I completed my first Whole 30 on September 2. Never in a million years did I think I would type those words. When I embarked on my journey, I was scared and doubtful. But, I did it and I am so proud of myself. Many people have asked me to share my thoughts on the program and whether I really enjoyed it. The short answer is yes, I loved it. The experience changed my relationship with food, how I will fuel my body going forward and how I will feed my family. (If you missed my review of the first two weeks on Whole 30, you may want to read that first. There is also a post on why I chose Whole 30 which you can read here.)
After a full 30 days on the program, here are some final thoughts for those who are interested and just for my own record.
Be prepared to cook: Sure, there are plenty of no cook options on Whole 30 like fruit, raw veggies and nuts but meat and eggs do require cooking. That doesn't mean you can't keep it simple. I love this recipe for lemon thyme chicken. It's a regular weeknight favorite in our house. I tried to cook in bulk on the weekends (like grilled chicken and hard boiled eggs) so that I could just "grab and go" during the week. Whole 30 does require some planning and prepping but once you make it a priority, it provides for lots of quick and easy meals.
Get ready to fall in love with fruit again: Wow, this really took me by surprise! Whole 30 will give you a brand new appreciation for fruit. After eliminating artificial sugars from your diet, a perfectly ripe piece of fruit will taste like pure heaven. Summertime is an ideal time to do a Whole 30 because there are so many wonderful fruits and veggies in season.
You'll be surprised at which foods you miss the most: When I began the Whole 30 I thought for sure that alcohol and bread would be the things I missed the most. I was completely wrong. After 30 days, you know what foods I missed? Feta cheese on my salad, greek yogurt for breakfast and real-deal chocolate ice cream. I could have cared less about bread, except maybe those garlic rolls I passed over at the italian restaurant one night. And about alcohol...a lot of people have said to me they couldn't do Whole 30 simply because of the "no alcohol." Trust me, you can do it! Stepping away from it for a while opened my eyes to when and why I was consuming alcohol. I noticed much of my consumption was done out of social obligation or a reaction to an emotional day.
People will be curious. Have an answer: Speaking of social settings (and you will encounter them on Whole 30), you need to be prepared for questions. People will be curious or interested. Others will be confused and appalled. I encourage you to really think about why you are on this journey so that you can share that with people in a kind and honest manner. For me, I wanted to reset my hormones after having Ben. I also wanted to jumpstart my postpartum weight loss and increase energy.
You will lose weight: If you are truly following Whole 30, I'm 99% sure you will lose weight. I only lost 10 pounds during my 30 days but others have reported greater numbers. I was a little disappointed that I did not lose more but I had some other challenges working against me which I will discuss in just a second.
Get your rest and renewal: I kid you not, the day I began my Whole 30 Ben decided he was going to quit sleeping through the night. I'm still trouble shooting his sleep issues but I haven't slept through the night since beginning my Whole 30 and I really think it affected my weight loss. My lack of sleep also discouraged regular workouts too. Either way, your body is going through extreme changes and rest is important! Get as much as you can. I also made a point to take salt baths and treated myself to a few spa appointments. Reward your body mentally and physically because it deserves it. Take care of your body and it will take care of you in return.
Trying new foods and recipes: Admittedly at first glance, Whole 30 feels like you don't have a lot of choices. But you do. I enjoyed trying new fruits, veggies and proteins. After the first few weeks, I began to step out of my comfort zone and shop for things that weren't regulars on the grocery list. I also enjoyed experimenting with new oils and fats like coconut oil and clarified butter.
Find a support group: For me this came via Instagram but I know there are message boards, Facebook pages, blogs, etc. Just knowing that others were on the same journey was motivating. I also loved seeing what others were eating and got some great ideas for new meals.
Do it for yourself: In my opinion, this is huge for any wellness program. Many times, we look for motivation outside of ourselves such as a spouse, a group of friends or an upcoming event. Let me tell you, nothing will ultimately motivate you better than your own desire. Do this challenge for you. Do it because you want to feel better, because you long for better health, because you want to change your relationship with food. Refer back to my point of why you are doing this program. Be honest with yourself and remind yourself of it every morning and throughout the day if needed.
Read the book: Even though the Whole 30 is a very simple program, there is a ton of science behind it that is quite intriguing. The book will encourage you and provide you good reminders of why we eat certain foods and how they fuel our bodies. It Starts With Food: Discover the Whole30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways and can be on your doorstep within days thanks to Amazon.
Shop before you begin: Okay, if your feeling motivated to start your own program right away (which is kinda what I did) clean out your fridge and pantry of temptation and go shopping for whole foods. Staples for me were eggs, avocado, sweet potato, tomatoes, various fruits, chicken, almond butter, olive oil, sea salt, nuts, raisins and Lara bars. Don't make the mistake by setting your mind to start today only to discover by lunch time you don't have enough whole foods on hand to get your through the first 24 hours.
Last but not least, Whole 30 is not "Forever:" Sure, lots of people adopt this program as a lifestyle due to health reasons, food allergies or simply because they love it. But throughout your challenge (and it will be challenging) remind yourself this is only 30 days. You will enjoy ice cream again, you will sip a margarita, you will go out for pizza. Just not right now. These 30 days belong to you and your health. Commit these 30 days to you because you are worth it.
Thank you again for all your support and encouragement! It really helped me stay focused and motivated me to stick to the program. If you have any questions, feel free to shoot me an email or get in touch with me via social media. Thanks for reading and sharing this experience with me.