My Whole30 Experience (Including Before and After Photos)

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. 

Around Adana: Kapikaya Canyon

It hasn't been often, since we've moved to Turkey, that we've gotten to throw on our hiking gear and hit a dusty trail. 
So when we found a free Saturday at home, we jumped at the chance to check out Kapikaya Canyon.
A short hour drive away, we braved the blazing heat with Aubrey in her Osprey carrier and the dogs in tow.
We were surprised at how many people were on the trail. With the heat we kind of expected to find ourselves alone. Or maybe we were just hoping for that scenario since we were finally getting the dogs out for a hike.
The Turks are not big fans of dogs. It's not their fault really. There are packs upon packs of feral dogs in Turkey, and this is a no kill country, so most locals are used to having to fight wild dogs off on a daily basis.
It doesn't help that Jim is a big black dog, that most Turks find pretty scary. 

Luckily most of the locals stopped just a few minutes down the trail to swim and enjoy some Turkish tea. We kept going a little ways farther and found our own little paradise. 
And it was about time, because Aubrey was about to overheat. Check out those rosy cheeks!
We immediately took a swim call to cool down.
Our little water bug was in heaven.
And try as we may, we could not keep her from trying to drink the water. Fortunately no one got sick from it.
Big brother Jim kept a constant watch.
And then we had a snack. Aubrey chose some rocks for her food de jour. 
First sand, now rocks, I think we have some work to do to refine our little one's palate :) 
First full family photo!
I had to include this one just because I love how Jeannie is looking up at Jim.
Jim was SO happy to be outside, swimming and running again. These poor dogs have done a 180 in their activities from South Dakota to Turkey. They went from almost weekly long hikes, and daily runs in the field behind our house, to trying to make the most of our small fenced in back yard and a short walk now and then when the heat isn't too bad. Turkey just really isn't the best place for dogs.
One odd thing about Turkey (well one of many haha!) is that you will find crabs just about anywhere here. People often find them around housing on the base! As we were making our way back down the trail we came across a few carcasses. So weird!
Peekaboo Aubrey! 
It was a wonderful day, breathtaking scenery, and an awesome break from the heat in our own little Eden.

Around Adana: Kizkalesi & Why We Don't Recommend Using Airbnb in Turkey

The weekend after we got back from our Europe trip just so happened to be July 4th weekend, which meant Will had two extra days off. And since we really haven't done that much traveling in Turkey, we hopped at the chance to take a long weekend at one of the local beaches. 
Kizkalesi is about and hour and a half from where we live, and is most noted for this beautiful castle that resides off the shore. Some people even dare to make the (somewhat dangerous) swim all the way out there! (smarter people take a paddle boat lol)

But we before I get to the beach, I must backfill the story a little, with how we came to be staying at Kizkalesi, because the fact of the matter is, we were originally headed to Mersin to stay in a duplex we rented through Airbnb.

You guys know I love Airbnb, and I still love them (and their amazing customer service), after this ordeal, however, I think we can positively say, you should not use Airbnb in Turkey. 

I'll also preface by saying that we live in a part of Turkey that is not representative of the beautiful pictures you see on the travel channels and websites. So while it does have its bright spots, we have fully come to understand there is a different level of expectations and standards here. 

When we went to look for a place to rent, we kept those lower expectations and standards in mind. Sometimes here, if you can find a place that is clean and in a relatively good location, you have to consider it to be a good option, even if it is missing some of the normal conveniences you wouldn't hardly even think about in America.

We found a duplex, with two bedrooms, a full kitchen, and nice 300m walk to the beach. It was in a beachside housing development, and it was dog friendly. 

Unfortunately our visions of a nice little beach bungalow, perhaps that we could return to often for little weekend getaways, were dashed when we pulled up and after wrangling Jim away from the millions of cats and children running wild through the development, finally walked into the house to find that the owners mom lived there, and her stuff was strewn about in every nook and cranny. Oh and she was there too, and didn't seem to be going anywhere. 

I won't go into the disgusting details, just suffice it to say that it was bad. At first we stood in the living room looking around trying to tell ourselves we could make do. This is Turkey after all, and we had brought our own linens, and even our own cooking pan if needed, maybe we could make it work. But after about 15 minutes of looking around and taking pictures, before noticing a gigantic spider on the wall and some pills laying out in the open, we both made a beeline for the car. There was just no way we could stay there. 

Luckily, after calling Airbnb and explaining the situation, then emailing over the pictures, they kindly contacted the owner and got our reservation canceled and refunded, AND gave us a booking credit for the next place.

We were in a bit of a panic. We were 1.5 hours from home, had coolers of food we had brought to cook slowly warming in the car, two dogs, a baby that desperately needed a nap, and no where to go. 

I searched frantically for another place, but finding dog friendly rentals in a country that really doesn't care for dogs is quite difficult. We finally found someone who was willing to make an exception for the dogs, and had availability for the weekend. So we drove 30 minutes back in the direction we came from to another beachside apartment. 

The owner was super nice, but as he led us up the stairs he began telling us he has 4 cats - but not to worry because they have their own room (as visions of Jim eating said 4 cats went through our minds), before showing us the apartment consisting of "our" room, the kitchen, and his room.

As in, he also lived there. 

We kindly told him that wasn't exactly what we had in mind, to which he offered to go to his family's house for the weekend so we could have the apartment. We politely refused and headed back to the car, officially giving up on the idea of renting, and possibly even having a weekend at the beach at all. 

In one last effort to save the weekend, we searched for pet friendly hotels in the area. There was one with availability, so we called. God smiled down on us in that moment because the owner was a retired US military guy, his wife was Turkish but grew up and spent many years in Germany, and they even had a dog of their own. 

When we arrived to the Hotel Angel Saadat they treated us like family, and even cleared a shelf in their refrigerator for all the food we had brought, and offered the use of their kitchen so we could cook it. We were so relieved! 

We unpacked, then hit the beach before the sun set. 

Aubrey was almost immediately taken away. For anyone wondering if it is true that the Turks will just take your baby's true. Aubrey has zero stranger danger issues, which is good and bad all at the same time.
We did some crawling in the sand...
and then decided to do a little taste testing. 
Aubrey gave it two thumbs down.
The rest of the weekend we soaked up the sun, ate the delicious food cooked up by the hotel owner himself, and finally got some real relaxation in.
It ended up being a perfect little getaway. Thanks again to Patrick and Saadat for turning what could have been a completely failed weekend, into a wonderful experience!