Over the last several years I’ve experimented with lots of different ways of eating. I’ve tried veganism, vegetarian, pescatarian, gluten-free, mostly raw-none of these I stuck with. None of these made me feel good.
Last year after graduating I switched my server job for a corporate one and gained about 10lbs. I spent my days sitting and because of my commute making it to yoga or the gym wasn’t happening, and I was eating out daily. I don’t think there is anything wrong with an extra 10lbs if you feel good, but I certainly didn’t feel good. When I left my office job in March of this year I started to get back into a routine of yoga, going to the gym and cooking healthy meals. I was still pescatarian, but I had been considering incorporating other meats back to my diet.
After returning from my honeymoon in Italy I felt like I needed a new challenge after spending a year planning our wedding. I spent almost all of my free time preparing for that big day, and it felt strange that it was over and that process was no longer taking up such a huge portion of my life. I had seen a little bit about Whole30 on social media, so I did some research and I was excited to try. Well, maybe excited is the wrong term but I was ready to challenge myself.
My first Whole30 was in June, 2017, and there were several goals I was hoping to achieve from my first round:
- Clearer skin
- Reduced bloating
- Less stress surrounding food and what to eat
- Less cravings
A week before starting I received the Whole30 book in the mail. You don’t need to purchase anything to do a Whole30, all the official rules are on their website and there are many social media tools to help you along. But, I HIGHLY recommend getting the book. I read most of it ahead of time and I was referencing it daily. It was especially helpful for putting together my grocery list and meal plan for my first week. I am naturally inclined to planning and organizing, so this part made me giddy.
Two days before, I headed to Whole Foods (a fucking hour drive when you live in a small town) and stocked up on compliant dressings, sauces, nuts, canned tuna/salmon (I only buy Safe Catch or Wild Alaska), and meats for the upcoming month along with produce for the first week. Here is a sample grocery list.
One day before I started cooking! For this first week I kept it simple:
- Turkey meatballs
- Roasted sweet potatoes/fingerling potatoes
- Roasted beets
- Roasted Carrots
- Salmon salad
- Nut/date balls
Other things I kept on hand:
- Mixed greens, pre-washed ( for a quick salad )
- Almond butter
- Cashews, almonds, & walnuts
- Nut milks
- Eggs & turkey bacon (I had this for breakfast every day)
- Frozen fruits for smoothies (remember no added sugar!)
Many people find the first week to be the hardest but I didn’t find this to be true for me because I was so hyped. I actually thought that the second and fourth weeks were the hardest.
Before starting I highly suggest you look at your calendar and plan for any social obligations you may have. Any events and restaurants are going to require a little extra planning. When possible, check out a menu ahead of time or call. It’s much easier to have your needs accommodated when you give a heads up (believe me I’ve worked in restaurants for years). Offer to bring a dish if you’re visiting a friend’s house.
Understand that the unexpected will arise. During my Whole30 we planned a last minute, weekend trip for my sister’s birthday. This is when you’ll want to check out the Whole30 Facebook page, forums, and Instagram. I found my way to one of the Facebook groups for the area I was visiting and was able to find several options. My go to when ordering was a burger with a lettuce instead of a bun (remember no ketchup!! And double check any condiments for hidden sugar) and some sort of vegetables or side salad.
Also, understand that this is going to require some major restraint/discipline. While on my sister’s birthday trip we went to my favorite restaurant of all time – a pizza place with the most perfect, delicious, can’t even describe with words, pizza. My Dad had never been and was dying to try so I got to hang out while they ate my favorite food in the whole damn world. I was about 20 days in and feeling great so cheating wasn’t an option. Commitment is sooooo key, because at some point your version of watching helplessly as your family devours the world’s greatest pizza will happen.
Check out the Whole30 Instagram pages: @whole30, @whole30approved, and especially @whole30recipes! Following along on social media helped me a ton since I was doing it by myself and also gave me great ideas for recipes.
On the days that were hard (days 13-20 for me), I found myself flipping back to the book more, looking more at Instagram, and taking an extra walk or yoga class to get my mind off my cravings. Before doing Whole30, my husband and I would go out to eat on almost all my nights off work. During Whole30 that meant more walks and time in nature for date night.
What I got out of my first Whole30:
- Control over food, so much less stress and anxiety about what to eat
- I became a meal prep pro!
- Umm hello, abs! My workouts were amped up a bit but my muscle tone was like never before
- Clearer skin, this has been an ongoing journey for me since I was 22 ( I definitely plan on writing more about my skin journey in the future)
- Improved digestion, sleep, and overall well being
- A sense of accomplishment and control over cravings
- Eating the same thing over and over doesn’t bother me
My Tips for Whole30:
- Prepare yourself, this isn’t easy, but you’ve done way harder!
- Get the book, read it at least a week or two before you begin
- Stock your pantry and fridge, check out the grocery guide in the book
- Don’t get overwhelmed with complex recipes, pick 1-2 a week to try and keep the rest simple
- Your Crockpot is your new bestie, go buy one immediately if you don’t have one.
- Look at your calendar and plan ahead for any events
- Find a buddy!! Having someone to keep me accountable would have been super helpful. If you can’t find a friend, I highly suggest following along on social media
- Remember; It’s SO WORTH IT!!
Bonus**Ask your Doctor to run blood work before/after, especially if you are addressing any specific issues