This is the final week of The Plan—a 20 day experiment to identify the foods that cause inflammation.
A more accurate title of this post would be, When Real Life and The Plan Collide.
(If you don’t care what I ate or what I weighed, scroll to the bottom for my final thoughts and recommendations. Heck, I don’t even care what I ate or what I weighed. Maybe I’ll scroll past all this, too!)
Last week, I left you the morning of Day 12, when I was looking forward to The Healthy Chicken Parmesan recipe for dinner. As I hoped, it was out of this world. This recipe is a keeper. Officially, this was a test to see if tomatoes cause inflammation. But there was also mozzarella cheese. So, I guess I tested both foods?
Day 13: Weight: Same. Not sure how to interpret these results. Weight stabilization can mean I reacted to the food or it can mean I’m coming close to my “set weight.” I don’t know, because this is the 4th time my weight has stabilized in the last 13 days and there is no consistency. Some days I stabilize after a test. Some days I stabilize on a “friendly, rest day. Some days after exercise. Some days after no exercise.
I woke up feeling like I may have a tummy bug. Or maybe I had a little too much red wine last night. My body is not used to drinking wine every night. I think I’m done with wine for awhile. In any case, today I cannot eat breakfast and end up nibbling on things like buttered toast, crackers and a smoothie until dinnertime. It’s gorgeous outside, so I take a 45 min walk.
Tonight, I throw all caution to the wind and have dinner at a friends’ house. I won’t bore you with the entire menu, but I promise you, about 10 items were foods yet-to-be-tested. Including a small slice of
heaven chocolate cake. My friend is an outstanding cook and I enjoyed every bite of this dinner. No regrets. At all.
Day 14: Weight gain: .6. Are we surprised? It’s Sunday and I am enjoying the beautiful day out with my family, so we end up eating out for lunch and dinner. We do a Mexican grill for lunch, and I order the grilled chicken salad with guacamole and fajita veggies—no beans, no rice, no chips, no salsa, no cheese, no sour cream, no shell–and NO JOY! The salad is tiny and pathetic. I’m hungry and feeling deprived right about now.
For dinner we do Chinese and I get steamed veggies and steamed rice with sweet and sour sauce. All “friendly” foods. Not the best thing on the menu, but at least it’s filling.
Day 15: Weight: Same. Again, how do I interpret this? I ate little more than friendly veggies and steamed rice yesterday. I have no clue.
Today, I decide to cook at home, stick to the exact planned menu for Day 15 and test oatmeal.
Day 16: Weight: Same. UGGGHHHH! Okay, so is oatmeal friend or foe? Am I at my set weight? Even though I’m still 5-10 lbs heavier than I was before Lexapro?
Today, is the beginning of major house-renovations. I cannot follow The Plan today, but will do my best with no access to my kitchen. Before the crew arrives, I make scrambled eggs on top of sautéed zucchini and spinach with goat cheese for breakfast (delish!). For lunch, I resort to a banana (not yet tested!) with a piece of whole wheat bread and almond butter. For snack, carrots and hummus. Dinner is Panera’s Cobb salad (chicken, bacon, eggs, feta and avocado) and a baguette. That is like 5 tests today (banana, bacon, feta, 2 animal proteins in one day and bread with dinner), so I’m not expecting weight loss.
Day 17: Weight loss: 1.4!!! What the what?? So, no inflammation from any of that, I guess?
(Funny side-note: After this dramatic weight loss, my husband said, “Maybe you didn’t eat enough calories yesterday.” and my friend Lisa said, “Maybe before yesterday you weren’t eating enough and your body was holding onto everything!” See how confusing this is?)
I’m so tempted to do a repeat day and see what happens tomorrow, but I decide I want to cook because I will NEED to eat out tomorrow when the new carpet arrives.
I repeat breakfast, lunch and snack from yesterday, but make a new recipe in the Crock Pot: Chicken and Lentils over brown rice, served with mixed greens. It’s not a Plan recipe and it’s another test, but after 17 days, I kinda don’t care.
Day 18: Weight loss: 1.2! So, I guess the lentils are okay. And my body loves the breakfast, lunch, snack combo. As of now, I’ve lost 6.8 lbs in 18 days.
Today is carpet and back-splash day in House Renovation Land. Basically, everything we own is piled into the kitchen and the master bath and there are 6 strange men roaming every square inch of my house. But more importantly, I can’t reach any food, because family room and office furniture barricade my pantry and fridge.
I manage to locate bread, a banana, my Shakeology and the blender–enough provisions for the morning until my friend arrives with a Panera salad for lunch. I love my friend.
Dinner is Tony Boombazz, a delicious local pizza place. I’m feeling good about my choices today, so decide it’s time to test pizza. Sure, I could order another salad…but, ugghhh. I order an individual thin-crust veggie pizza with pesto sauce (apparently tomato sauce is highly inflammatory for most people and I’ve tested all the ingredients of pesto…I think.)
Day 19: WEIGHT GAIN 1.8!! Hello? Is anyone riding this emotional roller coaster with me? Anyone??
