Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Diving into the Whole 30

This a post about a diet.  I want to be a better diver so I need to have a better functioning body.  I am well on my way because of this change in my behavior.  Enjoy the story - Rich

Since about mid October I have been keenly aware that something is just not right.  I  was tired, ached a lot, carried a lot of stress and had been struggling with my weight all summer.  I was beginning to "Feel My Age."  I wanted to do something about it but never could find the time.   A meme that I saw comes to mind,  "I would do anything to lose weight except eat right and exercise."  Seriously though, it was something I wanted to do but the only thing that seemed to work was binge drinking Monster Rehabs to take away the cravings.   Not wanting to dig an early grave I gave up Monsters last fall and started back on coffee.   I had it with lots of creamer but no added sugar.

I started reading a lot about how diet could be the cause of a lot of stress and anxiety along with weight gain and difficulty sleeping.  Not sure where to turn I started back to counting calories and controlling portions.

Then the Holidays arrived.  Out the door went counting calories, and I gained back the little that I lost.  The link between my stress and diet never occurred to me since I own my own businesses and stress is part of the formula. 

While on vacation at Christmas, our host, Sue O'Brien started telling my wife about a diet called the WHOLE 30.  She said that it was simple, free to follow on their website, and if you were creative in the kitchen (like I am) not all that out of the realm of enjoyment even though it seemed to be one of the strictest diets I had ever seen.  I had been reading a book called "Grain Brain" by Dr. Pearlmutter.  That book had horror stories about what  an improper diet could do to you later in life and I was sure I was on the right path to my own well being. Thing was that Dr. Pearlmutter was all about supplements and I am not a big pill guy.  He was also about gut health and that wasn't something that interested me.  

Back home and Done with the Holidays and a family time share trip at the end of January, my wife, Jill, and I started looking into the program that Sue had told us about. It looked easy to do but tough to stick to. Jill was totally for it and so, by default to keep it easy, I was too.  Jill had gone gluten free out necessity a few years back so I was keenly aware of the problems associated with trying to separate diets.  This diet was similar to the elimination diet but it took out a lot of those "Safe" foods too. 

I did my research, (and I suggest you do the same) about the diet outlined at WHOLE30.COM.  It  was super simple and although at first glance it seemed extreme it really wasn't. It did take away most of my favorite snacks, took my drinks away and reduced my favorite beverage to a cold, black, bitter mess (much like my heart) but it was simple.  The why's  and how it worked escaped me at the time but that was way above my pay grade anyway. 

Here are the Basics: 
  • No Grains - Nothing, Nada, Nilch - No Rice, Quinoa,  nothing even on the elimination diet. No grains what so ever. Period.  Goodbye bread, biscuts, crescent rolls and CAKE!!! (I missed Cake!)
  • No Dairy of any kind,  No butter, No margarines (they were mostly made with grains) Nothing.  There was a clarified butter exception to this but I didn't need it. 
  • No Legumes No beans, peas, peanuts, soybeans nor anything made with Soy. (I absolutely had no idea how many things contain soy.  Canned TUNA is made with Soy as their vegetable broth) There are a couple of exceptions that I will get to and they are all listed on
  • No Alcohol - Not even for cooking - All alcohol contains sugar and also fall under the no grain rule.  No smoking was allowed either but that didn't affect me. 
  • No MSG, Sulfites, Carrageenan - There goes Chinese take out. 
  • No Added Sugar or sweeteners of Any Kind - Including sugar substitutes. NO added sweeteners with one exception that I will get to.  It is amazing how many foods add sweeteners... some for no apparent reason. 
After all the NOs I was looking for a couple of  "Yesses" and they had a couple. You could have green beans, snap peas and snow peas even though they were technically legumes.  You could have fruit juice added as a sweetener, you could have vinegar and you could have salt.  No limit to quantities either. 

Armed with these rules I attacked our kitchen pantry, fridge and freezer.  I figured if I got it out of sight we wouldn't be tempted.  I moved everything we were not allowed to have out of the area and pretty much stripped it bare.   I tell you, after taking out all the stuff we could not have my fridge looked like the one I had in college after my Mom shopped for me.  We had broccoli and Franks hot sauce but little else.   I saved it all figuring after 30 days I would want a break and I hate wasting things.  AND my kids didn't need or want to be on it since it was mostly stuff they wouldn't eat anyway.   But It was empty.  From there I had to restock.  I took the list of stuff that was on the WHOLE30.COM shopping list and went out to the store.   I read every package for ingredients.  Did you know that corn syrup, corn oil, peanut oil and Soy are in EVERYTHING!  For those things that aren't containing the above they added sugar.   My list was simple and although it was a little more specific than this it did not have to be. 

