On April 25th I started a Whole30 challenge (see this post) with other members of CrossFit Giant box. On May 25th we just completed the challenge. I just delayed writing about it, as was waiting to get my certificate for completion from the coach and the team leader.
It has been a very interesting experience to see and feel all the changes in my body during these 30 days. As part of the challenge, we had to exercise regularly and eat according to the guidelines of the Whole30.
In short, all processed foods, additives, grains, legumes, sugars have been cut out of our diet.
For the past year I have been following a diet that is mostly paleo, with the exception of dairy and some grain free desserts. By cutting out completely all dairy and sugars, except very limited fruit, I experienced major benefits.
Due to the fact that I return home late after work, I had to plan the meals for the week and cook as much as possible on Sunday afternoons. This was not an issue as it meal planning and Sunday cooking sessions have been a part of my family’s life for quite some time, in order to be able to keep up with our busy schedules. Even eating out was not an issue as I was always able to order some grilled steak or fish with a side of steamed veggies or salad dressed with olive oil and vinegar.
The challenging part of the Greek Pascha (Easter) was that it coincided with the end of the first week of the challenge. Pascha is the biggest / greatest celebration in the Christian Orthodox faith. The week before Pascha is the Holy week which is a strict fasting period (along with the Great Lent before it). Strict fasting, for the Christian Orthodox faith, means that no meat, poultry, fish, dairy, eggs, and wine is to be consumed and most days, not even olive oil. In traditional Greek cuisine, the Lenten recipes rely on the consumption of grains and legumes during the Lenten and fasting periods. Well, this sure was a challenge! I had to get the creative juices flowing and come up with a Lenten menu that also complied with the Whole30 guidelines.
I decided to cook seafood, vegetables and tubers for the whole Holy Week.
Then, at the midnight on Holy Saturday, we celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the fast was completed.
The menu for Pascha Sunday followed the traditional customs: roasted baby lamb, roasted potatoes, lettuce salad, red dyed eggs and cheese and tsoureki for guests that were not following this diet.
After Pascha, my meal planning fell back to its day-to-day routine. It was pretty easy to plan my family’s meals and cook according to the Whole30 guidelines. I also continued to work out 3 times per week.
Specifically towards the beginning of the challenge, I found it a bit difficult to tame my sweet tooth and not allow myself to give into dipping into some ice-cream or other sweet indulgences… I wasn’t even allowed dried fruit! After a week or so, my cravings tamed and this was no longer a temptation. I guess your body can become accustomed to anything you set your mind to… mind over matter!
At the end of the challenge, I had lost 7lbs, and went down one dress size.
I felt that my body had started to rid itself of toxins that accumulated inside me as a result of everyday passive eating. The most monumental outcome was that I had a lot more energy and clarity after completing the Whole30 dietary challenge.
After completion, I decided to take a break and see how my body would react to my old eating habits and proceeded to eat the way I did before starting Whole 30.
I can report that I neither gained nor lost any weight during this transition but I am definitely feeling more sluggish compared to how I felt during the challenge.
Maybe I should start another Whole30 soon? Food for thought.