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5 Tips to Survive Whole30

I made it through 30 days of having black coffee and no cheese! Among a few other things!

I just want to start by saying how much I actually ENJOYED these 30 days, they flew by and I feel awesome on so many levels!

This past August, I had attempted Whole30 and bailed after just 4 days. After giving myself another 4 months of freedom from any sort of ‘diet’ or restriction and also feeling like crap (due to eating anything and everything), I had had enough and was ready to get myself back on track. I had heard a lot of good about Whole30 from friends and clients who had done the program in the past and after reading up on it, I thought it would be a great way to move myself back into the right mindset and give my body the opportunity to start feeling good again. As with anything, I had my concerns going into Whole30 for the month of January, but before I get into that let me explain what the program is.

The Whole30 program is a body reset and elimination diet to help reduce inflammation in the body, reduce cravings, and to help you become aware of the foods that make you feel your best or worst.

For 30 days you say goodbye to: 

  • Sugars/artificial sweeteners (not even syrup or honey)
  • Dairy
  • Grains
  • Legumes (no peanut butter 😭)
  • Alcohol

Check out the program rules, here.

When reading through the rules, my initial thoughts were that the 30 days were going to be brutal having to drink black coffee and skip on the oats and rice. I knew I’d have no problem cutting out dairy and alcohol, legumes weren’t really either — except the peanut butter…but happily I replaced that with almond butter. Aside from missing out on grains and the Jordan’s Skinny Syrups in my coffee, I had a few larger concerns for the 30 days…

Whole30 Program Concerns
  1. Not getting enough calories in
    •  The program recommends to not weigh your food, but instead use serving sizes on products or by the hand measurements (i.e protein = palm size, liquid fats = thumb, etc.). This method scares me because caloric intake could fluctuate a lot each day depending on how you truly measure.
  2. Potatoes…lots of potatoes
    • Don’t get me wrong, I love potatoes but not enough to eat them with almost every meal throughout the day.
  3. Limited options for meals
    • Limitations can be a big concern for those that are picky eaters or have restrictions to the foods that are allowed on the Whole30 program. Vegetarians / vegans would have a VERY hard time with this program…especially having soy products, beans, and lentils off of the list
  4. Boredom with food
    • I like variety, as I think most people do when it comes to eating. I can eat the same things every day, but not the same meal all day every day…
  5. Being hangry
    • Some people I had talked to about the program said that they were hungry and moody on it = my concern.
    • I didn’t want this to be like my preps for competition with not getting enough food and being hungry and moody for 30 days… nor did anyone around me want to deal with that again😬

Thoughts on the 30 Days

Melissa Urban, the co-founder and CEO of Whole30 says

“Thirty days of self-care. Thirty days of new, healthy habits. Thirty days of community. The Whole30 has the power to change your life, and you are worth it.”

 

I have to agree with Melissa. As skeptical as I was about the program and eliminating certain foods for 30 days, the program works. I feel better than I have in a long time. My body/joints felt great within the 1st week and my soreness level following workouts improved. My sleep has been fantastic, I tend to wake up before my alarm now and actually feel like I’ve gotten a good night’s rest. Mentally I’m more clear, I’m not experiencing an energy crash in the middle of the day. And even crazier… I feel like I can go without coffee🤯…most days. 

Doing a quick glance at the program and it’s rules, it’s pretty clear that you’ll be taking in more fats and riding low carb for the 30 days. For the 1st week or 2, I tried to keep my carbs around 150g, pulling that from mostly potatoes and fruit. By the end of the program, I dropped down to 100g and pulled my fat intake up to 115g and kept protein around 120g. I decided to drop my carbs down because the potatoes were causing some serious bloat and discomfort. I tried sweet, yellow, red and Russett potatoes…all with the same results. So, low carbed it for the remainder of the program and only used apples, bananas, and mixed berries as my carb sources. Within just 2 days of kicking potatoes to the curb, I felt so much better.

