Wow, has it really been 30 days already?
I nervously went into this on the morning of April 2nd, just hoping to get a little bit of relief from inflammation that I had been feeling in my lower body. I had gotten to the point of thinking that I needed to go see a doctor to find out what was causing it. Based on my friend John Perry telling me that he had gotten relief from his own inflammation by doing Whole30, I figured what did I have to lose by giving it a try. Little did I know what a ride I was in for.
What did I put into Whole30?
I will say this right off the bat. For the last 30 days, I have bought into this program hook line and sinker. No cheats, no shortcuts. If I was going to do it, I wanted to get the full benefit of the program, and that was the only way. I started out by looking at their website http://www.whole30.com, and then reading the book “It Starts With Food” which gave me the hows and whys of the program. I also bought “The Whole30”, which is the program guide and much more, and finally “The Whole30 Cookbook” which was actually full of amazing recipes that were generally quick and easy to prepare.
The first thing I had to do was overhaul how I had been shopping and cooking for many years. The center section of the grocery story had become my friend. Everything already processed and wrapped up in a neat package for me to prepare. Who doesn’t want their life to be simpler and easier, right? Just rip open the package, toss it in the pan, and add a little water, what else could you ask for?
Well, how about the incredible flavor and textures that come from fresh homemade ingredients? I have never been much of a vegetable eater, but wandering through the world of Whole30 made me change my way of thinking. I had to start shopping the outside walls of the grocery store, looking for new things to try out. Brussel sprouts, asparagus, mushrooms, broccoli, zucchini, you name it, most of these things rarely if ever landed on my plate in my past life. Now, they are a daily occurrence , and my life is so much richer and healthier for it.
“But, I don’t have time to prepare home cooked meals!” you say. So did I, but after the last 30 days of preparing meals that were Whole30 compliant, I have learned that it can be done without much additional preparation time. The key is planning ahead, instead of waiting to the last minute, when you just grab whatever is quick and easy. If you plan a day or two ahead, and have the ingredients you need at home, and ready to go, the meals can be prepared in about the same amount of time as the already processed meals that I used to eat. Another trick I have learned is to make enough of whatever protein I’m making that I have leftovers, and then just change up the vegetables the next day.
The other big thing I did was to sit down at the dining room table with my family, and actually enjoy the meal. Turn off the TV, set aside the books and papers, computers and phones, and have a conversation with them while taking time to enjoy every bite of three square meals per day. The first few days were difficult as I was constantly on the edge of hungry, but I learned after that to adjust my portion sizes, and also once my body realized that it was no longer going to get its high octane sugar fuel throughout the day I adapted, and listened to when my body said it was full. The sugar cravings have gone away, and now what at one time would have seemed like tiny portion sizes fill me up, and leave me sated to until the next meal.
What did I get out of it?
First and foremost, a whole new appreciation of how the food we put in our bodies on a daily basis affects our lives. Looking at the packaging on the processed foods that we eat on a daily basis, you would think that you are being healthy. I mean, they say “Low Fat”, “Whole Grain”, “All Natural”, “Sugar Free”, “Organic” so they have to be good for you right? Not necessarily. If the food you are eating comes out of a package, take a look at the ingredient list, and if you can’t pronounce it, do you think it is really good for you, or is it there to preserve the food or add back flavor that is removed in the processing, and is it really something that you need to be putting in your body? Also, look at just how many of the things you buy on a daily basis have sugar (in one of it’s MANY forms) added. The only way to truly know that the food you are eating is healthy and wholesome is by buying it fresh and cooking it yourself.
The other big benefit I have gotten from my 30 days is ability to do things with my girls again. Yes, anyone who knows me knows that I do things with my girls all the time, but now that I have been through Whole30, I realize just how much I had not been able to do, and how much I was losing as time went on. The inflammation that I had been feeling and sugar rushes and crashes made me not want to go out for walks, or bike rides, and when we would go to the park, I was finding more and more often that they would be out playing, and I was having to find a bench to sit on and rest. Now just two weeks ago I went with Talyn, and we climbed the Backside Trail to the top of Crowder’s Mountain. It was tough, but I truly enjoyed it, though I know that prior to April 2nd, I would have never made that climb.
What were my results?
Unfortunately, the only measurable that I have from my Whole30 Program is my weight. I did not take other measurements prior to starting, because I truly did not expect it to be as earth shaking for me as it has been.
The immeasurables that I know of are that I no longer feel inflammation in my lower body, or anywhere else. I can stand up from a chair and start walking, instead of having to steady myself while the pain in my legs subsides. The bloated feeling that I had around my midsection and face are gone. While I didn’t measure my waist, I’m certain that I have lost at least 2-3 inches there, because before Whole30 I was sucking it in each morning to a belt notch that I really shouldn’t have been using, and now I’m down one whole notch from where I was, and thinking maybe I need to go an additional notch, because of how loose my pants feel. I also have more even energy levels through my day, as I have come down of the sugar highs and crashes that I was always having, When the alarm goes off each morning, I can pop right out of bed, and I’m no longer fighting to stay awake past 8:30 PM.
My head is also so much clearer now. I didn’t realize just how much of a fog I was living in before, unable to focus on things or concentrate. I had always figured that it was just age catching up to me, but after the past 30 days, I feel like a new person, and know that it had all been a result of the horrible eating habits I had. My spirits are lifted to all new heights, and I honestly feel happier than I have in years.
Now, for the one measurable item as a result of my Whole30 program, but let me first say that Whole30 is not a diet, and also as a 25-30 mile a week runner both before and during Whole30, my results are very likely not typical. I stepped on the scale on April 2nd at 188.5 pounds, and this morning, May 2nd I stepped on the scale at 174.0. The vast majority of that is due to continuing my running, and totally dropping added sugar from my diet, but it is truly an amazing result in just 30 days. My hope now is to continue working on getting myself down to my goal weight of 165, which would be back to my college weight.
Where do I go from here?
JP, I owe you a debt that I will never be adequately able to repay for introducing me to the Whole30 Program. It has truly been life changing, and I can’t say enough how much I appreciate it and you.
Yesterday may have been the end of my Whole30 program, but the last 30 days were also the beginning of my new and exiting life. Today I start the reintroduction phase, to find out how Dairy, Legumes, Grains and Sugars affect my body, and specifically for me, what was causing my inflammation issues. However, I while I may allow some of these items back into my diet on a limited basis, I will never go back to the unhealthy way I had been eating. Why would I ever want to go back to feeling the way I was, after knowing how I feel now?
Please reach out to me if you have any questions. As you can tell I’m a huge fan, and would be happy to share what I learned if it can help to improve someone else’s life the way it has mine.
Really looking forward to seeing where this ride goes from here.