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Grad Student Whole30 Challenge


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Hey Everyone - My name is Lauren and I am currently a grad student studying in NYC. With the stress of school and living in a new country away from friends and family (I'm Canadian), felt that my diet has been suffering. I have been primal/paleo off and on for the past 3 years. Figured it was time to clean up my diet and really support a healthy lifestyle while going through this change and period of stress.


My first day was a little wonky as I was not as prepared as I should have been. Woke up and went to the gym this morning (fasting) worked out and then went and got groceries. By the time I got home at 12pm, I was ravenous so I just had a small apple and some raisons to tide me over until lunch was ready!


So here is my breakdown of meals for the day:


Snack: Piece of bacon, gala apple, raisons

Lunch: Sage Bison Burger with Balsamic, Bacon, and Apple Chutney with some sweet potato

Dinner: Mashed sweet potato with spices and a few raisons & Opti-Cleanse GHI Smoothie (prescribed by doc-13g protein) with a banana and a 1/4 of coconut milk

Drinks: Hot lemon water and just plain water


Felt very satisfied after each meal. Although I feel like dinner was a little too much, so will cut down going forward.


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Well on day two and feeling great! Felt very satisfied after all of my meals today AND I tried a new vegetable that I have never had before and loved it! Yay for parsnips!


Here is what my day looked like:

Breakfast - Opti-Cleanse GHI with a banana and 1/4cup of coconut milk

Lunch - Sage bison burgers with balsamic, bacon, apple chutney with butternut squash puree and an apple

Pre-Dinner Snack (I was ravenous and dinner was going to take an hour to cook!): Mashed sweet potato with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger with a few raisons.

Dinner: Chicken drumstick and wing with roasted parsnips and carrots. The veggies were so good, I had to have another helping! 


Did have a headache today as well as yesterday, but I think it is just due to some very tight neck and shoulder muscles. I am committing to completing a quick 20min lower body workout and some stretching to help with those tight muscles.

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Day 3 down! Ate exactly as I did yesterday with a few minor changes. Had blueberries with my shake instead of a banana, and a chicken thigh and wing with my veggies for dinner. Maybe snacked on a few more raisons tonight too..


Didn't end up getting my lower body workout in last night, but I spent a LOT of time stretching and I finally had a headache free day!!


One difference I felt today was that I felt that I could have had something else with lunch. I was satisfied, not stuffed by any means, but felt like I could have kept eating. Also, felt a little bloated after dinner. Not sure what that was about..


Have my first midterm tomorrow and presenting a law case brief in my Art Law class, so definitely need a good night sleep tonight!

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Here's to day 4! It was a busy day full of midterms and class presentations but I got through the day with ease and felt confident about everything I had to get done today. In the face of everyone around me freaking out and stressing, I managed to keep my cool, which was a huge thing for me as I am your typical A -type personality and perfectionist. I like to think of myself as a recovering type A. I have learned a lot over the past few years dealing with some health issues and I know it is imperative for me to keep my stress level down.


Some of the health issues that I have dealt with are severe adrenal fatigue, leaky gut, SIBO, and wacked out hormones. I've made a lot of progress, but each day is an opportunity take another baby step on my journey to vibrant health.


For meals today, they were pretty much the same as the past couple days:

Breakfast at 8am - Opti-GHI Cleanse Smoothie with 1/4 cup coconut milk and 1/2 cup blueberries

Snack at 9am - was still feeling hungry, so I had a very small gala apple

Lunch 12pm - Bison burger with chutney and some butternut squash. Was still hungry, so I had some cashews

Pre-workout Snack 4pm - 1/2 cup mashed sweet potato with some black raisons

Dinner - Roasted parsnip with a chicken drumstick, 1/2 cup sweet potato with a few more raisons.

*I have noticed the past couple nights that I feel bloated after dinner, thinking it is probably the parsnips, so will rotate those out of the diet once I finish the rest in my fridge.


My workout consisted of a light hour ride on a stationary bike while I did some readings for Art Law. Trying to follow the Primal approach to move slowly lots each day.


