After nearly a month since its ending, I’m finally writing about my Whole 30 experience! (This has truly been the longest month of my life.) Whole 30, if you don’t know, is a 30 day program designed to revert your body to relying solely on a caveman’s diet essentially. You’re not allowed dairy, sugar, alcohol or grains for 30 days. Some people, like my friend Jennifer, are crazy enough to do it for upwards of 60+ days. I am not one of those people. However, Whole 30 has been good for me! So while I sit here at my desk eating macaroni and cheese, let’s talk about Whole 30.
30 days is a long time. When you’re not allowed any sugar, alcohol, grains or dairy it gets old pretty fast. Your creativity also runs out pretty quickly, or gets pushed to the limit. I ran out of ideas within the first week and resorted to 100% internet and Pinterest meal ideas. I pretty much do everything in my life on the fly and this was no exception. I rarely meal planned, which could have been my downfall if I wasn’t already so committed to finishing the full 30.
This was by far the hardest meal for me. Before I started, I’d eat either Greek yogurt + honey or oatmeal for breakfast. Since I wasn’t allowed either of these things, and I’m not a huge egg fan, I mostly just ate fruit. Whole 30 forced me to like bananas. I discovered I’m kind of a picky eater? I like what I like and don’t vary too often, but for the potassium and as just another food option, I ate bananas. I also made fruit salad with cinnamon sans whipped cream. 10/10 would recommend.
In week 2.5 when I discovered Lara bars, I ate those. “They” (the powers that be over Whole 30) say that your brain doesn’t know the difference between a Snickers bar or a Lara bar. To that I say, poppycock. My stomach sure knew the difference and that counts. Most of the Lara bars are Whole 30 approved, just be sure to check the ingredients list before chowing down. My favorites are the lemon pie, apple pie and key lime pie. I like pie.
On weekend mornings when I had a little more time for breakfast, I’d saute apples, ghee, and cinnamon. It. Was. Delicious. The great thing about Whole 30 is that I never felt guilt for eating anything. Since I could have ghee, it felt like I was eating like a normal person, only more conscious about what she was putting into her body.
Lunch was usually leftovers from dinner the night before. Occasionally I’d choke down a spinach salad, but it wasn’t my favorite. Probably because I didn’t meal plan and add any chicken or meat to it, but that’s neither here nor there.
There were a couple of times I was forced to go out for lunch. Once, it was a Tex-Mex place and I was starving. I should win an award for passing on the chips and salsa. That is some serious will-power. I ended up ordering tacos and only eating the insides. Guacamole salad? I’ll eat the lettuce underneath. Taco guts? Yummy.
Two or three other times I checked out Mod Market, a local place serving up farm to table “fast” food. Now there’s a salad I can get behind.
Other times I just had to pass on going out. Which really wasn’t that hard! I knew I was doing this challenge for a reason and blowing it on Chick Fila for a quick lunch fix just didn’t seem fair to me or my body.
Dinner was where I really shone. When I actually did cook, I made some pretty creative stuff! Like hot wings, chicken parm without the parm, ranch dressing and chicken and vegetables (my favorite!). Honestly, if you have a craving for something, figure out a way to make it Whole 30! Fried chicken? Use almond or coconut flour and egg wash. Fried rice? Use cauliflower as a rice substitute. Chocolate? Just drink some apple juice or hot tea. This was my biggest hack! At night when I’d want something sweet, I’d just drink a few ounces of apple or cranberry juice while I made dinner. It was an easy fix and kept me out of my secret freezer chocolate stash. Over time, the juice actually tasted sweeter to me! It was weird.
Honestly? I didn’t. I mean, I was more active that month than most other months, but I didn’t drastically change anything. I did a few workouts here and there and walked the dogs, but I didn’t join a gym or finish a workout DVD. I just ate better and thought more about working out.
WHAT I LEARNED:
This was difficult. Mildly, compared to some of the other things I’ve done in my life, but changing something you’ve been doing for years is hard. But I did it! And I lost twelve pounds! (I’ve gained about five of it back, but that’s to be expected.) More than anything, I’m just proud of myself. I did something on my own without needing to held accountable to anyone but myself. I needed that little boost, I think.
I’d always heard people brag about how differently their bodies felt when they ate clean. I knew there had to be some truth in it because why would so many people claim that to be true if it weren’t? It truly was amazing to watch my body gradually change over the course of thirty days. My guts felt better, my heart palpitations nearly ceased, and I looked better. Towards the end I could really tell I’d lost some weight and I felt more confident and proud that it wasn’t my working out that did it, but what I put in my body. I was incredibly conscious of that. It trained my brain to look at ingredients, only shop the outside walls of the markets, and stop filling up on carbs because it’s easier. (she says as she eats macaroni)
The craziest thing that happened was the size of my abdomen! Sure, I lost weight, but because I was eating clean I was virtually never bloated. All I drank was water and it showed. The day I was finished I ate wings and fried pickles and my stomach has never been the same. 🙁
HOW I FEEL NOW:
Since living on my own I’ve been solely responsible for what I eat and drink. While I don’t binge eat or necessarily eat terribly, I don’t eat a lot and when I do eat it’s things that aren’t that great for me. Grocery shopping with my friend Cait this month I made the passing comment that, “Cool! These groceries will last me all month!” She looked down at my basket and said, “How much are you eating? Are you eating enough?” “Oh…probably not.” And that’s true! I don’t really eat a lot. I get distracted very easily and don’t eat big meals. This last week I’ve been adding a snack at work in the afternoon just to give myself more energy. #LARABAR
I’ve made the promise to myself to meal plan before I grocery shop and stop buying pasta as a filler. It’s cheap and filling, but it isn’t good for me. Instead, I should replace that with quinoa or rice or greens. The last twenty-something days of eating like I used to have made me feel like I used to: bloated, tired, and unhappy. It’s insane how much food is tied to my mental well being. Two therapists have told me that so far and I just brushed it off, but believe me. Eat better, feel better.
FROM NOW ON:
I’ve virtually stopped eating fast food. It’s costly and never makes me feel good. It’s a nice splurge every now and then but isn’t a way to live my life. Sorry, Whataburger. 🙁 I’ve been drinking more water, cutting down caffeine (Bonus! It helps with my anxiety!), and cooking more at home. I haven’t drastically changed my lifestyle, but I’m working towards a more holistic way of living. This is just one piece of a very large puzzle.
-Have you/will you do the Whole 30 Challenge?
-How do you stay healthy?
-What are your favorite meals to make?