Baring All

I plonked my wibbly wobbly stretch-marked belly (maybe NSFW, features underboob) on Instagram last night. It came off the back of a conversation with a gorgeous, sexy friend who mentioned that she had issues with her tummy. It’s a common one, especially for mums.

I spent a long time hung up on my stomach. I’ve had stretch marks (all over) for as long as I can remember but during pregnancy they multiplied by the dozen. I have weird bits of skin from where it was stretched to the obscene and didn’t quite recover. I have some lines that look as wide as they are long. I’d been with Gaz for close to two years before I stopped flinching every time his hand brushed past my stomach; before I stopped pushing it away, swallowing hard and holding my breath until he was out of the ‘danger zone’.

It’s so easy to look down at myself and see this ‘mess’ and then compare it to instagram models and “just bounced back” celebs and wonder where I went wrong. But comparison is the thief of joy (according to Theodore Roosevelt) and although he probably wasn’t talking about bellies, I can see his point. When we compare our untouched naked skin to the Photoshopped elite we stop seeing the things these soft, squishy, wondrous tummies have done for us. For those of us who are lucky enough to have been able to grow babies, they have protected new life, shielding it from the elements, giving it space to grow.

When I had my little self-love epiphany after my gallbladder issues, I promised myself that come what may I would not slip back into the habit of negative self-talk, of filtering out my flaws and avoiding the scars and marks that cover my skin. I told myself that I would use my platform & my confidence & my ‘fuck you’ attitude to normalise the wobbles and bulges, dips and bumps and lines. Despite this, despite finding comfort in my jiggles, I still hesitated before sharing. That familiar deep breath, hard swallow. Why is it hard? It shouldn’t be hard.

There is beauty in imperfection, in vulnerability, in accepting who we are and how we got there. If that means baring all and shouting “I LOVE MYSELF” from the rooftops so as to reiterate that and encourage other people to do the same? So be it.

Radical Self Love

I posted this picture to instagram at the end of May:

A post shared by Jem (@jemjabellargh) on

The general gist of the caption was that, while I don’t agree on everything my mum says & does, I did appreciate her “don’t give a fuck” attitude growing up and it helped me develop a similar approach to society’s pressures to look a certain way.

Of course, this wasn’t the full story (because seriously, nobody wants to read a blog post in an insta caption).

While that is mostly true, as I said on instagram, I have poked at wobbly bits with an element of self-doubt. In the depths of PMDD-fuelled anxiety I have questioned whether my own husband could truly love me with all my scars and stretch marks. I liked myself most of the time, but I’m not “perfect”, and I knew it, but I accepted who I was.

When I got sick in early May, and a week of excruciating gallbladder pain stopped me from eating, I dropped ~10lbs quite quickly. Any other time this would be cause for celebration, but I looked in the mirror and didn’t recognise the person looking back at me. My skin looked pale, my stomach was shrivelled up like a weird dry prune and I felt myself shrinking: the opposite of what I want to achieve. I looked like shit, and it terrified me.

I hated it. I hated how I looked, I hated feeling weak, and I hated being less ‘me’.

As I got better, I had what can only be described as an epiphany. It hit me: when I’m not ill I can run, I can lift heavy weights, I can kick arse in the dojang, and I am strong, capable and confident. Weighing 10lbs less didn’t give me superpowers, it didn’t make me suddenly more attractive or physically fit (quite the opposite in this instance).

And so I realised that if I hated myself like that, I had no choice but to love myself when I’m 10lbs heavier, when I’ve not shaved my legs in a fortnight, when I’m bloated to all hell because I’m due on, when my brain is telling me I suck because my hormones are going haywire. Merely accepting myself wasn’t enough. I accept bills, and taxes, and having to get up at 7am to get the kids ready for school and those things all SUCK. And so that caption also said something quite radical: I think I love myself.

I gave myself permission to enjoy the comedy of the wobbly belly, to celebrate the origins of the stretch marks, to find mystery in my scars. I gave myself permission to say fuck yeah, I actually look pretty good. And I’m cool with that.

