This is a guest post from a lovely lady that sat beside me at a writer’s conference. Please welcome Paula, y’all! (P.S. That was southern for “you guys”). This is the inspiring story of her experience with Whole 30.
Alright, Red and Honey readers! Who is ready to learn about Whole 30?
‘Me! Me! Me! Oooh! Oooh! I am!’
Great, because I’m sure ready to talk about it!!!
You may have heard of Whole 30 before but if not let’s just start off with a little definition of what Whole 30 is.
Whole 30 is a program in which you eliminate all alcohol, grains, dairy, legumes and sugar from your diet for 30 days.
THIRTY DAYS!!! But wait, you say, grains are healthy! Red wine is healthy! Beans are healthy. Why eliminate those things? The short answer is, while some of those things can be good for you there are other things that are better for you.
So, if you can’t eat those things what do you eat? Well, basically you eat REAL food as direct from the source as possible: meat, seafood, vegetables, healthy fats and fruit.
When I first heard about the program I thought ‘Yeah, right. That’s just something that super disciplined people could do. I could never do that! Why would I even want to do that!?” However, the more I heard people talking about it the more I became interested in it simply because the people that had done it felt so good afterwards.
While I didn’t particularly feel bad, I did need to lose a significant amount of weight. So much so that for my husband’s birthday he sat me down and said ‘I’m concerned about you. For my birthday I’d like us to do Whole 30 for a month.’ Now before you say ‘Wow! Your husband is so mean!’ let’s just take a step back and think about it. Obesity can be deadly. If I had a treatable disease he’d be crazy for not encouraging me to treat it, right? Obesity is treatable. He isn’t a big jerk, I promise. The fact was that I was killing myself with what I was eating!
So I looked at the program and could only say ‘well, I’ll try’ to which he replied ‘it’s like Yoda says: there is no try, only do or do not.’
Having said that I went into Whole 30 with a very negative attitude. I had never been able to stick with any eating program over a couple weeks – how could I go 30 days with no cheating what so ever? Y’all, I’m from Alabama! I need my sweet tea. You have to understand at this point I was literally having a dessert after lunch and dinner EVERY DAY! No wonder my husband was worried!
So, I blogged about it. I read the book. I cruised through the Whole 9 Life website. And I got ready to cook, clean, and plan more than I ever had in my life.
Related: 5 Reasons Why We Chose to Do the Whole30
One month later I had lost 25 pounds and felt absolutely amazing. I popped awake at 5:30 every morning with no alarm clock and had a ton of energy all day. Headaches that I had always struggled with were non-existent. In short, I felt amazing.
So, how in the world was I, a complete diet failure in the past, successful at Whole 30?
Here are five things that are absolutely vital to anyone’s success at completing a Whole 30:
1) YOU HAVE TO READ THE BOOK.
It Starts with Food is by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig and it’s a must read for anyone wanting to complete a Whole 30. The reason for this is because this is a hard diet to buy into at first glance. I mean, come on, what could possibly be wrong with oatmeal, right? The book explains the science behind their food philosophy.
2) FIND A SUPPORT SYSTEM
I joined a Facebook group of people that were starting a Whole 30 round in October. That was so incredibly important.You can also go to whole9life.com and join the forums there. Pinterest has lots of Whole 30 boards out there too. Whatever you do don’t try to go it alone.
Why was support so important? One week into my Whole 30 journey my best friend got married. That meant lingerie shower, bridesmaid luncheon, rehearsal dinner, and wedding all rolled into one four day extravaganza of petit fours and chocolate fountains. People thought I was absolutely crazy for trying to avoid unhealthy foods during this time.
People I loved looked at me point blank and said ‘You’ll never be able to do it.’
That’s why a support group that told me ‘you CAN do it’ was so important. Actually, I think what they actually said was something along the lines of ‘if you cheat this weekend I’m coming over there and beating you.’ So kind…so gentle…well, so effective anyway.
The thing is…there will always be reasons not to eat healthy.
Weddings, parties, birthdays, stress etc. If you’re looking for reasons you can find them. Just know that what you put into your body has a direct impact on your body. Scary, huh?!
3) PLAN, PLAN, AND THEN PLAN SOME MORE
I can not emphasize enough how important planning is on a Whole 30. That’s because you can’t just get a Whole 30 approved meal anywhere. There’s no running through the drive thru for a Whole 30 anything.