Honestly, I think it was the sodium in that pizza. It was really salty. Plus, with all the upheaval and work to do, I had only 6 hours sleep. And lack of sleep can skew results. And that brings me to right now. Sitting here wondering if I should continue or not.
Today is another day of renovations. I’m too concerned with the carpet guys fixing the gaps in the pad to be worried about what I eat or don’t eat. Next week we have 2 sets of grandparents coming from out of town for a visit and I’ll be doing lots of cooking (I doubt they’ll want kale and pureed soup). Two weeks later we have spring break. And two weeks after that, I’m going to Washington DC for 5 days to chaperone the 8th grade field trip. I do not want to hyper-focus on my diet during any of that.
The Plan officially ends for me after tomorrow…but I don’t have it in me.
As of now, I am done with The Plan
What I Learned:
1. I am happy with my 5 lb weight loss. I was happier yesterday with my 6.8 lb weight loss, but, whatevs.
2. It was a lot of work getting here—not physically–as in work outs–but in time and emotional energy. All the planning, cooking and recording result required too much focus and distraction from other things.
3. I like working out, and I missed it when I couldn’t. I discovered (again) I exercise for a bigger reason than to see a certain number on the scale. I exercise for mental and emotional health. I exercise for strength and energy. I like feeling toned and athletic. I’m not looking for an excuse to exercise less.
4. Even with the weight loss, my jeans fit exactly the same as they did last month. I don’t look any different, as far as I can see. When I weighed this exact amount during P90X2, I was smaller with less body fat. (The 5 lbs lost inflammation is obviously not in my butt or thighs).
5. I did not like the way I felt the first 14 days. Tired, weak, fatigued, stomach aches and unable to complete a regular workout. If I wasn’t doing The Plan, I would have thought I had a stomach virus. Maybe I did.
6. Many people on The Plan report strong nails, shiny hair and great skin. I did not experience this. My nails chipped or cracked off every day (normally, I have fairly strong nails), my hair looked dull (normally shiny) and my skin was the same (normally fluctuating depending on the time of the month).
7. Finding 20 consecutive days to complete The Plan is very difficult. It requires a lot of cooking. And unless you have kids who love kale and pureed soup, you are cooking separate meals for them. According to The Plan, you are not supposed to see the inside of a restaurant until Day 18. No one in my family, including me, wanted to eat my cooking for 17 days straight.
8. However, I discovered I like kale sautéed in other veggies. I love sauteed veggies and goat cheese over eggs for breakfast. And I have a few new healthy chicken recipes that will go into The Cooper Meal Rotation.
9. I do not like to drink wine and eat chocolate every night. I know that sounds crazy, but I prefer to have those treats once a week or less. (It’s not required in The Plan, but highly encouraged to drink red wine and eat dark chocolate nightly.) And if I’m gonna have a dessert, I want peanut butter chocolate fudge ice cream, not a 1-ounce square of dark chocolate.
10. I want to drink water past 7:30 pm!! I am so thirsty every night. But water after 7:30 can show up on the scale the next morning and skew results. Speaking of…
11. I do not like to weight myself every day. The scale and my mood become one. I hate that! I much prefer a weekly weigh-in.
12. My daily results were very difficult for me to interpret. It was supposed to take the mystery out of weight gain/weight loss. No mysteries solved here.
13. I discovered some of my favorite foods are NOT inflammatory (I lost weight after eating them). But I have barely begun to test the total number of foods I eat and the various ways I prepare them–not to mention all the different restaurants we frequent! It would take months of doing The Plan before I’d ever get there.
14. The only food that caused noticeable weight gain was veggie thin-crust pizza from Tony Boombazz. Even though, each of those individual ingredients (as far as I know) tested “friendly” for me. So, I’m not sure what to do with that little mystery. I’m still going with the Excess Sodium Theory.
I agree with The Plan’s philosophy that certain foods will cause my body to become inflamed. And I agree that I do not want to be inflamed. Inflammation is bad. I also agree wholeheartedly that everyone’s body is different. A diet that works great for you could cause sickness in me. Therefore, we need to pay close attention to how our body reacts to food in order to make the best decisions for our individual health.
But for me, I am not willing to continue the meticulous, tedious, scientific process it takes to discover these foods. I have many close friends and family members with serious food allergies and food sensitivities. I can see how a process like this would be helpful (essential!) for them. But that’s not me.
(My friend Lisa is on Week 2 and has lost close to 8 lbs so far. She feels energetic and happy. She’s relieved to have a break from hard workouts and loves her nightly glass of wine. The Plan is working great for her! So, this is just ME and my experience.)
If you have 20 days (and several months after that!) to cook at home and meticulously record every morsel of food you place on your tongue, (as well as water intake, exercise, hours of sleep, levels of stress, etc) and then weigh yourself daily and record every percentage-of-a-pound you gain or lose, and then try to interpret all those results, then I recommend The Plan.
If that’s not you, I simply recommend you stick with a diet of whole foods, rich in a variety of fruits and vegetables. If you feel sluggish or have stomach upset after a particular whole food, then listen to your body and avoid that food.
I’m ready to talk about something else now, how about you?
Linking up with Jill Conyers today! She’s having a giveaway for a new scale. If you’re in the market, head over there and enter!