I decided to not post along the way during my Whole30 journey, but here is a (not-so quick) recap of my experience. Also, some background information: I am 35, 5'8", and started at 152 lbs. I was exercising 3-4 days a week over the summer and kind of fell off the band wagon to nurse a couple of nagging injuries and some chronic pain. I currently play in a few silly sports leagues throughout the week and they have been my basic source of movement/exercise throughout my 30 days. Prior to the Whole30 I would say I ate pretty well, but never had any real direction with what or how I ate. I just tried to keep it mostly unprocessed, whole grains, fruits and veggies, and lean meat (for dinner usually). The reason I decided to take on the challenge was to feel more energetic, reduce some joint pain/inflammation, reduce congestion (possibly from food allergies?), and hopefully feel more rested in the morning. Ok, here we go (sorry it's suuuuper long!):
1.) Its day 30 and I still haven’t weighed myself, but I’m fairly certain I’m down about 4-5 lbs. I ultimately wanted to drop 10, but considering I haven’t been able to get below a certain weight since before I was pregnant with my 3-year old daughter, I’m pretty ecstatic to see the scale move down.
2.) People tout all kinds of amazing benefits from the Whole30 like clearer skin, stronger nails/hair, crazy amounts of energy, better and more restful sleep, weight loss, clearer head, etc. I’m going to be honest and say that I think I felt many of those things, but only to a very small degree. The main reason I decided to do it was because I feel like a sloth roughly 95% of my life. I’m always tired and sluggish and thought perhaps my diet was contributing (because it obviously isn’t having a 3-year old while working on my MBA and working full time – eye roll). I’ve had my thyroid and iron tested and they’re fine. I think I’m just a sleepy person. A few things do feel a little different/better and I'll consider them my non-scale victories:
a. Less foggy head – I actually think a large part of that was because I actually LOVED focusing on a diet. I’m a laid back person and I do well with some kind of plan and structure or else I get way too loosey-goosey with life. I needed something healthy and good to focus on to get me back on track and I think this help me succeed with that undoubtedly.
b. Weight loss – like I said, I think I lost about 5 lbs and I’m happy about that.
c. Motivation – again, this might be because I’ve had something to focus on, but I do feel a certain kind of focused energy to get things done and be more organized. It’s not the Tiger Blood they talk about, but I’ll take it!
d. It's sort of hard to tell, but I do think some of my joint pain and congestion has decreased since I started. I still have them both, but I would have to say they aren't as extreme and that makes me hopeful that, if I continue, they'll improve even more
3.) Like I previously mentioned, I am a generally tired person. After the first week or so, I did notice that I was sleeping pretty well. Sleep, however, was never really a big issue for me and I still have trouble getting out of bed in the morning. I've always sort of been a night owl and feel my best and most energetic from 5-9pm ish. That being said, I basically felt like I wanted to crawl into bed and sleep for a month every day for about the first 3 weeks. I could just never fully shake it and still feel a bit fatigued. I read adding more starchy carbs in the morning can help and so I added sweet potatoes into my breakfast routine and I think maybe it helped a little. Maybe?
4.) It was easier than I thought it would be. I expected to have insane cravings for things (i.e. wine, peanut butter, bread), but I mostly didn’t. At the beginning I had weird cravings for gum (?!) and milk. I don’t often drink milk but I wanted it so badly because I couldn’t have it.
5.) Planning was everything. I made an elaborate food calendar with what I was going to eat each day with links to recipes I found online and also an accompanying grocery list. Then I spent basically 4-5 hours each Sunday food prepping and cooking my face off. This turned out to be a great experience with my daughter and she now gets excited when we get to "play chef."
6.) The food was super delicious. What isn’t delicious about fresh meats, veggies, and fruits? That was nice and unexpected for some reason. The Whole30 cookbook was my go-to for the first couple of weeks and then I started to branch out to the web. I found some super delicious recipes out there, but noticed some people take liberties with the Whole30 rules in their recipes and had to navigate web recipes cautiously.
7.) My grocery bill went way up! Because I basically only ate meat at dinner before the Whole30, adding enough meat in each week to fill up my menu was super pricey. Plus, I had to stock up on a bunch of Whole30 approved pantry items and tons of fresh produce. I’m actually fine with spending lots on food because I think it’s worth it, but it’s definitely something to note.
8.) One thing I would do differently next time is to be more aware of how I set up my weekly menu. After making some adjustments, stopped making frittatas for breakfast (if I saw another frittata after week 2, I would have punched it in the face), and added more leafy greens and sweet potatoes, I felt pretty happy.
9.) My new favorite thing ever is salad for breakfast. Leafy greens, tomatoes, avocado, a couple eggs poached or over easy, and some kind of whole30 approved dressing/vinaigrette and you’re good to go. Soooo satisfying and filling.
10.) These forums helped me a lot. I felt unsure if I was doing things right at first and reading people’s experiences and tips definitely helped me navigate the first couple of weeks more successfully.
11.) Lastly, one of the biggest things that I noticed was how often I mindlessly nibble, especially when making lunches or prepping food for my daughter. This had me seeing that in a whole new light and I really think contributed to the weight I lost.
And that's it! I also think I’m one of those people that needs more than 30 days to really start feeling some of the benefits so I'm just going to just stick with it for another week or two. Then I plan to move on to a (modified) Paleo diet. We’ll see how it goes.
Thanks for reading and, if you're just starting, best of luck on your own Whole30 journey!