This post ended up being way longer than I ever imagined. There is so much to say about my Whole30 experience. Because it was going on so long, I decided to break it up into two parts. Check out Part 1 below:
Inspired by my friend and one of my favorite social media presences, Lexington (@looks_by_lexington on Instagram- follow her for incredible makeup, skincare and memes), I decided to try the Whole30 Program, which is a dietary program that is designed to reset your system in 30 days in order to have a better understanding of how certain foods affect your body, your mind, and your spirit.
It was perfect timing to start a program like this because Adam and I had just moved into our apartment not long before I found out about it, so we didn’t have much food in our refrigerator or pantry yet and had been eating out a lot due to unpacking and Adam starting a new job. It just made sense to have a fresh start. I’m happy to announce that after 30 days, we are finally finished with it! Here are a few takeaways from the experience as a whole from me (and a few from Adam also).
I also wanted to share some of our favorite recipes from the month, but unfortunately we didn't take any pictures (or documentation of any kind at all) of the food we made, so I'll just give links to some of the recipes we got from other sources and some recommendations.
“Why? You’re so skinny?”
First, I want to start with my reasoning for deciding to try the Whole30 in the first place. One of the first questions I got from friends and family when I told them about it was, “Why? Why do you need to go on a diet? You’re so skinny!” For me, it had nothing to do with losing weight, since I am naturally a very slim person. I took the Whole30 as a personal challenge in will power, mainly, as well as a way to become a more conscious consumer. I love the idea of knowing with certainty what is going into my body and what is fueling my day. I’ve never challenged myself in this way before. I’ve never done a thirty day challenge of any kind, let alone one that has such a huge impact on my day-to-day life. Food is a huge part of every day.
When doing the Whole30, you cannot eat “added sugar- real or artificial, alcohol in any form, grains, legumes, dairy, carrageenan, MSG, or sulfites, baked goods, or junk foods.” That sounds like all the food right? But that still leaves, all fruits and vegetables, most forms of meat protein and eggs. It’s not easy, but it’s certainly not as hard as it seems at first, and keeps getting easier as the days go by.
The Tough Stuff
The first thing I noticed changing was in the first week. I had a major headache for about three days. I knew it was from the lack of added sugar (which is probably one of my most prominent vices). It was tough to push past it, especially knowing I could easily alleviate the problem just by putting a teaspoon of sugar in my friggin’ coffee. But I did it, I drank that coffee black for 30 days (cups and cups of black coffee). Adam hated not being allowed to have cream in his coffee, too, but substituted with almond milk or coconut milk, which he’s decided to try to stick to after the 30 days.
After the headaches, we both noticed how much hungrier we were throughout the day. It’s really tough to eat enough meat, vegetables, and fruit to fill you up at every meal without letting bread, or pasta do the most of the filling. It was also hard (mostly for me) to get past snacking. I’m used to grazing on snacks (healthy and not so healthy) throughout the day, so I had a hard time choosing to prepare and eat lunch every day. There were some days I just ate fruit and nuts all day and stayed busy to avoid having to dirty dishes by cooking myself lunch.
Finally, Adam and I love to eat out and, being in a new city, were eager to try lots of new restaurants. The Whole30, kinda ruined that for a while, because it is hard to eat out during the Whole30. Admittedly, we had a few fudged moments at restaurants when things were made with butter, soy, or cheese that we didn’t realize and maybe consumed some trace amounts of those “bad” things. But we were both satisfied with our decisions and our hard work, and decided to push on instead of restarting.
*Bonus: Parties and group outings just are not fun when you have to be careful about your party food and can't have a drink or two. (Two 21st birthdays and Labor Day weekend, friends. Choose your month carefully.)
The Fun Stuff
The good takeaways from this experience far outweigh the tough stuff, in my opinion. I reached all of my personal goals and had some surprise positives, too.
First, I feel so proud of both of us for taking a leap, and trying something really challenging, and doing it really well. That was honestly enough for me. After the last 30 days, I feel like I have a better relationship with food. I know which things I’ll want to reinstate as staples in the kitchen, and which things I now know I can live without (or only really need occasionally).
Speaking of the kitchen, we both are such better cooks these days. Neither of us was an awful cook to start with. We both know our way around a kitchen pretty well, but I am now so much more confident and comfortable with experimenting or just tossing something together, without relying on a variation of spaghetti. Nowadays, cooking isn’t a huge chore for either of us. Like I said before, we love going out to eat, but we’re also huge take-outers with GrubHub on speed dial (is speed dial still a thing?), so this month has been great on the wallet as well. We’ve been spending less than $100 a week on groceries (shoutout to Aldi) on mainly fresh of frozen produce that gets used up throughout the week. It’s really satisfying to see your groceries being used in a timely manner and not going bad because you decided to stop at Panda Express instead of just cooking your own dinner.
Maybe most importantly are the physical changes we’ve both seen. First and foremost, my skin has literally been the clearest it has ever been. I theorize that this is because of the lack of diary, and/or added sugar. I have always been a heavy water drinker. I’ll have an occasional soda, but most of what I drink is water, coffee, and beer. Recently, I’ve been very interested and involved in my personal skincare routine, so my skin has been slowly and steadily making positive progress to clear up, but after about two weeks on the Whole30, the zits jumped ship, bro. It’s been wild. And at least equally important is the fact that Adam says he hasn’t had any heartburn at all since we started, AND his snoring has improved (if slightly) which is a win for me.
We'll call this the end of Part 1. Be sure to check back next week for Part 2 which will have some final thoughts and some recipes and recommendations for any of you thinking about trying the Whole30 to peruse.
If you’re thinking about starting the Whole30, go to the website, do your research (read EVERYTHING BEFORE YOU START), find some social media resources, and take a chance. I guarantee that it will make a difference and teach you something.