Today is day 31 of the Whole30. You can read all about it here, but the gist of this program is that you eliminate any and all sugar, dairy, grain, legumes, and alcohol for 30 days to bring your body back into balance and figure out what effect these foods have on your body. I know, I know, fad diets don’t work, they’re so annoying because it’s all just marketing, eliminating anything from your diet will make you sick, you just need to eat healthy all the time, no matter how hard it is, you don’t need to lose weight, etc. etc. I’ve heard it all and I’ll be honest, no one was more skeptical than me at the beginning of this program.
That’s exactly why it appealed to me more than any other fad diets out there, because 1) the goal of the program is not focused on weight loss in isolation, it’s much more than that and 2) it’s basically a giant experiment on your own body. Working for an analytics company, I HAD to try it because I love hypothesis testing :-). I started a day after our wedding anniversary and just finished the Whole30 yesterday. No cheats, no slips, no excuses. Here’s how it went:
ENERGY – Probably the most significant and noticeable change for me were my energy levels, after about a week or two of strictly following the program rules. I would classify myself as a fairly energetic person, but not having any sugar or alcohol crashes in particular was amazing. I don’t eat much sugar to begin with, but I had a constant headache for the first two days of the program – that’s how much of an effect even a little sugar (or lack thereof, really) has on your body. I’ve loved the extra energy I have after work. I can play actively with the kids now without feeling completely defeated at the end of the day. Big win.
CLEAR NOSE – Another huge benefit for me is that my nose has been much clearer. I’ve suffered from seasonal allergies and a stuffy nose in general all my life. I don’t like taking medicine for this because, well, Claritin makes me feel like there’s a squirrel running though my head. Having a clear nose and not needing to reach for tissues all the time is huge. I love it.
CLEAR SKIN – I’ve fought minor acne all my life, and although I wasn’t completely in the clear this month, my skin did start glowing, blemishes disappeared, and the only few that are left are around my nose area, which is my main trouble spot. It was nice to know that something internally was causing things to clear up, since I didn’t switch out my skin products.
WEIGHT LOSS – I weighed myself this morning and only lost 4 pounds. I say “only” because I’ve seen much higher numbers from other people who have done the Whole30. You know what, though? Weight loss was never my goal. There’s so much more to being healthy than that number on the scale, which is why the Whole30 crew encourages you not to weigh yourself during the program and focus on the other health benefits instead. Great idea. My clothes fit better than they used to and I feel great, which means much more than a silly 4 pounds to me.
REDUCED CRAVINGS – Don’t get me wrong, I love chocolate and will always love chocolate. It’s quite possibly my first love when it comes to food. However, I do think I’ve successfully eliminated most of my sugar cravings. I no longer hanker for something sweet in the afternoons. I had been drinking my coffee without sugar for weeks before the program started, so that wasn’t a big change for me. But knowing that I can enjoy a piece of cake or a cupcake without feeling guilty or without wanting to “binge” is quite nice.
What didn’t happen:
ABS – Not that I was expecting this, but the Whole30 doesn’t magically give you abs or fix the extra “mom skin” around your belly. You still need to work out and tone up if you want some muscle…this is err, work in progress for me
SICKNESS – I didn’t get sick because I eliminated some major food groups. This program is only 30 days people, chill :-). It was really helpful to me to read both “It Starts with Food” and the “Whole30” books ahead of time. They explain the science of why exactly foods like sugar are bad for you, in a very easy to digest (no pun intended) way.
What I didn’t like:
MEAL PREP – I’m a fairly decent cook, but the one thing I don’t ever have enough of (like everyone else) is time. Work, convincing a 3 year old that not all tacos are spicy, trying to get a 1 year old to stop throwing food on the floor, and way too much ambition is what usually gets me. I love spending time in the kitchen, but haven’t really enjoyed it ever since the kids were born. I’d much rather spend time with them than prep some fancy meal. That’s exactly the hard part about Whole30. No matter how easy the recipe, it requires some serious kitchen and grocery shopping dedication. Luckily, I took lots of short cuts, prepped meals ahead of time, and relied on Amazon to ship me things like Nutpods and Primalfoods Paleo approved mayo, since I just didn’t have the time to whip that up myself. Look for them on Amazon.
FOOD BOREDOM – I like variety when it comes to foods. There were at least 15 recipes in the Whole30 book that I could’ve made, but again, time wasn’t on my side. I got pretty bored with eggs. Eggs are everything on Whole30. Same with the meats. I’m not much of a meat eater, so that made the Whole30 a bit more tricky for me. All first world problems, of course.
So what’s next?
I’m not going to be that person who’s going to judge you for eating a slice of pizza, don’t worry :-). I will probably eat one myself pretty soon. I have learned a lot about what makes me feel crappy and am still trying to figure that out. I had some wine and chocolate today and both tasted extremely sweet to me. It was weird. I also now know how to (hopefully) get back on track, in case I fall off the wagon. And that, is a huge win for a girl who could previously down a large bag of potato chips without ever knowing how to stop.
Two more things: a HUGE thank you to my family, especially Anil, for supporting me all month long. He even made me this star chart and gave me one star for every successful Whole30 meal or snack. How sweet is that? When I visited Florida a few weeks ago, my mom and dad also went out of their way to make sure I had enough quality Whole30 food to eat. It was amazing.
Lastly, I want to leave you with this quote:
“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” – Jim Rohn