Friday, February 23, 2018

My Experience with Whole30

Before I dive into my own personal experience with Whole30, I first want to give a little bit of background about what exactly Whole30 is for those of you who may not be super familiar. For thirty days participants strip their diets of added sugar, alcohol, dairy, grains, legumes, and certain additives, and focus on eating whole foods - lean meats, seafood, eggs, fruits & veggies, and healthy fats. The creators of Whole30 claim that by doing so and by hitting the reset button, participants transform their relationship with food, while also eliminating cravings, improving sleep and energy levels, relieving medical symptoms, and losing weight in a healthy manner. They even go as far as saying that it will change your life.

And so you may ask.. why would I want to eat in such a restrictive manner for a whole entire month? 

Here is not only my answer to that but also what I have learned by doing so. Enjoy! 

Over the past couple years, I had heard and seen the term Whole30 quite a few times. At the time, it was not something I was familiar with but I was curious enough to investigate what exactly people were talking about. What I discovered was the background I gave you above on Whole30 - a program that involves eating whole foods for thirty days and claims to have many health and wellness benefits. Sounds great right? Sure.. until you really dive into the program rules, which is exactly where it always lost me. 

My initial thought was 'Nope, there is no way I could do that.' So many of the things that I eat on a day to day basis are not allowed, and I always found myself thinking.. what the hell would I eat for thirty days!? And so, I determined it wasn't for me and life went on. However, I always came back to it. I would hear more people talking about it or read really positive experiences of people who had completed it, and I wondered what my experiences would be like. I was curious as to what it was all about. Curious enough that come January of this year, I decided that it was finally time to give it a go and see for myself what the hype was all about. I let my curiosity get the best of me! 

Of course, there were other factors that helped push me to finally do it. I know I'm not the only one who feels like crap after the holidays are through, and this year was no different. A thirty day 'cleanse' and reset sounded very appealing to me come January! To be honest, I felt like a lot of the benefits claimed to occur during and post Whole30 didn't really pertain to me. I am lucky to not struggle with sleeping, my energy levels feel fairly consistent, which is amazing coming from someone who works night shift, I don't have any chronic medical issues, aside from very mild G.I things (I'll spare the details!), and I am not and was not looking to lose weight. For other people, those things could have been a factor in deciding to complete the Whole30 program, but they weren't for me. So when it comes down to it, I was really just curious about what completing the Whole30 would feel like for me! 

So how did I feel? Was it life changing, like they claim? 

The short answer is no, it was not life changing, but I did feel really good! There is something to be said about eating whole foods, and eliminating the rest of the crap from your diet - feeling good is almost a guaranteed result! 

No one's Whole30 journey is going to be the same or feel the same, however mine definitely didn't align with the timeline that hints at what to expect during the thirty days. I never experienced the "hangover" - think headaches, fatigue, general malaise - that many people do initially. I actually felt the best during the first week! I had higher energy levels than normal, was in an exceptionally good mood, was really motivated and excited for workouts - it was amazing! It didn't last for the entire thirty days, but it sure did feel good while it lasted. I also experienced extremely vivid dreams almost every night for a little more than the first week, which was wild! 

Days 10 and 11 are predicted to be the hardest, which I would agree with. I definitely had the hardest time, mentally, around days 11 and 12, mostly because you're almost at the halfway point but not quite there and day 30 feels like it will never come. It does, I promise! For those of you familiar with Whole30, you know what Tiger Blood is, but for those of you that don't let me explain. Tiger Blood is the period of time, often between days 16 and 27, where energy levels are supposed to be through the roof, clothes are supposed to fit better, cravings under control, and workouts are better and stronger. Sounds amazing and yet when I got to the second half of the thirty days I didn't really experience it. My energy levels were good, cravings totally under control, and workouts were strong but definitely not as amazing as I was expecting. I honestly feel like I experienced this Tiger Blood phase in my first week!  

All in all I can say that by the end of it, and for the majority of the thirty days, I felt really good. Again, I think there is something to be said for eating good, wholesome foods. To me, it just makes sense that the better the foods are that you put into your body, the better you are going to feel both physically and mentally. It is so important to be mindful of what you are putting into your body. One of my biggest takeaways from completing the Whole30 program is that I feel I am much more aware about what goes into my body. That isn't to say that I will never indulge every once in a while because I most definitely will but I am more aware and mindful about how I go about doing so. 

I learned that eating healthy and whole takes a little bit more effort - planning, shopping, cooking - but that it is always worth going the extra mile! Not only is it better for you than the quick easy fix, but also more often than not it tastes amazing and is more satisfying. It is so rewarding knowing what's going into your body is good food and that you are responsible for making it happen! 

And lastly to conclude, completing Whole30 reinforced my biggest belief about food and eating - it's all about balance. This is something that I have always believed and that I feel strongly about even more so now. It is important to be mindful about how you are eating and to eat well, but it is also equally as important to enjoy that glass of wine, bowl of pasta, cheese platter, or sweet treat every once in a while because you aren't living your best life if you don't! 

For those of you who may be interested in trying to Whole30 but aren't quite sure if you could do it or if it's for you, I say go for it. You truly have nothing to lose! At the very least you will learn something about yourself and feel good while doing so. I will be very honest - it definitely isn't the easiest thing to do, however it is by no means the hardest thing you will do either. Plus, who doesn't like a bit of a challenge!? There are few things more rewarding than setting a goal and accomplishing it! 

Good luck!


Favorite breakfast? 
Scrambled eggs with spinach, tomatoes, avocado, turkey sausage, hot sauce, and half a grapefruit! SO good - I could seriously eat it every day. 

Favorite snack? 
Apple slices with almond butter!

Favorite meal? 
Whole30 Chicken Tikka Masala - see photo above! This was SO good. My mom (who was also completing Whole30 with me) & I loved it and plan on making it again. Here is the link to the recipe that we followed!

How much did you lose?
Four pounds! 

What was the hardest thing to give up?
Hmm, you would think this would be an easy question to answer. Nothing was truly that difficult to give up but I was definitely most excited for pizza after the thirty days were up! 

Was there anything you discovered that you didn't know prior to doing Whole30? 
 I love love love fruit! I definitely didn't reach for fruit as a snack prior to Whole30 as often as I did during and now. Also, I will never get sick of eggs! 

What are you most proud of? 
Other than just being proud to have completed Whole30, drinking my coffee with only almond milk, no sugar was definitely something I am proud of. Something I am now doing on the regular post-Whole30!

I strangely craved things that I don't even eat on a regular basis - sugary cereal with milk and french macarons! 

Any words of advice? 
If you can find someone to do Whole30 with you, do it. Having my mom doing it with me definitely made it easier, especially when it came to shopping for food and cooking!

How has your diet (for lack of a better word) changed post-Whole30?
Since I felt so good during the 30 days, I am trying to continue to eat as "Whole30" as I can during the week - within reason of course! On the weekends I have no problem with indulging a little bit more.

Will you ever complete the Whole30 program again?
This is still up in the air for me, and I can say definitely not anytime soon, but if I had to make a guess, I would say I most likely will do it again at some point. 

xo. G 

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