I did weigh myself at the gym tonight as I haven't weighed myself in almost 2 months. I weighed in at 118lbs - I know that the point of the whole30 is not to lose weight but really examine my relationship with food. However, with my thyroid hormone severely off, I have gained 15lbs over the past year. Would really like to get my thyroid hormones regulated so I can finally get back to my usual weight around 103-105lbs (I'm pretty petite at 5'1"). However, I do know that a big contributor to the weight gain was an unhealthy relationship with food - I felt crappy all the time no matter how well I ate, so I would eat extremely well and then break down and binge, and that cycle just kept on repeating. So here's to creating a new relationship with food that truly SUPPORTS me and my health!!!

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Here is my log for Day 5 and 6, got a little behind and didn't post yesterday.


Day 5 - Felt like I couldn't stop eating today... ate all compliant foods, but felt guilty for my inability to stop eating long after I was satisfied. 

Breakfast - Opti-GHI Cleanse Smoothie with banana and 1/4cup coconut milk, 1/2cup mashed sweet potato and a some black raisons

Lunch - Bison burger with balsamic, bacon, and apple chutney with butternut squash and a large gala apple

Snack - four smallish raw carrots

Dinner - Chicken breast with roasted parsnip and carrot

Dessert - banana and 1/2cup of blueberries


Day 6 - Felt a little more in control of food today, but felt bloated after lunch and bloated and gassy after dinner with little desire to move as I didn't feel that well.

Breakfast - Opti-GHI Cleanse Smoothie with banana and 1/4cup coconut milk

Lunch - Bison burger with balsamic, bacon, and apple chutney with butternut squash and a large gala apple

Dinner - Chicken breast with roasted parsnip and carrot

Dessert - small gala apple


When I feel sick after eating good, healthy food, makes me feel a little depressed and why is it worth putting in all this effort. However, I know that when I feel like this, it means that I need to be extra diligent as my gut has a troublesome time disgusting good food let alone foods filled with gluten, sugar, etc.


Also, with my thyroid and other hormones so off, it feels like no matter how much I watch what I'm eating am still not losing weight... 


BUT on a high note, I know that all this is a learning lesson, and that I need to focus on the good in my life each and everyday because it BY FAR outweighs the bad. At the end of the day, I am lucky and so grateful for my life and everyone in it.

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lkibsy, I'm not sure if you are looking for comments here, but I feel like I do need to say something about the smoothie powder...I get that your doctor prescribed it for you, and of course you are free to continue taking it, BUT, doing so does mean you are missing out on an important part of the whole30 experience/experiment. That powder contains rice and pea protein, and, unless you are using the unflavored version it also contains sugar. If I were you, I would have a conversation with my Doc about moving to a completely whole foods diet, rather than taking in a liquid/processed/sweetened drink with fruit added to it in the morning. I'm not judging, but I am chiming in with my own experience: doing the whole30 made a huge difference in my health, and I believe a big part of that difference came from changing my fruit/vegan pea protein/inulin sweetened smoothie breakfast to vegetables, meat and eggs.


Continuing to consume rice and legumes during the 30-days means you will not learn if these cause issues for you.


If you do decide to continue with the smoothie, please consider doing it on the side of a real-food template-based meal in the morning. That would be a big step in the right direction toward balancing your hormones.


ps: 118lbs at 5'-1" is NOT overweight in the slightest. Please nourish your body and leave the scale to the side.

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Hi missmary - thanks for your input. I have done a lot of experimenting with diet over the last few years including 6 months on the specific carbohydrate diet, paleo, and continually testing food intolerances. Since adding in the Opti-GHI I have noticed that my digestion is a lot better. It is not something that I will continue forever, but just for the moment to support liver detox and such. I know it is not Whole30 compliant per se, but I feel like I am not degrading my experience of the W30 with consuming it.


Also, just to clarify, I am by no means saying that I am overweight. I know that is completely false. However, this is just not a regular weight for my body as I have always been on the more petite size around 105lbs.  

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Also, just to clarify, I am by no means saying that I am overweight. I know that is completely false. However, this is just not a regular weight for my body as I have always been on the more petite size around 105lbs.  


Good to hear! Remember that a healthy weight may change over time. It isn't unusual at all for the body to maintain a lower weight as a teenager/young adult and settle a little higher as hormones shift in your mid-to-late 20s.

