum? I couldn't find it.

Terez, in thinking about what you said, I realized that I lost 6 pounds on the Whole30. That's the fastest weight loss I've ever had, and means I probably can have more food and that extra thumb of mayo. BTW, on my blog I changed "reasonable" to "generous." :)

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My wrap-up is the first post in my Post-W30 log (link below).

Nothing dramatic for me. Before the W30 I was already pretty much Primal except with daily raw milk, an occasional square of 90% chocolate, and weekly wine. Had already transitioned off grains, legumes and sugar months earlier. So I was tightening things up rather than making drastic changes.

I had one day of Tiger Blood and hope that will return. My energy throughout the day is more stable now.

My biggest win was consistency with large quantities of a good variety of vegetables. No longer letting nuts, apples, cheese and almond butter push balanced meals off my plate.

Terez

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I finished my first Whole 30 on Jan. 30. I had a check up and blood work done. I got the results today and was so, so pleased.

So my blood work results:

Total cholesterol: before 187 now 139

HDL: before 49 now 38 (not sure why the change, the nurse said maybe increase your cardiovascular activities. Can't, already go to bootcamp 3 days a week)

Triglycerides: before 181 now 127

LDL, bad cholesterol: before 102 now 76.

I give the Whole 30 all the credit. I have made great attempts to lower my cholesterol without any luck. But now that I understand how our bodies handle food, it makes more sense.

Woot Woot!

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Reintroduced butter, out of necessity when out for breakfast at Egg & I with friends. Fried eggs and sauteed veg (plus so-so steak). Asked if they could use OO, when they hemmed & hawed I figured it wd be my first reintro. No ill effect. :)

I realized later I probably could have asked for poached eggs and steamed veg if still in W30.

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Willy-nilly reintros at a pizza restaurant Friday night. Wine, blue cheese (Cobb salad), regular bacon, a little bread and butter, chocolate. A little bit of an unhappy stomach in the night but not terrible. Also, cravings came back. Most interesting was the return of a small nasal infection that's been chronic every winter but nonexistent during January W30. Maybe isolated reintros later will reveal the cause.

Starting a new job tomorrow so will try to eat clean as i can for awhile for maximum energy and focus.

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Willy-nilly reintros at a pizza restaurant Friday night. Wine, blue cheese (Cobb salad), regular bacon, a little bread and butter, chocolate. A little bit of an unhappy stomach in the night but not terrible. Also, cravings came back. Most interesting was the return of a small nasal infection that's been chronic every winter but nonexistent during January W30. Maybe isolated reintros later will reveal the cause.

Starting a new job tomorrow so will try to eat clean as i can for awhile for maximum energy and focus.

Great awareness! I find that the cravings come back in spades and it scares the pants off of me. It scared me so much I started another Whole30.

Even though the infection came back, it is good you have the knowledge to pull from, and a base to start from again, to separate out possible culprits.

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Tried an isolated reintro of red wine last night (2 glasses). Had no digestive problems or cravings and no recurrence of nasal infection/nosebleed but am feeling a little down this morning. Not really worth it, but I feel that in the future I 'll be OK having a small pour socially or to compliment food.

Next reintro in a few days will be yogurt, cheese, and butter, then later bread. I want to do all of the isolated reintlros during winter season cuz that's when I've had the nasal issue. A tiny problem but I believe it indicates a food intolerance.

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Postscript to wine reintro: Had the WORST day in a long time. Felt low and VERY tired. I had to bow out of what would have been a really fun evening. All day I was ravenous for fruit, nuts, and coconut butter. So wine might be a no-no in future. Can't think when it would be worth it to have wine then feel like this. How ever did I tolerate wine pre-W30. Rant over, thank you.

On a happy note: I put a frozen-solid chuck roast in pressure cooker for dinner last night. After about an hour and a half it was reasonably tender. A-mazing. Two hours would have been perfect. I need to use my pressure cooker more often!

And tonight for a side I had baked sweet potato with coconut butter and cacao nibs. Yummy.

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Miserable cold. No reintros till I'm over it. Dang.

For supper I'm having grilled tenderloin (my W30 comfort food) and SWMPO (but part of the meal and I'm sick and I'm post-W30) pumpkin custard with pureed pumpkin, egg, coconut milk, spices, scraped vanilla bean, and topped with currants and chopped pecans. It was that or Mac and cheese and bread pudding. :)

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So the tenderloin was a bust. It got a little too done, and I couldn't really taste it because of my nose being plugged. The pumpkin custards were comforting, but next time I'll skip the nuts and currants and try processing in the equivalent of one half date per ramekin. It just needs a tiny bit of sweet to bridge the pumpkin and the spices.

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