As much as I’d like to say that I scored perfectly on these 30 days, I can’t. I made 3 mistakes over the 30 days (90% compliant, can’t complain!). I actually almost screwed up day 1 when I made my coffee…may have grabbed the Skinny Syrups without realizing it, but stopped myself before pouring any into my coffee 😂.  The 3 mistakes I made:

  • Dove Dark Chocolate — I was at an event that offered chocolate squares at the end of the session…I grabbed one and ate it before my mind even processed what I was doing..oops!
  • Run Everything Labs ONWARD — was feeling a bit of a cold coming on, so just did a scoop of it.
  • Almond Butter — accidentally bought the one with cane sugar in it, had a tablespoon of it, looked at the ingredients again and threw it out.

Aside from those 3 encounters with sugars/artificial additives, in the 30 days I had no cravings. My plan was to go to Donut Love after Whole30, but I decided against it. Although I am planning to get a burger after axe throwing tomorrow night…

Tips to Survive this Program

  1. Commit to the program. No excuses and no exceptions.
    • During my 1st attempt, I was worried about the carbohydrate intake and really the only carb source coming from fruits and potatoes. That being said, in August I was allowing myself to still have rice and oats…and bailed after 4 days.
    • Follow the program. It’s only 30 days. If at the end you’re unhappy, then go back to your old eating habits.
  2. Don’t overthink it.
    • It’s really simple. Fill your plate with protein, healthy fats, and vegetables
    • When going out to eat — look at the menu beforehand. Custom order what you want/need if necessary. This shouldn’t be a reason/excuse to fall off of the Whole30 train.
  3. Buy and cook the food that you enjoy.
    • Again, it’s simple. Choose the proteins, veggies, and fat sources, etc that you like and know that you will eat. You don’t have to completely change everything (unless you’re eating fast food every day, all day, then this will be a huge reality check.)
  4. Make it known that you’re on the program.
    • The more you tell yourself that you have committed to 30 days, the more likely you are to keep with it.
    • The more people you tell = more accountability from yourself and from them. It’s amazing the support you’ll receive when you put yourself out there. 
  5. Pay attention…to your mind and your body. 
    • Keep a journal – track your meals, how you feel afterwards, your energy levels, etc.
      • Track sleep, mood/energy, body recovery and digestion

This program is definitely worth a shot whether you are looking to lose weight, reset the body, or just try something different. It gives you a great insight into what your body likes or doesn’t like / what it processes well. Anything can be done for 30 days and I believe at the end of the 30 days you’ll want to continue on because you are feeling so good!

Recipes that I Enjoyed

Butternut Squash Soup

Found this recipe from nomnompaleo...in love! I skipped the balsamic vinegar glaze, but I did add some coconut milk into the pot to give it a bit more of a creamy texture. (Click title for recipe)

Stir-Fry Bowls

Quick + Simple. Grab some frozen/fresh stir fry vegetables, cook them up. Add some cauliflower rice in there with spices, choice of protein, coconut aminos, and Primal Kitchen teriyaki sauce and bam! Throw it all in a bowl and enjoy!

Whole30 Compliant Pancakes

Great pre-workout snack. Pancakes are easy so I made a Whole30 version and topped it with almond butter since I couldn't have syrup. (Click title for recipe)

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2 Comments

  • Carrie

    Ok, I RARELY think about putting myself through any kinds of eating ’plans’…as I write this, today, I find that I am happy with how I feel, how I sleep, energy levels and mood/attitude at any given time…but i will say that after reading about your experience and how you layed it out, sharing your concerns and tips, makes one think they could actually do it. Because, as you state, ITS ONLY 30 DAYS (I can hear the tone of your voice in these words!) so, did you do the 30 days using the Whole30 website or did you use the book? An issue i have Is buy in with
    Mr. P! I am not an island…so, I am seriously thinking about challenging myself and do it from Feb 19 to Mar 20. It’s only 30 days … and Spring *is* just around the corner…

    • Mariah

      Before diving into the 30 days, I hopped onto the Whole30 website and read through the rules and what was approved. They also have a “Whole30 Starter Kit” that you can subscribe to and it includes a PDF of the rules, meal/portion sizing and a few recipes to start you off. I kept it simple and just created my own mixtures of foods each week. But my staple foods throughout the 30 days were riced cauliflower, lots of colorful vegetables, almonds, Primal Kitchen products and an assortment of protein sources, and so much avocado… I think Mr. P will be able to handle it…as it is only for 30 days 😉 I think this would be a great challenge heading into the spring!

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