Detox teas, crash diets and the gallbladder

I recently supported a short instagram campaign by the UK Fitness Bloggers highlighting the dangers of so called ‘detox teas’ and their call to use “teas for biccies, not weight loss”. Here I am post-run and covered in sweat, enjoying my ‘biccie’ (admittedly I had a cup of coffee, not tea, but the sentiment stands):

A post shared by Jem (@jemjabellargh) on

Detox teas — under brands like Bootea and Skinny Tea — claim to “spring clean” your body, “eliminate toxins”, as well as aid in weight loss.

Firstly, let’s be 100% clear here: detoxing is a marketing scam. None of these teas (or any other products marketed as “detox”) do anything for supposed toxins in your body. If your body had a build up of toxins, you would either a) be dead or b) in need of serious medical attention, because it would indicate kidney and/or liver failure.

These teas generally contain either a laxative, or a diuretic, or in some cases both. In other words, they’re designed to make you poop or pee. If you’re lucky, you’ll spend the duration of your “teatox” on the toilet shitting water or pissing it. (More on if you’re unlucky in a moment…) Yes, you’ll be slimmer at the end, but only because you’ll be dehydrated and have lost water weight. A few days of normality and you’ll put it all back on.

Crash/fad diets generally involve heavily restricting calories or eating only certain food groups but the result is often the same: dehydration and potential digestive upset. Unless you’re unlucky.

I spent last week in various states of agony. I was in A&E doped up with morphine twice:

A post shared by Jem (@jemjabellargh) on

I haven’t been on a crash diet and I sure as hell haven’t succumbed to any detox marketing, but I have had some of the busiest weeks of my career on top of running races, half marathons, training for a taekwon-do grading, kids, pets & all that entails, volunteering, work outside of the home, a wedding anniversary and general social calendar chaos. And I wasn’t careful: I missed meals to fit in meetings, and forgot to take lunch on volunteer days. I drank coffee instead of protein shakes post-workout and I fell into bed at the end of the day too tired to cook.

Like people who drink detox teas and risk crazy crash diets: I was stupid, and I was unlucky, and I pissed off my gallbladder.

When you don’t take in enough calories to meet your body’s demands, your body starts to eat itself — stored fats — for energy. This stimulates the production of bile; a liquid produced in the liver and stored in the gallbladder that helps break down fat. If you lose weight (because of restricted calories, or shitting all your food out before it’s properly digested because of your laxative tea) too fast the amount of cholesterol in the bile increases and it turns into thick “sludge” which can prevent the gallbladder from emptying properly.

Even worse, as bile salts accumulate, it can crystalise, turning this thick sludge into hard lumps: gallstones. Which, if you’ve known me for long enough, you’ll know I have past experience of thanks to a little bastard of a stone that blocked a bile duct when Isabel was a baby, putting us both in hospital for a week.

So anyway, back to me pissing off my gallbladder… when your gallbladder gets annoyed, it gets REALLY annoyed. Gallbladder pain is excruciating. Anecdotal reports (including mine) put it as one of the most painful things you can experience, and I say this having been through a “natural” birth to a boy with an abnormally large head which was PAUSED MID WAY so that the midwife could unwrap the cord from his awkward bloody neck.

I was in so much pain last Monday that I had cold sweats, I was delirious and at one point I thought I was hallucinating. I drove myself (stupid decision, don’t do this) to A&E and was rushed through and hooked up to morphine. The first time in my life an A&E visit hasn’t taken over 4 hours.

Just over a week later and (one further visit to hospital) and I don’t really have any news on my situation. My agonising pain is gone and I’m back to eating (properly!) but I have bloating, discomfort, and persistent indigestion type pain. I’m due an ultrasound at some point in the next week to figure out what’s going on, and to make a decision on whether or not my gallbladder needs taking out.

Is it really worth this pain, ill health, and potential surgery to lose a few pounds a bit quicker? Is a stupid marketing trick worth risking your gallbladder for? I was stupid, and I was unlucky: you don’t need to be.

Oh, hello February

Alright me duckies, how are we all?

You may notice that things look a bit different. I’ve gone a bit old skool, drawing inspiration from some seriously old layouts of mine. Kudos if you have been around long enough to remember the originals. I’ve not finished faffing with it but it’ll do for now. Or until I get bored. Anyway…

Been so busy plodding along in Jem-World that I’ve not thought to blog. January went by in such a blur, mostly as I hid from reality trying to forget about the massive tax bill. Getting that paid was a weight off my shoulders and I’ve been bumbling along ever since.

