Yesterday was day 30 of my Whole30 soooo today -- I'm finished. Yee to the haw. At the beginning I felt SO MUCH BETTER (I really kept thinking that - caps lock and all) that I couldn't see myself ever going OFF of Whole30 but the honeymoon phase slowly faded and I started dreaming about cheese and Taco Bell (which I haven't had in years so - why now, G?). And now I think that honeymoon Grace was nuts but I'm not going dairy or drive-thru crazy because I know how awful I would immediately feel and it's not worth it. At all. Will I attempt a healthier homemade version of a taco bell burrito with the tiniest sprinkle of cheese? Yes, I will. And, I still feel so good but I think I've just gotten used to it and take it for granted.
I could ramble forever and ever about Whole30 and my experiences and personal pros and cons but I predict that no one would make it to the end so let's break it down into digestible categories ...
I went into it thinking I would be a meal planning queen and be on top of it and prep on Sunday afternoons while listening to something appropriately relaxing and fun on Pandora but no, I am an old dog with no interest in learning new tricks, I guess. I prepped when I could and was never pawing around the fridge looking for food to make and eat but I didn't have my meals perfectly planned. I found that the first week it worked to have salmon cakes and meatballs on hand to eat with veggies and the occasional sweet potato. But then, I got kind of sick of that and moved onto making what my friend Jessica calls a hash. I mixed ground turkey with various veggies and had that ready to go in a big container and generally ate it with an over easy egg and ketchup or balsamic vinegar. Those were some GOOD meals. But then, I got bored. So, I moved onto salads with romaine lettuce, hard boiled eggs, chicken, tomatoes, and the most incredible salad dressing (Whole30 compliant or not - it's THE BEST). I still eat those a lot but this past week I ate a lot of turkey or chicken burgers wrapped in romaine with tomato, avocado, and yellow mustard - so good. I did vary my meals beyond these four staples but it worked well to have weekly themes for me.
salmon cake, spinach, brussels sprouts + onions + sweet potato + compliant chicken sausage
If you've done a Whole30, you know all about SWYPO (eating things like pancakes or smoothies made with compliant ingredients but go against the spirit of Whole30) and while I didn't make it a daily thing at all, I did partake on occasion. Sometimes I was making smoothies for the kids and made sure it was compliant before I poured myself a glass and Bosco happens to love protein pancakes and some mornings it was just easier not to make several different breakfasts. I don't think it set me back but I'm sure many would cross their arms in disagreement. C'est la life of a semi-cheater.
Condiments, Creamer, etc
I'm convinced that my positivity throughout the majority of the 30 days was semi-thanks to my decision to buy Whole30 compliant condiments (ketchup, aforementioned salad dressing, balsamic vinegar) because I hate to use the word "elevate" but that's exactly what they did to my meals. Interestingly enough, aside from the salad dressing, I found myself reaching for the Whole30 helpers less and less as the month went on and my taste buds adjusted so I guess I kind of saw them as legal training wheels that got me over the initial hump. The nut creamer was a pitiful substitute for the glorified ice cream I'm used to using but I don't drink coffee every day so it wasn't a HUGE deal to me. But, a couple weeks in I looked forward to an afternoon glass of iced coffee with the creamer because I could actually feel the effects of the caffeine as opposed to the sugar buzz of my former creamers.
sweet potato chips, compliant ketchup, and a real hot getup
The biggest difference I notice and feel almost immediately is how much more soundly I sleep. It's so incredible and appreciated that if it were the ONLY positive side effect of doing a Whole30 - I'd still do it. Sometimes I would wake up as early as 4:30 or 5 and feel rested enough to get up and start the day which was a great bonus because it's always nice not waking up to a small human breathing morning fire into your unsuspecting face. I also noticed my super stubborn Melasma (yes Bosco is almost 17 months old - it's really stubborn) faded more than it already had thanks to a new skin regimen (I'll save that for another post because this one is already too long). My skin feels so soft and has lost the puff and one of my friends pointed out that her cellulite goes away when she does Whole30 to which I have to say - SAME HERE. I know a lot of people do Whole30 to lose weight despite the program stressing that it is NOT a weight loss program but generally people tend to lose weight. It's never been the case for me and the same thing went for this round because I lost one pound (lol but it wasn't my objective at all) and just for the sake of curiosity I took my measurements before and after and lost nine inches which was surprising even though my clothes do fit a lot better.
