Waiting for Savasana


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What I learned from my first Whole 30

I’m not even sure where to begin with this.  I began Whole 30 on November 1st on a whim after reading this blog post a few days earlier.   She is one of my favorite bloggers and she really had me thinking about the junk I was putting in my mouth every day. I was intrigued and went to the Whole30 site to check it out.  “This is doable”, I thought to myself.

I set my intention to begin the program.  I signed up for the daily emails from WHole30.  It cost $14 but I knew I would need the help.

On Halloween night, I ate chocolate and drank a glass of wine.  I knew I wouldn’t see anymore for thirty days so I treated myself.

I started my first day with eggs and black coffee and I just went from there.

I noticed changes almost instantly.  First the weight around my middle that I had been holding onto for two years melted away in the first two weeks.  I had to go buy a belt  The first week was challenging because as I said before, I was dreaming of cupcakes.  It was maddening.  Strangely, at the height of these dreams, I received my daily email telling me that I was not alone.  It seems it is a common occurrence for many people doing Whole 30 to experience dessert dreams where you binge on sweet treats.  It was crazy.

And it went away.

The remaining 2 weeks brought even more changes.  For one my skin changed.  I have battled eczema since childhood but it disappeared in those thirty days.  And my pallor itself was just brighter.  I lost all the grey undertones which had crept in (I had assumed it was aging).  And my eyes just looked clearer and brighter.  I was amazed!

The real learning came at the end of my Whole30 when I began to reintroduce foods.  I started with rice.  No problem.  I was still happy and my tummy was happy.  It was nice to feel that fullness that rice can bring.

Then a few days later, I reintroduce dairy.  At first I felt ok.  But day 2 I awoke with body aches.  I thought I had the flu.  But I did some research and body aches can be a sign of a dairy allergy.  Uh oh.  So after yoga class that day I treated myself to my first delicious mocha in thirty -five days.  And within an hour I felt terrible.  I had stomach cramps and my mind felt just plain fuzzy.  And I began to swell.  Yes swell.  I blew up.

This had not been an uncommon occurrence in my life.  It started when I was about twenty-six.  I noticed my fingers would swell when I was hot.  I thought it was weird but mostly ignored it.  It became much worse during my pregnancies in my late twenties and early thirties.  My hands and feet often looked like big paws.  Sometimes I could barely move my fingers.  Everyone told me it was normal for pregnancy but the last trimester for both of my kids was tough. If I exerted myself in any way,  my hands would swell and turn bright red and start to itch.  No one could explain it.

My late thirties have been a bloat fest.  I am just always puffy.  Running seemed to make it worse.  Anything over 5 miles and my hands and face swell like balloons.  No one could really explain what was happening.

When I picked up my oldest son from school the day of the mocha, he immediately said, “What’s wrong with your face?  Why is it so fat?”

Dairy.

It was the only answer.

So I don’t eat it anymore.  No more cheese (glorious cheese), no more yogurt, no more delicious mochas.  It’s over.

And it has been difficult.  I’m not going to lie.  It has been tough to accept.  I have tried to eat it since the experiment and the results are always the same, only now we can also add stomach cramps to the list as well.  It’s not worth it.

The good news is that goat cheese does not seem to bother me so at least I have that.

The next food I tried was wheat.  I suspected I had a wheat allergy last year because of the swelling.  I also have struggled with some alopecia.  Yep, hair loss.  Lovely.  I have a huge mane of thick curly hair.  My hair is basically it’s own entity.  I usually don’t even consider it a part of me.  It has a mind of it’s own.  About a year ago I noticed a bald spot about the size of a nickel in the front of my head right behind my hairline.  I also was losing parts of my eyebrow.  Of course I panicked.  I went to the doctor, got some steroid cream and had a couple of blood tests.  They showed that I did not have celiac’s nor did I seem to have a high gluten intolerance.  Whew!  What a relief!

Eventually, the hair on my head grew back, the eyebrow dent was touch and go.  It seemed to disappear when life got stressful.  Thank goodness for eyebrow pencil, you know?

So I didn’t think i had a problem with gluten.  Until the day i reintroduced it.

My son and I went to Whole Foods after school.  I grabbed a container of angel hair pasta with a simple olive oil and lemon base.  I ate it rather quickly…it was delicious.  Anyway, my son and I were sitting there talking and I started scratching.  It took about five minutes from ingestion. “Gosh!  Why am I suddenly so ITCHY?!” I exclaimed.  And then I gasped…GLUTEN!  NO!!!!!!!!

I did not want to be allergic to gluten.  But it seems I am.  Stomach cramps ensued by the time we arrived home.  It was not a fun night.  I had a very unhappy tummy.

And my eczema returned.  And I got bumpy around my mouth. And I can’t eat gluten.  It’s a big bummer.

Have I rebelled?  Yes.

And I get the same result every time.

“Stop it!” my husband admonished.  “You’re an itching machine!”

