I just finished up a challenge I started June 1st to spend 30 days focused on eating a strict ‘Paleo’ diet. My goal with this challenge was to eliminate foods I already knew bothered me in various ways, namely sugar. Though I did not ‘perfectly’ follow the guidelines as set out in the official Whole 30 Challenge, I had amazing results. The main result I experienced was simply this, freedom.
The freedom I experienced may confound you, you might think how can such a restrictive diet be freeing? Well, first off I ‘chose’ to take on the challenge fully knowing it would, well, have it’s challenges, but I wanted to live in the benefits it would provide me. I am not trying to become Paleo because of a belief per se, yet I chose this diet because I knew my body would respond well. And it did! Now, I just want to keep going with it to further my healing and the freedom I feel, namely that I feel great overall!
I am no stranger to this way of eating and had serious success years ago when I did the Fat Flush, though at the time did not have the drive or discipline to continue with it. I think mainly that was due to not knowing what I do now about good fats. That was the missing factor in that plan. For me, this time around I experienced greater peace regarding cravings, though I did have some. I did not crave sugar daily, though I did strongly for about a week during my period, but that was mostly just me wanting chocolate. I found that it got easier as I went along to resist things like potato chips, and real ice cream (though I did have a small cheat and had several bites one night when serving it to my kids, and it set me back big time, so I won’t be doing that again!). The coolest thing about all of this is that it really simplifies life in that I know what I can eat, and what will keep me satisfied and what won’t hurt my body and what does.
I did indeed lose some inches around my waist and hips, a half inch around my waist and an inch around my hips and lost 4 pounds. Weight wasn’t a concern for me, nor are inches really, though I was hoping to trim up my waistline a bit. I’ve been having trouble with my gut for many years now, it feels heavy in the middle even now, but it’s definitely a noticeable difference than a month ago. I started out the Paleo Challenge having had gained 3-4 pounds in a week after the sugar detox, due to consuming real ice cream 3 or 4 days in a row (not wise on my part whatsoever). I am not so much worried about my actual weight per se, but how I feel and fit in my clothes. Needless to say that 3-4 pounds made me have some tummy bloat and bulge, the very thing I have been laboring to rid myself of for years. It’s not so bad looking at my gut fully clothed, but I personally feel icky. While my main concern has not been about my external appearance, the external is simply a result of overall health. Feeling and looking better in your own skin matters because you know your body is healing itself when you can see your body shaping up nicely.
Overall I feel so much cleaner, from the inside out, eating this way. I have way more steady energy, drive and feel strong enough to work out very regularly. I went to the gym 6 days a week, 3 for yoga or pilates and 3 for lifting/interval training. I honestly felt the strength and energy to keep taking my fitness to deeper levels, yet not overdoing it. This is not something I have ever done in my adult life!
I did have some cheats during this challenge and suspected I would, and that is okay! In my opinion it’s not about perfection, but results. I had one glass of wine one night, I had some dark chocolate (which of course has sugar), I nibbled on a bit of ice cream, and I think a few times had some form of condiment with some sugar in it, such as pineapple salsa. However, in the grand scheme of things this whole challenge made me extremely mindful of everything I put in my mouth. Now I realize many things are just not worth it to me to consume anymore. I certainly don’t want to be strict in a way that leads me to failure or feel guilt any time I mess up, that is simply not the point. The whole point is to make daily choices to consume only what will benefit your body overall.
All that shared, I plan to keep on with the Whole 30 paleo challenge this month too. I am aware that several friends on facebook took the challenge as well and am hoping they’ll write in to share their testimonies too. I am also aware that there were others intrigued by this challenge and wanting to jump on board. So for those folks here we go again! Check out the Whole 30 Paleo challenge site and go ahead and get started.
A few tweaks for me on this challenge will be to add in butter (which is a form of dairy, but I personally have no allergic reaction to it). I think butter is virtually crucial in a healthy diet, served with vegetables especially, it helps us to absorb and assimilate the nutrients. So if you are not genuinely allergic to butter (or have a casein allergy) then I would recommend consuming butter. It will help keep you satiated as well. I plan to include kombucha this month as well. Kombucha is initially brewed with sugar, however the sugar is there to feed the scoby/culture not you. Kombucha is pretty low in sugar and carbs so for me it’s a safe add in. I also consume such a low amount of carbohydrate foods I am still in a fat burning/maintenance zone when it comes to managing weight, so I will not fret about the carbs in kombucha. To me the benefits of kombucha outweigh the few sugars it does have. Additionally, I did allow fermented gluten free tamari last month. The plan said to exclude soy sauce, and for the most part I agree soy sauce can be a problem, however if it is fermented I do not have a problem with it so long as it is also gluten free (but use your own discretion on this one, I certainly do not plan to consume it often if at all.)
A few add ins that I plan to highlight for myself and those who plan to follow along will be consuming bone broth daily as well as fermented foods. So it makes this challenge a lot closer to the GAPS diet. My friend Ann Marie over at Cheeseslave is hosting a Bone Broth Challenge. (go on over and join the challenge, it will be fun and there are some great prizes you could win!) Bone broth has immense benefits to overall health, which is why I am adding it to this post and highlighting it this time around. If you are familiar with WAPF principles or the GAPS protocol you will understand the focus and benefits on bone broth. To me it’s becoming essential and I want to make it a daily part of my life, also as a part of healing my gut. Fermented foods supply the body with a rich source of enzymes and probiotics that are far more assimilable and affordable than any supplement or pill. I can really afford probiotic capsules and powders so I try to consume something fermented at every meal or at least several times per day to help flood my gut with all the beneficial bacteria it needs. So I will be highlighting ferments this time around as well.
I will be starting the Paleo Challenge July 8th, since I will be celebrating my son’s birthday the next two days. (can you say flourless chocolate cake!!) I plan to continue with the paleo program for the remainder of the summer and allow it to phase me back into the full GAPS protocol by September so I can continue with the focus of healing my gut. I know there are many out there considering taking on GAPS, so if you want to gear up for it and join me in September that would be great! I’ll be happy to post my journey with that as well as recipes and just overall be a support to the GAPS community out there!