WHOA. I did it. It’s Over…I AM THE MAN!
I learned about, decided and committed to completing a WHOLE30. Hell, even my family agreed to join me in the festivities!
Friends had raved about the program and reading many reviews, the claim was “IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE”. I was going through some boredom with my eating plan and had some tendonitis in my arm that was just not going away so being a believer in eating healthy food DOES cure ailments-I was on board and READY. I purchased the book IT STARTS WITH FOOD and took about 3 weeks to learn and prepare. Prepare meaning mentally as well as reading/googling, shopping, shopping and more shopping.
Eating whole foods (absolutely nothing processed, no dairy, grains or legumes) for 30 days seemed easy. I normally eat healthy and love veggies, so how hard could it be? The only thing I was honestly worried about was no coffee. Coffee is allowed on the plan but you cannot have sweeteners. I am absolutely incapable of drinking coffee that is not sweet. People said after a while you wouldn’t miss it. HAHAHAHA. That will not apply to this gal. EVER.
The first week was fine. We washed and chopped and cooked like animals (or…cavemen?). Seeing that you have to cook everything yourself, I knew that now more than ever, prep was key and having foods at the ready when hungry would be extremely important to our success. As we all know, it is super hard to want to make something from scratch when you come home from work and are tired and in need of FOOOOOD. We cooked some pretty amazing foods that tasted wonderful. There are endless recipes and suggestions online and I took as much advantage as I could. Most of which I would gladly make going forward, not just when on WHOLE30. YUM! I had to keep the meals plentiful and full of variety or else the fam would get bored. That proved to be much harder than I thought it would be.
Have you ever googled “WHOLE30 RECIPES”? Try it. See if you notice something. I’ll tell you what became clear really fast to me. THEY ARE ALL THE SAME MEAL! By the second week…if I ate another egg, avocado or tomato….I WAS GOING TO COMMIT SOME SORT OF CRIME! Don’t get me wrong. I love an egg. I love avocados and tomatoes but I swear to you….it seemed like every single recipe had one of these ingredients in them!!! The strange thing is…I am the biggest creature of habit! I literally ate the same thing every week for years and years but I couldn’t STAND limiting myself to these foods!!! I of course didn’t just eat those 3 things but they were definitely the main focuses when following recipes.
For breakfast, you cannot have grains. Not only that…they really don’t want you eating all that much fruit so eggs become the default. They say you should shift your view of breakfast and perhaps eat other foods (like lunch or dinner items) in the morning if you are tired of eggs. Ummmm….NO THANKS? I have to eat those at lunch and …. Dinner!!!! I don’t want to eat the same things over and over in a day!
I would find myself being so sick of having eggs that I would just have an apple and some almond butter…but then feeling guilty because they say eat nuts but NOT TOO MUCH cause they are high in calories. It felt to me like the program made food “BAD”. I love nuts and know that they are a “good” fat, but we also all know that they are highly addicting and you can go overboard quite easily. Enjoying these sparingly over the years has been engrained in me but then telling me to eat them instead of something else, but not enough to make me full was a bit contradicting.
We slowly made it through the month. September D R A G G E D!!!!
Even though I’m the one in the family who eats the healthiest on the regular, I think it was the hardest on me for some reason. Keeping up with the amount of foods needed for 3 people, trying to supply everyone with variety and prepared items that could easily be grabbed on the go, and the DISHES…OH MY - THE AMOUNT OF DISHES…
This program was a challenge to say the least. I found myself resenting it and counting the days till it was over. That was a bummer. I really wanted to enjoy it and just reap the benefits but for some reason it just felt like torture. It put what I was eating at the forefront of every thought and I was so tired of thinking about it. I also found 30 straight days without a break hard. I know there are harder things in life, but these aspects made it not doable for the long run for me.
The problem with a program being so challenging for a mere 30 days, is that it is just not sustainable. In my opinion, this doesn’t teach you how to eat in the real world. I felt completely apart from society and my friends. I couldn’t meet up for a simple cup of coffee because I wasn’t allowed to have coffee how I like it so it wasn’t worth it.