And it’s true.  I am.  When I eat gluten.

It sucks.

I am so glad I tried the Whole30.  It opened my eyes to all of the problems that have plagued me for the last ten years or so.

Do I miss gluten?  Of course I do.  I miss it a lot.

Thank goodness there are alternatives available because I honestly can not imagine a life without bread or pasta or pancakes or cupcakes.

The good news is that as long as I avoid gluten and dairy, my tummy is happy, I’m not all puffy and my eyebrows have completely grown back.

The pay off is worth it to me.

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New Year, New Me

Happy New Year. While I am happy to see 2013. I didn’t mind 2012 either. Last night we had a cozy time at home. Movies and video games. A nice family dinner. I had a final glass of wine before beginning my 2nd Whole30 today.
Yep, you read that right, no booze on Whole30. I was concerned that this would be a problem during my first Whole30 in November but it really wasn’t at all. There were times that I missed a nice glass of red wine in the evening but I didn’t crave it.
I like to stay positive when I talk about Whole30, so I will start by telling you what I CAN eat. You ready?
Meat, fruit and vegetables (except no potatoes, no corn and no legumes-Darn it! I still had to tell you what I can’t eat!).
And that’s it.
30 days. No grains, no added sugar, no dairy-including butter, no weird seed oils (canola, corn, grape) of any kind.
I switched it up and started using coconut oil in everything. Oh coconut oil. How I love you!
Was it hard?
No. Not like you would think. For me, it was more of a mental game. I got a lot of complaining from my subconscious in the beginning.
My first two weeks of Whole30, I craved cupcakes. Every night I dreamed of eating cupcakes. I would be sitting at a table full of cupcakes and just munching away. And then I would feel horribly guilty. “Hey! I’m not supposed to be eating these!”
One night, I decided I must be dreaming, so I tried to pinch myself and it didn’t hurt so I realized I was asleep. It was such a relief! I did not want to go off plan in any way. No way!
See, if you mess up and go off plan, you are supposed to start over at day one.
The prospect of starting over made the cupcake dreams seem like a nightmare until I pinched myself.
So what do I eat on Whole30? A lot of meat, quite a bit of eggs, a lot of vegetables and some fruit. Mid-afternoon munchies switched from a scone or cookie or crackers and cheese to a banana or some nuts (but not peanuts-they’re legumes).
My husband made his amazing salsa and I put it on everything. I dipped my meat in it.
I still drink coffee but I stopped putting sugar in it. If I need to change it up, I add a sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg.
It was tough initially but eventually, I got used to it.
I also bought the book “Well Fed” and with it, I learned to make some incredible meals for myself and my family. With sauces and garnishes too! My sons’ favorite is a little recipe called “The Best Chicken You Will Ever Eat”. They call it “The World’s Best Chicken” and I swear, they beg for it. Side dishes are vegetables. My kids haven’t even asked for pasta or rice. They don’t seem to miss it.*
*I need to clarify that my children are not doing Whole30. Their lunches include grains and dairy (cheese glorious cheese!) and even some sugar at times, but they eat dinner with me so they get to eat what I eat.
Whole30 changed the way I think about food. And it has changed my family too.
And yes, I had almost immediate results. I dropped ten pounds in mere weeks. It was pretty amazing in and of itself especially since after that trip to the endocrinologist, I had kind of resigned myself to being the weight I had been fighting for two long years. My hair was shinier. My skin was brighter. My eyes even look clearer than they did before. I’m also sleeping much better than I have in years.
There’s a science to all of this. The creators of Whole30 wrote an excellent book that explains all of our chemical and hormonal reactions to the foods we eat in their book “It Starts With Food”. I bought it for my Nook and read it at the beach in one sitting. Eye opening stuff.
But the most interesting thing happened when I finished my Whole30 and began adding in the foods I had eliminated. I will tell you more about that later. I’ll tell you now it was definitely an eyeopener when my new diet became a crazy science experiment.
And you probably think I ran to the bakery for a cupcake the minute I was done with my Whole30. But I didn’t. I still haven’t had a cupcake, even a month after finishing. Even with the holidays. Cupcake free! And I have a surprisingly good reason for staying away.
So today marks my first day of doing this all over again. So far, so good. Eating right and drinking my bubbly water. I feel pretty good.
I even got a workout today. I had coffee with a friend near my yoga studio. On a whim, I checked their schedule before heading home and there was a Yin class starting in 15 minutes. I’ve never done Yin before. It was ok. It felt like an hour of stretchy shavasana. Meh. I guess I like to work harder than I thought. Who knew? Whatever, it’s New Year’s Day. I decided to begin my year with a meditative whisper. That’s ok.
However, I think tomorrow is a run day. So if you see a chubby teenager running down the street with two kids on scooters and her crazy dog in tow.  Yeah…that’s probably me.  Be kind when you drive by.  We’re all doing the best we can.