Greetings, friends! Happy Spring! I hope everyone is emerging from their winter funk and getting ready for some fun in the sun.
Having trouble emerging from your winter funk? Me too, friend. Me too. I am 100% guilty of over-indulging during the winter months every single year. It’s really hard not to. Not to mention, I spent a week in February in Paris binging on carbs on carbs on carbs. Also, ALL the wine. Needless to say, come March 1st, I was feeling pretty down and out physically and mentally.
My close friend, Jessica had mentioned a program called “Whole30” to me after a total bitch-fest about how crummy and bloated I was feeling. She sent a simple outline of the program to me which basically just said “NO sugar, NO dairy, NO processed foods, NO alcohol. For 30 days.” You bet I got a good laugh after reading that. I said “no freakin’ way” and moved on with my life.
Jessica began the program and almost immediately started dropping weight and feeling like a new person. After a few days of encouragement from her, I decided maybe I could do it. I knew it was time to do something drastic and this was starting to seem like the perfect resolution to my weight loss plateau.
Finally, on March 13th, I began my Whole30 adventure.
Plain and simple, Whole30 is a program designed to “reset” your body AND brain when it comes to eating habits. Not only does it encourage you to eat clean and healthy, but it’s also designed to adjust your brain psychologically to stop WANTING to eat bad things. If you cut added sugar out of your diet for 30 days, it has been clinically proven that your body and brain will stop relying on it on a regular basis.
So, here are the basics:
I know that it immediately looks intimidating. When I first saw this, I also thought “heeeeeeeck no.” I instantly said I couldn’t do it. Then I started doing some more research and pumping myself up about it and decided that I absolutely COULD do it. It’s only 30 days and it’s going to ultimately change the way you think about food. Hashtag worth it.
THIS detailed grocery shopping list has been one of the most handy tools that I have come across. I referenced it nearly every single day.
First and foremost, I have to tell you that I made a lot of mistakes on my first grocery shopping trip before starting Whole30. I saw that I could eat bacon and sausage so I just went ahead and bought any ol’ sausage and bacon that looked good. DON’T DO THIS. I cannot stress enough that committing to Whole30 means you’re going to have to READ EVERY SINGLE LABEL THOROUGHLY. You don’t really have to pay as much attention to the Nutrition Facts as you do the INGREDIENTS. If the ingredients list ADDED SUGAR of ANY kind (honey, cane sugar, high fructose corn syrup, agave nectar, etc.) then DON’T BUY IT. It’s not allowed. Your ingredients should only list Whole30 compliant foods and you want to stay far away from any processed foods, additives, and preservatives. Food companies have a lot of “scientific” names for sugar, so read this list to be sure you’re not being mislead.
My advice? Stay in the outside sections of the grocery store. Produce, meat, seafood, and eggs. Only venture down the aisles if you’re fully prepared to read every label.
This is what I look like in grocery aisles.
Note: If the Nutrition Facts list a certain amount of grams of sugar, don’t be alarmed. Those are typically natural sugars as long as the ingredients don’t list added sugar. For example, a bag of frozen fruit is going to contain quite a few grams of sugar. This is okay. Just pay attention to your INGREDIENTS.
Another VERY important thing to know before diving into the Whole30 is that you are going to feel WORSE before you actually feel BETTER. On day 3, I woke up with a massive headache. It’s essential to know that this is supposed to happen. Your body will have to detox from all the junk that you’ve put into your body before beginning Whole30. The headaches and ickyness helped me feel like what I was doing was working. Just like an addict, you’re going to withdraw from junk food. Just be prepared.
This link will give you a day-to-day timeline of how you’re supposed to feel throughout the 30 days. I have referenced this every single day and it has been nearly 100% accurate for me.
Now, by Day 9, I was feeling a little bloated. This is totally normal because my body was trying to figure out how to properly digest all of the veggies and meat that I’d been consuming. The bloat should only last 2-3 days. Other than that, I was feeling fantastic and really good about my weight loss at that point.
Around Day 15, the halfway point, my weight loss slowed down. I believe this has something to do with my metabolism adjusting to my new diet. I began to get discouraged, but I never gave up. I made this commitment to myself and I was GOING to fulfill it, damn it.
By Day 23, I definitely began to experience food boredom. It’s hard not to when your options are limited. This resulted in a loss of appetite for about a week. Eventually, I got off the mopey train and took to Pinterest to find some new and exciting recipes.
Actual footage of me preparing meals in the morning. You will literally never eat as many eggs in your life as you will doing Whole30.
Pinterest is going to be your best friend when it comes to recipe ideas for Whole30. Here are some of my favorite recipes that I tried throughout the program:
I’m not going to lie and say it was easy. However, I slowly fell into a routine of prepping all of my meals the day before and that was SO helpful. If you don’t plan your meals properly then you are setting yourself up for failure. On Sunday nights, I usually did about two hours of meal prep where I chopped a ton of veggies and cooked a plethora of meat to use for the week. I stored it all in containers and popped it into salads and recipes throughout the rest of the week.
I also did about an hour of meal prep every night after Piper went to bed. I would get my breakfast all set up for the next morning (which usually consisted of diced sweet potatoes, peppers, bacon, and eggs). I’d also make my lunch to take to work. My lunch was typically leftovers from some dinner that I made or an elaborate salad.
Remember: this program is not about starving yourself. This diet is not about portion control. As long as you’re eating Whole30 approved foods, then there is no reason to calorie count or weigh your food. You obviously don’t want to overeat and stuff yourself like a Thanksgiving turkey, but you’re encouraged to eat a large breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Snacks are discouraged, but sometimes I threw an apple or an avocado into my lunch bag in case hunger struck.
Is your head spinning yet? If you’ve read this post all the way to this point then maybe it’s time to admit that you’re ready for this change. Pop over to Whole30’s website and start doing a little research. The creators of Whole30 offer all of their resources and material 100% free. The only cost for this program is your grocery bill.
I officially completed my first Whole30 on April 11th and I have never felt better in my life. I am FOURTEEN pounds lighter, my skin is glowing, my energy levels have skyrocketed, and I am feeling incredibly motivated to continue my weight loss journey.
Today was my first day of “life after Whole30.” My office ordered Italian food for lunch for a co-worker’s birthday. I looked at that menu and saw all the delicious pasta, cheese, sauces, breads, etc. I looked at them and felt absolutely no desire to eat them. Honest to God. This is coming from the former PASTA PRINCESS, okay? I ordered the Fresh Strawberry Chicken Salad. I am changed. From the inside out.
I TRULY believe in Whole30 and I want everyone I know to give it a try! Just know that if you’re even contemplating giving Whole30 a try, I will personally commit to being your support system through the whole thing. Right here and now. If I can do it, you can do it.
My second round of Whole30 begins on May 1st. Are you with me? If so, I look forward to drinking kale smoothies in our bikinis by the pool together this summer. xoxo