Saturday, March 2, 2013

90 days of UN-Dieting and Whole 30 Round 1 Recap

OK, here it is.  The recap of my Whole 30 experience, and wrap up of the 90 day challenge I joined in December.

If you follow my blog, some of this will sound repetitive (sorry) so feel free to skip forward.  I have some new followers, so want to be sure to summarize the entire story quickly that has led me to HERE and why you should take my word for this Whole 30 plan and why I will be sticking with it going forward.

So in August 2009, I decided to make a change.  I weighed 285 pounds, was miserable, sick and unhappy.  I also have a brain tumor that I was officially diagnosed with in April 2009.   You can read my entire back story Part 1 and Part 2 that goes into details - but don't freak about my brain tumor in case you don't read all about it.  It's stable, likely benign, and truly the symptoms are so mild compared to many.  I am blessed.

In about 2 years, I lost 103 pounds.  I basically made small changes over time, limited fried food, then added fruit and veggies more, less cheese, etc.  I ate most things in moderation but overall made big nutrition changes overall.  I guess I followed somewhat of a "clean" eating regimen for that time frame.  All of my grains were whole grains, whole wheat bread, pasta, etc., and they were limited at that.

I got down to 182 pounds and was doing GREAT.   Here is how I looked from June 2009 - March 2012:

But I hit a plateau in March of 2012.  I couldn't get below 182 and seemed to be stuck around 185.  I was exercising HARD - running alot in addition to doing Zumba and Boot Camp.  Around the same time, my nutrition started slipping.  I was using power bars to add calories in when I probably should have added more veggies.  I had to eat more as I was burning upwards of 3500 calories/day.  But I didn't choose the RIGHT things.

Eventually I got tired of spinning my wheels.  I was wearing a size 10, feeling like I looked pretty good overall, and truly started letting my nutrition slip even more.  I mean, I wasn't really "fat" anymore.

Alot of crazy and stressful changes began happening at the same time last year as well. My husband finally graduated from college and we realized we were going to move away.  In the midst of crazy moving, increased travel and stress, I slipped almost completely on my eating habits.  I work a full time career job and had to find new work.  Everything was up in the air for awhile. 

And so, I reverted back to my old habits of eating to stifle my emotion.  I felt so sick, gross, and that made me eat even more.  I busted the zipper on my favorite pair of size 12 jeans - the 10s had stopped fitting long before.  I had to go back and purchase a pair of 14s that BARELY fit me.  And wear big shirts to cover my stomach hanging over the waist of my jeans.

In just 8 short months I gained 43 pounds back of the 103 I had lost. 

I found myself at 225.6 again.  Disgusted, uncomfortable, miserable and lost again.

I joined a 90 day weight loss challenge on Facebook given by a trainer I began following on FB last year sometime, Nathan Trenteseaux.  His website is and he is a beach body coach, but more importantly, a trainer who really CARES about his clients getting results.  Nate does alot of what he does out of the kindness of his heart, vs. making money.  He has a heart for getting people healthy.  I had NO idea how the 90 days would go for me but I was all in.

December 4th I embarked on the journey of eating protein, produce and healthy fats.  For the first time EVER I was making SURE I used healthy oil to cook, ate an avocado a day, etc.  I have always been afraid of fat, even healthy fat, but man, was I wrong.  I was also using Shakeology, the beach body supplemental shake.  Then about 3/4 of the way through the month I got very ill.  Stomach burning, pain in my abdomen and the ONLY thing that made me feel physically better was eating crappy, processed carb-laden food.  The doctor ran all kinds of test.  Finally, I realized and isolated it to the Shakeology. Some kind of very awesome natural ingredient made me sick.  So I stopped using it and beginning of January started to feel better and got myself fully into the program.

So I consider December a bust.  I lost a few pounds but did not keep much if anything off.

So my 90 day challenge was actually a 60 day challenge.

