Why This Sugar-loving Carb-aholic Crushed the Whole30 Program

Let me start by saying that I do not believe in “diets.” They may work some short-term magic for some people, but long-term health and happiness demands moderation in the food department and a boatload of exercise. Period.

Having said that, you may wonder why in the world I would try the Whole30 program. The answer is simple: I was desperate to get my body feeling good again.

After completing my first Ironman six months ago (my, how time flies), I got completely off track as I battled niggling injuries while preparing for a May marathon–all in the midst of dealing with an extremely stressful and exhausting family medical/life situation with my elderly in-laws.

I was fueling my body with all things “comfort” instead of all things “good nutrition,” and I paid the price, feeling like dog doo, running on fumes, and piling on five extra pounds.

My brother had mentioned this program to me about a year ago when he was training for ultra marathons, and he said he never felt better. I could never muster up the desire to do it back then while training for IMAZ, but I finally reached the point where I wanted to make a change.

So what is the Whole30 plan exactly? It’s essentially a nutrition plan that eliminates all the processed crap we often put in our bodies, making us think long and hard about what is “real food.” There isn’t any calorie counting, point systems or portion control. It’s simply being conscious, reading labels and eliminating items that often negatively impact our health and fitness.

The number one rule is to EAT REAL FOOD.

“Eat moderate portions of meat, seafood, and eggs; lots of vegetables; some fruit; plenty of natural fats; and herbs, spices, and seasonings. Eat foods with very few ingredients, all pronounceable ingredients, or better yet, no ingredients listed at all because they’re whole and unprocessed.”

Eliminate: added sugar in all forms (real and fake), alcohol, dairy, grains, processed or prepared foods, legumes, MSG. You can read the rest of the rules HERE.

Extreme? Hell yes.

Worth it? Totally.

Here’s what the Whole30 program did for me:

  • I lost 5 pounds in 30 days.
  • I slept better than I have in many years.
  • My thinking was less foggy (probably due to better sleep).
  • It broke my endless sugar and carb cravings (this was HUGE).
  • I had energy to get me through another VERY tough, stressful month (the third in a row), which would have otherwise walloped me.
  • I lost inches in my waist, arms, hips, and thighs.
  • My fingernails grew long, strong, and healthy.
  • My mood was brighter because I felt better and I was able to let stressful things roll off my back more easily.
  • It was fantastic “mental toughness training” because it was definitely not always easy (sometimes you just want to enjoy a nice glass of red wine with your dinner after a long, challenging day).
  • It made me conscious of the crappy food I’d often reach for in my pantry when I was running out the door, tired or lazy. Now instead of a cracker, I reach for an apple or snap peas. Instead of a cookie I have a sweet potato.
  • It made me realize that a turkey burger is just as satisfying without a bun, poached eggs with spinach, bell peppers and carrots do not require toast or a bagel to be yummy. Sweet potatoes are just as delish without butter. Balsamic vinegar makes everything taste better.

  • My family wasted much less food during the month of May. My rock star husband goes to Farmer’s Market twice a week, so our fridge is always full of fruits and veggies. Sometimes he gets a little too enthusiastic though, and food goes to waste, which drives me batty. While on the Whole30 plan, we ate every last strawberry, lettuce leaf, snap pea and peach.
  • My family didn’t join me on this extreme cleansing odyssey, but they did support me 100%, and I did notice as a whole, our family ate much healthier. When I had after school fruits and veggies prepped for my daughter, she’d gladly reach for those before something less nutritious. And salads for every dinner set the tone.

  • I felt more energized and looked forward to working out, rather than dragging myself out the door.

What did I miss the most? I realize this is going to sound ridiculous, but I REALLY missed the splash of sweetened vanilla almond milk I put in my coffee every morning. Black coffee just doesn’t cut the mustard for me. But I did it, and I’m glad.

This paragraph from the Whole30 website helped me most:

This is not hard. Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Birthing a baby is hard. Losing a parent is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard. You’ve done harder things than this, and you have no excuse not to complete the program as written. It’s only thirty days, and it’s for the most important health cause on earth—the only physical body you will ever have in this lifetime.

One of the reasons it worked for me is because it had a finish line: 30 days. Give me a goal with a definitive time frame, and I can put my head down and crank it out one day at a time. I would tell myself, “I can do anything for 30 days.” I’m sure you can too.

The other reason this worked for me was timing. After spending the past several months in hospitals, nursing rehabilitation centers and assisted living communities with my in-laws, I have been immersed in environments that smacked me upside the head with what I could look forward to if I didn’t treat my body like a temple. The plague of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer were front and center, and it was not pretty.

Drinking black coffee and not stuffing your gullet with bread is nothing compared to completely losing your independence and your ability to enjoy life at its fullest.

Perspective is a powerful thing, my friends.

So, here’s to hitting “reset” and getting back on track.

Happy trails, my friends…

xo Becky

Question: Have any of you tried the Whole30 plan? If so, how did it work for you?

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Winning! And Chasing the Bird Day 7, 8 and 9

Three things happened over the weekend:

1) I was selected as the first Chase the Bird Challenge prize winner on Facebook! Apparently I’ll be receiving an egift card to do a little online shopping. How fun (and unexpected) is that?!

