I originally created this blog when my husband and I started traveling around South America in 2014. We did this for over a year, with an additional two month stop in Mexico. Then we went home for two months to spend the holidays with our family and friends. All of this you know. What I haven’t yet told you was that I gained fifteen pounds in that two month span of family fun. Yikes.
This happened for many reasons. 1) All of my favorite comfort foods that I’d been craving for over a year were once again available. 2) I bounced around between great cooks like my father and my mother-in-law. 3) I had many friends I wanted to catch up with, and what better way than by retreating out of the cold to stuff our faces at our favorite restaurants (breakfast, lunch, and dinner). And finally 4) I have absolutely no self restraint, especially when it comes to food. All of this led to a pair of designated sweat pants and a coat that wouldn’t zip. I’m not kidding.
So when Ryan and I got back from Hawaii, which was the last stop on our Tour de Family, it was time to make some serious changes. These included getting daily exercise which I would accomplish via walking, hiking, and jogging, and above all, undertaking a massive change in diet. Bummer.
Let me just say that I have NEVER been good at dieting. In fact, I’m absolutely lousy at denying myself the things that I desire the most. Most often, this is food. To put this in perspective, I had a panic attack in Ecuador after an experimental juicing fast. When I switched to a low-carb diet for a few days in Argentina, I stayed in bed the whole time.
So when my sister-in-law Jill told me about her great experience with the Whole 30 program, I figured I’d give it a shot. I read “It Starts with Food” by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig. This first book was so thorough I didn’t even get to “The Whole 30” before committing to a thirty day trial. My goal, besides losing some of the weight I’d gained, was to change my eating behavior. Not only do I eat way too much, but I eat far too much crap, especially when I’m upset or bored. I thought, if I could break my emotional dependency on food (especially sugar), I would be taking a very important step toward improving my health. I also have a lot of strange health problems (possible IBS, endometriosis, and vasculitis) and I was curious how a change in diet might affect these.
I started by taking body measurements (not fun, but necessary) and with a trip to the grocery store. Fortunately in Ajijic, I have access to a lot of inexpensive produce. I found this to be very encouraging, although the recommended organic, “grass-fed,” and “free-range” categories were not as easy to come by. But I made do.
Then I got cooking. I am not much of a cook so luckily for me the rules were fairly basic and easy to follow. Each meal I had to incorporate the right amounts of healthy fats (things like extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil, clarified butter, or avocados) into my serving(s) of protein. The rest of each meal was compromised almost entirely of vegetables. I was allowed one to two servings of fruit a day and I drank hot tea and water. Nothing fancy.
What I experienced during my Whole 30 trial was nothing remarkable. Given the way I have been known to respond to diets, I considered this to be a good thing. Here are the things I noticed. During the first week, I caught a simple cold. It was no big deal and I’m not sure how it related to the diet change, if at all, although some other participants reported similar experiences. After the first week, I was no longer hungry between meals! By the third week, I stopped waking up to pee in the middle of the night (I’m usually a 1-3 times a night kind of girl).
After 30 days of eating clean, I was finally allowed to weigh and remeasure myself. I lost eight pounds which was less than I was hoping (my sister-in-law lost 15) and the differences in my measurements were unremarkable. However, I wasn’t discouraged because it made so much sense and I felt pretty darn good. Therefore, I decided to keep it up with some adjustments for convenience. I still craved sugar, but that wasn’t much of a surprise given my addiction to it. Here was my compromise. For the next six months, I stuck pretty close to the Whole 30 diet at home. However, I allowed myself to eat whatever I wanted when Ryan and I went out, usually about three times a week, and when we were on vacation. This helped me to continue to lose weight slowly, over a period of time and not feel like I was denying myself too much (which tends to have massive side-effects).
I am happy to report that since I began the Whole 30 challenge back in February, I have lost twenty pounds! This was after two vacations. It’s still very much a two steps forward, one step back kind of process, but this has been my best experience by far when it comes to healthy eating. I would recommend the Whole 30 to anyone. It’s a very mold-able program and can lead to some great things.