This past April, I did a the Whole30 challenge–except, caveat, I only did it for 20 days (Passover happened, and you KNOW I was not saying no to matzo ball soup). The premise of the Whole30 is pretty simple: no dairy, no grains, no sugar, no alcohol, no legumes… for 30 days.
Why I did it: Honestly, my whole office was doing it and I thought it would be a great way to jumpstart a new healthy eating program. Although I typically maintain a pretty healthy lifestyle, I had fallen off the bandwagon a bit and wasn’t happy with how I was feeling.
Although I only did 2/3 of the program, I learned a lot about my body, my eating habits, and my psychological relationship to food:
It is very possible to say no to bad-for-you food–and I won’t die if I reject a bagel.
I suffer from food FOMO – the fear of missing out on something delicious. Stan’s Donuts is pretty close to my apartment, but every time I walk by, I feel like I HAVE to go get a donut, as if they’re going to close forever tomorrow. If I go to a bagel brunch, I HAVE to eat two because they’re there. How silly is that?! When on Whole30, I noticed how many times I would have said “yes” had I not been on this program. I also noticed that I didn’t fall over and die because I passed on a sweet treat.
There is sugar in EVERYTHING.
Literally, everything. Even sliced turkey (wtf?). You have to check every single label, because food companies sneak sugar into just about anything they can (even freaking sliced turkey. I’m still mad about that). Applegate is one of the only companies that I could buy prepared meat from, as it has no additives or any of the yucky stuff that the other brands do.
Being forced to cook more isn’t the worst thing.
Raise your hand if you ever get home from work and are so tired and too lazy to cook, and end up ordering a pizza. ?? Whole30 forced me out of my laziness–there were so few things that I could buy that were convenient, so I had to cook all of my meals. My favorite weeknight dinner was spaghetti squash with homemade meat sauce! I would make this recipe and then add in ground turkey meat. Also, did you know that you can make spaghetti squash in a slow cooker? Game. changer.
Meal prepping is a totally necessary, evil time suck.
I spent around 2-2.5 hours every Sunday prepping all my meals for the week. I already did this to begin with, but having to make all dinners as well as lunches added a lot of time on to this already dreaded activity. I learned to love it, though–every week I would strip a rotisserie chicken and put it on top of cauliflower rice and top that with a TON of veggies. Dinner was often an extension of that, except when I made the spaghetti squash mentioned above.
I didn’t experience the burst of energy that many do, but I was sleeping a hell of a lot better.
There’s something about falling asleep without even trying, and waking up with minimal effort that makes you think, “hey, I could do this diet forever!” Except not, which is why I only did 20 days.
My friends understood.
My amazing friends consistently went out of their way to make sure I was following my program. They didn’t make fun of me, look down on me, or roll their eyes at me. When I didn’t drink alcohol with them, they didn’t scoff at me or poke fun at me. They were so supportive, and I’m truly thankful for that!
I just felt lighter.
When I was in workout classes, I felt light on my feet. When I was doing mountain climbers during a HIIT class (my fav in Chicago is Studio Three), it felt a lot like I was floating. All my bloating and feelings of being weighed down just kind of drifted away during the Whole30.
Overall, I’m glad I did it. I learned so much about my capabilities (aka saying “no”), I learned how to cook better, and I learned what happens when I don’t put bad food and alcohol in my body. Am I still following the Whole30 program? Heeeeeeck no! Life’s too short to never eat anything sweet ever. But have I cut down on unhealthy habits overall? You betcha.
Are you thinking of doing a Whole30? Have you already done one? I want to hear about your experience! Tell me in the comments below.