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Clean eating – entry 1 (day 5)

June 5, 2012

I told myself I’d blog about my Whole Nine 30-day clean eating challenge, more so for my own personal log of how I felt – physically and mentally – as the challenge progresses. Although this initial entry is coming on day 5, I will recap the last few days as well, and explain how I got myself into this. What is the clean eating challenge? In short it means for the month of June I am eliminating all grains, sugars, dairy and legumes from my diet. You can read all about why they recommend doing so here.

My gym, CrossFit Hyperformance, is hosting the challenge for the month, which entails being a member of a team, earning points and winning prizes. Pretty cool, actually, because there are some incentives as well as liability that you may not necessarily feel if you were to take the challenge on, on your own.

Dante can have sugar, but I can’t!

I knew the gym was planning to host the challenge for weeks and weeks ahead of time. However, I didn’t sign up until the day before because I was sure it was silly and that I wouldn’t be able to give up dairy. But my coaches continued to ask every day and encourage me to just check it out saying “you can do anything for 30 days…” including not drink milk. A few other regulars in my class were willing to give it a go, so I decided to take the plunge as well.

In doing so, I was called a traitor by the boy who couldn’t believe I would follow such a “nonsense” diet plan. After all, we had spent years and years talking about how stupid the paleo diet is. And there are many reasons I get annoyed with it, but it isn’t the diet, it’s the people who follow the diet and can only talk about the diet and think that everyone should eat that way. That and the people who constantly eat paleo “junk” – making things like brownies, cinnamon rolls – you know, things that cavemen were eating as well, right?!

OK, enough of that – so I was ready to get on board. I bought and printed out the Whole 30 Success Guide and went to the store to buy the vegetables, proteins and fruits that I’d need to stay clean on day 1, which was a busy “real life” day as well. I had to attend a ceremony where there was sheet cake – you know the kind from the grocery store – and that was obviously the biggest temptation, but easy to say no to on day 1. I consumed lots of cucumber-infused water, ate clean at breakfast & lunch and had a (too small) snack before having to attend a social function at a downtown bar. The social function was seemingly never-ending, and there was absolutely nothing on offer to eat that could be considered remotely clean. I’d brought a Lara bar just in case, but hoped it would end soon so we could just go out and eat REAL food. But it went on, and on, and on…and eventually my stomach decided to just eat itself. Ha, no I just lost the feeling of hunger. Around 11 p.m. we were able to break away and go to a downtown tapas bar where I got some Cuban beef satays and asparagus wrapped in prosciutto. I’d been ready to fall over with exhaustion, but felt the energy the food gave my body, which was good since we had to stay out and be “social” until nearly 2 a.m. Not as fun when you’re not drinking!

Lunch day 1: Chicken Salad with cucumber and melon (from the Whole9 Success Guide)

Day 2 was another busy day, but I got up early enough to make a scrumptious breakfast of ground turkey, sweet potato, apples and zucchini with leftovers that have continued to feed us for days! That held me over until lunch time where I had a hamburger patty (plain) around noon, and a salad around 2 p.m. (food choices were hamburger or hot dog – obviously we were at a BBQ – and I had to request “no cheese” on the burger…not easy for me to do!). That afternoon I felt DRAINED of energy. Was it the late night (I am usually in bed by 10 p.m., even on most weekends), or the lack of sugar, grains and milk? A very low-grade headache came on for the rest of the night and I slept for nearly 11 hours, just utterly exhausted.

Day 3 I woke up exhausted and felt I needed to exercise since I’d just had a rest day. So the boy agreed to go for a 3-mile run with me which was at a snail’s pace. I just felt sapped. I was so tired I actually tripped on a corner of the sidewalk and face planted on the ground. Embarrassingly enough several people saw this, and were asking if I was OK. One lady was nice enough to tell me she’d done that herself several times in that same spot, no doubt trying to make me feel better! I came home, showered, ate and still felt lifeless. I began to wonder how I would ever be able to do a CrossFit workout this week. How could I possibly muster up the energy? Then came a text message from a friend who wanted me to ride an 11-mile loop with her later that afternoon. I knew she was new to biking, but gah, could I find the energy?! Desperate, I tried something I never drink…coffee. I just hate the taste of it (but love the smell). I added the only thing I can on this eating regime – coconut milk. And you know it wasn’t awful with a significant amount of dilution. I drank it and felt better. I ate lunch and felt better still. The headache was gone, the energy was starting to come back. I felt almost normal when I headed out for the bike ride, which was at an extremely slow pace anyways, so it was not a problem at all.

