When and how: Spend the weekend eating pizza and ice cream and begin on a Monday
I began the Whole 30 Thirty Day Challenge on Monday, August 12th, 2013. Knowing I was about to begin a no sugar, no alcohol. preservative free, clean food eating plan, I spent the weekend eating those things I knew I would miss. I had my favorite pizza (the whole thing), Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia pint (the whole thing), and various other dietary delicacies I had been eating most of my life. I made sure to cover myself and take a Prilosec each day! Of course, the physical feeling this produced was far worse than the new diet I was about to begin.
You know, the acid indigestion, bloating, and general feeling of malaise. Oh, and the contributing factor of weighing over 200 lbs.
I had a friend join me on this 30 day event and I must say, if you are going to do this, doing it with others is really better. Especially when it comes to planning meals.It was also pretty great that she was a great cook and made these Paleo meals even more delicious. Last, it was much easier to have the support of another during the days when you feel like giving in.
Beginning on a Monday
So it was that early Monday morning that I made and drank my first cup of coffee without cream and sugar for literally the first time. And guess what? It was pretty good.
The timing was significant … just after the completion of the 30 days, I would turn 55. I also had made an appointment with a cardiologist to have a check up just because. That visit would be mid September. I began with a thorough understanding what I could eat and drink and was very organized. I quickly realized it was the daily preparation more than anything that was critical to succeeding in staying on course, meaning dealing with the cravings that were to come.
In a nutshell, and yes, some nuts are really good on this challenge, the Whole 30 program is thought of as a nutritional re-set. The foundation this is that food should make you healthy, not sick. That premise alone was paradigm shifting for me. Our culture isn’t interested in identifying the cause to our ailments. It’s all about treating the symptoms. Case in point – acid reflux. I took antacids DAILY. I was told I had acid reflux disease. Really? Well, all I knew is when I ate “this” food stuff, I needed that Prilosec or Zantac … pronto. If I ate other kinds of food, I never needed it. Let me tell you, starting Day 1 of this 30 day eating whole, real foods, I only needed antacids two times. From taking them every day I healed that “disease.” Seriously. Thanks Doc.
Food can make you sick
The Whole 30 program is about finding out what food groups are in fact having a negative impact on your health and physical well being. This is why there is a very strict commitment to eating only those foods proven to be overall good for you. These are detailed at the Whole 30 web site, and I encourage you to take a close look at it. What you will learn is that almost everything you have heard the nutritional experts advise is, let me put this frankly, bullshit. Until you decide to eat this new way, you won’t get it. Those that want to argue it, won’t get it. You have to DO IT. See for yourself how you feel and more significantly, experience the changes that happen. Eating whole unprocessed foods with an emphasis on vegetables/fruits and healthy fats will produce amazing results. Physically and emotionally.
What I ate
Most people wondered what I was eating primarily because of the things they saw me NOT eating anymore. Gone was the daily munching on Snicker candy bars (get the plural of that), partaking of the donuts or bagels offered, the declining of ANYTHING with sugar in it, no sandwiches with a large soda, and not taking even a sip of alcohol. You have to get very good at reading ingredient lists. Not the nutritional information predominately displayed on every product. Did you know there is sugar added as an ingredient in Lowery’s garlic salt?? Ridicules. The lists of the great foods to get you started are at Whole 30 and are pretty complete.
You will also find that guideline of buying things on the perimeter of the grocery store to not be safe. There’s crap everywhere.
You will often hear, “Man, that is hard!”
No … having cancer is hard. Being sick is hard. Eating good food is easy. Maybe not at first, but after 30 days of doing it, you think twice and ask yourself if it is worth it. Asking if it is worth it before eating the things that you once the loved makes it clear. At this point it comes and came down to this for me … do I want to feel like that (good or bad) if I eat this? Because eating good food makes you feel great, every time. Eating bad food makes you feel bad, pretty much every time. The following is true almost 100%, if there is more than one thing on the ingredient list or any words you can’t pronounce, it isn’t what you should be eating.
Overall, during the 30 days I ate meats, vegetables (lots of salads), fruit (more than what is recommended, honestly), nuts (almonds, walnuts), eggs (organic), and cooked with organic olive, coconut, avocado oils and ghee (clarified organic butter).
The results were amazing. So much so that I continue to eat this way to this day and will for the rest of my life. This morning I had my coffee – black and a couple of eggs with a small portion of grass fed hamburger. I had some fruit too. Pineapple, raspberries, and blackberries.
I had some undeniable health improvements. First, I do not take any antacids anymore … unless I have made that choice it was worth it, And it wasn’t! My digestion (gut) was so improved. Really no comparison. I had improvements in my irritated gums … my dental hygienist even noted it and asked if I had been flossing more regularly. As much as I wanted to report that this was the case, it was not. I told her how my diet was now processed and synthetic sugar free, she called the doctor in to look at the results.
I was sleeping really well and my skin indeed, as expected, started to clear. I also had a vast improvement in energy. The cardiologist report was great. No blockages partial or otherwise, cholesterol and triglyceride levels excellent …. one thing I had not written is that the previous year I had cholesterol levels hit a level that was very concerning 280, another all time high. That humbled me to the point where I agreed to begin taking a small dosage of medication to get it under control. My level now registered at 160 … never before that low since I had started testing it over 30 years ago. (I have since stopped taking the med and will re-test soon to see where it presently sits).
Now for the question everyone is wondering … so much so I’ll bet many of you have skimmed this post to find this report. How much WEIGHT did you lose? A lot! Understand that one of the rules to Whole 30 is that you do not weigh yourself ever during the 30 days. The focus of Whole 30 is about the foods you eat. Weight is not the problem – food is. I weighed 216 on August 12. It was great to not think or worry about how I was doing on my weight. In the Visalus Challenge thing, I have to be honest, when I had plateaued at 14 lbs, with a couple of weeks left in the 90 days, I re-focused and became even more strict by taking the supplements and drinking more than a shake a day for a meal. I wanted as impressive of a result as possible.
On September 10th (which was the 30th day from the start), I excitedly jumped on the same scale I stepped on August 12th. I knew my weight was way less based on the way my pants fit (fell) off of me and comments from friends on how I was looking (better not worse!). I was now weighing 192 lbs .. a loss of TWENTY FOUR (24) pounds. Just by eating good foods.
I never went hungry eating as much as I wanted. I snacked a lot! But those snacks were in the form of good ones … fruit and vegetables. I did no exercise. It is recommended to incorporate exercise and of course its great for you. But the temps in Phoenix were still hitting triple digits everyday. Combine that with being self discipline challenged, I just dramatically changed the food I ate.
There is more! I’ll talk about that next. Hint: more weight loss but a return to pizza and ice cream …. 🙁