So a little over a month ago I FINALLY decided to get a little serious about my diet. It helped that the gym I’m going to started up a month long Whole30/Paleo challenge. I actually wasn’t going to participate, but figured if I was ever going to do something I needed to start ASAP instead of constantly putting it off like I had been doing.
I started early, since at the end of the first four days of the gym’s challenge was a Half Marathon I had scheduled. The last thing I wanted was to be in the midst of detox during 13.1 miles!!! Even though I began early and got through some of the harder detox days early, my Half Marathon wasn’t great anyway. I probably wasn’t eating enough food at that point because my gym workouts were tough too.
About 2.5 weeks in I ended up increasing my calories while trying to get enough protein, and since I was trying to keep my Macros at some specific percentages I also ended up increasing carbs and fat as well. Thus, my overall calories per day went from about 1300-1600 up to 1700-1900. After about a week (so nearly 4 weeks in) of eating this much my workouts began improving, as have my runs. I feel stronger throughout, rather than weak and shaky as if I were fasting. I had NO IDEA I could (or should) eat so many calories in a day.
I was really concerned with eating so much, especially when I saw the scale creep back up a couple of pounds. But after two weeks of eating higher calories the weight started to creep back down – slowly, but at least it was coming back off and I can see some small physical changes as well as a difference with how some of my clothing fits. So realizing that I have never probably eaten enough while “dieting” was one of my biggest revelations during this challenge.
Another one of my big revelations was that I didn’t have to eat salads all day every day to get enough vegetables. I probably should eat more vegetables, or more variety, but I’m happy trying to fill my plate with something other than salads. I can’t stand salads… they are so boring!!
I noticed some good changes since starting the Whole30. Very quickly I began sleeping better most nights – not necessarily deeper sleeps but when I would wake up I could easily get back to sleep, which wasn’t the norm before Whole30. Even with adding a Bulletproof-type coffee drink in the mornings my sleep was still better. Very quickly I noticed a lack of puffy, bloated feeling all over. This puffiness came back after eating a “compliant” Zaxby’s salad, and lasted a couple of days. My skin feels “tighter” – I guess as if some of the sagginess is going away, especially in my abs, legs and even my face. One major thing I was waiting on was my breathing. Even through the entire first month my breathing still felt “off”, like it tends to do when I’m stressed, not working out, or eating too much sugar. Finally, after 5 full weeks my breathing feels more normal and my chest feels less like I have an elephant sitting on it crushing me.
When I read “It Starts with Food” (the Whole30 book) they mentioned that some people take longer than 30 days to really see big results. I would have to say that my biggest, most obvious results (probably only noticeable to me) came either during or after week 4. If I had stopped at exactly day 30 I would have missed out on things that meant the most to me for progress. This tells me that Whole30/Paleo needs to be more of a lifestyle for me rather than just a short little challenge. So there won’t be a deluge of re-introduction of tons of things suddenly now that the gym challenge is over. I may introduce a couple of things, but will be more focused on continuing to eat healthy while tweaking my macro percentages to encourage muscle building (and hopefully fat loss) rather than being worried about what foods I can add back in.
As for my measured physical results. They were definitely NOT what I had hoped for. What I really wanted was to see some additional muscle gain. I lost 3.8 pounds, equating to a drop of 1.8% in bodyfat which I guess any fat loss is good. Unfortunately I lost .65lbs of muscle so I am going to have to work at putting the muscle back on and adding to it. So, for the next 2 months I will be following Eat To Perform’s program and see how my results are after two more months. Hoping for some added muscle, better performance, and additional fat loss.