We could eat a ton of stuff: What I ended up liking the most was the following
  • Black coffee - At first it was horrible but I learned to like it as the toxic sugars left my body
  • Nuts - We could have tons of different nuts but I had to roast a lot of them myself.  Almost all nuts were roasted in peanut oil.  We ended up going through tons of Pistachios after finding the ones with no shells. 
  • Almost all Vegetables - We loved veggies so this became easy. 
  • Almost all Fruits - Although it was difficult to find them without preservatives or added sugars dried fruits became a mainstay in our house 
  • Almost all meats, chicken, beef and seafood.   There were few exceptions.  Bacon was a disappointment.  The only bacon that did not have added sugar was the low sodium stuff. 
  • Eggs  - These were a God Send.  We boiled them and kept them ready for lunches. 
  • Tuna Fish - Once we found a canned tuna without soy or oils we couldn't have we ate this a lot. 
  • Pickles and Olives - Jill didn't like them but they helped me with Lunches. 
  • Potatoes -Yep, I was surprised by that one too  couldn't have fries unless they were cooked in coconut oil but baked they were awesome. 
  • Olive Oil -  We substituted this for everything.  Mostly oil and vinegar salad dressing and anywhere we used to use butter. 

There was more but this was the majority of what we used.   One of the coolest things was Almond Flour.. Crushed raw almonds made and amazing chicken nugget.   Olive Oil was consumed way more than normal and so was Coffee. 

So now we were ready for the final rule:  You do not need to count calories, no need to weigh, measure or portion and you can eat as much as you want of the approved foods. YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO STEP ON A SCALE AT ALL DURING THE WHOLE 30 DAYS!

The Process:

I hated coffee at the beginning,  love it now.  I absolutely CRAVED CAKE.  I dreamed about a black forest cake around day 10 and it stayed with me for about two weeks.   I was hungry a lot but not uncomfortably so.  I snacked a lot and ate a ton of food but by day 21 I could really feel the difference.  I literally felt better, amazingly different.   This gave me a level of motivation towards a diet that I had never felt before. 

The most horrifying thing about the process was eating out.  We avoided eating out except out of necessity.  We could eat almost anything but the salad dressing had to be olive oil and vinegar and we had to be super careful about sauces.  Everything is cooked in butter and oils that are bad for you.  It is also amazing how many things come with cheese on them. We traveled to the upper peninsula and this part was really difficult. But Jill and I ate a ton of nuts, fruit and meats.  Good meals, although simple. We cooked with olive oil and coconut oil. Baked a lot of potatoes and cooked a number of eggs. This diet was simple and as long as I got the mindset that people eating anything on the DO NOT EAT list were suicidal and poisoning themselves it was all good.   Truly the only downside was when I forgot to pack lunch.  You cannot find healthy stuff in a convenience store, gas station or fast food joint.  Don't kid yourself, it isn't there.  At first the thought was that it would be the longest 30 days of my life.  A week into it each day was better than the last. 

Not to get too into the details but lets just say the first two weeks were horrible on the body processes and leave it at that.    Eating healthy after all the crap that I used to eat shocked my system something fierce but I did not get sick from the flu or rotavirus so that is a definite plus.  

The Result:

Bottom line is that I would like everyone that I care about who is struggling with their weight or  "feeling old" to try this.   This program worked better than I ever hoped or dreamed it would.  I feel fantastic.  Today was the last day of my whole 30 and I now have the knowledge of what can poison me.  My stress is gone, my aches and pains are limited to strains from exercise. I have more energy and I feel mentally sharper.  Most of all I lost 18.6 lbs in the 30 days and I am under 200lbs for the first time in 5 years.  I am 28 lbs off my heaviest and my waist size has shrunk by two.   I live for results and this one changed a lot for me.   I learned a lot about my diet and what works.  I do plan on taking a couple of weeks off from the strictness of it and try some foods sparingly to see what happens.  I like baked goods, Creme Brule, Chili,  Rum, Cheese, Ketchup and sushi.  

I hope they don't kill me. 

I will take it slow since I know my tolerance to bad foods will be lowered.  I would like to clean out my fridge and pantry without wasting it.  Giving it away feels like giving poison to a friend so I would rather "take one for the team" and get rid of it through limited consumption. 

There are things that I will not go back to.  I will keep drinking my coffee black.   I won't use butter if I can use olive oil instead.   I will keep nuts on hand for snacking and roast them myself.  I will reduce dairy and keep away from ice cream.   And I will not consume sugar if I don't have to. 

Like I said above I feel great.  There is an added benefit to knowing you will not have to go through your day in pain. The weight loss is something I would like to keep working on.   I am totally stoked about that.  And I have so much more added energy I may just have to start exercising.   Let me know if you have questions.  I love talking about the success that I have had with this.