My Whole30

When I first heard about Whole30 I thought it was crazy and quickly dismissed it as something I would never try.  It requires 100% compliance 100% of the time and there are way too many restrictions. No dairy, no grains, no sugar, no soy, no legumes and absolutely nothing processed.  What on earth is there left to eat?  That leaves fruit, veggies (no corn), meat, nuts, eggs and potatoes.  I couldn't imagine what my life would be like without coffee in the mornings and all the grocery shopping and meal prepping I would have to do.  Don't even get me started on life without peanut butter, bread and wine.

Then we booked our airline tickets to Kauai.  I realized how fast our beach vacation was approaching and how bad I would feel in my bikini if I didn't start doing something about it.  I've been feeling very uncomfortable in my skin, so I figured this would be a great way to kick off my bikini body action plan.

I eased into it by starting out with one week that was closer to Paleo because I allowed myself wine and dined out without question to how my food was prepared, but did eliminate grains, dairy, legumes, processed food and non wine sugar.  I was ready to start, but had some dinner dates already planned so I figured it was a good compromise before going into the four weeks.

It's been one month since I finished Whole30.  These are my observations.

I ate all the food.  The first week we underestimated the quantity of meat I would need to consume and ran out.  I stopped at the store for 2 lbs of emergency turkey and MJ grilled it up so I would have something to eat.  After that he made additional meat for himself and only ate "my meat" for a night or two if that.
fruits & nuts // beef stew // filet Mignon & potatoes
We spent lots of money on groceries.  Our grocery budget is $350 per month.  I tallied up all the receipts for grocery shopping onWhole30 and it added up to a sickening $520.00.  That is just not cool.  MJ wasn't bothered by it too much but I was pretty sad that we spent that much.  I can't even imagine what it would have been if we were both doing the diet.  Whole30 is on the extreme side, but it's further proof that eating healthy is more expensive.  It just is.

Meal prep is a must.  If you work full time and/or have kids or other obligations that take up a giant chunk of your time there is no other way.  If you don't you will either starve or quit.  After the first week we figured out that about 5 lbs of meat for me alone would be sufficient.  Two 24 packs of chicken (about 3 lbs) and two 16 oz packages of ground turkey.  Yeah, that's a lot of meat, but fruits and vegetables aren't filling enough to exist on alone and you can't overdo it on the nuts.  I prepared the chicken breast and made a giant pot of fresh broccoli.  MJ seasoned the turkey and grilled everything on Sunday.  You get kind of bummed out when you know you don't have any food to eat nor time to prepare it so it's best to prep it so it's readily available.
eggs, chicken, turkey, veggies
You don't have to be a chef.
  I'm no cook and I managed to do this on the most simple of foods.  There are all kinds of Whole30 recipes out there but I couldn't be bothered.  MJ made a roast the second week which was a nice change and we had steak one night, but other than that I stuck with chicken and turkey.  It helps that I'm okay with eating the same things over and over and that my sweet husband was willing to make my sausage every week and grill my meat.  I wanted salad one week so I had to make my own salad dressing and if I can do it anyone can.  

I had to give up the concept of traditional breakfasts.  The only traditional breakfast item allowed is eggs.  MJ made my turkey taste like sausage so that was good, but you can't do regular bacon, ham or sausage because even if there is no sugar on the nutritional label if it's cured in sugar it's a no go.  There is bacon not cured in sugar but it wasn't worth it for me to scour the stores for it or order it online so I didn't.  Same goes for coffee.  No sugar or dairy is allowed and I wasn't going to make my own almond milk.  I tried unsweetened coconut milk and it was disgusting.  It tasted like liquid plastic and there were nasty looking oil circles floating at the top.  I forced myself to finish that cup but that was that for me.  No coffee on whole30.  I've heard that some people do coconut oil, but no.  I was over it.

It crimped my style.  We went to the movies and while MJ ordered a hotdog I munched on almonds and raisins.  I would have also brought my carrots but neither MJ or the rest of the audience would have appreciated my loud munching.  In general we don't go crazy and eat a bunch of junk at the movies but I have associated movie watching with something sweet or indulgent even if it's just a bag of mini gummy bears so anything else just feels like a let down.  I wasn't even excited about doing a picnic if I couldn't drink wine or the most indulgent treat was going to be grapes.  Forget about dining out.  I would either show up and not be able to eat anything or I'd be that person peppering the server with a million questions trying to figure out if my meal would be compliant.  I preferred not to bother with it at all.

