My Whole30 Challenge Diary: Day 0 (The Calm before the Storm...)
Tues, February 28th
I like to think outside of the box...
I promise my entries won’t all be this long, as I clearly had to psyche myself up the day before the program started... Be prepared for more candidness than you signed up for, TMI, and the occasional comic relief. My hope is to encourage anyone else thinking about this change to make the plunge as I offer my daily diary of the WHOLE30 challenge along with recipes, inside info, and tips and tricks that helped me make it through the program, unscathed. :) REAL talk, REAL food, and (*hopefully) REAL results. :)
MY BACKGROUND (with hints of comic relief)...
In full disclosure, I would consider myself a sugar junkie along with my other every day staples: pizza, bread, cheese, chocolate, wine, ice cream, pasta, nachos, did I mention anything sugar? I used to enjoy a cup of Ghirardelli chocolate chips before bedtime... (don’t tell any of the 3 dentists in my family as my sweet tooth may have contributed to my one-too-many cavities over the years...) and a good Oreo/M&M Cookout milkshake. Cookie dough would often be my reason to get out of bed early... Chips and cheese were my breakfast ritual, followed by a chai latte. Have I painted a picture yet? I'm pretty much a health nut right?!? Let me reassure you, if I can do this challenge, ANYONE can do it! I have basically eliminated all of my Shelby standard food groups to be replaced by things I once enjoyed in the distant past, but within the last 2 years, became foreign and alien to me.
Thankfully my metabolism has stayed pretty high, but I also struggled with the reality of weight fluctuations. Even at times when the scale didn't seem to fluctuate as much, I didn't take seriously the harmful garbage being put into my body and the inevitable, toxic long-term effects. I also realized I wanted to have a healthy body not only for future children but also to set an example of a healthy lifestyle for them.
I also just didn’t “feel” healthy. My current lifestyle wasn’t producing the energy and health that I once had when I ate a well-balanced diet and exercised daily. I knew my mental and physical health, quality of sleep, and energy levels have declined over the years. I know this is also a part of the wonderful aging process that I’m learning to embrace, but I do know having a healthy lifestyle can also do wonders for these factors as well.
WHY WHOLE30 ?!?!
Why WHOLE30? After conducting my fair share of research on the Whole30 program (along with the countless harmful effects of sugar on the body), and finally talking myself IN to it after about a year of talking myself OUT of it, I decided to jump ship and get on the Whole30 train.
If you need a few reasons to nix the sugar habit, According the the American Heart Association (AHA) journal Circulation as well as various other sources, too much sugar can lead to obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, development of cancer, reduction in HDL (the “good” cholesterol), development of Alzheimer’s disease, inflammation, along with many other harmful effects.
Numerous health reasons along with wanting to get back into a healthy lifestyle were my main reasons for joining. It really is so much more than just a number on the scale. Check out the below list to see the MANY potential Benefits and Non-Scale Victories that Whole30 can help you achieve, as found on the original WHOLE30 website.
So after having one too many excuses not to start the program in December, January, or February... and now having one too many reasons of why I couldn't afford to not do Whole30, I decided to take the leap starting March 1st. Lucky for me, it also took me 3 months to convince my husband to do this with me, as having an accountability partner was also crucial for my success, being that we lived together, and I didn’t need any of his unhealthy foods staring me in the face, to tempt me to splurge.
Speaking with friends who have completed the program and them swearing it was life changing, I decided it was time to see if all this hype was true. After reminding myself of all the reasons why I would be doing this and how much better I would feel after the 30 days, my husband and I made a pact to stick to the program together for 30 days, no excuses. We also said a few prayers for extra patience and for extra help in not wanting to kill each other before the end of the month. :)
WHOLE30 IN A NUTSHELL...
This description is the bare-bones basics of Whole30, as there are plenty of websites dedicated to the nitty gritty details. If you are new to Whole30, check out the Whole30 Program Rules that explains in detail the foods to enjoy on Whole30 as well as the foods to avoid.
