Whole 30 Diary – Days 4-5

I’m not planning to post this every day, just as and when I feel like it.

So, I’ve made it to the start of day 6! But the last couple of days have been tough.

On day 4 I thought I was starting to get a bit more energy. On the Whole 30 timeline, days 4-5 are called “Kill ALL the things”, so I was expecting this would be the start of major grumpiness. Not so much. The energy went away again instead.

(Aside: I am getting really tetchy when I’m too tired and hungry, but as yet no major mood swings).

Yesterday, though, I just wanted to sleep. I had my son and his friend to look after from the end of school until about 6:30pm, which I did by watching while they played board games together. I was curled up on a beanbag with a duvet, sleepy and cold. Once the friend had gone, my son and I both were in bed by 7:30pm, asleep.

Then I woke up at 2am. This has happened the last two nights. Argh! I’m a bit prone to insomnia anyway, so I’m not that surprised it’s happened. I’m not sure if the tiredness is because I’m not sleeping, or if I’m already on the day 6-7 phase of the timeline (“I just want a nap…”), or if I’m not getting enough carbs.

Yes, Whole 30 is about weaning yourself off sugar and carbs. But sweet potatoes, etc are still allowed. The thing is, to start off the Whole 30, I decide I might as well eat the vegetables I really love – since this was going to be hard enough anyway. So I stocked up lots of veggies, and every meal I cooked whichever I fancied. As it turns out, that has included butternut squash for a couple of meals, but mostly mushrooms, courgettes, broccoli, onions, asparagus and leeks – maybe a bit low in carbs.

I decided to break the Whole 30 rule and check my weight, to make sure it wasn’t dropping too quickly. I’ve been weighing myself each day, but I have WiFi scales. So I have weighed myself but religiously NOT LOOKED at my weight, knowing it was getting saved in the cloud and I could see the trends at the end. Yesterday, I did a quick check. I’m down 1 kg – not too much for the start of a diet – so I don’t need to start stuffing down more carbs. But I’ll try to remember to make sure I’m including them at least somewhat.

(Aside: Broccoli! Yum! One problem with Whole 30 is that their test for “are you really hungry or just having cravings?” is to ask yourself if you’re hungry enough to eat steamed fish with broccoli. Which is a great idea – except that I love broccoli! I really must think of another veg that I’m not so keen on. Maybe carrots).

And now I will NOT LOOK at my weight again daily!

The other problem I had was with cooking fat. I don’t eat butter, it doesn’t agree with me – and I used to be vegetarian. Whilst I’m not veggie now, I still automatically minimise the amount of animal products I eat. So I looked at the list of approved cooking fats, and bought some coconut oil.

I’d forgotten how much I hate coconut oil. (Eating fresh coconut – yum! It’s the smell of the oil I don’t like, for some reason). When I was a kid, cheap sun creams used to smell of coconut, and I’d stay indoors rather than play out and have to smell coconut all day. Coconut-smelling hair oils make me nauseous. And now, suddenly my food  smelled of coconut oil! I got around it as much as possible by choosing to saute rather than fry or roast. But by the end of day 3 it was a deal-breaker. So I went out and bought some duck fat. I only use tiny amounts for frying or roasting anyway, but suddenly my food tastes good again.

Another thing I’ve really noticed is how often, before this diet, I would be “too tired to cook” and would pick an easy option: sandwich, ready meal, or junk food. And how much everything that I crave is sugary and bad for me! So I’m definitely glad I’m doing this diet, even if all it achieves is to make me notice what I eat more.

Am I feeling any different? Well, hungry. Hungry lots. Tired. Tired lots. But yes, under the tiredness I think I do feel a bit better. Its hard to tell though, because I’m so damn tired! Apparently it’s going to get better soon. I’m just trying not to think about how many days until “soon”.

Whole 30 Diary – Days 1-3

So, in my ongoing quest to get healthier, I’ve got to tackle the elephant in the room. The real reason why I exercise for a bit, get too tired, and let it lapse. The main difference between that time I lost 26 pounds and the times I haven’t. In a word, food. (And drink. Damn you, Diet Coke!)

The cycle goes like this. I’m eating crap and feeling unhealthy. I start an exercise programme and “clean up” my eating a bit (pasta with veggies, wholegrain bread, some salad). It all starts off well, I lose a bit of weight. But then, as my metabolism speeds up and gets more active with all the exercise, I start feeling washed out. I stop losing weight. I have no energy. When I try to work out, the strength just isn’t there.

I investigate, and find out that maybe I’m not eating enough calories. Yay! Add more carbs! (Maybe a few of them from the odd sweet treat – hey, if I’ve got the calories to spare, why not?).

So then I have energy in the workouts, but I’m still feeling flat between workouts. It’s like I get a shot of energy, then crash. Eating more doesn’t help. Eating less doesn’t help. And I’m not losing weight. And I’m permanently tired. Something’s not right.

At this point, I generally give up. Partly because it’s not working. Mostly through exhaustion.

This is where Whole 30 comes in – and the book “It Starts With Food”. It claims to know why this happens, and to help. It’s not unique (if you were religiously eating what P90X recommends, for instance, you’d be eating pretty similarly). But if you’ve been eating really badly for a while, it’s actually hard to turn that around. Especially when there’s so much misinformation around. Especially when, if you’re doing things right, you STILL feel worse before you feel better.

So this is what Whole 30 does. It breaks it down into very explicit rules of what to eat and not eat. It gives some easy, compliant meals that you can throw together. It gives you a timeline of how good/bad you’ll probably feel when. It has forums where you can share/vent/ask questions. And its creators appear to be endlessly patient in answering the same questions over and over in blog articles, FAQs and comments.

If you want the one-line summary, it’s this: Stop fuelling your body with sugar, fuel it with fat instead.

(An aside: Whole 30 is paleo-based, but it isn’t focused on the meats and fats as much as some paleo, it’s more focused on a balanced diet with lots of vegetables).

(Another aside: One of things I really like about Whole 30 is the firm advice about keeping to the spirit of the rules – no paleo baking, no smoothies. They call that good-but-bad stuff Sex-With-Your-Pants-On food! )

Basically, it tells you what to do, what will happen, and offers support along the way. There are no excuses left. Specifically, for me. I have to do this now, don’t I? Yep.

So, long story short, I started it. So far, so good – inasmuch as I’m still on it. So far, I’ve done 3 days (of 30). It’s been tough. The diet is very strict, and if you have an autoimmune condition, even stricter. (I have psoriasis, so following that one mostly).

I haven’t managed perfectly. I’ve been completely Whole 30 compliant, but a couple of slips on the autoimmune restrictions. Its very, very hard to eat out if you’re on the autoimmune protocol, be warned. Stay home or take a packed lunch. Cooking at home, Whole 30 is actually fairly easy to do. In principle.

What are my key wins so far? Well: firstly, I feel better and worse at the same time. Which is actually great, as the timeline says I should be feeling like shit at this point! I’m starting to be able to tell the difference between my body craving a sugar hit and being genuinely hungry. And I know from past experience that I always feel better when I stop drinking Diet Coke.

Downsides? I still have no energy. None. Not just feeling tired, but literally my muscles feeling weak and just wanting to sleep. This is apparently quite normal and wears off after the first week. I’m lucky enough to be at home at the moment – I can’t imagine having to go into the office feeling like this!

So, early days, but I’m really hoping this will help. Being off sugar and eating more vegetables is going to help me regardless of whether I buy all the Whole 30 info at the end. For the rest, let’s see how it turns out. Fingers crossed for me?