So, let me start by telling you how I feel today … day 31. One word: AWESOME!!!! Now, writing about my journey is a way for me to help others think carefully about their food choices and make a change. I am not a doctor; I am not a dietician; I am not a whole30 ambassador; I am simply a girl who tried something that worked, and I want to share.
Why did I start Whole30?
1. This is embarrassing to admit, but I was waking up multiple mornings, with swollen fingers. My wedding band and my engagement ring wouldn’t fit. Some days, I would only be able to get my band on. Some days, neither. I hated it. I felt terrible knowing that I couldn’t wear my beautiful symbol of love and commitment on my finger.
2. I was starting to get angry with Italy. Okay, not really. I did, however, begrudge myself for having second lunches and second dinners while on the vacation of a lifetime. You might be thinking, “You went in August! It’s not Italy’s fault!” Well, you’re kind of right, and you’re kind of wrong. Being in Italy set my good food choice monitor into a frenzy which shot-circuited the mechanism that allowed me to say no to delicious food because you only live once. I’m not kidding. That fifth piece of focaccia bread was something I deserved. It was something I craved. It was something I couldn’t resist. In the real world, we know that “mechanism” is a combination of two little things known as self-control and leptin. : ) Well, I wasn’t showing any level of self-control; I wasn’t getting full when I should have been; I was eating more food with no brakes than I had in years; My weight would not get out of the 140 range which is the heaviest I had been since I came back from my study abroad experience at 148! And, I couldn’t get the weight off! I had always heard adults say that losing weight was harder as you get older. I had just never experienced that.
3. My pants were bursting at the seams. I’m not joking. I would put on my work pants and just know I was going to be in a state of discomfort all day. I felt my stomach hanging over my waistband. My love-handles were on display for all to see. I felt like any crazy movements at work would leave me with torn pants and a seriously bruised ego.
4. I was waking up feeling awful every day. I would go to bed around 10:00 pm. Wake up at 6:30 am and wouldn’t feel rested at all. At one point, I thought I was ill. Seriously. I thought, “How can I need this much sleep! My body never feels rested.”
5. I didn’t think I could do it. You know I don’t shy away from a challenge. So, I did it.
Saturday before …
We decided throughout the week that we were going to start on Monday. It was a holiday weekend, so we would have time to meal prep, read up on Whole30, and begin our journey. We decided to go ahead and make my favorite puff pastry recipe laden with goat and ricotta cheese encased in flaky, crispy carbs. Delicious. We also decided that a Saturday night in was cause for celebration. A celebration with enough adult beverages for a dinner party … serving just two.
Sunday before …
Well, that morning we woke up feeling awful! Headaches, angry stomachs, tired eyes, etc. In an effort to extend our weekend of gluttony, we attended an “all you can eat” brunch buffet. You might be thinking, “You were eating all that because you knew you’d be depriving yourself for the next thirty days!” My response: Um, no. This was our new normal. During the week, most nights, we would eat grilled chicken and vegetables, drink nothing but flavored water, have a small little dessert after dinner, but Friday through Sunday were no holds barred. “Game on!” was the battle cry of my taste buds as I entered the weekend. We also started slipping garlic bread into each dinner. That became a staple we always craved.
That night, we hunkered down and tried to find some great recipes to try during Whole30. We settled on a few to start.
Day 1 – 142 pounds. Yikes. What did I do these past few months? We had ordered the Whole30 book, but it didn’t arrive in time. We navigated the Whole30 website, and some other helpful paleo sites, to find some recipes of what we could make for the week. We settled on some Kitchen Sink Eggs for breakfast. It was kind of bland but very filling. I didn’t love it, but I ate it. It wasn’t my normal Vegan Chocolate Shakeology with a banana and PB2, but it would do. We left to buy in bulk at BJs right after. We spent about two hours shopping. It was exhausting. Reading labels. Checking ingredients for compliance with Whole30. Trying to locate as much organic product as we could. Finding a new Balsamic Vinegar without sulfites. Finding coconut milk that was compliant. Buying a new kind of mustard. Buying almond butter. Buying chicken stock that was compliant. UGH! It took forever, not to mention it cost hundreds of dollars. We returned home with bags of food. Just putting the food away was a daunting task, but then we had to cook? While hubby was in the kitchen, I decided to read a new book. I was just recovering from being sick for a week, so my energy was low. I steamed some edamame and snacked while I read. BIG MISTAKE: Day 1 was a wash at that point. It wasn’t until later that night that I realized anything soy was off my plate for the next 30 days.
