I understand I have faithful followers who are quite tired of my posts about Whole30. To you, I apologize. Truly. Please stick with me and I promise to be funny again very soon.
But for those of you who have continued to follow my journey (or started your own), thank you for your encouragement, support, and sharing your stories with me.
I didn’t start Whole30 to have content to blog about. My reasons were purely selfish. And I honestly didn’t know if I could stick with it for 30 days. It was going to be a test of my strength and willpower. First and foremost, I did it to heal my body and mind after my dad’s passing. But as I continued on the journey, it became so much more than that. It was a refuge, a distraction, a healthy obsession – and at the end of the 30 days, I felt better than I have in more than a decade. So this is for those of you (more than 10 now) who have joined me in Whole30 and the 10 others who are still considering it.
Thirty days can change your life. Your relationship with food. But you have to give it your all. Here’s what I found helpful.
- Follow the rules. Prior to starting Whole30, I would begin each Monday with a renewed commitment to my health: “Today is the day I am going to eat better/give up sugar/drink less wine/etc.” My intentions were good. And I usually did fine – for a day or two. But I always fell off the wagon. Whole30 was different. Having very specific
and STRICTrules left no room for error. I kept reminding myself that it was a very short period of time. 30 days. And the results people had experienced (physically and emotionally) were unbelievable. I wanted to have similar results – and so I never wavered from the rules of the program. Even when I was taunted for drinking Kombucha instead of red wine.
- Find a friend. This program is not for the faint of heart. It will strongly test your mind and body. I would never have made it through the first week without my mom’s support. We shared recipes and headaches, vivid dreams about food and a ridiculous amount of time in the kitchen. When it came down to it, we were doing this not only for ourselves but for each other. I knew there would be healing at the end of 30 days – I just didn’t realize how much.
- Publicly share your commitment to Whole30. I was ready to throw in the towel on Day 3. My friends still laugh that I commented: “I’m a tenth of the way done today.” It was that bad. Had I not shared with hundreds of people on my blog and Facebook page that I was taking the Whole30 plunge, it would have been so much easier to spend the Fourth of July lit up like a firework instead of sipping water and eating a bunless burger.
- Make preparations ahead of time. Pick a day to start the program and use the 2-3 days leading up to your start date to prepare. Shop for groceries. Write a weekly meal plan. Make paleo mayonnaise and dips and dressings. Roast a chicken. Make an egg casserole. Fry bacon and save the drippings for future use.
- Seek online support. I had a LOT of questions as I maneuvered my way through the first couple weeks. Can I use a curry with rice bran oil? (No.) Can I have LaCroix Sparkling Water? (Yes.) How much fruit can I eat? (Approximately 2 servings a day). The Whole30 Forums were an excellent source of information and support. I spent a lot of time reading websites for recipes and inspiration (Nom Nom Paleo, The Paleo Mom, and Nerd Fitness are a few of my favorites).
- Take Before and After photos. Though the changes happen over a very short period of time, they are still gradual. I lost 7 pounds over the course of 30 days, but nothing is better than pictures to show the real results. I have worked out regularly for the past 20 years and have NEVER been able to see my ab muscles until now. At the age of 39. It validates that 80% of your body composition is determined by what you eat and only 20% is determined by exercise.
- Don’t look at this as a weight loss program. While the changes to my body have been exciting, the emotional changes have been even better. My PMS symptoms that have plagued me since a teenager have literally disappeared. I sleep 7 hours a night and wake up without an alarm clock fully rested. I haven’t taken one pain reliever or sleeping pill or laxative (TMI, sorry) since starting the program June 30. I have a ridiculous amount of energy and clarity that has left my husband scratching his head. Whole30 is healing – and better than any medicine you could ever try.
- Stop waiting for the perfect time to start. There is always going to be a wedding. Or a weekend get-away. Or a holiday. While 30 days is a short period of time, it’s hard to go a full month without any excuse to binge on food and drink. So just bite the bullet. The sooner you do it, the sooner you’ll be reaping the benefits.
- Use it as an opportunity to try new things. Cashew butter, kombucha, coconut flour, almond meal – several things I had never tried, are now daily staples in my diet. I have found 101 ways to make sweet potatoes. And I feel like I’m missing my cell phone if I don’t have vegetables with breakfast.
- Believe in yourself. Believe in your strength. Believe in your worthiness. There will be times when you question why you are “torturing” yourself for no good reason. When you believe a giant gelato or a buttery croissant will make everything better. There will be times when you long to grab something out of the pantry without putting 30 minutes of effort into planning/preparing/cooking your next meal. Don’t. Because your health is worth 30 days of investment.
That’s it. I’m stepping down from my soapbox and will stop preaching about the total awesomeness of Whole30. But should you decide to do it, let me know. I will be your biggest cheerleader and behind you all the way!