Wow. It’s been a while. Happy 2018! I can’t believe I went all of 2017 without writing but some awesome things have been happening with my baking business and I really got to focus on that in 2017!
But anywho! I’m writing today not because of baking or makeup, but because it’s the new year and you know….#resolutions. We all have them, eat better, get to the gym, get enough sleep, drink enough water, etc… and I am right on that train with the rest of the world trying to improve my health and overall happiness (not that 2017 made me unhappy in the least, it was actually an awesome year) but I felt all of those things that everyone feels that makes them want to make a change. Tired all the time. Hating how my body looked. Hating myself for falling short on my 2017 resolutions to do all of the above. So this time I decided to try something pretty big. Last year I started the year off great with my healthy eating and stuck to working out 5-6 times a week for a good 4 months. But then summer comes and vacations happen and a relationship with a guy who loves Chik-fil-a just as much as me (we’re just mutual instigators “Babe, I really want pizza tonight” “YES LET’S DO IT”) which is great because you never feel ashamed of admitting you want chicken nuggs and a yummy beer, but caused us both to take a step back after the holidays and realize we needed to step away from the junk food and eat a dang vegetable! So that’s where our Whole30 journey comes in! It was tough, but we did it!
We first learned about Whole30 from his family, just about everyone had done it and encouraged us to do it saying they just felt better all around, most lost weight, and when they ate fast food now, they could feel it sitting in their stomach and realized it’s just not worth feeling that way. So we decided we’d give it a try in the new year, picked our start date (Jan 2, so we could enjoy some yummy food and champs with my family on New Year’s Day) and gave it a go. I want to run through exactly what I was feeling when I was feeling it and share some things I loved, and some things I hated (hello not being able to eat cheese) for anyone who’s considering doing this.
Before we even started the program we were discussing things we could and couldn’t have and reading the Whole30 cookbook and I was so excited to try this. I had heard that people were losing weight and feeling amazing about their bodies and thought giving up wine really wouldn’t be that hard for me. I was nervous of course, but desperately wanted to cleanse my body of all the gross (but delicious) foods I’d been eating and heard the program was designed to do just that. So here’s my breakdown of what to expect, what are some challenges, and what are some triumphs of this program!
Days 1-5: Ok, so I know if you have the book you can read a breakdown of exactly what you’ll be feeling each day and there aren’t 5 days lumped together but I’m going to be totally honest with y’all. The first five days for me were an awful terrible blur. I mean, I was miserable all. the. time. I was constantly hungry, always had a headache, and thought that if I saw one more vegetable I was going to barf. Props to my boyf and my friends for not killing me for complaining literally all the time. I didn’t know what to eat and was completely overwhelmed with just how much added sugar is in normal things I would eat every day. I didn’t know what to do for a snack now that my favorite go-tos that I thought were healthy (hummus, yogurt, cottage cheese) were out of the picture. I was furiously googling “bad experiences with Whole30” because I was sure I couldn’t be the only one who was totally miserable doing this. I read some articles and sympathized so much with the people who said the were just hangry for 30 days and didn’t learn anything. I felt the same way. Sure I had eaten a lot of junk during the holidays but I didn’t think my eating habits were so bad that I needed to cut out dairy and grains completely. I was convinced that I was never going to do this again. I didn’t even want to eat anymore. I felt like this was probably a great thing for someone who was having a lot of digestion or medical problems they just couldn’t pinpoint but definitely wasn’t for someone like me who’d never had an issue with food. But on Day 3 we went to a going away party for one of my very best friends on planet earth at A BREW HOUSE and managed to stay on track so I knew I wasn’t going to give up too easily.
Days 6-10: I think stuffed peppers saved me. Since day 5 was on a weekend, it meant meal prep time. I remembered these delicious stuffed peppers I had tried before and thought “OMG as long as I leave out the cheese this is ALL Whole30 compliant” thank. the. LAWD. (and Newman’s Own Organic pasta sauce.) I wanted to give up until I remembered just how delicious and easy these were to make and take for lunch throughout the week. I know it sounds silly but these literally changed my attitude about this program. You CAN find things you like that are compliant, you just need to look and prepare! I was excited about eating again because I knew I liked these and with that new attitude about things I was able to cook and enjoy some yummy dinners and ended up picking up some berries as snacks for the week. This was a turning point FOR SURE.
Days 11-15: SO. MANY. EGGS. I have been eating eggs for breakfast for 15 days straight and I might scream if I see one more. Oh yes, you will be so so so sick of eggs. That I can promise. There really aren’t any other Whole30 breakfast options that provide you with the amount of protein you need to be eating to start your day, even their other breakfast options in the book all contain…you guessed it! EGGS. Sure there’s omelettes and frittatas with veggies and eggs with sweet potato hash but seriously, WHO HAS TIME to make those things every single morning when you work a 9-5 job. So I found an “oatmeal-like” breakfast option for days 16-20 that has fruit and nuts to break up the eggs a bit. It might not be exactly like the Whole30 plan or the amount and types of foods they want you to eat for breakfast but, hey, five days of fruit and raisins for breakfast isn’t going to kill me.
