Monday, November 26, 2012

The Whole30 Experience

Hooray! It happened. As of November 7th, I completed the Whole30 experience. I'm not gonna lie, it was rough going for a while, but at the end I can honestly say that it was a great experience.


I didn't just decide to do this and start the following day. For once, I put a lot of planning and preparation into this. I wanted to make sure that if I was going to do it, I was going to do it by the book. I read It Starts With Food cover to cover. I actually planned and prepared by shopping and did internet recon of what other's Whole30 experience had been like. If you are thinking about doing it, I can't stress enough to read the book and to plan.

The Basics

No sugar.
No legumes.
No dairy.
No grains.
No alcohol.
No carrageenan, MSG or sulfites.

Recommended that the food that you do put into your body is grass-fed and organic.
Allowed a pre-workout snack and post-workout snack. 
Limit snacking at all other times.
Don't measure your food.
No stepping on a scale during the Whole30.

Week 1: Initial Excitement with a Side of Bacne

As with anything shiny and new, I was excited and enthusiastic and singing "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" the first week. I cooked up a storm and didn't mind getting home at 8:00 pm at night and then having to cook dinner and my next day's lunch. Those first few days flew by. By Day 4, I noticed I was having horrible afternoon headaches and that I felt the need to take a nap under my desk. Day 5, I broke out like a hormonal teenager. Sexy bacne and all. I haven't had bacne since...well...I don't ever remember having bacne. Clearly my body was freaking out. I was shiny and greasy. I had to go to Walgreen's and buy an arsenal of Stridex and Clearasil products fit for a pubescent teenager.

Day 5 and 6: I Think I May Have a Brain Tumor

Apparently, my body had become accustomed to my afternoon coffee and snack. It fought me pretty hard. The afternoon headaches were turning into all day headaches. At around 2 pm, I couldn't function. I couldn't even form sentences. Each day I felt worse and worse earlier and earlier. I lived in a constant fog. I felt like a zombie and I was told I acted and looked like I was in a trance.

I wanted to nap all day. There were quite a few dark times at the end of Week 1. Day 5ish I felt flu-like symptoms. I'm told this is the "carb flu" and it's totally normal. Every morning I would drag myself out of bed and swear I had been on a tequila bender the night before. All the side effects without the fun.

Sugar Cravings: I didn't really have any bad cravings the first week. Nothing I couldn't handle.

At the end of Week 1, I attempted to go on a ride on Saturday and a hike on Sunday. Both were a miserable experience. I talked to Smurfs and met all of the Care Bears. Rainbow Brite may have made an appearance as well. I was warned that I should not expect anything out of my body the first couple of weeks. I had the typical, "Nah, that'll never happen to me" reaction. I can work through it. How bad could it be? Well, I couldn't work through it and was awful. It was a humbling experience. I was carrying groceries in and had to take a break in the driveway. A break. In the driveway. I feared I was going to collapse and the bears and raccoons would eat my face off.

Week 2: I Don't Think I Can Do This Anymore

Day 8-11: My Body Hates Me

At the time I thought I was having a flare-up. It never amounted to anything huge or even into the usual symptoms. I think it was just my body getting used to the idea of the Whole30. I was still so tired I felt like I could sleep all day. I tossed and turned all night long the first two weeks. I tried to carry on a conversation with my best friend during Week 2 (who is a neuropsychologist) and she told me I sounded like: A) I've just had a stroke B) I was about to have a stroke C) I was drunk. "I have brain injury patients who make more sense than you. Do you smell burning toast?"

Emotionally: I was a maniac. I felt like crying and laughing all at the same time. I'll admit it. I was a crazy beast.

Physical Appearance: Hot mess. I was told I looked awful and pasty. I thought the bags under my eyes and the general unwell appearance were just something I was seeing and focusing on. Nope. Confirmed.

