As promised, here is the first part in my my series about my experience with the Whole30. In this post, I’ll tell you why I choose to try it.
First, what is the Whole30? It’s a 30 day commitment to eat in a special and very healthy way. You avoid most chemicals, all legumes, all soy, all dairy (except ghee – clarified butter), all gluten, all grains (including rice, cous cous, quinoa, oats, etc), all sugar (except that naturally occurring in fruit), all artificial sugars and sweeteners (including healthy ones like honey or Stevia), and white potatoes. Whew, that’s quite a list! If you want all the details, go here: http://whole9life.com/2013/08/the-whole30-program/.
Also, if you are following the program to the letter, you should be avoiding snacks, following their plate guide (half veggies, a quarter protein, and a little fruit or nuts/seeds), and NOT trying to recreate desserts or junk food using approved ingredients. (They are very adamant about that.) This would include making pancakes or muffins using almond flour or making banana “ice cream.” I will say that I was ridiculously picky about not letting one morsel of the forbidden foods to touch my lips, but I was definitely NOT so picky about going without snacking, and I did recreate “desserts” using approved ingredients on a few occasions. I also skipped the veggies a few times (mostly because of laziness or being crunched for time), and I did not force myself to eat when I really didn’t want to.
So, "why did you decide to do this" you ask? It’s no secret that I struggle with my weight and that I absolutely love breads, sweets, and baking. I have tried a thousand different diets and “lifestyles” in the past. I do well for a while and gradually go back to my old ways. I lost a little over 10 pounds in the preceding 5 months (mainly due to less snacking and less stress in my life). However, the rate was way too slow, especially since I have a lot to lose. I felt like I struggled with self control and I had deeply engrained habits of “needing” something sweet after every meal.
I knew the Whole30 would be very painful and radically different from my previous way of eating (there’s no moderation on the Whole30 – it’s cold turkey, folks), but I really wanted to press the reset button and at least start to break some of my bad eating habits. Also, I had fallen into the habit of allowing myself too many sweets in “moderation” while doing things like Weight Watchers or calorie counting. I knew doing the Whole30 would break me of that (at least temporarily).
I also knew that the Whole30, since there is absolutely NO eating of junk food and since it’s pretty low carb, would result in a good amount of weight loss in the 30 days. I was at the point where I just needed to get those pesky pounds OFF.
I also tend to do pretty well with radical, short term commitments. My biggest downfall is in the long term, boring, day to day, non-dramatic, slow progress type of living. I did not think Whole30 would do much to fix my long term problem (and it didn’t), but I knew that even with a short term commitment that I would actually stick to was far better than nothing. The fact that this was a radical commitment for only 30 days was the main reason I succeeded. (A lot more on how that helped in the next post.)
The other major reason I wanted to try the Whole30 was to see if my face problems were affected at all by my diet. The skin on my face is always very red and a little bumpy. When I say red, I mean that on the rare occasions when I didn’t wear make-up, people would comment on how I had gotten some sun. (Those were some awkward moments! “No, it’s not sunburn, it’s just my face!”)
I’ve had the face condition for several years and it seems to have gotten noticeably worse over the past year or two. I have been to a few dermatologists who diagnosed me with rosacea and gave me the typical antibiotic and Metrogel. The Metrogel never did anything at all but cost me $90+ a tube and wasted my time. The antibiotic did nothing but make me nauseous and create other problems because I’m pretty sensitive to antibiotic. Also, I hated the idea of being on antibiotics for most of my life. Recently, a couple doctors had mentioned they didn’t think it really looked like rosacea.
I have, of course, done more than my due diligence of research using Google. I have read and read. There is theory after theory out there. Some people claim diet has an effect while others say it has no effect. I am very lucky in that, while it’s unsightly, it causes me zero discomfort. If I didn’t have a mirror, I honestly wouldn’t even know I had the condition. There’s no pain or itching. However, I realized that if it continues to get worse, it has the potential to cause a lot of discomfort or to cause actual damage (in the case of ocular rosacea). Plus, it really stinks to have a red face Make-up helped, but it would not cover it completely.
The only way I could determine once and for all if my diet possibly had any effect on it was to avoid all triggers completely. The Whole30 does that. I did not really expect it to have any affect because I’ve done similarly restrictive diets a couple times in the past, but on those I did not 100% avoid all possible triggers.
I also love the community aspect of the Whole30. They have very active support forums and lots of people have done it, so I knew I wouldn’t feel alone. I also thought it would be really helpful to follow an official program instead of making up my own rules. This would make it easier because I knew I couldn’t change the rules half way through.
When September 1st rolled around, I was all ready to go! My cupboards were stocked with Whole30 compliant food. I had a meal plan. I had read the forums for some support. I expected it to be pretty painful, but knew I could do anything for 30 days. Wednesday, August 31st, I had my “last meal” at Chick-Fil-A, and woke up ready to go on Thursday morning.
In the next post, I’ll tell you all about how it actually went and how I felt during the first half of the program. (Full disclosure: It was NOT pretty!)