I did it! I made it through an entire 30 days on the Whole 30! I am stoked!
What is Whole 30?
Awesome, I made it through the Whole 30 but what exactly does that mean? While the name itself should give you a hint of what it is, The Whole 30 as described by Wikipedia is a “30-day fad diet that emphasizes whole foods and the elimination of sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, soy, and dairy. The Whole30 is similar to but more restrictive than the paleo diet, as adherents may not eat natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup.”
And while the description on Wikipedia is essentially correct, The Whole 30 is way more than just a fad diet. It’s a way to reset your own personal expectations around eating and what you are putting into your body. It’s also used to help identify the best types of food for your particular body and lifestyles. Can you use The Whole 30 as a diet, most definitely, and let’s be honest, I totally was looking to drop some lbs.
“The Whole 30 is designed to change your life in 30 days-but it’s not a diet, a detox, or a weight loss program. Think of it as a short-term reset, created to help you curb your cravings and bad habits, boost your metabolism, heal your digestive tract, and calm your immune system.” – Melissa Urban Co-founder of Whole 30
The premise is simple: Certain food groups—even the “healthy” stuff—could be having a negative impact on your physical and mental health without you even realizing it. Some of the major areas Whole 30 aims to help you address is: inconsistent or non-existent energy levels, sleeping troubles, aches and pains, weight loss problems, skin issues, migrains, digestive issues, and even anxiety.
Checking in and being honest with myself, when I started the Whole 30 I was a mess. Just off the top of my head my main complains about myself are:
- Aches & Pains: Check! If you have read any of my posts around running, you will know that I have some major issues with my back, including some fairly bad arthritus and siatica.
- Migraines: Check! Headaches are the norm for me and I have been getting debilitating migraines since middle school.
- Sleeping Troubles: Check! My sleeping habits are out of control and when I do sleep I’m normally up mutiple times a night because of back pain etc.
- Inconsistent Energy Levels: Check! Probably because of the whole sleep issues, my energy levels are either through the roof or completely lacking.
- Digestive Issues: Check!In the past two years I have even really noticed more and more digestive issues. While I normally attribute this to a metablism slowing down (I see you 30), maybe it’s really just my body craving a different type of nutrients.
- Anxiety: You better believe it.
The only symtpom on the above list I thankfully do not have too much of a problem with is Skin. So shoutout to mi madre for passing along her beautiful complex.
The whole point of The Whole 30 (see what I did there?) is to simply take 30 days and consume only Whole foods and eliminate the most common inflammatory food groups to help you determine if you symptoms are food related. While most people may not know it, gut health plays a major impact in the rest of your body’s health. Gut health or digestive issues commonly disguise themselves as other symptoms, so maybe you don’t even know you have gut problems. I mean it’s 30 days of your life and all you’re doing for 30 days is just testing to see if certain foods are having a negative impact on your life without you even knowing. If you can’t dedicate 30 days to address what you’re putting into your body to make yourself feel better, then in the words of Ron Weasley, you need to sort out your prioritizes.
I am going to be honest with you. My main goal in giving The Whole 30 another try was to simply lose some weight for my wedding later this year. But if I could feel relief in any of the other areas of my life I listed above too, then what exactly was holding me back from trying? Nothing, the answer is nothing.
The Rules Directly from the Source
For a full 30 days, you’ll completely eliminate the foods that the scientific literature and our clinical experience have deemed the most commonly problematic in one of four areas—your cravings, metabolism, digestion, and immune system. During the elimination period, you’ll experience what life is like without these commonly problematic triggers while paying careful attention to improvements in energy, sleep, digestion, mood, cravings, focus, anxiety, self-confidence, chronic pain or fatigue, athletic performance and recovery, and any number of other symptoms or medical conditions. This elimination period will leave you with a new “normal”—a healthy baseline where, in all likelihood, you will look, feel, and live better than you ever imagined you could.
At the end of the 30 days, you then carefully and systematically reintroduce those foods you’ve been missing, again paying attention to any changes in your health, habits, or mindset. Do your two p.m. energy slumps return? Does your stomach bloat? Does your face break out, your joints swell, your pain return? Does your Sugar Dragon rear his ugly head? The reintroduction period teaches you how specific foods are having a negative impact on you, and which foods are making you look and feel less than your best.