One thing I also wanted to point out that I really started noticing in this chunk of time is the fact that my skin is out of this world smooth. I’m talking baby butt smooth. If you’ve read my blog before you know I’ve struggled with acne and that I’ve been using a product religiously that has helped my skin more than I thought possible. But Whole30 has taken it NEXT LEVEL. I didn’t know my skin could get any smoother. I thought hey, everyone’s going to have breakouts sometimes, I can’t expect my skin to be 100% clear all the time. But my skin has done nothing but improve since being on this. Now, in some of the blog posts I read when I wanted to commiserate about how awful I felt doing this, most of the people said they didn’t notice any change in their skin, but I think it’s important to remember that this is going to give different results to different people based on what is happening in your body. I’ve had doctors in the past tell me to cut dairy and had some tell me that what you eat doesn’t effect your skin as much as people think, so don’t believe everything you hear or expect everything to change by doing this but be excited about the things that do!
Days 16-20: LARABARSSSS! Why I didn’t find these sooner I’ll never know. These are the bomb. A snack that both my boyfriend and I have said we’ll continue to choose even after we’re done Whole30. They have a TON of flavors (as long as you’re eating the compliant ones) and are awesome for those times when you know you’re going to be out running an errand or just need something to tide you over until you have time to cook again. I personally love to eat them after a workout since they’re so quick and easy and hold me over until I get to make dinner. I highly highly highly recommend trying out a few of the compliant flavors (apple pie is so good, I’m drooling while thinking about it) so you know you always have a snack in your bag if you need it! Of course, don’t go overboard! I limit myself to 1 a day so I don’t overdo it on the fruit and nuts.
On day 19 I even got to go out to eat with my parents! They asked where I wanted to go and my only veto was the most delicious Italian restaurant because I would just be sad watching everyone else eating pasta (my favorite food on planet earth) while I grudgingly ate a salad with oil and vinegar dressing. NO THANK YOU. So we settled on our tried and true favorite Mexican food spot and I had the most delicious fajitas. I just ate the meat and veggies without the tortilla or cheese! It was awesome to feel like I could go out and eat and enjoy hanging out with people while still choosing something delicious and compliant even after Whole30 is done. And my wonderful dad, the always thoughtful person he is, made me a totally compliant bacon, eggs, and hash browns breakfast the next morning because he’s the greatest. I was worried that straying from my fridge where I know I have compliant foods was going to throw me off but I was pleasantly surprised at all my options! I was feeling great and super empowered!
Days 21-25: Here’s where it started going a little downhill again. Not totally downhill, we were still in it to win it, but closer to day 25 I just looked at the food in my fridge and said “nope. I can’t. I can not eat another piece of chicken/pork/steak with sauteed veggies again.” And I just ate a banana and an apple pie Larabar and called it a day. Your food will get really repetitive unless you don’t work all day and have tons of time to research recipes, go on grocery store hunts for random ingredients, and spend a few hours in your kitchen at night prepping but seriously, who has time for that? My advice for this is to stick with recipes that have simple ingredients that you’re familiar with. I was trying to get crazy with spaghetti squash and Whole30 homemade mayo and my recipes didn’t turn out even half as good as the week where I made some guacamole, threw some seasonings on veggies and steak, and called it a fajita bowl. Find things you like and find out ways to make them Whole30 compliant!
Days 26-30: Sweet sweet victory! These last few days actually went by really quickly. Maybe because I could feel how close I was to the end, maybe because I was actually learning what kinds of foods I liked eating that were actually nourishing my body. At the very beginning of this I sat every day making a laundry list of foods I wanted to eat when this was over. Cheese, yogurt, bread, pizza, a sandwich, something other than a vegetable. And day 30 rolled around and I wasn’t really looking forward to any of it. Yes, I did eat a sandwich on Day 31 and went for pizza on Day 32 but I ended both of those days in bed with stomach pains. Don’t get me wrong, they were delicious, but I figured that bread is probably what causes me to bloat so much at the end of every day. Sure, the foods at the end of it were getting a little boring, but I made it work and I DID IT. And if I can do it, so can you!
Over these past 30 days I learned A. LOT. about food. I learned that what I was eating before I started this made me feel awful all the time. And I had no idea because I had never felt any other way. Sure, everyone knows when you eat a greasy cheeseburger from a fast food place, you’re going to feel bad. But even eating normal things people eat all the time like pasta would leave me feeling overly stuffed. I learned about how much sugar is put into things you don’t even think about. Next time you’re at the grocery store, just pick up something you would normally purchase and take a look at the sugar content. Not just the % daily values, but the ingredients too; sucrose, glucose, fructose, corn sugar, cane sugar, corn syrup, etc. The list of sneaky ways sugar is put into food is enormous. This is not me standing on my soapbox like I’m now the queen of Whole30, this is me being genuinely baffled at how much sugar I was actually eating by eating things like greek yogurt and hummus thinking I was making a healthy choice. It’s crazy. And eye-opening!
