What worked for me


TJHigh

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(Disclaimer- I am not quite finished yet- I’m at the end of Day 28, but I’m feeling cautiously optimistic that I’ll get there.  Mostly, I don’t want to wait even longer to memorialize the tips that worked for me because I’ll likely start forgetting some. So here goes [knock on wood, no jinx!])

1. Preparation was key not only because it made me feel, well, prepared, but it also got me excited to start.  This time I gave myself about two weeks prio to starting to do two things- I started cleaning up my diet and I started researching recipes that I wanted to try on this W30. And I worked on a day to day list of every meal along with a shopping schedule.  But I definitely didn’t attempt to do a true W30 here- it was right during the holidays, so I gave myself no restrictions - which in and of itself caused me to cook relatively healthy options (osso buco) and not have unlimited servings of pecan pie- but I didn’t feel guilty about it either.

The Whole 30ish eating prior to starting helped me get into a healthy eating mindset and gave me glimmers of what I would feel like when I started eating strictly W30. I’m convinced this really helped with my timeline.  I had very little of the negative side effects the first week, and actually started feeling the Tiger’s Blood at the end of the first week.

The preparation helped me feel calm and prepared going into the start. I didn’t plan everything right away, instead I took those two pre weeks to build a plan for my Whole 30, little by little. I cross referenced it with stuff I knew would be going on at work, I looked up new recipes, and I looked at my past W30s to remember what I’ve liked in the passed (I’ve done 2 previous- this is by far my most successful.)

In addition to feeling prepared, all that time thinking about starting and how it would go got my really excited to start.  I was looking forward to my recipes (since I’d picked good ones), and more importantly, I was really looking forward to seeing the positive changes I knew were coming.  By the time Day 1 came, I wasn’t dreading giving stuff up (since again, I’d started easing into it the previous two week), I was exciting to get going after planning so much.

* one thing I wished I’d done more of was prep and freeze a few more meals during this time.  Like I said, I had everything written out and ready to go, so for my first week I batched cooked a great meal that lasted all week for lunches.  Only problem - by Friday the meal I’d loved on Monday was bo-ring.  This resolved itself in later weeks as I froze days of other batched meals, but next time I’d do that earlier as part of prep.

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2. Putting in effort to re-establish how to reward myself. Like a lot of people, a glass of wine after work seemed like a perfect reward, and for me, it reallllllllly was. Like, a made-it-through-the-day-deserve-a-reward kind of reward. So I def needed a replacement, and a good one. For me, it was a bath, almost every night. Sometimes as soon as I came home, sometimes right before bed.  Always with a candle, scented salts and a magazine. Not a utilitarian bath - a luxury. And I’d follow that with an indulgent skin care routine to further reenforce one of my best NSVs- my glowing skin.

In addition to routine baths that replaced my routine wine, I added countless other rewards to celebrate just about any and every milestone. Finish the first week? New perfume. Make it through a tough day at work? Facial.  Weekend done with all of next week’s food prepped? New cookbook. I rewarded myself often in order to replace what used to be food rewards.  (Side note- I may need a budget W30 when this is done.)

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3.  Eliminating snacking.  This is my third Whole 30, and to tell the truth, I wasn’t great about this aspect on my first two W30s.  Especially the first- I def fell into the classic trap of dried fruit and nuts.  Second was better- I did realize the dried fruits were just a sugar substitute so I cut those out, but still got hungry between meals and supplemented with nuts, and prob had a touch too much fresh fruit too.  This time, I eliminated almost all snacking unless either a) I needed a preworkout snack (and for this I had olives and nuts or jamon, as I found fat-heavy snacks helped my runs.) or b ) I truly was famished and needed to eat.  In the last case, if that happened, I made sure to go back and review what I’d eaten/done that day to make sure it didn’t happen again. Basically, I never snacked two days in a row. In fact, by the end of the first week, I didn’t have any almonds left, and I didn’t replenish them for the rest of the W30.  Sometimes I got hungry on the shorter end of the 4-5 hour range after meals, but when that happened, I’d just eat sooner. And I’d eat more at my next meal to try to recalibrate.  In my experience, it’s ok to be really hungry by the time my next meal rolls around. It means it’s time to eat!

Another thing I attempted this W30- to really focus on what fresh fruit does to my Sugar Dragon. I focused on eating fruit only with meals, but that first week I saw myself eat an entire bunch of grapes through the course of just two meals.  Yikes.  So I stopped buying grapes, obv, and just had more self-contained serving sized oranges (Cara Caras, my favorite and perfectly in season right now.). These too began propping up my Sugar Dragon, so I cut them out too for one week, right in the middle of my W30.  Basically the sweetest thing I had for one week was sautéed onion and sweet potato. It definitely helped with day to day sugar cravings, but I know my Sugar Dragon is not gone and probably never will be.  I’ve added fruit back -even grapes- but I know I have to be verrrrrry careful.

