Well, I’m on day 8 of my first Whole 30 challenge and feeling absolutely amazing! I survived Halloween without a single piece of candy. I survived the weekend (including dinner with friends and going to a bar) without a drop of alcohol. And it didn’t even feel that difficult. In fact, it was one of the most refreshing and enjoyable weekends I can remember.
Before I get into the details of what I’ve been eating, a few disclaimers:
- I’ve been eating only one serving of fruit a day. While I have quite a few goals for the challenge, kicking off some weight loss is definitely my top priority in order to improve my overall health, so I’m trying to limit my sugar intake while on the plan.
- Sweet potatoes are allowed on Whole 30, but I’ve only been having them a few times a week (for the same reason as above).
- I’ve intentionally kept my exercise light for the first week. I went for a four-mile run on Saturday and several walks, but I didn’t want to tax my willpower by jumping into a new workout routine AND a new eating plan at the same time. I tried to spend last week acclimating to the Whole 30 and getting lots of rest.
So, more than anything, this plan requires meal planning. If your fridge is bare and intense hunger strikes, you can’t just grab some chips or popcorn to hold you over until you order take-out. I had to think about all my meals in advance, which has always been a weak point for me in my previous dieting efforts. I also noticed that the times I felt most tempted to cheat, I was just hungry; once I had a Whole 30 meal, my willpower returned in full force. Lesson learned: If you feel like giving up, eat something good for you–and then ask yourself again if you really want to quit.
For breakfasts, I’ve been having a “snack plate” style meal at work. Some Applegate organic breakfast sausage, grape tomatoes, and carrots with almond butter. Or some hard-boiled eggs, tomatoes and carrots and a single-serving of Wholly Guacamole. Protein, healthy carbs and healthy fat.
Who needs oatmeal when you can eat guac for breakfast? And the best part? I feel SO alert eating this way. No post-meal sluggishness you get from carb-heavy breakfasts.
I decided early on to plan for a slight deviation from the Whole 30 guidelines. The plan instructs to avoid snacking and eat three meals a day. The tough part for me is that I get home from work around 5:00, and Jeff usually doesn’t get home until at least 7:00. Those two hours are often the snackiest time of day for me. I am genuinely hungry right at 5. So I decided to split dinner into two mini-meals: I usually have eggs, bacon and avocado when I get home.
And then I’ll have another small meal with Jeff at 8:00. I’ve made delicious concoctions like bunless burgers with carmelized onions and Paleo mayo, chicken thighs sauteed with zucchini and summer squash and topped with Trader Joe’s bruschetta spread, and this coconut lime-crusted cod (recipe from Mama’s Weeds) with green beans sauteed in coconut oil with garlic.
I am blessed with the least picky husband ever, so that’s a huge weight off my shoulders. If I cook something, Jeff eats it without complaint. He only complains if there’s no dinner at all.
A few observations after a week into the plan:
Sweetener creep: I thought I was being vigilant about avoiding artificial sweeteners, but I realized a few days ago I’ve been accidentally ingesting aspartame every day! We LOVE sparkling water and have a Soda Stream machine. One of our favorite drinks is to make sparking water, add a capful of the raspberry flavoring that comes with the Soda Stream, and then add a splash of 100 percent pomegranate juice. We call this a “Pomtail,” because it looks like a cocktail and feels like a special drink, but it’s a mocktail, of course. I didn’t even think about the artificial sweetener in the raspberry flavoring. As soon as I realized it, I switched to plain seltzer and it’s been fine.
Panera FTW: I was very impressed with Panera’s hidden power menu, a bunch of awesome low-carb options they recently introduced. I met my mom and two of her friends for lunch on Friday and had the steak lettuce wraps: Strips of thinly-sliced steak, cucumber, onion and tomato to roll up in thick leaves of romaine. It came with a pesto sauce. I realized halfway through the meal that the pesto sauce had a little Parmesan cheese in it. I ate it anyway. It was really the only flavor of the whole meal, and it wasn’t a TON of dairy. I’m doing the best I can with the plan, and I’m not going to completely freak out over small slip-ups. I can’t stick to a plan that involves frequent freak-outs.
Alcohol: I LOVE craft beer and dry red wine. I know a little bit of alcohol isn’t necessarily bad, but my problem is that I can easily put away four pints of IPA in an evening, around 800+ calories of alcohol. One thing that appealed to me about this challenge is the opportunity to scale back my drinking and get comfortable with just having ONE drink. But I’m very social, and I knew I’d be confronted with tempting alcohol quite a bit during the challenge. So I stopped by Fresh Market and invested in around $30 worth of kombucha on the way home from work on Friday evening. Kombucha is pricey ($3.69 each normally, buy they were on sale two for $6), but it’s worth to me if it will help me stay on track. I was insanely excited about my haul.
Kombucha is a fermented probiotic tea with lots of healthy bacteria. It’s also, in my opinion, delicious. It tastes a little like hard cider. And it feels like a special drink, a reward for a long work week much like a glass of wine. We had friends over for dinner on Friday night (I made the burgers mentioned above), and they brought a bottle of wine. I popped open a GT’s Gingerade kombucha and poured it into a wine glass. I didn’t feel left out at all! And I woke up Saturday morning feeling awesome and ready to tackle my run. Saturday night, we had dinner at Bru Burger in downtown Indy, and while hearing the beer list (including a gingerbread brown ale…sounds so delicious..) was a little painful, I powered through and ordered a modified cobb salad and seltzer. After dinner, we went to a concert and then met up with my brother and his friends at a bar, since they were nearby. Again, I had a few seltzer waters and woke up Sunday feeling rested and hydrated!
In addition to following the plan, I’m also taking a multivitamin, fish oil and a probiotic. I’ve also been experimenting with apple cider vinegar, since I’ve read it has many amazing health benefits. Every afternoon I’ve been drinking a concoction of 2T ACV, 1T lemon juice and 1C water. It doesn’t taste too bad. And my crazy husband actually declared it delicious and has been drinking one every night with me.
So am I getting the results I want from this plan? I’m only a week in so far, but I have been feeling absolutely amazing. I’m down six pounds and my skinny jeans are fitting well. I have been sleeping really well. My skin is looking better. I have been more focused and alert at work.
I will mention one weird thing I experienced in case any one else also experienced it. On day two, I noticed my hands and arms kept going a little numb. It started that morning when I was at the dentist. I thought I was just cold, but it kept happening all day. The next day, it was completely gone and hasn’t happened again. It might just have been my body adjusting to reduced carbs.
I was secretly hoping to lose at least ten pounds during my Whole 30, and I can’t believe I’m already 60 percent of the way to that goal! This week I’m starting some strength training in addition to some moderate cardio. I will be sure to update about my results!