Well, the Paleo Challenge is over. For those of you who don't know what that is, you can read all about it over at Whole9. Basically, it was to eat only REAL foods for 30 days. Real meaning not processed. So I lived on meat, veggies, fruit, and some nuts. I also gave up caffeine!
What, you may ask, happened in these 30 days? First, let me just tell you, that it was actually 36 days!! I started on January 1, but the folks at my gym didn't start until January 7, so I kept on with them until they were done.
First, a photo collage.
Let me preface the story of my 36 days by explaining where I was at before. I would say I was mostly healthy, but I had let some bad habits take control of me. Mostly I mean drinking alcohol almost every night and not sleeping as well or as much as I should. I remember a few times drinking wine and thinking that I really didn't want it, but oh well, there it was in the glass and I should just finish it. I feel like my eating (sugar, wheat, dairy) had gotten out of control between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Every day was a party! By the time Christmas was over I had a nice little roll of fat on my belly.
Another thing I should say is that I have been doing Crossfit for almost four years, so I felt like I knew a lot about health and nutrition. I felt like I understood the Paleo diet, that I followed it pretty well, if not consistently. I'm not a huge dessert addict nor an emotional eater. That's where I was, mentally, at the beginning of the Whole 30. I weighed 160 pounds, which is about 5 more than I feel comfortable weighing. I knew I had a lot of fat on my body that I could lose.
I have to say that when I got up on the morning of January 1, it was not that hard to drink tea instead of coffee. I didn't get a headache and I didn't feel cranky. I had decided to give up caffeine because I am hypoglycemic and I wanted to see how my blood sugar did without coffee. I also tried not to eat fruit at breakfast (because of the effect the sugar might have on my blood sugar). The effects were immediate. That night I slept the best I have slept since my son was born (almost 12 years ago!). I continued to sleep (and nap! unheard of!) very well throughout the month. I slept well every night!
Other than sleep, the first two weeks were hard. I did a pretty good job of preparing food for the week, packing my lunch and planning ahead. The mental part was hard for me. No snacking?!? As a hypoglycemic, I am pretty used to eating snacks every 2 hours. I stuck pretty much with a few nuts and sometimes some raisins. But after awhile, even the snacking pretty much fell away (but wasn't eliminated entirely).
One of the hardest things for me was the mental game. Mentally, I wasn't sure how to think about what I was doing or what I was going to do when the 30 days were up. What is food? Why can't I just eat and forget about it?
That's when I got an email from the library saying a copy of It Starts With Food was being held for me. I began reading it that night. Much of it was familiar. I have attended one Whole9 seminar and had been on other challenges (though none as strict as this one). But when I got to the chapter on Food & Psychology, I felt I really learned a lot. I've never been an emotional eater, but I definitely saw my habits in a new light after that chapter. Why do I eat what I eat? Why do I think I need a glass of wine every night? I dedicated myself to developing some new habits. Now, when I watch TV (which I try to do less of), I drink tea.
Around week 3, I didn't feel like I was really making any progress. I couldn't see any results in my body and I had been sick, off and on, so I wasn't making it to the gym as much as I wanted. Add to that the terrible air quality, and I just didn't feel awesome the way I wanted to.
I had to go to the doctor and I couldn't eat for a whole day at the end of that week. Of course they weighed me at the doctor's office and I couldn't believe it. According to them, I had lost 10 pounds. How could I not see that?
My only excuse is that I have in my head an image of myself that doesn't always match reality. So that was a good reality check for me.
Week four felt very good to me. I tried to reintroduce decaf coffee after day 30, but I couldn't sleep that night. I'm not sure if it was the decaf, but I'm going to experiment with different kinds of decaf and different brewing methods to see if I can have some coffee, at least one or two days a week. I miss my coffee!! I love the smell!
Last Friday, we had an event for Utah Women Crossfitters. We did a WOD and I have to say that the rowing and the pull ups felt easier than they ever have. So that's a bonus!
Now that I'm done, I'm excited to try to integrate some foods (okay, I mean wine) back into my diet. But I have lost so much fat that I don't want it to come back! I am going to avoid gluten and grains and dairy and sugar. If I want treats, I will make myself Paleo treats. And I'm always on the hunt for Paleo friendly chocolate.
The thing I want most right now is a Paleo brownie and a cup of coffee. So I'll be making Paleo brownies on Thursday.
I want to be able to eat out and socialize with friends, hang out, have a glass of wine, but not over do it. I want to maintain the health I've found now. I don't want to go back to my old habits, of doing something not because I want to, but just because it's a habit.
I also want to help my family to be healthier, without becoming a lecturer. That's hard.
So that's it, folks. That's my Whole36.