I have been writing this post in my head for about 2 months and yet, here I am, with everything and nothing to say. I have a feeling that this is going to be disjointed and all over the place, so just bare with me.
I guess I should start at the beginning. I decided, after Elliott turned one in December 2012 that 2013 was going to be the year that I really lost weight and got into shape. I had lost a lot of weight when Spencer was two, but had slowly gained it all back through my second pregnancy and Elliott's horrible, terrible, stressful first year of life.
I had done Nutri-System before and found it to be very successful in the short term. So I started on that again on January 2, 2013. Nutri-System really works for losing weight. The pounds just fell off. I didn't start exercising until about 2.5 months after I started Nutri-System but I lost about 35 pounds in about 5 months. But I really wanted to look for something that was more of a lifestyle change. Something that I could stick with for the rest of my life and something that was actually healthy. That is certainly not Nutri-System. It's expensive and the food is crap. Not crappy tasting, but full of crap.......chemicals and additives because it has to be shelf stable and low calorie.
One night, at the very beginning of June, 2013 I saw my friend Julie pinning stuff to a board called Whole 30. I was intrigued. So I googled it. And I decided, with no planning whatsoever, that I was going to start it the very next day and stick it out for the 30 days. I knew, I just knew, that it was going to suck and I was going to hate it and it was going to be impossible. But I promised myself I was going to do it for the 30 days and then maybe join Weight Watchers once it was done. Well, here we are 10+ months later and I am still at it. And it truly is a lifestyle now. And it's not hard. At all.
Whole 30 is the most effective way I have ever found to reign myself in. And by "reign myself in" I mean break my total and utter addiction to SUGAR.
Sugar is in everything that is processed. It is really, really, really hard to find anything processed to eat that doesn't have sugar added. It is addictive and it is making people in our country, and the world, fat, fat, fat.
This is the single most important thing I have learned by doing month after month of Whole 30. So pay attention.
FAT DOES NOT MAKE YOU FAT.
That is #1. Most important
There are other little things I have learned along the way too. Stuff like that grains are not good for us (people) to eat. They have been genetically tampered with so much that our bodies just can not process them and they are toxic to us. Grains cause a great deal of inflammation in our bodies and it is inflammation that is responsible for most disease processes, including heart disease. Also consuming margarine and vegetable oils are the equivalent of pouring melted plastic into our bodies. Do not eat them. Just throw them out. And that includes any processed food made with vegetable oils (i.e. processed cheese slices).
So, I'm going to share about 645,000 links for all of the things I have read in the last 10 months that have totally changed the way that I think about eating. Not all of them are about Whole 30. A lot of them are just about a different way of thinking about nutrition.
Whole 30 Links:
THIS is the link for the Whole 30 website. There is a book you can buy, but I didn't because I didn't feel like I needed to. Everything you need to know to follow the plan is on this site. Read everything on this site. Everything. It will start a revolution in your mind.
THIS is the link for the "rules" of following Whole 30. You can find this through the above link, but I wanted to make it easy for you.
This is Whole 30 in a nutshell:
DO NOT EAT/DRINK:
ANY sugar or sweetener (real or artificial)
ANY legumes (this includes all beans, peanuts and soy)
ANY white potatoes
ANY carrageenan, MSG or sulfites
I know it sounds crazy, but you can do it. You can. I PROMISE!!!! And yes, Whole 30 is very similar to a "Paleo" style of eating. It is just more restrictive because of the NO sugars or sweeteners. Paleo eating allows honey and maple syrup. Not so on Whole 30.
I want to share some more links and then I'll tell you what I do eat.
THIS is the official "Can I have....?" guide for Whole 30. At the beginning there were some things I wasn't sure about and I found a lot of answers here.
I have found a lot of great information on Wellness Mama's website. THIS is a VERY informative article about eating grains. It is called "How Grains Are Killing You Slowly". Let that sink in for a minute. And I share this as a person that up until about 10 months ago would have told you to go shove it if you had shared that link with me. Somebody told me about 12 years ago that they quit eating wheat and they felt "so good" and had lost a bunch of weight and I thought she was insane.
THIS is a fascinating article by Wellness Mama about why you should not ever, ever, ever eat margarine or vegetable oil. Seriously. Read it.
THIS is also a Wellness Mama article about balancing your Omega-3 and Omega-6 fat ratio. In a nutshell, Omega-6 fatty acids are inflammatory and in this country we eat way too many of them.
THIS is another Wellness Mama article about why soy is not good to eat.
THIS is an article about why you shouldn't eat carrageenan. It's one of about 7 million articles out there about the dangers of carrageenan. I just googled it and picked one of the top results. Carrageenan is in everything (seriously, everything) and it is very inflammatory.
OK. I think that is it for the links. Well, for now. I might stick a few more in at the end.
So, here is the question on everyone's mind. WHAT do you eat?
I eat meat, fish, eggs, fat, vegetables, fruit and nuts. Which actually gives me tons of options.
I usually eat eggs (fried, poached or hard boiled) and a banana for breakfast. I have iced coffee with canned coconut milk in it (for a little creaminess) every morning. I have not been able to find ANY coconut milk other than canned that doesn't have carrageenan in it. I just recently found a refrigerated almond milk (at Fresh & Easy) that has sunflower lechitin in it. According to Whole 30 sunflower lechitin is OK. You have to be careful about stuff with soy lechitin though. They sneak soy lechitin into a lot of stuff. Read your labels, people.
