1) A post on what, if anything you learned about yourself and nutrition. I’m primarily interested in if this program affected the way you now think about food. It’s ok if it’s not.
Overall, I feel like this program changed me for the better. I can definitely say that the outcomes were not nearly what I expected going into it. My main reason for joining this program was to learn about my allergies with food, which for anyone that watched me go through the last 9 weeks knows that this played a large role. Starting this program, I figured I had some issues with grains and dairy, which I learned through self-experiment for the past few years of my life. For example, I know if I have dairy my throat swells or if I have certain grains my sinuses will swell and my vision gets blurry. So, I figured starting a diet where I removed dairy and grains from my diet will do wonders for me, which now I’ve learned isn’t true. After several weeks into the program, I still wasn’t feeling the benefits and it turns out I potentially have more food allergies than I thought. After dropping down to the Autoimmune Protocol (thanks again Eric), I started to feel a lot better but I still don’t think I feel great or am experiencing these Whole30 benefits that everyone talks about. However, I am now aware that my body has problems with nightshades of some sort and one or more of the following: eggs, seeds, or nuts. I feel like this 9 week program is just the beginning of trying to understand my body and my allergies and sadly after speaking to an allergist, who informed me that these types of allergies don’t have accurate enough testing to help, so my journey of self-experiment will continue.
Although my allergies were my sole reason for joining this program, it is not the only thing that I took out of it. I didn’t join this program with the mindset to learn about healthy food, to have a better emotional connection with food, or to kick addictions; although, looking back now, those should have also been my goals. I went into this program thinking I had a relatively good relationship with food, willpower, cravings, etc. However, it turns out I had a bad addiction to sugar and was poorly informed on what healthy foods meant. This program definitely helped me understand what was going on in my body and killed my temptation for unhealthy foods. I can proud say now that I can walk past a pizza place, see a cupcake, etc., without even being tempted to have a bite.
2) A final write-up on how things went; good, bad and ugly. Any suggested areas of improvement would also be great. This is basically a critique of the program along with some suggestions on how you would make this better / different if you were in charge.
Good – Overall, I am happy I did this program. I definitely got a lot out of it, including both mental and physical changes. Although my stomach still isn’t prefect due to all the food problems, I definitely see a difference in my body composition, even if I put on more weight. For all of you that didn’t hear the allergist story, she had me step on a scale and said my weight out loud. Turns out, I actually put on weight and my face clearly showed the shock. So, her response to my confusion was to tell me that I put on weight because of all the fat I eat since I’m paleo. J Outside of my weight, my clothes are fitting better, my skin is clearer, my hair is health and I am actually sleeping through the night for the first time in years. On a mental level, I feel more confident in my food choices and more comfortable turning people down when they offer me food or drinks.
Bad – Personally, I hated tracking my food each day, including the google doc and tumblr. It became my least favorite part of the program and was by far the part I constantly forgot to do. I also think that my understanding of the level of homework and the amount of time it would take to prepare my meals every week were underestimated. Both of those consumed a good portion of time that I wouldn’t have had if I didn’t drop other things in my life.
Ugly – I think this goes without saying but my food allergies were the worst part of this whole program. It definitely became extremely discouraging when I got to week 4 and was still going downhill. It was mentally exhausting and beyond frustrating when I would eliminate one allergy and still have problems. When I finally had enough and decided to see a doctor, it definitely sucked to hear that blood work and testing wouldn’t really help me. It also sucks not to know how sensitive I am to certain food and what my allergies actually are since I eliminated so many things at once to make the pain go away.
3) A quick paragraph on what you intend to do, nutritionally, now that the program is complete. Again, it’s ok if your answer is McDonalds and Twizzlers. Whatever you decide, what is your plan to ensure that you stay the course? “Trying” isn’t a plan
Starting tomorrow, I will start to add foods back in to understand how they affect my body. My goal is to have a better understanding of foods by the time I leave for Panama on April 18th. I’m assuming it will be relatively hard to stay paleo in Panama especially since 6 of the days I will only have access to food that is served to the group via buffet style rather than be able to order my own food. Besides potentially going off the program in Panama, I plan to keep this lifestyle. However, I will not be as strict, rather 90% paleo, allowing a treat here and there. I hated being that person in a restaurant. So, if my chicken is accidentally cooked in canola and olive oil, I am going to eat it or if the balsamic dressing has sugar, so be it. However, when I cook for myself, I will continue this strict lifestyle. So basically, unless I am out eating with friends or if it is a special occasion, I will remain paleo.
4) One of the hardest issues we face with effort is getting people to “give it a chance”. I want you to write a post that could be shared with someone you care about who doesn’t believe that this may be a worthwhile effort. On the flip side, this program may not have been worth it, and in that case, I’d like the note to explain to them why they should avoid this program.
I truly believe this experience was worthwhile even with all of the frustrations and letdowns that I had throughout the program. At a bare minimum, you will learn a lot about yourself, your addictions, your stresses and how you depend on food. It will help you go as a person and an athlete. Outside of self-discovery, you will be able to understand what you are putting into your body and what the impact is. As for the other benefits such as better skin and hair, weight loss, more energy, and improved sleeping, those are just added bonuses and shouldn’t be the main focus. However, I may just be saying that because of my experience with the program.