After spending a good 9 months watching my postpartum body go from pretty good to pretty bad, being able to count the number of times I made it to the gym on my fingers and toes, and then spending a month in Europe drinking and eating everything I could find, I decided it was time for a reset.
I had been toying with trying Whole30 for a while, and saw my sister have pretty good success with it. Since our travels were over for a little while, and Will was actually home for about a month, it seemed like the best time to give it a shot.
A little honesty before I talk about the results. We knew going into this that not everything we ate would be compliant. We have a pretty limited selection here in Turkey, at least as far as organic, high-quality foods are concerned. Outside of a very small organic/grassfed/free range section in the frozen meat aisle, there are no other options. We tried to maximize eating those meats, but we also ate things that would not typically be approved. Our bacon was nitrate and nitrite free, but not sugar free. Our dijon mustard had white wine in the ingredient list. And some of the turkey bratwursts we ate had a section of illegal ingredients listed under the "less than 2%" line. I think everything else was compliant.
There were a couple of occasions where we made "desserts" out of a date/nut/fruit concoction. I had a small snack most afternoons of either plantain chips, some nuts and raisins, a larabar, or boiled eggs (and Will continued eating 6 small meals a day the entire program). We both caught a 24 hour stomach bug, through which I had remained compliant until I finally got past the puking stage, it was 9:00 at night and I was in desperate need of some nourishment and all we had in the entire house was some chicken tenders left in the freezer by our dogsitter. The commissary was closed, and I had to eat something, so I had a couple of those. AND, the last week of the program we cheated and had some beer and wine - for reasons I will explain below.
I did start crossfitting 3 times a week during the program. Although, I should add, I found myself to be extremely out of shape, so I definitely did not workout with the same intensity that I used to. I'm ok with it because I know I need to feel positive going back into it, and I don't want to burn myself out by pushing too hard too fast. I have gotten great workouts in and I'm feeling pretty good about my progress.
Ok, so onto the part that I know you care about the most. Did it work?
In short, yes, yes, yes!!!
Here are my before and after pictures (last picture was not taken on last day). The most notable change for me was around my mid-section, which is great because that was the area that had gotten the worst in my opinion.
These shorts are supposed to be boyfriend style shorts (in other words a little baggy). They used to be some of my go-to comfy shorts, but before the program were very snug and not very comfy at all. I'm so happy to say they are now loose!
All in all I only lost about 3 pounds, but I can tell my body composition shifted. I feel like I am pretty close to my pre-pregnancy body so I'm pretty excited.
So a little explanation about the wine and beer in the last week. Starting the program we quickly realized that for us, it really wasn't much of a challenge. I did go through a pretty tough carb flu on day 3, but I think it was due to having just spent over a month traveling and indulging. If we had started the program after being home for a while, I'm not sure I would have experienced the same effects.
At first Will was very resistant to even doing the program, but over time I think we both came to understand that more than elimination and restrictions, the most important takeaway for us was thinking about each meal and how you can fill your plate with the MOST OPTIMALLY HEALTHY FOODS. It's not really about whether whole grains, or dairy are healthy or not healthy, it's all about how their health benefits compare to other foods - and in general, they provide less health benefits than vegetables and high quality meats and seafoods.
We did get a little bored with our food options, mostly because beyond the restrictions from the program, our selection of vegetables, meats and seafood are not great here. There were also times when we had a few cravings. For some reason I wanted overnight oats terribly bad for a week or two, and Will just wanted a slice of Ezekiel bread with some peanut butter slathered on it. But in general, food-wise, it was pretty easy to follow.
Drink-wise was another story. Not because we are hardcore drinkers, but more so because on the weekends, our favorite way to unwind is to settle down with a movie, dinner, and a beer or glass of wine. Additionally, we live in Turkey, unfortunately during a time of questionable safety, which means going out to eat, or going out to do much of anything isn't happening. In other words, life is pretty boring here at the moment. So cutting out the occasional drink took away just one more thing that we enjoyed doing.
On top of that, because the food side of things wasn't too challenging, and pretty inline with how we normally eat, we both agreed that we would continue eating pretty close to plan for the foreseeable future.
From that point on, we started to think of it less as a Whole "30" and more like just a lifestyle, and we loosened up a little. We still kept our food compliant until day 30, but we did enjoy a few drinks on the weekend.
So, some will say that we did not actually complete a Whole30, and they would be right in some aspects, but we did reset our diet and lifestyle, got back into the gym, and saw some great results, so for us that is a success.