The Aftermath of the Whole Foods 28-day Challenge

A big focus of my life and my blog for more than a month was the Whole Foods 28-Day Challenge. For those 28 days, I went without meat, dairy, oil, and refined sugar. Except for a few small lapses, I was true to the diet.

It was incredible at first. I lost three pounds in the first week. I felt better, leaner, and I stopped craving sugar. On the downside, I was tired. Not I-have-2-boys-and-don’t-get-enough-sleep tired, but exhausted tired. I would start nodding off at 9 p.m. instead of my usual 11. On days I exercised, it would start falling asleep at 8.

Once the diet was over, I had decided I would work oil, fish, and eggs back into my diet. I wanted to keep up with most of the dietary guidelines and slowly add just a few foods. One thing I promised myself was to not jump feet first off the vegan wagon. A strange turn of events landed me in New York the week after I ended the diet and not only did I jump off the wagon I jumped into a vat of beef.

I went crazy. I started out saying I would be vegetarian instead of vegan so I could have a grilled cheese with roasted tomato mayo from the 48 Lounge. I would show you a picture, but I ate it too fast!

Country Pate at Gramercy Tavern

It went downhill from there. My friend and I went to the Gramercy Tavern and ordered a dinner of meat. Really. Other than the hint of greens, our meal was all meat. And it was fantastic. We had sweetbreads, pate, a fish cake, and the world’s richest meatballs.

Sweetbreads at Gramercy Tavern

This lapse into carnivorism, didn’t wreak havoc on my stomach like I imagined it would. I actually felt great. That’s probably because I wasn’t eating enough protein during my vegan diet, not because I was a vegan.

The rest of June and most of July was not great nutritionally. The part where I felt great after eating meat only lasted a few days. Then I felt like I did before the diet, a little bloated, a little thirsty (amazing how you your tolerance for sodium changes when you eat out less and have less processed food). And the three pounds I lost? They’re back.

I think I really need to go back and embrace the idea of the diet. I need to cook more at home. Go out less. Don’t cover meat with cheese and potato as seen in the picture below. And really think about what I’m eating.

What I think I need to do is make parts of the 28-Day Challenge a lifelong challenge.

Meatballs with Fontina and Potato Puree

Whole Foods 28 Day Challenge; Why Did I Think This Was a Good Idea?

I’ve completed 4 days of the Whole Foods 28 Day Challenge and I’ve had a headache for 4 days. I’m no doctor, but I think the two things might be related.

This lifestyle change (I’m not supposed to call it a diet) hasn’t been easy. For an entire month I can’t have meat, dairy, refined sugar, or oil.

I’ve been eating mostly oatmeal, bread, nut butters, salad, and avocado, which worries me because other than the salad, the food is high carb, high calorie. Even so I’ve lost 3 pounds. I’m sure it’s water weight from not eating any processed food, but hey, I can button my pants again.

I’m not doing the challenge to lose weight. Rather, I’m really trying to get my sugar addiction under control. Not long ago, during one of pre-marathon training sessions, a running coach said that he eats something high in sugar and salt after long runs. I interpreted his off the cuff comment to mean that I needed to eat a lot of salt and sugar while training for the marathon.

So now that I’m on this new plan, I’m not concentrating on baking cookies and cakes to fuel my next run, instead I’ve been cooking more healthy meals. I made brown rice pasta (pictured above) with red onion, garlic, spinach, and mushrooms. There’s no oil in the “lifestyle change” so I sauteed the vegetables in vegetable broth. It was so good. I really wanted to put fresh parmesan, but I controlled myself and was thrilled that it tasted so good. I’m hoping I can make more good recipes.

Hopefully my headache will be gone by tomorrow and I can really embrace this lifestyle change.