Well? I did it.
Committed to it.
did it day by day.
cooked every single day.
cleaned my kitchen three times a day.
ate like crazy.
watched my body shrink some.
felt headaches disappear.
watched my skin clear up.
realized I could think clearer.
laughed at my increased energy.
slept like a baby.
woke up feeling good.
and learned to drink my coffee black.
And you know what? I feel so good. I feel healthy. I feel like I don’t want to stop. The changes and progress made really have convinced me that this is a new kind of beginning to the rest of my life. I will not go back to a lot of old ways.
It’s amazing what 30 days of nothing but whole foods will do to you. Sure, I was skeptical at first, and questioned whether I would really see that much improvement by the end. Silly me, though. Because only 4 days in, I could tell a difference.
If you don’t know what I’m referring to when I talk about the Whole30, this is a good place to start to get the low down on what it’s all about. But essentially, for 30 days, you reset your entire body by eliminating certain categories of potentially problematic/inflammatory foods and additives. You spend those 30 days eating only whole foods. And you eat the whole foods and you take note of any positive changes you feel, see, and experience. After your 30 days, you slowly begin reintroducing those food items that you eliminated, one by one. And again, take note of any changes you feel in your body. All of this results in a very customized diet, configured just for you personally. With the elimination and reintroduction, you begin to discover which foods and additives don’t sit particularly well with you, so that you can be armed with the knowledge of what to stay away from, and what to continue to eat so that you can be freed from the chains of food sensitivities/intolerances, and maybe even break some unhealthy food relationships and cravings. And then be on your way to a healthier, feeling-good life.
To me, it’s been amazing to see how certain things (like dairy, for instance) have been negatively affecting the way I look, feel, and function, yet I never was able to realize until I eliminated that category from my diet. It absolutely blows my mind, but makes perfect sense. I knew it would be a challenge for myself, and my family, as I completely eliminated all added sugar (real and artificial), alcohol, dairy, legumes, grains, carrageenan, MSG, and sulfites, but I also thought it would be harder than it actually was. I just kept telling myself, “It’s just for thirty days…”
But yes. For thirty painstakingly hard days, I gave up every delicious thing I’ve been loving for twenty something years, and replaced it all with only whole stuff. I threw away my coffee creamer, traded potato chips for cucumber chips, and didn’t have a single taste of chocolate or the likes for over a month! And *gasp* I made it, yall. I’m alive. Still happy. And I’ve changed.
Inevitably, when you commit to something like the Whole30, you talk about it a lot. I mean, it’s what you do all day, everyday, for thirty days (or more). You literally eat, sleep, and breathe food and grocery stores and meal planning. And just like anything else, when something you’re doing sparks interest in someone else, other people want to talk about it with you. It’s motivating, I think. That’s how I got inspired. A girl I know was halfway through her 30 days, and she was feeling great, and I started researching it and decided that I wanted to do it, too. And when you begin to feel the positive effects that eating whole foods has on your mind and body, you hope to inspire others to do the same. So when several people began coming to me and asking their own questions, I was more than happy to share our experiences.
Some of the most frequently asked questions I got:
Was it hard giving up coffee creamer?
Sure. For like 3 days. Three hard long days of, “man, give me some cream!” But before I knew it, I drank an entire cup of black coffee without thinking about each sip. And then I realized that I actually enjoyed the cup. I could taste the actual coffee’s flavor, rather than just that International Delight faux hazelnut that I loyally loved for so many years. I now can count on this:
When drunk black, each cup is consistent. No more measuring (or not measuring) cream and sugar. No longer do you have to try to explain to someone how you like it upon ordering. No more worrying about running out of creamer (which actually isn’t even cream, unless you’re literally using cream..But if it comes out of one of those grenade-shaped plastic bottles, you can bet your buns you’re just ingesting sugar and vegetable oil pretty much)… No more luke-warm cups of joe. No more astronomically priced Starbucks runs. I’ll take my $1.50 cup of black, please.
Did I feel like I was missing out on some things?
Sure. At first. Probably for the first two weeks. I craved everything I couldn’t have at first. I missed cheese, and bread, and pasta, and Rita’s, and birthday cake, and chips, and granola bars, and french toast, and beer… But it’s true what they say about cravings: they only last as long as you let them. So if I was around someone who was eating something I couldn’t have, I would pull out my own food, savor the deliciousness, and by the time I was done eating, the cravings were gone. Or if I were at home when a hankerin’ came on, I’d pour myself a cup of coffee or clean the kitchen to distract myself. And again, craving gone. I learned that 1) I have a love for food that I’m sure can hold it’s own next to any drug addition, and 2) I am actually in control of it. Coming to terms with how out of control my eating habits were really changed my commitment levels. It helped me see that I really was ready for some change in my life – in how I look AND feel. And so I determined for myself that if living a life that consists of a lot less sugar, gluten, and dairy and such means that I can wake up and go to bed feeling healthy and not sick, then letting go of ice cream, beer, and pasta, etc., IS worth it. And also not so hard after a week or two.