I was slightly paranoid about everything I put in my mouth.  The hardest thing about Whole30 is not what you can have.  Nobody wants to mess up in week 3 when they've worked so hard at being compliant and a lot of the restrictions are hidden.  If any of the ingredients are really hard to pronounce and/or you don't recognize it you probably can't eat it.  You have to read labels very carefully because even things you think you can eat, you can't.   Like canned Tuna in water.  I checked the label and it has soy.  I quit my mult-vitamin because I couldn't be sure if it was compliant and I thought I could eat tuna until I read the label closely and found soy.  No more Pam spray oil and even seasonings may be non compliant.  You really have to check.  This is the official "Can I have" Whole30 list.  If you have soy, dairy or grains you definitely have to start over, but any slip up is grounds for a re-start according to the guidelines.

Sometimes I saw non compliant foods and wanted to cry.  I couldn't snag a cracker when MJ was eating them or have any samples at the grocery store.  When MJ did a donut run one Sunday I tortured myself by sticking my face in the bag and taking a big whiff.  One day he came home with freshly baked still hot cookies from Subway and I couldn't take one single bite.  It was torture.  I couldn't taste his sandwich either.

 I was okay as long as I didn't let myself get hungry.  The first week I thought chicken for breakfast lunch and dinner was going to be fine and I was starving by the end of the week.  Chicken was just too lean to sustain me.  MJ had the bright idea to make me sausage out of ground turkey. We went with lean (not extra lean) and that way I got a little bit more fat in the morning to help control my hunger.  The last week all they had was extra lean and it was not the same.  He flavors it up pretty good so it tastes like sausage but without that extra fat it was kind of rubber like and disappointing.  As long as I wasn't hungry I was okay with all of the things I wasn't allowed to eat.

You will be challenged, but you can do it.  You can do anything for four weeks if you really, really want to right?  There are tons of resources to help you figure it out, like Whole9.  Once I got through the first week to work out the bugs and knew exactly what I needed it became routine and that was it. 

Getting enough food on a limited selection is hard.  Yes, I tracked my calories too even though you aren't supposed to. It's easy to eat a ton of calories on junk without even realizing it (and still be hungry) but not when you are dealing with nutrient dense foods and a very limited selection.  I'm trying to heal my metabolism.  It's really important for me to hit my minimum calorie goal consistently, but it was difficult.  I found that nuts and raisins are a good way to up calories but at the end of the day there just wasn't anything else for me to eat.  It's entirely possible that I'm just doing it wrong, but even off Whole30, I find myself barely meeting my minimum.

So, did it work?  I guess that answer depends upon what your goals were.  For me, I was hoping for an energy boost and to feel more comfortable in a bikini.  Well, neither one happened for me.  I had days where I was more energized and days where I could barely keep my eyes open at work just like before.  I didn't experience any life changing energy boost or overall sense of well being.  I had to go to the bathroom a lot and I think it's because my carbs were so low.  And now for the million dollar question that everyone wants to know.  Did you lose weight?  For me, it's always about losing weight even when it isn't so there is no denying that I hoped to drop a few.  I did not, unless you count gaining and losing the same exact pound for a month.  I know, I know, you aren't supposed to weigh yourself on Whole30, but I have a co-dependent relationship with the scale and a lot of wackiness going on with my body lately, so there was no way I was going 30 days without it.  Even when I realized I wasn't losing weight and it didn't look like I would quitting wasn't an option for me.  I started it and I would finish it no matter what.  It is incredibly hard to find the motivation to continue on a diet like this when you see no changes but honestly, I think I would have been more devastated to find out at the end. 

I did not do the proper 10 day post Whole30 reintroduction of foods phase.  If I'd had a miraculous Whole30 experience I would have been more interested in that, but it did not feel relevant to me based on my experience.   I couldn't deal with 10 extra days of vigilance, and I was over it.  I did not see a difference when I cut everything out so I was fairly certain there would be no change when I added it back in. The first day I had bread, peanut butter and sugar paying attention to how my body felt.  No change.  I tried out cheese on a separate day with no issues and called it good.

What I learned.

There is life without cheese.  I have always been a huge cheese lover so I thought I would really miss it, but I didn't.  I didn't even start eating string cheese again until a few weeks after I finished.

Whole foods is the way to go.  I already knew this, and we already cut out most processed foods awhile ago but this only reinforced that.  If I had a craving for something, anything, my only option was whole foods.  It kind of broke that cycle of craving something sweet or junky when I'm hungry.  Whole foods are filling, tasty, and when I'm hungry that's what I want.  Not junk.  Although, I will admit to having a thing for Twizzler Bites that I can't quite seem to shake.  

