I’m so excited to share that I’ve finished my second full Whole30 challenge. YAY! I first started this in November 2012 when my friend K suggested we try to really challenge ourselves and change our relationship with food. We cheated a bit (one of our besties got married!) and didn’t finish the 30 days since we were off to Vegas after week 3.
In January 2013 I did it again and completed it all the way through (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here) – no cheats and I followed the rules to the T. I may have been a little too obsessed with living the true Whole30 life.
After a few attempts to do Whole30 throughout the year, I decided to just make January my annual Whole30 tradition – it’s a great way to start the year and tons of people are making healthy strides, so it makes it easier to stick with my goals while friends and family are working on theirs.
In case you have no idea what Whole30 is, the quick summary is that it helps you focus on eating whole, fresh vegetables and meats and the occasional fruits, nuts, and healthy fats. Eat real things. Nothing processed, no alcohol, no legumes (including peanuts and soy), no sugar or any type of sweeteners, no grains, and most importantly no “paleo-fying” foods (so no paleo pancakes and ice cream). It sounds painful, but you find that you really don’t miss these things once you’re in your Whole30 groove.
So back to this month’s challenge. It felt so great! It always feel forever long in the beginning, and sometimes you have dreams that you are cheating. Big time. But it’s amazing how much you can stay in your groove and not veer off path. As for post-Whole30 life, well I’m a little scared. I went a little bit off the rails last year and I am determined to not let that happen. In case you didn’t know, I deemed 2014 to be my best year yet. So far, I’m kicking ass with that goal.
I also tried to do some things different this time:
- Focus on more lean meats and less beef consumption.
I don’t have issues with eating red meat but I have noticed that on past Whole30s, I relied heavily on them. Ground beef is cheap and eating steak once or twice a week made me feel better about eating plain. Not this time! I focused more on eating leaner meats and seafood (even chicken breasts, which I don’t favor – too dry!) and even nixed the skin on my eat. (Somewhere a caveman is crying.)
- I did not have any coffee or bacon.
Kind of weird that I paired those in one bullet, right? Even though I found an awesome cold brew coffee recipe that is gentle on my stomach, I just didn’t feel like putting forward that extra effort to make coffee in advance. I was already cooking up a storm. Why add one more thing to the list? I’m actually not even a huge coffee person. As for bacon, it’s really difficult to find nitrate-free, sugar-free bacon in grocery stores, so I just skipped it. I didn’t miss either of these things.
- No stressing out.
Whether you’re paleo, vegan, pescatarian, localvore, etc, I think the one thing we can all agree to ditch is stress. In my experience, stress causes me to eat more. While I do agree you should strive to follow the Whole30 100% in terms of what to eat and restrict, trying to be a paleo perfectionist will just make things harder for you. I tried not to sweat about things out of my control, for instance whether the aioli at Whole Foods was complaint or not.
- I snacked heavy at first, and then barely at all.
I’m a huge snacker so this transformation throughout the month was pretty cool to experience. At first I was making toasted coconut chips quite often. What can I say? I’m a chip gal. Nothing else I made could compare to that crisp crunch of “chips.” But then something happened. Not only did I find myself making coconut chips a lot less often, but I was snacking a lot less. My meals were doing their job and filling me up. Good job, body!
- I pole danced like a beast. (Maybe a sexy beast?)
Some background if you don’t know me: I teach pole fitness. This month I took on extra classes which means I was teaching 2 classes Thursday evenings, and teaching 2 classes every other Sunday. Basically, I could be teaching up to 4 in a week. I even made it a goal to go back to Pole Masters so I could end up at the studio at least 3 times a week. I joked that I’d be so ripped by the end of the month from all this working out, and while I am nowhere near “ripped” I do feel like I’m able to work out harder because of Whole30 and I’m feeling stronger and slimmity slim slim!
- I didn’t log my food.
Past experience has shown I’m terrible at food logging. It’s one of the many reasons why Weight Watchers didn’t work for me. I felt as long as I was eating whole, nutrient-dense food, I didn’t need to keep track of anything.
So now that I’m done, now what? Well let’s talk about the benefits I have reaped from this Whole30:
- I sleep like a champ (not that I really have issues).
- I can definitely see my stomach slimming down.
- My muscles are more defined (I’m a little obsessed with flexing in the mirror and liking what I see – in the privacy of my own home!)
- My eating habits have improved my performance at the gym and the dance studio.
- No bloating or gas (unless lady time presents herself).
- I can live without daily intake of junk food. In fact, I walked through the chip aisle at Whole Foods and nothing called my name. I’m a changed woman!
- I can eat plain and simple every day at work.
- And because everyone always wonders: I lost 7 pounds. After spending an entire year of not seeing the scale go down (just one form of measurement) it was nice to see it budge finally!
So now comes the challenge of life after Whole30. I feel like I am in such a great groove that I want this to keep going. Of course I also have 1-2 dinners or lunches out every week so now it’s time to navigate this with a plan. K suggested I have a monthly goal/challenge (Whole30 was January’s challenge) so I decided that given my crazy social schedule this month, I will only dine out with friends. So during the week when I don’t have friend dates, eat at home or brown bag it to work. And even while eating out, make the best choices possible. Though, I will splurge on an adult milkshake and homemade pop tart now that Ted’s Bulletin opened up near me!
Want to read more about my Whole30 experience? Read every single post I ever wrote, right here.
Here’s my pic from last January’s Whole30, just for funsies.
All photos are taken with my iPhone. Whole30 logo is courtesy of the Whole30 website.