Whole30 had always been a name I’d heard thrown around, and a few friends of mine had taken on the “challenge” but in complete disclosure, I had no clue what I’d actually agreed to do until about 2 days before the process started. Let me backtrack.
There is a fabulous blogger / Instagram influencer that I absolutely adore named Everything Erica . I follow along with her posts and engage with her content whenever I can. She and her baby girl Elia are adorable – I highly recommend giving them a follow if you don’t already.
Erica and her friend, (and fellow influencer) Brett, had an idea to do another round of Whole30, and wanted to get as many of their followers on board with them as possible, so they turned to Instagram to invite their friends and followers to embark on this journey with them. I happened to be stuffing my face with all-you-can-eat sushi at the time and a few too many cocktails deep when I saw the post. Having no clue what the full rules of Whole30 were, or just what I was getting sober Jordin into, drunk Jordin sent a message to add us to the group.
Two days before Whole30 started I got a message from Erica on the Facebook group to join, links to some rules, and an app, called Jeeyo, to download to help us share recipes and food photos. Not having much of a clue what she was talking about, I backtracked on our conversation and found that I had signed myself up to do Whole30. Not wanting to back out of a challenge before I even started I said to my boyfriend, “Hey babe, I’m starting Whole30 on Tuesday” and quickly gave him a rundown of all the foods I couldn’t eat with him for the next month.
It seemed only fitting – and cruel – to have signed myself up for a sober month while drunk and devouring all the foods I haven’t had in 30 days.
At first I was nervous to get started. I mean there are so many rules and guides and things to follow. I wasn’t sure I could stick with it, and honestly I wasn’t sure I wanted to, but I knew I needed to try. And now that all is said and done I am so happy I did.
1) Weight Loss
Now I know that Whole30 is not about losing weight and is for so much more than losing a few pounds, but I would be lying to myself and you all if I said it wasn’t one of (if not the most) motivating factors in my decision to keep going. As my belly and cheek bloat diminished throughout the month I could not imagine just giving up and letting it all come back. I am excited and happy to say I lost 10lbs during my journey and feel more confident than ever. I know numbers on a scale are not the sole defining factor in our health and happiness, but after the stress weight I gained before my career transition it was truly motivating and life altering to see I could take control back of my weight.
2) Clearer Skin
My skin is absolutely glowing since I cut out so many unnecessary and unhealthy foods. I have never been one to truly struggle with facial acne (I get the occasional breakout, usually around my time of the month or when I forget to wash my face off after I hit the gym and run some errands) so for me there was no “OMG my face is so clear and smooth” moment, but I did notice that my skin was softer, less dried out, and less red. I’m one of those girls who typically wear some minimal foundation every day because my skin is so sensitive and gets bright red over the littlest things, but this month I had multiple days where I wore no makeup at all and not a single person noticed. In fact, one of the makeup free days a friend actually complimented how great I looked that day and when I said “thanks, I’m not even wearing makeup yet” he insisted I stop wearing it because I looked so naturally beautiful without it. It feels so great to know I can walk around without my foundation and feel comfortable in my own skin (and only my skin, no makeup required).
3) My taste has changed
After ending my Whole30 journey, I tried a few foods that used to be some of my absolute favorites. My boyfriend and I were at La Sirena Clandestina to celebrate his birthday, one of our favorite restaurants in the city, – highly recommend – and we got the Pao de Quejo and La Bomba Rice. While I got them for him I could not resist taking a few bites. The Pao de Quejo, a cheesey bread bite, was nowhere near as amazing as I’d remembered for my personal palate. I know it wasn’t just a bad batch because Atticus loved them. But for me, after a month without gluten, the bite was far too doughy and overwhelming. I could not get past the breadiness that I’ve always known and loved.
The La Bomba Rice was a similar situation. Atticus said it was the best he’d had in a while (which says a lot, because we always enjoy it), but for me it was too overwhelming. If you’re not familiar with the La Bomba Rice it is a risotto-like dish that changes up seasonally but includes some assortment of seasonal toppings. The current dish has roasted poblano, charred corn, shishito peppers and wild mushrooms. For me, after a month of simple roasted veggies, basic proteins, and no rice, dairy or corn, the dish seemed to have too much going on. I found myself picking at individual mushrooms rather than being able to handle a full bite.
It was crazy to see how much more sensitive my palate got after just a month of a more restricted diet.
4) My relationship with food has changed
In the past food has been something I turned to frequently. Whether it was stress, sadness, celebratory, or anything in between, food had become one of the most heavily relied on things in my life (outside of personal connections. I’m speaking on behalf of the inanimate objects in my life). When stressed or sad a pint of Jeni’s ice cream could turn my day around, when a friend received great news a round of drinks was in order, and nothing said celebration quite like a big slice of cake.
But what was the food doing for me really? In most instances all it did was make me feel gross and bloated in the morning. 90% of the time my food euphoria would be gone in the morning, replaced by disappointment and disgust over how horrible it left me feeling.
