Okay folks, I finished Whole 30 over THREE weeks ago and I’m finally getting around to blogging about my experience, results, tips, etc!
First off, I would like to say that I LOVED Whole 30! It was so good for me physically, of course, but it was also great for me mentally, emotionally and even spiritually. I learned so much about myself and also formed some habits that I will continue forever.
I also need to warn y’all that this post may be VERY LONG! I have a lot to say, so I hope I don’t bore you all to tears.
I first heard about Whole 30 about 2 years ago and it really intrigued me, but it also really scared the heck outta me! The thought of eating 100% whole food consisting of only fruit, veggies, meat, eggs, nuts and seeds for a month freaked me out.
However, I really liked the idea of only feeding my body 100% real food. I was curious to see how my body would respond, how my body would feel and what I would learn from it. So, even though it really scared me, I knew I wanted to do it!
So, I decided the New Year would be the perfect time to do it. AND, once I made up my mind, there was no turning back! I just put on my “stubborn cap” and was bound and determined to get through it no matter what! After all, it was only 30 days.
One of the “rules” of Whole 30 is that you’re not supposed to weigh yourself the entire time. I actually really liked that rule! Yes, it was hard at times because I wanted to see if I’d lost any weight, but it was also kind of fun not knowing. The anticipation made it feel kind of like Christmas or something.
Usually when I’m trying to lose weight, I weigh myself every single day. It’s frustrating to see the weight come off SO SLOWLY and it’s even more frustrating when I GAIN a pound of two when I’m trying to LOSE weight. I liked waiting an entire month to weigh myself and I really loved the satisfaction of seeing I’d lost 9.6 pounds!
I really didn’t notice much of a difference in my body the first week, but midway through the second week I noticed big changes! It really felt like a bunch of weight just fell off of me. All of my clothes were much looser and my stomach felt tighter. In fact, I was floored by how much leaner my stomach became. I could almost see some muscles starting to show up. It was so exciting! I continued to lose weight and see more results throughout the month.
I didn’t do a very good job of taking a lot of progress pictures (dang it!), but here are some pictures I took two days before I ended Whole 30…
Sadly, I didn’t take a very good “before” picture. I did take a quick selfie picture, but I’ve decided not to share it. It’s just a scary picture that doesn’t really show the progress too well (it may rear its head in future posts though!) However, I did find a picture I took about 2 weeks before I started Whole 30. Here’s the comparison…
I can see a HUGE (pardon the pun) difference and I’m very happy about that!
My “Dairy” Experiment
I ended Whole 30 on February 3rd. For the next 2-3 days I continued with the Whole 30 diet, but just added dairy back in.
I usually only consume yogurt, cottage cheese and a little bit of cheese here and there, but because I really wanted to see if I noticed a difference, I decided to drink several glasses of milk and I ate yogurt and cheese several times (way more than I usually do!)
I didn’t notice any ill effects on my body at all.
Granted, I only “experimented” for a few days, but I was happy to see my body seemed to tolerate dairy very well.
FYI, I’ve gone off of dairy for a month+ several times and I’ve never noticed any problems when I add it back in. In fact, I like the way dairy makes me feel. I’ve felt the positive effects of yogurt and probiotics in my body many times. I also love that cottage cheese is such a quick and easy source of protein. It always fills me up and gives me energy! I also love the flavor that a little cheese adds to food. It keeps things exciting.
With that being said, I’m not a die-hard dairy fan. I could easily live without it in my life, however, I like the options and variety it offers.
I also want to mention that I know several people who are lactose intolerant, have a dairy allergy or who experience chronic conditions such as congestion from dairy. IMO, it’s an individual thing and I would highly recommend finding out for yourself if you tolerate dairy well or not. We are all different.
If you look on the internet, you will find several studies and information showing that dairy is harmful to the body AND you will also find several studies and information showing that dairy is healthy for the body. I’ve read several of these articles (defending both opinions) and they are equally convincing. They both have very valid points and data to back it up. Again, IMO, it is less about the dairy itself and more about how each individual body tolerates it.
I could go on and on and on (and I have!) so I will stop with the dairy discussion now.
Adding Sugar, Grains and Beans Back in
Three days after I ended Whole 30, I took an entire weekend off. It was my “birthday weekend” and I wanted to enjoy myself. I ate whatever I wanted and it was a lot of fun. However, it didn’t come without a price!
One of the first things I ate was a burger and fries with the family from In ‘N Out Burger (even though their food isn’t healthy, it IS very fresh and very good!) We also got some little bundt cakes from our favorite cake shop afterward.
The rest of the weekend consisted of a few treats here and there and a few more of my favorite meals. I loved everything, but I definitely noticed my body blowing up, retaining water and feeling pretty blah very quickly.
I enjoyed my weekend and all of my favorite foods so much and I don’t regret it one bit, however, it was shocking to see and feel the difference in my body. I became more tired, sluggish, hardly peed at all (this is always one of the quickest ways I can tell how my body is doing) and my body majorly poofed up. I gained 5-7 pounds almost instantly. All of the clothes that had become loose on me were tight again!
Yes, it was sad.
However, over the years I’ve learned to differentiate between actual weight gain and “water weight, bloating, crazy body” weight gain. This was definitely the latter. I knew that if I went back to my healthy diet, the weight would come off very quickly.