So, using a restaurant term, we had a soft opening with the Grand Opening starting the next day.
Day 1 (again) – I was so mad that I messed up our first day! But, if Whole30 teaches you anything, it’s tough love. You mess up; you start over. No exceptions. No excuses. No complaining.
Tip 1: Do your homework! Don’t be like me. Don’t start until you really know what you should and shouldn’t be eating. You don’t want to get one week in and realize you’ve been messing up all along.
Tip 2: DO NOT cook on the same day you meal prep. Unless you have the energy of a Greek God, you are setting yourself up for a day of fatigue. We cook for hours on Sunday!
Tip 3: If you are busy like us, you need to meal prep. Whole30 would love it if you could cook each night and enjoy the fruits of your labor right away. For us, that’s not an option. If we want to fit a workout in after work, we need to meal prep. So, we cook in bulk. We make at least one major protein dish and a few sides. I also prep breakfast for the week. We have our meal calendar planned and printed each week.
Day 2 through 7- I felt great! I wasn’t even drinking coffee in the morning. Just some Earl Grey tea. I was tired after work, but I wasn’t craving junk foods. I wasn’t feeling deprived either. I didn’t work out that week. I just made sure I walked at least 30 minutes each day. Not eating my favorite foods was mentally hard, so I didn’t want to do some crazy workouts like I normally do which make me NEED tons of food after. Day 7 – 135 pounds? AMAZING!
Day 8 – Son of a b*tch. I can’t even watch tv. FOOD. FOOD. FOOD! EVERYWHERE!!! I literally would fast forward through food commercials because they made me want pizza. I was even craving foods I never eat like McDonald’s fries. Thank goodness I had my Whole 30 book. I kept me on track as I read it before bed each night with my tea.
Tip 4: TEA! I had many teas on hand at all times. When I was done with dinner, I would go right to drinking tea. It would keep me from wanting a sweet dessert. Keep a variety of herbal and decaffeinated teas on hand at all times. Even keep some at work to take the edge off when you are having a craving.
Tip 5: Stay off social media. If you’re like me, and you love a delicious milkshake, a carefully crafted Bloody Mary, a tower of a burger, or just snacks for days. My advice? STAY OFF SOCIAL MEDIA. I’m not kidding. Seeing people’s pro-junkfood posts made me second guess my Whole30 philosophy, even if it was for just a short moment. You only live once, right? When you’re making this change to your body, change other habits, too. Think about it as a new you. I’m sure you can afford to spend less time chasing your news feed as it updates at the speed of light. Trust me.
Day 9 – 136.8 pounds? I went up? : ( I was reading It Starts with Food by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig (Whole30 creators). As I started reading about how awful Oreos are for me, I started dreaming about how delicious they tasted. The disgustingly processed treat was flashing through my mind. I wanted them so badly. I’m not going to lie. I still think about them now. 32 days later … that’s just something I’m going to have to deal with. I know they are terrible for my body and my psyche. I just need to always be prepared to resist them. I am really saying that unless they are part of some incredible vacation treat, I won’t be eating them. S’mores on the other hand … when is the first campfire? I’m being real about this eating plan. I know I wouldn’t be able to resist a S’more with my nephews at our first cookout of the season. However, as long as I know I am not going to be sporadically sneaking Oreos from the pantry as a pre-dinner treat, I’ll be okay.
