A week ago today, we finished our first Whole30. (If you want to read back over three previous posts I wrote on our journey through the process, here's a post on why we decided to do Whole30/what it is, here's my take on the first ten days, and finally here's a look at being 20 days into the process.) I'm really proud of us for sticking with it and seeing it through--it wasn't easy at moments, but it also wasn't undoable by any means.
And the end results? Not that this is all about weight and losing inches, but seeing obvious results in your body sure is encouraging! I lost 12 pounds and just over 9 inches from my body, while John lost 16 pounds and just over 7 inches. (This is huge for me as I struggle with PCOS, which makes weight gain easy and weight loss hard. Two years ago I was on a doctor-prescribed weight loss pill, and I lost 0 pounds. Whole30 plus moderate exercise proves that good, nourishing food is medicine!)
In addition to results that we can feel, we also had some key realizations:
1. In the past when I've "dieted," I've never really seen results because I made excuses left and right. "Moe's for lunch isn't that bad! I got the healthier option, too!" ("Healthier option" being the smaller size of a still deceptively caloric burrito with chips and salsa.) Having very clear, basic guidelines in Whole30 helps establish definitive boundaries that aren't always fun, but take cheating and bargaining with yourself out of the picture. I don't know about you, but I need boundaries, because left to my own devices, I rationalize the heck out of why eating a Chick-Fil-A meal with a Dr. Pepper isn't all that bad!
2. Sugar is in everything! Read labels and plan to make many of your own sauces and condiments accordingly. We watched the documentary Fed Up (on Netflix!) which further convinced us how much sugar Americans consume, much of which they don't even realize they're eating because a teaspoon sneaks in here, a tablespoon there, and before you know it you've had waaaaay more than your daily allotment of sugar! There's nothing like excess sugar to sabotage healthy eating efforts and attempts at weight loss.
3. There are so many delicious things you can make that leave out added sugar, dairy, legumes, and grains. And after a time of rest, your body can have some of those yummy things again, depending on what you decide to reintroduce or leave out altogether. I've enjoyed having rice and oats again this week. Oh, and some wine! We do live in Spain, after all.
Top tips if you decide to do a Whole30--and I highly recommend you try it at some point, because you will feel better...promise.
1. Familiarize yourself with the program rules, especially what you can and cannot eat. Know what you can't eat, but focus on what you CAN eat!
2. Get online and search Whole30 meal planning ideas: there are tons of resources out there. If you have Instagram, follow Whole30 because they post recipes every day to get you inspired. (Recently, they've had a series on doing the Whole30 for families with kids, with great kid-approved recipes!) Get on Pinterest and search "Whole30 recipes" and tons of possibilities pop up. (Double check recipes, though, because sometimes people list something that they say is Whole30 compliant and yet it adds sugar...either forget that one for the time being, or substitute fruit for the sugar.) Type "Whole30 blogs" or "Whole30 meals" into Google and many, many blogs and websites are out there that provide encouragement and meal suggestions. (And many of those have before and after photos, which further help inspire me!)
3. Go shopping and stock up for a few days at a time, especially with lots of fresh produce and good sources of protein. Make sure you have compliant, delicious food on hand--an empty pantry or fridge is your mind's invitation to Taco Bell (or Chick-Fil-A, or Chipotle, etc.). Resist the urge, get to the grocery asap, and remind yourself fifty times on the way why you're doing what you're doing!
4. Stay out of temptation's way. If you know your coworkers are going out to Panera Bread for lunch, make yourself a delicious meal to take along and order yourself a black iced coffee. Don't come unprepared or you will probably slip up...because we all know that you will believe that chocolate chip muffie is calling your name. Stick with it!
5. Be creative with your recipes when you need a change. Stick with staples (baked salmon, vegetable soup or beef stew in the crock pot, big salads with grilled chicken) when you're busy. Make it work for you! Oh, and always have a snack on hand--a handful of cashews and some raisins was really helpful when I was out and needed a quick fix.
Now that we're a week away from the Whole30 lifestyle, we're branching out some. I enjoyed some frozen yogurt with strawberries last week, and it tasted great. I'm enjoying the fact that I can buy a bottle of wine here for 1.60 euros and it tastes fantastic. I've even had some gluten, and felt fine. But my mindset has changed, and I love the way I feel. I feel like portion control has been easier, and because I'm feeling better I want to exercise more. I am hoping that we keep up this healthier approach to eating in the months to come, especially with much change on the horizon as well as the holidays approaching before we know it. Here's to a healthier and happier few months to come!