Some ongoing small wins though:

Having realised early on in January that I’d put on 20lbs over the past 6 months or so I decided to cut the crap and sort myself out. I immediately cut out all drinking at home except for 1) a pre-arranged wine tasting and 2) sharing a bottle of bubbly on valentine’s day. On top of that I even managed a night out complete with crappy dancing completely sober. This nicely ticks the “drink less” goal for the year (for now). Funny how telling myself to drink less achieved sod all but the minute there’s a reason to give up and I don’t even notice not drinking.

Some tweaks to my mail form site saw my rankings pick up early in January and pushing new content in that direction has seen an increase in premium sales over the past few weeks. I also released a new version of the premium form with some extra protection (CSRF specifically) and switched out the XHTML to HTML5. It’s not paying my mortgage yet, but if I can maintain this I might actually be able to stop working weekends again!

My budgeting is staying mostly on track, having a) cut down on the booze and b) cut down on eating out, takeaways etc of late. Desperately trying to maintain this as we head rapidly towards March.

In less ‘winning’ and more ‘failing’ news:

I’ve completely failed to do any training for my upcoming May marathon, which is going to leave me in a sticky situation if I don’t get my arse into gear. I’ve entered a few races between now and then to FORCE me to run (including a half marathon in just a few weeks!) but if I don’t step up my game, that marathon is going to be a long and painful walk.

My car has got another bloody coolant leak and its MOT has expired, so not only am I not able to get to the cat rescue but I can’t run errands or basically anything that isn’t within a couple of miles of home. This is leaving me feeling VERY penned in right now.

My upstairs plumbing (not a euphemism) has sprung a leak and needs fixing.

Usual life shit really – still, it could be worse. And so I continue to plod along.

I’m an idiot

Having moaned not so long back that I had let myself go with my workouts and had put some chub back on, I had a quick surge of inspiration which saw me back on the weights, which meant I dropped 5lbs or so and got back to my normal easy maintenance weight.

And then I stopped again. I’ve not lifted in weeks and I’m averaging 1 run per week. I’ve totally slipped on my diet, some days barely eating anything at all (thanks, hormones) and definitely not getting my 5 a day or drinking enough water. I also can’t remember the last time I slept well (probably related).

All of those would be fine and fixable, if it weren’t for the fact that I’m supposed to be doing a half marathon in two weeks, on Saturday 7th November. A half marathon with a 3 hour time limit, so I have no choice but run at least 2 thirds of it, which is a distance of about 15km, and the most I’ve run recently is just 10km (after which I felt half dead).

So… project survive-a-half is on. Training for a half marathon in two weeks is easy, right?

Not Giving Up (The Reality of Losing Weight)

A month ago I posted about my muddy run in London and noticing some bodily side effects:

it all adds up to a shit ton of alcohol, far too much junk food and not enough veg which ultimately means I have a lingering cold [..] and me going distinctly soft around the middle again.

Despite realising I wasn’t being kind to myself it wasn’t until last week that I a) finally got off my arse and made an effort to work out and b) stopped drinking. So a month of continued over-eating, little to no weight lifting and — I realised the other day — minimal activity of any kind as I’m not doing the school run every day. In fact, check out the disparity between June/July step counts and August (ignore May, I only got my Garmin half way through):

step-count-timeline

You don’t have to be a fitness guru to work out what the combined effects of more food and less exercise is going to be:

weight-progress

Two steps forward, one step back?

But this isn’t the end. I don’t want to just resign myself to being “a bit fatter” now. If I dwell on what I have done wrong, it’s going to drive me mad and madness brings comfort eating and binge drinking. I need to focus on, sure… I have put weight back on since March, but I am not the ‘me’ from July 2014. I can still squeeze into my size 12 jeans.

This is… no, this HAS to be motivation to try a little harder. Because there is no way in hell I’m going back to where I was before. Weight loss isn’t a one time thing where you put in some effort and bob’s your uncle. This battle is the rest of my life.

