This past week I committed myself to a “Whole 7,” if you will. Nothing but real, whole, unprocessed, untampered with foods. As close to the natural source as possible, eaten the way nature intended. Otherwise known as, wait for it, FOOD. I ate FOOD for 7 days. I’m sure you want to know what I eliminated — dairy, gluten, corn, soy, alcohol, added sugar, vegetable oils. And what I ate (full list down below) — meat, eggs, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds. Now I’m going to tell you what happened, but first…
What was my motivation? Don’t I always eat like this? Most of the time, yes, I eat whole foods, but I’m human and found myself always needing a bag of chips in the house. Once I became aware of how I always needed a refined carbohydrate on stand-by, you know, “to have the extra calories and carbs for recovery just in case I run a lot this week,” I decided to give myself a little reset to break the cycle.
I’ve been a fat-adapted athlete for a long time and it has suited me really well. But this past year I have been very focused on getting my hormones back to balance, hormones that originally went out of whack when I thru-hiked the PCT (5-month backpacking trip, Mexico to Canada) in 2016. I was overtrained (30ish miles a day for 5 months) and undernourished (clif bars and rolos). Without going super deep into it, I’ve essentially been in huge energy (caloric) deficit for a long time. Stressed out body. So this year I started ramping up the calories, and got into the habit of always having tortilla chips, sourdough, and chocolate around. Most of the time they were, respectively, organic and unsalted, local and with long fermentation, and 80% cacao or higher, but also, most of the time, they weren’t. They were chips at a party, bread during times of stress, and the “healthy” M&M’s from bulk bins because I was looking for immediate stimulation. With all that said, I hate being reliant on things, and that’s exactly what I was. So I decided it was time to cut it out for a week and fill the tortilla chip void with better food.
So, how’d it go?
The Five Things That Made My “Whole 7” Easier:
- Being Sick
- Less Exercise
- Choosing the Challenge Length Based on Confidence
- Loading up on Nutrient Dense Foods
I woke up on Monday, Day 1, with a scratchy throat. I woke up Tuesday, Day 2, with a full-blown snot-fest that lasted all week. A sickness classically stemming from being run-down and then coupled with a season change. Silver lining? I found this made my challenge much easier. I read somewhere that “sugar paralyzes your immune system,” and that phrase has stuck with me ever since. So wanting/needing to be functional all week, I didn’t crave any of the sweets I left behind. Helpful. I also continued to exercise in attempts to help my body detox quicker, but at a much lower frequency and intensity — no crazy steep, long and mountainous runs (fine, there was one) so my appetite wasn’t out of control. Really Helpful. I also wrote down everything I ate on my Instagram Stories every night for accountability. Super Helpful. It was also only 7 days, an amount of time that I felt comfortable and confident in. Incredibly Helpful. I ate a lot of nutrient-dense foods that kept my blood sugar balanced, my mind calm and focused, and body nourished and satiated. Most Helpful.
You can find a list of the foods I ate everyday saved to my Instagram Stories on my profile page.
My Most Frequented Foods:
- Bone Broth (both chicken and beef)
- Beef Liver
- Quality Animal Proteins (chicken, beef, fish)
- Nuts and Seeds
- Tons of Veggies and Berries
- Tons of Greens
- Coconut Yogurt & Oils
Without these nutrient dense foods I’m not so sure I’d be as functional as I was all week dealing with a crazy head cold and sore throat. They really helped me knock out my schedule without missing a beat. As I type this a week later, my sickness is still lingering because I haven’t quite slowed down yet, but with more rest and broth it should be silenced soon enough.
Things I Noticed During My Week of Whole Foods:
- ZERO inner ear itching
- ZERO night sweats
- Bloating went down
- Focus improved
- Clearer, softer, tighter Skin
- Lost 3lbs
- Ate dinner earlier, went for after dinner walks, fell asleep easier
- Although being super stuffed up, I still felt cleaner and lighter
- Less stressed out with “what should I eat” decisions. The line had been drawn, there were no choices to be made. Very relaxing.
- ZERO “oh man did I eat too much?” moments. You can’t overeat real foods, they tell you when to stop. There are no chemicals or addictive additives lighting up the opioid receptors in your brain that shove your hand back in the bag for more before you’re done chewing. “Once you pop you can’t stop?” Manufactured that way on purpose.
I also spent a lot less time and money at the grocery store. I made less shopping trips because I was more resourceful with my food, and ate the stuff that has been in my freezer for awhile. There was no need to browse the center aisles and I had enough proteins in my freezer and fridge, so I just shopped the produce section and then did a quick lap in the bulk section mid-week for nuts/seeds and I was out of there. Also, whenever I have broth and liver in the rotation, all of my cravings shut down and my appetite is leveled out — add in canned sardines or mackerel and I’m as streamlined as a person can be.
There were plenty of temptations throughout the week. I don’t live alone. There is tempting breads, desserts, chips, dairy products, and alcohol popping up by the hour. We even had people over for Brazilian Cocktails (cannot remember the name of them for the life of me, but there were a TON of limes and kiwi involved). Again, being sick, it was easier to say “no thank you, but next time!” as I filled up a glass of water and an electrolyte mix heavy on the Vitamin C.
I also work at a really great restaurant. I’ll let your imagination paint the picture of the temptation possibilities there.
My point about the temptations is this: there will never be the “perfect” time to do a challenge like this. There will always be an event or holiday (house party and mother’s day in my case). The fact of the matter is that this is life. Things will always come up. But YOU always have the choice, no one is tying you down and shoving alcohol or cheese down your throat. You can always politely decline and choose another option. Commit to the process and see it through. Look past the immediate satisfaction and ask yourself if it’s worth it. Put yourself first and make the food choices that make you feel good in the long-term! These short-lived exciting foods (chips, dairy, chocolate, candy, bread, corn, mimosas, brazilian rum cocktails) are just that. Short-lived. You have goals, I know you do. It takes really specifying your “why,” making a plan, becoming accountable, and being consistent. Sure, this was only 7 days, but I feel I broke my reliance on having a refined carbohydrate somewhere in my pantry or freezer, and have uncovered alternative foods that fill the gaps AND make me feel so much better. Sea salted and lime-spritzed cucumber slices anyone?
It’s been a couple days since the challenge ended and I haven’t had any desire for chocolate or to go buy a bag of chips. I have, however, finished off my final biscotti that was sitting on my shelf for a week. It was really nice. I like little resets like this to remind myself and others of the vast options out there aside from packaged foods. It gets people cooking more, which is really the key to health. I find you can eat whatever you want as long as you make it yourself. It’s also a great way to earn back trust in yourself because these little victories go a long way to build up the confidence you need to make positive choices easier for your health.
Let me know if you’re planning on doing a Whole 7 anytime soon!
What I Offer: Holistic Nutrition Consults tailored specifically to you and your lifestyle. You’ll leave with a PDF containing a summary of where I think the root of your issues are coming from, how to address it through diet and lifestyle, an “Increase” and “Decrease” list, breakfast/lunch/dinner/snack ideas, and my top 3 things that will make the greatest impact on your health. Whether your goal is performance or longevity, I’ll meet you where you are in your journey and provide recommendations designed to fit your lifestyle. Make yourself a priority! Everyone in your life will benefit. I offer free phone calls if you’re uncertain or have more questions, I love connecting with people so give me call! I offer single sessions, follow-ups, a 4-month package, and an 8-month package. If none of that suits you, let’s talk and find something that does.