Now instead of food I rely on other things to help me get through any emotional highs or lows. Something great happened? I celebrate with a fantastic workout that leaves me feeling energized and unstoppable. Didn’t have a great day? A FaceTime call with Atticus or a bubble bath are just the cure. Overwhelmed? Nothing a chill movie night to decompress can’t solve. It’s crazy to look back on how much of a crutch food had turned into for me.
5) My social relationship with alcohol has changed
Let me preface this by saying I’m not some raging alcoholic who’s entire life just changed because she went sober for a month. Though after the story of how I ended up on Whole30 you may think I’m lying. Oops.
What I truly mean by this statement is that, in a society and age-group that can be socially dependent on alcohol I have found a true comfort in knowing that I can see my friends without needing to go to a bar and pound shots until the wee hours of the night because that’s what they think I should do as a friend. While I’ve gone through sober periods before (for example, the two months leading up to the marathon the past two years), I had a lot of friends who would try to pressure me into drinking or tell me to let them know when I was able to drink again so we could hang out. Through this round of Whole 30 I became much more clear in my ability to say no to drinking and found even more great suggestions on things to do that didn’t require drinking including fitness classes, coffee dates, trying new (healthy) restaurants, or finding a bar where there was more to do than just drink. For example bars with a pool table, awesome patios where I could just enjoy my soda water and the nice weather, or bars with a karaoke night (I don’t sing but it’s entertaining to watch other people) allowed my friends to have a beer and me to enjoy myself without the emphasis of the night being on drinking.
6) Holy shit restaurants throw a lot in their food
Eating out while on Whole30 is hard. There’s no way to sugar coat it (literally, because there’s no sugar on Whole30). You should just try to avoid it and save yourself the headache.
It was crazy to actually learn how many foods I could not have because there was something in them that wasn’t compliant. It is easiest if you explain to your server that you are on Whole30, tell them what you can’t have and see if they have recommendations. I actually found that many times my server had done Whole30 previously and was able to help navigate me through the menu, but oftentimes that won’t be the case.
I also found myself constantly apologizing to waiters in advance for what a pain in the butt I was about to be.
7) I am no longer a pescetarian
This one is a little more controversial to say it was an outcome of Whole30, but it’s a big change that happened to me throughout the process so it felt necessary to acknowledge.
For the past 3 1/2 years I have been a pescetarian, which, for those of you who aren’t familiar, is most easily explained as a vegetarian who also eats seafood. For the past two or so years I’ve explored the idea of eating a full meat diet again. In fact, the whole diet started as a birthday resolution that was only expected to last a year and then just kind of stuck around.
After two years of debating whether or not to reintroduce meat into my diet, Whole 30 just felt like the right time. The whole reason I eliminated red meat, chicken and pork was because my eating habits with them were unhealthy. My chicken was fried, steaks smothered in butters, and honestly I didn’t eat pork much so it seemed easy to eliminate. But beginning to reintroduce these foods in a healthy, Whole 30 approved way felt like a great time to bring them back into my diet and develop a healthy relationship with them.
I did not begin my Whole 30 journey by eating a giant chicken leg on day 1, but around day 20 I did have my first dinner with chicken in it. It was a healthy, great way to reintroduce, and the timing really helped me avoid the food boredom that many people find they hit while going through Whole 30.
The overall experience:
I would highly recommend Whole30 to anyone looking to rethink their relationship with food. It offered me a great look into my diet while helping me lose some extra weight. The first four days were brutal – I had a constant headache, was easily agitated, and was admittedly not the most enjoyable person to be around, but after I got through the initial detox slump I felt better than ever. My energy levels held up, I was hitting new PRs at the gym, and waking up early on the weekends to be productive was far easier when I wasn’t battling a hangover to get out of bed.
I highly recommend finding a supportive group of friends (or strangers on the internet with a common goal, as I went that route), who will go through this journey with you. It was far easier to stay on track when I had 70 other women who understood what I was going through, shared recipes and meal ideas, and had someone to vent to or celebrate with depending on how the day was going. Without our Facebook group I probably would not have held myself accountable throughout the process.
Throughout the process I found two services to be very helpful: Kitchfix and Thrive Market. Kitchfix is a Chicago-based food delivery (or pickup) service that creates a weekly menu full of healthy meals, including an entire section dedicated to Whole 30 approved meals. It’s great for weeks when you know you won’t be able to cook much. For $30 off your first order click here.
Thrive Market is a great way to have healthy products delivered to your door at low prices. For a $59.95 annual fee you are able to save on your favorite healthy brands – food and household items – and have them delivered right to your door! Not sure you want to use the service? They offer a 30 day free trial that is perfect for Whole30. I used it to stock up on salad dressings, cooking ingredients, and a few staples to keep around. And they even have a Whole 30 filter so you can make sure you are buying only approved products! For 25% off your first order use this link.
Did I have an accidental slips? Yes, I’m not going to lie about it. While Whole30 rules state that you restart and go back to Day 1 it was just not something I could do, but I highly encourage you to if you plan to go through Whole30. I can’t sit here and preach about something without also admitting to a fumble in the process, but I can share what positive feelings I have about the program and encourage you to follow through on it.
Have you done Whole30? What kind of results did you have? And, if you haven’t yet, what result would you look forward to most?