What. A. Wild. Ride.
Whole30 was the craziest food-venture I have ever embarked on (even crazier than that one time I tried to eat a churro every two hours at Disneyland), and it was definitely worth it. 30 days of no grains, no sugar, no alcohol, no legumes, and no dairy, and I ended up loving the experience, which may come as a surprise because, if you know me, grains and dairy were staples of my everyday diet. Don't get me wrong, some days were definitely hard, like day two when I fantasized about a diet pepsi and may have accidentally fallen asleep at work (unless you're my boss, in which case I was wide awake). Or day ten when literally all I could think about was a bowl of cereal (most people stop whole30 on days 10 or 11, and I could see why). Or when we went to a soccer game in the snow and all I wanted was a shot of tequila to warm me up.
But, we did it. Logan and I stuck it out and completed 30 entire days (actually, it'll be more like 30.5 because I've been compliant all day today) of this new, incredible way of eating. I got way more than I expected out of the program, too: I lost 10 pounds (Logan lost 15!) and 7 inches; I am now the type of person who can go to sleep at will at night and stay asleep throughout the night (prior to whole30 I would take melatonin to help me get to sleep and then would be restless most of the time); I have asthma and I don't need my rescue inhaler when I hike or run - I ran a 5k on Sunday and didn't even bring it with me! I'm not tired during the day anymore.
...I could go on for a VERY long time. Basically, this was a huge success and I am so glad that we endured it.
After 30 days on this adventure, I have some advice for people who are thinking about taking part in this themselves:
- That quote that you find everywhere about Whole30, "Its not hard. Don't you dare tell us this is hard. Quitting heroin is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard. You won't get any coddling, and you won't get ay sympathy for your 'struggles.'" is both true and not true. Sure, there are things in life that are much harder than Whole30, but don't deny yourself the truth that Whole30 is a difficult thing to do. It's hard to cut that much stuff out of your diet, stuff that you've been eating since probably four months old.
- Which brings me to my next point, have someone who supports you and knows what you're doing, or better yet, have that person do it with you! (Thanks, Logan!) Because it is hard, and you're going to need someone to talk to about how hard it is, someone who understands and who can emphasize with your feelings. Some texts Logan and I sent each other are in the sliding carousel at the bottom.
- SUGAR WITHDRAWAL IS REAL AND ITS A BITCH. Sorry, I still get aggressive thinking about day two and how miserable I was (Logan's day was four or five). Right before Logan and I started Whole30 we were on a California roadtrip eating lots of orange slices (the pure sugar kind) and ice cream and drinking red bull and diet coke. So obviously that didn't help, but if Whole30 taught me anything, its that sugar is easily a drug and its hard to quit cold turkey. So, when you hit that wall and you're grumpy and moody and exhausted, know that its the sugar's fault and do what you need to do to get through it, even if that means taking a three hour nap after work.
- Get the Whole30 book. It was so helpful (thanks Claire!) in my preparation and meal planning. It gives you an outline as to why Whole30 is something you should do, what to expect day-by-day, a week-long meal plan, and RECIPES! The first week, everything we ate came from this book. By the following weeks, I was more confident in making my own meals or looking online for recipes to use. Plus, on day 16 when I wasn't sure if what I was feeling was normal, I was able to look through the book and see that OH YES, this is what most people experience.
And, if you're wondering, it is perfectly normal to have dreams about drinking beer and wake up in a panic because you think you broke whole30...
- Meal Planning is your friend! It is also the second hardest part of the experience (sugar withdrawals being the first). It's just super time consuming and I never really wanted to do it. But, I did it every week and it was super helpful to have a weekly menu and be able to plan ahead for when to make certain things. I'm in three night classes right now, two of which are 6:00 pm - 9:20 pm, so two nights a week I have to pack dinner. This means Thursday night is usually leftovers and I have to cook Wednesday night's dinner on Tuesday. It would have been so hard to work that out if I didn't meal plan! Here's one of my favorite sites (that I didn't find until the third week, but it was so helpful) that lists 30 nights of dinners! Dawn Nicole Whole30
- Actually read through the recipes before you start cooking. I am notorious for just beginning - I don't typically have things prepped or measured or the pots and pans I need set out. Your life will become a lot easier if you know ahead of time what you're going to have to do and what you will need. It also helps to read through because if you found the recipe online claiming its Whole30 friendly, it might not actually be Whole30 friendly. Know what you can and can't have and scan the recipes for those items before committing to them.
- HAVE FUN! It's not the end of the world and you don't have to stop your social life because you can't have grains or dairy or alcohol. Logan and I went to two soccer games, a baseball game, snowshoeing, and to a few movies. Just know ahead of time what you're going to eat while you're there and make sure you either pack snacks or eat beforehand. We would sneak almonds into movies and lärabars into soccer games. It's possible to go out and have fun, it just takes a lot more planning (and a lot more self-control)
I've had some people ask me if I am going to keep eating this diet, and the answer is no. I'm not going to restrict the types of foods I put into my body every day, but I am going to be very conscientious of what I'm eating and what it does for me. If eating Panera mac & cheese makes me sleepy and moody, I probably won't get it for lunch (dinner, sure). That being said, I definitely want to do Whole30 again. Logan and I have talked about doing it twice a year as a sort of reboot for our systems after periods of eating poorly - or before them.
If you have any questions, either about whole30 as a program or about my experience on it, don't hesitate to ask!