Back on track: fitness, fatness and binging

So having confessed a couple of weeks ago that I’ve been slacking off on my workouts and binging on shit food, I decided that I was absolutely going to knuckle down, STFU and get on with not-being-a-fatty again. There’s no point in me whining about ruining my hard work if it’s me that’s doing it, right? Nobody is forcing cake and (gulp!) onion rings into my face except me.

I decided I need to clock a minimum of 2 strength workouts and one run a week to get me back on track. I’m doing OK on the strength and even getting closer to my pull-up goal, although I had a bad day on Thursday where I only managed 1×5 30kg squats and then when I couldn’t lift the barbell above my head to get it in place on my back (a cheap squat rack is top of my Amazon wishlist!) I tried an epic rage lift (failed) and nearly ruined my shoulder in the process. Turns out I was coming down with a snotty cold bug. Anyway, I finished the workout there (cried) and have decide to focus a bit more on cardio this week to give my shoulder time to rest. 15-20 minutes running round the local park on Sunday, 15 minutes on the bike on Monday, and am hoping to fit in a long run tonight (mostly because I’m supposed to be doing the Market Drayton 10k next weekend!) I completed a more gentle/lighter dumbbell workout last night and my shoulder seems OK so I’ll risk the barbell on Thursday I think…

(I sometimes wonder if me making this shit up as I go along is going to end up detrimental to my health, but I take the time to warm-up properly, and take it sensibly if my body says “NO” so let’s hope not.)

Anyway. FOOD. Food. Oh my darling food. Why do I reach for the food when I’m feeling like shit? It doesn’t even make me feel better any more, doing the whole30 robbed me of that pleasure. Now I basically just over-eat, then feel like a dick for letting myself do it, THEN feel stupid for feeling like a dick because if I want to eat 3 bags of onion rings in one sitting I should be able to and fuck anyone who says otherwise. So many emotions wrapped up in what is effectively fuel for my body. I’m trying to be more pragmatic and remember that it IS just fuel for my body. I’ve started using MyFitnessPal to log what I’m eating (despite calorie counting being one of the most annoying things in the world, ever) for several reasons but mostly so that I can remind myself I do eat well 99% of the time and that the occasional bag of onion rings isn’t killing anyone, least of all me. Well, hopefully.

MyFitnessPal is also helping me track my protein intake, which I’m trying to increase in the hope that as I lose weight I’ve just put back on I don’t lose too much muscle with it. That’s the theory anyway. I’m using MyProtein Impact Whey protein powder blended with a banana and a spoonful of cashew nut butter and water for breakfast (protein, carbs, fat) and then on strength days will the end the day with the MyProtein Bedtime Extreme blended with either milk or water depending on where I’m at with my calorie count.

It’s funny, because the idea of doing this… working out, keeping an eye on what I eat etc would have made Fat Me roll my eyes so hard they’d have fallen out of my skull. I guess it’s easier to take a “nothing to lose” (ha) approach to stuffing your face when you know you’re overweight anyway.

Where I’m at with not-being-a-fatty

I have a blog post in the works about my Easter excursions with the kids, but unfortunately it needs pictures and they’re on an SD card 13 or so miles down the road, d’oh. Instead I shall ramble on for a little while about where I’m at with my lifting and running and generally not being a lazy lardarse.

So, having just joked about not being a lazy lardarse? Well actually that’s pretty much what I have been doing. I had a dip in my mood stability because of restarting the pill etc after my whole30 and this brought on the comfort eating of doom. Although that has now settled back down (mostly) 2 illnesses and 5 days in Norfolk have meant I’ve achieved a sum total of approximately 2 workouts and 1 run in about 3-4 weeks.

As a result of the comfort binging and the lack of actual movement I’ve put weight back on. I’ve not weighed myself (because it’s not going to help) but I’ve gone from nearly-size-10 to jeez-these-12s-feel-tight-again.

I don’t want my fitness journey to focus on weightloss — and this entire post probably screams hypocrisy and irony if you were reading my tweets on the F word (I don’t mean “fuck”) earlier — but I was getting to the point where I was genuinely happy in my skin and the reduction in weight was making me faster. I managed to shave some seconds off my parkrun time on the 21st March bringing me down to 28:35.

I think that if I feel happier with myself, if I feel fast and strong, then I’m going to feel better overall and with my mental health up and down like a yoyo at the moment anything is better than nothing.

