Oh my goodness! I can't think of a intelligent or clever way to start this post because I am kind of crazy excited about finally being here...day 30...of the rest of our lives.
Just a quick recap if you haven't read the posts from the beginning....For the last 30 days my family and I have been eating only whole foods, grass-fed meats, veggies, fruits, nuts, and healthy fats such as coconut oil, olive oil, even bacon fat. We have not eaten any processed foods, grains, legumes, soy, dairy, or seed oils. We jumped into this diet change with an all or nothing approach based on a program called Whole30. (I want to say real quickly that this is not the approach that is best for everyone. Some people really rebel against such a structured set of rules. If that is you I encourage you to take baby steps to meeting your nutrition goals. I'll post more on this concept soon.)
Levi and I have had several discussions about what this post should cover so this is a combination of his and my experiences along with what we observed through our kids. I am working on getting Levi to post on here soon to give a man's perspective. Make sure you catch that post because it is sure to be entertaining.
So here we go...
What were our expectations were before we began?
My biggest expectation was to gain some weight. I honestly expected Levi to push back and cheat a bit (with food...just to clarify). I thought the food was going to suck. I have never been a meat lover. I am a protein shake kind of girl and had a hard time wrapping my mind around eating so much food.
Levi expected to lose a lot of weight just from cutting out the gallons of Monster drinks, sugar-filled coffee, and Dr. Peppers. I think he also expected the food to suck mainly because of all the weird veggies on the menu. And he was very unhappy about having to give up peanut butter.
What things have changed?
Let's start with weight because it is the easiest to measure. I was very surprised by losing weight despite increasing calories, fat and protein by a TON. I need to sit down and find out exactly how much I have increased these things but I am sure I have more than doubled my intake of each. My daily eating regiment consisted of a protein/wheat grass shake for breakfast, Greek yogurt and almonds or triscuits and hummus for lunch and a normal American dinner ranging from the lean tilapia and veggies to pizza.
I feel a little nervous about posting about my weight because everyone hates the skinny girl, especially the skinny girl who just got lucky genes. But I know there are others that might be in the same boat so here we go. I started out weighing 115 lbs. I am 5'7'' so that is already technically underweight. I wanted to gain a few pounds because I felt puny and weak plus bony isn't exactly attactive. You are not supposed to weigh yourself throughout the Whole30 but after a customer asked me if I had been sick because I looked like I had lost a ton of weight I went home and stepped on the scale to find that I now weighed 110! Yikes. That really scared me and I considered right there and then stopping this crazy way of eating. Instead I increased my fats...a lot. I started eating 2 avocados a day, doubled up on my coconut oil, ate almond butter and Sunbutter often, added coconut cream to my coffee, snacked on nuts and coconut flakes, and added sweet potatoes into meals often. My weight started to go back up. I'm at 113 right now but I don't feel puny and even though I'm still underweight I don't feel like I look bony. I need to also note that I haven't worked out at all in the last 30 days and I am confident that once I start some muscle building exercises my weight will improve even more. If you are naturally thin I really suggest paying attention to that scale and mirror. I am usually the biggest proponent of judging your weight based on how you feel and look but I am really glad I saw those shocking numbers that spurred me to take action.
Levi's weight loss has been the most dramatic. I'm not going to reveal his numbers...I'll let him do that if he chooses to. But his weight loss is definitely obvious. His pants do not fit him any more and his belts aren't helping much at all. The majority of his weight loss happened in the first 2 weeks and then seemed to slow down drastically. I think he is disappointed in the decreased weight loss lately but I am a little relieved because healthy weight loss is about 1 to 2 pounds a week. Recently he actually has cut out all nuts and nut butters (which are his favorite snack) to see if that jump starts the weight loss again. We will see.
We never weighed the kids. It is hard to judge kid's weights because they are always growing and changing. But just to be safe I increased their fats when I increased my own.
One of the biggest changes has been our energy levels.. Most days, before paleo, I would hit a brick wall around 2pm. Now I go go go all day long and never even really think about my energy levels. I love that! I feel more productive and focused. I am really excited to start working out again and feel confident in my energy levels keeping up.