I won’t go on and on, but I will just sum it up by saying that IMO, sugar, processed foods and white flour are the worst things you can put in your body. I have felt the negative effects of these things on my body many, many, many times.
However, some of my favorite foods in all the world are sugar laden, processed and white floury foods (boo hoo, sniff, sniff.) I know I’ll still have my very favorite foods from time to time, but I’ve definitely learned to limit these foods in my life. When I DO eat them, I try to make sure it’s something I’ve purposely planned and not just mindlessly consumed.
My Favorite Whole 30 Foods
I am not a “gourmet chef” at all. My life does not allow for it. I had the most success (and less stress) if I ate the same things most of the time. I also knew it was vital to always have the fridge stocked with options. I “meal prepped” (cooked meat, cut veggies, made guacamole, etc.) every single day.
I got so dang sick of the same ol’, same ol’ foods, but I did discover a few things I really enjoyed!
Sweet Potato Chips and homemade Guacamole (my all-time favorites!)
Grilled chicken and random green smoothies
Loads of veggies!
Bananas or celery with almond butter
I always had a stash of roasted veggies, some sort of protein (mostly grilled chicken, cooked ground turkey and eggs) and fruit in my fridge at all times. I made all kinds of “meat/egg and veggie combos” on a regular basis.
I also made other yummy meals such as Beef Stew, Roast Beef with Mashed Potatoes, Spaghetti Squash Casserole and Taco Salad.
I enjoyed the occasional LaraBar (I had three throughout the entire 30 days) and I made some homemade “LaraBars.”
I also enjoyed Fruit Leathers (100% fruit and nothing else) sometimes.
My Top Tips and Advice
If any of you are thinking about doing Whole 30, I will share my two cents and advice…I hope it can help someone else out there!
- Become very familiar with the program.
- Make sure to mentally prepare before starting!
- Write down some specific goals, hang up motivational pictures/quotes, anticipate any obstacles you may have and how you’ll overcome them, decide that you WILL NOT quit and will see it through ’til the end.
- Food prep before you start and continue to food prep throughout the 30 days.
- It is so important to ALWAYS have food available that you can quickly make or grab.
- The night before I started, I cut up a bunch of veggies, roasted a bunch of veggies, cooked up some ground turkey with onions and spices, hard boiled some eggs and marinated some chicken to be grilled.
- Stock your fridge and cupboards with Whole 30 approved foods! It’s also important to get rid of the foods in your house that will tempt you to give up!
- Use a notebook, calendar or planner to track your progress and record your thoughts.
- I used a cheap calendar I bought at Walmart. Every night before I went to bed I would evaluate my day. I gave myself a score (1-10) of how well I ate for the day (I got a 10 every single day!) I also kept track of my exercise, sleep and water consumption.
- Recruit some friends, family or your spouse to do it with you!
- I have a few friends who did Whole 30 with me and it helped a lot. We would text thoughts and recipes to each other and kept each other motivated. It was great!
- If you’re tempted to give up….STOP….take a deep breath, think things through, calm down, go to a different location, eat something healthy, talk to a friend, exercise, read information on the Whole 30 site……just do SOMETHING else until you get back to your “right state of mind.” Ha ha.
- Remind yourself over and over that it is ONLY 30 days and you CAN do it! Take it one day, one meal, one hour at a time.
My Final Thoughts
I am so glad I completed Whole 30. When I first started, 30 days felt like FOREVER! But, in the end it actually seemed to go by pretty quickly.
I thought the first week was BY FAR the hardest. I had major cravings, withdrawal symptoms (headaches, moodiness, fatigue) and felt very overwhelmed. By the second week, my appetite and cravings had stabilized and I’d gotten more used to what I could and couldn’t eat. I’d discovered some foods I really liked and I tried to focus on the foods I COULD eat instead of all of the foods I COULDN’T eat. I also started to see/feel some results during the second week and it was really encouraging. I felt thinner, leaner, slept better and I felt more in control of my body. The last two weeks of Whole 30 weren’t really that hard, but the last 2-3 days were HARD! Because I knew I was almost done, I started to feel weary and anxious to have it over with. I didn’t give up though!
I learned so much about myself throughout the process. Here are some of the most significant things I learned.
- I can do hard things!
- I am stronger than any craving, temptation or yummy food out there!
- I am 100% in charge of what I put or don’t put into my mouth.
- I learned to REALLY read food labels. I thought I was a big label reader, but when I was doing Whole 30 I read EVERY single label of everything! I learned that so many foods I thought were “clean,” actually had hidden ingredients in them. Worcestershire sauce, seasoning salt, beef jerky and bacon had some things in the ingredients that I never would have guessed!
- I learned to be determined, committed and in charge of my goals and dreams.
- I learned how to eat very clean at restaurants. I only went out to eat four times during Whole 30, but I always chose the most “Whole 30 approved” thing on the menu; steak, salads, veggies, chicken, etc.
- I developed habits that I will continue to keep. I food prep more often, eat more fruits and veggies, am trying not to add additional sweeteners to food, am more familiar with what foods have hidden ingredients and am a lot more committed to my health!
Well, I think that about sums it up! I loved Whole 30 and I really enjoyed the challenge. I plan on doing it again and would highly recommend it to everyone out there!