Mostly, I try to eat healthy and stay active. I’m even a big fan of Isagenix; it’s saved me from takeout lunches at work more times than I can count. However, I had recently noticed that when I’d get stressed or sad, I was reaching for snacks or sugary drinks more and more often and it was starting to literally weigh me down. And despite my best efforts, I could not kick my cravings.
Enter: The Whole30. I have several friends who have completed this program and they only had great things to say about it; yes it’s tough, but they all felt so much better during and after their 30 days. I’ll be honest, when I first heard about it a couple of years ago I thought it was just another one of diet crazes; and to be fair, it is. However, personally knowing people who had done it with great success, I was intrigued. I’ve tried a few other restrictive diet plans and hated every single one so I had trepidation about trying another one and failing again (especially since failing on Whole30 means going right back to day 1). However, I decided to be brave and give it a shot. I bought the official book and skimmed it (I really do plan to READ the full thing someday), got tips from my friends, and embarked on some epic grocery journeys to prepare for my 30 days. I also made sure to tell all of my friends and family-something I would highly recommend as this program is impossible without understanding and support from your circle of people (trust me).
Let me give a quick gist of what the program entails; it’s basically an elimination diet so you’re cutting out all added sugar (ALL of it, meaning you have to read labels on EVERYTHING), all grains (including rice and corn), legumes, dairy, and alcohol. It sounds daunting, but trust me, you will get used to it and checking labels becomes second nature. I was really interested in tackling my sugar addiction, I always crave sweets and have a hard time saying no to my sweet tooth so I was pretty pumped to see if I could finally kick it.
When January hit my Whole30 began. Starting out was actually pretty easy for me, days 1-3 flew by before I started to feel deprived. I think it “helped” that it had been a pretty stressful month for me; I started a new job at the end of December and had been in a heightened state of anxiety since then so I didn’t have the metal capacity to dwell on what I was missing.
One of the things I ended up loving the most about this program was that it forced me to really get creative in the kitchen. I’m not a stranger to cooking, and I actually rather enjoy it, but like most regular people, I’d fallen into a rut and was cycling the same 7-10 recipes over and over again. The Whole30 gave me a fresh start since every single one of my usual recipes had at least one non-compliant ingredient.
By day 6, I was starting to notice the good changes that were happening; my bloating issues were gone, I was sleeping better, and aside from really wanting to add sugar to my morning coffee, my sweet tooth was drastically diminished. I also found that I had a lot more energy during the day, I wasn’t hitting that 2 pm lull that had become a part of my life. The increased energy was probably my favorite change; I had not realized how much my diet alone was affecting this aspect of my life, it was pretty wild.
During the month, I had planned on keeping my social life pretty low-key, I’ve never been able to stick with a “diet” plan for very long and I was worried that if I went out to a restaurant with friends I would be tempted to order something non-compliant so that I wouldn’t feel left out. However, my plan to stay in all month long was thwarted, I found myself at a show 5 days in, and while it was tempting to order something from the bar, I stuck with soda water. Later in the month I would brave a pizza place for a meeting, several girls’ nights in, and a game night with all the delicious snacks you can imagine and I didn’t cave once. In the end, learning self control was truly gratifying and it’s something that’s stuck with me in my post-Whole30 life.
All in all, the month passed and I survived. Sometimes it was super easy to stay on track and at other times I really had to talk myself out of cheating with a bowl of ice cream. But honestly, you can do anything for 30 days; if you have the willpower and are prepared, you will find success!
TIPS! How would I have fared the month without so many tips from friends? A failure by day 3 probably. So, here’s a quick round-up of my favorite tips:
- Follow the Whole30 Recipe Instagram account, so many great recipe ideas!
- Get yourself some dried dates, when I was desperate and close to eating chocolate, popping a date was a serious life saver!
- Vegetables, buy all of them.
- Check those labels, yo. Sugar comes in many sneaky forms, you don’t want some dextrose in a seemingly innocent-looking package of bacon to throw you off your game.
- Cauliflower rice is amazing and most stores now carry it in the frozen foods section.
- Get some ghee. I initially didn’t and now I couldn’t live without the stuff; Trader Joe’s carries a few options.
- If you love coffee, do yourself a huge favor and get Nutpods. Vanilla is my fave.
- Alternatively for you coffee-addicts, Bulletproof coffee is amazing. This recipe is compliant; I like to add a sprinkle of cinnamon before I blend mine. I have not gone back to flavored creamers after this.
- Find a friend to do it with you! Its way more fun (and easier) if you have someone to do this with.
- Stock up on La Croix and kombucha (this brand is compliant), especially if you think giving up alcohol will be tough for you. I’m not a big drinker at all, but when I was hanging out with friends while they had wine, it was nice to have something tasty to drink as well.
I know there’s many more tips to be shared; if you’re a Whole30 alumni, share your favorites in the comments!
As far as results go, I was really pleased with how the entire month went and how I felt; my clothes had even started to fit better. I also learned some cooking skills and drum roll please…I lost 10 pounds! The weight loss was great but I really feel like I gained even more when it comes to “food freedom”, something that the creator of Whole30, Melissa Hartwig, mentions a lot. I was no longer captive to my cravings, I could say no to the cookies in the break room and I wasn’t reaching for snacks every time I started to feel bored or tired.
Moving forward, I’m planning on taking a lot of things I learned and incorporating them into my daily life. I also want to make it a goal to do one Whole30 a year, to reset my body and re-focus on what’s important.
All in all, I would recommend this program to anyone that is even remotely interested, it was certainly worthwhile for me!
Below is a short list of my favorite compliant recipes, thank you, Pinterest!
- Taco Seasoning
- Paleo Balance Bowl (this was my favorite)
- Lettuce Wraps (I used ground turkey)
- Bacon Wrapped Dates (YAS)