Friday, March 21, 2014

My Whole30: Day 30 - A "Whole" New World

Well, I did it.

Thirty days ago I did something crazy. I decided to give my body a try at paleo by doing the Whole30 program. The last thirty days have not been easy but I'm happy to say that they have been worth it.

When I started this program, I wasn't really sure what results I would see. I was so used to diets that made me cut calories and "sweets." The Whole30 program was so much more. I could eat as much as I want and I could still eat a lot of my favorite foods! It also made me really think about what I was putting in my body and I was able to discover what my body really needed to get me through the day.

As I end my Whole30 and enter back into the world of sugar, wheat and preservatives, I find myself hanging back. Sure, I can't wait to get my hands on some dark chocolate and a nice glass of merlot, but there are some previous staples in my diet that I will not be returning to. I have learned a lot over these past thirty days and I'm really starting to love this "whole" new world of paleo (You know I had to get one Disney pun in there somehow). 

5 Takeaway Lessons From The Girl Gone Paleo


1. Count chemicals, not calories.


We are so obsessed with calories. We stare at them on food labels and limit ourselves to a certain amount every time we want to lose weight. But what we often mess up on when we do this is we deny ourselves anything but rice cakes and protein drinks instead the of lean, whole food that our body really needs to shed pounds long-term.

I'll be the first to admit that I have passed up bananas and oranges at the grocery store because "they have too much sugar," only to go down the next aisle and grab a bag of Baked Cheetos, because diet food is healthy food, right? Wrong. Limiting your calories will help you lose weight, but pumping so called "diet foods" into your body that are low in sugar and carbs but have an ingredient list longer than the last book you read, will not let your body reach its full potential.



2. Sugar sneaks its way into everything.


I got really good at reading labels while on my Whole30 and what I found was a lot of the food I used to eat had added sugar in it that I never even knew about. Who puts sugar in guacamole? Or sausages? A lot of prepackaged food that you might not think contains any sugar, probably does. It is a preservative and a red flag if you are trying to eat something in its natural form. Sure a little sugar never hurt anyone, but for me, from now on I'll be choosing my sugar splurges more wisely. Hello red wine. 

3. Cooking isn't rocket science.


Who knew? I do have the ability to cook a steak on the stove and not burn the kitchen down. Before starting my Whole30, My cooking mostly consisted of opening a box and pouring its contents into a pot. Real talent. But now I have cooked stuffed chicken breasts, casseroles, stuffed peppers and more. I did have a complete fail at making my own spaghetti sauce but I guess I am bound to mess up every once and a while.

I mean, how awesome are these eggs inside green pepper rings? Recipe here

4. Cravings don't stand a chance.


Before the Whole30 I used to get crazy cravings. Most of them would be for specific foods like pizza or french fries, most of which I would give into right away (Seriously, I had Dominos on speed dial). After about a week without being able to eat my go-to naughty foods, I stopped craving them. I thought this would be the hardest part of the program for me but my body quickly adjusted to craving the things I needed in the absence of all the things I used to think I needed.

5. Being beautiful means eating right, not eating light.


I wish I had a dollar for every time I have bought a diet soda or fat-free food option. Companies do a really great job of creating these "light" versions of their product and then market them to women as a "this one will help you get skinny" alternative. I'm looking at you yogurt companies!


Paleo Spicy Pumpkin Pasta from plaidandpaleo.com - See blogger's story below

This Whole30 has taught me that I don't need to pay more for a less-calorie version of a food. You don't see diet apples and light steaks at the grocery store do you? If a food can be modified to be healthier for you, it probably isn't healthy at all. Plus, if I am going to indulge in a bowl of ice cream, I want it to be full-calorie deliciousness. I'll take moderation over modification any day.

My final thought on completing the Whole30 is that everyone should try it, especially if you have never tried to cut processed foods or sugar out of your diet. The changes are amazing and will improve your life in more ways than you can imagine. While I did manage to shed five pounds and gain better sleep habits and athletic performance, my biggest change has been my relationship with food. I look forward to eating food that is good for me and I am aware of how to fuel my body to do the things I want it to do.

While I do not plan to stay completely paleo now that I have finished the Whole30, I will be saying goodbye to preservatives and be eating more balanced meals and so that I can continue to enjoy the side effects of eating whole. If you are interested in giving the Whole30 a try, check out "It Starts With Food," and don't be shy to let me know if you have any questions along the way.

Some things are just too good not to share.


Vanessa's Paleo Story
~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~


Vanessa is a Los Angeles dwelling, yoga going, freelance writer and blogger at plaidandpaleo.com. She has been a paleo eater for over a year now and completed her first Whole30 this past January. While Vanessa admits to loving her lifestyle change after going paleo, she admits that it was her writing that kept her on the right track. 

"I love writing. I’ve always enjoyed journaling and writing short stories. About six months after going paleo, I could feel myself slipping up and adding more cheats into my diet. I started my blog to keep myself accountable, but then quickly discovered I loved experimenting with new recipes and flavor combinations. Plaid and Paleo has allowed me the perfect creative outlet for both my cooking and writing."

What has helped Vanessa really stick with eating paleo after trying other low-carb diets in the past, are the results she has seen in her body and the fact that they are there to last.

"The main difference between going on a low-fat diet and paleo was not just the weight loss. On paleo, I look forward to meals. I saw my body changing and slimming down while still eating delicious foods. I’ve been able to keep the weight off for a year and a half. I never could do that on a low-fat diet."

While I, myself have expressed my trials of eating paleo, as well as the other women I have interviewed about their experience, Vanessa says that the hardest part for her was fitting time to cook into her day.

"When I first started paleo, I was working a 70-hour week job plus trying to squeeze in hot yoga sessions. Most nights I didn’t get home until almost 10PM. I learned the importance of meal planning and cooking on the weekends," she says. "Paleo is definitely a time commitment. It is easy to just grab a bag of chips or a sandwich. To be successful you have to commit your time to making your own meals at least 75% of the time."

But as it turns out, her cooking time has turned from a necessity to a hobby. Vanessa's blog Plaid & Paleo features amazing, flavorful and easy to make recipes for those who want to eat clean. She also doesn't skip out on the sweets. Her specific weakness is for apple deserts.

Paleo Apple Skillet Cookie Cake with Coffee Caramel Sauce
"I grew up baking, but truly found a love of cooking after going paleo. I enjoy the spontaneity of cooking compared to baking. Everything doesn’t have to be exact. If a dish isn’t working, I can throw in a couple more spices or a little salt and pepper until it is right."

Apart from the cooking, being paleo has helped Vanessa grow in her yoga training and says that paleo is not just for Crossfit athletes or people trying to yolk up.

"Everyone automatically thinks paleo and Crossfit go hand-in- hand, but I think yoga truly supplements the paleo lifestyle. I do a hot yoga style called Modo formerly Moksha. The more I practice, I’ve been able to complete poses I never thought I could do. I’m still working toward the Bird of Paradise."

Check out Vanessa's blog Plaid & Paleo and be sure to follow her on Twitter!

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