For years I have been frustrated with my body and have been saying I was going to get back in shape. It isn't that I feel like I look bad, but I FEEL bad. After I got back from NYC in 2013 my life seemed to always be in shambles and I coped (more like didn't) by eating out, never having real groceries, and wearing leggings as pants (which means I didn't notice that my jeans stopped fitting...). I always felt sick, found it hard to bounce back after injuries, had periodic terrible headaches, gained weight, and overall was not that happy of a person.
This year I decided I was really going to change. My brother is getting married in October (and its the only wedding where I get a plus one so I need to take advantage of that!) and I turn 30 in January so I've made this year all about me. All about feeling healthy, re-finding my hobbies, working less, working out more, and worrying about myself and not stupid guys or religion or anything else that has depressed me in the past.
At the beginning of the year I did Nutrisystem and lost 10lbs. Its fine, the food is not terrible and it is relatively easy (and my mad shopping skills got it for SUPER cheap) but it had one major downfall, it did not make me change my habits. I could still eat the foods that got me in trouble and more importantly it didn't make me spend time and energy in creating my meals. So when my sister asked me if I wanted to do Whole 30 with her and my brother-in-law, I thought the more rigorous plan would be good for me.
So here is my review of Whole 30 and why I love it so much.
If you aren't familiar with the program here are the Whole 30 basics:
- No grains (wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, rice, millet, bulgur, sorghum, sprouted grains, and all gluten-free pseudo-cereals like quinoa, amaranth, and buckwheat)
- No added sugar--real or artificial
- No legumes (including peanuts, beans and soy)
- No baked goods or replacements for foods that got you where you are
- By eliminating these things you can heal your body and slowly reintroduce foods to see which ones are affecting you.
A lot of people get scared of Whole 30 because they feel like it limits their food so much that there isn't anything left to eat. For me, it meant that I had to prepare all my own food and that is what made it a game-changer. It wasn't easy, but it made me change (most) of my bad habits. Because I have done elimination diets in the past to see if I was sensitive to gluten, dairy and sugar I already knew the outcome. I am VERY sensitive to sugar but since I ate so much of it I just didn't realize how crappy I always felt. Because of this, I was not as strict with following every single detail (except the no sugar of course) of the program but adapted it to me. And yes, I have already gotten flack for that from other people who have done Whole 30 but since it is for me and only me, I don't really give a damn.
The first week I was really strict and did not deviate from the plan. Slowly, I did add in the occasional black bean and I bought the organic Mayo from Trader Joe's (you should make your own but I opted for choosing the organic option with no sugar or soy). I did not buy all organic meat; a lot of meat has added sugar so I tried to make the best choices and just not eat a ton of it in general. I also would let myself occasionally eat Salt and Vinegar chips as a treat, you are allowed to have potatoes but it is against the spirit of Whole 30 since it is fried and a "junk food" but since it has a built in stopping mechanism--aka your mouth starts to crack apart-- I felt okay about it. I don't regret any of these decisions.
Why I loved Whole 30 and will, for the most part, continue to follow it:
- It made me spend time doing meal planning and prep. I became an active participant in every food that entered my body. I spent more time cooking--which is something I have always loved but have drifted from over the last few years--and for the first time in forever my fridge actually had food and I didn't make hasty decisions for fast food or treats.
- I saved SOOO much money. A lot of people complain about the cost of Whole 30 but I naturally do not eat a lot of meat (and am working to eat even less) which is the most expensive part and it saved me from eating out which is WAY more expensive than a bunch of raw vegetables.
- I felt great. The first couple days I had sugar withdrawal which meant I had a killer headache, but after that everything felt better. I didn't need to sleep as much, had more energy, and my mood was better.
- It gave me an excuse to call my sister everyday to check in (okay, we don't need a reason but it was nice to have someone doing it at the same time).
- I didn't feel obligated to eat things I didn't want. You know what I am talking about, the treats at work, the crappy food at a social gathering--this gave me a reason to say no!
- I had more uninterrupted time at work because I packed my lunch everyday and did not have to leave to eat. I had something available whenever I was starting to get hungry and never got to that point where you are bonking from lack of food. I felt like I got more done and could leave earlier (to cook for the next day).
- I broke my TERRIBLE soda habit. I realized if I didn't drink Dr. Pepper for 30 days I saved 7,500 calories and TEN cups of sugar. That math was a huge wakeup call.
- I finally learned how to make the prefect hardboiled egg and ate deviled eggs daily (not very many, don't worry, but they are the best snack!)
- I lost 11 pounds in 26 days.
Yes, I stopped before 30 days (which is why, among the other reasons, I called it "Almost 30") for a wedding, but instantly regretted it. I felt so sick the next day and it took me four days to get back down to where I was weight wise before my "cheat day." But, I plan on continuing with a few modifications so I am okay with stopping early. I will continue with the no sugar but I will eat beans, peanuts, and the occasional dairy (life needs cheese!). I don't really have any plans to stop this, I am wanting to do it when I am alone--since that is most of the time--but then allow myself to "cheat" when friends invite me out. For the most part I don't want to eat out any more, especially by myself--socially I am okay with it.
And if you were wondering what my favorite things to eat were and are:
- Deviled Eggs (horseradish mustard, vinegar, salt & pepper, cayenne pepper, mayo)
- Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps (shredded chicken, red onion, apple, sunflower seeds, grapes, mayo, onion powder, S&P)
- Fajita Salad (chicken, bell peppers, onion, garlic, homemade seasoning mix, greens, cilantro)
- Broccoli Salad (broccoli (or brussel sprouts), bacon, nuts, apple, and dressing (shallot, orange, lemon, oil)
- Turkey Wraps (lettuce, turkey, bell peppers, horseradish mustard, avocado, tomato)
- Zucchini "Pasta" (spiralized zucchini with homemade pasta sauce (tomato, garlic, onion, S&P)
- Fruit Salad (my favorite right now is a mix of raspberries, kiwi, and grapes)
- Chocolate Banana Shakes (this is my breakfast EVERY morning, coconut/almond milk, 1/2 frozen banana, chia seeds, baking cocoa)
- Sweet Potatoes (just baked with S&P, so easy, filling and good)
But really, with vegetables, fruit, meat and spices as staples you can make ANYTHING.
and because I am proud of myself here is a photo comparison (apparently while getting more healthy I also progressively learned how to fix my hair...)
Before I started / Day 15 / Day 21 / Day 26
And if you can't tell that I feel more like myself, here are some photos from the wedding I attended last week.
I'll admit that this past week has been hard, I spent the first three days being SUPER strict to get back to feeling okay after the wedding but then I got a huge shipment at work (which was the first time I unloaded a semi with our forklift, I was so nervous but did great and my mechanic neighbor told me that he was so proud of me and I "was hauling ass!") and I let myself slip. Tomorrow is a new day and I am getting back at it. So if you see me in person, or just want to check in, encourage me to make good choices! I have about 20 more pounds to loose to get to my normal weight (the weight where I was most of my life and feel normal, not skinny just normal and healthy) but if I can keep this up I have no fear of not making my goals and getting to buy that kickass dress for my brother's wedding!