Way back in May, I wrote up this summary of my experience of the Whole 30 and I never ended up posting it. This is my snippet of the month I dedicated to a plan that was to change my whole perspective on food, mental and physical health, fitness, and more.
Since then, I have changed my eating habits for the better. My relationship with food has improved, a new door has been opened that continues to help me grow and learn about myself in more ways than I would have if it was still closed. I have gained a whole new outlook on nutrition and how absolutely crucial it is to our nation’s health (and quite frankly, it’s critical in way more aspects than physical). Although I plan to do another Whole 30 soon (because I’m human and sliding off the bandwagon is evident), I am reminded and reassured of the all-true benefits, and back-on-track effect this plan promises. My summary conjures up the obstacles my partners and I faced during our challenge, and hopefully motivates those who think they can’t do it.
As author Melissa Hartwig so finely points out: “It is not hard. Don’t you dare tell us it’s hard. Quitting heroin is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard.”
It’s a wonder where time goes. Just yesterday I started the Whole 30, but that was actually 34 days ago! My experience thus far was nothing short of amazing, educational, and fulfilling. It was the best decision I ever made for myself, my body, and my health. And I wish everyone would try this program.
Before the Whole 30: My Confession
Going into the diet I loved fitness and healthy food. I worked out every day by lifting weights and keeping up with my endurance. I ate healthy. I tried to practice and find my self-love and confidence. I read, researched, and journaled. I did well in school (completing another semester of all A’s and one B). I planned a trip for myself volunteering to teach English abroad while fulfilling another item on my Travel Bucket List. I knew I was practicing much healthier routines than many friends, peers, and strangers who would comment on how they wish they could workout as much, or eat as healthy, or travel, or whatever. I was very grateful and fortunate, what more could I want?
But yet, the qualities I emitted that may have seemed admirable on the outside, were miniscule and discernible to me on the inside. I didn’t feel satisfied with my accomplishments or the hard-work I put into my endeavors.
And no one seemed to understand that. I struggled to feel better about myself. I knew my health was not as great as I wanted to believe. I didn’t have a good relationship with food, I didn’t feel like I deserved or even earned the right to feel confident about myself and my body, my mood swings were becoming more frequent, and my mind was always scattered with unorganized ideas and goals. I was equivalent to an old lady in that I had a sore knee and hips, but yet I felt like I didn’t work out hard enough. Adults reminded me that “I’m young and shouldn’t have so many problems,” so I hated myself when I was lacked energy and motivation to go out at the end of my days.
During the Whole 30: Summary of That Month
Making it Through Mother’s Day, Graduation, Two Communions, and a Barbecue
When we found out about the Whole 30, we immediately set our date to be the following week. That gave us enough time to read the book, prepare, and create plans. Little did we know, May was not going to be one of those idle and relaxing months…
The first week of May was Mother’s Day. Instead of going out to a restaurant, or cooking, I decided to get creative and take my Mom to something we’ve never done before: Painting With A Twist! It was such a fun experience and I’m happy we tried a new activity rather than a new restaurant.
Contrary to the provided time-line the Whole 30 Book provides, I was fortunate enough that I didn’t experience any sugar crashes, headaches, sever cravings, or stay-out-of-my-way days. I did, however, endure one full day of stomach flu-like symptoms.
(Not sure how I got lucky enough to suffer only one day, but I’m glad my body adjusted in time because that took place during finals week!) I definitely had my fair share of what I like to call “adjustment days” (AKA many trips to the bathroom), but once that passed I was good to go and feeling better than ever!
Second week of May was a long weekend. I graduated with my Associates Degree from an Early College Program that I started in high school, and even though I had originally planned to celebrate at the Cheesecake Factory, we decided to celebrate by cooking dinner at home. I didn’t mind too much, I prefer dinners at home anyway! So my Mom grilled up some salmon and asparagus, I chopped up (my favorite) Big A$$ Salad, and we paired it with some fried plantains – another favorite. I sandwiched my salmon burger in between two eggplant patties and it was divine.