Put it all together, and for the first time in your life, you’ll have the tools you need to create the perfect diet for YOU. You’ll be able to eliminate the specific foods that just aren’t serving you, and level up your quality of life forever. More important, you’ll know when, how often, and in what amount you can include the problematic-but-still-worth-it foods in your diet in a way that feels balanced and sustainable, but still keeps you looking and feeling as awesome as you now know you can look and feel.
The Rules in a Nutshell:
For 30 days you take out legumes, dairy, grains, alcohol, and sugars from your diet. These foods are most commonly known to challenge good gut health. Okay, Allie, what exactly am I suppose to eat then? The goal is to eat whole foods. You will want to eat meat, seafood, eggs, veggies, fruit, natural fats, herbs, spices, seasonings. Stick to eating foods with simple or recognizable ingredient. For a full lists of eating rules go HERE.
To help myself along in my 30 day adventure I started by looking up a couple decent Whole 30 recipes and even decided on some stable ‘quick’ meals I could make in case of emergencies. I’ll be posting some additional blog post in the next couple of weeks to cover some of my favorites for these, but game planning is the key here. It’s also best to pick a time that’s going to be best for you. Don’t plan this over a holiday or doing a big month of celebrations. September would be a no go for me because not only does my birthday fall in September but so does my fiancé’s, father’s, and two of my best friend’s birthdays as well. I decided to start post 4th of July as I only had one travel event & no big celebrations to attend.
Don’t forget to do your research to know exactly what you can and can’t have. Knowing before hand the most common mistakes will also save you in the long run. When in doubt just google your question. There are a ton of helpful forums where you can get answers out there!
Start Date: Sunday July 7th
End Date: Monday August 5th
Week 1 & 2
The first week is the hardest for me. Mainly because I have no will power when it comes to food. I’m extremely good at saying things like, “Maybe I’ll eat that today, and just start again tomorrow. I mean it’s only day one (or two or three)”. I’m so good at convincing myself to start tomorrow that I end up never getting started.
Week 1 went great. I had enough energy to still workout at Orange Theory 4 times the first week. Week 2 however was a different story. I was tired and definitely suffering from the lack of sugar and caffeine I normal encounter. One of the biggest things I learned from the Whole 30 and by reading the label of practically everything is that sugar is in EVERYTHING. I almost gave in because my craving for an iced white mocha from Starbucks and the smell of French fries almost broke me. But I endured!
Going into week 3, I had come to realize that there’s not a whole lot of things I actually miss and that the hardest thing for me is the social aspect. Food is such social event. There are so few places you can eat out at and you cannot drink, which I’m a very social drinker. Thankfully I had planned this around limited celebrations but even then I was still missing dinner dates with friends and my fiancé. Other than that the only other things I missed or even craved were Chocolate Cake (my favorite), wine, dairy, & ice cream (which is mainly because my fiancé eats it every night before bed and so just watching him eat it made me want some). Grains and legumes were not a big loss but continuously coming up with new sides to go with my protein was a challenge without these two food types.
While you are not suppose to weight yourself for the whole 30 days I cheated a bit and weighted myself starting in week 4, and had some very good results. My stomach also felt less bloated, digestive issues were at a minimum, and my headaches were much less frequent! #winning.
The final week of Whole 30 had me feeling great and had me feeling as though I could keep going. Even though falling asleep is still a bit of an issue, I feel the sleep I am getting is deeper and more restful than I’ve had in years. That combined with fewer headaches/migraines definitely has me sold on the Whole 30. It doesn’t hurt either that on July 7th I weighted 157 pounds and as of this morning I official weight 147 pounds. 10 pounds in 30 days that is unheard of for me. I have not been under 150 pounds in over two years! Stoked!
I would totally recommend the Whole 30 for someone looking to change their eating habits. I mean you can do anything for 30 days, why not something that is going to benefit you in the long term. Do you have to spend more time cooking, researching, and knowing what is in your food? Yes, it definitely takes some dedication, but I think it is worth it.
I think long term I would like to keep doing the Whole 30 but would add-in a few treats here and there. I’m thinking once a week for diary, alcohol, & sugar but primarily keeping my diet clean. This way I can keep the benefits of the diet without sacrificing the social aspect of food. And I can make my soul happy with all of my favorite things!
Have you tried the Whole 30? What was you’re experience like?