And it all came crashing down

After a positive end to the whole30, which I carried on for several extra days, I had planned to implement a sort of 5 days on, 2 days off approach to clean eating. Eat well Sunday-Thursday, ‘treat’ myself on Friday and Saturday. This worked as planned at the beginning of the weekend, when I gorged on sweets and pizza on Friday (and quite a lot of alcohol) but the problem came on Sunday when I was supposed to get back on track. Not only did I fail to plan properly on the Sunday, but this carried on into Monday (when I had indian takeaway) and Tuesday (when I had a mood crash so severe I ended up off work and having a panic attack).

I’m not sure if it was a culmination of various different factors (including general exhaustion after spending all Friday night boogying) but it may be that I can’t handle a 5 on 2 off approach, and need to do all or nothing. My concern is that if that’s the case, I’m going to end up with “nothing” and I’ll be a lardy arse again in no time.

On the flip side, reintroducing carbs appears to have done wonders for my running / workouts. I managed a 10k run in 1:01:38 on Friday morning which is the sort of distance/time I was aiming for when I got injured the first time last year. I then beat that on Tuesday morning doing approx 12km in the same time (I thought it was 14km originally, which was a little surprising(!) but turns out the GPS trace was all over the place). I’m back to lifting at 11.5kg on the dumbbell after having to drop back mid-whole30, and have introduced an extra set into the mix.

I finally managed to justify purchasing weight plates for my barbell bar (Happy Mother’s Day to me!) & they arrived this week, so I’ll be trialling them later. Very exciting (I know, I’m a dork)!

My Whole30: the results!

Never mind my food, my lifting and whether or not I carry on this crazy lifestyle change, I know this is the bit you’ve all been waiting for. Have I actually lost any weight or fat?

To refresh your memory, my measurements at the start of whole30 were as follows:

  • Weight: 161.6lbs (73.3kg)
  • Thighs: L: 60.3cm / R: 60.5cm
  • Calves: L: 37cm / R: 37.2cm
  • Hips: 102cm
  • Waist: 84.4cm
  • Biceps: L: 28.6cm / R: 28.4cm

And so… my measurements this morning were:

  • Weight: 156lbs (70.8kg)
  • Thighs: L: 57.5cm / R: 57cm
  • Calves: L: 36.4cm / R: 37cm
  • Hips: 98cm
  • Waist: 79cm
  • Biceps: L: 27cm / R: 28cm

So, even accounting for me potentially being cack-handed with a tape measure, I have lost a significant amount of centimetres all over which adds up to a total 5.6lbs in weight. I have no idea if that’s good or bad as results go (and weight loss was not my motivation for trying whole30) but it does suggest that even as I moaned my way through it because “nothing was happening”: stuff was going on!

Whole 30 Log – week 4 (and a bit)

Day 22 – 22nd Feb:

Made more of an effort to eat well today as Sundays are normally so manic I only eat one meal. Also got some fresh air and light exercise tromping round the woods in Ironbridge with the kids. Still feel fairly “normal” – typical me, basically. No boost, no tiger blood, no obvious benefits to this challenge at all. Considering the amount of hype it gets and the amount of people who rave about their low carb diets being the best thing since sliced bread, well… I’m clearly abnormal.

Day 23 – 23rd Feb:

Crap night’s sleep thanks to Oliver waking me up 6 times, couldn’t get back to sleep after 4:45am. This morning would be a large Americano from Costa type of morning, why did I give up coffee for February too?*

I’ve been reading the blogs of some ultra runners who train and run during whole30 and/or with a paleo diet this evening and can’t help but feel slightly cheated that these people can run 50 miles like this and I’m struggling to run for 3. I wonder if I’m doing something “wrong”? Maybe I should track my meals this week to see if other whole30-ers can make some suggestions…

Day 24 – 24th Feb:

Another bad night’s sleep thanks to Oliver, I think he’s coming down with something. I probably am too as I have 4-5 mouth ulcers and that’s usually the first sign something’s not right.

I finally noticed a positive side effect of this month’s challenge: my nails are ridiculously strong compared to usual. Normally my nails rip or break on an almost daily basis, but I’ve not had that problem in a while. I have one nail that is particularly long and it’s great for nose-picking ;) Apparently this is likely to be the increased water I’m drinking, so may actually be because of giving up coffee rather than specifically whole30-related.