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Well first week done!!! Felt great today! I put in a big order for groceries today and had it delivered this morning. Living in NYC can make it very challenging to do a big grocery shop since I would have to carry it home and up 5 flights of stairs to my apartment. About every 6 weeks or so, I order groceries and stock my fridge/freezer. I was amazed at how much food I got for the money I spent!! $82.45 and I got 2 heads of cauliflower, 2 bags of organic frozen broccoli and green beans (for after W30), 2 large butternut squashes, 2 avocados, pack of 3 bell peppers, celery, 3lbs of onions, 2 cans each of organic tomato paste and diced tomatoes, a can of pure pumpkin, honey (for after W30), cocoa powder, chocolate chips (after W30 to make a treat for my roommate who will be done her thesis this month!), large jar of coconut oil, 2 whole chickens, 2lbs of ground turkey, 2lbs of grass fed beef, and some stir fry beef strips.


I decided to do a big prep cook this afternoon and get some meals in the fridge for the week, so here are the delicious eats I made:

-Rustic Pumpkin Bacon Soup - http://www.thepaleomom.com/2012/09/rustic-bacon-and-pumpkin-soup.html

I made my own homemade chicken stock and just threw in 3/4 lbs of bacon, two onions, a can of pure pumpkin, and some nutmeg - it is so easy to make!

-Turkey Chili - my own recipe for W30 - carrots, peppers, onion, garlic, celery, diced tomatoes, and tomato paste with a pound of ground turkey (and LOTS of spices)

-Paleo Dirty Rice - http://elanaspantry.com/paleo-dirty-rice/ 


For meals today, here is what went down:

B - Opti-Cleanse Smoothie with a banana and 1/4 coconut milk

L - Chicken Thigh with a cup of pumpkin soup

D - Paleo Dirty Rice, chicken, and 1/2cup blueberries


I must say this was my first time ever trying to make cauliflower "rice" and Elana from elanaspantry.com NAILED this recipe!!! Holy cow it is sooo good!!


Although this afternoon, i felt like I have kinda crashed. Feeling super tired.... annnnnd I need to work on my Art Law paper. Was planning on going to a party tonight (sans drinking for me), but I think this may call for a night in working on some homework and an early night.

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Well last night after dinner I felt awful, felt like my stomach was not digesting dinner AT ALL!! I have had a history of low stomach acid and of course forgot my Betaine HCL & Pepsin as well as digestive enzymes back in Canada. My family is bringing them when they come to visit. When this happens, it is usually what pushes me over the edge into complete binge on non-paleo food (in the past). My rationale is alway "I already feel sick, so might as well". However, since I am learning to break those habits, I used every ounce of self-control I had and instead opted for a couple of mugs of hot water and lemon, which really helped. 


Feeling really proud of myself for getting over this hurdle!!


Also, I realized I have been slipping up and tracking my food on MyFitnessPal, which I just realized does not follow the program. After finding this out and reading a Mark's Daily Apple blog about calorie/macro tracking yesterday I had an epiphany! With the introduction of such apps and websites, and so much information of calorie/fat/carb/protein/nutrient breakdowns on all of our foods, most of us rely on this information to keep track of every little detail about the food we ingest. I have realized that this just stresses me out and makes me completely ignore the actual signs of hungry/fullness that my body gives me. Also, instead of sticking to a certain calorie/macro intake per day, my needs may greatly vary due too activity levels and metabolic needs. So why am I overeating some days and then not eating enough other days? It just doesn't make sense!!! 


So from here on out, I am saying goodbye to MyFitnessPal, and am going to let my body guide me on when/how much I actually need to eat. I am already giving my body the highest quality foods (as possible) and am not eating crap, so it shouldn't matter!!


Rant over.

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Well day 8, and I'm feeling great. See what I did there..


Here were the meals for the day:

B - Paleo dirty rice (cauliflower, onions, peppers, celery, olive oil, and spices) with 2 eggs, hot water with lemon

L - Pumpkin bacon soup

Pre-Workout - Opti Cleanse GHI with 10 oz. water

D/Post-Workout - Turkey chili (W30 style) with some watermelon and a banana


Workout consisted on 7 min on stepper, 3000m rowing, and a whole body workout with weights. Not to much structure to my weight workout, but I hit every muscle group with the except of my chest (completely forgot that somehow!).

