Well, the 30 Day Challenge has been over for a week now, so I think I'm prepared to give a final review. I've been taking some notes on my observations and asked Kate to comment on her experience, too. (You can see my original post on the challenge here.)
Overall - Lizz: I felt awesome and had tons of energy. I had some pretty bad cravings, but nothing I couldn't handle. Planning ahead and recipe research is key. As soon as the challenge ended and I went back to eating grains, dairy, and alcohol I felt like crap, which tells me a lot. Kate: Although the challenge was expensive and inconvenient, the benefits were far worth it for Kate. She felt awesome, was eating way more produce, and started thinking a lot about what real food is.
Weight Loss - Lizz: I lost a total of 5.5 pounds over the course of 30 days. I weighed myself weekly (Friday mornings) and at the end of the challenge. I seemed to be losing at a regular rate. And my jeans are much more comfortable now. Kate: Kate did not weigh herself right before the challenge began, but guesses that she lost about 6-8 pounds during the 30 days. She definitely saw a decrease in her waistline.
Skin - Lizz: I didn't really notice any changes in my skin during the challenge, but the week following the challenge was definitely worse. Kate: Kate noticed having clearer skin during the challenge and also experienced a bad breakout after the challenge was over.
Bathroom Talk - (If you would rather not read about things that happen in the bathroom, skip to the next section. However, I thought it was important to share since so many people with gluten and dairy intolerances experience digestive issues.) Lizz: Overall my body felt great. I was never constipated and actually felt like my body was more productive, if that makes any sense. I will say that although softer bowel movements were more comfortable, they made me a little nervous as a runner...because they also felt more urgent. Sometimes you don't have a bathroom nearby while you're running. I also felt a bit more gassy, I'm guessing from the large amount of raw vegetables that I was eating. Kate: Kate says her digestive system was AWESOME during the challenge. She would get constipated if she had a particularly meat-heavy day, but that was rare. She was way less gassy (so much so that I noticed) and claims that even her pee smelled better (I cannot attest to that.) Katie has an intolerance to dairy, so I think she fared really well on this milk-free diet. I would guess the lack of grains helped, too.
Workouts - Lizz: My workouts felt great. I had tons of energy and seemed to recover SO quickly. I ran 2 20 milers during the challenge and was not sore the following day. I think this is a combination of eating more protein, taking ice baths, and foam rolling/stretching. Kate: Kate saw better recovery from her workouts, as well. She used to be very sore after hard workouts - even tender to the touch. During the challenge this was not the case. She also found that she had more energy and therefore rarely skipped her workouts, even after nights of little sleep.
Difficulties - Lizz: Not being able to eat in restaurants was difficult for me. It meant that I had to always pack my lunch and have acceptable snacks available at all times. Kate: Many of the recipes Kate tried were meat-centric and served 4-6 people so she had to eat a lot of leftovers (which she got sick of.) She also found it hard to find food to eat if she was out and about and got hungry. Lastly, it was hard to find grass-fed beef and pork or chicken without additives.
Other Observations - Lizz: I got full much more quickly. I tended to eat 5 small meals throughout the day which were guided by my hunger levels. And I started craving fruit, which I loved. Our compost bin was out of control, as well as our grocery bill. But we saved a lot of money from not eating in restaurants or drinking alcohol. Weekends were much harder, probably because my work week is so structured. Social events were also difficult - both finding food to eat/share and explaining what we were/weren't eating or drinking over and over again. We also got picked on a lot. Having been a vegetarian for 9 years, I'm used to having to deal with these kinds of issues, but I think some of them were new to Kate.
Observations Since the Challenge Ended - Lizz: I did not miss cheese nearly as much as I thought I would. In fact, I'm already kind of sick of eating it, and it's only been a week. This week may have been overly indulgent, but I definitely feel like crap. I'm already planning on switching back to a modified version of the challenge for the long term. Kate: Kate found that she is now sensitive to salty foods. She has also been feeling pretty gross this week and is planning to switch back to a diet that closer resembles the Paleo diet.
So, there you have it! Overall a great experience that taught us both so much. It was tough, but got easier over time. And as we transition back to something similar, I hope it gets easier and easier still.
30 Day Challenge Related Posts:
- 30 Day Challenge - challenge definition and what I hoped to gain
- Taco Bowl - a recipe
- Natural Running Fuel - running fuel that fit into the challenge guidelines
- Double Duty - a chili recipe
- Half Way Point - a check in on how it's going
- A Day of Eats - a log of everything I ate one day during the challenge
- Life Savers - my challenge go-to foods when in a pinch
- Recipe Round-Up - my favorite recipes from the challenge
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