Things that I noticed
I saw so many amazing improvements over the 30 days that I did the Whole30. It really amazed me how good I felt, and even saw some physical changes. This is definitely not an exhaustive list of all of the improvements I found, but some of the biggest and most important changes. I went into this program hoping to improve my digestion and have less stomach issues, particularly during running. I got those benefits and so, so much more!
Less bloat in stomach (finally have abs!)
More energy (especially in the morning, and no 2:00 feeling at work)
Faster recovery from running and lifting
Faster running paces
More energy in legs (less of that lead feeling)
No random pains or cramps during the day
Why it worked for me
I didn't make it a big dealOutside of a few people in my real life, no one really knew that I was doing the Whole30. A few times at work, my boss would bring donuts and bagels in and offer me one. Instead of saying that I was on this crazy diet and I'm not eating gluten and make a big deal out of it, I just said that I had my breakfast already, but thank you. And guess what? He dropped it and moved along. Similarly, when I would have lunch with friends or go out to a restaurant, I would just order something that was Whole30-compliant and not explain myself away. I've found that most people didn't even realize that I was eating differently since I didn't point it out, which made the whole process a lot easier. It was also really easy to do this in January, since a lot of people make resolutions to eat healthier, so I didn't feel like a freak for bringing a salad for lunch or a ton of veggies for breakfast!
Why this might not work for you: You're very social and feel weird about eating differently. If you're eating out with friends a lot and are all of a sudden changing your habits, they might catch on and start asking questions. Just remember- you're doing this for your health and have your own reasons to do it, so don't give in to peer pressure or feel weird! Explain to your friends that you're doing a 30-day program where you only eat "whole" foods, and hopefully they'll be supportive. This is also a good chance to save some money by having a 30-day spending freeze on going out if you want to be a bit more extreme!
Plan, plan, plan!Every weekend, it was my priority to plan out my meals and start prepping. On Saturdays, I would work on my meal plans (which I shared- check out week 1, week 2, week 3, and week 4!), then Sunday I would shop early in the morning while the store wasn't busy yet, and come home to immediately start prepping. I would leave out all the veggies and meats to chop up and put in containers for lunches, or throw protein and a sauce together in a freezer bag to grab and cook during the week. Prep was essential for me, and really made the Whole30 an easy process with no thinking required!
Why this might not work for you: You don't have time to prep or hate prepping. During the weeks, I'm really busy and have no time to shop or prep food, which is why I always go on the weekends. Try to figure out a time that works best with your schedule, which could mean a weekday in the morning, or late at night, or in the middle of the day on the weekend! There are a lot of resources out there for meal planning, which makes it really easy and takes away all the hard work. I shared some resources in this post to get you started! I would suggest giving planning a try just for one week, and be ready to be amazed by how it positively impacts your life and makes eating healthier much easier!
Have something to look forward to on Day 31With about a week to go, I decided to treat myself to a special six-pack as a way to celebrate day 31. I made sure to put it away when I got home, and didn't refrigerate it until the morning of day 31 so that I wouldn't be tempted to drink it early. It gave me something to look forward to and see the light at the end of the tunnel! It was also important to me to only introduce one non-compliant group that first day to make sure I didn't get sick. If you go back to old eating habits right away, you'll probably feel awful and not be able to figure out which group actually bothered you!
Why this might not work for you: Some people might give into temptation if they have something off-limits in their house. In that case, make sure you don't buy anything until after the program is over! You might also be tempted to give in or quit early because you're looking forward to that treat on day 31. I would suggest making plans with friends to go out to dinner or get a drink to celebrate. This will force you to wait until the 30 days are over, plus you can finally be social again! Make sure you're not eating every off-limit food at once though, or you'll wake up on day 32 with a post-Whole30 hangover!
It feels good to feel GOOD!The thing that made this the easiest to me was to focus on the bigger picture. I felt better than ever (just look at all the positive changes above!), so I didn't want to cheat or change my habits.
Why this might not work for you: You don't feel better. Believe it or not, Whole30 isn't for everyone. In my Running Whole30 Facebook group, there were some people that didn't see any improvements, and actually had less energy and more issues when they changed their habits. The creators of the Whole30 mention that this program is pretty much a self-experiment, and their rules aren't going to work for everyone. People have different dietary needs (particularly runners), so what works for one person might not work for another. I was lucky enough to see all of the life-changing differences that were promised, but if you're not, Whole30 just might not be for you, which is perfectly fine! I do have to admit that the first few days were a bit rough because I had to figure out how much food I needed and make sure that I was eating enough to support my marathon training. Tweak your food intake, but if it's really causing problems in your life, I would recommend moving on and talking to a doctor.
I tried new foods so I didn't get boredOne of the biggest complaints about Whole30 is that there aren't a lot of foods to eat, and it gets boring by the end of week one! While this might be true on the surface, there are so many foods out there that you might not have tried before. Just giving them a chance and looking up new recipes helps to keep things fresh. I tried a lot of new foods during this program- dates, beet greens, watercress, sweet potatoes, squash- so it was a great chance for me to expand my horizons and I never got bored!
Why this might not work for you: You're a picky eater and don't want to try new things. All I can say is that it's worth it to try something different. You might find something that you like and surprise yourself! Dan is one of the pickiest eaters out there, and even he found some new foods that he liked just because he was willing to try (sometimes I had to sneak in new foods for him to actually give it a chance, but he eventually got more adventurous.) Worst comes to worst you find a new food that you hate and end up throwing it out, but you might just find a new food you love.
Tips and tricks
Have some "go to" snacks. Every week, I would roast a bunch of sweet potatoes and make my 2-ingredient date balls and egg cups. These were foods that I loved and could quickly grab if I needed something, and didn't take long to prepare big batches. I loved having the sweet potatoes to throw into a salad or as a base for a breakfast bowl (or even thrown in with an egg cup for an easy bowl), and the dates were the perfect pre-workout fuel.
Try new types of coffee. I loved experimenting with different blends of coffees during the Whole30! Since creamers and sweeteners are off the table, it was fun to get higher-end beans and have a more luxurious experience in the morning. When you get a better quality coffee, it really doesn't need anything else added to cover the taste! I love the Marley Coffee, Tim Horton's Coffee, or just going to my favorite local coffee shop and buying a bag of their beans.
I also learned how to make perfect french press coffee, which improved the entire taste and experience. If you're not a coffee drinker, you can also try getting fancy tea and really savoring that cup in the morning (or evening, or night!)
Make sauces and dressings! This is something that I discovered about halfway through the Whole30, but sauces can really transform blah food into something more exciting. Some of my favorite compliant sauces include sunshine sauce, carrot dip, everything in this post, and smokey hot BBQ sauce. A lot of salsas are also compliant, so I loved using that as a dip for vegetables or as a topping for salads! I also discovered coconut aminos, which can be added to just about any plain sauce to give it an Asian flair.
Plan ahead. There were a few times that I had to go out to restaurants, and I made it through with no problems. I made sure to check out the menu ahead of time so I knew exactly what I could order. I also went away for a weekend at the very end of the program, so I made sure to pack breakfast for every day, along with a big tupperware of chili and some baked potatoes and vegetables (I use containers similar to these which make it easy to pack up a bunch of food!). I didn't want to be an inconvenience when it came around to meal time, so while everyone was eating normal food I just had my compliant food and there were no issues or chances of slipping up!
What tips and tricks do you have to eat healthier?
For all my fellow Whole30'ers out there, how did it go for you the first time around?
Who else is interested in trying out the program?
joining the Best of the Blogs linkup!