Lordy, I did it.
If you're just now joining in on reading about my vegetarian Whole30 I did during the month of September, feel free to check out my other posts I wrote throughout the process:
So let's start off with the stats. Over the course of my 30-day clean eating process, I lost 4.2 pounds and inches everywhere except for my thighs (it's a genetic curse I must bear). However, I did not participate in this program to solely lose weight because in my mind I really did not have much to lose. It was more about doing a healthy reset, showing my body some kindness, and seeing if I could do it. The most important stat came from my doctor. On the day after completing my Whole30, I went to the doctor to get my cholesterol checked since I had been eating roughly 4 eggs a day/28 eggs a week for the past month. After they conned me into also getting a flu shot (ugh, always, am I right?), they took my blood and decided to test my levels on everything. Here is what my doc wrote in the lab analysis:
"Cholesterol levels are perfect! Continue healthy lifestyle, diet, and exercise. Liver, kidneys, electrolytes and blood count are normal."
Well, I was pretty happy with those results! If that isn't motivation to do a Whole30, I don't know what is.
I was going to show before and after ab pics, but I just couldn't bring myself to it. Sorry! Maybe it has to do with the fact that my face resembles that of a serial killer in the before picture, and maybe it has to do with the fact that I'm just too bashful. Probably the former. I can tell you though, I was happy about the way my love handles and gut diminished, as it was pretty substantial. Yay!
I had mentioned in previous posts that I'd been having [sometimes bizarre] food dreams, particularly in the beginning of my Whole30. As promised, these are the foods I dreamed about, in order of appearance:
chocolate chip cookies
spaghetti with marinara
cheese (sprinkled on food)
cheese (sprinkled on food)
chocolate chip rice krispy treat
chocolate chip cookies
pinkberry frozen yogurt with granola
Rice noodles is by far the one that baffles me the most. Rice noodles? Who craves rice noodles? I'm not even sure I know what a rice noodle is! (I know what a rice noodle is...sort of.) And in the least shocking/most shameful turn of events ever, I dreamed about wine the most. Which makes total sense, because this was far and away the "food" I missed the most.
Needless to say, I did not do a slow reintroduction afterwards like you're supposed to and sort of lost my mind over the weekend, starting with a tasty dinner at Down House, which included a martini, Houston Dairymaids cheese, and a chicken fried portobello mushroom. Whoops!
Then I really fell off the deep end while out of town for our friends' wedding in New Braunfels, where I drank all of the wine and ate all of the cheese, and subsequently my body was incredibly pissed at me. Lesson learned!
Okay, here comes the honesty I promised you all from the beginning.
Throughout the process I did not really feel all that different. My energy levels were pretty much the same (and good), and my skin stayed the same after it had a rough first couple of weeks. One difference was I had to take way more bathroom breaks throughout the day, which was annoying. And there was that super depressed couple of sugar detox days. Those were seriously awful. However, a huge bonus was that I never felt hungry or food-hungover - a definite plus! And though I didn't necessarily feel different from before, I will admit that I felt better than I do now, post-gluttonous weekend. I'm still recovering from that.
Would I do it again? Maybe.
The program sort of messed with my head to be perfectly honest, and pretty much up until the very end. I sincerely do think it would have been much easier if I ate meat. Not eating meat made it seem very limiting and boring. And since I am such a fan of food, this was difficult. Also, since eating out and having wine with friends is such a huge part of my life, having this taken out of the picture (for the most part) was also difficult. And when I say "difficult" I mean mentally difficult. Eating whole, unprocessed foods is actually not difficult at all. And I really did lose all of my bad food cravings. AND maybe most importantly, I had the best sleep of my life during Whole30. I am incredibly glad that I did this for my body. It's just that these limitations made me feel like I was sort of losing myself.
But it was only for one month, so I realize the entire previous paragraph was beyond dramatic.
Also, it's funny because there have been times in my life where I weighed what I weighed after Whole30, and I'd look at myself in the mirror and be like, "Dang girl, good job! Keep up the good work!" But after Whole30, I looked in the mirror and - while generally happy with the depletion of my aforementioned love handles and gut - my overall reaction was one of, "meh. I could do better." My food hangovers may have been cured, but my body dysmorphia certainly hadn't. I think this is because at the end of it all, I just sort of felt defeated and craved a life with less guidelines and more available time.
Would I recommend it? If you're not a vegetarian, yes, absolutely. If you are...maybe. Moving forward, I'd like to try to stay Whole30(ish) during the week, with some exceptions. I plan to add in quinoa, beans, tofu on occasion, and some whole grains, while allowing myself a glass of wine here and there if I so desire. I'll do my best to stay away from dairy, because I really do think I feel better without it, but I won't necessarily avoid it altogether. If I go out with friends for dinner - so be it, I'm going to enjoy myself!
I have learned that as a human, I do not do well with being told I can't have something, or I have to do something, even/especially when I'm the one instituting these stipulations on myself. Other people do very well with guidelines, and more power to them! I see people on Instagram doing Whole100s, and I am beyond impressed with these superhumans. But I know that were I to go down this route, my overall happiness might be compromised. I perform and feel better under the practice of moderation, and with a general focus on wellness. This is something the Whole30 program taught me about myself, and I am so glad to have learned this!
I will take the tools and tricks I learned in my vegetarian Whole30 and apply them to my day-to-day Life After Whole30 existence, while still allowing myself to eat out with friends (and not stress out about every single ingredient!), have a glass of wine if I so choose, and spend my Sundays at brunch or bike riding or watching football on the couch with Jon (who was SUPER supportive and patient with me during all of this), instead of using the entire day to grocery shop and meal prep, then pass out from exhaustion. The relationships in my life are far and away the most important things in the world to me, and I plan to continue striving towards maintaining that ideal health/work/life balance.
So while it may seem that I'm not leaping for joy with pom-poms in hand over Whole30, please do not misunderstand me. I very much believe in the program and the wonderful health benefits that result in it. It is definitely a worthwhile process to go through, and your body will thank you immensely for it. But I promised you honesty, and my truth is that it was mentally and socially difficult for this loose-y goose-y free spirited gal. And as a #whole30alumni, I have major respect for anyone who has completed the program, whether following it strictly or modifying it to fit their lifestyle. Here's to living lives filled with peace, love, and good health!
...and great food.