*A note here- cutting out dried fruit/nuts and for a period all fruit, is what I consider expert-level W30. I never would have done/started W30 if someone told me I had to do those things. And you don’t! My first two W30s were REALLY successful, in spite of some not-great habits.  My point is, it’s not necessary every time, but as you progress, you get the confidence to do more challenging parts that may have seemed impossible your first round.

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Do not weigh. (I type this as I still desperately want to weigh in on the morning of Day 30, soooooo habit NOT broken.). Still, it’s an important part of W30, and I confess I didn’t get that my first two W30s.  First, it’s very freeing not to weigh. It took away all my typical worry about - if I eat this, how will it effect my weigh-in tomorrow?  Which, if you’re following W30, it doesn’t matter how what you’re eating will effect your weight- you’re eating such good stuff.  For example, this weekend I made hamburgers with diced bacon and sautéed mushrooms and caramelized onions (with lettuce buns), and they were AWESOME. And perfectly W30 compliant, but a tad greasy and maybe heavier than my usual fare. A meal that before would’ve caused guilt, and a binge because I was so sure I’d “blown” it, then a weigh-in to confirm I’d blown it, then completely throwing in the towel.  This weekend, no weigh-in, no guilt, no binge.  Instead, I paid attention to my energy (the next morning I had my best run all month), my stomach felt flatter than ever, and pants I’d almost donated a few months ago fit like a dream.  All much better measurements than a scale.

Also, weighing in distracts you from looking at less quantifiable results.  Monitoring how my clothes fit and how the look of my face leaning out changed was so much more encouraging than a number.  Sure, the number going down can be fleetingly motivating, but we all know there are days it doesn’t go down (or goes up) for absolutely no reason. And when that annoyingly happens and all your eggs are in the weigh-in basket, then your day is going to suuuuuuuck. If instead you try on the outfit that you used to love and it suddenly fits again, that’s a lasting motivation that you can draw from alllllll day.  Plus all the other non-weight related stuff too- like clearer skin, better mood, increased/even energy.  None of that is on the scale, and the scale is just a distraction.

Now, that said, will I weigh in tomorrow?  Of course.  First, the habit is not broken. And second, I’m curious to see how much I lost during this W30. I’m curious if my guess lines up with reality. But if it doesn’t, I have a whole month’s practice of noticing and appreciating other victories. I know I’ve gone down 11/2 pant sizes, I know all my clothes fit again, I know my face looks leaner, I know I can see muscle definition.  What the scale says is not anywhere near as important as that.

That being said, I’m really focused on doing an extensive, detailed reintroduction, and I want to really understand how each thing effects me. In particular, I’m concerned about moving back from fat-adapted to sugar-adapted (especially with the non-gluten grain reintro). So weighing during that period may be beneficial- along with closely tracking energy.  I may just miss the habit of daily weighing and the hit of positive reinforcement at a lower or equal number. I know it’s a habit I’ll still need to work on and examine, but this month was a great example of how beneficial it can be to skip the weighing.

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5. Not everything is Whole 30-related. I get so caught up in the timeline and the projected side effects for a given day, sometimes it’s hard to remember that things other than W30 things could be happening. I woke up on Saturday, Day 27 and felt grumpy/out of sorts with intense cravings that I hadn’t had during all the previous days.l had had Tigers Blood pretty much consistently for the previous 2 weeks, so what was going on? What was my W30 doing to ruin my life?!?! Lol, nothing. It was just random, run of the mill PMS. Recognizing this def helped in a way - I stopped blaming W30, but still had all the annoying symptoms, which were at least easier to deal with because I knew what was up. Now I’m feeling better as far as mood and cravings, but have some residual bloating. But at least I’m not frantically examining my food log for a culprit.

Same thing with getting sick, having a bad day at work, etc.  Not every day is going to be a good W30 day because some days other stuff just happens.  I need to remind myself to maybe look at another possible cause and stop being so Whole 30 myopic!

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6. My big realization - Reintroduction is probably more important than Whole 30 itself.  The 30 days of strict reset is definitely necessary and has a TON of benefits, but I think the most important aspect is getting your system ready to reintroduce so you can finally find the ultimate eating plan that works for you (Food Freedom).  Full confession, I did not realize this/take this serious my first two W30s. I did the fast track reintro and nothing really bothered me in a significant way, other than wine increasing my rosacea (which I already knew), so I very quickly reverted mostly to my old way of eating (admittedly with some new healthy habits mixed in as well). I didn’t appreciate the culmulative effect on my cravings and hormone disruption.  Honestly, I didn’t think the schedule as proposed by the book was long enough to track the subtle, longterm effects.  Additionally, it wasn’t really a good reflection of how I wanted to eat, or how would be easiest for me (in terms of items I commonly cooked with or encountered in my day to day eating.)