Eggs are not my friend.  During the last week when I saw absolutely no change on the scale or in my physical appearance I decided to make one more change.  I'd cut out everything, but the one consistent was eggs so by process of elimination I knew I needed to give them up to see if that made a difference.  Within two days, that stubborn pound that I kept hanging onto disappeared and by the end of the week I was down four pounds, my stomach flattened out and that bloaty feeling that I had accepted as normal was gone.  I was shocked, because I've been eating eggs consistently for over a year and it kind of sucks that eggs sabotaged my Whole30.  I still want to figure out if it was the white or the yolk (or both) but for now eggs are off the menu.  I was sick of meat so I decided to make some lentil soup and lo and behold, the same exact reaction that was happening with the eggs.  I was bloated and heavy feeling within a day, so no more lentils for now and I still need to give other beans a try and see how I react.

I also decided to quit splenda.  After "cleansing" I decided I didn't want to put such a questionable substance into my body on a regular basis.  If I'm out and about and that's all there is I will use it but I won't buy it anymore or use it at home or work.

Would I do it again?  Probably not.  I could see myself doing a Whole7 or Whole 10 maybe, but not another 30.  The expense and attention to detail that it requires is just not something I want to deal with for that long again.  It's just so inflexible.  Discovering the egg sensitivity was the success story of my Whole30.  Had I not done it who knows how much longer it would have taken me to figure that out, so even though nothing miraculous happened I don't feel that it was a waste of time (or money).

Healthy eating is always a win. 


P!nky said...

Good for you for completing the program. It is NO easy task and I applaud you immensly. Especially after you blew it off at first, I know a lot of people that talk it down before trying it because it's so 'restrictive' but it's a great way to learn about yourself and your body. I'm sorry you didn't get the energy you were looking for, I only had it for two days, but I also learned how badly my body does on crap food.

We also just did our own introduction because we knew we didn't have any allergies. I know that processed food makes me tired and feel like crap so we try to limit it as much as possible. I've also learned that making an exception for homemade delicious food is worth it to me so that's how I indulge now.

Props again, lady!

Amanda @ said...

Wow, thanks for this thorough post! I don't think I could stick to a diet like this... I'm far too cheap and am horrible at prepping meals. I think I'd just fail. Haha. :)

Smiling is Good for Your Teeth said...

Thanks for your honest post about this. I have been hearing lots of hype about Whole30. I think instead of doing the whole diet thing, I will just eat less of all of the things I shouldn't eat...! I have a hard time cutting things out of my diet, its totally mental ;-)

That Blue House said...

I'm really shocked you didn't lose any weight on the program. I only made it to like 18 days I think. It is just SO restrictive. I do like to incorporate Paleo type eating though when I am trying to lose weight. As for the food budget, we spend about $500 every month for the two of us! The only time I ever spent around $350 was when we ate a lot of processed food. Eating healthy IS expensive.

Law_Fal said...

Congrats for sticking with it. It sounds intense, but you do have a great body so all the discipline makes it well worth while. I wish I had the will power to stick to something like this.

Brass Honey said...

So fricken impressed! I won't miss a workout but I have zero will power when it comes to food :)

Ameena said...

I'm surprised that you had a reaction to eggs...since I don't eat meat or chicken I can't imagine a life without eggs!

Sorry you didn't see more in terms of results because I have heard so many great things about the Whole 30. I think you are just in great shape to begin with!

PS: If you find a way to improve energy levels please let me know. Sometimes I feel like I'm just going to collapse.

Ashley R said...

Wow- I can't believe you did it, you are a superstar! Cheese!!!

Jacqueline Hough said...

Good job! I am very impressed. I don't have the willpower. Plus, I would be lost without cheese. Good job!

Lex @ Flecks of Lex said...

Thanks for sharing this! I've been thinking about giving it a try.

Miss Rachel M. said...

Kudos on completing it! Groceries are so pricy but good and good for you food is worth it! Thanks for sharing!

Food, Booze, & Baggage said...

Wow Cece! I could never consider this, it sounds like pure torture :) You showed great will-power. I also do not like to eat tons of meat or the same thing all the time. I would never make it. I don't think all tuna has soy in it. You guys do good on your grocery budget. Of course some of our budget is alcohol so it's hard for me to keep up with what we spend on only food. If P goes to the store, he almost always comes home with beer :)