I wrote previously about my fitness challenge earlier in the year with Barrecode, and my runner up prize. But it was plagued by 2 weeks of the 8 at home on the couch dealing with my menstrual bleeds, then the following 6 weeks being all sorts of unwell, either at home or recovering from iron lows and still trying to function in the wider world. The lack of exercise was the real killer, and its been great over the last few weeks to be back into my normal swing of 3-4 classes a week, but I feel like a need a bit more to ‘normalise’ me again.
So I’m setting up my own challenge for the month of July. I’m getting myself an unlimited pass for the month, and I’m going to set the challenge for 5 classes a week. But I’ve done the “lots of classes thing” before, so I’m kicking it up a notch by also making July my first Whole30.
It Starts With Food was recommended reading during the Barrecode 60 Day Challenge, and I have to say, its one of the most important books I’ve ever read. The authors, Melissa and Dallas Hartwig explain digestive health, how food is processed, stored and used by the body, and the relationship between food and overall health in a way I’d never encountered before. To say it blew my mind would be an understatement. I love their focus on eating for health not for weight or looks. Understanding how the body processes food in the way they’ve explained and our physical and mental relationship with what we put in our mouths has been a game changer for me. Changing eating habits is really hard for most people, but I found it so much easier to stick to the Challenge guidelines (which were essentially the same as a Whole30 but with the inclusion of full-fat dairy) when I understood what happened in my body and mind when I ate certain things and the mechanics behind what is a healthy food (instead of just listening to a doctor or government guidelines saying “eat more vegetables!”).
And then I had the opportunity to attend a seminar run by Whole9 South Pacific, made up of the intelligent and entertaining pair of Anastasia and Jamie. Hearing these two wise souls talk through ISWF and hearing everyone’s questions and the responses was invaluable to my understanding of health. I got so many ideas from the workshop that either weren’t in the book or hadn’t stuck, like tips on pre and post workout snacks/meals and more details on the relationship between specific foods and inflammation. If you’ve ever considered attending a Whole9 workshop, whether the South Pacific arm or any of the new Whole9 North American workshop team, just book it! You’ll get to spend a day with some very smart people who will help break down the specifics of food and how we can best use it.
The Whole30 food guidelines can be fairly easily boiled down to the following: eat only whole real foods, including some animal protein, lots of vegetables and some fat. I think even if you have a very different eating philosophy (like being vegetarian or vegan) you can’t argue with the first part – eating whole real foods underpin health in a way that packaged processed foods cannot. A Whole30 is a month long dietary reset plan, allowing your body to begin or fully heal from any diet-based damage that may have been inflicted on it in the past. Through elimination, a Whole30 also allows you to determine which foods you are sensitive to, and which foods you can tolerate in small (or large!) amounts through elimination and structured re-introduction.
For me a Whole30 poses a challenge because I’ve yet to fully give up dairy, I still eat chocolate (even occasionally making my own, thanks Sarah Wilson!), and like to use a bit of protein powder in choc protein balls as a snack, espeically before early morning barre classes. Eggs and sweet potato instead?! Argh! How will I ever get up in time! The other majorly challenging element of this is I’m doing it in July, usually a very cold part of winter where I live.
So, a Whole30. But I am making one exception to the rules. And for me its not so much an exception as a new “special populations protocol” kind of a thing. Because there currently isn’t a Bleeding disorder protocol for Whole30 like there is for autoimmune condition for example. As per usual, I’ll be making it up myself. As I’ve previously mentioned, I have green smoothies as part of my VWD wellness arsenal, and I’m just not giving them up given their benefits. But I am going to do the following to make them as Whole30 Compliant as possible – I include the fruit in my smoothies as part of my daily fruit ‘total’ (I stick to 2 whole pieces of fruit a day, this seems to produce a good balance of energy without over-storage of sugar for me), I will have my smoothies as part of a meal i.e the green and leafy part with a side of meat and a few more veggies, and all ingredients will be Whole30 compliant.
I know there is lots of other bloggers who do daily/weekly updates during a Whole30, I’m not planning to do that. You’ll get this post, plus an end post (unless something so marvellous I can’t not write about it happens!), and an end post where I’ll detail any changes. The only objective marker is a measurement, so below I’m going to include my before and after measurements from the Challenge (as I’m guessing that will be a more noticable change given I eat fairly similarly to Whole30 now), as well as a before measurement for July. But I’m also anticipating some internal changes, so I will comment on that in my ‘after’ post. If you’re interested in the kind of things I’ll be eating, please comment below and I’ll do some occasional posts/photos.
So what is with the challenges? As part of my inner path to wellness, I’m trying to do the things that scare me. As soon as I thought about doing Whole 30, inside my mind there was a bit of a fear response – no milk? What? But warm milk is so good in winter! And no butter, butter is so yummy to cook with. Is it the smartest thing to do to try and tackle a bunch more barre classes with no protein powder?. And then, for almost the first time ever, I thought, are these things honestly a concern? And really, they’re not. Given everything I’ve gone through medically, not having dairy and fueling from veggies instead of protein powder is easy. As the Hartwigs say, giving up heroin is hard, beating cancer is hard, eating well is easy. So I’m trying to use the fear as a guidepost, not something that rules me.
So, the measurements:
Before Barrecode Challenge:
Left bicep – 25cm, Right bicep – 26.5, Chest – 88cm, Waist – 75cm, Hips – 85cm, Left thigh – 51.5cm, Right thigh – 52.5
After Barrecode Challenge:
Left bicep – 24.5cm, Right bicep – 25cm, Chest – 83cm (nope, none of it came off my boobs, shopping is still difficult!), Wasit – 68cm, Hips – 91cm (all glute tone there!), L & R thighs – 51cm.
Left bicep – 25cm, Right bicep – 25.7cm, Chest – 85cm, Waist – 71cm, Hips – 92cm, Right & Left thigh – 52.5cm.
In 30 days I’ll re do the measurements. I’m not really sure if I’ll see much of a difference physically (I imagine it will be more internal differences I’ll notice), but it will still be interesting to see! Eek!