Improvising is delicious!
That same weekend, however, my little cousin was celebrating her First Communion. My Mom, my brother, and I were not giving up. Instead, we ate before we left, and at the party we snacked on water, coffee, and fruit. No one really noticed that we weren’t eating, and pretty soon we were on the dance floor, away from the food anyway. It was not as hard as I thought. I didn’t crave the cake and other pastries (which was a big surprise and a big win!). Plus, the fruit curbed any craving I may have had, and I found more enjoyment from dancing and socializing with people I haven’t seen in a while than I usually used to find in food. Coming for the company rather than the food was much more satisfying.
The second communion was the weekend after and we played out the same routine as the first one.
The following weekend was Memorial Weekend, and the last day before our Whole 30 was complete! My grandma decided to host a barbecue in her backyard. She already knew the deal by then and didn’t even think twice about it. She teamed up with my Mom and I, and together we created a table filled with compliant dishes! Hamburgers, chicken, ribs, Big A$$ Salad, eggplant buns, sweet potatoes, guacamole, and fruit salad for dessert -it was all so mouthwatering and yummy!
Now…my grandma did make her famous babka (which was a tease being it was Day 29 of our Whole 30), but we turned it down, filled ourselves to the brim with fruit salad, and called it a day. We actually went for a walk and then called it a day, but yeah. It was a wonderful weekend.
Graduating from the program, we didn’t really care to go back to old habits. We all were curious as to what was going to be our trigger foods, but none of us were eager to test the waters. I, on the other hand, knew we had a family vacation coming up and I did not want to splurge and get sick so I slowly started introducing food on Day 35 or 36.
Take-Aways From the Whole 30
I will admit that I started the program with hopes of coming out leaner and with the profound skill to say NO to brownies, but I came out with much more power than that.
The book was sooo right. When your focus revolves around the scale-weight (whether it be loss or gain), you really can’t see any of the other benefits and improvements being made throughout the process. I personally do not weigh myself, but I do take progress pictures. The miniscule progress I saw in my physique had to do with reduced inflammation. I saw my muscles much clearer as I felt slightly leaner and stronger. But that had no match against other changes I noticed:
- My skin was clearing up.
- My focus sharpened significantly, during muscle-mind connection in the gym, and on my studies during finals.
- ***Had fun in the kitchen finding and trying new recipes and ways to make our favorite foods the “Whole 30 way”
- Energy levels skyrocketed, and I was more eager to help around the house.
- *Coinciding with #3* I didn’t get annoyed when my Mom asked me to go for another grocery run.
- I felt much more comfortable in my own skin – despite the non-existent change on the scale.
- More productive and organized with my days
- ***Stopped chewing gum all the time
- I’m not bloated and gassy 24/7.
- After meals I don’t have a quirky after-taste.
- My cravings were little to none. And if I did have one, fruit made up for it.
- My stress levels reduced significantly, leaving me more happy and confident with myself than I ever could have imagined.
- ***Outlook on body image is different
- ***Stopped counting calories and learned how to listen to my body
My Advice to You:
1. Find a dependable, honest, hard-working buddy that you can do this with
Two is better than one – but make sure your partner is just as motivated and ready for the challenge as you. When you have someone to keep you accountable, someone who is there to talk to when you’re facing the same challenges or in understands the kind of pep-talk you need, you will succeed.
2. Stay open-minded and focused
You may find yourself in tough situations like being unprepared for work and you may go hungry for a while, or maybe you’ll get sick of eggs (as I have found many participants do, even though I’m not one of them). Maybe you’ll experience that sugar-crash, or maybe you’ll encounter more than enough “adjustments days” to empty your entire system for a week, but stay focused on what’s to come. Focus on the benefits. Focus on the things you’re doing right. Take a failure as a lesson learned and move on. Don’t worry about what others are doing, don’t compare yourself to the girl in the car next to you eating a donut and Frappuccino. Instead, think about all the benefits you’re experiencing and all the foods you can have.