In a nutshell, for the next 30 days, we will focus on eating unprocessed, REAL food:
lots of veggies
moderate portions of meat, seafood, and eggs
plenty of natural fats
herbs, spices, and Whole30 approved seasonings
For a high-level overview, the foods to AVOID for the next 30 days include the following:
sugar (real or artificial of any kind)
carrageenan, MSG, sulfites
baked goods, junk foods, or treats with “approved” ingredients
Again, check out the Whole30 Program Rules for specifics and a much-more detailed account of the foods to choose and the foods to avoid over the next 30 days.
In regards to meal planning, Whole30 provides the following recommendations and guidelines (taken from Whole30 Meal Planning) when it comes to planning your Whole30 meals to make the best of the program:
Eat three meals a day, starting with a good breakfast.
Plan each meal around 1-2 palm-sized protein sources.
Fill the rest of your plate with veggies.
Occasionally add a serving of fruit.
When adding fat to the meal, add fat in the following recommended amounts per meal (see the guide below).
We didn't end up working out while on Whole30, but for those of you overly-ambitious type, there is also a guide to additional foods to eat if you choose to workout while on Whole30 as well. Click the Whole30 Meal Planning link to learn more!
DAY BEFORE MY LIFE CHANGE...
I discovered a helpful grocery list for the program (WHOLE30 GROCERY LIST) as well as many interesting recipes that would help propel us through the next 30 days. Armed with the grocery list and my best magnifying glass to scour those barely discernible food labels, I felt equipped enough to make our first Whole 30 trip to the store. Thank God my husband was extra patient and helpful during this part as I scanned labels, checked and re-checked the grocery list, and probably bought more produce and meat than a family of 10 can eat in a week. It was quite eye-opening to see just how many products have added sugar (like almost everything!), whether it comes in the form of “organic cane sugar” to sneakily try to masquerade as a healthy decision, or the more sly, inconspicuous synonyms like evaporated cane juice, Sucralose, sucrose, fructose, glucose, dextrose, lactose, galactose, (basically anything ending in -ose), xanthan gum, stevia, xylitol, and of course the shunned but oh so tasty high fructose corn syrup. No wonder we all are addicted to sugar in this country!
After our trip to Whole Foods, SAM’s, Harris Teeter (and a final trip to Lowe’s), we came home with bags upon bags of groceries... You would have thought we robbed the produce and meat section of the store. My husband quietly obliged as I rationalized why we needed extra back-up for the back-up food, in case we just didn’t feel like cooking one day or another day and didn’t want to run to the store again. Thank God for my husband again as he not only loaded all of the groceries (he hates the way I load and squish groceries anyway, so I’m actually doing him a favor ;) ), and unloaded them all to the kitchen. I photographed a few shots to add to the blog, and started mentally preparing myself.
MY LAST SUPPER...
Our last meal wasn’t all that crazy, I made one of my favorites, Southwestern Stuffed Peppers to enjoy the cheese, rice and beans that would be omitted for the next 30 days. (Click link for recipe). They were delicious. I also made two Whole30 compliant peppers to try out in the next day or two without the cheese, rice, and beans. I figured they would at least make a good side dish...
I’ll admit, not realizing it was Fat Tuesday until 10:30PM that night, I just couldn’t bear the thought of going 1 whole month without my last fattening/high sugar something!?! So Cookout, here we come! We both enjoyed our “last supper dessert” of M&M / Oreo milkshakes, which had become a weekly staple in our household... Sayonara Cookout, see you in a month (but hopefully not on a regular basis again)!
I enjoyed a brief sugar high until about 1AM where I made the next health-compromising, bad decision of watching a horrible movie (too embarrassed to even reveal the name on here) until I finally fell asleep around 2AM. I’m really hoping this Whole30 program will also kick start a good sleep hygiene routine! I’m known to be a night owl, but would really like to change my lifelong struggle with normal sleeping patterns. Maybe we’ll actually look forward to going to bed early to avoid thinking about the chocolate chips I normally munch on around 10PM... I sense a few indirect and pleasantly surprising outcomes will be inevitable as a result of the program culmination. Who knows, maybe I’ll like the changes so much, I’ll actually stick with a modified healthy version of it. Bring on the healthy lifestyle changes! We're ready to take the Whole30 plunge!
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