Well my husband and I made it through our first Whole30 challenge and sweet baby Jesus it worked!! Before we started this journey, we were both tired, feeling out of shape and had started to recognize some issues with food. Sugar cravings were a big issue and food cravings in general started to be a routine thing. This was true for me particularly as I was coming off a pregnancy. (Need I say more about cravings?) We had also noticed some sensitivity issues like stomach troubles after eating dairy, blood sugar highs and lows (to the extent of getting shaky) and the daily afternoon energy crash. Sound familiar?
We dabbled in eating Paleo for the last year but never really made a full commitment. Who wants to give up all that? We try to make good food choices and surely we can exercise our way into our skinny clothes, right? But that was not happening. I had just had a baby, we spent 7 weeks traveling back and forth to the hospital in another town where our son was in the NICU as a preemie, ate out all the time because we were never home, then once we did get the baby home we were adjusting to life with a newborn and everything that brings……we had a lot going on. With no energy to exercise, I felt, as my friend Amber likes to say, like a busted can of biscuits in my clothes. You know what I’m talking about. Your pants slide down while your fat pops out the top. I may have even popped a seam or two but we won’t talk about that. Either way it wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t where I wanted to be. Enter Whole30.
I learned about the Whole30 searching for recipes within the “Paleo” community. I saw the name brought up a lot but didn’t really know what it was so one day I decided to do some exploring and visited the plan website. I read through the basics, liked the approach and decided I could and should give it a try. I really liked that they addressed the psychology of food, not just food choices. Real change is all about behavior modification and I knew that.
Fortunately, I didn’t have too difficult a time transitioning into the Whole30 guidelines because I had already tackled giving up dairy, due to a nursing baby with a milk sensitivity. THAT was really hard for me. I mourned cheese. I still miss cheese. And though I didn’t think I ate a lot of sugar, sugar cravings plagued me well into week 3 and especially during my sister’s baby shower on day 27. I wanted to binge on the homemade chocolate chip cookies. Like I-wonder-how-many-I-could-eat-before-I-got-sick binge. I even took some home to have on day 31.
What I found at the end though, was that I didn’t really want the cookies. In fact, I gave them away. As of today, I am down 7lbs, FOUR inches in my waist and 1 ½ inches on my hips. My husband lost twelve pounds. TWELVE!! And while I try not to get caught up on the numbers those results make me really happy! Even better though is how I feel. I feel REALLY GOOD. I’m not drained of energy after I eat something because I eat things that keep my blood sugar stable. I don’t feel bloated all the time or have swelling in my hands since I’ve reduced inflammation in my body and don’t eat foods that contribute to that. Yes, I had sweetener (coconut sugar) in my coffee this morning, but I am content with 2 tablespoons to a whole JAR of my coconut milk creamer versus 2 or 3 or 4 tablespoons of table sugar or worse, artificial sugar in EACH of the lattes I used to have daily (not to mention the ADDED sugar in the milk they were made with).
As they say in the Whole30 book, It Starts with Food, the food you eat will either make you healthier or unhealthier. This new kind of healthy feels so good, I plan to keep going. I mean swimsuit season is right around the corner (aaagh!!) I know I still have work to do, though. I’m pretty sure my reaction to those cookies (a trigger food for me) was not healthy. I’m afraid to start reintroduction because I don’t want to spiral out of control back into my old habits. Figuring out my personal balance of what I should have in my diet and what should stay eliminated will take some time, but the journey and knowledge gained has been totally worth it.
So for anyone out there considering a Whole30 for yourself, I encourage you to try it and need to share a few tips I’ve learned.
- Read It Starts with Food first so you can get prepared. This is not something you can just jump into overnight. You need to read the book and you’ll need it a zillion times to refer back to.
- Food prep is essential. You HAVE to have good choices available or else it’s too easy and too convenient to cheat.
- Use the resources available in the book, the website and all over the internet because you will want some variety and recipe ideas after week 2. If you get bored with your food, you’ll be more likely to quit.
- Spend $15 and get the daily email. It is FULL of great info, perfectly timed for what you will experience and provides lots of encouragement.
- Expect to totally change how you grocery shop and what you spend your money on. If you’re like us, you’ll need way more protein than you realize. Buy it first, then veggies, then fats.
- How and if you go totally organic will take some thought. It’s not a requirement of the plan, but as you get more educated about food, you’ll probably want to. For us, however, it’s been a hard transition not for lack of desire, but because it can be expensive. I’m still figuring this one out. What I’m seeing preliminarily is if you can put the money out up front in a crop share and purchasing meat in bulk, you can potentially save a lot of money throughout the year, but we have yet to make that leap. Look at your options and decide what’s best for your family. If you can’t afford all organic, do the best with what you have. Start with eliminating the dirty dozen in produce and if that’s all you can do, so be it. You’ll still reap major benefits from cutting out so much other bad stuff from your diet.
- Last but not least, when they say you’ll start thinking of breakfast differently, it’s true. You can only have so many scrambled eggs, frittatas & egg casseroles. This morning for breakfast I had a piece of grilled chicken, a grapefruit & my coffee with coconut milk creamer and was totally ok with that. Breakfast does not have to equal typical breakfast food and by week 4, you won’t want it to.
Good luck to anyone starting a Whole30! Feel free to ask me any questions and I’ll keep you posted on our progress as we continue…..