I know it’s not a big deal in the big picture and it was only 30 days, but for me, a healthy way of eating doesn’t rule out entire food groups. Yes, of course-if you are allergic or have a legitimate aversion to things like gluten…by all means DON’T EAT IT. But for the vast majority of us…eating sensibly…ALL foods in moderation has to be the best.
Labeling foods BAD simply puts the “no no” item at the forefront of your thoughts. It’s just human nature. This is especially dangerous for people with issues with food or disorder type of behavior. When all you think of is what you cannot have…what you cannot have is all you think of.
I love the idea of a reset. I love the idea of not eating processed foods and reading labels and learning about what you put into your body. Knowledge is power…but the paleo way FOR ME is not realistic. I have no doubt that the WHOLE30 program works for a lot of people. I have no doubt that it is helpful for many and some do enjoy it. I did feel a bit like I was bad or failing because I didn’t love it as much as people do online…like I was weak because this wasn’t something that spoke to me and opened up my world. I had to consciously decide not to buy into the herd mentality. When I finally completed the 30 days, I experience a second of panic about what I would do next, but luckily with my background of research I was able to cut that off at the pass pretty quickly. I can see how other people might experience a harder time with this phase.
What it did not do for me:
It did not change my life. I’ve known how sugar is the worst when your aim is optimal health and weight loss and how there are hidden sugars in just about everything. I know that artificial sweeteners trick your brain and cannot be processed properly and cause bloating if over eaten. I know how good veggies are and that fruits are sugars as well.
It did not get rid of my tendonitis. My arm feels the same as it did on day one of Whole30. This was one of the main reasons I wanted to do a reset, but unfortunately it didn’t work for me.
It did not get rid of my bloating altogether or my pms symptoms.
My complexion seemed the same…although I don’t have acne that needs clearing.
It did not give me “tiger blood” whatever that is.
What it DID do for me:
With all that said, there were some definite GOOD things about the experience!
For the first part of the month, I did feel like my stomach was not bloated. This unfortunately returned in the last 10 days of the program. I think for some people, this might just be something that doesn’t go away entirely.
My stomach definitely was flatter. This was fun for me! I loved that because I can never seem to get it flat no matter what I do. Whole30 definitely helped with my tummy pooch!!!
I did stop craving sweets. I didn’t at all need them! WAY weird because as we all know, I have a HUGE sweet tooth. This helped me keep on track for sure and it was a nice side effect. In fact, I found to not have cravings whatsoever. I didn’t want anything that I wasn’t eating, which was a plus. I kind of stopped caring about food. Is that bad or good? I’m not sure.
I LOST 9 POUNDS!!!! With all of the measuring I was used to doing and strict eating plan– I was shocked that eating so much food and not really portion controlling anything actually made me lose. That was a TREMENDOUS plus! YAYAYAYA! This definitely made me glad I powered through.
Would I do it again:
YES. I know I know…sounds like I’m completely anti Whole30 but the truth is, I am not. For a “reset” it’s pretty great and the fact that I had freedom to eat specific foods without measuring, that I knew I was eating good, WHOLE foods and eliminating the shit and the fact that I lost 9 FREAKING pounds!?!?! YES, I would definitely do it again. The Paleo lifestyle is not for me on the regular, but I would definitely do another 30 days. I definitely “get it” and next time I will know what I’m getting into and what not to expect out of it and I think handle it much differently and better.
All in all…I am certainly glad I did it. I did learn a lot about myself and about the fact that my way of doing things wasn’t perfect, but it’s not as flawed as I thought it was. We have to do what WORKS FOR US. What works for me might not work for you and vice versa. It is not a one size fits all subject for sure. It’s the same with working out. I personally love a good group cardio class. Others wouldn’t be caught dead doing that. We have to find what we like and do that, whatever it is.If you are curious, by all means do the WHOLE30. See how you like it and how it works for you. Experiment with all things wellness so you can find your best path to success. You are not a failure if you don’t like it, or have a piece of gum on day 14. Be kind to yourself and understand that it’s a process. Be good to yourself and understand that health is your most precious asset and do all that you can to achieve and keep it. Healthy choices, move your body and give yourself a break once in a while to keep on track. The rest is cake.