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!
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!