Monday, June 03, 2013

The Day the Energy Died

In order for this series on my Whole30 experience to be complete, I unfortunately need to write about the negative times as well as the good times.   Sure, it was exciting to discover a new food adventure which opened up my imagination to some new meal ideas and recipes, but at the end of the day that isn’t what the experience was all about.  I was signing up for a healthier body, more energy, clearer skin, and better sleep.

I already mentioned that during Week One I really felt my energy wane…like, REALLY wane.  To the point that I was barely making it through a work day before coming home and almost immediately passing out on the couch.  My workouts suffered and my evening sleep suffered.


In reading through the It Starts With Food book and checking the forums on the Whole9 website I learned that this energy zap is not uncommon and was just due to my body adjusting to the extreme clean eating.  Everyone convinced me that more energy was just around the corner.  Great right?!  Since that was one of the reasons I did this in the first place I sucked it up and waited for the fun to begin.

By week three I still wasn’t feeling much better…I wasn’t going to the gym at all…just taking a few longer walks with my dog…and I was still needing a lot of extra sleep.  (Thankfully my sleep had gotten much better by this point.)  After talking to a nutritionally knowledgeable co-worker I decided that the lack of carbs (outside of fruits and veggies) was doing me in.  She suggested that I start adding even more yams, carrots, beets, and other carb dense veggies to all of my meals…in addition to the main daily baked yam at breakfast.  I fully agreed with her and gave that a go. 


I felt like it worked for a couple of days, and while some of my energy returned my mood went down, down, down.  By that third weekend I was SO incredibly cranky, and felt downright blue.  What an awful feeling!  I had definitely hit the ‘wtf am I doing this for’ wall!  I just faked my way through a couple of days, and told Michael that I wasn’t going to be very good company.  When I wasn’t just irritated by life, I felt sad and depressed.  I came thisclose to quitting on Day 21…those feelings sooooo were not worth it.

But…my desire not to quit ended up trumping those blues and I pushed on.  It took a couple of days for that mood to pass, but it did pass.  I never did feel super-duper-awesome after that, but at least I wasn’t ready to cry or kill at the drop of a hat.  It was not a pleasant emotional place to be.

By the time I got to the final days of my Whole30 experience I did start to feel better…and maybe if I’d gone an extra week or two things really would have turned around for me…but maybe not.  As soon as I started off-roading by adding a bit of bread and cheese back into my diet I really felt my energy kick back in.  (Of course, that came with the trade off with the effects of cheese and bread!)

So now, two weeks out of the W30 haze, I do know that there were GREAT things about the program and so much that I do want to incorporate into my life.  I still haven’t brought back legumes, and probably never will…I’m enjoying being relatively pain-free.  And I can tell you that gluten makes my face break out, and too much dairy upsets my tummy.  Those things are certainly worth addressing.


Now that my emotions have levelled out and most of my gym mojo has returned I will be spending some time getting things figured out, so I can do what is right for me and my body.

I’d love to hear from anyone else that had this kind of experience with Whole30, or while transitioning to a Paleo diet.  Drop me a comment or an email, please.

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Anonymous said...

I am now on Day 30 and between my 3rd and 4th weeks I definitely had that feeling. I think it was Day 22 and all I wanted was a big chocolate brownie. I also started getting headaches and realized I needed more starchy carbs. I had half a sweet potato in the morning with breakfast and it made all the difference. I am going to stay Paleo as much as I can, and probably do another Whole30 in the future. I definitely miss heavy cream in my coffee!

Christy said...

Wow I find that really interesting about the legumes. I've always wanted to try this type of eating to see if anything I eat affects me negatively (seems like I have had low energy forever but then kids will do that to ya ;)). I'll have to look into this more and maybe give it a go, might be easier knowing what is to come in weeks 3/4

Chef Heidi Fink said...

Hi, Jaime, I've been reading all your Whole30 posts with extreme interest. You already know all about my experience with this diet - very similar to yours in terms of the energy vacuum :( I think it's a great idea to do a diet like this in anay case because you can often find out what foods are not working for you, and that's different for every person, and different as the years go by.
I don't think this is, or will ever be, a magic diet that works for everyone. Some people do well on very low carb diets, others need high carbs! Some people thrive on fruits and veggies, others have to eliminate most of them because digestive distress. Some people digest beans or dairy like champs, others do not.
Things I have noticed for me - dairy and wheat are fine in moderate amounts, as long as they are fermented (levain ferment for bread, cheese/yogurt/kefir for dairy) and I give myself 1 day off every week; sugar is fine as long as I am exercising; and the best possible thing for my personal health is to eat large meals spaced apart by 4 hours and NO snacks.

Chef Heidi Fink said...

ALSO - you know I tried this for 57 days, because I kept thinking it would get better! Hot tip: it never did.

JavaChick said...

I've not done Whole 30 but did experiment with cutting out wheat & dairy. I went hardcore for 2 weeks, then after that I mostly stuck to it for about 6 months, except the odd time when eating out and I didn't want to worry about it.

I was hoping for more energy, less bloating, and that it would clear up my eczema. It did clear up my eczema, and I lost about a pound a month without feeling like I was restricting (you know, aside from the fact I was avoiding wheat & dairy).

I did start eating wheat & dairy again, and I haven't really noticed any major differences, unless I overdo it. Sadly, I did put the 6 lbs back on. :(

Curious about the whole beans and legumes thing, but cutting them out would be a pain since I do tend more toward vegetarianism which means I do rely on them.