Whole 30: Day 25

I thought that I would be writing about the Whole 30 experience more frequently. (Then again, I often think that I will write about something that I don’t wind up writing about). But, I have to say that this time has flown by.

It is is an interesting thing to adhere to a plan that is unfamiliar to the people who surround you. When I said Whole30 to one person and described it a little bit, that person said, “Oh! Like the Atkins Diet.” I never know what to say to something like that because I am not familiar with all of the details of the various diets that have been popular over time, plus, it feels rude to respond to a statement where the speaker’s intent is to relate to you with a bold and flat, “I have no idea.”

This will surprise no one who knows me. I read as much as I could about people’s experiences following the Whole30 diet before I began this experiment, and through the beginning of it. It turned out that the Whole30 website had a what-to-expect area on the website.

I didn’t experience a number of these things. However, I did have a very weird dream about eating pizza. I described it to someone like this, “Have you ever had a dream where you had an affair even though you know that you would never do that? But you wake up FEELING like you had an affair and you’re all like ‘What have I done? How could I have done that?'” That dream was a little stressful.

I also noticed a strange change to my sleep and my energy. I normally sleep like the dead, and sleep for around 7.5 hours per night. Some of these days, I haven’t been able to get to sleep right away because I’ve just felt too awake. Also, there have been times where I feel like a fully-wound wind-up toy. I’ve felt on several days like I needed to just go and expend a lot of physical energy. There have been days where I feel tired in my mind, but my body felt very charged. This type of energy, if that’s even what it should be called, did not feel good at all.

The energy thing made me feel like a dog that’s been in its kennel for too long, like I needed to just get out on a field and chase some frisbees or something. If I hadn’t been so active over the last several weeks, I wouldn’t have minded. But over the course of my Whole30, I’ve stayed on the move. For example, there are only 5 days of the last 25 where I took under 14,000 steps. Some of the exercise that I’ve done has been relatively intense, like the studio cycling class I’ve been taking, yet still, afterwards I might feel like I need to blow off more steam. 

There are several foods that I’ve leaned on pretty hard over the last couple weeks. I’ve eaten a questionable amount of apples, almond butter, salmon, and beef. I’ve also acquired a taste for kombucha.

I had tried kombucha in the past and thought it was disgusting. I didn’t understand the appeal of it at all. During this time, though, I gave it another shot and found it enjoyable. Maybe this is because I wasn’t drinking anything else other than tap water, coffee, and the occasional La Croix. Maybe this is because I tried enough of them that I started to enjoy it. I like kombucha enough now that I am attempting to brew a batch right now. And yes, the scoby is every bit as alarming as I thought it would be.

While I am looking forward to completing the Whole30, I am nervous about the reintroduction period. The idea is that at the end of the Whole30 your deliberately reintroduce that food groups that you eliminated during the 30 days. I know that my stomach and company have been happier over the last few weeks. This makes me a little gun shy about reintroducing things. I’m excited to put beans back into my diet. I hadn’t realized just how often I eat them. I don’t really miss grains. I’ve never been a big rice eater, and I haven’t specifically wanted pasta. Bread, of course, is delicious. Your girl loves tortillas. I’m nervous about cheese in particular. I love cheese. Sometimes when I am stressed out, I like to visualize myself sitting in a hot tub of queso dip. I am serious. I’ve suspected, however, that my mouth is the only part of my body that likes cheese. I’m worried about other dairy as well. I don’t like milk, so that’s not a biggie. However, I do enjoy the occasional ice cream cone. Eating one of those strikes fear in my heart. I’ve gotten used to black coffee, so I’m not even worried about cream in my coffee because I don’t think that I’ll really go back to drinking it that way.

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Finally, I notice that I haven’t been as hungry on Whole30 as usual. This is a tricky assertion because sometimes I’m simply not good at listening to my body’s signals. There are times when I might have thought I wasn’t hungry, but really, when I reflect, that was happening during times I was just ignoring my body’s signals. During this Whole30 so far, this body has not been shy about letting me know when it’s time to eat. In fact, upon waiting too long, I’ve done some disgusting things like eat a mouthful of Whole30 compliant saurkraut right out of the jar or eat beef of questionable doneness, slicing off a piece from the piece I was eating as soon as I could tell myself it was done enough to eat

So far, so good.

Now it’s time to wrap this whole thing up.

Whole 30 Philosophy vs My Fraught Relationship with the Scale

The Whole 30 program does not want you to weigh yourself during your 30 days. This is for several reasons, mainly that they want you to focus on other changes.

Long story short, I have found that it is best for me to have some rules when it comes to weighing myself. Otherwise, I get a little obsessed, and will want to weigh myself all of the time.

