My first Whole30

Two days before Thanksgiving, I finished my first Whole30. If you’re not sure what it is, a simple Google search will yield plenty of information. Briefly, it’s 30 days of eating very clean: no added sugar, no grains, no legumes, no alcohol, and no dairy. The reasons to do it and results vary by individual, so I wanted to share my experience, in case anyone was considering it.

To start, I have been paleo at different periods over the past 10 years, so this was not a huge new thing for me. I didn’t have a lot of the typical withdrawal symptoms in the early days because we didn’t go from bread 3 times a day to none. We actually don’t really eat much pasta and bread in general (except Monkey, who lives on Mac and Cheese right now), but we aren’t as good about eating vegetables. Rice and chicken is a pretty standard weeknight menu.

My eating habits were good but not the best, and I knew I could do better. I knew I ate way too much sugar (lots of colleagues with birthdays this summer didn’t help!). I had the typical after lunch slump and constant snacking that is familiar to so many. Working out regularly wasn’t getting me the results I was looking for. So after seeing a friend on Facebook post her meals every day, I looked into the Whole30 and it seemed like a good thing to try.

I didn’t post my journey on social media the way that so many find helpful, though I did talk about it at work. A lot. Initially because I wanted to be sure they wouldn’t count on me eating half of the weekly baked goods as usual, so they could adjust the portions appropriately! I run with a few colleagues at lunch, and it was natural to talk about it as part of our usual fitness conversations.

With Thanksgiving just two days after I ended, I had planned on reintroducing gluten grains like wheat, since the rest of Thanksgiving would be pretty compliant – turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans. But that first night, being able to just order a pizza when we were exhausted from packing up the car for the ride down to my sister’s was just too tempting. And while I didn’t feel awesome, I didn’t have any serious reactions. So I decided to just eat normally.

Unsurprisingly, after almost three weeks of eating “normally” however, I do feel pretty gross. And sugar headaches/hangovers are a very real and painful thing! So I’m slowly going back to a cleaner version of my normal food. Mostly making sure breakfast is as clean as possible (eggs & spinach, chicken sausage & avocado, almond butter & apples), hoping that a good start to my day will keep me on the right track. But with all the holiday treats floating around, I think I’ll be at a 50/50 good/bad ratio until the New Year when I’ll try for 80/20.

My Whole 30 experience

Benefits:

  • Not needing tea in the morning (more energy). This was a big one for me. I don’t drink coffee, so my cup of black tea in the morning is pretty important. Since it’s not supposed to be the first think you consume in the morning on the plan, I would put it off until work. But after a week, I found I didn’t need it.
  • Weight loss. Like many, this was not my main goal. But take away added sugar and bread, and you’re going to lose weight. I also had the 5k and my regular workout routine, so about 7 pounds disappeared by the end of the month. I’m pretty much at my pre baby weight, which is nice, since I was getting very close to needing new, bigger clothes. For me, spending more on good food > spending more on clothes. (I’ve gained 2 back in the past 2 weeks of “regular” eating)
  • A better relationship with food. We all know we eat when we’re bored/stressed/sad, so pinpointing the situations where it comes up is very helpful. There were definitely moments that I wanted chocolate and had tea instead, but those got fewer as the month went on. Making food about nourishment and fuel, instead of a comfort or reassurance, is key to separating emotions and food.
  • Not feeling stuffed after eating. This took some getting used to, but it was nice to not feel super bloated/full after a meal. When I got hungry, I was HUNGRY, but after the first two weeks, I knew how much I needed to keep me going until the next meal. Feeling satisfied, not stuffed, was nice.

