Whole30: CONQUERED!

Mally's

Yesterday was the last day of my Whole30! I can’t believe it. What an amazing month it has been. I feel exactly like Seth here:

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So, you’re probably wondering what I accomplished and what I thought of the program?

Starting Weight: 166                   Ending Weight: 153!!!

Starting Waist: ~ 36 1/4″             Ending Waist: 32 1/4″ !

Energy: My energy levels have definitely skyrocketed. I’m more clear minded and awake even on days where I don’t get enough sleep.

Physical improvements: I’ve dropped a pant size or two and my belly is much flatter (not quite where I want it to be yet but getting there). The skin on my face has cleared up as well and I think my hair even looks better. I also have less stomach issues and don’t feel bloated anymore. Like, ever.

Overall, I am very excited that I did the Whole30 and looking forward to continuing my healthy eating habits. (Though I confess- after some serious “What do I eat?!” anxiety this morning- I did have both a pancake and a cupcake. But let me warn you now, it was not a good idea. I didn’t even have to punish myself for it, because I felt gross immediately after I was done. I’m definitely right back to my Whole30 ways after that experience! Now I understand why they say to easeeee yourself back into eating normally afterwards.)

It is not hard. Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Quitting heroin is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard.

– Dallas & Melissa Hartwig, It Starts with Food

A lot of people today and over the past 30 days have congratulated me on how disciplined I was to do something like this. To them, I say the above. While I appreciate the sentiment and am very proud of the long way I have come- it really was not that hard. Hard was realizing that my favorite pair of jeans no longer fit. Hard was being winded running up the stairs to the El. Hard was feeling like I didn’t deserve to have a husband like Jon because of how unattractive I felt.

That’s fucking hard.

Not eating ice cream or chicken fingers for 30 days? Not hard.

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So what did I learn that I can share with you to help you through your Whole30? :

  1. Do your meal prep and grocery shop ahead of time.

Probably one of the most reiterated things you will hear if you decide to read up on the program is that especially in your first two weeks, Whole30 can be overwhelming. You’re trying to learn what you can and can’t eat, you’re trying to figure out how you’ll still be able to socialize for a month, you might be cranky from lack of carbs or stuck with a pounding migraine from sugar withdrawal. My first suggestion is to figure out which day of the week works best for you to go grocery shopping and go shopping each week on that day. Take the time to peruse the aisles, reading ingredient lists closely but only stock up on what you need for a week or even a few days. Remember: The products you’re eating should have no added preservatives in them so if you buy too much, some of your food may go to waste.

Also, use said day to chop up and roast/sauté/bake up a shit ton of vegetables so that when you don’t have time to cook, you don’t have to worry about how you’re going to make a Whole30 compliant meal. I also found that blending up smoothies ahead of time and storing them in a mason jar was a nice way to get my fruit in throughout the day. (*Note: Whole30 does not suggest using smoothies as meal replacement so I used them as snacks.)

2. Figure out which stores carry the best variety of products, at the most reasonable prices. 

 At first, I thought that the best store for me to shop at would be Whole Foods. They kinda market themselves as the Organic Mecca, am I right? But I quickly learned that a cart full of groceries there (even with Jon’s discount) was just not going to be realistic on our budget. So I set aside the time to drive a little bit out of the way and go to a fresh produce market that I love each week (seriously Chicagoans, if you haven’t been to Stanley’s, you’re missing out). For my meat, and beloved chicken apple sausage!, I hit up Mariano’s weekly deals and got a nice big bag of frozen chicken breasts from Costco. Not to discount Whole Foods though! They’re great for the products that are a bit more obscure- like coconut milk with no carrageenan, coconut and almond flour, dates, and Tessemae’s Dressings among others. Those bulk bins? Amazing.

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3. Don’t think of the foods you’re not eating, focus on the foods that you are.

For the first few days I just wanted a bagel or a Hershey Kiss sooooo bad. They consumed my thoughts and I seriously considered saying EFF IT and grabbing one. But somewhere around day 9, I started realizing- hey! I’m eating some really delicious stuff! I don’t have to have bread with my zucchini noodles, they’re delicious just the way they are! Whole30 is all about getting you to enjoy the “healthy stuff” in its simplicity. So focus on how amazing that dijon mustard glazed salmon tastes melting in your mouth, or how crisp that bacon is. I guarantee that once you reach that 30 day mark, you won’t even think a waffle sounds that good anymore. I swear!

4. Find ways to participate in social events while maintaining Whole30 compliance. 

I would have been completely miserable this month if I couldn’t have gone out with friends or had people over the house because I “couldn’t eat anything”. Food is a HUGE part of our social life so this is something that was very nerve-wracking for me. Don’t be afraid to suggest restaurants where you know you can eat something compliant (ie sushi restaurants for sashimi) and don’t be afraid to go to bars! Yes, it sucks, hard, not to be able to drink socially but you can find an alternative that will make you feel included. My go-to was a tonic and lime- I’m not promising it will be as satisfying as a real drink the first, second or even third time but by the end- when Jon offered me a sip of his wine “that I could spit out”, I confidently told him- Nope, not worth it. 

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Friends!

5. Do your Whole30 with a friend. 

Kind of self explanatory. It’s a heck of a lot easier when your roommate/significant other/friend wants to eat healthy with you than when you’re the odd man out while everyone else is eating pizza. That’s why I’m doing my second Whole30 so soon with my husband! (Starts September 7th, btw, and I plan to post on it more frequently than I did with this one.)

6. Keep it simple. 

Your first instinct is going to be to go to Pinterest and pin all the Whole30 recipes you can find, or to go out (guilty!) and buy a Whole30 cookbook but I’m here to tell you now, keep your meals as simple as possible. At least for the first two weeks, if not the whole program. In the beginning, make things interesting by using spices and experimenting with different techniques- that way you’ll figure out what you like most and what foods your body will respond best to throughout the program. After you get the hang of the rules, shoot for the moon and make that crazy complicated dish! I’m sure it’ll be delicious. But by staying simple in the beginning you are also less likely to break one of the Whole30’s big rules- which is not to recreate foods that your craving using compliant products.

I hope you’ll consider joining me on September 7th as I embark on my next Whole30! Stay tuned for recipes, tips & tricks on my journey to a healthier me.

Love & healthy habits!

North of Wrigley (1)

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