Essentially it’s a 30 day challenge where you eliminate grains and sugar from your diet. You eat fruits, vegetables and lean protein (meat, eggs, etc). The goal of this is not to lose weight, although that is happening (and I should not be even focusing on it, you aren’t supposed to weigh yourself). You begin cold turkey, no tapering, no nothing. There are rules to this program and you decide how flexible you want to be with them. I am sticking to it pretty tight as I am an all or nothing kind of girl. I eat banana and egg “pancakes” which are a technical no-no but for a girl like me who is on the go in the morning…. they work.
The idea is that after the 30 days you assess how you feel, add back in whatever you’d like… but hopefully you adopt a more healthier way of eating. Whatever that means for you.
I chose to take this challenge because of some health issues I have been through during the past few years (the one I am always elusive about I know) and to detox my diet after a year of Ironman fueling. Since I am rebuilding myself as an athlete and moving from long to short course as well, I am aiming to get leaner in the long term (not necessarily in these 30 days and again, I should not be focusing on it).
I am over 10 days in and I honestly…. honestly have never felt better. I have not had one single craving for something sweet, and if you know me I have a pretty big hard on for mellowcreme pumpkins. I went so far as to stand in front of the bulk container of them at Wegmans on Sunday and say, nah… no thanks. VICTORY! (I don’t know why I love them. They taste like play-dough after four. I seriously think I have PICA).
I have been saved several times by the internet and Google when it comes to “What the heck should I eat”. There are several blogs out there of people who have successfully done Whole30 and have taken the time to detail their recipes and experiences. When in doubt Google “Whole30 food” and you will find a TON of stuff.
Here are my tips if you decide that this is for you……. and remember I am only ten days in so I am truly a Whole30 beginner:
1. Plan. I take the time to prepare food. The past 2 Sundays I have spent two hours in the kitchen cooking multiple meals that I use throughout the week. These include Spaghetti squash & veggies, baked egg cakes, banana and egg pancakes, ground turkey taco stuff….. and more. Through the past 2 weeks I have found that time spent to be absolutely critical. The times when I am starving I then reach for something I should have rather than the old standards that I am avoiding.
Over the weekend I went out to eat FOUR times and was able to remain compliant. The restaurants included Sticky Lips and Cracker Barrel for breakfast. I also went through the drive through at Dairy Queen for the guys. No cravings, no weak moments. I bring my own salad dressing (click here, this is amazing) and after one night of picking croutons of my salad I learned to ask for them on the side. Restaurants will steam chicken and veggies for you as well.
I have survived rolls on the table too. No issue.
Bottom line, a little bit of planning goes a heck of a long way.
Workout fueling…. I have found to be easy thus far. A banana or mango before and after. I am that girl who at the 5K race pulls a bowl of mango out of her bag and eats it while everyone else is eating a bagel with peanut butter. I am okay with being that girl. THIS is important to me.
2. Share. I told my family and everyone I knew what I was doing. I asked them not to change but to know that I am changing. There are loaves of bread and jars of peanut butter sitting on my kitchen counter right this minute, and it’s up to me to not eat it, not up to them to not have it. They know what I am doing and they are supportive.
3. Look around for help. I have looked around the Whole30 forum, there are some good tips if you look. I have found it difficult to find anyone who is an athlete at the levels that we are who has done this (and shared). Google is your best friend in terms of finding information and resources.
My philosophy is this: giving up sugar and grains for 30 days is not hard. Cancer is hard. That’s been my mantra throughout. The reward for how I feel right now is really worth the discipline. Also the goals that I have set for myself as an athlete this season include improved body composition and I ask myself….. what are you willing to do to achieve your goal?
I am willing to do exactly what I need to do to achieve my goal.
As I said … I have never felt better. I can’t describe what better is either, because I felt really good before. I just feel….. good. Energy levels are stable, sleep is solid and I even have the ability to nap through the day. Training ramped up this week as I enter my second running block of this running focus and I was able to add some cycling back in as well. I must add this: if your diet is filled with a lot of refined sugar, I am told the first week is tough. I had a pretty good diet at baseline so I felt pretty good really quickly.
If this is something you are thinking about doing, do it. Do it for the right reasons. Do it for your health and not the weight loss. Some people don’t lose weight, some people do. Take care of that afterwards. Let this be the foundation for a very healthy you.
Determine why you are doing it, how you are going to do it, plan, prepare, share and look around for help. I am a busy woman. I am a working mom and athlete. If I can commit to better health for 30 days….. anyone can.
Remember: giving up sugar is not hard. Cancer is hard.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions. Shoot me an email or find me on Facebook / Twitter (links upper right). I am HAPPY to help!