3. Keep a journal
I can’t tell you how helpful it is to look back at my entries and see how excited I was and how proud I was at small accomplishments, along with all the little struggles I faced. I wrote positive affirmations and letters to myself, reminding me that I’m awesome and I can do this. I wrote down all my meals and noted how I felt afterwards so I could document if there was a particular food that jolted me with a lot of energy, or gave me a lot of gas. That has helped me learn so much more about myself than counting calories and watching the number on the scale ever did.
4. Stay organized and prepared with shopping lists/prepped meals.
Fail to plan, plan to fail: that’s the name of the game ladies and gentlemen. This program is strict and requires effort, preparation and dedication, but it will prove to you how great your drive, potential, and abilities are. Remember that when the going gets tough, you get tougher!
5. Coconut-fried plantains are your BFF when you need crunchy, salty, and sweet all at the same time
We had a LOT of favorites, but this had to be the biggest help when we didn’t know if we wanted sweet, salty, crunchy or chewy. These babies provided all of it. So get yourself acquainted with them. You can thank me later.
6. Keep things interesting by trying new recipes
You can succeed by taking one of two directions on this program: the creative way or the boring way. I highly encourage you take the creative route, though! It’s beneficial in that you can learn how to make some really delicious (and easy!) recipes that will have your friends going “Wow ___, you’re a professional chef!” and you’ll make this program a lot more fun and easier to stick to. Don’t think about the things you can’t have, think about the things you can…and have fun with it!
7. Have Larabars on hand to curve a sweet-tooth or use for emergency snack
Lara bars are probably the best gift to Paleo’ers because they’re just delicious in every way. Make sure that the Larabars you get are Whole30 compliant, too! My only advice though is don’t go crazy with them. If you’re trying to bust sweet-tooth cravings, only keep them for emergencies. They’re lifesavers, but they can be addicting.
8. Read the book!!!
I don’t think I can stress this enough. You will not be successful unless you are prepared! That means reading the book, too!!! It has all the advice, tips, suggestions, and helpful resources you could possible need to succeed. It explains the in’s and out’s of the program, it gives you a timeline of what to expect, it helps you understanding the Reintroduction Phase and how to succeed on that, too, and it includes recipes to get you started on the right track. Don’t underestimate the power of reading this book from start to finish…
again, you can thank me later you will thank yourself.
9. Add physical activity into your routine
If you don’t already have a gym membership, that’s totally okay! If your physical activity includes taking your dog for power-walks, doing some yoga/pilates, or doing my quick HIIT in your living room, JUST MOVE! Make it a habit. Turn it into part of your everyday routine, like brushing your teeth. Exercise boosts productivity, organization, and mental sharpness; it reduces stress levels and boosts energy levels; it helps symptoms of and prevents depression and anxiety; it promotes better sleep quality; it boosts sociability and quality of life…and sooo much more. Don’t neglect the power of physical activity!!!
10. Stay positive and set yourself up for SUCCESS
I said it in the beginning and I’ll say it again (as Melissa Hartwig writes:), “It is not hard. Don’t you dare tell us it’s hard. Quitting heroin is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard.” There is nothing you can succeed without a positive mindset. Set yourself for success; remind yourself that you absolutely, positively CAN do this; you are a warrior, you are worthy, and you are a winner. Don’t you let anyone tell you otherwise.
Maybe I believe in the benefits of the Whole 30 because I have never tried such a challenging/life-changing/ eye-opening/ benefiting/self-satisfying experiment. Maybe I’ve read all the remarkable success stories of those who have either cured or found long-term solutions to diseases like these (copied straight from their book and website):
Maybe I’m just bias about the Whole 30 because I was able to reap the amazing benefits of the program myself, but I truly whole-heartedly believe in the results of this program. If you focus on the right things, if you make this commitment to yourself to better yourself, your health, and your outlook on more than just the scale or what you look like in the mirror, you will say that everything your life will fall into place.
If you have any specific questions or comments, please feel free to reach out to me! Until then, have a great one lovely people!