We sat down on Sundays and planned out every single meal for the rest of the week.
This is where ye olde Internet comes in super handy. There are lots of Whole 30 meal plans already ready and waiting out there for you. This was a really new concept for me.
Sadly, I used to be the type of person that would think ‘well, it’s 4 pm, what should we have for dinner tonight? Dominoes Pizza or some sort of frozen pre-made meal from the freezer (Y’all, for real, no wonder I weighed 200 pounds!)
Whole 30 absolutely broke me of that foolishness. Ya know what, though? That planning, which seemed like such a pain at the time, actually gave me a tremendous amount of freedom because I wasn’t constantly thinking ‘oh, what can I feed everyone tonight?’
4) GET READY TO BUDGET
A lot of people complain about how expensive it is to eat real food. Whole 30 really wants you to eat organic, grass fed, no hormones added etc. food as much as you can. This is most definitely more expensive.
It didn’t hit me personally quite as hard because we were used to eating out as a family of five most nights. (Sheesh, how wasteful was I! Embarrassing and a total waste of resources!) Eating at home, even with the more expensive ingredients wasn’t a huge dent in our wallets.
5) SHARPEN THOSE COOKING SKILLS
You can do Whole 30 without eating at home every meal but the fact is that it’s just easier to control exactly what is going in your food when you are at home! I’ve never been a great cook but thankfully Whole 30 really sharpened my skills.
I’ve always enjoyed veggies and it was really fun to learn all these crazy ways to prepare them. I learned how to cook with healthy fats like ghee and coconut oil.
I could not believe the amount of dishes I had to wash on a daily basis.
“Hey Minions! Wash those dishes!”
So, what did I learn on Whole 30?
1) I learned that just because I’ve never succeeded in the past doesn’t mean I can’t succeed now. The great thing about Whole 30 (and the thing that puts people off of it) is that you are absolutely not allowed to cheat.
To me that was actually helpful because it took the guess work away. There was no calorie counting, no writing down what I ate and no points to budget – if it wasn’t approved I didn’t eat it. The great thing about discipline is that it’s like a muscle; the more you use it the bigger it gets! I promise you, if I could do it, truly anyone could!
2) I learned to like new foods. Before Whole 30 I didn’t even know what a spaghetti squash was. Now I absolutely love them and can’t believe I never knew they were out there.
3) I learned that cooking can really be fun. Homemade Mayo? I’m on it! It’s fun to cook things you love. Also, I loved knowing my husband and I were eating fresh veggies and meats that were acting like medicine on our bodies. It felt great to know that what we were doing was having a positive impact on us.
So, Red and Honey fans, thanks for letting me yammer on about something I love, Whole 30!
hi beth- i am currently doing the whole-30. this plan has been super easy for me, even though i have what appears to be some weird food habits. i am a vegetarian that eats fish- Pescatarian. i also have IBS-c. i am also an avid juicer. i have been 100lbs overweight for many many years. anywho, im almost done with it, on day 23. i know i’ve lost weight- all my clothes are big and i LOVE IT! i have found that there’s a few things i need to have daily in order to survive and thrive on this plan. 1) sweet potatoes/yams. i eat one daily and look forward to it so much, i think it’s now my new favorite food of all time! 2) eggs. daily also, give me energy and helps me to keep going for the long-haul. i now buy the biggest, brown, natural, hormone-free eggs i can find. i figure that if i’m going to do this thing right, i need to put the best possibly quality food in my body. this personal rule also goes for the fruits and veggies, too. 3) avocados. i love them and eat them daily. i have found a great way to stretch them- i found the recipe on pinterest and tweaked it a bit to my liking. if anyone wants the recipe, please email me for it, i’d love to share it!!! 4) coconut oil. this is essential to fry up my yam slices in for breakfast, then add a little water and kale, cover and cook for 5 min, add 2 beaten eggs, cover and cook again. douse in tabasco!! this is the bomb for breakfast or dinner… and lastly 5) raw almonds. a small handful quenches hunger big time, super quick. those things save me… and my list is growing. i just wanted to share a few, and encourage others. ok- i cheated and weighed myself on day 15- i had lost 10 lbs. quitting sugar is the key here, in my opinion- the compulsive overeating was fueled by sugar. now i crave a delicious crunchy apple, or a fresh veggie/fruit juice. thanks for letting me blabber- im just so excited, for once!! good luck to everyone! christine
Thanks for commenting, Christine! It was fun to see a comment on this post pop up today, as I am actually planning to start another Whole 30 next week. I didn’t finish all the way the first time (for a few reasons) but this time I’m more prepared 🙂 (This was a guest post, in case you didn’t catch that).