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Can't believe it's day 9 already, seems like this is going SOOO fast!!


Here's what the meals looked like today:

Drinks: 2 mugs hot water with lemon (1 hr before breakie), lots of water, and 2 chamomile teas

B - Paleo dirty rice with 2 eggs and a banana

L - Pumpkin Bacon Soup with a cup of watermelon

S - I know we aren't supposed to snack but I was feeling hungry so I had an ounce of cashews

D - Half plantain fried up with some coconut oil, Opti GHI powder (1 scoop) with water, and some more watermelon


Did a light exercises that included lots of abs and some pushups while I talked on the phone with my mom. We each set some health goals and are going to be each others buddies to keep accountable to our commitments. Love that my mom is my best friend and such a great support system!


Feeling very tired tonight even though I got a good nights sleep last night. Going to crash HARD tonight... and then its off to the library I go in the morning to get some readings and research done! Nighty night.

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Day 10! Woke up this morning and it was the first time in a long that I actually didn't fell bloated and gross, felt more like my regular body. 


B - Paleo dirty rice with 2 eggs and a banana

L - Turkey chill with half a cup of watermelon

S - was ravenous and didn't have food with me. Ended up getting dried banana from Trader Joe's which was a BAD idea because I definitely overate. BUT it was compliant...

D - Opti GHI Smoothie with avocado and another banana.. with half a cup of watermelon


I know I that I definitely overdid it with the fruit today, especially the bananas. Wasn't a perfect day, but I'm not perfect. So will try again tomorrow.

I was planning on hitting the gym, but ended up traipsing around NYC for a good hour and a half trying to get some errands done. Felt like that was some good slow moving cardio for the day.

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Day 11 - felt really good today and probably had one of my most productive days yet between school, doing errands, and hitting the gym.

B - opti GHI smoothie (with 2 scoops instead of my usual 1), half a banana, and a quarter of an avocado

L - pumpkin soup with half a banana and the smallest orange I have ever seen

D - Turkey chili, an apple, and an ounce of cashews

Workout consisted of 5000m row, and complete upper body workout. Did lots of tricep dips, counter weighted pull ups, flys, rows, bicep curl, delts, and some more shoulder stuff

I prefer to workout in the evening after I've had dinner and prefer to fast afterwards. I've never really been one for the pre/post workout meal except for was I was a competitive athlete training multiple hours at a time (which was about 4 yrs ago).

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Day 12 - Well I blew my challenge today... Although, usually I would feel guilty and have severe negative self talk, BUT instead I am giving myself some grace, realizing that I'm human, and we all slip up. AND tomorrow is a new day.


Here is what my meals were for today. I think a big cause of my breakdown was that I was over-hungry today from not eating enough yesterday, severely tired, and really feeling the stress from the two papers I have due next week. Enough with the excuses though, I am taking responsibility for my actions and choices. I didn't stay compliant, and that's the end of it.


Soo... in being 100% honest, here's what the meals were today:


B - 2 egg and spinach omelette with half a fried plantain (in coconut oil) and a banana (I was feeling really hungry and knew lunch was going to be a long way off.

L - An apple and chia, coconut, date bites (6 in total) from Fairway on my way home, pumpkin soup and another banana

D - A pint of WINK ice cream (justifying the whole pint because the entire thing is only 100 cal with no artificial crap in it and dairy-free, and chocolate chips.


I know, I know, I blew it BIG time. And the worst of it is, it wasn't satisfying and I felt like crap after eating it. So here's to day 1 tomorrow... Do I need to start over? Don't answer that, I already know the answer.

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Hey Lauren!


Kudos to you for doing this while in school. I just started today, hopefully your second go-round will be more successful. Good for you for owning up to the slip-up. I know ice cream is probably the main thing (along with popcorn) that I'm going to miss for the next 30 days but seeing how you've been able to keep it up through midterms shows me that I can definitely get through with a regular 9-to-5 job.


I'm also a Canadian away from home. Ireland for the past year has been lots of not-so-healthy eating and way too much beer (Mmmm Guinness!), but now I'm looking forward to getting back on the right track.


So here's to us travelling Canadians and the next 30 days! Cheers :)

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