MY WHOLE 30 EXPERIENCE
Happy Thursday! As most of you know, I recently completed Whole30! It was so hard but I’m extremely glad that I did it. As promised, I am writing this blog post to share my journey with you:
Why did I do Whole30?
Although most people assume I did Whole30 because of our wedding, I actually had a laundry list of reasons. Of course I want to look and feel my best on my wedding day, but I was already pretty happy with how I looked on the outside. On the inside however, I hated how I felt. If you follow me on instagram, you know I love to workout. Working out is something I have rarely struggled with. I may have a few weeks where I work out less due to work or blog obligations. But, overall I work out consistently. A few weeks before I decided to start Whole30, I started realizing that everyday I was struggling with low energy.
Basically my day would go like this: wake up tired from a long night of tossing and turning, grab something unhealthy for breakfast with a large caffeinated drink (think sweet tea or a soda) to wash it down and give me energy to start the day. I would grind for the next two hours before crashing and ordering Postmates because I had no energy to leave and pick up food or cook. I would grab another caffeinated drink to thwart the impending crash. After lunch I would be desperate for something sweet to eat (thanks to already downing high sugar drinks all day) so I would grab ice cream, a cookie, etc. I’d work out before dinner. I would push so hard to get through my workouts but it just seemed normal. They were hard workouts after all. By dinner I’d try and be responsible and cook a super healthy dinner. But I’d always ask Michael to bring me a soda on his way in because I would be on my way to crashing, again!
As you can see, even though I was working out, my diet was TRASH! I was getting through the day going from sugar high to sugar crash and back again. Of course by the time I went to bed I couldn’t sleep. All that sugar and caffeine would not let me be great. I’m generally a high energy person. I consider myself a morning and night person. I rarely nap. So I hate to feel sluggish. For some reason, my mind made the connection between my diet and how I felt but it still wasn’t enough for me to change my diet. The thing is, I don’t do crash diets or fad diets. I don’t believe in them. I think crash diets are great for losing a ton of weight fast but they are never the way to change your lifestyle. I wanted to change my lifestyle. I hated waking up in the morning and craving bad foods or an unhealthy, greasy breakfast and sweet tea. I hated feeling like I HAD to have a dessert after lunch or dinner. I also hated working out so hard and not feeling like my body reflected all my hard work or feeling unhealthy.
I debated starting Whole30 before. I even had the book and didn’t realize it (I thought it was just a recipe book). I finally got the push I needed when a close family member had a health scare and I decided to make the commitment to eat clean for 30 days.
So what is Whole30?
I won’t go into a lot of detail about the program since the website has a ton of guides. Here is a link to the rules. Basically, you just eat clean for 30 days. That means no added sugar, no alcohol, no grains, no legumes, no dairy, no additives, etc. Check out the link to learn more about the rules and the reasoning behind them.
How did I feel?
I decided to start Whole30 the last day of July. It was the day before Michael left for his bachelor trip so I went through the first 4 days solo. I think it actually helped because I was able to eat whatever compliant food I could without cooking entire meals for two. IT WAS HARD. I can’t even lie to you. I felt so weak and tired. I craved every single food I loved and even foods I didn’t love lol. I just wanted to eat something bad. Cravings are powerful things. I knew the food was bad and I would feel like crap after I ate the bad things so I just powered through. Luckily my MOH decided to do Whole30, too. We would text about food non-stop those first few days. It helped to have someone else going through the pain of eating clean with me. When Michael got back he joined as well. It was great to cook Whole30 meals for both of us. He is the natural clean eater in the relationship so he loved all the meals. By week 3, it got WAY easier and it was second nature to go for the good foods over the bad foods. I became a pro at reading labels. I stopped craving bad foods as much. Sometimes I wanted something sweet but I have a strong sweet tooth. I don’t think that will ever change.
What about your workouts?
The first two weeks I took it easy at the gym. I only went to my boxing trainer at Knuckle Up. Our first session on Whole30 was brutal. I honestly felt like I was moving in slow motion. When it comes to workouts, I have an athlete’s mentality. I want to push myself to the max and never give up. I get down on myself if I don’t perform to my best ability. It was hard. My trainer gave me a pep talk and made me feel better. He reminded me that for a long time my body was using sugar and carbs for energy. Whole30 was putting my body in shock. It would take time before my body realized it needed to burn fat instead. My second session was the complete opposite of the first. They were like night and day. I had one of my best workouts ever. I was more agile, needed less water breaks and I was sharper mentally. I found the same results in my other workouts like OrangeTheory and hot yoga.
Did I break any rules?
