At the advice of someone I trust, I started to look into the Whole30 diet earlier this year. I was incredibly intrigued. Created by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig, it is a “diet” that pushes you to eat real, whole and sustainably raised foods (vegetables, meat, fruit and good fats). It’s basically an elimination diet, so you let your body “heal” while avoiding certain foods for the month. There are a TON of advocates for this way of eating, a lot of success stories, medical miracles and inspirational after photos. I instantly knew this was something I wanted to try – just wasn’t sure when.
While this is not a no-carb, ketosis diet, you naturally end up eating less carbs overall. The Whole30 encourages you to eat starchy vegetables and limited fruit. Apparently, most people who do this diet for the 30 days see a regress in their training due to feeling sluggish and out of energy. Throughout the course of the 30 days, your body shifts from being sugar adapted to fat adapted and it just takes time. Training will suffer. Running will suck.
With that said, I knew I had to be careful about when I wanted to start. For the first half of 2014, I was training to race in my first 70.3 triathlon – Musselman up in Geneva, NY. I decided I didn’t want to mess with my body and potentially impact quality training. So, I put it on hold.
After I completed the race (yay!), I was traveling quite a bit for work. Then, I was racing in another local sprint triathlon mid-August and then my birthday shortly followed. My goal was to start after that! I saw there was a big group starting on Sept 1st, so that was when I was going to do it. I didn’t have any other triathlons on the horizon and I was just gearing up to train for the Richmond Half Marathon in November. I could DO this!
I started reading my materials and the book again. I followed the experts on Instagram. I joined some Facebook support groups and read through the Whole9 forum. One thing that is wonderful about this program is there is SO much support. Tons of it. And recipes galore.
I took off the Friday before Labor Day, so I could start mentally preparing and grocery shopping. For some reason, I was incredibly nervous and anxious. I simply don’t cook very often – mainly b/c of training. I’m always STARVING after a workout and the last thing I want to do is cook for an hour before I can eat. So, I typically pick up some food from a local restaurant. This is going to require a HUGE shift in how I behave. Not only would I be eating differently, but I needed to completely change how I approach food and meals. Eek.
On Friday, I set off to Whole Foods and other natural food stores trying to buy the items on the Whole30 shopping list. I spent SO much money, but hey, it’s worth it for my health!
I created a running list of recipes I wanted to try. I started cooking. I made the homemade mayo with my immersion blender (yum!), a pizza spaghetti pie, eggs and sausage for breakfast, egg frittata muffins, tuna with a compliant teriyaki glaze and tangy cabbage slaw, etc. It was actually really fun to cook. I enjoyed it.
Though, after a while, I really started to miss my carbs. It became difficult to stomach some of these yummy recipes. I was getting grossed out by the oil and ghee that I used to prepare some of my food. I started feeling anxious. I slept really well (and actually woke up early) the first few days and then went back to my old ways. My stomach felt bloated and allergies kicked in. All signs that my body was detoxing.
At the same time, I was secretly stressing about my training. It’s been super important for me to improve, particularly on my run. This fall, I’m focused on trying to get faster at running as that is my big weakness in triathlon. I’d like to improve on my half marathon time. And… I kept reading how running will absolutely suck.
Around day 4, I had a track practice after work. My pace was sooo much slower. That is also the day the Whole30 calls “Kill All Things.” I was also an emotional train wreck that day for no apparent reason. After that practice, my running goal beat out my Whole30 goal.
That said, I am still going to use the month to try out new recipes, try to cook, avoid sugar and feel my way through how my body reacts to certain foods. Maybe I’ll do a real deal Whole30 when training dies down.