My Whole 30 Review

I completed my Whole 30 earlier this month, so here is a little review of my experience. I wanted to give myself a little time before writing this so I would be able to reflect and also to see how I did when I got back into the "real world."

For some background, I have been eating Paleo for a year now (my first official Paleo-versary was July 18), and have had some great results. In that time but before Whole 30, I had lost 23 lbs and several inches from various parts of my body. I also just began to wear some of my "skinny clothes" I kept in my closet. Keeping those old clothes was a good way to determine my progress. As far as my approach to Paleo, I mainly ate/eat vegetables, meat, and oils like coconut and olive, some fruit, nuts, and seeds, a little dairy (cheese and yogurt), and sensible indulges of wine and dark chocolate. I already felt quite disciplined, however social gatherings still caused stress. Sometimes I would give in an have a taste of non-Paleo foods when pressured to, and though I was eating 80/20 (80% adherence, 20% modern concessions) I felt like the 20% was keeping me from performing my best. So, my goal for Whole 30 was to build up some willpower in these social situations and be more assertive at saying "no."

I had wanted to try a Whole 30 several times all year, but I kept having excuses like "I don't want to add the stress of watching what I eat so closely during finals" or "I'm going to a conference soon and I won't have as much control over what I eat." Finally, when I didn't have any more excuses, I knew I was ready. It was summer so I wasn't on campus because I wasn't taking any classes. Because I wouldn't be in my office much there would be less temptation with any desserts being brought into the office. Also, there would be little chance that I would be stuck on campus only to resort to pre-packaged salads and nuts that could have questionable ingredients.

During the first four days, I felt a little more tired than normal. I remarked that it was also cloudy during those days, which may make me tired, but it also could have been minor changes in my diet. After that, I perked up a lot and by day 10 I remember feeling like I had ingested rocket fuel because I had such great energy! Eating meals on my own was not a struggle for me; it was not too big of a change after nearly a year of eating Paleo. Social occasions were another story. I knew they would be a challenge, yet thankfully some folks didn't even remark when I said I was doing a diet challenge. Others tried the "everything in moderation" line that I think it total bunk...even a moderate amount of wheat would set me up for nasty bloat! I had to reinforce in myself the idea that it was about the people I was around, not what I was eating. As a busy grad student, having the relief of eating out every once and a while is nice, too. I made concessions such as choosing a salad bar or eating at Freebirds, a Texas-based restaurant that serves grass-fed beef and hormone-free meat. I thought it was a good choice, so I ate there several times.

I didn't feel deprived at all because I had a lot of seasonal fruits and vegetables to keep my meals interesting. Therefore I think summer is the best time to do Whole 30 because in winter you wouldn't have so much variety or would be buying off-season vegetables and fruits, which never have that much flavor. Overall, it is not hard to do a Whole 30 if you are truly dedicated to your health. It's not like cancer treatment or like someone asked you to chop off a's 30 days of no sugar, industrial oils, grains, legumes, and big deal, right?

While I wanted to keep my workouts about that same to not introduce a confounding variable into my little experiment, I was performing so much better at the gym by around day 15 that I started pushing myself. I was lifting maybe 5 or 8 lbs when I started, but by the end I was up to 15, 20, and 25 lbs! I also improved on the Lifecycle recumbent bike from level 5 to level 7.

Here are my results:

Pounds lost: 1
Inches lost:
     Upper arm, right: 0.5"    left: 0.5"
     Chest: 0"
     Waist: 2"
     Hips: 0.75"
     Thighs: right: 0.25"   left: 0.25"

I first weighed myself, and was disappointed to see only a pound drop. But to lose over 4 inches in a month but only 1 lb indicated to me that I probably gained some muscle, which is fine by me! I am really glad I took pictures of before and after, because they were my favorite part. I took the pics in a sports bra for my own benefit , but I didn't feel comfortable posting them on the internet so I threw a tight-fitting (well, it was tight-fitting) t-shirt on top. Hopefully I'm not deluding myself in seeing the differences, because to me there were a lot of little changes between the before and after. Another thing that felt awesome was that my usual work shorts were practically hanging on me by the end; I got new shorts with a waist measurement 3 inches smaller!

Before front-view
After front-view
Before back-view
After back-view

Before side-view

After side-view

It took me a few days to test whether dairy bothered me, and I didn't rush off to have chocolate or bacon. When you eat this way, it makes you feel good and you don't want that to stop! I know life happens: you get stuck in town without a snack and get something less-than-perfect from the gas station or you have a birthday and want to have some cake. However, for average days, I have decided to eat like this. Whole 30 is not only a great way to get yourself closer to looking, feeling, and performing better, but also helping with mental fortitude, which is something everyone needs if they want to eat a less-than-conventional diet.

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