“You can’t sign up for a marathon, run 24 miles and say you ran a marathon”

What is the Whole30?

The Whole30 is a “short term nutrition reset”  not a diet. I’m not a fan of diets as they usually encourage people set unobtainable perimeters with unrealistic goals that focus very little on a healthy lifestyle. Every body is different and therefore tolerates food different. Whole 30 is an elimination diet that basically allows you to create a custom way of eating that is most beneficial for your own body. Whole 30 is a commitment to eat only real, nutrient dense, whole, unprocessed foods for 30 days. Protein, most vegetables, fruits, most nuts, and healthy fats are allowed, What isn’t allowed is sugar, dairy, grains, pseudo grains, lentils, alcohol, soy, or other processed chemicals that wreak havoc on our inflammatory system. After the 30 days you re-introduce foods like dairy and gluten and watch to see how your body tolerates it. Then its up to you to decide how often and how much your ingesting of the foods that disturb your body, as you build your intake around the foundation of the whole30 foods.

Eggs, bacon, spinach, tomato and avocado. The most amazing breakfast I've ever made.
Eggs, bacon, spinach, tomato and avocado. The most amazing breakfast I’ve ever made.

Why I decided to do it and why now.

Shannon has completed two Whole30’s and has always encouraged me to give it a try. Her past experiences have come at a time when I was heavy into a block of training and racing and it didn’t seem wise to me to drastically change up my diet. The benefit of her past experience though, was having the ability to discover new recipes, food options and or substitutes that were amazingly delicious. Oh and did I mention they were all a healthy alternative to what we would have normally eaten for dinner at that time anyway? So, I was able to experience how delicious and nutritious the Whole30 food options were, while continuing what I felt was a sustainable diet for my activity load.

Right away, Shannon noticed a big difference in the way she felt. She was sleeping better, waking up easily, there was little to no inflammation in her fingers and joints throughout the day. Anxiety levels were drastically reduced. She mentioned that she just felt lighter on her feet in everything she did. Not to mention losing 15lbs in 30 days. I’ve experienced that feeling a few times when I’ve been focused 100% on a specific event. If you get things just right, you show up to the starting line feeling like a million bucks. Seeing that just a few minor changes in diet can give have that same effect, I was very intrigued. I decided that after cyclocross nationals would be a great time for me to give the Whole30, a good solid try. I have until the end of February before my next event and I’m taking the majority of January and February away from structured training. My activity frequency will be very similar, just not as focused. And it seems like a great way to set the mind and body up for 2016 on the bike.

Here are a few things I’ve noticed within the first 7-10 days of the Whole30

First and foremost, the very best and most notable part of the Whole30, for me, is the amount of quality sleep I’m getting. If anyone ever talks to me again about their inability to fall asleep at night, the first thing I’m going to ask them about and suggest they change, is their diet. For a LONG time, I have always struggled to fall asleep. Most nights… and I mean every single night, I lay in bed awake. Eyes closed, trying with everything I have to shut the system down but nothing helps. I’ll try reading, I’ll try music, I’ll try total silence and darkness and get nothing in return. I’m not a fan of taking pills, so that’s typically my very last resort and even then, I’ve only tried it once or twice. By day two or three of the Whole30, that all changed. I’m blown away. Sleeping has finally turned in to a natural and extremely wonderful part of my life again. There have been times when I’ve fallen asleep at 8:00, snuggling with one of the kids. I’ll wake up around 10:00, brush my teeth and fall right back asleep in my own bed. THAT NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE. I was the type of person, that could take a nap in the middle of most days, but if I did, I’d have an even harder time falling asleep that evening. Now, falling asleep is as it should and always will be, simple and natural. My Circadian Rhythm is finally in sync.

Physically, as expected during the first week I noticed a huge dip in my energy.  Eliminating grains, simple sugars and dairy products from my diet and focusing specifically on fruits, veggies, healthy fats and protein; it puts the body in a bit of shock. As I was still experiencing the day to day activities, maybe slightly less physical due to it being the off season, my body waited patiently for some carbs and simple sugars to come down the pipe, to convert into useful energy. When that didn’t happen, there was a transition from being just a sugar burner to a stored fat burner. That lasted a few days and they were tough. Those days were long and I could have used a nap or two to ease the lethargic, lazy feeling I had going on. But as the Whole30 puts it, “it’s not hard. Dealing with Cancer is hard. Eating nutrient dense real food is not hard” and I couldn’t agree more. It was just not something I was use to at the time so it took a bit to get over. By day 11, my energy levels are feeling much better.

As I mentioned before, I haven’t had many “I NEED” cravings. Although, I do miss the occasional morning toast on Dave’s Killer Bread with Adams peanut butter. Oh and Nutella. Can’t forget all the Nutella sandwich’s I make for the kids and traditionally lick the knife clean. But most importantly, I’m not starving. There are so many options from small snacks of nuts and fruit, to nutritious and fulfilling meals that after a week of practice, it’s feeling a bit more normal to me. Plus, I love coming up with new takes on the food we’ve been stocking in our pantry of a long time now.

What’s next?

More great food, A better understanding of what my body actually needs for fuel and the continued push to finish the Whole30 as strong as we started. We’re taking this to the 30, with no cheat days, slipping of snacks under the table or bailing along the path. That defies the purpose. You can’t sign up for a marathon, run 24 miles and say you ran a marathon. I’m looking forward to the next few weeks of restrictions and dedication. I’m far from ever being hungry and we’ve been discovering new food options almost every day. I can’t with to hit the “tigers blood” days and for the final week. And knowing how good it will feel to take a huge bite out of the various nonsensical cravings I have been feeding all these years. I’m going to enjoy food like never before and yes, I’ll still eat ice cream and peanut M&M’s, but it will be totally different. And I can’t wait to write about it, so stay tuned.

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