fridays / my whole30 experience

Happy (Good) Friday! It's been a busy week and I am really looking forward to another relaxing weekend, tackling my endless to-do list that I am loving lately. It turns out I actually enjoy painting trim (I say that now...) and stripping / refinishing furniture. Who knew! Those are two projects I'll be working on this weekend, along with cleaning and decorating our house for our 2nd annual Easter dinner with my side of the family. I can't wait for the Easter egg hunt! Last year, Colin lost interest reeeally quickly so my sister and I basically had our own egg hunt as 27 and 30 year olds :)

In other exciting news... I completed the Whole30!

I know this sounds silly, but I really wasn't sure I'd make it through the thirty days. My willpower is pretty weak and I have a tendency to "treat" myself a little too often, so I wasn't sure what to expect. Overall, I'm thrilled. I'm proud of myself for making it through til the end, I'm thrilled with the results both mentally and physically, and I'm grateful that I pushed myself to learn a new way of cooking. I'm really comfortable in the kitchen and I love coming up with new recipes that are in my wheelhouse (grains, dairy, etc.) so it was a huge challenge to go from a mostly vegetarian + grain diet to full on meat, veggies + no grains.

The first week or two I felt like I forgot how to cook. I was frustrated, felt out of my comfort zone (I was!), and I reallyyyy hate following recipes to a T (I don't like being told what to do ;) ), so learning a new way of cooking was difficult. Now, I know when to use coconut oil vs. ghee vs. extra virgin olive oil (lesson: coconut oil with scrambled eggs is a hot mess of disgustingness - don't try it). Immediately I felt more alert and clear-headed, which has lasted the entire thirty days. That's one of my favorite changes. Into week 3 I was itching to be done, and couldn't stop thinking about what I'd eat on day 31... crusty french bread, brie cheese, red wine, and sooo many sweets. I couldn't wait. By week 4, I was no longer counting the days and almost lost track of where I stood (thankfully I started on the 1st of the month - makes it really easy to keep track!). This was the best change. Instead of moping around after dinner craving sweets, I grabbed a handful of cuties or a spoonful (or two) of unsweetened almond butter and felt totally satisfied. Toward the last few days I became sad it was almost over... which is SHOCKING. I definitely couldn't believe my sugar-addicted self could feel that way!

On day 31 I had leftovers from day 30 for lunch, so I was still Whole30 compliant. By dinnertime, I was nervous to deviate from my "diet" but as I strolled through Target, the only thing calling my name was a bag of mini Peppermint Patties. They sounded perfect - chocolatey, minty fresh, plus the ingredients were pronounceable! (That's a good rule of thumb when reading labels - can you pronounce it? No? Don't eat it.) I binged on a dozen or so (mini guys!) and felt normal afterwards and into the following morning, much to my relief. Apparently refined sugar and chocolate don't affect me negatively (in small doses).

On day 32 I felt compelled to go off the deep end with my lunch decisions. I'm disappointed that I didn't stick to a better system, but there's no one to blame but me! It was a lunch outing, and I tried the following food groups that are no-no's on the Whole30: alcohol, refined sugar, grains, and dairy. All at the same. Damn. Time. UGH. I'm so frustrated with myself but they're all in my system now, and there's no going back. Immediately afterwards I was overcome with panic, guilt, a sour stomach followed by a stomach that made me look like I was three months pregnant. Just fabulous. I'm sure it was half mental / half physical, but I felt like a walking garbage pail that afternoon.

I suppose the whole purpose of doing the Whole30 is to reintroduce food groups once you're finished to really determine what bothers your stomach. I, however, was petrified to fully go off the "diet" because I didn't want to rock the boat and disrupt all of the good things that have happened over the past 30 days! Living like that isn't realistic; I know, but when you finally feel energetic, slim, and clear-minded after a long stretch of years feeling foggy and bloated, you might be able to understand why I didn't want to start reintroducing everything else.

I was also afraid that once I reintroduced dairy, grains, refined sugar and alcohol, I'd fall "off the wagon" entirely and just go back to my old routine. I still am SO AFRAID of that happening. I know myself too well to think I'll stick to this healthy way of living all the time, so I'm giving myself an 80/20 rule to abide by. If I can eat healthily throughout the week and limit myself to small amounts of dairy (greek yogurt sparingly and my beloved goat cheese here and there), wine and sweets 20% of the time, I'll be happy. My body and mind will thank me and my sweet tooth will be satisfied once in a while - not all the time, like it used to be.

The best part about this experience was finding out that I could actually do it. Yes, I also lost weight. I didn't weigh myself before I started so I don't know how much I lost, and that's truly not the point. What matters is that I felt (and still feel) stronger, leaner, and fit WAY better in clothes that were in my "donate" pile because they were a tad too tight. One of the reasons I chose to do this was to get myself back to a place where I felt strong enough to take on my health issues, and now I feel totally capable keeping the positive momentum going. I had hoped this experience would improve my eczema and lessen my allergies like it does for a lot of people, but for me, it didn't make a difference. My seasonal allergies are nothing to be messed with, apparently!

Here is the bottom line: if you have health issues that are diet-related, are overweight, or you make poor food choices, there is NO possible risk in trying the Whole30 and I am positive you'll see results immediately within a few days of trying it. Seriously - there is nothing to lose. It's challenging at first; I won't lie, but you'll gain self-confidence, lose weight, and start to learn invaluable lessons about how to treat your body. Anddd I'm stepping off my soapbox now. I promised I wouldn't become one of those cult-like people that pushes an agenda on you, so I'm done harping :) I'm just SO GLAD I tried it. This won't be my last Whole30!

If you have any specific questions about my Whole30 experience, comment below!

Until next week... have a happy, hoppy Easter weekend! ;)

PS... if you need last minute Easter placecards, download these painted Easter eggs and print them out for your family!