The Whole 30! (or Whole 33 +Counting )

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Tuesday marked the last day of my Whole 30 healthy eating challenge. I am glad that I pushed through the difficult moments and kept on track. The end results far outweigh the struggle. Most of the time, I found it pretty easy to stick with the plan, and I learned that there is almost always a way around poor eating if you are diligent.

Speaking of weight, I probably lost about 5-6 pounds in the course of a month, all of it in the first week or two. Although I didn’t have lots of weight to lose, I did want to get rid of the extra couple of pounds that were gathering around my midsection. With all of the gym time I log, I needed to clean up my diet to see some results. While quick and significant weight loss early on in a diet is generally water weight, there was a difference here. It may have been water, but this came off, and stayed off throughout the entire month. I think it was a result of all the bloat and inflammation from foods that were aggravating my system leaving my body, and not being reintroduced in the subsequent days. While the lack of further weight loss was puzzling, I started waking up with a flatter stomach and leaner look all around. The scale may have stopped measuring change, but my body composition has shifted for the better.

I didn’t embark on this to lose weight. The Whole 30 premise is to change your relationship with food, eliminate the foods that are causing inflammation in your body, and set the foundation for a healthier lifestyle. For many, weight loss is a part of that equation.

Prior to doing the Whole 30, I had been feeling sluggish, fuzzy headed and achy. Most nights were spent awake with a terrible burning in my stomach that antacids weren’t always helping. The real trigger was a day trip to Toronto where I didn’t eat for prolonged periods of time and then scarfed up whatever I could get my hands on, in this case, pizza and a muffin. I ended that marathon day with popcorn and red wine at midnight. The next morning, I felt like I had been run over by a bus. I honestly wondered if I had the flu. My normal eating habits were great, but these bouts of bad eating, which often stretched over a period of days, were taking a toll. I knew food was the culprit, but I didn’t know which ones. Whole 30 confirmed this belief, as I have not had an antacid for 27 days.

My general energy level is high, although I have yet to see my performance in the gym change dramatically. I may be lifting slightly heavier weights, but my endurance is not stronger.After two weeks of random gym going, I am back on my regular kind of hard core program, so I hope to see gains more quickly. During my stressful weeks of balancing fashion deadlines with baking deadlines and having a big presentation date moved up without notice, I found myself feeling calmer amid the storm than usual. I was stressed and I knew it. But that pit of the stomach, feeling like you’re going to combust, out of your mind sensation wasn’t there.

What now, you may be asking? My answer is that I don’t know. I am going to stay the course for a few more days while I figure it out. The next steps are supposed to be a re-entry plan. Each of our bodies are different, and food that bothers one person may be fine for another. The concept is to select an eliminated food group, such as dairy, and try to eat some at each meal for one day, return to the Whole 30 way of eating for two days, and assess how those food made you feel. Did you have any digestive issues, bloating, headaches or any other reactions that were unpleasant? If not, you are free to add back those foods into our diets. Grains, such as quinoa and oats are added back separately from those grains containing gluten, to see if there are issues with some and not others.

Truth be told, I am a little hesitant to try the re-entry. I know I will hit on some foods that bother me. I know that I may think certain things don’t bother me, but I will see the bloat come back slowly, and the scale start to rise again as I the effects start to pile up. I think that whatever my personal poison is, it has a cummulative effect in my body. It isn’t one bowl of pasta that does me in, or one cookie that makes me feel unwell. It is the fact that it triggers cravings that makes me want more sugar, more refined carbs and then, I start to feel ill. The re-entry program is critical, and if I can figure out the foods that are my downfall, I can generally avoid them, and know that if I want to indulge occassionally, I should be prepared to counter attack with a super clean diet to get me back on track again, and purge the inflammation from my body. Just reverting back to eating less mindfully is not an option. Living an active lifestyle requires eating for fuel, and high quality fuel at that. We wouldn’t fill race car up with cheap gas, or worse, the wrong amount of gas and expect it to run properly. We shouldn’t fill our bodies with improper fuel and expect it perform at it’s optimum level.

I will probably start my re-entry in a few days. I’ll let you know how it goes. In the meantime, if the weekend brings a glass of wine or a bowl of organic pop corn, I will embrace it.

Did any of you try a Whole 30 or another clean eating program? Any take aways to share? Let us know in the comments.

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