We did it! I started this blog post the day after Memorial Day. Before starting I took down a bunch of notes on how I was feeling and prepped for the 30 days ahead and guess what? We did it! We made it 30 days and I won’t say it was easy but we did learn a lot, changed a few habits, and definitely plan on doing it again. I have a few posts planned around Whole30 since it is a super tough program and I was constantly scouring the internet for resources. Be sure to check back for a list of must have ingredients, signs that Whole30 may be for you, and tips on getting through the program.
What is Whole30
To start out Whole30 is described as not being a diet program but more of a lifestyle change/food challenge. For 30 days you cut out all sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, dairy, carrageenan, MSG, sulfites, and cannot consume any baked goods or “compliant” junk foods.
Compliant is a word that is used often in the program. It essentially means that a food is approved to eat on the program.
You are pretty much narrowed down to fruits, veggies, meat and eggs, and healthy fats. There isn’t any measuring of foods or specific times you need to eat, although they do encourage to eat 3 times a day with no snacking in between. There is also absolutely no cheating during the 30 days. If you go off program you are supposed to start over completely.
If you are a big reader I have also heard it helps to read “It Starts With Food.” This book is referenced in the Whole30 book and is written by the same authors so if your up for it order both!
We started out right after Memorial Day weekend and made it through the 30 days to the end of June. We had to power through JR’s 10 year high school reunion, a backyard cookout, and skip a beerfest but we did it! I started by journaling through the first 8 days and then sort of got into the flow of things and forgot. On the Whole30 timeline they state that you are most likely to quit on day 10 so after we got over that hump we really got into the groove and it got so much easier.
So onto my Days 0-8 journal!
I am feeling excited to get started but also a little wary. There is a feeling in the pit of my stomach that there will be no day 30 because I probably won’t even be able to make it to day 3. Keeping a journal will at least give me some kind of accountability. JR went to the grocery store with me and it ended up being a learning experience. He seemed a little uneasy when I showed him what limited options I’m working with – he hates vegetables. Hopefully it helped that he was there getting the food with me instead of me just serving something up for him without his input. I grilled some chicken in the evening and packed him a lunch. It probably sounds like he is helpless but it’s not super fair to push a diet/lifestyle change on him and not having given him the time/chance to read the book. I’m hoping we can find some go to recipes and not get burned out. We will see!
I woke up a bit earlier so I could make us both a compliant breakfast. Cooking in the morning is not something that is routine for us. We had scrambled eggs, bacon, and potatoes – we are REALLY easing ourselves into this! HA! I didn’t realize how much we rely on sauces and dressings for flavor so it seemed a little lifeless and we had to power through the blandness. JR took his lunch of fruit and a chicken breast and I made avocado chicken salad on lettuce wraps. It is something I make a lot but I usually have it on toasted bread or with blue corn chips and I really miss the crunch. He noted that everything around him sounded delicious and he didn’t realize how many sweets he had access to during the day at work. For supper we made burgers, sweet potatoes, and broccoli. I ran to the store to get a few additional ingredients to make homemade ketchup – I’m trying so hard to get JR to somewhat enjoy this, he lives for ketchup. It ended up being super easy to make and I got the ingredients for homemade ranch to make tomorrow. The ketchup definitely tasted a lot more tomato-y and less sweet but it was pretty good! I think some good homemade sauces and dressings are going to be our crutches to get us through!
I made this homemade ranch today and it is the bomb dot com! We really struggle with veggies so hopefully this will help a little. I read a bunch of “Whole30 experiences” on a few different blogs and I think we are eating way to much fruit then we are supposed to but honestly I don’t care. We aren’t veggie people so anything to get us over the Day 4 hump works for me. Before we started we were pretty careful about what we ate last weekend since I read the “hangover” can be brutal the first 5 days. It was worth it. I haven’t felt hungry at all, had any headaches, or had any sort of withdrawals. The food is super bland and we aren’t enjoying it. Hopefully that changes and we find some better recipes!
I forgot to note I started off this whole thing on the tail end of a flu/cough type deal. I’m surprised I haven’t caved because being sick is usually when I quit any type of healthy habit plan I’ve started. I’ve been sleeping like crap and nothing sounds appetizing. We are already out of groceries so I’ll need to go tomorrow. I’m focusing on trying to find more veggie recipes we are likely to stick with after the 30 days. We are gearing up for the weekend and the temptation that comes with it! Fingers crossed!
We traveled back to Nebraska this weekend and we made sure we had food prepared. We took some cut up fruit, Larabars, veggies, and some watermelon to take to JR’s ten year high school reunion so we had at least one compliant thing to eat. It took all our willpower to not quit at the reunion. Everyone was drinking and there were about 5 different kinds of chips and dips. The only things we could eat were the pulled pork, pickles, and watermelon so we just made sure we didn’t get hungry and cave. We ate a couple Larabars on the way home – we usually stop for fast food on our way there and back to KC but obviously didn’t this time. By the time we got back home I had a huge headache from all the sugar in the Larabars – those things are good! I am seriously surprised we have made it this long. We made some chicken tenders with almond flour, some dairy free mashed potatoes (sub chicken broth for milk), and roasted zucchini for dinner. Mentally, I’m starting to think about it less and less and am getting into more of a routine.
