Monday, July 4, 2011

Whole 30 Challenge: Katie Lancianese

"Whole9 is a community focused on health, fitness, balance and sanity, all built on a foundation of real food and healthy nutritional habits." (Whole 9 website) CrossFit Akron athletes put their bodies to the test for 30 days. We've had nothing but success. Here are the stories to prove it.  Please vote at the top of the page for the winner.

CrossFit Akron and the Whole30 Experience:
Katie’s Journey to Omnivore-hood 

2.1% lost in body fat
My commitment to CFA and “whole” eating began when I started with the On Ramp classes.  Brian spent a lot of time talking about diet and the Zone portions.  I considered myself a rather informed, self-taught nutritionally-savvy person.  I’ve been a strict ovo-lacto vegetarian for over 12 years and thought I knew all there was to know about the nutrients my body needed.  I listened to Brian’s advice regarding food, but considered the Zone and other low-carb diets just that, unsustainable diets that would lead to a carb-binge at the end and clogged arteries/high blood pressure to show for it.  
As I continued through the On Ramp program, I became more cognizant of the effects of my food intake on my workouts.  Brian still preached on diet and the inclusion of good protein sources and I agreed with his logic, but thought that what I was doing was sufficient.  When he found out I was a vegetarian, I could tell he was concerned about my being a “carbotarian”.  I felt that my diet was well-rounded, well-planned, and included many adequate protein sources.  I did, however, find the need to continue to supplement with whey protein shakes 1-2 times a day.  The protein shakes never jived with my vision of being able to get all my nutrients from “real” food.  I also began to notice the huge amount of carbohydrates in legumes and found that they truly are more carb than protein source.
My paradigm continued to shift as I started to become more aware of the effects of my food intake on my workouts the next day.  I started to get frustrated during my WODs with my inability to “explode” out of movements and having my energy levels fall drastically during the workout.  Then CFA announced their collaboration with Whole9 and I was immediately hooked.  

Anthony brought home the Whole30 packet and I read through the entire thing in essentially one sitting (a pretty impressive feat when running after a 3-year old and 1-year old).  Everything that I read completely resonated with my core beliefs in how food should truly nourish the body.  I had a crisis moment when I realized that the only true protein source I could eat as a vegetarian was eggs (approximately 9-12 eggs/day).  I briefly considered adding fish to my diet, and immediately dismissed it.  One week later, I was still considering it.  Just before the official start date of Whole30, I decided to commit to eating fish for this challenge.  It was a life-changing decision as I’ve eaten little meat my whole life and had been meat free since my junior year of high school.   After reading “The Conscientious Omnivore: From the Sea”, I felt mostly prepared to start.  I spent much time cleaning out the fridge/pantry and did lots of shopping at Mustard Seed and the produce section of the grocery store.
Despite my initial trepidation, the inclusion of fish to my diet was relatively easy and quickly became a routine part of my day.  The effects from following Whole30 were immediate.  Taking out all processed foods instantly reduced bloating, headaches, and cravings (after the first week).  I essentially kicked a lifelong sweet tooth, although admit to using more dried fruits than recommended to get myself past the cravings.  I got to the point where a sweet potato tasted as sweet as I remember dessert tasting.  I think the 30 days re-programmed my body’s tastes to be more in line with nature.  Also, I noticed improved and consistent energy levels.  They would stay high from 4:30 AM (through the whole WOD) and remain high throughout the evening.  My skin was clearer.  I felt good about myself and what I was accomplishing.  
The end of the 30 day period posed a problem for me.  I was happy to be a bit more lax in my food choices, but found that I really didn’t want to lose the satisfaction I got from eating non-processed, delicious tasting foods that made me feel great.  I discovered that once I start to “cheat”, I have a hard time making good choices.  I’ve decided to continue my “whole” food eating (with some modifications to allow for additional some legumes/soy to vary my protein sources) with one cheat day a week.  I think that this type of living is sustainable.  My initial goals on this challenge were to lose weight and look ripped.  I ended up losing 4 lbs of fat and finding the top 4-pack of my 6-pack.  Most all of my work pants are too large and I’m finding that new clothes need to be 2 sizes smaller than what I initially was wearing.  I lost 4 lbs. of fat, over 4 inches off my body measurements, 2.1% body fat, and got compliments from coworkers to complete strangers (although most of this was due, mostly, to my improved attitude and confidence – I believe they resonated from my commitment to the program and my joy at finding a workout program that meets all my needs to push myself to where I need to be).  While not quite ripped, I feel like I’m making great progress towards that goal.
My new goals are slightly different: get rid of all processed foods in our household for the health of our whole family.  I want to provide an example to my kids that real food should be fresh, cooked daily (not sit in the pantry for months), all the ingredients pronounceable, and that should be the rule, not the exception.  I’m thankful to CFA for bringing this program to light and getting me to the point where I got past my fear of commitment and accomplished something truly life-changing.
Highlights/findings of the 30 days:
  1. I no longer define myself as a vegetarian, but rather a “whole” food eater.
  2. While the results are still pending, I am relatively certain that one cannot get mercury poisoning from eating fish 1-2 times/day for 30 days.
  3. I ate constantly and still lost weight
  4. I completed the entire challenge without a single cheat – I never expected to be able to have the strength to do that!
  5. Eating sweets now gives me an immediate headache, stomach ache, and hot flashes.  Knowing that has made avoiding them much easier.
  6. Crab is delicious.  And it took me 28 years to discover that.  I’m looking forward to going to the coast and eating it fresh.
Favorite meals:
  • Breakfast: 3 eggs over-easy in coconut oil, ½ avocado, and lots of salsa
  • Lunch: 3 eggs scrambled with oven-roasted ratatouille (eggplant, zucchini, tomato, onion, garlic, bell peppers) on top of a bed of fresh spinach
  • Snack: tuna fish, carrot sticks, almond butter
  • Dinner: Paleo crab cakes on top of lemony wilted spinach, roasted Brussels sprouts (in olive oil) with golden raisins