I also learned which types of whole foods would keep me full and keep me from needing a snack that turns into a meal in between meals. I’m sure everyone knows that protein is what keeps you full but I learned about what proteins do it for me and my body. It’s annoying and repetitive to eat every day, but eating 3 eggs for breakfast with veggies around 9:30 (I’m not the person that can get up and eat first thing, it makes me sick) would keep me full completely until lunch time, and sometimes I was full even past then and didn’t eat lunch until around 1:30. A handful of almonds when I’m feeling munchy would keep me satisfied until I made dinner at night. It’s all about finding what good foods do it for you!
Now here are my pros and cons of doing this program. Again, some of the benefits might not happen to you, and that’s ok because other benefits will! Maybe you’re not as tired anymore or you don’t get headaches as often, it’s all dependent on your body and your needs. But let’s start with the cons first and get those out of the way.
- Eating healthy is a little pricier. I don’t know that the ingredients are more expensive, but the fact that fruits and veggies don’t last more than 5 days or so means you’re probably making more trips to the grocery store than before. Also, without dairy I tried some recipes with coconut milk instead and substituting things like that (or plain almond butter for peanut butter) can up your grocery bill.
- It takes A LOT of planning. Please please please don’t think you can just decide to do this and then start the next day. That’s setting yourself up for failure. Trust me. Go to the grocery store a day or two before and pick up some things you know will be staples for you or things you know won’t go bad like onions, sweet potatoes, and almonds, get some fruits and veggies for the week, different meats you can freeze and take out the day you want to make them. Prepare prepare prepare.
- You will struggle the first few days. It will be hard, especially if you’re going from not watching what you eat AT ALL to eliminating entire food groups from your diet. I don’t want to sugarcoat anything or discourage anyone but just know that your body will be in an adjustment period for the first few days and you will crave crave crave until your body has the time to adjust. It’s not impossible, but it’s difficult so keep that in mind!
- Meals do get repetitive. I was at the point where I would rather be hungry than eat another piece of meat. CAN A GIRL GET ONE DAY OF PASTA?! That isn’t the point of the program but hey, you can’t help how you feel. If you want, get the cookbook. My boyfriend has it and he made some different things but all in all, he still felt just about the same way as I did about not wanting to eat another dang sweet potato.
- Please see Days 11-15 above for baby-butt-smooth skin.
- I know how strong my will-power is to avoid bad foods. On Day 12 I made RESSE’S CUP CUPCAKES for my office’s potluck and didn’t even lick my hand to get batter off of it ONCE. I didn’t eat any cupcakes or cookies or delicious meatballs covered in barbecue sauce. And afterwards, everyone else got sluggish and felt tired and I felt GREAT. It was kind of an awesome feeling. That’s not to say that I won’t indulge in a cupcake for a special occasion or eat pizza with my girlfriends when we finally find a weekend we can all get together, but I figured out that I don’t NEED those foods like I thought I did. I can live without them!
- I learned that I can still eat healthy while going out and socializing! Food tends to be the center around gatherings with friends and I learned that going out to eat with a group doesn’t mean I can’t have something yummy. It doesn’t mean that I’ll give up my coveted cheeseburger forever, but maybe I’ll only do that every once in a while when going out to dinner and I’ll try to find some healthier options most of the time.
- I just feel better. Sure I’m still tired in the mornings, that didn’t really change for me. But I never feel bloated from eating something I know I shouldn’t have or have any guilt over eating any foods I know aren’t the best because I just avoid them entirely. It’s kind of liberating and awesome.
I will be 100% honest. When I first started this, I HATED it. Like legit hated it. I couldn’t wait until the 30 days were over and I could go back to eating how I used to. I thought I’ll stick this out but I will never ever ever do this again. I just want a dang yogurt! But I gave it a chance, stuck with it, and ended up really liking this program. I think that eating like this 24/7 is pretty unrealistic, but I’ve learned that I can and probably will continue to go dairy-free and both my boyfriend and I have decided to try and keep almost all of the rules during the week and then allow ourselves to get a little lax with it during the weekend. That’s not to say we’ll go crazy every Saturday and Sunday, but if we want to brunch with friends one day, we’re going to get some mimosas and french toast ;). It gets repetitive with the meat/veggie/potato dish every night for dinner, but I think if I keep looking, I can find some yummy recipes that’ll be good and good for me! Overall I think this program is definitely worth it. If you’ve been on the fence about it I say give it a try! Giving up alcohol was so easy and drinking my coffee black was a breeze, it’s all about your mindset I’ve learned. So why not try something new for 30 days and see if you come out better on the other side!
Thanks for reading!