The whole story of my Whole30
No added sugar, processed foods, dairy (cheese!), alcohol or grains allowed for 30 days. For someone whose favorite foods are ice cream, rice, and pizza, it was a challenging month on the Whole30 diet. But I lived to tell the tale, and can honestly say I resisted what seemed to be endless temptations to get to this point.
Why would I subject myself to this? The thought of trying on wedding dresses in a few months is a motivator like no other! Like many brides, I want to look and feel my best for the year ahead. And even if I wasn't getting married, there were still changes in order for my overall lifestyle and health. I'm 30 now, and definitely feeling the effects of a slowing metabolism. My new job has me in the office more, and out in the field less -- so I'm just not getting as much movement in my day. Between aches and pains, digestive discomfort, and consistently low energy -- I felt a detox from all the junk was long overdue.
I try to never bury the lede so I'll get right to what you probably want to know: did I lose any weight doing Whole30? Yes! This morning the scale said I lost six pounds. Tonight, it says I lost eight. Jeremy did the Whole30 with me (but did not follow it as strictly as I did, because he was recovering from wisdom teeth surgery for a few days and *needed* ice cream, mac n cheese, etc). Lucky guys -- they seem to lose weight so easily, don't they? He lost FIFTEEN pounds, just by clean eating this month. The Whole30 plan advises you to refrain from weighing yourself until the very end, and I can understand why. To me, it felt like a lot of effort to lose just a few pounds! But the more I think about it and talk about it -- I don't think I should be too upset about my results. I have several months to meet my goals and sometimes slow and steady is more sustainable.
HOW I FELT
A lot of people try Whole30 as a kind of elimination diet, figuring out which food groups might be causing them adverse side effects. By detoxing from these foods for 30 days and slowing re-introducing them back in, one group at time, you can really notice how certain foods make you feel and identify which ones are bothering you. While I don't have any serious food sensitivity concerns, I was able to hone in on how food made me feel -- and most days, I just felt *light.* Without fried foods, processed foods, sugars and alcohol, I wasn't experiencing that full and heavy feeling that I became so used to. One of the first things I noticed was less bloat. While some people say the Whole30 diet clears their skin, helps them sleep better at night, and gives them more energy throughout the day -- I did not experience those things myself. I actually felt like I had LESS energy (probably due to a lack of sugar spikes), and some days it was really hard for me to get out of bed! On the plus side, I am finding myself craving sugar A LOT less. I mean, I will probably celebrate the end of this program with some ice cream -- BUT, I don't think I'll be reaching for it every night like I used to.
IT'S MOSTLY MENTAL
I started on July 1, so one of the first tests was getting through the 4th of July holiday. I worked that day, and our station paid for catered breakfast, lunch and dinner for all employees -- a wonderful gesture, but I had to say no to just about all of it. I stood in the break room, took in the sight of the breakfast burritos, cheesy potatoes, barbecue chicken, and giant brownies... and filled my plate up with fruit salad. That night and weekend, I drank water when it seemed like everyone else was having alcohol. The thought occurred to me to enjoy the holiday weekend and start my 30 days on July 6 -- but if I let myself do that, I probably could have found another excuse to delay it. I decided to just buckle down and do the thing. And I won't lie -- it wasn't easy. I joke about this, but it's true: my workplace has A LOT of temptations. Employees and visitors are constantly bringing in donuts, cakes, bagels, and snacks. My Whole30 coincided with "National Ice Cream Day," and my station brought in a free Blue Bell ice cream bar. I went out to bars and hung out with friends and had to continue to say "no" to just about everything on the menu. I have never exercised so much willpower in my life, but what I learned was that I *could* say no and nothing bad would happen to me. I might be sad about it for a minute, but then the day would go on. The other thing I learned was how to cope with an empty stomach. Let's be real: some of these meals simply did not fill me up. And you know what? That was okay. I got used to the feeling of being hungry, and I learned that it would not kill me to be less than "full" after each meal.
PREPARATION IS KEY
In this case the cliche is true: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail Whole30. I found that I had to plan ahead for every meal of the day, and often prep it ahead of time. I also had several Whole30 compliant snacks on hand: CHOMPS meat sticks from Trader Joe's, certain Larabars with approved ingredients, and a piece of fruit like a banana or orange were always in my bag. This came in handy when I unexpectedly got called into work to cover breaking news on a Saturday. I had to rush out the door and didn't have time to pack a meal, so I grabbed a few of these snacks instead. The "old me" would have probably found something at a fast food joint or gas station. This may shock you -- but there aren't many Whole30 approved options in those places :) If I hadn't planned ahead, I would have definitely found myself falling into that pitfall.
Most restaurants, even if they are "healthy" restaurants, won't serve Whole30 compliant foods -- so you're going to be spending a lot of time cooking in your own kitchen and running to the grocery store. My suggestion is to stock up on cooking ingredients like coconut aminos, coconut and avocado oil, ghee, almond flour, etc. so you're operating out of a Whole30 ready kitchen, and will only have to buy the ingredients you need for what you want to make that week.
IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE MISERABLE
I regularly posted my meals on Instagram and got quite a few comments about how good the food looked! Even off the Whole30 plan, I will be keeping some of these recipes in regular rotation because they tasted so good. There are ways to still eat some of the foods you enjoy, and your meals can still be very flavorful. I had great luck following Whole30 Recipes on Instagram and looking up ideas on Pinterest. Now that Whole30 has been around for a little while, there's so much content with fresh ideas out there! Food manufacturers also seem to be making more and more with all natural ingredients. I became a huge fan of the product line Primal Kitchen at Whole Foods, which has Whole30 compliant condiments and dressings that tasted great. And you might be surprised when you read food labels: there are some things at the grocery store that I assumed I couldn't eat, but actually had some organic versions that were ok! I easily found Whole30 compliant marinara sauce, mustard, chorizo, bacon, and more at Publix.
If you feel like you need a cleanse and are up for a challenge, I would definitely recommend Whole30. You will most likely lose a few pounds, and you might gain a new perspective on food along the way. There are many resources to help you, and you just might like some new recipes you try. But if your goal is fast and rapid weight loss, this might not be the quickest or easiest way to get there.
I'm going to allow myself a few days to enjoy Jeremy's birthday and a mini-vacation in Maine, but after that, I'm going to refocus on my diet and exercise... and try the KETO diet! I'll most certainly post about it here and on my Instagram. And if you are interested in recipes for any of the meals I wrote about in this entry, just message me -- I'm happy to share!