Healthy, Whole30

30 Things I Learned From Doing Whole30

I DID IT! I survived–and thrived–doing my first Whole30. Truly, it was one of the best, most important things I’ve ever done for myself. I thought I’d break down my experience into 30 thoughts, in no particular order:

  1. The experience is totally different for everyone (but the first week does suck regardless). I happened to have IN.SANE. mood swings my first week while most of my friends who have previously done Whole30 experienced bad headaches. Sugar detox makes up its own rules.
  2. Whole30 is a commitment, so don’t even let yourself think you can cheat it. The main thing that helped me stay on track for Whole30 was I tapped into my inner stubborn side. No, I was NOT going to cheat or back out after I had told everyone on my Facebook I was doing it! Are you kidding?! Find your inner stubborn person if you’re going to do this.
  3. Your true family and friends will be wonderfully supportive, even if they think you’re a little crazy maybe. I was touched and often blown away by how understanding many of my family members, friends and co-workers were. From dealing with the Week 1 mood swings to the “Hey, I’m gonna ask our waitress a million questions before I order, hope that’s cool!”, they cheered me on through the 30 days.
  4. …but you will find some people are not quite as supportive. It happened. But don’t let it get you down! #haterzgonnahate
  5. Maybe my headaches were caused by something not-chocolate all along? So, here are the facts: I’ve only taken medicine for a headache once in the past month. I cannot stress how insanely awesome this is–I have a prescription for migraines that helped me function pre-Whole30…and now it’s sitting at the bottom of my purse mostly unused at this point.
  6. Sugar. Is. Everywhere. I rarely, if ever, looked at ingredients when buying groceries in the past. Now, it basically governs whether or not I’m going to buy something. If it has anything that sounds too science-y (with a few exceptions) or any added sugar (again, a few exceptions like bacon with trace amounts of sugar), I don’t buy it anymore. Also, if you want a kick in the pants to start Whole30, watch Fed Up on Netflix. It horrified me to the point of wanting to go forward with kissing added sugar goodbye.
  7. Calorie counting never forced me to make good decisions. Realizing this was a pretty significant thing for me. In the past, whenever I wanted to lose weight I would always calorie count, and it worked for me just fine. I would count carefully and lose weight successfully almost every time. However, calorie counting never forced me to eat veggies or good fats. Hm, I have 250 calories left. Should I eat an avocado or two servings of chips? Well, two servings of chips will fill me up more I’m sure sooooooo…bring on the chips. Also, I would go to bed hungry way too often, and that’s just not something I struggle with during or after Whole30.
  8. Veggies aren’t so bad! I’ve mentioned this in previous blog posts, but sometimes I have the taste buds of a 5-year-old. Certain textures are weird to me, I don’t like tomatoes or onions, etc. etc. But Whole30 made me not only eat but come to love certain veggies. First of all, almost any vegetable tastes delicious when you roast it. Roasted Brussels sprouts? YES YES YES. Also, I learned that sweet potatoes, in particular, are a new favorite of mine.
  9. I think legumes might be an issue for me. Whole30 has you cut out legumes but allows nuts (very close to legumes) and snap peas because they’re more pod than seed. I never ate many legumes, particularly beans, before Whole30, but I quickly learned that snap peas and too many nuts caused me to have an upset stomach, so I definitely dialed back on that.
  10. Either dairy, gluten or corn is also an issue for me. So I was on vacation in Texas for days 27-30 of my Whole30 and stuck with it! But then on day 32 I celebrated before heading back home by enjoying some DELICIOUS taquitos. During Whole30, I never once experienced swelling in my legs, which I had experienced often pre-Whole30 as a side effect of a medication I have to take. However, on the way home, I noticed the swelling was coming back a bit, so now I’ll eventually go back and test to see which one it is.
  11. It’s not only possible to eat out on Whole30, it’s actually not that hard. OK, so you’ll have to do some research ahead of time or ask your waiter a decent number of questions, but it’s totally possible to eat out while staying on Whole30. I modified a salad at Panera, ordered a grass-fed burger wrapped in lettuce, ordered a plain sweet potato at Texas Roadhouse, made my own salad at a restaurant with a salad bar…all while on Whole30.
  12. It’s not easy to go on vacation while on Whole30, but again, totally doable. Like I said, days 27-30 for me were spent in airports and in friends’ homes or eating out with them. I prepared ahead of time by packing lots of snacks (individual packs of Justin’s almond butter, dried fruit with no added sugar, LaraBars) to keep me going between meals as necessary, but I also just asked that everyone understand that I was sticking with it–and everyone was so wonderfully supportive. Two friends went on special grocery shopping trips to make meals I could eat at their homes, while the rest of my friends allowed me to choose restaurants I knew I could eat at.
  13. I didn’t need the scale to feel good about myself. One of the Whole30 guidelines is to not weigh yourself for the entire 30 days–they recommend you focus instead on how you’re feeling rather than a number on a scale. And I’m glad they pointed me in that direction, as I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with the scale and how it can make me feel. Giving it up for Whole30 made me instead go “Hey, I feel energetic and happy today! That’s awesome!” instead of obsessively fretting over whether I was going up or down on a number.
  14. You will spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Honestly, this was the biggest adjustment and hardest part of Whole30 for me. Going from basically NEVER cooking (again, I was the queen of warming up meals from the freezer) to having to prep and make my own meals every day was a huuuuuuuuuuuuuge shift. I’m actually still getting adjusted to this. I’m hoping to one day maybe even love it?
