Many of you attended the nutrition talk last Saturday. Now that you’ve had a chance to chew on that for a week, you’re ready to reset your metabolism with a 30-day challenge. As you know, our box is a Whole9 partner gym. We’ve adopted the Whole30 as the starting point for all new eating plans. After completing the Whole30, you can move on to the plan that works best for you (Paleo, Primal, Zone, etc.) Come to the meeting on Saturday, June 16 at 9:45 to ask specific questions and learn more details. Also, between now and then visit the Whole30 site and do a little reading. Finally, keep reading for an account of the Whole30 experience from our very own box member, Sharon Iskra, and a recipe, way down at the end of the post.
Barbara Walters I am not, but I did my best. Sharon was extremely generous with her time in answering the questions. I figure you all are sick and tired of hearing from me so here’s a fresh take…
EatPood - How did you learn about the Whole30?
Sharon - I learned about the Whole30 from people (like you) at the box who did it last time, and then I read in more detail about it on EatPood as I was browsing for paleo recipes.
EatPood - When you read the details of program, what were your first impressions?
Sharon - First impression was, wow,that looks hard. I could never do that….I like to eat and I’m too busy to make stuff like homemade mayonnaise….Then my thoughts evolved a bit more, and I
began wondering if it really made a difference, would it be worth it?
EatPood -Did you decide to do it right away, or did you have to warm up to the idea?
Sharon - I was intrigued by Whole30 and the discipline of those who undertook it. I did not jump right in, however, because we had trips to New Orleans and Las Vegas scheduled, and I thought, I
will never survive on a restricted diet in those cities! So I shelved it a while, waiting for the “right” time when temptations would be lower.
EatPood -How did you prepare for starting the Whole30? Did you set a start date, clean out your pantry, and restock; or did you dive right in?
Sharon - Toward the end of May, I began thinking more about Whole30. I was feeling drained, having a big slump in the middle of my day, even though I thought my diet was “fine”. I looked at the calendar over Memorial Day weekend, and pretty much decided to dive right in starting on May 28 (again, calculating that this would allow me to finish my 30 before going to the beach, where ice cream and other non-paleo treats abound). When I made the decision, I didn’t know much about what I could eat, and had no clue how to put meals together (i.e., fat:protein:vegetable ratio). That’s when I consulted you, and you loaned me the Nutrition Guide and your Well Fed cookbook. You fed me my first Whole30 post-WOD meal on Memorial Day (just after I was annihilated by “Murph”), and I was on my way.
I didn’t purge the kitchen because we have two kids who would run away from home if I threw away their goodies. I just made up my mind that I would no longer eat that stuff, any of it, for at least 30 days.
EatPood -What were your eating habits before starting the Whole30? Similar but not as strict? A little bit different and if so, in what way? Really different?
Sharon - I have always eaten healthy, reasonably-sized meals and had Eric and I had “gone Paleo” (mostly) for a year or so. Ultimately, I got disgusted with my ever-worsening lack of self-control when it came to snacking. A handful of chips, a few chocolates, cookies, don’t even SAY cake…those were just getting by me, too much and too often. Somehow in my little brain, if it didn’t go on a plate, it didn’t count! (WRONG!) I don’t have a weight problem, but we all know that
stuff’s not good for us, and as I found out, it really makes a difference in how you feel.
I also mistakenly thought that my consumption of artificial stuff wasn’t hurting me. Diet Coke, flavored waters, and other sugar free stuff was all part of my daily intake.
Finally, I thought I could not cut out all dairy and legumes; didn’t I need those as sources of calcium and protein? I had big concerns over giving up my daily cup of milk or Greek yogurt.
EatPood -Did you try to get your family on board or did you plan to eat your meals independent of your family?
Sharon - I tried to get my family on board. I give myself a D on that one. Eric said he would support me (but not join me) in my Whole30 venture. (We won’t talk about what He of Highest Metabolism eats and gets away with.) Basically he agreed to eat what I cook for dinner because he doesn’t know how to cook anything else. Our 12-year old likes “mainstream” vegetables but frowns on things like cauliflower couscous. Our 9-year old cries child abuse every time a vegetable appears on his plate. So I modify food for the kids and tell myself at least I am setting a healthy example.
EatPood -How has your Whole30 influenced the way your family is eating?
Sharon - Aaah, the proof is what goes on when you’re not watching. I have found crumbs of my toasted coconut “granola” on plates left in my sink, and I’m not suspecting the cat on that one. Lara bars disappear from our cabinets at an alarming rate. I recently overheard Eric at a cocktail party touting spaghetti squash as “a great pasta alternative, if the sauce is really good” (referring to your Versatile Protein, thank you!). Our daughter brings her friends to me, wide-eyed as if I were some exotic species, saying “Tell her what you ate for breakfast, Mom!” Yes, this program gets everyone’s attention. We are all eating better, in varying degrees.
