This last January Josiah and I did our first Whole30. I had attempted the program in the past, but had never made it past day four so this year I was determined to start off the year crossing it off of my bucket list. The main reason I wanted to do a Whole30 in the past was to lose weight. If you scroll through instagram you will see success story after success story of people who have lost tons of weight doing Whole30 and then adapting a Whole 30ish lifestyle after completing the program. I was so motivated by those people! But that motivation quickly faded when I started to feel cranky during the detox portion of the program. This time when I started Whole30 though, I had a completely different goal in mind.
Over the past four years I began to suffer three to four times a week with moderate to severe stomach pains. Most of the time I just assumed I overate or "just wasn't feeling good," but through a lot of reading I started to think maybe I was intolerant to something I was eating. I wish I could say that as soon as this possibility crossed my mind I cute everything I could potentially be intolerant to out of my diet, but I didn't. I didn't want it to be true. I kind of ignored the idea that I could be intolerant to something because I didn't want to become one of those high-maintenance people at a restaurant or be the friend that didn't partake in the weekly donut get together. After one too many nights that ended with me on the couch curled up with severe stomach pains I decided it was time to do something about it. Enter January Whole 30.
If you are unfamiliar wth Whole30 it is essentially an elimination diet in which you avoid grains, dairy, legumes, and sugar for 30 days and then gradually introduce them back into your diet to determine if you are intolerant to them or not. The idea that I could get rid of my stomach pain was so exciting to me at the start of Whole 30. I was eager to leave behind the nights wasted feeling like I would throw up at any moment. However, I was so concerned about the food restrictions. The number one thing I was worried about was not being able to have cream in my coffee, toast in the morning, or peanut butter (seriously, this almost kept me from doing it!) but despite my uncertainty I decided to give it a shot. Here are the five things that I learned throughout my Whole30.
1. Eating real food makes you feel like a million bucks
Before Whole30 I thought I was eating healthy, but I now realize the amount of sugar that I consumed was taking a major toll on my body. I can't pretend that my sugar addiction is fully dealt with, but I have moved away from refined sugars and am trying to get my fix from natural sweeteners (maple syrup, honey, coconut sugar). Words can't even express how much better I feel. Now that we have re-entered real life we have started to include things back into our diet that aren't Whole30 compliant (whole grains - mostly gluten free, and legumes - peanut butter and hummus) and have shifted our main focus to just consuming real, whole foods. My stomach aches have completely disappeared and I could not be more grateful to not be spending my evenings in pain.
2. Dairy Hates Me
Through Whole30 I discovered I have an intolerance to dairy. Granted, I will not die if I consume it and there is a chance that occasionally I'll consume it in small quantities, but I FEEL SO MUCH BETTER when I avoid it. My stomach feels so much better and my skin is so much clearer (WIN)! Also, I now can honestly say I LOVE almond milk in my coffee (gasp!). Califia Farms Better Half Almond Milk and Coconut Cream is my favorite coffee ad-in now!
3. I have major FOMO
FOMO or fear of missing out was and still is a big stumbling block for me. When I go out with friends it is really difficult to be the girl that says no to a donut or cheesy fries because there is that social fear of missing out on the experience.
I have to constantly remind myself to not feel like I am missing out when I am out with friends because a lot of times the things that I feel like I am "missing out on" are things that will leave me feeling horribly soon after. Now that I know how good I can feel, it is much easier for me to look at something I was tempted by before and think "Is this worth it?". Most times the answer is no.
3. meal Prepping is worth the time investment
I was a big fan of meal prepping pre-Whole30, but I became adamant about it when we were on the program and it was our key to success. Sometimes I would get home late from work starving and if I didn't have pre-roasted veggies, potatoes, and chicken or some sort of soup to heat up quickly I would likely have wound up ordering pizza. Post-Whole30 my meal prep game is still strong and I am certain that the time that I spend on Sundays in the kitchen helps keep us on track throughout the week.
4. Health is worth the financial investment
I can't deny that eating healthy cost more than eating mac n' cheese or McDonalds for every meal, but I guarantee that it is worth it. You don't have to consume ALL organic vegetables or fruits or the rarest anti-inflammatory spices available or buy Whole Food's $17 almond butter, but it is important that you don't skimp on the quality and realness of your food. The way that it makes you feel though, is priceless (cheesy, but true!).
5. Establishing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is possible
I now see that balance is possible and that jumping from one "diet" plan to another or restricting myself for a few days with the idea that a "cheat day" was coming created a very unhealthy mentality that was built on a bad relationship with food. I have no plans to maintain a fully Whole30 complaint style of eating, but am fully grateful that it has gotten me to where I am and now see that it is possible to maintain a healthy, balanced lifestyle.
Having a goal in mind that focused on how my body felt and not about how much I weighed truly got me to the finish line. My focus wasn't on a specific number, but rather it was about getting myself to feel my best. I would encourage you to try your own Whole30 and see how amazing you can feel. If Whole30 is something you are interested in, but seems too daunting that is OKAY. I would encourage you to slowly try to make real food choices. I by no means have it "figured out", but we are gradually finding ways we can feel out best and I am so grateful to finally be able to say that.
When I was researching Whole30 before we did the program I found the meal ideas super inspiring and helpful so I've including ALOT of meals that I had while doing the program. I'm sorry if it is overload, but I hope that it is helpful for you if you are planning to start a program soon. If you have any questions, need support during your Whole30, or just want to hear more about mine shoot me an email and I would be more than happy to chat with you.