  15. I don’t “deserve” bad food after a bad day. Oh man, did I ever say this a lot in the past. “I drove through because I had a crappy day and I deserve it.” “I mean, I got this because I got XXX done and it’s kind of a reward.” This isn’t to say I’m NEVER going to eat something “bad” anymore, but I’m definitely not allowing myself to pick up something not healthy for dinner just because I had a bad day or am feeling stressed. Because you know what relieves some stress? Chopping up things aggressively in your own kitchen.
  16. Before you start, read as much as you can on Whole30. Seriously, stalk their website. Borrow or buy It Starts With Food. Find recipes on Pinterest. Print off their downloads for your grocery shopping. The more you read and know, the better off you’ll be. Also, if you’re in the middle of the grocery store and you’re like, “Is this ingredient Whole30-approved?”, Google almost always will give you the right answer.
  17. There will be moments/days you want to quit, but it’s worth it to push through. On day 17, I about tossed in the towel. I was in my kitchen, prepping food for what felt like the billionth hour, and I was like, “I AM OVER THIS.” But then I realized:
  18. I am worth one month of saying “no.” No to what I used to eat, no to my old habits, no to not giving my health a restart. We are all worth saying “no” for a month. Truly. You have 11 other months of the year to do whatever with.
  19. Food is a suuuuuuuper emotional thing. I was prepared for Whole30 to be physically difficult, when in reality it was actually WAY more emotionally and mentally difficult for me. Not being to eat whatever made me want to cry some days. Having to work hard in the kitchen made me want to punch things (or humans) sometimes. Watching my friends eat cheese curds while I ate my lettuce-wrapped grass-fed burger made me die a little on the inside. Food is so emotionally tied to our experiences and memories, and it’s tough (but worthwhile) to force yourself to face new things to break some of those old binds.
  20. For me, food is also something I started thinking about on a Biblical level, too. Before Whole30 I never really considered “Am I honoring my God-given body when I eat this?” But about halfway through Whole30 I started thinking, “OK, so God made the Garden of Eden, which was good. And they didn’t have doughnuts in the Garden.” So when I stepped back and started thinking about things from a more Biblical sense, eating healthier started to become more important to me, too.
  21. I can live without dessert. I thought I wouldn’t be able to live without snacks or “just a little sweet” before bedtime. Turns out when you stuff your bod full of protein, veggies and good fats for your three meals, you don’t really need snacks to keep you going.
  22. You will have to spend a liiiiiittle bit more to eat healthy. My grocery bill went up significantly the first week, but once I knew more what I actually needed to get through the week, I ended up only spending about $40 more in groceries per week. That may seem like a big number to some, but to me it’s worth it. Also, I went all-in on buying organic or grass-fed on Whole30, so it’s not as expensive if you don’t want to go to quite that extreme.
  23. When it comes to my grocery bills being more, spending more time in the kitchen, learning how to cook, I kept asking, “Is my health and happiness worth it?” And yes, it absolutely is worth it. Definitely.
  24. Even a picky eater can survive! Like I said, I’ve been compared to a child with my picky palate. But Pinterest is a great resource for Whole30 recipes galore, and I was totally able to either find recipes I liked or modify a few to suit my tastes (AKA goodbye onions, I don’t want you).
  25. You will need a break from eggs at one point. In America, breakfast typically means something with eggs. I’ve personally come to love this egg cups recipe, but after awhile I was like, “NO MORE EGGS.” Yeah, eggs will get old. Whole30 recommends you think of your three daily meals as Meal 1, Meal 2 and Meal 3 instead of breakfast, lunch and dinner, so if you want soup or meat and veggies for breakfast/meal 1, go for it. So on my “I’m so sick of eggs” days, sometimes I’ll have a chicken breast and carrot sticks for breakfast or something similar.
  26. I feel way more stable emotionally. I’m known, at least among my immediate family, as being a bit of an emotional person. AKA I get hangry and/or can turn into a rage monster in about two seconds flat. But I truly think I’ve leveled out a lot more emotionally since doing Whole30, which is probably due partly to a) lack of chemicals and additives in my food and b) fewer glucose spikes without all the added sugar.
  27. I feel maybe the best I’ve felt since high school. I mean, seriously. Part of the reason I did Whole30 was because I felt all blah and sluggish all. the. time. before, but now I feel like I’m at least full of more energy. I don’t really deal with “that 2 o’clock feeling” every day now. I sleep better BUT…
  28. Whole30 doesn’t magically turn you into some morning person if you’re not one (at least for me). I really thought this would happen to me! I imagined waking up surrounded by cartoon birds who would sing as I seized the day a la Disney movies. But the struggle is still super real in the mornings for me. But hey, at least my days are better. 🙂
  29. I lost 13 lbs. while on Whole30… But more importantly! I can feel a difference in my body, and I feel a renewed sense of purpose in life and more confidence in myself.
  30. I think everyone should give Whole30 a try. I’m being serious. I can only imagine how some of you would feel after embarking on Whole30. I want everyone I know and love to feel as happy and great as I do now. And what could you have to lose?! Seriously. I’m here to support you every step of the way if you do!

So, yeah, Whole30 was a great experience for me. I’ve decided to stick with a mostly Paleo diet now, which is basically Whole30 plus a few more things/a bit of wiggle room. Also, I’ve decided I’m only going to “splurge” or eat off-plan when it’s a special occasion out with family or friends. Because sometimes you still gotta have those cheese curds. 🙂

Oh, and you probably came here for some before and after photos, huh? Here ya go! Goodbye, 15 lbs.!

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