It took until the middle of Week 2 for me to even start feeling marginally human again. I'm not even talking about during exercise. I'm just talking about normal daily activities (like walking up the driveway without passing out). I attempted to go for a technical mountain bike ride on Day 14 and it was not good. I rode with someone for the first time on that day and she must have thought I was the biggest spaz. My coordination and timing were off. It was like it was my first time on a mountain bike. Cow tipping included.

Any sort of effort that made my HR rise would cause a hot, sick feeling to come over my body. It was a bonk, but worse. An uber bonk that could not be staved off or remedied by a sports drink, gel or bar. I had coconut water. Coconut water. I know, I know. People sing it's praises and love it. I've never been a big fan, but I was trying to learn to love it. Larabars are allowed if totally necessary during exercise. Larabars didn't make me feel any better.  Day 14 was the first day I wanted to go off plan and have a Gu or CarboRocket. I felt just bleeping awful on the bike and it was getting depressing. I remember coming home and eating, not even showering and passing out on the floor.

At the end of Week 2, my complexion finally decided to calm the hell down and I no longer felt like the reflection off my face would blind an innocent bystander and I stopped regularly mopping my face with oil absorbing sheets.

Joints: I wake up every morning like the Tin Man. If it's cold outside, even worse. I noticed I wasn't waking up so stiff and sore. My joint issues in general felt better.

Week 3: Yay for Sleep and Not Feeling Like I'm Having a Psychotic Break!

Towards the end of Week 2 and the beginning of Week 3, I consistently slept like the dead. The afternoon headaches and general crap like feeling was gone. I actually was starting to feel good all day long. I noticed that I didn't have those energy crashes throughout the day and I felt consistently good all day.

At the end of Week 3, I finally had a decent ride where I felt good. 3+ hours of feeling really good. Fueled only by coconut water.

Week 4: If I Can Stay on the Plan This Week, I Have No Excuses

I felt really good. My joints were starting to feel better and I didn't have any pesky headaches. Skin was back to normal or better.

Superstorm Sandy Happened: No power, no water for my last week of the Whole30. It looked like my Whole30 was going to be stymied. It wasn't. Luckily, I had planned for a zombie apocalypse and I was able to finish it. I had made it that far and there was no way I was failing. It wasn't pretty at times, there may have been more Gourmet Grassfed beef jerky than I care to admit for a day or two until stores were opened again, but I made it.

Despite all of the chaos, I was feeling good. I was even was waking up feeling pretty peppy, which has rarely happened. My joints felt better and overall my energy level was consistent throughout the day. Even though I was not able to take a shower for days, I was told by witnesses that I looked healthier.

Finger Nails: I could be imagining things, but I swear my fingernails were growing like crazy. 


Weight: This is not intended to be a weight loss diet. I was really good and did not weigh myself the first two weeks. Then curiosity go the best of me. I guess if this is the worst and only cheat on the plan I had, I can live with it. The first two weeks I dropped 7 lbs. I then proceeded to gain back 3 lbs. in the last two weeks. I blame my new addiction to macadamia nuts. It's to the point that the $$ I spend on macadamia nuts on a regular basis could now be classified as a "habit".

Still my favorite staples:

I have to admit it feels a little odd now that it's over. I imagine this is a little like what an addict goes through after getting out of a 28 day program. I still haven't added much back. The first day they suggest that you add back dairy. I tried some half and half two days after the Whole30 (technically I did the Whole32) and ate a Halloween size Kit Kat bar which, sadly, didn't taste so awesome. After that, I really didn't try anything else. It has been working so why fight it? I can't say that I really miss anything in particular. Sure, I get random cravings. Nothing $10 in macadamia nuts can't fix. And if I really, really want something, I'll eat it.

I feel better and I think it is working for me. Am I going to start preaching about the paleo/Whole9 life and how certain foods are "evil"? No, that's not my style. Different things work for different people. If you ask me I'll tell you about it, but by no means am I going to start shoving it down people's throats.

That's all for now. It took me long enough to put that together. It's a lot to wrap my head around. There most likely will be another post because I have so much more to say. I didn't even touch on the food...

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