Dinner, day 3: Mexican Meatza made from “The Clothes Make the Girl” recipe

Day 4 I woke up tired. Why? Because I slept extremely fitfully. I have been drinking a LOT of water – at least half of my bodyweight in ounces of water – which makes for lots of bathroom breaks, even at night. I ate an egg before going into the gym and felt somewhat decent during the workout, which was a surprise considering I didn’t get my standard 8 hours in. I felt pretty normal in the energy department but opted to try coffee again so that I could get a dose of coconut milk into my system. I noticed I wasn’t as hungry as I normally am, and when I start to get hungry the onset is slow and gradual. It wasn’t as immediate as it usually felt before I started eating clean. I tried something funky for lunch – these zucchini ‘noodles’ with egg meant to mimic a real bowl of noodles. It was definitely not the same, but at the same time it wasn’t bad! In fact, I’d definitely make them again. I made my favorite curry for dinner, just had to settle for a more watery version as it required 2 cans of coconut milk to make up for the lack of dairy (yogurt) that usually gives it a thicker base. All in all though, I was quite pleased with how it turned out.

Day 5 I again woke tired after another fitful night of sleep. I’m hoping this will end soon, as I detest lying awake in bed at night. I had time to develop theories as to why I wasn’t sleeping when I was laying there. (1) The book I’ve been reading is keeping me awake as I think about the elephants and rhinos being killed for their ivory; (2) the book also is full of orphaned animals they try desperately to nurse and save and when they die it feels so heartbreaking; (3) eating clean means my body has more fuel for energy so I’m not as tired? In any case, I purposefully finished the book today so I could test out my theories tonight. I am also planning on another workout today – a run around the same park, aiming for not tripping this time! It will maybe also make me more tired for sleeping my normal 8 hours. I guess (4) could be that I normally NEVER ingest caffeine so my morning coffees two days in a row now are still in my system for 12+ hours? That one doesn’t seem very likely. But maybe…

On another note, I’ve already noticed a significant weight loss (in my opinion) as I’m down 5 pounds over the past 5 days. That is largely a part of flushing my system out, I’m sure, but still. It’s nice to see. It is good feedback to keep me motivated. As far as cravings, surprisingly enough I haven’t really had any for sugar in the form of candy, cookies, cake, ice cream…the usual suspects. But, I definitely am still dreaming of dairy. Milk, cheese, yogurt, you name it. I grew up in the Midwest and I love dairy. I’ve been told these will likely subside soon, which will be nice, although they in all honesty aren’t all-consuming, they’re just there in the form of that huge block of cheddar cheese I see every time I open the refrigerator…I’ve been also pretty good at keeping my fruit consumption at a reasonable level. Since it’s a great “sweet craving” substitute I’ve tried to not go to it when I actually do have a craving.

So, what will the next 25 days bring? We’ll see!

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2 comments

  1. great recap, Maija! it sounds like you’re dealing with a lot of things I’ve heard folks have experienced during the first few weeks of Whole 30 – headaches, fatigue, etc. (I actually had the opposite experience with headaches; the dull ones I used to wake up with disappeared.) it’s gotta be tough to go without dairy, though. I missed my morning latte for sure!

    it sounds like you’re doing an awesome job of preparing food you like and keeping things interesting, too. I’m going to have to try out that Meatza recipe! are you finding you’re doing okay with eating more meat now?

    some Paleo advocates can be a little overbearing, and I think it’s so important to keep in mind that what works for one person might not work for another. the best thing about Whole 30 is that you’ve got an opportunity to add things back in, slowly, to see how they affect you. I learned I can eat a piece of bread and my intestines won’t rebel right away, but when it comes to chips and anything corn or bean related, I’m in trouble! and that piece of bread will definitely affect my performance at the gym. I saw big improvements while on Whole 30 and sticking to mostly Paleo seems to be what works for me. to each her own 🙂 looking forward to more updates!


  2. Thanks, Katie! I am doing OK with the meat, but I will admit it can really be hard for me to stomach in the morning. Ground turkey is a pretty neutral taste so I’m trying to find recipes with that for breakfast. It’s funny, only 6 days in and people are already asking about what I’m going to eat when I’m done. I think it will be interesting to try and see which foods have an affect on me, and which don’t, especially since I’ve never had any digestion or allergy issues. I’d like to think I will keep up the work with the nutrient-dense food and try to avoid excess grain, sugar, dairy etc. Seems like 30 days is a good amount of time to get you into new habits!



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