Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Guest Post: Stephanie's Whole30 Results

I am so happy to share another Whole30 success story with you guys!  And I'm hoping there will be even more in the near future. Stephanie did her first round with me back in July and I was so happy when she decided to join me again in January.  She really embraces the program for everything that it is. Great job Steph, you rock!!!!

I got one less pound without ya!
My second (more successful) #Whole30 journey

After Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and a wedding weekend/mini road trip with my boyfriend’s family, it was time to re-evaluate my lifestyle. I ate (and drank) without a lot of regard to what I was putting in my body and rarely exercising. I’d justify my actions thinking “I don’t eat this too often so it’s ok” or “it’s only once a year” or “I’m in a rush and need to eat now or I won’t eat for hours.” I was going to Dunkin Donuts regularly, and not just for coffee- hurting not only my body but my wallet. In a pinch I’d grab a McWrap and I didn’t think twice about frozen pizza out of it’s sheer convenience. And worst of all I drank too much.

In December I purchased a new gym membership with the hopes I would lose some weight before the January 3rd wedding. I went a few times and it felt good, but not enough to make the impact I wanted and I was just uncomfortable enough in my dress to trigger my motivation to make a change. To make matters worse, nearly every member of my bf’s family is a (marathon) runner and in amazing shape.

Enter the Whole30.

In the back of my mind I thought about doing this again in January or at least make an effort to practice a more paleo lifestyle. Amber (thankfully) read my mind and gave me that last push I needed to get back on track, and as a result I am down 5 lbs., lost an inch in my chest, and about a quarter inch everywhere else. Best of all- I feel great! My clothes fit better, I have more energy, and my cravings for junk food, alcohol, sugar, and grains are practically gone.

Things that contributed to my success
  • Time: My job has a condition where I am required to go on unpaid leave for one month every year. It just so happened that I took January as my furlough month. This was a blessing in disguise because it allowed me the time to plan meals, shop, cook, and take advantage of my gym membership. I rediscovered my love for cooking and retaught myself how to shop. Before the Whole30, I grocery shopped maybe once every other week. Shopping was neither habitual nor pleasing.
  • Tools: I LOVE kitchen gadgets- always have, and I can thank my dad for that because he was always in the kitchen cooking up something delicious. There are certain tools though that make paleo cooking that much easier and I never ever want to live without them:
    • Citrus juicer: I go through lemons and limes more than I ever have in my entire life when I eat paleo. Hand squeezing the juice out only goes so far and when I’m spending more money at the grocery store, I want to make sure it goes as far as it can.
    • Garlic press: There’s nothing like fresh garlic! I keep a jar of minced garlic in the fridge but if I’m spending this much time in the kitchen already I’m going to go with the fresh stuff and this is my favorite way to prepare garlic.
    • Mini-chop and food processor: I’ve happily used my mini-chop for a few years now, but now that I’m cooking with fresh produce on a daily basis the time-saving benefits are really coming to light. And then I discovered that a mini-chop is NOT the same as a food processor, an amazing gadget that luckily for me, my roommate owns.
    • Immersion blender: Purchased during my last Whole 30 to make smoothies, it still makes awesome drinks when I’m just not in the mood to cook. As a treat I learned to use half coconut milk and half coconut yogurt with frozen fruit to make a thick and tasty sorbet-like dessert-yum!
    • Hand-held mandolin slicer: If you don’t have one- buy one. $14.99 at Wegman’s but I’m sure you can get it anywhere. It paid for itself in the first use making plantain chips. I’m a sucker for salty crunchy snacks, and this gadget is necessary to get those consistently thin slices of your favorite fruit or veggie to make chips or slightly thicker slices for roasting.
  • Support: This was my leading cause for success in this program. Between the Facebook group, my family, and my friends I had nearly 360° support. I originally discussed my plans to do the Whole30 with my boyfriend while we were away at his cousin’s wedding. He wasn’t terribly interested in doing the program but out of support he agreed that while we were together he’d eat and drink compliantly, which was a good enough deal for me. About mid-way though the program he started getting the hang of it and admitted to feeling better when he shared meals with me. My mother was also a great help. She went grocery shopping with me 3 out of the 4 weeks of the program and helped me price shop and buy some bulk items with her Costco membership. Her and my step-father welcomed my cooking and snack making both at my house and at theirs. Together we tried hidden liver meatballs, paleo bread, and a full spread of (90% complaint) Super Bowl snacks. Over the course of the program I continued to share recipes, struggles, tips, and issues with an amazing group of paleo practicers. It was fun to try new recipes and make compliant substitutes for not so healthy or whole foods.

Additional results and takeaways
  • It’s all about balance. One of the main principles of the Whole30 is to focus on the quality of foods you put into your body and not to count calories. However, it’s still important to monitor proportions. I believe this is where I need to continue to work. I never felt hungry during my program but I also didn’t focus too much on the balance of vegetables, proteins, fats, and fruits. I plan to use My Fitness Pal as a sort of check and balances. I think the simple act of recording my food intake will make me more conscious of my choices (how much protein, how much calcium, how much sugar I’m putting into my body).
  • Keep exercising! I’m usually either good at focusing on working out OR eating right and have yet to find the ability to focus my attention on both simultaneously. What can I say, I’m a work in progress!
  • Not everyone is going to want to try paleo. My roommate, who has been trying to eat better, prefers to count calories and purchase 100-calorie snack packs rather than chopping veggies. It’s her choice. All I can do is provide information to her about the benefits of paleo, if she wants it, and support her in her endeavors.
  • Similarly, I’ve learned how increasingly different I have become than my family with regard to health and eating. I come from a family of frozen, boxed, and canned meal makers. Premade marinades? Check. Powdered mashed potatoes? Check. Splenda packets, boxed muffins, bread and butter with every meal? Check, check, and check. And while it was nice to grocery shop with my mom, I was constantly biting my tongue- preventing myself from constantly asking her “Why do you buy this crap?” On the other hand, I was becoming irritated every week when my grocery bill was nearly three times larger than hers.
  • Paleo mayo is just not worth it. Like many paleo replacements like mayo, ketchup, bread, etc they just don’t live up to the real thing. But the fact of the matter is- that’s ok. Why? I didn’t really eat those products to begin with! If I make tuna or egg salad I’m going to use an avocado instead of mayo. Instead of ketchup on my eggs I use hot sauce or balsamic vinegar. And honestly, I don’t miss bread so I couldn’t care less to not have it around. Cheese on the other hand...there’s no substitute and I thank my lucky stars that it doesn’t have a horrible effect on me!

I’m going to strive to continue to live a more paleo lifestyle. I believe in the 80/20 principle because no one is perfect, and at 80% paleo all the time I think I deserve the 20% relief (pending good gym habits continue).

I plan to continue to...
  • Be grain free, with the exception of popcorn, but I’ll scale back and move away from the pre-packaged kind.
  • Drink only on the weekends. While not only economical, it’s way better for my health and I notice less puffiness under my eyes.
  • Limit my dairy consumption. I’ll reserve cheese and ice cream as special treats and seek calcium in other areas (green leafy vegetables and maybe even sardines).
  • Limit caffeine consumption.
  • Stay away from legumes. I think it’s obvious why.
  • Limit sweets and seek dark chocolate as an alternative for when I get a sweet craving.
  • Buy fresh and local produce. Converting to all organic is just not in the budget, but when I can I’d prefer to support locally grown products. I’d also like to go to more farmers markets in the spring.
Thank you to everyone who participated in the January Whole30 and best of luck in your future fooding!


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