Wellness Wednesday: I finished my Whole30!!

Happy July, my friends! Today marks the first day of the second half of the month, and also my first day post- Whole30. In light of that little accomplishment, I thought it would be a good time to share my outcomes, and to talk a little bit more about the program and my experience. (A brief background: Whole30 is a 30 day (or longer) program where you give up known inflammatory food groups (legumes, including soy, grains, alcohol, added sugar, and dairy) to help reset your body and eliminate unhealthy food relationships. See here for more info!)

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First, and most interestingly—my results:

  • I lost 14 pounds, which feels amazing!
  • I didn’t take pictures or measurements, sorry, but I’ve dropped a pants and a dress size and things fit so much better know that I don’t have a weird bloated tummy situation.
  • I had been popping Tums multiple times a week before, and that need was eliminated immediately.
  • I had a painkiller free period, which is a miracle considering I had previously relied on a combination of pain killers, muscle relaxers, and hours at a time with my heating pad.
  • My knee pain is so, so reduced! I had debilitating inflammation, which is usually at its worst when it’s raining. This rainy June was so, so much better than I could have expected, in terms of pain and swelling.
  • Sleeping is so much better! I fall asleep easily and sleep soundly through the night, and wake up refreshed.
  • I feel so good, in fact, that I’ve started a fitness program and I know that part of my success there is because I’m actually fueling my body appropriately.
  • My skin is so, so clear. I hesitate to give Whole30 credit for this because I started a very interesting skin regiment a few weeks before I started the program, but it sure didn’t hurt!

My experience

I don’t think I intended to embark on a Whole30 journey in June. A few of my friends were talking about it, and I was sort of thinking about kind of doing my own take on a Whole30 type thing. On June 1, though, something clicked and I realized that I needed to just jump in and do the entire program, no exceptions. From there I read the book (so helpful!) and I realized that this was a great strategy for breaking some terrible habits (of which I was well aware) and just gaining a better relationship with food.

Whole30 was much easier for me than I thought it would be. For one thing, I was sick of feeling awful and I knew that I was eating so. much. junk. I was crabby the first few days, but wasn’t strongly tempted to cheat. After that first week, I knew that I had the ability and I was pretty committed to seeing it through. I think part of my success is that I am a creature of habit—I ate eggs every day for breakfast, usually with sauted greens (or hard boiled, if I was running late) and added fruit if I was still hungry. For lunch, I always have a salad with some protein and, ignoring Whole30 rules, I frequently took two hours to eat it due to my schedule. (I want to note here that I sometimes don’t want a salad for lunch, but I have it anyway. My preference is for food creativity, but my schedule and my health goals really keep me on track.) Dinner was a great time to experiment with food and flavors. I always started with a protein and a veggie, and just plugged in whatever sounded good. Zoodles and meatballs with red sauce, chicken and veggie kebabs, steak with roasted broccoli, porkchops and baked sweet potatoes, taco lettuce wraps with guac- the list goes on and on, and I found tons of variations on that basic formula.

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My Helpful Hints

  • Tell people who regularly eat with you, so they can be supportive and respectful. My husband wasn’t on board for doing Whole30, but he was on board for making dinners without bread and accepting my substitutions. He was also great at talking me out of any of the times I wanted to slip.
  • Anytime that you start to feel like you want to quit, eat something. As the Snickers commercials remind us, you’re not you when you’re hungry. Have a piece of fruit, (TJs has great peaches right now!) or some bacon, or a few nuts, and really ensure that you’re not hungry. Every single time I thought about quitting, it was because I needed to fuel up.
  • Establish some fallback meals and snacks, and keepthoseonhandat all times! Here are some items that I could put together without stressing:
    • Snacks: cashews, apples with cashew butter (perfect for breakfast, snacks between work and class, after a too-early dinner), carrots dipped in mashed avocados, watermelon after meals (we went through so much watermelon)
    • Meals: grilled chicken, roasted veggies (anything in my fridge tossed in a cast iron skillet, with spicy seasoning), zoodles (there is always zucchini in my fridge), red sauce on anything, bacon (whenever I couldn’t think of what to eat, I started cooking bacon)
  • Think about what you’re eating. I keep seeing people mentioning that they’re eating a ‘monkey salad’ with breakfast, but getting discouraged not to lose weight. The ingredients in that salad are whole, sure, but bananas, cashews, and coconut are also all kind of high in fat and calories. That’s not bad, but be mindful of how you’re combining food as it relates to the results you’re hoping to see.
  • They say not to weigh yourself during the program, but it was so helpful for me to weigh in after one week and see the progress I’d made. Seeing that number was awesome, especially since I wasn’t seeing any physical changes, and really energized me and encouraged me to keep going.
  • Lastly, get in a good headspace before you start. People are really attached to food—the idea of food, the memories and feelings associated with food, and actual food itself. Whole30 can help you develop a healthy relationship with food, but its also a struggle to break all those bad habits! Remember that 30 days will pass no matter what kind of food you eat- Whole30 will help those 30 days pass while you make some positive changes! Also, after you get past the first day, stop focusing how many more you have to go. Instead, remind yourself how awesome you’ve done so far. If you want to, you can do it—I promise!

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My Future

This is a little unclear. I don’t really have a healthy relationship with food just yet- I know that if I started to add back in chocolate, and ice cream, and salty snacks, I likely wouldn’t be able to set my own limits. For those groups, I’m planning to continue to avoid them until I can develop a better mindset. For everything else, I’ll plan the reintroduction that to plan recommends- each food group that was eliminated will be gradually reintroduced, so I can evaluate how my body responds. To be honest, I’m pretty sure that dairy is a no for me, and equally sure that alcohol is just fine (and I have a very healthy relationship with it), so I’ll likely just add alcohol back in for a few days. Then maybe grains, and then legumes (really, just soy and black beans), then maybe dairy, if I really need it. I hope that my positive experiences stay top of mind, so I can keep up my results. I can absolutely see myself doing a strict Whole30 every few months to get back to this stage– I love the results and I feel great!

Let me know if you have questions, or want any support– I’m a great cheerleader, and I think everyone can do this! Have you done a Whole30? If so, how was your experience and what were your results? I want to hear more success stories!

  • Katie

    You mean the first day of the second half the year, not the month? Glad to see you made it through and finished it! I’ve been too scared to start it. Clinging to my sugar and alcohol. But I do wonder how it would make me feel…

  • Erin! I found your blog through your Instagram for the CHAARG booty camp. I’m so glad I did. I have so many stomach problems, but I’ve never done anything to change it. I am running out to Barnes & Noble to buy the book today. Next week’s reCHAARG might be a jumpstart for me to start Whole 30. I am nervous, but it’s only 30 days…right??