I walked by the book It Starts With Food yesterday and realize I have been shirking my duties in writing a Whole30 experience recap. I was particularly struck by the tagline “Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways” because that is exactly what this experience did. I have outlined some of those ways in my previous post, but I want to be more specific and complete in this post.
Shockingly, the biggest takeaway from the Whole30 was that Mr. Prepared and I grew a little bit more into sync with each other again. After a brutal winter ski resort season in which EVERYTHING was new, compounded by moving across the country, moving from an apartment to a house in the fall, and all the stress that comes with everything being NEW (jobs, doctors, schools, etc.), we were SHELLED. We were tired, irritable, unhappy, anxious people. And the only person each of us could vent to was the other. We had no in-person support system (we are working on it and the network is improving!) at first, so the tears, the frustration, and the stress were often directed at each other. This experience was the first fulfilling, long-term “project” we have worked on together in a long time. We are healthier and happier people as a result of this “commitment”, and we are finding our ways of growing into this community, seeking out people and opportunities that enrich our lives personally and as a family.
While Mr. Prepared has been bulletproof in sticking with the Whole30 principles, I have slacked here and there on some things. But you know what? Everything I thought I missed so much isn’t really all that great. Cheese? Meh. Yummy Greek yogurt? It was OK. I haven’t even gone back to bread or grain products- I really don’t miss them at all. (OK, other than beer. I had a few beers. Yes, they were good, but I don’t have time for beer right now!) So I imagine that most of those “needs” we make up in our mind about foods we “couldn’t live without” are just truly in our mind. Food is so closely tied to emotion and memory for me that I know I still have some mental work before me to get these things a little more in line with “normal” emotional attachments to food.
Unfortunately, I have become a food freak. By freak I mean that I have gotten on my soapbox more than a few times, and even muttered under my breath at dinner the other night that the American agricultural industry is trying to kill us (what? It’s probably true.) My stance about food is a little too extreme for most people, and that is a dangerous combination with my work as a personal trainer. I am toning it down A LOT for clients, but if anyone really engages me in food conversation, they are bound to get an earful. I am sure it will all turn out to be bogus in the end and you can have the last laugh. But until then…you have been warned.
But what you really wanna know are the stats, right? You want to know if it WORKS. Everyone can define this differently, especially since it isn’t a “diet”. I had been told there was a magical, mystical Whole30 land where you could have boundless energy and sleep like a princess. I also secretly wanted to look ripped like one of those Crossfit competitors. If those were the showing that it “works”, then no, I didn’t start eating unicorn rocket fuel or photo-shopping my mirror. Here’s what happened:
- Sleep. I have slept like crap pretty much since we moved. When we started Whole 30, I was sleeping about 4-6 hours a night. I knew I would NEVER make it through training for a half-Ironman on 4-6 hours of sleep a night. I get sleep now. I get very nice, rested sleep. I can go back to sleep if I wake up. This was HUGE.
- Smell. About the fourth day in, we woke up and rolled over and I realized we didn’t “smell” like night sweating and restless sleep. We didn’t smell at all practically. I had pretty terrible night sweats up until I started this (more on that another time) and they are pretty diminished now. We also both recognized more healthy levels of sweating while exercising, whereas before I don’t think we were sweating enough.
- Thirst sensitivity. I could tell when I was actually thirsty instead of forcing myself to drink a required amount of water in the day. Since there a little controversy over “how much liquid is enough/too much” I figure improved thirst signals meant I was headed in the right direction.
- Weird aches and pains. Mr. Prepared has had an ache on the outside of his knee since oh, 2011. He reports no more ache.
- Bowel movements. C’mon, we are all adults! To sum it up: before=not regular. Now=regular. If you need details, try it yourself. 😉
- Eye of the tiger. I may be dramatizing this a little. I had a bike power test on Day 18 of the Whole 30. Many sources said that your workouts will feel flat the first 2 weeks, and they did. But I swear that as I got ready for that bike test, I could feel and access a bunch of energy for it. Maybe I just did a really good job of psyching myself up for the test, but maybe it was Whole30? Anyhow, crushed the bike test!
- And for you scale slaves… OK, I admit I was a scale slave too before Whole30. Part of Whole30 is that you can’t weigh yourself for the 30 days. I had to have Mr. Prepared hide the scale. That was pretty revealing. I had lost and re-gained the same 6 pounds 3 times since New Year’s prior to Whole30. I was fairly obsessed. Not so much anymore. I am down 7 pounds. Mr. Prepared is down about 15. Also 2% body fat for me.
We changed our lives in expected and unexpected ways. We are trying to keep in line with the Paleo thing for now (this is much trickier, as the slope is more slippery), and get the kids more on board. My main goal in the next 10 weeks is figuring out racing and training nutrition that fits within the scope of racing efficiently and eating well. Tomorrow is my first big volume day (5 hours!), so we will see how it goes.
If you have any Whole30 insight you want to share, please do in the comments!