Had a massive chunk of turkey meatloaf (recipe coming soon) and some roasted brussel sprouts and walnuts for breakfast. Bolognese with big portions of veg instead of pasta for lunch, possibly with a banana if I’m not full. Workout night tonight so I may try and fit in some sweet potato around 5ish to see if that helps with my problems working out.

Day 25 – 25th Feb:

Another bad night with Olly so feeling knackered now. :(

Sweet potato before last night’s workout seemed to help. I was able to better cope with 3 rounds at 11.5kg (dumbbell) and then I threw in 15 back squats with the barbell bar (7.5kg; can’t afford weights for it yet) and then further dropsets down to 9.5kg. Was probably the longest/toughest workout I’ve done in ages but felt pretty damn good. Followed it up by a PWO hardboiled egg and then chicken & veg stir fry.

Unfortunately I left the other half of last night’s stir fry, which was to be my lunch, out on the side and the cats tipped it everywhere to get the chicken out so my meals are badly planned and probably a little wonky today. 2 x hardboiled eggs + lashing of homemade mayo, followed by a banana for breakfast. I’ve got 3 big chunks of turkey meatloaf with a quarter of a cauliflower for lunch. Sweet potato for pre-run later. Will probably have steak, chips & salad tonight because it’s Wednesday and I go to Gaz’s and it’s something easy to cook that we both like.

Less pissed off with whole30 affecting my strength following my good workout; my run tonight will be the real test and will confirm whether the difference was the sweet potato or coincidence. I am however pissed off with the fact that over the course of about a week I’ve suddenly lost a cup size. My boobs are disappearing under my very eyes! :( As well as being one of my favourite body features, none of my bras fit properly now. Why can’t the ring of flab around my middle disappear this quickly?

Day 26 – 26th Feb:

Guess who ran a solid non-stop 8km last night? YEAH. Only stopped at 8km because my foot started twinging and I was worried I’d injure it again if I kept going. It was really weird because as I slowed down to a walk, my muscles were almost pushing me forwards as if they wanted me to keep going. I’ve not felt that before. I definitely would have had enough in me to do another couple of km, and annoyingly I was on track for a sub 1 hour 10km as well. Oh well, better to stop short this week and still be able to run than push it to 10km and end up out for 3 months again.

No kids last night so slept better. Two hard boiled eggs and what’s left of the meatloaf for breakfast: all about that protein.

Day 27 – 27th Feb:

Oliver actually slept through last night for the first time all week and I still spent half the night awake. What is up with that?

Thigh is hurting today from Wednesday’s run. While I was running I did think I was favouring the one leg a bit so it’s probably a result of that. Going to skip tonight’s run and aim for parkrun tomorrow morning to give it some extra rest time.

Food-wise I’m still on track. Tuna, cucumber & homemade mayo for breakfast. Massive chicken & avocado salad for lunch. No idea what I’m eating this evening…

Day 28 – 28th Feb:

Nothing interesting to note. Still going. Didn’t parkrun in the morning because tiredness caught up with me – stayed in bed.

Day 29 – 1st Mar:

Didn’t sleep well last night and ended up with another typical Sunday: not eating properly because of distractions. Would have been nice to fix this while doing the whole30 but never mind, I’ll make it my next priority. DIY-ing til late night, scoffed some sort-of-chilli (i.e. it was compliant therefore didn’t contain beans and wasn’t served with rice) before bed.

Could have had a coffee today.. didn’t.

Day 30 – 2nd Mar:

Last day. I feel like I should be champing at the bit to get my chops around some cake and chocolate but to be honest I’m still sure I’ll continue a mostly whole30 approach to my meals, giving myself a bit of freedom on Fridays and Saturdays.

Scrambled eggs & avocado for breakfast. More of that chilli(ish) for lunch, with a banana if I’m still hungry after and then roast chicken tonight to make up for not having it yesterday.

Still haven’t had a coffee.

* Giving up coffee for the month is part of my 30 before thirty challenge, not part of whole30

My #whole30 journey

Unless something happens in the next few days, I’m on track for completing my first whole30. Notice the word first in there? Yeah, that’s because I’d consider doing this again.