In January I focused on healthy protein, produce and healthy fats.  I exercised a great deal and ate very well.  I lost 11 pounds in January.  I was pumped!  This included travel - and I killed it on my trip!  I was still eating dark chocolate though...more than I needed to. 

I decided toward the end of the month to try the Whole 30 program for the month of February; honestly, it was mainly to help my friend who has a bladder condition and IBS.  This way of eating supposedly helps people heal.  Read about the program here:  Read the testimonials of the MANY health conditions people have healed themselves with nutrition here:

When I first read about it, I thought, wow, this is pretty much how I'm eating, except I would be dropping legumes (beans), dairy, and dark chocolate for the month.  I have NEVER gone without dark chocolate. It has antioxidants!   So how bad could it be?  Well, anything you are addicted to is bad.  Period.  And I definitely had an addiction problem. 

I read the book, It Starts With Food (ISWF), by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, founders of the Whole30 program.  I signed up for the Whole 30 Daily emails to get supportive daily information.  It cost me around $35 for all of it.  Seriously.  You can also do it without the daily emails (there are support groups all over Facebook) and you don't have to read the book.  But man, both were incredibly helpful.  Cheapest "diet" startup I've ever done.

The first few weeks was tough! I was tired, a little headachy, etc. I did what I could but slept and rested as much as I needed to.


I feel absolutely incredible.  Here is the list of benefits I've experienced from the Whole 30, some of which you read a blog or two ago:

The WHOLE 30 Benefits of Amazingness:
1) energy - I feel great and absolutely experiencing increased strength in my workouts.
2) strength - to tag on the above, I actually feel my muscles more than I EVER have - I told my husband I can feel my abs, the ENTIRE length of them, and I KNOW soon we will meet!
3) BAD cravings GONE - my prior cravings/issues with sugar. GONE. I even made pancakes a few weeks ago for my daughter, including handling dark chocolate chips with my BARE hands. NOT ONE made it into my mouth. Didn't even want them. (I felt a little bit like an alcoholic handling a beverage from their past - a bit shaky but couldn't believe how strong I felt!)
4) GOOD cravings HERE - I am craving things like: hard boiled eggs (which I haven't even made yet), brussel sprouts, lean meat, snap peas, green beans, broccoli, healthy soups, fish, etc. WEIRD but YEAH!  I went to sleep the other night in a hotel craving brussel sprouts.  WHAT? 
5) Physical Improvements - I lost 12 pounds of FAT.  How do I know it was fat?  I'll show you pictures soon so you can see why.  My hair is shinier, my teeth apparently whiter, I was told the whites of my eyes are very bright, my fingernails longer, white tipped and stronger than ever.  My skin is glowing (again, I'll share a pic).
6) My will is SOLID - I didn't feel unsure of myself even with all the travel. I traveled for HALF of my Whole 30 and kept on track. 
7) My GUT is GREAT - enough said.  Other than a reaction to some seafood that had my tummy sick for one morning, I'm more "regular" and normal in the bio department than I've ever been.  Even while traveling which is usually constipation city, right?
8) Sleeping like a BABY - No joke. I'm waking up in the same position, on my back, as when I go to sleep. I've never been able to sleep on my back (yes I have an amazing Serta IComfort mattress too) but man, the 8-9 hours I'm getting are solid.
9) Intense FOCUS - If you know me you know this is a huge deal. I'm usually the "oh look, something shiny" person in the room and have a hard time buckling down sometimes. I've had laser focus lately. Getting a ton accomplished at once and knocking things out, all kinds of things.
10) INCREASED HAPPINESS - this one is funny. I had read you might feel happy for really no good reason. This is absolutely true! Now, I do have one blessed life...a great husband, beautiful little girl, dog who adores me, and friends who are absolutely amazing. However...I still have a house in Florida that needs to sell, some big expenses coming up as I change jobs and have to have COBRA insurance and not one part of me is concerned. Granted, I'm a normally very positive person, but honestly, I feel more positive than I ever have.