I made a bunch of sweet potatoes for JR to take to work on Monday morning. We run out of groceries so quickly but I think it is because we haven’t been eating out at all – we usually eat out 98% of the time on the weekends – and because we haven’t been skipping any meals. I usually only have coffee for breakfast and then eat lunch around 11. JR eats out a lot for lunch and then sometimes isn’t hungry when he gets home. Groceries have been more expensive but we keep telling ourselves it is only for 30 days. Energy-wise I have felt a slight increase these past two days but nothing as significant as I read about. I still have a cough so Whole30 definitely doesn’t turn you around and cure you in 8 days. I am going to try and meal prep a lot more tomorrow and make sure JR has a ton to eat at work. He is for sure the rock out of the both of us. I would have cheated by now if it wasn’t for him.
The End – Oops!
Then I stopped journaling – whoops! I seriously did realize during this how much more goal oriented JR is than me. I can rationalize my way into eating chips any way possible but he stepped up and didn’t let me quit. Days 8-20 we really got into a routine and relied a lot on bunless burgers (sometimes with bacon or an egg on top), grilled chicken, steaks, grilled broccoli, watermelon, and pickles. We ate a ton of pickles! And tried to sneak in as many new veggie recipes as possible.
We ended up doing our reintroduction on day 21 (legumes), 24 (non-gluten grains), 27 (dairy), and 30 (gluten). We had a float trip planned that would start on “day 32” so the reintroduction plan would pretty much be scrapped. Doing the reintroduction early definitely qualifies as cheating but it was either that or no reintroduction at all. We figured it was worth it to test any food intolerances and if you read the book the reintroduction consists of implementing one ingredient into each meal each day for one day. So it wasn’t like we were binging on sweets or alcohol early – we just added in black beans to our salad at lunch.
What We Learned
We never felt the “tiger blood” they talk about but it was probably because we reintroduced early. There were other great benefits though and below are the things we experienced and/or learned.
- Added Sugar: There is added sugar in EVERYTHING. We are big ketchup people so that was a tough one to cut out but even things you wouldn’t think have sugar have sugar in them. I am obsessed with lunch meat is my crutch and we could not find turkey from a deli without added sugar for the life of us.
- Meal Prep: Prepping at the beginning of the week or at night before work the next day is seriously a game changer. We would grill a bunch of chicken on Monday nights and we were set for the week.
- Water, Water, Water: Staying hydrated helps kick hunger and makes you realize how sometimes you are more dehydrated then hungry.
- More Protein: You will eat a ton of meat and eggs on this plan. I didn’t realize how much protein I wasn’t eating. We are in the habit now of making sure we have at least a protein and veggie for dinner and not worry about making anything else.
- Boredom Snacking: You also don’t have a lot of wiggle room on snacking. There aren’t a lot of compliant snacks other than almonds or an apple. We realized that a lot of the time we were just eating because we were bored and started to do something to get our mind off of it rather than caving and eating.
- Fruit and Potatoes: Although we did make some headway in the vegetable category with JR we did rely on potatoes and fruit a little to much. If you aren’t super into veggies you can still do the plan just realize you won’t see as much for results as you would with limiting these items.
- Better Sleep: I noticed I slept through the night almost every night after day 20. I didn’t realize how poorly I had been sleeping until I started to sleep so much better.
- Cravings: Neither of us really had a sweet tooth and after 30 days of no sugar we hardly eat any now. When we do have sweets we are much more mindful and our tastes have changed for sure. Sweets taste much more dense and rich then before the program.
- Social Pressure: We had some social pressure (none negative or mean in any way, just being with a group or at events and having someone offer a beer or food) and you are more mindful of how much you eat and drink when you are in a group. I also have a lot more empathy for people with food intolerances. We only went out to eat 3-4 times and it was tough finding options that were gluten free, dairy free, etc.
- Budget: This one is sort of up in the air but I thought I would at least give our take. Some people say you save money and some people say you spend more money given the increase in meats and fresh veggies. Ours was more in the break even category. We ate out a LOT less but also spent more on groceries then normal due to the sort of weird ingredients and increase in fresh produce. Plus you never eat out so instead of buying for a few lunches and dinner you are buying a whole 42 meals per week.
So your are probably all – what are your results! Well JR (who is a 6’3″ tall skinny dude) lost 23 lbs and I lost around 15lbs! Neither of us worked out at all on this plan. We both had more energy and are way more in tune to the fact that what you eat plays a definitive role in how you feel. If you are looking to do the challenge and have more questions feel free to comment or send me an email! I plan on having more resources coming up so be sure to follow along on Facebook or Instagram for updates!
Here are the links to order the books to get started!
Love reading my posts? I would love to *anonymously* learn more about you! Take our reader survey (part Gallup/part Buzzfeed quiz) and get a free downloadable print for your house, phone, and desktop!
Remember, if you like this post and others please share! Click the shortcuts below to easily share on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and more!
I also love hearing your comments and questions – comment below and leave me a note!