Day 10 through 22 – I felt great! I was falling asleep in two to three minutes before bed. I was sleeping through the night. I was feeling rested when I awoke each day. I got back into working our 4-6 times a week. Each night I would peel a numbered Post-it off my mirror, I would think of beer and wine. That was really the only craving I was craving. I missed our Friday night relaxing drinks and a movie. 135.4 lbs. almost every day. I have never had a consistent weight day to day. NEVER! When I was eating whatever I wanted, I would fluctuate 3-6 pounds each day. On Whole30, my weight was so consistent. I fell in love with that more than the actual number on the scale.
Tip 6: Display your dates so you “see” your plan multiple times a day. I put my Post-its on my bedroom mirror. I would see them countdown at the start and end of each day. I never used to be this person. I wouldn’t display my progress. I wouldn’t keep track of my work. I didn’t want to be too invested for fear that I would fall off the wagon. I’m coming around on that, and it helped me succeed.
Day 23 through 26 – I am a freaking champion. Working out, fueling my body with proper nutrition. Sleeping regularly. Working out like an animal. I can do this.
Day 27 – I’m at a wedding. There’s alcohol everywhere. Passed appetizers that remind me of my old self. Every time I refused an appetizer, I thought about how my old self would have responded, “Yes, please!” to every server’s question. I thought about how much food I would be eating simply because it was there and it tasted good. I thought about the few options of drinks there were for me. Unsweetened iced tea! What a savior! Until this moment, I had never thought about people who don’t drink at social events. There just aren’t many satisfying options. Water? So blah! Soda? Um, sugar! Iced tea called out to me. Thank goodness!
Day 28 – Family birthday celebration at an Italian restaurant? Focaccia bread. It looked so good. Wine as a celebratory beverage? Just a sip? Uh! This was difficult. I’m almost done with Whole30. Should I … No! I sat and watched my family devour that sauced up, cheesy, bread. And I DID NOT partake. Don’t shy away from going to restaurants while on Whole30. Take your new habits for a test-drive. It’s important because restaurants are a real part of life!
Tip 7: Don’t go to a restaurant really hungry. Sometimes, dinner plans with other people throws our meal times off plan. Don’t let that happen. If you go hungry, you are bound to eat off plan. Eat some cashews before you go into the restaurant, that way, waiting for food won’t be hard! Also, check that there are options for you to eat before you go!
Day 29 and 30 – Booyah! I did it. I feel incredible. What am I going to introduce first?
Day 31 – I’m nervous. I don’t want to go off plan. I’ll have a few sips of wine as a celebration. The few siips take delicious. Chianti. Yum. What? Now I can’t sleep? This hasn’t happened to me in a month. I just can’t go to sleep. Finally, sleep. Uh, now I can’t stay asleep. : (
Tip 8: Start on a Monday. That way, when you finish the program, it will most likely be a Wednesday. You DO NOT want to finish on a Friday or Saturday. You will be too inclined to fall off the wagon right away. But you might want to celebrate your achievement, so make Friday night your celebration day! Day 32 or 33 : )
Day 32 – What are we meal-prepping this week? I need to eat some protein. Hmm… Friday night beer? Sure! Half a beer in … it’s okay, but I need water. Uh, I’ve been laying here for 20 minutes, and I still can’t sleep! What is happening?
Day 33 – I hate alcohol. I miss sleeping soundly. Kitchen sink eggs for breakfast it is!
Tip 9: Fully invest in yourself in this process. It’s hard, but it’s doable. Take before and after pictures. Track your feelings and progress. Don’t weigh yourself like I did. It makes you question things you shouldn’t be questioning. Regardless of if you lose weight or not, life will be better for you. You WILL look and feel better.
Tip 10: Be open to more changes than just your food. Now is the time to really look at your unhealthy habits, not just pertaining to your body either (social media, spending tons of money on restaurant cuisine, etc.)
Tip 11: Whole30 is a team effort, treat it as such. I wouldn’t have been able to complete this program without my hubs. If he was eating chicken wings and beer each night, I would have caved after seven minutes. If you don’t have an SO, find a friend. Meal prep with each other. Share prepped meals. Hold each other accountable!