So what’s the deal? I thought you were fed up with it!
I have been fed up with it, for almost the entire 30 days. Fed up because I wasn’t noticing changes, positive or negative, and fed up because it was affecting my strength workouts and my running. But in dwelling on what I wasn’t seeing, I was missing the bigger picture: that if this “diet change” didn’t cause ANY negative side effects, then actually it’s probably not that big a change at all. I knew I ate well, but I have been worried about my increased sugar (cake) consumption again recently. If cutting all of this out meant NO carb flu, NO cravings, then actually I probably have this eating thing under control.

What about your workouts/running?
It was definitely super frustrating to find that this supposedly “ideal” diet was actually making me less strong, less fit, less able but in hindsight it was my own fault for not spending more time planning pre workout nutrition. Because I prefer to workout and run on an empty stomach, I normally rely on carbs eaten earlier in the day. (E.g. a pasta lunch would fuel my 7pm workout normally) But… this was obviously a flawed plan under whole30 because I just wasn’t eating as many carbs in the day – and there’s a long time between my lunch (1pm) and my workout/run (6-7pm) Eating half a sweet potato 2 hours prior seems to be the answer.

So what effects have you seen?
Visually, I can see that my boobs have shrunk. I can’t see any other changes but I guess I’ll reserve judgement until I take my measurements.

<TMI>In terms of digestion, I’ve had some weird issues with going to the loo. Normally I’m a regular-as-clockwork, first thing in the morning girl. Some days even twice. There are a few exceptions: e.g. if I eat carb-heavy meals all day I’ll sometimes find it difficult to go first thing the next day, and if I eat Indian takeaway it will often have the opposite effect ;) During the whole30 this changed. Some days I don’t go, some days I go later on in the evening, and there’s been a couple of times I’ve woken overnight needing to poop. Despite this random schedule, I don’t feel uncomfortable and bloated like I do if I’ve not pooped normally (I’m sure Gaz will testify how tetchy I get if I’ve not done a crap for +24hrs) When I do go, they’re smaller and less substantial than I’m used to.</TMI>

My nails are stronger because of my increased water consumption and my sleep is mostly better (kids wake-ups aside).

Physical/visual stuff aside, I’m planning my meals (all 3) better whereas before I only planned my evening meal and made up the other two as I went along. This often meant skipping breakfast or having porridge for both breakfast and lunch.

So what effects were you hoping for or expecting that you DIDN’T see?
I didn’t experience “tiger blood” or any of the supposed concentration / energy benefits. I don’t normally have a problem with my energy levels though.

I didn’t see any positive difference in my body’s reactions to hormone levels. Quite the contrary: because I experienced the peaks and troughs of normal monthly hormone levels my mood was much more volatile. I recognise that it’s normal to have those fluctuations throughout my cycle but the effects on my mood (high anxiety/weepiness during ovulation and then intense anger before menstruation – my doc reckons PMDD) have a massive impact upon my stress levels and as such my mental health.

I know some people claim that they need months and months for the effects of the pill to wear off but this isn’t the case for me: I can feel the effects of not taking the pill within a day and a half, which tallies with the science behind the pill (and is why you have to take it daily for the contraceptive effect to work!) I’ll be restarting the pill as soon as my period arrives (due over the weekend).

How come you managed this but not Sugar-Free September?
Who knows?! Perhaps the strict nature of the whole30 – the idea that if you screw up you have to start again – kept me on track. I do work best under pressure.

So day 31 is pizza and cake day?
Probably not. I am seriously considering continuing a mostly-whole30 approach to food. I will be reintroducing butter ASAP (as I looove my butter and know I’m not sensitive to dairy) and peanut butter in moderate amounts. I will likely continue avoiding white pasta and bread most of the time. I am looking forward to a glass or 2 of wine on a Friday night again, the odd bit of ice cream and cake, ohh cake. I’ve no interest in paleo-ising my favourite desserts, if I want to indulge I’m going to do it and do it properly.

I’m thinking if I could stick to a whole30/paleo-esque approach Sunday-Thursday, that gives me Fridays and/or Saturdays to chill out a bit, go out if I want to, enjoy a pizza with friends. Sensible, balanced approach. Or something like that.