Friday, January 31, 2014

Tiger Blood: My 'Whole 30' Experience

Since this Paleo fad has taken off, I've been reluctant to give in to the hype.  I've never been a "dieter", and definitely not one to follow many trends when it comes to eating.  I eat limited processed food and do my best to buy certified organic, non-GMO, grass-fed, free-range, and am pretty much a foodie snob of sorts...there, I said it.  Overall, I find my diet to be pretty healthy. 
The hubby and I had our specific reasons to give the Whole30 a try and I'll have to explain those reasons in a separate post.  I have always belonged to the, "just eat the bread" and "it's all about moderation" camp. But when my body decided it wasn't going to function as ideally as it should, I decided to give this Whole30 elimination diet a good 'ole American try (I seriously don't know if that's a positive or derogatory saying now...). We have never done such a strict elimination diet, and were actually really excited to try it. Well, I speak for myself here, I wouldn't say Matt was necessarily excited.  Everyone I know who has done Whole30 talk about the "Tiger Blood", the amazing energy surge you feel at some point during the 30 days, and most people end up feeling so great, they keep up with Paleo in some form (you can read more about Paleo HERE).  Tiger blood?!  I want me some of that, yes please.
How would we do?  Could we make it 30 days eating such a strict diet? How would we feel? How difficult would it be? Would this be "life changing" like so many people report?
I apologize to those unfamiliar with the Whole30 for not explaining what the heck I'm talking about.  But people far more educated on this do a much better job explaining it HERE and HERE (30 convincing reasons to do Whole30).
I had a health issue arise within the first 5 days of starting the Whole30 (completely unrelated to our new diet) and this made it difficult to stick with it.  I was craving SUGAR! I didn't really think I had much of an emotional attachment to food, but this situation really made me realize that I turn to sugar when wanting a "make me feel better" snack.  Plus, when I'm told, or tell myself, I can't have something it makes me want it more...don't you agree?
WE DID IT!  The 30 days are over, and here's a little recap:
  • The first 2 weeks I had super strong cravings for ice cream, nutella, and brownies.  Mouth-watering, tempting, blood sugar-raising sugar laughed in my face on the t.v., standing in the checkout line at the grocery store, and just driving down the street passing places like Dairy Queen.  Just give me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, please!
  • But what did I miss the most? My coffee creamer!  Coffee is allowed on the Whole30, but you have to drink it black, since dairy and any form or sweetener is a strict no-no  No. Thank. You.  I ended up using a coconut milk/egg/vanilla/cinnamon concoction that got me through, but I don't think it is technically in line with the overall goal of Whole30.  I'm such a rebel.
  • We were always hungry, despite eating large, protein and veggie-packed meals.  Matt and I both had to figure out how much protein and healthy fats we needed to eat in order to not feel completely empty 30 minutes after eating a meal.  Our bodies were adjusting to the lack of those filling, yet empty carbs we were used to eating.  Weight loss was not our goal in this, so we had to be sure we were eating enough.
  • I didn't lose any weight, and Matt lost about 5 pounds and was glad it wasn't any more.
  • Once I adjusted our meals, we were less inclined to feel like snacking, but I was sure to keep snacks such as almonds, pistachios, avocados, and hard boiled eggs on hand, but now that the 30 days are up, I don't find myself wanting, or feeling the need, to snack as much. 
So, did we see any benefits?
  • For a little while there, Matt wasn't having the back pain each morning that he's become accustomed to, and his sinus issues were no more.  But it may have been just a coincidence, because it seems they have returned.
  • Around day 20 I noticed a HUGE improvement in my skin!  I've always had issues with my skin, whether it is breakouts, dryness or redness.  My skin is now hydrated, smooth, smaller pores and feel like it's glowing!  This may be TMI, but I started my period this week...not one breakout!  This is big folks :) It's either the Whole30 or this Loreal product I'm using is worth much more than I paid for it; I've never had such amazing results from a drugstore brand.
  • I was a little bummed that I was nearing the end of the Whole30 and hadn't felt that amazing energy yet, and in fact hadn't felt much different at all.  But for about the last 10 days...I have the Tiger Blood!  Y'all that know me, know that I have NEVER been a morning person. I've tried, I really have, and it has just never worked and I have never enjoyed it.  BUT. I have been waking up (quite easily, I might add) at 5:30 to bundle up and go for a nice walk and I actually look forward to it.  I use this quiet time to pray and prepare for my day ahead.  I then have time to cuddle on the couch in my robe, sip my coconut milk-laced coffee while I read my devotional and my Bible and catch up on emails before getting ready for work.  On the days that I don't work, like today, this gives me time to get myself ready before Lucy gets up and have my alone time.  Who am I?! 
Here are some of our favorite meals we enjoyed these last 30 days:
Chicken Veggie Soup with Sautéed Bok Choy, Cilantro and Green Onion

These Citrus Carnitas were mouth watering!  I believe Matt's favorite.

Jicama Home Fries with eggs and bacon for breakfast.  These take some
prep work the day before, but it's easy...and worth it!

Satisfying my snack-tooth with these Garlic Kale Chips
These are amazing!

Now that the 30 days are up, we begin our reintroduction phase.  We will be adding these items we've eliminated back into our diet one-by-one, every few days, and monitoring how they make us feel and determining if it's something we should just limit from our diet long-term.  First up...dairy!  Because I miss my coffee creamer, and Matt is yearning for cheese. 
We're holding back our urge to binge on not just dairy, but also chocolate, pastries and beer this Super Bowl Sunday, but will instead be cheering, wearing our blue and green, while devouring some orange cheddar...the same way we'll devour the orange Broncos.  GO HAWKS!

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