Monday, 29 February 2016

Whole30: Reintroduction (pt ii)

When I last checked in with you guys, I was halfway through the Whole30 reintroduction protocol, with frankly mixed results. 

I still had a couple of food groups to reintroduce and next on the list was dairy.  I was very worried about this.  The longest and most meaningful relationship in my life has been with cheese, so the thought that it might send me scurrying to the lav clutching my nether regions was a real concern. Thankfully I needn't have worried.  Dairy was all fine.  Please note that there is no cheese in the picture below.  Some things are private, like the joyful reunion that cheese and I enjoyed together*

* OK, fine. I ate all the cheese before I could take a picture, OK? Happy now? Jeeeeeeez.

The last thing to reintroduce was gluten grains.  Cue a giant scone for breakfast, followed by my mince concoction served with pasta for lunch.  All of which (delicious though it was) was a mere prelude to the coming excitement.

PANCAKES! Woo hoo! PANCAKES! Oh the joy of wheat reintroduction day falling on the only day of the year that the UK gives half a crap about pancakes.  Also to note the joy of having loving parents who are willing to cook the pancakes for you. Woo hoo!

A photo posted by @readyamefire on

And as it's the end of February, it's time to check in and see how I did on those monthly goals, which to remind you, were as follows:

PRIDE: Complete the full Whole30 reintroduction, properly, without titting about.
STRETCH: Complete at least three NTC workouts per week and swim at least twice a week
WILDEST DREAMS: Get down to 14 stone

Hmmmm. Not quite so good as January.  I completed the Whole30 reintroduction without issue, but the other two were a complete blowout.  So I'm giving myself a pass grade of C and looking forward to some new goals for March.

PRIDE: Complete the Speedo app English Channel swim goal 
STRETCH: Complete at least two NTC workouts per week 
WILDEST DREAMS: Complete at least 7,000 steps every day in March, even on working from home days where I sit on my butt all day not going anywhere.

COMING UP: Reporting back on a couple of my bigger goals for the year, including a review of my trip to Los Angeles.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Whole30: Reintroduction

In my last post, I mentioned that my first goal for February 2016 is to complete the Whole30 reintroduction properly, something that I've never done before.  So how does that work?  And why is it important?

Well, for the duration of the Whole30, you're essentially clearing down your digestive system, eliminating all food groups that are widely acknowledged to cause issues for a number of people.  These are sugar, dairy, grains (gluten and non-gluten) and legumes.  So when the 30 days are up, your system is well clear of these foods and their effects, and you're essentially a real, live, walking, talking test environment.  You are your own control group.  Pretty cool, huh?

So on day 31, you reintroduce one food group in isolation. Just one.  And you need to go to town on it a bit, really dose yourself so you can make sure that you've eaten enough of it to measure any effects. Then you go back to eating Whole30 for the next two days, so that you can be reasonably sure that any effects you experience are as a result of eating that food group. And those effects could be on your body, your digestive system, your energy levels, your mood, anything at all.  You then repeat this for each of the food groups, with the exception of sugar, because really, it's probably best not to reintroduce that at all if you can bear not to, except things like a little added sugar in shop bought ketchup, bacon or smoked salmon that has sugar used in the curing process, that sort of thing.

Now the Whole30 website recommends that you introduce the food groups in order from the least likely to affect you (legumes) to the most likely to affect you (gluten grains).  I decided that I would use one of my Whole30 staples, a beef mince chilli, as the carrier for my reintroduction, so on Sunday I ate some with a metric fucktonne of peas and beans. Oh and some peanuts, but not with the chilli, just by themselves as a snack.

Doesn't that look delicious?  Peas and runner beans and edamame. Nom.  Given that legumes are listed as the food group that affects the smallest number of people, I was not prepared for what happened the next day.

Which was when my digestive system emphatically and indeed explosively demonstrated that it does not like being filled up by that amount of legumes. BAD TIMES. Aside from the suddenness with which I went from feeling slightly queasy (not that unusual for me first thing in morning) to legging it to the loo, I was really surprised by this, as I don't recall ever having had this issue before.  But I did eat more beans than any normal human being would eat in one sitting, so I think that once I'm done with the rest of the reintroduction, I'll do a bit more experimentation with (less) beans to see if it was just the quantity that I ate.  Please note that this experiment will be done on a day when I know I'll be spending all of the following day within ten metres of my toilet.

The good news was that in one giant incident all of those legumes were *ahem* out of my system, so I soon felt normal and ready to proceed to the next reintroduction on day 34, which was non-gluten grains.  I was very excited by this as I really missed rice during my Whole30.

Oh look at that lovely fluffy rice. Delicious fluffy white rice.  Lovely lovely rice that my stomach had no issue with at all.  I also ate some lovely sweetcorn and my stomach doesn't mind a bit.  Hooray!

