For those following me on Instagram and here on the blog, you’ll know I’ve been doing the Whole 30 Plan since Easter. I have a confession to make – I made it to day 19 before deciding it just wasn’t for me. I know it’s only 30 days and supposed to break the habit of eating endless junk, but by the time week 3 rolled around I really wasn’t feeling good. My energy levels were zapped, I was struggling through every workout, and I was having some sort of (maybe allergic) reaction to something I was eating. I decided to swallow my pride and bow out early.
It’s disappointing not to make it to the end, but if I’m being honest, I achieved what I set out to do – improve my relationship with food and get rid of constant food cravings. By the time I ended on day 19, I didn’t actually want to reach for the junk food…I didn’t binge after almost 3 weeks of deprivation…could I be cured of my cravings?
I think I should be more intuitive about my eating, and one thing I felt I needed more of by week 3 was carbs. The Whole 30 gets carbs from vegetables, but I felt I wasn’t getting enough from vegetables. I incorporated more sweet potatoes and bananas into my diet as I just felt I was struggling on the Whole30 Carb guide. Some people thrive on fewer carbs, and other people need more – and I’m learning to listen to my body and do what I personally need. I think the more I listen to my body, the better I’ll get at it, and I’ll feel better for it. I also don’t think I was getting enough calories from the meals – they weren’t particularly low calorie meals, especially with each meal containing a fat source like nuts or avocado on top of a protein source (and not always a lean protein, I had a few beef portions a week) – but I was running, weightlifting and I’m busy from 6am until bedtime, and although I didn’t always feel hungry, I’m sure I was eating way under my maintenance level for the amount of activity I was doing.
For the duration of the Whole 30 plan, looking at the scales or taking any measurements are not allowed, to take emphasis off the obsessive nature of weight tracking. I don’t often weigh myself as I feel it’s not a good representation of your body composition, but I did weigh myself before and after, just for curiosity sake. I actually lost 6 lb in the 19 days I was doing the Whole30. While I’m sure some people would be thrilled at nearly half a stone gone, I’m much more interested in what fat I’ve lost (and perhaps lean body mass!). My scale is somewhat unpredictable when it comes to body fat percentage, so I’m not taking it too seriously – I lost 1% body fat, and 1% muscle mass. I think not eating enough was probably the reason why I lost muscle and perhaps adding extra meals would have done me some good.
Overall, the Whole30 is a great experience if you want to improve your relationship with food. I know so many people thrive on a paleo diet all of the time, and if it works for them, then great! However, one thing I am taking from the experience, is that everyone’s bodies are different and we need to find what works for us. While it’s had a great improvement on my mental attitude towards food, I don’t think I could stick to it full time – everything in moderation I say, even chocolate and a bit of cake every now and then! I think the Whole30 does give you a new clarity of mind when it comes to food, which is exactly the aim I started with, and it’s made me think more about how to better fuel my workouts. I want to nourish my body to the best of my ability when lifting and running, and if that means getting carbs from non-vegetable sources like oats, rice and wholemeal bread for example, I’ll do whatever best for my body.
While I’m disappointed I quit at Day 19, I’m proud I made it that far – It was exhausting cooking so many meals from scratch and I did well to keep it interesting by cooking new things. With my goals for the next few months to increase my weightlifting and lean out, I know I’ll have to continue to cut out the sugar and processed foods, but listen more to what I need and adjust accordingly. I’m excited to have a better relationship with my food and learn to give my body what it needs in terms of nutrition!