So this time is different. And while I haven’t actually started reintroduction yet, I’ve been preparing for it for weeks.  First, I reread Food Freedom Forever (FFF), and I really paid attention and made a commitment to finding that for myself.  Second, I accepted that the end of W30 wasn’t really the end (and definitely not a license to eat all the crap I’d been missing immediately - or almost immediately after a quick ten day blur of a few items).  I began to view W30 as just the necessary foundation, but that I have at least 30 more days of relatively hard work, with continued restrictions, and very much continued vigilance about how food effects me - especially subtle effects on my mood, energy, and cravings.

In order to really commit to reintroduction and appreciate how long it will take and how it’ll go, I put together a detailed plan- just as detailed as the one I put together for W30.  It’s week by week and goes through exactly what items I want to introduce, based on my eating and cooking needs.  I’m starting with added wine- first as a drink, then as a cooking ingredient because there are so many recipes I have that are alllllllmost W30 compliant but-for a bit of cooking wine. Then added sugar - again because it’s a common ingredient in my cooking and a in lot of products- but I need to see what it does to my Sugar Dragon as an added ingredient.  Then I want to try a bigger, separate ingredient - non gluten grains.  I consider these fairly healthy, and I want to see if they’re healthy for me.  And I miss corn.  But here I do want to see if I can tell if these move me away from fat-adapted to sugar-adapted.  From there I pivot to the Slow Roll reintroduction during a trip to Vegas.  I’ve selected places that look fairly Whole 30-friendly (ie- steakhouses), but will keep the option open for some off-plan treat, following the FFF steps (is it worth it?, is one bite enough?).  After vacation, I plan on a week back to W30 to even things out if necessary. Then I’ll finish up with the rest of my “fast track” reintro items, but generally taking three days to introduce, with four days back to W30.  

So, tonight ends my W30, but this time I know I’ve got a lot more work to do. I’m ready with a good plan, and just like planning for Whole 30 (my point #1), the planning has me excited and motivated to start!

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  • 1 month later...

Still here, and I’ve got even more tips as I approach the end of Reintroduction. Like before, I’m starting this post a little early since I still have a week to go, but I want to get some of this down.  

7.  I’ll probably never do another Whole30 again.  Seems counterintuitive, right? After I posted about all the good stuff and what I’ve learned/how it helped. But that’s the thing, I think if you do it right- and that includes reintros- you don’t have to do it again.  As I mentioned, this was my third Whole 30 and the others I’d skimped on reintro and working on my FFF, but this time that was my ultimate goal.  The first thing I noticed on the Whole30 was that my Tigers Blood came quick. Like, within the first week. I’m pretty sure it’s because I’d started the “pre-Whole 30ing” and I shifted into fat adaption very quickly.  But this made me realize something important- in the future, I don’t have to do the full 30 days to get to the W30 benefits. Next time, when I need a reset, I know I can do a W7 or a W14 and that’ll likely be all I need.

The most important thing now is to take everything I’ve learned during my W30 and make it part of my FFF so now I can practice that. I see people on the forums who are so thrilled and excited about how their W30 went that they start talking about/planning another W30 within days. That’s not the way to go for me. For me, success looks like never having to do a W30 again.  A good example why- I reintroduced legumes this week, and not only did I not have a bad reaction- I had a great reaction. I felt great for those three days- all the signs of Tigers Blood- high energy, great mood, no cravings.  I tend to think the legume category is a pretty healthy class of foods (as opposed to say, sugar, obv), so if I can add that food back in along with the associated variety of nutrients it brings, I want to do that. I don’t want to eliminate those anymore just for the sake of saying, “I’m doing a Whole 30” now that I know from my personal experiment that they work well for me.

I’m sure I’ll have a few more observations as I finish up my last week plus (here comes dairy and gluten!), but that’s pretty much my big one- you need to do reintroduction right, but if you do, you should never have to do another W30 again (and for me, that’s success.)

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Hi! This is so cool to read, as I am on Day 5 of my first W30! I have always eaten pretty close to the guidelines, so it hasn't felt incredibly hard for me to transition. I adore condiments and chocolate, so I admit I've been missing those, but know the greater goal is more impt than a dessert ;)

 

Thank you so much for posting such detailed insights! Really helps with navigating this plan and I'll continue to come back to your post throughout my W30. Let me know how the full reintro goes!

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