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Whole 52: It's been fun (long post warning!)

Megan H

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About two hours ago I had the last meal of my Whole 52. I found this forum a little bit into my W30 so didn't start a log, but I want to sum up my experience. I wrote a less detailed post about it all here: http://pegsontheline.com/feel-healthy-and-whole-again-my-52-day-food-adventure/ But I wanted to reflect on it all in more depth.

Why I did my Whole 30:

I used to consider myself a fairly healthy person. I've always eaten pretty well, loved my vegies and stayed active and fit. At 173cm and about 68kg, I don't “need†to lose any weight. Overall I'm usually pretty happy with my body. But over the last few months, I'd developed some not-so-healthy habits. I started working in a commercial kitchen and saying, “sure I'll have the leftover lasagne†seemed easier than cooking something. And “oh sure I'll have the edges cut off the brownie. And that piece of broken brownie. And that other piece of broken brownieâ€. It was fair to say that still thinking of my lifestyle as healthy was no longer accurate. Some of my clothes felt tighter than usual, I'd stopped running and I felt flat. After a few greedy weeks and a VERY indulgent trip to France and Belgium, a friend told me about W30.

I had one main reason for my W30: I wanted to be healthy again.

How I approached W30:

Reading through the forums it's clear that W30 helps people in the most amazing ways. Some people have struggled for a long time with various health issues and there's a lot to be gained by completing something like this. That didn't apply to me. I had no health issues, no weight issues, no particularly bad relationship with food. In some ways that made it harder for me. Early on I questioned whether I'd make it to 30 days because ultimately, there wasn't much at stake.

But despite that, I jumped in 100%. I read up on W30, I carted my little W30 shopping guide to the supermarket for the first few weeks, and I planned my meals. I went cold turkey. There was no “intro†period where I slowly weaned myself off sugar (which I do love oh so much). One day my tea was sweet and white. The next it was black. It was as simple as that.

W30 in action:

Whole 30 for me was very black and white. It was either compliant or it wasn't. There was no “oh, I'm sure a teaspoon of this won't hurtâ€. I put a lot of faith in the creators of W30. I figured they had their reasons and what was the point of doing this at all if I didn't do it exactly as they intended. Reading forum posts from other participants who casually remark how they added a drop of cream in their coffee or knowingly used non-compliant salad dressings continues to baffle me. For me, W30 required a lot of changes, a bit of extra work and it cost a lot more than I usually spend on groceries. What was the point of all of that if I didn't commit 100000%?

I did not cheat once. I'd like to say I'm really proud of myself, but honestly, I didn't find it hard. Sure there were temptations, but a temptation is just that. Just because I was tempted to eat something, doesn't mean I had to. I love chocolate and of course LOVE Easter. But instead of eating chocolate, I went hiking. I even got given easter eggs that went straight in the cupboard. Oh and I work with a chef who particularly enjoyed eating non-compliant things in front of me while saying “You can't have this can you? Oh too bad. Yum, yum, yum.†You want to talk about support? Yeah, I got none of that.

There were, however, some unintentional cheats. But however minor they were, I wanted 30 clean days, hence the Whole 52. I added a week after discovering yeast extract in the Cajun seasoning – something I only ever lightly sprinkled on and also after being pretty sure there were added sulphites in my balsamic vinegar. I switched for a organic, preservative free balsamic and DID notice the different. So a teaspoon here, teaspoon there, really can hurt your progress. (The Mods aren't making it up!!)


So, it's only been a couple of hours, but of course I've noticed changes in the last 52 days. Nothing dramatic, but then, aside from feeling a little tired and generally unhealthy, there wasn't much that needed improvement.

  • I have lost weight. I have no idea how much because I don't own scales. But all my clothes are fitting much better and I'm definitely less bloated.
  • I sleep much better. Pre-W30 I often woke during the night. I have for years and never questioned it. Clearly, something in my diet and lifestyle caused that. Now, I also fall asleep very quickly and wake up feeling refreshed. I should point out, that I do shift work so I don't have a “regular†bedtime or get-up time. But regardless of if I was getting to bed after a late shift or waking up early for the breakfast shift, I always slept well and woke up fresh and alert.
  • I have more energy. Working split shifts (my “free†time is from 12-5) I always felt lethargic in the afternoons. I figured it was because of the hours I worked. Not so anymore…I have good energy levels all day. And it's often a very long day!
  • I don't snack anymore. I was always a snacker and it took a couple of weeks, but I'm on 3 square meals a day. There was the occasional hunger pang and at first I was filling it with a handful of nuts, but I soon fixed my ways and began to turn to a hard-boiled egg or mini frittata instead.
  • One of the most positive outcomes has been remembering how much I enjoy cooking. I'm never going to be amazing in the kitchen, but I do enjoy preparing good, nutritious food!

What I'd tell my friends if they were considering a W30

  • Prep, plan and prep some more. If I was cutting up vegies for dinner I'd cut up two lots or three lots. And while I was cutting things, I'd chop a medley for breakfast or a salad for the next day. Half the time it was the same ingredients going in so they were all out of the fridge anyway. It took about 2 extra minutes of my time. If I was going to be short on time in the morning, I'd cook a frittata the night before.
  • Multi-cook. I rarely cooked a meal for 1 (even though it's just me). The same amount of effort easily results in a stew that would feed me for 4 meals. And do you know how easy it is to cook a roast chicken? Ok it takes 90 minutes to cook, but hands-on time is about 10 minutes. I'd put it on, have a shower, watch a movie, pop down the store etc. Realistically, I was probably spending only an extra 30 minutes a day cooking (and getting MUCH better outcomes) But if I was poorly organised it could have turned into hours.
  • Don't make it harder than it has to be. I didn't make W30 mayo or fancy sauces etc. Everything I made was so ridiculously easy. It's easy to get overwhelmed with the change from opening up a jar of pasta sauce to cooking it from scratch, but there are so many SIMPLE recipes out there, there's really no excuse for nothing finding something that works for you.
  • Remember it's only for 30 days. Before W30 I hadn't had eggs for breakfast in about 9 months. By day 2 I was looking up “egg-free breakfast ideasâ€. By day 5 I told myself to suck it up. I had been fine eating cereal every day for 27.5 years, what was the problem with eating eggs every day for 30? So 52 days on and….I reckon I'll keep having eggs for breakfast!

Into the future:

I'm really impressed with how I feel and I'll be keeping a lot of the W30 program from now on. At this stage my aim is to cook paleo at home, and relax when I'm out (I haven't had one meal in 52 days that I didn't cook myself). I'm interested to see how I do in the next month, but I've already decided to do another Whole30 in late May, purely because I'd like a beautiful, 100% clean 30 days.
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I don't mind at all Mandy. I'm glad you found it helpful. A little post script to my post before: I told a coworker I'd finished my Whole 30 and he asked if I would go back to eating "real food" now. Ahhhh the mindset of some people.

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