So I started the Whole30 challenge 25 days ago thinking it would be tough, but not at all impossible. I felt that I already ate pretty well (according to the mainstream world anyway). I knew that starting to eat meat would be a bit difficult since I have been a vegetarian for 4 years, but I wasn't too worried. And I was really excited to discover Paleo eating as it just makes so much sense to me.
WOW was I unprepared! I already asked a question about being hungry and tired all the time, but on top of that I have had hot flashes, muscle aches, head aches. I've also been really grouchy (my husband and kids are getting a little fed up :). I haven't had crazy craving for carbs, but I have found that even when I feel really full on meat and vegetables I want more, more, more. I've also been sluggish and slow in my crossfit WODs, which is sad because I was making some really good progress before this change. I have gained 2 pounds (I would like to lean out a bit) - I find it very, very hard not to weigh myself as I have struggled with my weight my whole life and I'm terrified of packing on the pounds again... - I lost about 20 pounds over last year on a low-fat, high-carb diet.
I have been reading a lot and listening to Robb Wolf's podcast. I understand that some people experience these kind of symtoms as their body changes the fuel type. I've also taken the suggestion to add a lot more fat to my diet. But I did cheat so the Whole 30 is (I think) over for me. Now I'm wondering where to go from here - should I continue to eat super, super clean (no dairy, no wine, no sugar, very limited fruits and nuts)? Or should I give myself a break and follow something a little less strict like the Primal Blueprint plan? Will this "low carb flu" start to wear off soon and will I only be delaying getting past this initial hell if I relax the rules a little?
I'm not sure if this matters but I'm going through a pretty stressful time right now. My Dad is dying of cancer and I have a full-time job, a business and four year old twin boys. I usually get about 7 or 8 hours of sleep.
Any help or suggestions would be really, really appreciated. Sorry for the long question!!
Take a deep breath nnunn. You are doing an incredible job managing work/family issues and twins.
My suggestion would be to take a less strict approach right now, but I think the Primal 80/20 plan is a little too lenient.
If I were you and I'm pretty close, 39 female, crossfitting, child and full time job. I would concentrate on no wheat, no sugar, no legumes, no vegetable oils. You are definitely delaying the initial hell if you keep cheating.
Planning your meals ahead takes out a lot of the stress. If you can spend some time making breakfast for the week (Paleo omelet muffins, for instance) and lunches for the week (a soup/stew in the crockpot that will last all week) then all you have to worry about is dinner and snacks.
I know snacking is not super Paleo, but I do know it's recommended in the Whole 30. I personally do 3 meals and 2 or 3 snacks per day because I come from a binge eating background and know if I get too hungry, I make bad decsions.
I think fruit and nuts are okay for one snack per day. I also feel that if making a "Paleo" brownie, cookie or muffin (gluten free is most impt part) helps you to transition, it is many times better than giving in to bread or potato chips.
I don't believe in delaying starting a better nutrition plan until your "ready" because you will never be ready. You can do this. It's not really as hard as you are making it. Just real, whole foods, nothing processed. It'll be worth it!
OK - this is a Weight Watcher's story (from my long ago past) but it IS relevant, I promise: Our coach told us a story about someone who came to her all bummed out and crying saying, "Oh my god, I really blew it! I went to a party and I ate and drank EVERYTHING and I had AT LEAST 50 points just last night! I've really screwed up and now I don't know what to do!" Her response? "Wonderful! At least you were STILL COUNTING your points!"
So, you haven't failed. You know what you did, what you didn't do, and you just need to decide what you are going to do now. If Whole 30 is a little "too much-too soon" for you - especially coming from your vegetarian background - just "trade ponies" and try another variety of this stuff. Personally, I would recommend that you take a look a www.paleonu.com and go to the tab labeled "Getting Started". And don't be so hard on yourself - it sounds like you're going thru hell already, so just do the best you can and let it flow.
I really admire Melissa and Dallas, and I think they do great work. That said, I think the Whole30 challenge is not right for everybody.
Some people do really well on their cold-turkey super-strict approach. Others do better with a gradual process (cut out vegetable oils this week, cut out sugar next week, cut out wheat the week after that, etc.).
Figure out what works for you. Just because you "cheated" once doesn't mean it's the end of the world.
The one thing I dislike about the Whole30 challenge is that people will feel like they "failed" if they don't manage to make it through the 30 days perfectly. In reality, you've figured out what works and doesn't work for you, and now you have an opportunity to make some further changes that will work even better.
Personally, I would continue to eat clean. The low carb flu will go away eventually, and if you relax, it'll just get extended. Boosting the fats should help your hunger. However, it looks like you're under a ton of stress already. That's going to affect your losses due to the boosted cortisol (so that could be contributing to the slowness of things). It doesn't mean that it's pointless to eat cleaner, since it could be the difference between "no progress" and "bloating up like a pig".
One last note in re. "failed". I'm sure you already know, but we don't always succeed in everything we do. Take the losses and learn from them, and don't be discouraged. I see it as a pyramid. The success at the top is usually built upon a ton of failures...
I agree with everyone else; don't be so hard on yourself. Overhauling a lifetime's worth of habits, is a also a lifetime commitment, in which you've already made so much progress. Don't think of this in terms of failure, but as a moment of hesitation where you stop and find the right direction.