Was the “detox” hard?
It was. (Which I will say made me realize how detrimental my eating habits were to my body. Years of habits were rough to get rid of, physically.) Days 3-15 or so, I felt tired, and weak, and angry, and just not good. Go figure, undoing a lifetime of processed foods in a matter of days will not feel so great at first. Detoxification of anything will have it’s physical and mental struggles. Breaking that addiction and dependence. Holy *bleep*. But I stuck with it, ate good food, gave myself some grace, and turned a corner come day 16. That was when I really started to notice the positive changes. That’s about the time the energy kicked in, and my body felt and operated like I knew it was supposed to. It’s when I realized that I didn’t feel like I was walking around in a mental cloud. I could think clear thoughts. I could focus better. And my mood was better. I was actually enjoying the process.
And the food?
The food is amazing, yall!. Flavorful, satisfying, hearty stuff! It speaks for itself.
How affordable or unaffordable is it to do the Whole30?
This one might need a post of it’s own! Ha. The simple answer, for us personally, is that we did see quite the inflation in our grocery bill. It’s kinda sad, actually, because it just should not cost what it does to feed yourself and your family WHOLE foods! I’ll rant on this some other time, though. But yes. Grocery bill went up. We were at the grocery store all the time. We were always running out of produce. And eggs. So we were constantly having to turn around and buy more. We bought a Costco membership to alleviate this problem. And it did help. Are there ways to cut down on expenses to be able to afford a whole-foods diet? Absolutely. And we’re working on that – along with a detailed glimpse into our personal financial investment to do the Whole30.
The fact is that you will see an increase in grocery costs. But the beauty is that we each get to determine what is right for ourselves and our families in this department. You do your best with what you have. And that is okay. But I just encourage anyone I talk to regarding this topic: if you are desiring to make a switch to a whole foods lifestyle, figure out what you can cut out to make it possible to afford. For us it meant cable and eating out. We cancelled our cable agreement, and we haven’t eaten out since we began our journey. Those things alone provided more money for us to allocate to our grocery bill. *Albeit, we can do and NEED to do more.* Do your research, plan your meals, find the sales, and try your best to stick to your budget. It’s worth it. Feeling good is worth it. And teaching our children healthy habits and discipline is worth it. And from one middle-class family to the next, with not a lot of padding in the financial department, it IS possible to afford eating this way.
So those are the main questions I got. Along with the most common closing statement,
“I wish I could do it.”
And I just say this: If I, an ALL-American-severly-sugar-addicted-hormonal-emotional-comfort-food-eating-despises-“working out”-pounds-overweight-have-kinda-let-myself-go-stay-at-home-mom, can do this…ANYONE can do this. That’s the truth.
I promise. Thirty days is nothing in comparison to the knowledge you will gain. It will change you in one way or another.
It’s not about becoming a food snob. Or taking on the personality of some kind of “foodie knowitall”. It’s not about setting yourself on a pedestal and looking down at the rest of the world every time someone puts a box of Pop-Tarts in their grocery cart. I can’t stand people like that. Not the pop-tart buyers, but the ones who look down.
But if you’re like me, and you find yourself in a place of wondering what it would be like to live with a few less physical ailments and pounds in your body; you’ve tried the fad diets; you’ve joined the gyms; you’ve been to the doctor; taken the medication, and so much more…yet to no avail. If you’re interested in even the slightest bit as to what you could feel like in a matter of thirty short days… Then just commit. Do it for yourself. For your future.
I started by reading. That’s it. That is all it took to do the final convincing in my mind that I was going to do this. I went to the Whole30 website, and I read. And I printed free resources. Then I drove my booty down to Barnes and Noble, and I bought the book.
Then I told somebody. No turning back. Accountability.
Then I set a start date.
Then I prepared my house and cleaned out my pantry and fridge.
Then I made my menu plan and shopping lists.
Did my shopping.
Had one last sugary hoorah.
And then it was on.
And before I knew it, I had successfully completed my first 30. And here I am to tell you all about it.