Difficulties:

  • Work functions. I forgot about a few, so I had to sit there watching people eat lovely catered food while I had my reheated chicken and sweet potatoes. But by the end of the month, when the ice cream social came around, I could watch people stuff their faces without feeling jealous. (Though I might have saved some in the freezer for later…)
  • Budget. I didn’t go organic on the meat, and it was still pretty pricey. I usually compromised by getting sausages/hot dogs without added sugar, which are almost always the organic brand. My splurge tends to be cage-free/free-range eggs, even before this experiment.
  • Not eating all the little bits and pieces of Monkey’s food. I didn’t realize how automatic it was to take bites off his plate until I couldn’t anymore! And while I’m sure it was good for him to see me eating healthy things, he wasn’t interested in tasting anything.
  • Thinking about food all the time. It got a little tiresome to be constantly thinking “is this enough protein? Enough fat? Am I hungry or just tired? Should I eat a sweet potato before my workout or a banana?”. And it made me worry that I wouldn’t be able to just enjoy food once it was over.

Things I expected to happen that didn’t:

  • Better sleep. However, with a toddler, this will be bad no matter what you eat. I did feel like I had more energy than normal the nights I got even less sleep than usual, so that was a nice bonus.
  • Better skin. After 30+ years, I may just need to accept I will never have a beautiful complexion, no matter what I eat or how many Korean beauty products I try.
  • Better gums. I have some mild to serious gum health issues, and while they didn’t get worse, they didn’t really get better.

I’m thinking the gum and skin might actually get better if I do a whole60 (or just watch my sugar intake!)

 

For anyone who’s thinking of trying it after the holidays, it’s not the easiest of months, but it’s also not the worst either. Figuring out why you’re doing it is key to maintaining motivation. But getting to the end, knowing you were able to say “no” to so many things, really helps with other choices, both food and non-food related.

Crazy week

This week has just kicked everyone’s butts. This three-day weekend could not have been timed better.

It all started last weekend, when a friend came over to do some baking. About a week before bébé was born, I went to a “tupperware party” for Guy Demarle cooking products, and they’ve been sitting in their bag ever since they were delivered a few weeks after he was born. Last Saturday, the friend who invited me to the party (and who recently took the same patisserie classes  as I did last year) came over and I FINALLY used almost everything that I bought. While I’ve made a few things over the past 10 months, I haven’t done any serious baking since before bébé was born. Most weekends we spend cooking and preparing his food, so it was nice to do something for the grown-ups instead!

We were just going to make a pâte à choux to make eclairs and religieuses, but we ended up making escargots au chocolat as well. It was a good thing we did, because it meant easy and quick breakfasts for most of the week, though the eclairs were pretty much gone by Sunday night!

pastry

Saturday night was our date night, so my brother-in-law came over to babysit. But he called us around 9:30 to say bébé had thrown up! He’s never done that before (spitting up is something different), so we rushed home to find a very sad, sick baby. His tooth was finally cutting through the gums, which was hurting him like crazy, plus he was a little regular sick too. BIL did great though, and handled it very calmly, especially considering that at 22, he’s never really been around babies that much besides ours. I do wonder if maybe bébé was also kind of freaked out to wake up in pain and not see his parents, but I think he was just in tons of pain and would have been sick no matter who had been there.

After a night without much sleep, Sunday was pretty miserable for everyone, but we knew that teething is never a fun experience. So unfortunately we started the week without the usual chill weekend to regain a bit of energy, and for me at least, this week at work was always going to be rough with someone on vacation and a new intern to train.

Somehow we struggled through on even less sleep than usual, but bébé still had a runny nose and was pulling his ears more than usual, then my husband started feeling sick too. He ended up being put on sick leave for Thursday and Friday by the doctor, and bébé stayed home from the nanny’s. Ear infection and cold for bébé, pharyngitis for my husband. It’s interesting because bébé seems to get sick every three months, so we’ll see what happens in August  . . .

Of course by now, I’m starting to get a sore throat too, but tomorrow we’re headed up to MIL’s so at least we’ll have some help for the next few days. It’s the annual football fête this weekend in her town, and hopefully we’ll all be able to have a little fun despite not feeling our best. For last year’s fête I was almost 8 months pregnant, so it’ll be nice to be able to walk around normally and fully sample all the different food and drinks this year.