Once again Levi's results were more drastic. I cannot stress enough how much he lived off of pure sugar and caffeine before paleo. It was how he survived the sometimes 20 hour work days. He just looked tired all the time. Even I would offer to bring him a Dr. Pepper or coffee regularly if I knew he was going to be working late. But now 30 days later he is completely caffeine free and has more energy and focus than he did after a day of 2 Starbucks Trenta (that is the super huge one) iced coffees sweetened and with half n half, several refills of Dr. Pepper, those "healthy" energy shots, and sugary Monster drinks.
We have also made sleep a bigger priority in our family. I think it was a Chris Kresser podcast where I heard that if you miss one hour of sleep 4 or 5 days in a row your body will respond as if you missed an entire night of sleep. This affects everything, our adrenals, immune system, energy level, even cravings. So we are committed to 8 hours of sleep as often as possible. This means turning off the TV and going to bed even when the show is really good.
I'm not sure the kids have any energy level differences. But I have noticed they have a much better level of focus. Jack has always been in his own little world but lately I feel like he hears me and follows through with instruction sooooo much better. This really is a huge noticeable difference. Even when doing homework I have noticed he is more willing to take the time to do it right instead of just doing it fast. Addie's life consists of tea parties and dress up so I haven't really noticed a change in focus or drive but then she has always thrown the best tea parties so there was never much room for improvment.
We are all just generally feeling better too. My constant headaches are completely gone. That in itself is worth going paleo. I lived off of BC Powder and aspirin just to function and even then the headache was still pushed back but not gone. Constipation is no longer a problem in this family either. It isn't a pretty subject matter but man is it important! If you don't poop you feel like poop. Jack used to take Miralax every day just to keep things moving and we haven't used it once in the last 30 days! All of our tummies are feeling so good. We don't have puffy, upset, crampy, nauseous bellies after eating any more. These are all things we just lived with and considered normal. It is very exciting to know that it is no longer our norm
JOY! LOTS AND LOTS OF JOY! This aspect really came out of left field. I would never say we were unhappy. But I cannot express how much more absolute joy I find in all things. I find myself smiling a lot. I feel like I find delight in my kids more than ever before. And even though I am busier than ever before I don't feel like the busyness is a burden. This is true for Levi too. I don't want to share too much but he was not in a great place just a month ago. I could notice it but I chalked it up to work stress....which much of it was but it was affecting his outlook on everything. He told me last night as we were reviewing the last 30 days that all of that feeling or actually lack of feeling has just seemed to go away. I knew this. He walks differently...kind of bouncier, but in a manly way of course.
The kiddos are once again harder to judge on the joy issue. I wouldn't say they have more joy necessarily but they do seem more content. Both of our kids usually have to be made to play outside but lately they have both enjoyed hours of running around getting all gross and smelling like little wet puppies. They haven't been so whiny lately either. Their little moods seem more even and not so up and down with the exception of when they get a treat and then their behavior change is very noticeable.
I don't want to give all the credit for this joy to food. To be honest I really feel like the majority of this happy/satisfied feeling comes from changing our focus to choosing what is REAL. To us REAL is God our King, Jesus our Savior, and the Holy Spirit our guide. REAL is our family. REAL is our relationships with others. REAL is our health. REAL is our purpose. By cutting out all the notREAL (this has included excessive shopping, reliance on quick fixes, unhealthy goals) we have made more time and energy for the REAL. I'm am not a preacher and I'm a lousy disciple most of the time but I will not fail in giving the glory for all my successes, happiness, diet or otherwise to my God who I desire to please with my life.
In what ways has paleo sucked?
There is definitely a learning curve when making such a big change to your diet. We had to change our focus and understanding of foods and this was not easy. It took quite a bit of time for me to wrap my mind around no longer eating grains. Then once I had it all "figured out" (as if that ever happens) I was missing a few important details. I had the food figured out but was missing making it work in our schedule, our small town, and within our budget.
