My Whole30 challenge came to an end pretty much the same way it started – too much wine
It certainly wasn’t an entire 30 days. There was the pizza run, a few times where I was desperate for coffee at work and added in splashes of milk, and one time where I accidentally ate edamame because I had forgotten it was on the “no” list and had already paid for it in an overpriced salad.
I also cut it short on Sept. 27 for drinks with my former coworkers. The next day I visited the Chobani Soho yogurt bar, followed by froyo for dinner at Love & Yogurt in Hoboken while waiting for my train to Fair Lawn.
The very next morning, it was back to oatmeal for breakfast.
With all that being said, in 26-ish days, I still feel like I learned a lot from my experience.
For one, I didn’t count calories for the majority of September. Seeing as I’ve been counting calories daily for almost two years, this was a huge change!
It was…interesting. At first it was great, but there were some days I wish I had tracked.
If you don’t already know it, here’s the quick explanation on my feelings about calorie counting: I love it, I don’t get obsessive about it, if I’m hungry I eat even if it’s over my calorie allowance for the day. For me, recovering from a past where I had a terrible relationship with food and binged and emotionally ate all the time, calorie counting is an excellent tool that I can use to feel in control.
After three weeks, I began calorie counting again. I still have weight loss goals to reach (100 pounds!) and I’ve been in the same 5-pound range for MONTHS. Seriously, it’s plateau hell up in here.
Ok, back to Whole30.
The biggest change was in my taste buds!
I can’t believe how much I enjoy unsweetened chocolate. Also, I used to need a whole banana plus chocolate protein powder and usually some other fruit to drink a green monster, but I’ve really grown to like the taste of a less sweet green monster with lots of spinach.
Also, I always had to add sweetener to pumpkin, but when I started eating again a few days ago I thought it tasted delicious!
I find that I can pick up in the subtle sweetness of vegetables much easier. It’s pretty cool.
I did get sick of eating eggs for breakfast every day – although scrambling them in coconut oil is now my new favorite way to enjoy them.
I also felt weighed down by the amount of meat I was eating. If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you probably notice that I’m not typically a big meat eater. It’s more expensive than other types of protein and I just don’t really enjoy it as much as someone who is going paleo should.
Give me beans, yogurt, cottage cheese, tofu, nuts, and eggs and I’m a happy girl. I don’t see pork or red meat ever being staples in my life.
But, each time I’ve done a paleo challenge, it reminds me how important it is to eat enough fat.
It keeps me full. It tastes really good, and too many times I go without it because of my former failed experiences (ahem, Weight Watchers) with losing weight.
The benefits of cutting sugar, grains, legumes and dairy out of your diet are eye opening. I was never tired during the challenge. My energy stayed consistent throughout the day. I was never (seriously EVER) so hungry that I felt light headed, even when I went really long stretches between meals.
Overall, I ate more whole, nourishing foods than I normally would have during September – and that’s a success!
The strictness of the challenge helped me stay away from free cookies and bagels at the office, desert and wine during a family dinner, and it saved me money because it got me out of the habit of buying coffee everyday and I think I ate out twice the whole month.
In the end, I came to the same conclusion I came to before: Paleo is not for me.
I got really cranky toward the end of the month and all I could think about was eating sugar. I started to feel deprived, angry, blah blah blah. Also, there is just something about starting my day by cooking oats on the stove that makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. I don’t know if it’s the routine of making it or the actual food, but there’s no denying it, oatmeal just makes me happy.
I’m lucky. I have no allergies to wheat, gluten, dairy, etc., so there is no reason why those foods can’t be a part of my balanced diet.
I probably wouldn’t do it again – but I would recommend that others give it a try! A lot of people really benefit from the paleo way of eating. Also, there is something to be said for sticking to a challenge.
The whole experience reinvigorated my resolve when it came to the way I want to live my life. It got me to question why I was reaching for certain types of foods. I don’t have to eat the free cookie, or indulge in desert, even if everyone else is. I don’t have to feel pressured to drink if it’s not something I want to do.
At the end of the day, I deal with the consequences of my choices. It’s really easy to just go with the flow when it comes to eating out or drinking, but I don’t have to. I can enjoy life just as much whether there is glass of wine is in my hand or not.
Putting myself first, taking the time to prep meals for the week, turning down other plans to work out or eat home instead of at a restaurant, I like living like that. For too long I had this sort of apathy about myself, but my health is not something I’m willing to be passive about anymore.
Some days it is just about another day of getting up, eating right, making time for exercise, but when I stop to think about it, about how I used to live, I realize it’s always about so much more.
Happy Friday, friends.