So I'm halfway through the reintroduction process and at the moment the score is non-gluten grains 1 - 0 legumes.  Dairy will be reintroduced on Saturday (OMG CHEESE) and then gluten grains on Tuesday (OMG gluten grain reintroduction day is on Shrove Tuesday PANCAKES PANCAKES PANCAKES!!!!).

Monday, 1 February 2016

January 2016

It’s February already, if you can believe it.  Actually, having just typed that, I’m now pondering the point, as January seems to have simultaneously zipped by and lasted FOREVER.  It’s been a month of sadness, as we lost icon after icon. Bowie, Rickman and yesterday, in the dying embers of the month, Wogan.  But January is also a month of newness, rebirth, optimism and goal setting.  And on that front, I’m really happy with how the month went.

This year, as well as setting big annual goals, I’ve set smaller monthly goals to achieve.  I’ve never been very good at sticking to things for a long time, so I think the smaller goals are a better idea for me.  Further, I have set myself three achievement levels for each month. 

PRIDE: This is the minimum that I want to achieve to finish the month with my head held high
STRETCH: Taking it to the next level, pushing it just a little further
WILDEST DREAMS: Superstretch! Go on, dream big

So what did this look like for January, and how did I do?  Let’s find out……

PRIDE: Complete a January Whole30.  A big tick against this one, although midway through the month, this result felt entirely uncertain.  I had got to around day 14 and I was ready to give up.  However, I was not ready to give up before I’d been to the first ever UK Whole30 seminar that Melissa Hartwig was hosting on the 16th. Imagine turning up there with the knowledge that you’d fallen off the wagon the day before. Mortifying.  And it was a good choice to hang in there, as I left the room full of motivation, with a picture of myself with Melissa and her signature in my copy of It Starts with Food.  Gigantic win.  

This was not my first Whole30.  I’ve done a few before and certainly haven’t finished all of them…
  1. September 2014. Finished 30 days, but epic fail at the reintroduction phase.  I chose to reintroduce dairy first and fell face first into a cheese induced coma. With icecream. And more cheese.
  2. January 2015.  Quit partway through.  A friend of mine died at the beginning of January last year and his wake was held at the restaurant where he had been head chef.  The food served was from his menu, and honouring him felt significantly more important than sticking to the Whole30 plan.  It was a definite, mindful choice and I have no regrets about it.
  3. April 2015. Epic fail. Woeful.  I went and gave blood and afterwards dove into the crisps and chocolate bars in a face stuffing frenzy of monumental proportions. Oops.
  4. September 2015. Success! (ish).  Finished the 30 days, just didn’t bother with the reintroduction.  I think I was so ready to be done with it and desperate for some of the foods I’d been craving that I just stopped.

So this was my fifth attempt at a Whole30 and I think it’s the one that has affected me most (so far!).  A lot of that is to do with listening to Melissa speak, so I’m really grateful to have had the opportunity to do that.

STRETCH: Get under 15 stone.  15 stone! FIFTEEN STONE?!?!?! Deary me, where did things go so wrong?  Last year was a really difficult one.  I found myself in a really difficult and emotional situation with a member of my team at work, which really affected me.  Aside from that, we relocated to the London office, meaning a significant lifestyle change, all with the ever present, looming threat of redundancy.  Fun times.  When I’m in a bad place, food is my go to place for comfort.  There is not a single emotion that isn’t made better by smothering it in a soothing layer of cheese.  Then a layer of crisps. Then some chocolate. And then some more crisps.  And why not make it fizzylicious by pouring some Pepsi Max with cherry over it?  Go on, you’re worth it.  So I ended the year about 2.5 stone heavier than I started it and frankly, I wasn't in tiptop shape to begin with.  WOE.  So although Whole30 is much more than a quick fix weight loss plan, there’s no denying that it’s a great kickstart to healthy eating and therefore weight loss is a cheery side effect.  Again, I can put a big tick next to this goal, as I lost a total of 11lb in the last 30 days.  WHOOP.

WILDEST DREAMS: Fit back into walking trousers. Due to being such a gigantic fatso last year, I spent the second half of the year walking Murdoch wearing tracksuit bottoms in all weathers, finding myself completely unable to fit into my walking trousers.  EXTREME WOE. The good news is that I tried on the walking trousers yesterday and although they are still quite snug, I can put them on and do them up.  WINNING.

So all in all, I’m counting January as quite a success.  And I’ve already got my goals together for February too.

PRIDE: Complete the full Whole30 reintroduction, properly, without titting about.
STRETCH: Complete at least three NTC workouts per week and swim at least twice a week
WILDEST DREAMS: Get down to 14 stone

Watch this space............