(Update 10/30/2015: This post has received a lot of traffic so I thought I’d post an quick update! Thanks so much for visiting, I am glad so many people are finding my experience helpful. I have tried to answer a lot of questions in the comments but have also put together the most FAQ of my experience here. I am starting my second Whole30 on January 11th 2016- you can follow me on Instagram here! Good Luck on your Whole30 journey!)
If you follow me on Instagram, you probably know that the last 30 days has been 30 of the hardest dieting days of my life- no joke. I won’t say it was the hardest thing I’ve every done, childbirth obviously trumps that ;), however it was definitely the hardest challenge I have ever given myself in terms of my health and food consumption.
I don’t remember exactly where I first heard about the Whole30, probably on a blog or Instagram friend. I found it intriguing and was curious with the results that everyone seemed to have. I also knew I had a crazy addiction to sugar and carbs that wasn’t going to go away without some sort of drastic change. I had previously been using Isagenix, and planned to return to it, but I just wasn’t motivated enough to cut out the sugar and carbs, so I decided to do a Whole30 and get back on track!
I never thought I would’ve been able to do something like this. It takes a TON of self-control, which I honestly didn’t think I had. Well, I proved myself wrong and completed a Whole30, losing 9 lbs and 11 inches in the process. Better than that- I retrained my brain and the way I think about sweets, carbs and other processed foods that I put into my family’s and my body. I was shocked at all of the hidden sugar and additives we so easily looked past previously and I’ve made a commitment to continue to eliminate those unnecessary ingredients. Near the end I almost gagged on the communion grape juice at church- I could not believe how sweet it tasted. It was then that I knew my body was adjusting. So I wanted to share with you how I survived. I am not a foodie, I don’t eat any seafood, I hate to exercise, and love (loved) sweets and carbs- so no, this wasn’t easy for me, but I did it, and SO CAN YOU! Here are my tips for surviving Whole30, and thriving!
1. Read It Starts With Food. First, there is ton if information in the book that teaches you how to make smart decisions about what you’re eating. Second, it teaches you why certain foods are bad for us and how they work in our bodies, or don’t work in our bodies. Last, it is pure inspiration. Whenever I was struggling I would start reading again and be inspired and encouraged knowing that these 30 days would be a great thing for my health!
2. Don’t start today. Just because you’re on fire and excited about Whole30, doesn’t mean you should start today. You really need to sit down, look at calendars, holidays, birthdays and decide to start when you have 30 days free of all of that. You cannot cheat or you start over- so don’t go into it knowing there are occasions when you will cheat, or would want to. I started after a weekend vacation, managed to stay on track through a birthday and graduation (both with cake) celebration and ended right before my birthday…on purpose! Set yourself up for success!
3. Get to know the Whole30 plan- research, read and view discussion boards. Download all of the printables. Follow Whole30 on Instagram for a lot of great information. If you are unsure if something is allowed- google Whole30 + the item, that always brought up a discussion and answer about the item. Also, white and red potatoes have been added to the program since I finished. Yay!
4. Don’t think of your meals as breakfast, lunch and dinner…it’s Meal 1, 2 and 3. When you label meal 1 as breakfast you want to eat breakfast foods- pancakes, muffins, biscuits, etc- all things you cannot have. You have to retrain yourself to think of each meal as protein, veggies and a healthy fat.
5. Which brings me to my next point- try not to plan your meals as meals– let me explain. Usually when we would have BBQ’d chicken, we would have rice. When we had tri-tip, we always had baked potatoes. Spaghetti was always accompanied by sourdough bread. Those previously planned meals aren’t allowed anymore and will make you just miss what you aren’t eating. I always started with a protein (eggs, beef or chicken for me), then just pulled out two different veggies that sounded good and cooked in a healthy fat. I usually added fruit to almost every meal, but just because I LOVE all of the fruit in season right now. Your meals won’t look the same, that’s ok.
6. Make sure you eat enough. The absolute worst night I had on Whole30, I later realized I hadn’t eaten enough for dinner. I was literally standing in the pantry trying to decide if I would cheat while smelling a bar of chocolate. Not eating enough combined with any little craving, or your brains desire to ruin this Whole30 and give in to temptation, is a bad combination! Make sure you eat enough!
7. Make sure you have meals planned and ready. Hard days were the days when I didn’t immediately start thawing out meat first thing in the morning. The longer I waited, the harder it was for me to come up with dinner and the more discouraged I got. Those are the days your brain will encourage you to cheat with an easier dinner option, not Whole30 compliant. (My second time around with Whole30 I am using Plan to Eat to plan my meals. I’ve used this service previously, but I love that I can add my meals as well as import from my favorite websites. I plan a week at a time, and that generates a grocery list for me- easy! New users also get a free 30-day trial!)
8. Have a few items on hand that you can eat always. We BBQ’d 4-6 chicken breasts at the beginning of every week and put them in the fridge. They were my go-to for salads, breakfast, lunches and even dinners on really busy nights. I always made excess dinner for leftovers. I also kept Applegate Hotdogs and Adele’s Chicken & Apple sausage (both from Target) on hand for easier breakfast and lunch options.
9. The first week is hardest in terms of cravings, the last week is the hardest in terms of boredom. Be careful, don’t think because it’s the last week it will be the easiest- it won’t be. You will be looking forward to the end, you may even convince yourself that 25 days is as good as 30, it’s not. Power through, plan your meals, come up with something new to cook that you haven’t tried before. Here are a few Instagram accounts that always gave me great ideas: Whole30, Whole30 Recipes, thewholesmiths, elysegetsfit, nomnompaleo, theevergreendiaries, and whole30myjourney
10. Do it with friends, family or anyone that will support you! I put a post on Facebook explaining what I was doing, linking to the Whole30 site and asked if anyone wanted to join. After a few days I created a private Facebook group where two couples from church, my parents and two friends all decided to join. We used the group to share recipes, grocery items, and bounce thoughts off of each other on how we were feeling. It was a great support system.
11. Don’t cheat. You are only cheating yourself out of really knowing you are capable of doing it. It won’t be worth it to eat that piece of chocolate…it’s only 30 days. Every time you think of something you can’t have, remind yourself it’s only 30 days. 30 DAYS! It’s not that long, in fact it’s nothing in the long run. It’s 30 days that you owe yourself. Allow yourself to fight the cravings, reset your system and teach your body to use the healthy food you are giving it for fuel. Don’t cheat, that craving will pass, another muffin will come around in 30 days…don’t cheat.
There you have it! If you decide to take on a Whole30, let me know! I would love to encourage you and follow your journey.
See my favorite Whole30 items below: