I (sort of) did it! I survived my first Whole30 challenge!
Technically, I didn’t finish Whole30 because I added grains back into my diet the last week. But, I was at the point that my overall health and well-being was suffering, so strict adherence wasn’t a priority. Some rice and quinoa aside, I felt like I did a great job sticking to the plan.
My primary motivation for taking on a Whole30 challenge was to clean up my diet. Things felt a bit out of control, particularly after the holidays, and I desperately needed a reset to my eating habits. I needed something that would force me to reach for an apple rather than an apple fritter. And, that truly did happen. My sweet tooth feels so much more manageable now, more so than it has in years. But, the sweets around the office don’t even tempt me any more. I bought a pint of dairy free Ben & Jerry’s over the weekend and it just didn’t hit the spot the way it used to.
The other big aspect for me in taking on Whole30 was that it would be a great transition into a fully vegan diet. I already don’t eat meat and dairy isn’t allowed, so it was just a matter of not eating eggs. I’m working on another post for another day about why I’m eating a fully plant-based diet now, but it is something that’s been on the back of my mind for quite some time. In truth, avoiding eggs was probably one of the harder things about the month. Eggs are an easy and obvious protein source, but there are certainly plenty of vegan-friendly ways to get protein.
Whole30 forced me to find ways to handle my emotions, other than food. I am certainly an emotional eater, but grabbing a bottle of wine or ordering a pizza after a rough day wasn’t an option. Let’s be honest, sweet potatoes are not awesome binge food. Delicious, yes. Satisfying in the way a glass of wine might be? Not even a little bit. So, I drew on practices like meditation and journaling. I did some at-home yoga practices and may have cried during a workout or two.
Finally, yes. I lost weight on Whole30. It was somewhere in the ten pound range, which was a great kick start to my weight loss goals for 2017. But, that’s just an added bonus. Losing weight was not the primary intention for the month.
While Whole30 did some great things in my life, it wasn’t without its challenges. I experienced a few days of mild “carb flu,” with brain fog being the most significant symptom. The first week, I was unbelievably exhausted, and while that did improve, my energy levels were quite low until I added grains back into my diet. Certainly, I could have survived that last week without, but I don’t regret that decision one bit.
Many people talk about Whole30 being an expensive investment, but that wasn’t the case for me. I attribute that to doing the vegetarian route, as a serving of black beans or cashews is a much more budget friendly protein than a serving of chicken. Because I was just worried about food for myself, I could get a little creative with the produce that was on sale in a given week and stretch out a recipe into several servings. Although I don’t buy an extravagant amount of alcohol, it does add up over the course of a month. Being young and single, meeting up with friends for a drink is a common social activity. A bottle of wine here and a happy hour there, it certainly impacts my budget.
So, now that Whole30 is over, what’s my approach going forward? As I said, I’m eating a plant-based diet now. That will likely be the biggest long-term change for me. It will really help control my sweet tooth, as most baked goods are not vegan. I am excited to experiment with vegan baking, though! That said, am I never going to have a homemade treat that has some eggs in it ever again? Probably not. But, if I do, it will be for something worthwhile and special.
Will I ever do Whole30 again? At this point, I think it’s highly unlikely. For my body, restricting my carb intake that heavily just didn’t work. I appreciate the reset to my habits, but I don’t know that, as a whole, it is something I need to take on again. I truly believe that the only reason I stuck with it for the month is because I had a support system of friends who were also doing Whole30. The accountability is absolutely crucial to success, I believe. While I know that many rave about Whole30, for me, it didn’t quite live up to the “Tiger Blood” hype.