I finished my 4th Whole30 on Wednesday. (I also did a Whole30 in June ’13, July ’14, and January’ 15.) This particular span of 30 days included New Year’s Eve, the wedding of a friend, three trips for work and the debut of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Translation: This particular span of 30 days had me on the sidelines of champagne toasts, excellent catered food, meals at the company’s expense with a plethora of non-compliant options and movie popcorn. Ug.
This 2016 Whole30 was initially financially motivated. My eating had gotten so bad that when I stepped on the scale after indulging my every whim during the holidays, I confirmed what I already knew. Unless I wanted to go out and buy a whole new wardrobe, I had to change. I had NOTHING to wear that didn’t make me look that dancing wedding guest from Steel Magnolias. (see the part at 49 seconds.)
I am an all-or-nothing kind of person when it comes to diet and exercise. I know that most people do best when they take everything in moderation; make good choices and enjoy small indulgences occasionally, but that is not how I operate. I am lousy at having only having one cookie, one slice of pizza, or one glass of wine. One turns into two…which turns into stuff-my-face-for-days. Whole30 works for me because the rules are straight forward and there is no gray area. It is all or nothing.
– Eat clean fish, meat, poultry, veggies, fruits, fats, nuts and good fats.
– Do not eat processed foods, grains, soy, sugar, alcohol, legumes, or dairy.
– Do it for 30 days.
– Reset your body and your mind at the same time.
So here is what I have taken from my most recent #Whole30:
- I feel better, physically and mentally when I eat this way.
- I am no longer grumpy about my #whole30 food choices. I have purchased two terrific cookbooks (NomNom Paleo and Whole30 Cookbook). I used Pinterest more and because of it, I was able to find several kid-friendly options that I can feed my family so that I am not cooking two different meals. (Check out my Pinterest Paleo board for ideas, although not 100% of the pins are Whole30 compliant.)
- Plan. Plan. Plan. Unlike my last Whole30s, I made and brought my breakfast or lunch to work every day, unless I had a function to attend. I planned dinner one or two nights in advance and made sure to thaw, prep and wash the night before so that cooking was a breeze. This was key to maintaining a better mood and lower stress.
- LARA bars = life savers. Cherry pie and lemon bar are my favorites.
- I lost 9 lbs. While this is great, it is only slightly more than half of what I need to lose to wear my favorite clothes again, but I’ll take it.
- My pants and jeans that barely fit in December are not only able to be zipped up now, but look better because I am not bloated and puffy. A flat tummy is so much nicer than a poochy one.
- I am sleeping better. While I never had “tiger blood” this time around, my energy level has been more consistent and mornings are not as tough after a restful night.
- I am also not dragging in the afternoon. With no need for an artificial sugar-boost toward the end of the work day, my kids have even noticed that I come home more energized and in a better mood. (Having dinner dinner planned also helped eliviate post-work day stress…see lessons above.)
- I have not felt or been sick in 30 days. No upset stomach, no hangovers, no gurgling digestion issues, nada. After months of indegestion, headaches, and general malaise, this is HUGE.
I took a more thoughtful approach to rewarding myself as well. At 10 days, bought myself a new tube of lipstick. At 15 days, I took myself to the movies. At 20 days, I got a manicure and pedicure. At 29 days, I took a 45-minute long bubble bath. I had these ideas planned out in advance and I looked forward to them the way I usually to look forward to birthday cake at a party, although in truth, I still look foward for birthday cake.
I missed cheese most of all, so on day 31, I reintroduced some sugar-free dairy by adding a little goat cheese to my grilled chicken, but otherwise I had a regular Whole30 kinda day. (I had learned from previous Whole30s that when I eat dairy combined with sugar, it is BAD. The first time I had ice cream, I thought I was having a heart attack.) I did not notice any significant side effects from the cheese aside from a little tummy rumbling. And it was worth it. I will try a few more varieties of cheese and milk, before testing legumes and grains next. And there might be wine.
Ok, there will be wine.
If you are curious about trying Whole30, I say go for it. There is no real downside. You won’t go hungry, there is no special powder you have to buy, no appliance you need to mix up your food, no contract you have to sign, and no points or calories you have to track.
Yes, 30 days of denying yourself some of your favorite foods is not fun, but on the other side, you might learn a bunch about your body and your self.
And you might get back into those skinny jeans.