When I planned to do Whole30, I completely forgot we had our wedding menu tasting scheduled for August. I was on Whole30 for 3 weeks by that point. I didn’t sweat it. I went in and tasted everything. I felt like shit after (lol) but I was proud of myself. The tasting was the first time I realized that my mindset about food had really changed. Usually when I would try to eat clean before, if I cheated or had something bad, I would just throw the whole clean eating away. But I had to realize I’m human and I have to live my life. I was able to go into the tasting, try all the food, and leave and go right back to Whole30. They packed up the leftovers from the tasting and sent them home with us but I didn’t eat any of the non-compliant Whole30 food they sent. I didn’t want Whole30 to be a 30 day diet and then go back to my old ways. I already told ya’ll how I feel about diets. I really wanted to change my relationship with food. After that tasting, I could see how the non-compliant food affected me. Both Michael and I were almost asleep after eating the last dish. Even after 3 weeks of super clean eating, I was already feeling sluggish after our tasting. When you are used to having high energy and using food to fuel you, you hate the feeling of being weighed down by food.
With anything else in life, you have to set yourself up for success. Here are tips I would give for anyone following Whole30:
(1) Get your condiment game together. On whole30, you pretty much can’t eat any condiments besides yellow mustard. This will get old really quickly. I was able to find us a ton of condiments that were Whole30 compliant from Primal Kitchen and The New Primal . I already knew about The New Primal because unbeknownst to me, our favorite marinade is their Hot & Spicy marinade and it’s Whole30 compliant! During Whole30, our favorites were Primal Kitchen’s caesar dressing, green goddess dressing and ketchup. We went through like 3 bottles of their ketchup! Also, we killed their No Soy Teriyaki sauce. You can’t have soy or MSG on Whole30 which meant no Chinese/Thai takeout for us. I tried their teriyaki sauce and it is SO GOOD. It tastes exactly like any other teriyaki sauce. We love all the marinades and the BBQ sauces from The New Primal. We are actually going to continue to use all these marinades and condiments after Whole30. They all taste so much like the non-compliant versions and are way healthier. You can order them from Amazon but we also found some at Whole Foods and Harris Teeter.
(2) If you travel a lot, get a list of restaurants that you know have Whole30 compliant options: If you are not at home often due to travel, it will be harder to cook and prep a lot of meals. No worries! There are a ton of forums online that list restaurants with compliant options. We had CAVA a couple times. There’s also CHOPT and Chipotle. It’s easier to eat compliant on the road than you think! Just check nutrition facts online or contact the corporate offices of the restaurants to confirm ingredients if you have any questions.
(3) Preparation is key: This goes with the tip above. Make sure you prepare as much as possible. For me personally, the less prepared I am, the more likely I will go with what I’m craving which is not always a good thing! Especially in the beginning of Whole30 when you just want all the bad things. Whether that means meal prep or planning where you will eat during travel. Also, before going out to dinner, research the menu and even call the restaurant if you have to. Tell your waitress you’re on Whole30. A lot of restaurants have allergy menus with soy-free, peanut-free and dairy-free options posted online. Also, bring your condiments. We definitely brought dressings and ketchup with us. Don’t be scared to ask for substitutions or asking for your food to be prepared differently (ie, no butter, grilled instead of fried, etc.)
(4) Have a friend do it with you: If my MOH and Michael didn’t do Whole30 with me, it certainly would’ve been a lot harder. Knowing your friend is going through the clean eating struggle motivates you to keep going. Also, you can share tips or recipes you find online. It takes a village!
(5) If you slip up, don’t beat yourself up: I could’ve given up on Whole30 when I knew I was going to our catering tasting. But, the goal was to change my relationship with food. You may inadvertently eat something non-compliant, a waitress may leave cheese on your salad, etc. At the end of the day, you have to just keep going. After all, after Whole30 is over and you start reintroducing foods back into your diet, you want to be able to do so without falling all the way off the wagon and going back to your old eating ways.
Did I lose weight?
Whole30 actually discourages using the scale or taking measurements throughout the program. They are ok with you weighing yourself after Whole30 is over. I decided to weigh myself a few times during out of curiosity. At the end of Whole30 I’m down 12 pounds.
What am I doing now?
Truth be told, I was scared for Whole30 to come to an end. I could tell that my mind was right but would I go ham once all the restrictions were lifted? I’m happy to say that I am not eating like I used to. I actually am being a lot smarter about my food choices. We have introduced a few things back into our diets. I have had a couple vegan chocolate chip cookies here and there (they are my weakness). I have also added grains back during breakfast. Whole30 was the hardest for me during breakfast. In the mornings I’ve been making avocado toast, eggs and turkey bacon. I like to have a larger breakfast and then have a slightly smaller lunch and small dinner. We are still using all the same condiments and marinades we used during Whole30 because it just seems silly not to since we like the taste and they are healthier. I still am only drinking water unless I get some fresh squeezed juice during breakfast. I know there are so many added sugars to drinks so I am steering clear and sticking with water. We are staying away from dairy as much as possible. Dairy is so, so bad for you. I love pizza though. I plan to eat it once in a blue moon. I still haven’t though which I’m really proud of since I am a pizza lover through and through.
I am so happy I did Whole30 and I have so much energy and I feel so much better. My workouts are better and I am happier. If you are debating, I would recommend you really commit and try it. If you have any questions, let me know!