I would love your avacado recipe😊
This is inspiring, Paula. Thanks for sharing your story!
This is a GREAT post! I recently completed my Whole30 and here were some of my end STATS…
Rosacea cleared up (almost non-existent now)
Weird acne issues that seemingly come from nowhere cleared up
Swelling in left foot/ankle that’s been there since I broke it in 2010 (and MDs said I’ll just have to deal) significantly reduced
No daily headaches
No afternoon slumps
No real cravings for anything
Sleeping better, even though not always getting full amount
Any digestive issues that were are no longer
No leg cramps when sleeping
Acid issues seem to be significantly reduced as well
oh yeah and the physical stuff…
-1.5 inches bust
– 2 inches hips
-.5 inches arms
-1.5 inches thighs
Also pretty excited that I still managed to remain compliant for ALL 30 days despite having to travel for work 4 of them, and having 4 social engagements ‘on the town’.
It was pretty hard at first…not so much now.
By the way, this was just what happened by changing the way/things I ate. I did not ramp up any physical exercise more than I was already doing during this time frame.
Anyone looking to do this and wondering about that ‘sugar’ dragon should definitely check out the whole9 website and THIS timeline is soooooooooo true (frighteningly so….but good to know going into it): http://whole9life.com/2012/06/the-whole30-timeline/
I have been considering the Whole30 for a while. Once you finish with that, do you move on to eating Paleo?
Jen, check out Paula’s follow up post published yesterday: Life After Whole 30… your question is answered there! 🙂
I love this! I’m on week 2 of my Whole30. I’m feeling fantastic. As a fitness model-after the holidays I fell in a slump, and I still couldn’t get back to where I was before. This Whole30 is kicking all those addictions to the curb and my body is thanking me for it everyday! YAY! 🙂
Wow, such a great testimonial! So good to hear 🙂 Thanks for commenting!
I happened across the website the other day and have been considering it ever since – thanks for the encouragement! I might just have to give it a try!
You can totally do it, Joy! Go, go, go Joy! 🙂 I’ll cheer you on… maybe we can do it at the same time! 🙂
I’m starting today – yikes! No time like the present, right? 🙂 Thanks for these posts, Beth – good to know that real people can actually follow through with it.
my family just completed the whole30 in january … had heard about it from a friend’s amazing experience and knew immediately it was something i needed to do. when i shared my thoughts with my hubby, he suggested our whole fam do it! we did, and what an adventure! there were certainly difficult moments (serious sugar cravings) but overall it was *amazing*. and major bonus: i lost 19 postpartum lbs, yes!!
i shared our whole30 experience here, http://home2learn.wordpress.com/2013/02/02/reflections-after-completing-the-whole30-whole9/
Wow, thanks for sharing your link! I love hearing other people’s success stories 🙂 I think I’m most afraid of the sugar cravings. Do you have any tips for that??
oh, those darn sugar cravings! 🙂 the holidays + relaxed standards and i found myself indulging in treats way too much!
lifesavers for sweet cravings on the whole30:
freeze bananas, then blend 2 frozen ones with some (full fat, canned) coconut milk and cinnamon. creamy and delish!! for a real treat, i’d add a spoonful of almond butter – YUM!
i also loved fried bananas: sliced, fried in generous amount of coconut oil, with lots of cinnamon.
i also made up a few recipes, one using tahini, the other (“date mounds”) have dates, coconut flakes, cinnamon, raisins, pumpkin seeds, ground flax, ground chia, melted coconut oil … blend in food processor, formed in to balls, and refrigerated! YUM! (both recipes on my blog). :))
Stacy @ A Delightful Home
Couldn’t agree more with these tips! I’m on day 10 and loving it. So thankful for my support system. I’m pretty sure I would have caved on day four if it wasn’t for them!
Looking forward to your next post about this!
Yeah, I think accountability and support will be key for me too. Where did you find your support group?
Are you going to do Whole30 Beth? A friend and I just decided we’re going to start April 1. Let me know if you find a support group that’s looking for some more members. I think I’ll need all the help I can get! 🙂