four major thoughts on whole 30.

October 18, 2017

You've likely heard more than you care to about Whole 30. Better yet, my guess is that you've either tackled it yourself or have a half-dozen friends who have bravely trudged through a month of feverish label scanning and eliminating food groups in an effort to shed pounds, feel better, or just experiment with food reactions. I jumped on the bandwagon this past spring, reasoning that while I wanted to give it a go, my social calendar wouldn't ultimately ever offer me a prime time to focus on the program. 

Amidst a schedule of meetings and happy hours and celebrations that I used as excuses, I lasted a mere 4.5 days.

But here's the thing: my willpower is questionable at best. I can talk myself into (or out of) basically anything. While I traditionally eat pretty decently, I have never dieted or committed too much time considering how certain foods affect my body. In May, I did the research, read my labels, scrappily meal-planned. But in the end, my heart wasn't in it, so I failed pretty miserably. A large component of my failure was that I didn't fully understand the point of the program... which is to push aside processed food in an effort to see how your body feels when it's nourished with whole foods. 

That said, boyfriend convinced me we could tackle it together this month. Knowing he (who is incredibly disciplined) was at my side was the push I needed to dive right in.

So, here are my four big tips on making it through:

  • Do this with a partner. Y'all, I cannot say this enough. J has been so encouraging, and held me so accountable throughout all of this--when I texted him pictures of gorgeous, crusty, baked goods from a Junior League meeting, he responded to stop looking at the food. ;) When we were at a wedding reception last weekend and I couldn't resist sniffing the aroma of wine in the air, he whisked me off to grill (compliant) steaks together. We've meal-planned with spreadsheets, swapped recipes, spent our Sundays cooking, and traipsed through the aisles of Costco together, all in the name of succeeding at this together.
  • Piggy-backing on that--the forethought is crucial. Planner that I am, I created a tabbed Google sheet with a rough idea of meal plans that I update week-by-week (so as to not be super overwhelming), and take those meals and create our shopping lists. I've heard time and again that "Whole 30 is expensive!" but I don't fully agree... a lot of what we're eating are fresh veggies and compliant meat. Giving up my cheese and ice cream, wine and happy hours from a financial standpoint balances out the uptick in purchases of compliant snacks (which I'll talk more about in a sec). Pinterest is an awesome resource for recipes--just be sure you double-check ingredients to ensure they're all A-okay. I have a row in the spreadsheet reserved for notes on how I'm feeling as well--which has really helped me document my progress as I trudge through it all.
  • Stop with the excuses. I had absolutely every reason to not do Whole 30 throughout October... a few of which were two concerts, working a weekend-long bike ride in middle of nowhere Tennessee (with multiple days of catered food I couldn't touch), multiple meetings (and their snacks and wine), the aforementioned wedding we attended, a girls' dinner last night, a work event this upcoming Sunday (full of fancy chef tastings and wine), small group each Monday... literally multiple events each week. But when I know what each day holds, I can plan accordingly. And like I said, the partner aspect of support is unparalleled.
  • Snacks are necessary. Always have something on hand to munch on. This might sound controversial, because a big element of Whole 30 is abandoning the habit of snacking. But I'm an emphatic proponent of making this your own--one cookie cutter approach won't appeal to the thousands (millions?) of people doing this. I am constantly in and out of meetings, sitting in traffic, bouncing from one event to another--while I meal plan and cook in bulk where possible, I have really relied upon some essentials during my day-to-day... namely LaCroix (get the Key Lime flavor from Target!), cold brew (this Texas Pecan flavor is insanely good! and made in Texas!), nuts, dried fruit and RxBars (can't go wrong with chocolate sea salt and pumpkin spice)

Nuts can't be processed in soybean or peanut oil (soy is a no-no and peanuts are a legume), dried fruit can't have added sugar (as so much of it does), and RxBars/Larabars are okay as long as they don't include peanut butter or extracts (which are technically alcohol). Once you get the basics down, it gets easier to curate your list of go-tos. A lot of people cringe over the idea of not adding something to their coffee--carageenan-free almond milk is just fine, but I'm okay with black coffee.

You will evolve into a pro label-reader and spend many evenings googling additives in grocery store aisles... mark my words.
Finally... the good stuff. I'll tell you that I've absolutely noticed differences in myself within a mere 18 days. While I don't normally tend to have skin issues, I've noticed a definite shift in the brightness in my complexion. Where I was accustomed to multiple dull headaches each week (for years!), I've had maybe two or three all month. I've never truly had sleep issues, but I sleep harder and wake up with more energy now. You're not supposed to weigh yourself while doing this (as Whole 30 isn't technically a "diet"), but--surprise, surprise--I broke the rules and stepped on the scale earlier this week to reveal I've lost over seven pounds already. I feel myself craving certain things less frequently and reaching for snacks less often, as I was very apt to do before diving into Whole 30. I've never been someone plagued by food allergies, and yet this program is working for me--I certainly encourage anyone to give it a try--and I've had multiple friends go through multiple rounds of it! You'll likely be amazed at how your body will react. It's not as tough as you may imagine--thirty days is nothing.

Let me know if you have questions--Lord knows I've done the research!

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