Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Whole 30, Conclusion (Part 3 of 3)

If this is your first visit, or first in a while, this is post number 3 of 3 about my Whole 30 experience. You can check out Part 1 and Part 2, or just jump right in for the conclusion by continuing to read here.

Man, I really squeezed a lot of juice out of this lime, eh? Now you understand why I'm a bit hesitant to talk much about the Whole 30 when someone asks. It's a lot to talk about. I actually didn't think this would end up being three posts long, but I thought it would be better to split it up than to go for the world record for longest "sensical" (quotes because that's not a real word, you nerd) blog post.

There's this effect that's talked about a lot on Whole30 websites and in the book itself, lovingly referred to as a feeling of "tiger's blood." If I ever experienced this it wasn't until the very last couple days. I think if I would have continued it a bit longer I would have gotten there. What I did get from it was pretty impressive though.

Sugar Addiction
Breakfast of ChampionsThe sugar addiction is just so easy to fall back into. It's really a matter of will-power, but at least now I know that I do have that will-power, no matter how much I push it aside, it is there. As far as breaking the sugar habit goes though, I think the 21-Day Sugar Detox I did last year was more effective. This is probably due to that fact that it limited sugar sources even more, allowing very few fruits and less starchy vegetables. At the end of my 21 days even slightly sugary foods tasted way too sweet to be enjoyable. In my opinion and experience, if you're considering the Whole 30 as a means to break your sugar habit, the 21-Day Sugar Detox is a better option. If you have additional reasons for trying a Whole 30 you could do them at the same time, or do the sugar detox and then go straight into the Whole 30. Your Whole 30 would probably be easier, at least as far as cravings go, if you did a sugar detox first anyway.

While I did lose a few pounds (5-7), I actually lost more on the sugar detox. Perhaps due to having fewer starchy vegetables? Then again, I had more to lose at the time as well. I should also note that I was (and still am) doing PiYo at the same time as my Whole 30. PiYo, if you're not familiar, is a series of workout videos that combine elements of yoga and pilates. I plan to share my experience with it in a later post. PiYo has an 8 week plan that I began following the same week I started the diet, so it's impossible to separate the weight results into a who caused what sort of thing. I'm positive that I gained muscle through PiYo, so that is going to show on the scale as well. Overall, though I haven't hit my "goal weight," I'm fairly satisfied in this area. I'd like to lose a little more body fat, just that little lower belly pooch, but I'm definitely more comfortable with how I look in a swimsuit. You're not going to find before and after photos here, I'm not that kind of girl, you at least have to buy me dinner first.

Another effect that the diet had in this area is that I went through phases of just not being hungry. I'm so used to waking up famished, hungry to the point of nausea, but that went away while on this diet. I became comfortable with no snacks and didn't have to eat right away in the mornings. This probably had quite a bit to do with the protein to carb ratio of what I was eating and, unfortunately, it has reversed since going off of the diet. (Side-note: I also experience much less soreness following exercise, which I also attribute to higher protein intake.)

img120I want to point out that I did not have a migraine when I did the 21-Day Sugar Detox last year, so sugar could be a factor; however, it's not unusual for me to go 21 days without a migraine anyway. My migraine issue isn't the frequency so much as the severity. I had two migraines during my Whole 30 and both were after eating pork the previous day. I've long suspected pork to be one of my triggers and I thought the last week of my Whole 30 (not during the reintroduction) would be a good time to test out that theory. I'm glad I did, I feel okay eating small amounts of bacon or sausage, but even the amount of pork on a supreme pizza causes me pain. From now on I'll be sticking to beef for my BBQ. I know pork isn't my only migraine trigger though since I still had them when I was limiting my pork consumption before and decided that stress was a major trigger for me. I do now know, after this experiment, that if I limit my sugar and pork, and stay hydrated, I am much less likely to get a migraine.

If you're familiar with anti-depressant medications, you know that I couldn't very well just stop taking them in order to test out diet as a solution. You have to taper off of them and even then, there can be ill effects. So, I didn't mess with my drugs. What I did do is pay close attention to how I felt and reacted in certain situations. I'm happy to conclude that diet had a positive effect on my feelings and mood. I didn't have so many of those days so filled with sadness or anger that I would ask myself "did I maybe forget to take a pill this morning?" Am I going to stop taking my prescriptions? I would like to, but I'm going to have to talk to my doctor about that, and I would have to commit to being on a strict eating plan all of the time.

Crohn's Disease
Now for the biggy. I am pleased to report that I had zero symptoms while on the Whole 30! The only stomach problems that I can report I can completely blame on other things, like a brief adjustment period in the beginning, and my over-consumption of Lara Bars that I talked about in my last post. But wait, you say, you're on medication for that. Well, no one tell my mom (she worries), but I had last taken my medicine a couple of weeks before starting the diet. Don't worry too much Mom, I have taken it since finishing the diet as I'm not comfortable going off of it completely just yet. Just like with the anti-depressants though, I would like to. I feel like it's less of an immediate risk to go off of this medication than my anti-depressants, and any adverse effects would begin gradually. What am I going to do? I don't know yet. Can my Crohn's symptoms be managed by diet alone? I do think it's possible, maybe even probable. It's also scary, and just like with my depression, it would take a big commitment. It's a commitment that would be worth it though, trading in some food for the ability to give up side-effects sounds pretty good.

Where do I go from here?
Well, I keep telling myself I'm going to go back to the strict Whole 30 plan for a while longer, and then I see a (soy-free) chocolate bar. I also tell myself I could be "kind-of-almost-mostly paleo." While I haven't committed to anything yet, I know I can't let myself go back to my old habits, not after I've learned this much about how food affects my health and sense of well-being.

No Part 4?
Not now at least, though I will follow-up with how things are going and I plan on posting a little about how the diet affected my running. I also have a review of the PiYo videos and a couple book reviews coming up so make sure to check back for those, or just subscribe to my blog to receive new posts in your email or rss reader.

Thanks for reading!

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