All that stuff I started off with is true. I lost some weight, and I’m shooting for more. My skin looked the best it ever has. My hair and nails even started growing stronger, and thicker. I fell in love with plain ol’ black coffee! My stomach didn’t hurt at all. I had so.much.energy. Felt lighter and not so bogged down – probably due to the awesome sleep I was getting! You know? It feels incredible to wake up feeling well-rested and not so groggy.
The best part? For me personally? I’ve struggled with chronic headaches and debilitating migraines for years of my life. I’m talking neurology appointments, brain MRIs, I’ve been on medication for it, I’ve had chiropractic care, and could probably take up stock in OTC anti-inflammatory meds. It’s just something I’d come to accept and learned to live with. A headache every day was not out of the ordinary for me, but going a day without one was! But I’ll have you know that aside from the very manageable headaches I experienced on days 1-4 (probably attributed to detoxing), I was completely headache FREE. And that alone is worth it to me.
So is it a chronic illness? Is it depression? Is it digestive issues? Whatever it is, I’ve just gotten to the place where I approach these things in my life from the perspective of wondering if it could possibly be because of the foods I consume. Because for me, I believe that is the case. Our bodies are astounding at how they can communicate discomfort.
For me, and for my family, this is something we plan to maintain. It has changed us that much. I’m sure we’ll still celebrate birthdays with some cake or something like that, but we’ll approach that cake with an understanding that we might not feel so great the next day. I’m just an ordinary lady. I desire to enjoy life, and enjoy food. But I mostly desire to feel good and be healthy. Whole food for life, yall. Be blessed.
The elapsed time from when I wrote the above post at the completion of my first 30 has been about two weeks. In those two weeks, I have reintroduced some items and experienced some not so pleasant results.
Regarding dairy: I hate dairy. I officially break up with dairy. Forever. No bueno. My first encounter with dairy was about a week post Whole30, and it happened on a trip out of town. I literally only had about five shreds of cheddar cheese on a chicken wrap, and then a few little bites of milk chocolate. The very next day, my face had a breakout of epic proportions. I’m talking the most unpleasant sight, and painful evil acne on my right cheekbone. For the skeptics who are thinking I’m some paranoid, cray, hippie food person, I promise I’m not. It was the only thing that was different in my diet at that phase of my reintroduction. And for the sake of too much information, I’ll just keep it simple and say that my stomach didn’t handle the processed milk well, either.
At first I thought, “Well, maybe it is just a coincidence since this is the first taste of dairy I’ve had since I started my w30..” But come to think of it, I’ve never handled dairy well: yogurt, milk in cereal, scrambled eggs/omelets, ice cream… And until the w30, I struggled with my skin breaking out, and I’ve always had stomach issues.
So peace out, dairy. I won’t miss you.
Regarding sugar and sulfites, and probably wheat: Blah. Let’s just be real. I’m talking about wine and beer. I ain’t gonna lie, people. Day 31 was celebration day. It was like my birthday. We kept everything w30, but we had a beer with dinner (and we did not follow the rules by introducing a gluten free beer first. Oops). No joke, after ONE beer, I had a headache an hour later. Dang it. A few days later, July 4th, the grill was going, and we were having an awesome cookout with friends, and I thought a cold beer would just round everything out. One beer, another headache. Except after this time, the head-fog returned the next day. That was enough for me. Beer, although delicious and refreshing to me, is not worth the unpleasant effects. And read it correctly, here. I’m not talking about drinking in excess that obviously results in hangover-like after effects… Not plural. Singular. One beer. Blah.
“Let me try wine,” I thought about a week after I detoxed from the singular beer episodes. Maybe I’ll be okay without the wheat. False. The headache from the glass of wine was far worse than any one beer. And the day following was even more horrible. I woke up feeling like I did prior to starting the Whole30. Not good. And I took my first dose of Motrin since before I started, too. Thanks, Pinot Gris. You cost me more than just money.
And again, I thought for a second it could be a coincidence. My body just wasn’t used to that glass anymore. Of course it was gonna give me a headache. But to backtrack, I’ve never been headache free after a glass of wine or a beer. Ever.
Will I ever get to enjoy a craft beer or relaxing glass of fermented grape again? Ultimately, with this category it will come down to my choice in the moment. Because I know exactly how this alcohol affects me, I can decide, experience by experience, if it’s worth it or not. The freedom to choose, I can live with. But it definitely won’t be a regular part of my diet. I like being headache-free thankyouverymuch.
I’m still working on the rest of my reintroduction, so I’ll update my findings here as I gain more knowledge about what does and doesn’t work for me. I’m taking it pretty slow, and I’m still enjoying maintaining a whole foods diet, otherwise. And thinking about when to start my next Whole30 😉