EatPood -How was your adjustment to the Whole30? Did you have any difficulty?
Sharon - I didn’t have much trouble adjusting to Whole30 foods, since I had been eating mostly paleo meals already. Actually, the biggest adjustment was to cut out the artificially-sweetened stuff—Diet Cokes, diet green tea, and flavored waters, and my yummy whey protein powder shakes. I have replaced the drinks with plain water and home-brewed tea, and have learned to drink Perrier, which I used to think tasted like Alka-Seltzer. And I’ve replaced my shakes with post-WOD meals from the template. It also helps me to “re-think” my ingrained framework for what meals and snacks should look like; leftover chicken, beets and a few olives are a fine breakfast if that is what my body needs.
The other part that challenges me somewhat is the incorporation of “healthy fats” so often in each day. I’m still looking for new ways to work avocado, olives, coconut, and healthy oils into my meals/snacks without feeling like I’m eating the same thing all the time. Nuts aren’t a problem since I
could nosh on those endlessly. Nonetheless, I am pleasantly surprised to find how satisfying these fats are; if you follow the template, you really do feel satisfied after each meal/snack. I like that!
EatPood -How did the reality compare to your expectations?
Sharon - I discovered that doing this is NOT as hard as you might think. When you start, it is pure mindset.Like all of CrossFit, you simply choose whether to work hard or go home. If you’ve seen me at the box, you know I have a long way to go. But I made up my mind that precisely because CF is hard, I want to give myself all the help I can get, and reap every benefit of the effort I put in. I want to come away a little stronger each day. I sure don’t want to undo all that sweat just for a sugar fix…followed by a sugar bonk. Ugh.
EatPood -Did you notice changes in how you felt? How soon? What were they?
Sharon - This is the amazing thing. After about day 8, I noticed that I wasn’t having afternoon slumps or after-dinner “bonks” anymore. I’m on day 16 now, and I have steady energy throughout the day,
feeling motivated to do all the creative stuff I like to do, rather than just making it through the day. I am also sleeping soundly every night—a big, big deal to me, since I have had sleep issues for decades. I can honestly say, I haven’t felt this good in years; can’t even remember feeling this good.
Before Whole30, when I asked my doctors about fatigue, I got answers like “buy these vitamins”, or “we can adjust your thyroid levels some more”, or “well, you are getting older and your body is changing” (grrr!) or “try some gentler exercise; you are using up all your energy.” I didn’t like any of those solutions, so I didn’t listen. I’m not saying Whole30 should supplant medical advice; it may not be the answer for everyone. What I mean is that it has made an incredible difference for me, and I’m wondering why the medical community isn’t more plugged in to what patients eat. Anyway, if you don’t have medical issues, it sure isn’t going to hurt you to give this a try.
EatPood -Have noticed a difference in how your clothes fit or feel?
Sharon - Clothes are a bit looser (day 16) and I think my butt is smaller but I can’t see back there. Someone let me know.
EatPood -Do you follow the meal template?
Sharon - I follow the meal template exactly. Either do it, or don’t.
EatPood -Would you recommend the program to your friends? Why or why not?
Sharon - Yes, I would recommend this to everyone. See above. I never knew it would make this much
difference. Also, I have been helped greatly by my friends who cohabit the Whole30 planet with me. Who better to have dinner with than your Whole30 posse? Everyone brings a dish you can eat!
EatPood -Do you think you’ll do the program again?
Sharon - Not stopping the program. I am making this a lifestyle! All in all, I will stick with whole foods and keep the meal templates as my guide as much as possible. Anything to keep feeling this way!
EatPood -Do you think it is hard to prepare real food every day? Time consuming? Was there an adjustment period?
Sharon - I found that scheduling a “cook day” worked well for me: cooking tons of meat and vegetables all afternoon, and then having choices of meals throughout the week. It keeps you from eating junk out of desperation. There’s always a variety of good stuff in the fridge, and since I hate to waste food, I have to eat it or it will go bad. The cooking doesn’t take that much more time, and once you regain the energy you were losing by eating poorly, you actually enjoy being creative in the kitchen again. The spice combinations and new recipes keep food interesting!
EatPood - Again, thank you, Sharon for sharing your experience with us. And, p.s., I ran behind you during Nancy this week. You're booty looked quite small (and strong)!
I feel a tiny bit guilty calling this a recipe because it’s so simple, but not enough to stop me from posting it. It’s sweet and tangy and tingly all in one bite – a perfect dessert on a sweltering summer day. Yum!!!
Fresh mint, minced
Put the watermelon slices on a plate. Squeeze lime juice over the slices, and then sprinkle them with minced fresh mint.