Today marks my last day of doing a Whole 9/Whole 30 Challenge. If you don't feel like clicking on the link and reading what it's all about I'll give you a brief description.
Basically, for 30 days (or in my case 40, since I did it to participate in our church's Lent--no, I'm not Catholic, but that's a whole 'notha story) you avoid eating sugar, flour, processed/packaged foods, soy, dairy, artificial sugars (artificial ANYTHING), alcohol, legumes, grains (even whole wheat) and potatoes. What you have left is lean meat, fish, vegetables, fruits and nuts. By the way, peanuts are legumes and corn is a grain. Just sayin'.
Or you can say I basically ate like this:
Now, that may seem like a lot to cut out of your diet, and it is for some, but I've been eating pretty much that way since July 2011. (If you're interested in learning more check out Robb Wolf or Mark Sisson's site. Mark includes high fat, quality dairy in his diet, which is why his diet is called Primal). I say pretty much, because I would have a treat every other week or once a week at most. Treats were sometimes Paleo, sometimes not. Sometimes big, like a meal or sometimes small, like a cupcake. Or I would help myself to a couple of pieces of 90% dark chocolate as an after dinner dessert. None of this was allowed while doing the Whole 30 Challenge. Not even a glass of wine
to forget my troubles to enjoy!
I'll admit it was very easy at first but the last 10 days have been tough. It was one thing when I could help myself to a bite of dark chocolate or even a candy-like Medjool Date, but I could have none of that. If I had a craving for a chocolate chip cookie, I couldn't even bake up a batch of The Food Lovers Primal Palate cookies to kick the craving. It also didn't help that I was baking for our home church group and couldn't have a taste. Sacrebleu!
I've spent the last few days fantasizing about what I was going to have on my first non-challenge day. I came up with the following:
- Chocolate covered bacon
- Pizza with chocolate covered bacon (don't ask)
- Pie a la mode (notice I said PIE, not a slice of pie)
- A doughnut, and I'm not even a doughnut fan.
- An ice cream sundae (with chocolate covered bacon. Again, don't ask.)
- Chocolate Croissant (I love freshly baked croissants)
- A Twix (I can't even remember the last time I had one. We didn't get any for Halloween!)
- Filipino desserts, all of them.
- Brie with crackers and a glass of wine.
After all that fantasizing though, all I really want to have is dark chocolate and bacon. Oh, and the occasional sweet potato. Oddly enough, those are the only things I really missed. And maybe a Lara Bar, especially their newest flavor, Blueberry Muffin.
So, what did I get out of this challenge? Well, I learned to appreciate food more. Not in a "you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone" kind of way. More like I know how to fuel my body better and can save those special treats for something really special not just because it's Monday or Friday or Flag Day. I also appreciate the way food tastes now, especially fruits and vegetables. When you go this long without having any sugar taking a bite of a carrot tastes like candy!
My body composition has changed slightly. My legs and arms have slimmed a bit, which is a nice benefit. I've lost inches, but can't tell you how much since I forgot to take measurements before I started the challenge. I only know this by the way my clothes are fitting me.
My skin is glowing, even during "that time of the month", with nary a blemish. Usually, around "that time" my skin can look a little dull and tired. Not so this month. And despite all my fantasy hankerings, I'm completely satisfied with what I'm eating.
Beyond all of that, the best thing was that my kids decided for themselves that they would do their own challenge, albeit a 14 day one. Still, that's a long time for young ones who are used to having a treat once a week. We've gone out to eat and they passed on the sundae that comes with the kid's meals, instead opting for fresh fruit. They've tried organic mixed greens; wrapping the leaves around their grass-fed steaks to make mini wraps. When I vocalize that something filled with sugar looks good, my daughter says, "Mommy, that's not Whole 30!" They've become aware of how much sugar there is out there; covert in some things and blatantly obnoxious in others.
Sure, now I can have my dark chocolate, my bacon and the once-in-awhile off-Paleo meal or treat, but it doesn't mean I have to always have it and it surely doesn't mean I'll go crazy if I don't. Try it for yourselves. Even if it's just a Whole 14. If my kids can do it, you can too!
What began as a challenge has now become the norm.