At the end of June I made the decision to start the Whole30, a challenge that I knew wasn’t to be taken lightly. Whole30 is a temporary exclusion diet meant to reset your system by removing any foods that have the potential to cause inflammation or any other negative effects, so that when you reintroduce those foods you have a better understanding of what your body doesn’t agree with.
I’ll be honest, my motivation wasn’t so much about figuring out what wasn’t agreeing with me as it was doing a sugar-reset. I had been in the habit of eating lots of sugar throughout the day to combat stress. My sugar addiction got particularly bad while I was at my last job, where candy was as readily available as stress. My energy level was on a roller coaster, and my weight just kept going up. Once we moved and I was no longer facing the same stress levels each day, my sugar addiction didn’t go away. Cravings were terrible, and I didn’t know how to make it stop.
The internet has been abuzz with the Whole30 for a while. I’d seen so much about it, but I didn’t really understand what it was until I ordered the book the Whole30. I read through the entire thing in a day! While a lot of the motivational stuff wasn’t for me (not too keen on phrases like sugar-dragon or tiger-blood), the program seemed like a good place for me to start my diet reset. I needed rules and structure, and this provided it. So I set a start date and I got ready to take on the challenge.
The challenge was not easy! So many times I just wanted to give up, particularly on the 4th of July (one week in to my challenge) when I couldn’t eat the ribs or corn-on-the-cob. It was amazing how much easier it was to just cook at home than it was to eat out, but I did get burnt out from cooking so much of the same day in and day out.
I am so glad I had the book to guide me though! The biggest help was the Whole30 Timeline, which went through and explained how your body would likely feel throughout the challenge. When I read through it the first time, I thought everything sounded a bit exaggerated. My tune changed when I actually went through it.
Day 2-4 I felt like I was dying. Those were my sugar-addiction withdrawal days. I had a terrible headache and didn’t know why I had subjected myself to this. But it cleared up about the time the Timeline said it would and I was on the next stage of the challenge. There were definitely better days than others, and it was really helpful to turn to the book and see that what I was feeling on a bad day was normal and that I could make it through.
It also really helped that Mike was there to push me. I had committed to this challenge, and he was there to tell me not to put the days I had behind me to waste just because I wanted this or that right now. I wouldn’t have made it through the challenge without that support, which pushed me even when I was alone.
On Day 31 I was amazed that I had actually made it through the entire 30 days without a single mistake. But I didn’t want to ruin all my hard work by just eating whatever. I was careful about reintroducing things, and I was really surprised by what I discovered.
I missed peas and corn the most during the challenge (peas are my favorite food), and soy came in close third, so I reintroduced legumes first and non-gluten grains second. Those when just fine, and I’m glad to have miso soup and my favorite veggies back in my diet. I also am glad to have my morning bowl of gluten-free oatmeal back as well.
Dairy and Gluten were a different reintroduction. I didn’t have any problem with dairy, but I also didn’t really care about the cheese I put on my taco meat either. I didn’t miss it, so I’m going to keep my dairy to a minimum. Same with bread and pasta and all the bready things you can think of. I just don’t miss them, and I haven’t felt 100% great after eating bits here and there, so I’m not going to worry about them. I’ll save my dairy and bread for that day I want to enjoy a really nice pizza!
While my biggest motivator was getting rid of my sugar need, I won’t lie and say I wasn’t hoping to lose weight along the way. I wasn’t sure how it would go, since part of the challenge meant no weighing yourself or counting calories for the entire 30 days. Towards the end, I could tell something was changing. I ended up losing 9.4 lbs in the 30 days. I also lost 2 inches from my bust, 1.5 inches from my waist, and 2 inches from my hips.
More important than those quantified results are my other wins. I can say I no longer crave sugar, and my energy levels are much more steady throughout the day. My clothes fit better and I have way more confidence in myself. I depend on eating out less and when I shop I pay much more attention to the ingredients in what I buy. And above all that, I’m super proud of myself for sticking through to the end, and completing this challenge without any cheats or mistakes!
Have you tried the Whole30? Are you interested in trying it or something similar out?
And if you have any other questions about my experience with it, I’d be happy to share more!