Breastfeeding and body image

Since it’s the beginning of a new month, I was looking back on the workouts I’ve managed to do in February, and I was feeling a little disappointed. I didn’t do nearly as much as I wanted. Also, while I’m very happy that I’m able to continue breastfeeding, I am realizing it’s causing a few body image issues. Mainly, I feel like my body is not my own right now. And in a way, it’s not. Everything I eat and do will impact bébé, so I can’t think about what I want but what he needs. So despite “bouncing back” to my pre-pregnancy shape and weight fairly quickly,  I do not feel very comfortable in my body. A lack of time and energy means that I’m not eating as well as I’d like, nor working out as often as I’d like.

But then I saw this article and infographic on one of the fitness/mom blogs I read. (I only read fitness blogs from mothers, because reading about a single 22-year-old spending three hours a day in the gym would just be depressing). It really helped, since it shows how much time/planning/energy a very high level of fitness actually takes. The article encourages you to really think about what you’re willing to give up to get what you want, and it’s okay if you realize that maybe you didn’t want it as much as you thought (or want other things more).

 

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/cost-of-getting-lean-infographic

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/cost-of-getting-lean-infographic
http://www.precisionnutrition.com/cost-of-getting-lean-infographic

I haven’t had my body fat measured, but based on how I look and what I do have the time/energy to do, I figure I’m in the 25-30% range, which is perfectly healthy. Getting my body fat down to the 23-25% range is supposed to be an “easy transition” but I’m not sure it’s possible for me right now. (Especially the part about 7 hours of sleep per night!)

Every evening, it takes about 45 minutes to do the whole bath/feed/bedtime ritual with bébé. As long as I’m breastfeeding, my husband can’t do it in my place. (Well, he usually does the bath, but the feeding part is still my area). So while I’d love to use those 45 minutes to get in a daily workout instead of just a short video few times a week, I also love that time with my son, and am (mostly) fine with staying a little extra squishy in exchange. Accepting that this is how my body looks and feels right now is hard, but it’s also very hard anytime I’m faced with giving up that one-on-one time with bébé (like when I have a dinner or meeting at night and our time together gets cut short). It’s another one of those mixed feelings things that seem to be happening quite often in my motherhood experience. Work/stay at home, couple time/sleep, working out/bébé time . . . everyday my feelings change about which one I want more!

Knowing that it’s unrealistic to expect certain results given what I am able and willing to put in right now helps to calm these mixed feelings. I also try to remind myself that one day, probably much sooner than I expect, his nighttime ritual will mean a bottle and a book with daddy, and I will have more time to workout. One day I will actually plan our meals for the week and not just buy random healthy things and hope it doesn’t all spoil before we can use everything. One day my body will feel like my own again, and I can eat and drink without worrying about the impact it will have on anyone except myself.

But that day is not today, or tomorrow, or even this month. This month I will keep on doing what I’ve been doing, with the same goal of doing a tiny bit better than last month.

Why I keep every paper ever

I got a letter from my complementary health insurance asking for an updated certificate from the national health insurance (the CPAM for me). I thought it might have to do with the pregnancy, since certain things are reimbursed at 100%, it means less for the complementary insurance to pay. (They already don’t pay very much to begin with: because of specific local laws for those living in Alsace-Moselle, the CPAM pays 90% for most things, rather than just 70% like the rest of France.)

However, it turns out the last certificate they had was from my student days, in 2011! Apparently I have not been getting reimbursed for everything I could have for the past three years. I go to the doctor maybe twice a year, so I didn’t really notice the missing 3 euros, but still, a nice surprise. I just have to give them the papers that the CPAM sends me with the details of what they paid.

I have an online account, but there’s only the past 6 months of payments, and the complementary insurance will back pay up to two years. Which is why I’m glad I keep every paper I ever get and file things in various large folders with labels like “Bank stuff” “Health stuff” and “Tax stuff” (all with a semi-chronological organization). I definitely try to keep track of paperwork very well here, just in case my residency card depends on showing a payslip from 2008 or a bank statement from 2010 for some reason. However, my recent renewal was one of the easiest ever actually, and I came home without needing half the papers I brought “just in case.”

In the end, I’ll probably only get about 15 euros, but that’s enough for yet another cute baby outfit! And when you combine paperwork organization and nesting, you get yet another folder full of receipts for baby clothes, just in case he comes out gigantic and half the things I bought don’t even fit . . .