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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Lunch :: #Loud30 Diary / Whole30 Complete (Paleo Pescetarian Style)

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JUST A WARNING: THIS IS A BIG POST. And it's so important to me that I waited until I had a full day off to really get down to the nitty gritty of the subject and expand on everything I've learned and experienced. Whole30 truly changed my life, and the best part is that my efforts started to influence others as well. If I'm not inspiring people, then I'm doing something wrong. But healthy is contagious! Are you ready to catch it? Let's dive in. (Although, if you haven't seen my Whole30 prep, week one, and week two posts, I suggest going back and reading those first.)

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THE LAST TWO WEEKS. At the start of the month, I stated that I would be eating eggs, seafood, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and oils and cutting out all grains, sugar, and alcohol. Legumes and dairy are also off-limits during a traditional Whole30, but I chose to include a small amount since I don't eat most meats. I didn't know at the time that mixing the omnivore shopping list and vegetarian shopping list is a huge no-no according to the program's founders. To achieve the best possible results, one must choose between the two. Therefore, the only dairy I ended up consuming was organic, full-fat yogurt and once the tub was empty (about halfway through the month) I abandoned it completely. I also only had a handful of legume servings throughout the program, allowing myself black beans at a Mexican restaurant, chickpeas in salad, and scrambled tofu with eggs. Despite these modifications, the second half of the month was an easy breeze and showed the biggest changes I'd seen yet.

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MY RESULTS, BOTH INSIDE AND OUT. Before Whole30, I had been struggling with depression and anxiety for years, seeing therapists and psychiatrists on and off since I was 11 years old. I also had digestive issues including constipation and diarrhea that was diagnosed by doctors as IBS. I was slapped with prescriptions and sent on my way for all of these conditions, and no one ever suggested that perhaps it was my unhealthy lifestyle. In 2010, I stopped eating meat (except for fish) and quit drinking milk (but continued consuming cheese and other dairy products). These changes helped my health, but it still wasn't optimal -- especially because I was eating processed foods and drinking alcohol almost daily. Also, I had a gym membership, but rarely went. This year, in 2013, I made a commitment to re-join the gym and stick to it. I signed up for professional personal training sessions (contact my friend jeffpfitness23@gmail.com for info), and incorporated more fruits and vegetables into my diet. I started to see results, and after this past month, I found out that I've lost 19 pounds and 4% body fat so far this year! Nearly half of that was from Whole30. In addition, my mind is clear, my energy soars, and my clothes are falling off -- all of my jeans can be pulled down without unbuttoning. The bathroom issues I used to have disappeared. And my mental health is much better off when I'm eating right, working out, and sleeping well.

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LIFE AFTER WHOLE30. In Chapter 19 of It Starts With Food (ISWF), the official Whole30 guidebook, Dallas and Melissa Hartwig advise us to take our time reincorporating what we weren't allowed to have during the program. They suggest: 'introduce "less healthy" foods back into your diet one group at a time, while keeping the rest of your diet as Whole30-clean as possible.' Too bad I only got to that section, um, yesterday. (Don't be like me and purchase ISWF ASAP if you're thinking about it!) So as soon as October 1st hit, I went out and had my usual venti iced dirty chai with soy from Starbucks; chocolate, soda and Flamin' Hot Cheetos for lunch; and pizza at On the 30 (coincidence unintentional) for dinner. Plus, I drank a good amount of champagne and beer. All of it made me feel like shit(ting my pants) the next day. Even something 'healthy' like Greek yogurt with granola and fruit didn't feel good. I realized that, as tasty as some of these things can be, I don't need them every day -- or even every week. Why would I want to consume anything that makes me sick? I've now made the conscious decision to not keep grains, dairy, or alcohol at home. I'm going to save them for cheat days and special occasions when I'm out. I'm so excited about this new way of eating and living, and it's not nearly as hard as I thought it would be. In fact, it's pretty damn easy.

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YOUR QUESTIONS, ANSWERED. I was really looking forward to making a video for this part, but unfortunately, my mic isn't working. So, we're going to do this the old-fashioned way! Below, I've answered questions from @hello_starshine, @enchantedelle, @hey_cee, and @charismamoran. Above, I've posted cute pictures of me as a youngster. Because it's #throwbackthursday. Aww. (Too bad I destroyed all photos from ages 7-17.) Moving on...

Was Whole30 expensive?
It depends on what you consider expensive. The program itself is free (start here) and the book is optional (but highly recommended). I spent $50-75 per week on groceries, which may sound like a lot, but keep in mind that I rarely went out to eat or drink. I used to get a Starbucks latte every morning and buy lunch every day, which added up to be more than that! Plus, for your mind and body's sake, the cost is worth it. Would you rather spend thousands of dollars in medical bills later if you have health problems? Yikes!

Was it difficult as a vegetarian?
First off, even though I'm a pescetarian, I prefer using the term 'vegetarian' when talking to people I don't know, because 'pescetarian' is actually a made-up word and it confuses people. However, I'm technically considered a 'selective omnivore.' But -- I think that Whole30 would be hard for anyone at first, whether you eat meat or not. You're completely changing your diet and lifestyle. It's a shock to the system. As far as choosing things to eat, not eating meat actually made the month easier. I didn't have to worry about it being organic and free-range or cooking it properly. Also, going back to the first question, I think the program would've been more costly if I were buying beef, pork and poultry as well. I could go on and on about this subject, so basically, you just need to do what feels right to you. I personally had no problem completing the program as a pescetarian -- I still had plenty of food options and got tons of fiber, protein, carbohydrates, fats and amino acids from vegetables, eggs, fruits, seafood and nuts.

Were you tired at first?
Definitely. Fortunately, it didn't last long -- and after pushing through, I came out better on the other side. I came down with what ISWF calls 'carb flu' the first week: fatigue, headache, stomachache. During this time I had easy stuff like scrambled eggs, and also drank a lot of mineral water. I only worked out once or twice, and didn't push too hard. I didn't give up coffee, either -- but I drank it black, of course!

What was the hardest part, and how did you get through it?
Admittedly, it was going out and not being able to drink with friends. We had multiple work parties for people leaving the company or transferring, I went to the beach a few times, and I also visited Austin for a weekend. For the first few minutes of each event, I'd feel like I was missing out on a proper celebration by drinking my soda water, but the feeling always passed quickly and after awhile I'd be acting just as loopy as the drunk folks! Which brings us to the next question...

What did you eat when you went out with friends?
I tried not to eat out at all during Whole30, but I absolutely love food and exploring new restaurants, so avoiding it altogether was impossible. I almost always ordered a salad (requesting oil + vinegar in lieu of dressing), or if it was brunch, I ate eggs with fruit instead of toast. I'm lucky to be living in such a health-conscious city, and I never once had trouble finding something to eat!

What was the biggest benefit and would you do it again?
Besides my emotional and physical health skyrocketing, the most wonderful part about completing Whole30 was that I no longer crave sugary, fatty, processed foods. Pizza, soda, gummy worms, chocolate, popcorn -- these were some of my favorite things to munch on before eliminating all of them and more for 30 straight days. I'll indulge once in awhile, but I don't 'need' any of these things. And, I know that if the urge ever strikes, those goodies will be there. If I don't have any salty, sweet snacks for a week, it's not like they're going to disappear from the earth forever. There's no rush. I'm free!

*First photo snagged from Nom Nom Paleo. Visit The Run Within, The Clothes Make the Girl, Good Cheap Eats and Grit & Glamour for more Whole30 inspiration, advice, thoughts and ideas.
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