In terms of more practical advice, remember that low carb diets are (especially initially) diuretic. It's very important that you stay well hydrated and get adequate potassium, sodium and magnesium to feel good. Sufficient magnesium is difficult to obtain even on a whole food diet, and a protein-heavy diet also increases your body's magnesium requirement. Take 300mg of magnesium citrate, malate or any form ending in "ate" per day, preferably on an empty stomach at night. You can increase this dose, but be careful as too much will have a laxative effect. (Splitting the doses throughout the day can help avoid this). This will help you to relax, giving you a feeling of natural calm and wellbeing which will not just enable you to sleep better, but which will also translate into a more positive and stable emotional outlook throughout the day. Avoid taking magnesium with calcium as they compete for absorption. Switch to a potassium-fortified "lite salt", eat at least a dill pickle per day, include plenty of spinach in your diet (a good source of both potassium and magnesium) and consider drinking coconut water, which is a relatively low carb source of electrolytes.
Maybe low-carb cold turkey just isn't for you. Perhaps consider going back to your previous carb intake, and then ease into it by gradually lowering it 20g/day.
Sometimes, when there's a lot of turbulence in your life, it just isn't the right time to try to make drastic personal changes, especially ones which affect your physical sense of wellbeing/ability to function. If you decide to go back to eating dairy, more fruit and higher carb e.t.c. remember that this version of Paleo is still extremely healthful*, and you would still without a doubt be a lot healthier than 99.99% of the population.
*It's also my personal way of eating! ;)
It seems like we see so many cases of people making themselves miserable by drastically changing their macronutrient consumption. From my experience, and those of many others, I'd say this is just not necessary.
Carbs are not, in themselves, bad for you. Yes, some people seem to benefit from removing them, but it frankly strikes me as bad advice to get everyone doing this when they first go paleo. So many people feel like crap and give it up.
You have plenty of time to change other things down the road. For now- focus on eliminating gluten, refined sugar, obvious junk, and franken-oils, and up your healthy fat-intake (but perhaps not going overboard- that seemed to cause some issues for me). Don't worry about fruits and nuts, unless you're prone to binge. Dare I say, eat some potatoes! I'm pretty sure this will make a huge difference.
You have all your life to tweak your diet from there. Yes, some people are seriously addicted to crap and going cold turkey in some way may be the best way to go, but eliminating all those things I've mentioned is already a ton for most people.
I don't know if this will help you but when I first started on paleo I found it very helpful to snack all day and on anything as long as it was grain-free and not some processed garbage. I hadn't even learned yet what omega 6's were and I didn't worry about the sugar in fruit. So I'd snack on nuts, any kind of fruit, cheese, salad, tuna, meat, avocado, etc. A couple of weeks later I had for the most part lost the desire to eat in between meals. Then as I learned more about paleo I started limiting fruit and basically cut out nuts but you may also find these snacks are very helpful for transitioning.
In other words, I don't think you should leap to the "no grazing" part until your body is telling you it's ready for that. If you're hungry in between meals - eat! Just eat good, real, wheat-free food.
You are doing crossfit. How many carbs did you eat per day, roughly?
Paleo doesn't have to be very low carb. If I kept up with my barbell/kettlebell/sprint routine and didn't have some starchy carbs, I would be a paleo faileo also. I eat lower carb on rest days, but get plenty of glycogen restoration several times a week. There are plenty of people out there who need moderate carbs - especially if doing workouts like crossfit.
If you are tired and hungry all the time for weeks, something doesn't sound right. How many calories were you eating? If you were eating low carb, did you eat enough fat? Anyway, my 2c is:
- Add starchy paleo carbs on workout days, post-workout, whatever you like.
- Lower carb OK on rest days but in that case you have to eat at least 60% of calories from fat! Track to make sure you are getting this. If you are eating chicken breast and spinach, that just isn't going to work.
If you find the withdrawal is too much, then do it slowly.As has been said before,you are undoing a lifetime of bad eating habits and damage to your body.It won't be easy,or quick.Keep active,but don't push yourself too hard at first.Pick the food you have the most problems with, and get rid of it.Give yourself a few days to recover, then start on the next one. The biggest thing I had to get used to was being able to eat real amounts of food, after 20 years of counting calories.If you are really hungry, then by all means, EAT EAT EAT!.Your body is telling you it needs something.Just learn to make real food choices.You feel like you need chocolate?Freeze coconut milk and unsweetened chocolate in a bowl.Potato chips?Green plantains cooked in animal fat or coconut oil.There are so many delicious alternatives out there to SAD foods..broaden your horizons and you'll never miss the old stuff.
Thank you all so much for your encouragement and advice. I am just amazed at how welcoming and positive the paleo community is.
So this is what I'm going to do:
1) Breath deeply :)
2) Be gentle on myself and look at all I've already achieved
3) Eat real, whole food focusing on meat, eggs, veggies, fat (I'm going to limit fruits and nuts for awile)
4) Listen as closely as I can to my body and eat when I'm hungry and stop when I'm full
5) Add more fat to my diet
6) Have some wine on the weekend :)
7) If I still feel tired and hungry in a couple weeks I'll go get some blood work done.
You all have no idea how much it means to me to hear your encouraging words.
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