What I have LEARNED:
1) Most Restaurants will accomodate you!  I traveled for HALF of the Whole 30 which seems impossible. Now, this means that I didn't always have "grass fed" or "organic" meat options, BUT I still experienced such success.  As long as you are kind to your waiter or waitress and explain you are sensitive to foods (no one ever asked, but if they asked me WHY I would have said they all make me FAT! lol) everyone wants to help you.  I experienced some AMAZING service and concern from complete strangers.
2) Panera Bread has a HIDDEN paleo-friendly menu!  Yep, folks, they do. You have to ask for it.  It has amazing ingredients on it and ANYONE doing the Whole 30 can eat there on that menu!  It's also affordable which is wonderful.  My other FAVE restaurants during Whole 30 were Longhorn and Outback steakhouses.  Great veggie options and good quality meats.
3) The Sugar Dragon talk is for REAL.   In ISWF they talk about slaying the sugar dragon once and for all.  Basically, even using fake sweeteners, even if they aren't "bad" for you, are still confusing our brains and triggering ridiculous cravings. This was a HUGE realization for me; remember how I used to blog about diet coke being the devil?  That for some reason, every single time I drank diet coke, I seemed to backslide on my diet?  Well, I absolutely know now that the aspartame in the diet coke made me crave sugar and crappy food.  WOW.  So yesterday was my birthday and I actually started Whole 30 at the end of January so by March 1, I would be able to eat cake.  Guess what?  I craved NOTHING off plan.  In fact, I had planned to eat a mango with coconut on it as my "dessert" after dinner.  Guess what ? I FORGOT!  Sugar Dragon is officially SLAIN.
4) I will be meeting my abs this year.  Having had a baby 9 years ago, my stomach is not going to ever be like it was when I was 16.  But I fully believe it will be bikini worthy, while it might not be perfect, sometime this year.  I am starting to see definition, and I FEEL them under my skin and fat.  They are there.  And they will be making an appearance.
5) My version of a "good" day and a "cheat" have changed.  ALOT.    For example, I got physically ill on Thursday, the morning of my 30th day! I ran 5k in the hotel gym which was probably too much given I only ran intervals once in two weeks (oops).  I felt pretty queasy while I was getting showered and dressed, and when I went down to breakfast, gobbled some fruit hoping it would help, but then promptly ran to the bathroom and threw up like crazy.  Felt better, so then I ate some more and drank some gingerale the incredibly competent and compassionate waitress brought me.  Ginger ale is SO not on plan but I was desperate as I had a day of work and driving ahead of me.  I felt like it was a cheat, but a necessary one.  And it didn't cause me to slide backwards at all.  Remember, I forgot to eat my mango dessert the next day!  hah!
6) FAT is not ALL BAD.  You NEED IT!  Our nation is STUCK on eating low fat and guess what? It doens't work.  I didn't track calories or anything like that this month but made SURE I ate FAT at every meal.  Avocado, cooking with coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil, enjoyed coconut butter and ghee (non dairy, clarified butter). 
7) All of the food on plan, is DELICIOUS.  So many diets claim "this is really good food and it tastes great!" when it really tastes like cardboard.  Not the Whole 30.  I felt like I was able to eat really yummy delicious food the entire time!
8) People WILL judge you.  They can't help it.  I have dealt with interesting looks, comments, you name it, since I began eating this way.  People telling me that it was unnecessary, unhealthy, etc.  Well, that's fine.  Say what you want.  I had to get over people saying whatever they wanted to discourage me and realize, many times, it comes from a place where they themselves are unhappy with their current eating plan. I held back from asking "and how is that working for you?" or "when will you see YOUR abs?" because it's not their fault they haven't learned what I learned.  It almost made me MORE determined to reach my goals and keep going. 