Why I like it
In addition to all the changes mentioned I have to say that I like rules and guidelines. My friends and I have talked about needing babysitters when it comes to our eating habits. While I do a decent job most of the time - I know when I've let the convenience factor of unhealthy food creep into our life and sometimes it's easier just to do a hard reset like a Whole30. Not always! But, sometimes. It's good to see and feel how much my diet affects how I feel and sleep. It also feels good to finish it - while it's not the hardest thing I'll ever do in my lifetime, it does take self discipline (for me!!) to do in a house full of people that are NOT doing Whole30. There are more and more websites and blogs dedicated to Whole30 recipes and I love that you can do several rounds of a Whole30 and eat completely different recipes every time. And again, I feel SO much better. I think I take for granted how much better I feel and wish I'd kept some quick daily notes to monitor minor changes I noticed.
Why I don't
This is personal opinion (and I loved hearing Julie's thoughts too!) but it's tough for me to go from eating small meals throughout the day to fewer big meals. I felt bloated and looked 20 weeks pregnant (which - I am not) for the first week or so which felt gross and counterintuitive to eating well. I know it happens to a lot of people and I (unscientifically) just saw it as all the gross stuff bubbling to the surface and it did eventually go away and I felt great other than that but - I could do without that initiation. Most of the time I would make the kids lunch and dinner before I ate which was my own fault and stupid but by the time I sat down to eat I was the hangriest bird in all of the land and .... the kids knew it which I hated. Again, my own fault but this is why I like grazing/small meals.
I'm going to slowly (very slowly!) reintroduce food groups back into my diet to see if I can target what exactly my body reacts poorly to. I've been really looking forward to having some hummus and bell peppers so I'll start there. Surprisingly enough, my Diet Dr. Pepper cravings subsided almost immediately so I'm just going to pretend they are poison (which I know they prettttty much are) and not go back down that slippery slope. I'm always trying to incorporate more protein and veggies into everyone's meals and the kids have liked a lot of the vegetables I've made so we'll keep that up and continue to try new ones prepared a variety of ways.
I've mentioned it a few times but my favorite new blog I discovered (thanks to a comment!) was Well Fed and I highly, highly recommend it. I loved the following products as well and will keep using the majority of them transitioning out of Whole30.
2. Tessemae's Organic Ketchup - initially I was kind of meh but then grew to love it
3. Date Lady Balsamic Vinegar - I was pleasantly surprised by this
4. Chia Seeds - I use these to make chia seed pudding overnight (and add fruit and maybe some sunflower seed butter in the morning) and just wished I'd made it a long time ago
5. RxBar - I love these because they have added protein and aren't nearly as sweet as Larabars. My kids love them too - for better or worse. I didn't eat these or Larabars daily or treat them like dessert or a treat but they are good to have in my bag for times we were out longer than I'd anticipated etc.
6. Dasani Black Cherry Sparkling Water - (whispers) I prefer this to La Croix. It's so good.
7. Tessemae's Lemon Garlic Dressing - best of all the rest
8. Gingerbread - my favorite Larabar flavor (thanks to Jolie for sending me a box!) to date
9. Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides - read all about the benefits here. It's truly flavorless so you can add it to coffee, your chia seed pudding, anything. Easy.
I know I'm missing a lot and will come back and tweak and add as I think of things but let me know if you have questions - but I'm the furthest thing from an expert. Have you done one? Did you love/hate/meh?
I'd love to know!