Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My Whole30 Summary: Less Frodo Going to Mt. Doom (misery and pain) and More Sam Replanting the Shire (satisfying, hard work)

By Kelly Elmore

Now, about a month out from the Whole30, I think I can give a summary of what I did and what happened to me that might be useful.

What I Did:

Basically, for 30 days (with two evenings of eating less that perfectly at a rehearsal dinner and a wedding) I ate only meats, vegetables, nuts, and a little bit of fruit. I ate no dairy, no yucky oils, no alcohol, no potatoes, no added sugar, and no grains of any kind. I blogged the whole experience, and you can find my posts about it here. During these 30 days, I also did Crossfit 2x a week (except when I didn't) and was otherwise only mildly active with daily kinds of movement like gardening, cleaning, walking from the train to school, etc.)

How it Went:

For the first few days, I was excited, and sticking to it was fairly easy. I had recently quit smoking (a month before I started the Whole30 and now nearly 4 months), and I was way more confident about sticking to this month than I usually am when starting a diet. I mean, if I can quit smoking, I can do anything right?

Then came Days four and five. Suddenly, I hated all the cooking, I started having cravings, I felt like crap with no energy or happy feelings, and my Crossfit workouts became nearly impossible to complete. I had read to expect this, though, and my Crossfit coach seemed to think it was normal, so I just kept eating right and watched a lot of cheer-me-up TV.

After Day six, it was all easier. My body adjusted to the diet, and I had my energy and good mood back. Some of the highlights of the rest of the month were: greatly reduced PMS symptoms, improvement in my attitude and performance at Crossfit, managing a huge Halloween party without cheating and without too much misery, wearing my old pants, finding new foods to enjoy, and falling in love with a new paleo-friendly restaurant (a Brazilian steakhouse where actual Brazilians go, where it's affordable, and where the food is better than the big chains).

The Results:

Over the 30 days, I lost 15 pounds, dropped down a size in pants, dresses, and shirts, looked slimmer in my face and neck, and fit into my favorite bras again. My acne (which wasn't terrible, but it bothered me terribly) was gone, and my PMS symptoms were reduced. I felt better all around, including during exercise, with a clearer head and a little more energy (I was fairly energetic before). At my thyroid checkup, my doctor and I were happy to see that all antibodies pointing to Hashimoto's Thyroiditis were gone; he credits the gluten-free and the dessicated thyroid and iodine I take.

My Plans:

I was happier on the Whole30 than I thought I would be. I wasn't dying to go eat a big bowl of pasta on day 31. So, I think I will mostly stick with it. I'm going to allow myself alcohol at social events, but stick with the no dairy, no grains, no sugar. I am going to have a cheat once in a while; I can't imagine life without the potstickers at the Cheesecake Factory. But I don't mind giving up my daily crap. I don't need grains or sugar in my diet except for those occasional treats. When I eat them, I want it to be worth it. A slice of bread along with soup? Not worth it. High quality peppermint bark on Christmas morning? Worth it.

Last Observation:

I have had trouble in the past with an eating disorder, and any diet scares me. I don't want to become obsessed with the way I am eating like I was before. I don't want the process of making good changes in my nutrition to lead me to all kinds of self-hating mental talk. I want to continue to like my body and feel good about all it can do. For some reason, I had less trouble with the Whole30 than I have had before. I didn't focus on food every second of the day; I didn't start to hate myself more as pounds dropped away. For whatever reason, for the first time, I was able to remain rational about my body while following a food plan. That really might be the biggest benefit I have gotten from the Whole30.

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