One of the things you are not supposed to do on Whole 30 is to take technically OK ingredients and make baked goods, desserts, etc out of them. They rally against making "Paleo" pancakes. I have to be honest. I eat "Paleo" pancakes all the time. Like 2-3 times a week. I did not do that for my first two to three cycles of Whole 30 though.
My recipe for Paleo pancakes is: use a hand mixer to mix 1 mushed up banana with 2 eggs, 2 TB of almond meal, 2 TB of unsweetend shredded coconut and 1 tsp of cinnamon. Cook in coconut oil like you would any pancake. It is easier to flip them if you make them tiny.
A few times a week I will eat a couple of strips of bacon with breakfast. I buy stuff that has no nitrates and the lowest sugar content I can find. I didn't start eating bacon until I was a few cycles into doing Whole 30 because I was really, really, really strict at the beginning.
I usually eat leftovers from dinner. So, see dinner.
I eat a lot of boneless, skinless chicken. I marinate it in oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and garlic powder and then grill it. I make a lot at once so that I can eat it for dinners and lunches and not have to cook every day. I make pork roasts in the crock pot. I grill steaks. I grill pork chops.
I eat sauteed spinach, roasted broccoli, roasted cauliflower and sauteed zucchini. I buy cubed butternut squash from Costco, stir it up with coconut oil and cinnamon and microwave it. I bake sweet potatoes, shred and fry sweet potatoes and cube sweet potatoes and sautee them in oil.
Since I have been working out the whole time I have been doing Whole 30 I make sure that I eat carby fruits and vegetables otherwise I feel weak when I'm exercising. Since I am not eating other forms of carbs I need the carbs from sweet potato or banana to burn off for energy.
I cook all my vegetables in oil- coconut, avocado or olive. I notice a big difference in how full I am, how much energy I have and how quickly I lose weight when I eat more fat. More fat (when you don't eat sugar) is good.
I don't eat salads very often, but sometimes it is the only thing I can order at a restaurant. And speaking of restaurants, I have had NO difficulty going out to eat. I haven't ended up anywhere where there was nothing for me to eat. I sometimes have to modify things, but it always works out.
I usually eat fruit for my afternoon snack. I'll have some raisins, dried apple chips, apple slices dipped in almond butter or berries.
I recently developed two new rules for myself because I found that I was kind of stuck with my weight loss. Rule #1- No fruit or nuts after 4:00 pm. Rule #2- No eating, at all, after dinner. I did that for 9 days (and changed nothing else) and lost 2 pounds. Since I am no longer eating any sugar I can get a little carried away with dried fruit when I crave something sweet. Dried dates are like my crack. Dried figs are also delicious. And dried apricots. They are all fine to eat and way better than eating a candy bar, but you can still over-do it on fructose. I find that I will just get stuck with no weight loss when I eat too much fruit.
I should also mention that I don't really crave crap anymore. And that is a HUGE, HUGE, HUGE thing for me to say. Sure, I can look at a chocolate cake and think it looks good, but I can totally say no to a slice of it. I would have never been able to do that 2 years ago. When you really stop eating sugar you stop craving sugar. It's pretty amazing.
OK. I'm going to wrap this up because I feel like this is about 70% longer than what any sane person would want to read.
I never, ever, ever, in my life, thought that I could stick with something like this. But I really do see myself following a Paleo-type eating plan for the rest of my life. I find it to be so much easier than counting calories. And I think it is healthier that counting calories. But that is just me.
I am also realistic though. Even though I recognize that grains and sugar are bad for you, sometimes you just want to go to a birthday party and eat some cake. And that's OK. I have been doing Whole 30 for 10.5 months and in that time I have taken about 8 "breaks". That means that I follow the Whole 30 plan, pretty darn perfectly, except for adding a little bit of bacon and making some "paleo" baked goods (but still without any sweeteners) for a certain amount of time and then take a few days "off". The days I have taken off have been for my/Spencer's birthday, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.
Have you ever heard of the 80/20 rule? You should be "good" 80% of the time and you can "cheat" 20% of the time. Well, I added up my Whole 30 days vs my "break" days for June through March and calculated that I was "good" 92% of the time. I think that's OK. I think that's successful. I think that's long-term.
What is most amazing to me is that after a break I am actually excited to get back to what is now my regular eating. I don't get sick when I eat dairy or grains or sugar, but I do feel better when I don't. So far I have had no difficulty eating whatever I want on a Saturday and Sunday and then starting a new Whole 30 the next day.
Oh, and just because somebody asked, the longest I have gone without a break was 62 days. And it wasn't that bad. Really. After 10 months of it I don't even want to add sugar to my coffee when I'm on a break. I actually prefer it without now. SAY WHAT? I don't even recognize myself in that statement. I also have absolutely no desire to drink soft drinks anymore. I used to be a diet coke addict, but I haven't had a single soft drink since last May (that is actually a lie- I drank some punch that had some ginger ale in it at Spencer's birthday party).
OK. That's it. That's the big Whole 30 post. Do you have questions or are you just wanting me to shut the hell up now?
I'll end with some of the visuals that I pinned on pinterest that I think are helpful or interesting.