So a new reader that I just "met" on my FB page has inspired me to do something...I'm going to post pictures of myself in a sports bra and shorts.  God help me, I feel a little crazy doing this, but you NEED to see the difference cutting GRAINS out of my diet has done for me in just 2 short months. 

The first picture (far left) is from December, then middle is end of January after a month of Nate's protein, produce and healthy fats (where I was still eating dark chocolate, dairy and beans) and then the third picture is of me this morning after month 1 (well, 32 days) of Whole 30.

Don't believe that eliminating processed food and grains from your diet will get rid of belly fat?  I'm NOT EVEN SUCKING IN for the picture from this morning.  When I do flex my abs they get WAY flatter.  And in the front facing pic, you can see clearly that my abs are starting to get defined. 

My skin tone also looks better. I feel happier.  Check out my neck? 

Here are my official results from December to now:

Starting weight: 225.6.  Today I weighed 202.4.  That's WEIGHT LOSS of 23.2 pounds.

Inches off of the following areas LOST:
Neck:  .5 inches
Upper Chest/Shouders: 3.5 inches
Bust:  3.25 inches
Right Arm: 1 inch
Right Arm Flexed: 1.5 inches
Left Arm: .5 inches
Left Arm Flexed: .75 inches
Waist/Belly Button: 4.5 inches
Hips: 4 inches
Right Thigh: 2.25 inches
Left Thigh: 2 inches
Right Calf: 1.5 inches
Left Calf: 1.5 inches

Total Inches lost:  26.75

Read the "Grain Manifesto" from Dallas & Melissa Hartwig HERE.

Look, feel free to disagree completely with me.  But man, I can't wait to do my pictures each month going forward now.  I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this works for ME. Might not work for you.  But this isn't your blog, it's mine, right?

The Hartwigs do encourage reintroduction of grains, dairy, etc. in stages, so you can find out if you are sensitive to some of these items. I'm in no hurry to introduce anything.  I feel too good to stop now!

I highly encourage anyone struggling with their weight, sugar addiction or disease/pain like migraines, arthritis, fibromyalgia, etc. to give this a shot.  I have never felt better, more well rested, stronger, or happier with my progress, even though I did once weigh 20 pounds less than I do now. I know I'll get there again in a few months and then reach my goal forever.

I'm not THERE yet.  But will keep you all updated as I get closer and closer to my goal! If I can continue losing around 10-12 pounds a month then by July I should be one in shape chick!  And then what? I'll keep going.  Even if the weight loss slows some, and it might, I'll still get there in 2013.

This may be a Whole365 or a WholeForever.  Who knows?  Either way, I'm all in for as long as it takes and then some.

Because it's not just about the weight.  I also FEEL better than I ever have.  That matters so much.

Sorry for the LONG blog...but wanted to include all the pertinent details.  Let me know if you have any questions or comments or if I can help you in any way! In the meantime, I'm off to make a healthy yummy lunch and get on with my day while I prep for another week of crazy travel.  With no qualms at all.  Cause I got this!



Karen said...

Great job! Glad you are feeling so much better. Last year was a rough one here also. I should have tried harder to lose some weight and get fit. My blood pressure had been a little high off and on for over one year and finally spiked really high. I am perimenopausal and my body started dumping epinephrine like crazy, so of course I had to start meds. I have lost 38lbs and have about 45 to go. I am going to check out this plan. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Clara that is quite a transformation and you are so inspiring with your words!!! The sad part is that people just don't want to stop doing anything or give anything up and that's sad. I have been telling everyone what I am doing and they say why do you want to lose weight and I tell them it's not about losing weight, it's about nutrition and making sure you put good things into your body and not the bad and wrong things. The weight off is just a bonus compared to the energy and other changes. You go girl! One day we will meet right?

Carolyn said...

Very inspiring, Clara! You look awesome, but the best thing is how great you feel! I am so proud of you!

Anne said...

Way to go, Clara!!!