2) My family and I found a new house we’ll be moving into in the next month. Woot! That takes a mound of stress off our plate knowing we have a great new place to land after selling our house. Yay!

3) I learned that once again, being flexible with my workouts can add a huge element of joy to them. I had planned to sneak away and go on a long’ish solo run, but in the midst of landing our new house, juggling our daughter’s ballet rehearsal schedule and multiple other responsibilities, my run never panned out. Instead, I had the joy of going for a walk through the woods with my husband on Saturday, which was sweet and relaxing.

Miss O chasing down a drop shot. I love playing tennis with my sweet bug. She's been playing since she was 4 and can now run me all over the court.

Miss O chasing down a drop shot. I love playing tennis with my sweet bug. She’s been playing off and on since she was 4 and can now run me all over the court. The best part is that it was her idea to play.

Then yesterday I played tennis with my daughter and her friend, who had never before played. I always find it fun and exhilarating to share a new sport with someone and see her joy at her first attempt.

Later in the evening, I ventured out for a short run near my house. After a heavy Mexican lunch earlier in the day with the girls, that’s about all this chiquita could manage. But it was SOMETHING. And that’s what this Chase the Bird Challenge is all about. Do something…ANYTHING…for at least 15 minutes every day.

Today, Day 9 of the Oiselle Chase the Bird Challenge, was absolutely awesome. I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a run so much. Nothing epic, just completely carefree and gratifying. I ran 4.55 miles along the beach on a crisp, gorgeous morning. I felt rested and relaxed for the first time in ages, and even did some pick-ups and drills along the grass in the midst of my run, then finished at the track doing some stadiums, core and push-ups.

Monday is shaping up to be pretty freakin’ great! And it’s all because I’m putting fitness time back at the top of my priorities list. Now I’m off to conquer the rest of my foot-long To Do List.

Here are a few snaps from my morning run. No fall colors here, but I did feel the need to wear arm warmers with my tank top and shorts. 🙂 Sorry friends who are in the midst of snow.

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I’m listening to Pharrell’s “Happy,” which was so appropriate for this Monday morning. Feeling giddy! Hope you are too!

Until next time….

xo
Becky

Oiselle Chase the Bird Challenge Day 6

After one of the busiest weeks I can remember, getting myself out the door today to work out felt epic. But I did it. And I’m glad. Thank you Oiselle for the motivation I needed to make this happen.

After going to bed way past midnight last night (once again), my run got replaced by a walk with my husband and my not-so-tiny dog, Doodles. Sometimes you just gotta roll with it and realize it’s okay to be flexible.

Fortunately, by evening, after more coffee than should be legally consumed, I rallied for another workout. I went on a beautiful hour-long bike ride while I waited for my daughter, who was doing a double-length ballet class/rehearsal. It was a great ride, and the first workout I’ve done in months and months and months when I was actually COLD! No more 90 degree weather. It’s finally autumn here! So lovely. I finished my ride just as it was getting dark. It was a perfect ending to a big week. Aaaah.

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Tomorrow it looks like it’s going to be an awesome day to run! Stay tuned for Day 7 of the Oiselle Chase the Bird Challenge to see where it takes me…

What are your fitness plans for the weekend?

Bird is the Word

I’m not usually one to participate in group challenges, online or otherwise, but when Oiselle’s “Chase the Bird Challenge” popped up on my Twitter feed, it hit me at just the right time. We’re in the middle of selling our house and I’ve also taken on a boatload of new responsibilities this fall, so getting my workouts in has been a challenge. Throw in the “sugarfest” that starts at Halloween, I knew I needed to grab onto something so my fitness didn’t come completely off the rails.

Oiselle’s Chase the Bird Challenge is simple enough: it’s a 26-day fitness streak to help prevent us from rolling into Thanksgiving feeling like a stuffed turkey, and to reinforce the habit of making health and fitness a priority even in the midst of all our holiday madness fun. All you have to do is some type of exercise for at least 15 minutes every day until Thanksgiving.

In order to hold us accountable and share our fitness mojo with others, Oiselle is asking us to post our workouts on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. I thought I’d post the first 5 days here too. It would be fun if you’d join the challenge with me. It’s never too late as far as I’m concerned.

DAY ONE: Squeeeeeezed in a quick little 3-mile run through the neighborhood on a beautiful autumn day. This was between 5 loads of laundry, dishes, homework help, house hunting and grocery shopping. Sometimes we have to take what we can get, right? The best part of my day was a sunset stroll on the beach with my sweet girl. I have to admit, I was highly unmotivated to make this happen after a busy day, but thankfully my daughter was persistent. It was gorgeous and relaxing and a wonderful time to enjoy each other’s company without distractions. Aaaahh.

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I also loved watching my carefree little dancer take flight.

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Love this girl!

DAY TWO: 40 Minute trail run, push-ups and core. Nothing complicated about this workout. Just a nice cruise and time to chill out in my own little world, forgetting everything on my To Do List. It was also fun to bump into a flock of friends on the trail today!

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DAY THREE: 60 minute Continue reading