If you haven’t heard about the Whole30 craze, I would appreciate an invitation to whatever rock you’re living under.
It’s basically Paleo on crack, for 30 days, with NO cheat days. Seriously, none. The idea is that if one toe gets out of line, you start all over.
Here are the general rules:
- No added sugar, real or artificial (no honey, agave, stevia, etc. Fruits and foods that naturally contain sugar are okay in moderation)
- No grains
- No beans or legumes (this includes peanuts and soy — eek!)
- No dairy
- and the kicker for me: No alcohol. I really enjoy my evening glass of red.
Basically, you’re supposed to eat meat, vegetables, loads of eggs, and drink a ton of water. People have gotten pretty creative with their menus but for the most part I kept it pretty simple. I’m honestly not an amazing cook, and when it’s just for me I don’t feel motivated to put in a great deal of effort.
I did my first round this past March, immediately following my 29th birthday. I’d spent 5 days in NYC eating as many pizza slices and corner cart hot dogs as I possibly could. Definitely needed a reset after that!
A Typical Day’s Menu:
- Breakfast: some sort of egg + vegetable frittata.
- Usually I’d just chop up onions, peppers, mushrooms, maybe some bits of bacon, occasionally red potatoes or organic chicken then pour 10 whisked eggs over the mixture in a casserole dish to bake, and then slice it up for the week.
- You would be very surprised how hard it is to find bacon and sausage without sugar in it!
- Lunch: meat and veggies
- Usually chicken or steak with broccoli, green beans, or asparagus.
- My favorite lunch to make was this really simple crockpot buffalo chicken. When you can’t have anything sweet, turning to spice is the way to go! Just note that Frank’s is one of the few hot sauces that doesn’t include sugar or one of the other chemical “no-nos”.
- Pre-run snack: dates, fruit, almonds
- I struggled with fueling up for my runs without eating easy carbs. I found that dates were my best option, and luckily they were in season at the time so I had no trouble finding fresh dates.
- Dinner: More meat and vegetables + a salad
- Meat and veggies got old. Not gonna lie.
- Salad dressings are mostly a no-no. It’s difficult to find anything without chemicals or sweeteners, and when you do, it’s expensive. I’m not paying $14 for salad dressing, sorry.
- I made my own with light olive oil, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, minced garlic, cracked pepper, and whatever spices I was feelin’ that week.
- After dinner drink: just kidding! I would sometimes look up sangria recipes and dream about getting to make and drink them when it was all over, but it got easier as time went on.
This is just a typical day, there were other times I put in more effort. My mom made me an awesome bouillabaisse while I was visiting home, and I bought a vegetable spiralizer to make zoodles (zucchini noodles).
The hardest part of Whole30 for me was that I was in my last month of training for the Cooper River Bridge Run, and I just didn’t have the energy I needed. I spoke with a lot of friends that do Whole30 regularly and exercise a lot, they assured me it wasn’t the diet. But it was, because that’s the only thing that changed and as soon as I ate carbs again I was fine:) I think maybe my body was just still adjusting, there are obviously athletes that eat this way 90% of the time. I still recommend it, but maybe don’t start your first round on the edge of a training deadline.
I lost 12lbs in 30 days.
That’s almost 10% of my total body weight!
Granted, I was running 3-5 miles several times a week too so I’m sure that helped. But still! TWELVE POUNDS.
I went from 128lbs to 116lbs — dangerously close to my “weigh less than 115 again” goal that’s on the list. I was within spittin’ distance of that goal but unfortunately I went through a personal tragedy and all “eating right and exercising” goals went out the window. I needed time to crawl in my hole, grieve, and put all the weight back on. I’m not upset about it, I’m glad that now I know if I commit to another month of Whole30, I can get back on track.
The other “results” I experienced:
Ridiculous levels of productivity. I’ve never had a more productive month in my life, truly. I woke up with energy and slept more easily. Since I wasn’t out getting drinks or staying up late with wine and Netflix, I woke up early and got shit done. I could focus better on tasks and at work. It was awesome. This was my favorite part, even over shedding pounds.
Though, some of this could be chalked up to becoming a hair antisocial while on the program because it’s hard to hang out with friends when you can’t eat or drink anything fun, and I’m sure as hell not paying $4 plus tip for a black coffee. Not happenin’.
I’ve started drinking my coffee black. This one stuck, and I’m happy about it. I’ve always wanted to take my coffee black but damn if cream isn’t delicious! I could have just gone back to sweetened cream in my coffee (or my morning cappuccinos from the office espresso machine mmmm…), but I’ve made an intentional effort to stick with plain stuff.
I had really, really weird dreams. My first 10 days on Whole30, I had the most lucid dreams I’ve ever experienced. And many of them involved food, haha! In one of the first dreams, I was in Colombia – apparently me and handful of friends decided to move there and work on farms? After this work, we’d meet up at a diner and eat chicken and waffles tacos. I can still TASTE those tacos, and I swear this dream felt like it 3 weeks long. Waking up was highly disorienting.
The worst part is when you wake up and think you’ve cheated on Whole30 and will have to start all over! Thankfully they subsided after a while.
My skin got a lot worse before it got better. You’d think my body would be happy for giving it all the organic, good-for-you foods, but my skin revolted immediately. I think if I stayed on Whole30 or similar for a long time, it would have improved over time. But the first few weeks I felt like a high school kid. And not a popular one.
Luckily only my coworkers had to suffer through looking at me since Whole30 turned me into a hermit:)
Why the hell are you doing it again?
People looked at me like I was nuts when I said I was starting Whole30 again in July. Firstly, who would choose not to gorge themselves on hot dogs, hamburgers, beer, and all things #Merica on the 4th of July?
Well, me. I haven’t done anything for the 4th in years because my dog would tremble and hide in fear. I never wanted to leave his side when he was so afraid. So I’m not used to doing much for the 4th as it is. And I hate crowds, they give me terrible anxiety. Pair it with loud popping sounds that cannot be easily distinguished from gunfire and it’s basically my worst nightmare.
I’m doing it again because the results the first time were great. And in order to finish this list of goals I’ve set for myself, (with only 7 months to go!) I need another “most productive month of my life” 🙂 I would love for my regular diet to be closer to Paleo, so I’m hopeful that this next round will be a stepping stone for that.
I’m on Day 5, and I decided started this blog on Day 2 if that tells you anything about my productivity!