I once kept a spreadsheet where I put in my daily weight and it calculated both the difference between the day’s weight and the previous day. It also calculated my total running weight loss. I’ve never been a successful calorie counter, but weighing myself daily and looking at this spreadsheet and the line graph that I had set up encouraged me to pay attention to what I was eating. But at times, it also helped me to eat the minimum amount that I could get away with. A question that I asked myself at the time was whether I had eaten enough that I could stay asleep through the night. If I thought I did, I wouldn’t eat anything else. Let’s just say that my nights weren’t always so restful.

There are a few more stories that could go here, but one has to draw a line somewhere in order to prevent every dang thing hanging out on the web.

On the other hand, when I am not weighing myself at all, I know that I’m just not doing what I should be doing food and exercise-wise. I have two apps that I’ve used on and off over the past 6 years to keep weight-related data. These two apps reveal a very plain pattern. It is when I stop weighing myself that I gain a chunk of weight, quickly. I know that when I tell myself that I’m not going to get on the scale it is because I know I haven’t been doing the right thing.

For the last several weeks, I’ve allowed myself to visit the scale every other week. No more, no less. 

Because of this, I didn’t do a “before” weigh in for the Whole 30, which IS in line with the program. That weigh in would have been outside of the schedule that seems to work for me. Two weeks seems to be a big enough stretch of time that it doesn’t really catch those day-ruining fluctuations that happen, as our weight shifts all of the time. Two weeks works for me, and I know that.

In the beginning I had decided to follow the rules, and just was going to wait until after the thing was over to weigh myself. That would have meant missing two of my scheduled weigh-ins. 

But, then I started thinking about not being able to weigh myself the next day, my regular scale day, and couldn’t stop thinking about it all day. That clearly wasn’t going to work. Knowing what I know about myself, this small thing could have been the thing that put me off of the plan altogether. So I decided to go ahead and weigh myself.

When I got on the scale, it said the same thing it did the last time I got on the scale.  While it’s disappointing to not have lost anything over the last two weeks, it is better than potentially obsessing over not being able to get on the scale for over a month. Also, the last time I had weighed myself, there had been a 3.5 difference since the time before. I understand that the scale isn’t going to move every time. I also know that I had eaten well and been pretty active in the last two weeks, though my sleep wasn’t what it should have been. While my relationship to the scale might not be the healthiest, I’m trying pretty hard not to be a captive.

I’m writing this over a week after the weigh in, and still know that I did the right thing. Just the thought of not “being allowed” to get on the scale for the 30 days still creeps into my head. Sticking to the bi-weekly weigh in seems to be a good way to keep a potential obsession at bay.

Whole 30 Here I Come

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A little while ago, I decided that I was going to do a Whole 30.

You know the one. The plan where you eliminate a bunch of different things from your diet. By a bunch of things, I mean added sugar, grains, legumes, ALCOHOL (moment of silence, please), and dairy. The idea is that you pare down your diet, get used to eating that way, feel great and have more energy. There is also a phase where you slowly and deliberately re-introduce the foods that you’ve eliminated and see how your body responds to them. I’ve seen Whole 30 described as elimination diet meets paleo diet.

Despite not being religious, I gave up alcohol for Lent. I like to abstain from alcohol that from time-to-time, but hadn’t done so in a long while and the Lenten season seemed to be as good a time as any. When I did that, though, I noticed that a couple other habits shifted with this change. For example, I found myself eating less bread since I would often pick up bread when I hit the Whole Foods happy hour after work. Same goes for cheese. I ate out less, too.

I had flirted with the idea of doing a Whole 30 in the past, but not long after abstaining from alcohol for a while seemed like a good time to try it. I mean, what’s another 30 days? However, I had a road trip planned, and knew that I didn’t want to be on this plan during that trip as food-oriented as I am. So, I decided to start the day I came back. (Which also meant that I was determined to enjoy the whisky I bought in Kentucky the night I got back from my trip since it’d be another 30 days before I’d sip again). 

There are some things that I imagine will make this challenge easier for me than it might otherwise be.

  • I  have recently started drinking my coffee black.
  • Beforehand, I made a point to look around for Whole 30 recipes that look good to me
  • I know my way around the kitchen .
  • I identified a few prepared foods that are Whole 30 compliant.
  • I’ve already been eating a salad a day for the year of 2017, which means that pretty much every day, one of my meals is a salad, and a Whole 30-compliant salad is no biggie.
  • I have a very strong aversion to milk itself, so the dairy thing isn’t as big a challenge for me as it might be the next person.
  • I broke up with a colleague’s candy bowl, stocking my office, instead, with apples and almond butter.

I also did grocery shopping before I took my weekend road trip in order to be ready to go, knowing that I had a full day in front of me.

Also, Whole 30 is intended as a reset, not an ongoing diet.

I’d be lying if I said that I weren’t trying to lose a little weight. However, I did not do a “before” weigh in. For the last several weeks, I set up a rule for myself that I’m not allowed to weigh myself more than once every two weeks. This is pretty important because my relationship to my scale is fraught at best.

I’m ready to see what the Whole 30 brings!