Who in the world has all this time to be cooking??? I don't. I nearly made myself miserable during the first two weeks by constantly cooking. Levi and I were just baffled at how a family with both parents working full-time (I don't really fit in this category because I work mostly from home) could do this? Where would they find the time to prep, cook, and eat these meals when they are gone the majority of the day and tired when they get home? This conundrum gave me a mission to lay out a quick meal guide to be able to share with others. I won't give all the details now but hopefully it will be available soon. Working on this has helped me so much with our family's time management and meal planning around our crazy schedule. I am still cooking but at least not living in the kitchen. (I'm not dead in there either...just for clarification.) For those times I am in the kitchen I like to utilize that time by learning and feeding my spirit. I really encourage you to not give in to turning on the TV but to find a good podcast or praise music to listen to. There are many church's out there, including my own, that upload the weekly sermons. Or listen to a paleo podcast, or turn on some awesome music and move. When I made cooking not just about cooking I started to love it and look forward to it.
It took about 2 and half weeks before I realized that we couldn't keep driving to Whole Foods all the time. First of all, I want my money to go to my community. I'm pretty sure Fairveiw and Rockwall can take care of themselves so I'd rather help Greenville prosper. This is a big deal for me considering I own a business in Greenville and would like others to have the same focus. My goal now is to spend 90% or more of my grocery budget in Greenville...more specifically between the Sunshine Shoppe, Brookshires, the Mexican market downtown or the Farmer's Market.
Unfortunately, our sweet town just doesn't have everything I want. My biggest example of this right now is organic greens. I can't find them anywhere in Greenville. I am trying to overcome these challenges by stocking what I can in my shop but we are oh so small and running out of space. I dream of expanding and doing a whole foods market...ahhh someday. Put that in your prayers.
We are now officially broke. Maybe not broke but we have a whole lot less money than we used to. I don't even want to tell you how much I have spent on groceries this month but I will say that it is way over $1000, probably over $1500. AUGHHHHHH! This cannot and will not happen again. We are a family of 4!!!! How did we eat that much money? Well, I'll tell you. I was not paying attention to the prices. I was just overwhelmed by cutting out all the foods we were so addicted to. I spent way too much money initially on buying organic produce that is not on the Dirty Dozen list. I was also so excited about learning how to cook meats that I planned all these extravagant meals of lamb, $20 steaks, fancy fish that I had never heard of but the dude behind the counter swore it was exactly what I wanted. But no more! We are all about the ground beef, roast, sausage, and chicken now. Maybe I'll throw in something special if there is room in the budget. I'll post very soon on what our budget is going to look like and what that means in terms of meals and groceries.
One very important way that Paleo has not sucked at all is in the deliciousness of the wonderful food! Maybe we have been lucky but we have only had a couple of meals that weren't awesome but still edible and enjoyable. I have been amazed at how much I enjoy the taste of grass fed meats. Like I said earlier, I have never been much of a meat eater. I even thought that it is what caused much of my tummy trouble. But I love meats now! And what is even crazier is Levi loves vegetables! He used to hate sweet potatoes but now he eats them almost every day!
What do we miss the most?
I'm a little embarrassed to admit what I miss the most because I don't want you to think I have a problem. But quite honestly I have missed wine the most! Paleo allows for wine...Whole30 does not. I love to drink a glass of wine while cooking or after the kids are in bed and Levi and I are just hanging out and talking about our day. So I am thrilled to add that little treat back into my life.
Levi misses Dr. Peppers the most. This is not surprising in the least.
We all miss pizza like crazzzzzzy!!! I will be experimenting very soon with paleo pizza. I hear it is very messy but in my experience I have learned that messy just means more fun.
This was a massive post and I appreciate you sticking with me on it if you made it to the end. I also want you all to know how much your sweet comments, messages, and facebook "likes" mean to me. I'm thrilled my little blog is an encouragement. You are all an encouragement to me. It is a lovely thing to be a part of a community of people that care about what is REAL.