5 Tips for a Successful Whole30

As promised (almost a month ago! Yikes! Where has the time gone!?) here is my post about how to have a successful Whole30. I’ve been pretty open about how many times I’ve attempted and failed a Whole30 since my first successful one in 2014. I’ll be completely honest… It is tough! I have now done it successfully twice, and here’s what I’ve learned from both my successful and unsuccessful attempts! If you want to read about my most recent Whole30, you can read about here with Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, and Week 5 with my overall recap.

#1) Mentally Prepare

If I could only tell one thing to do to set yourself up for success, this would be it! Do your research. Get to know the program, and figure out exactly what it is you’re hoping to gain from it. I definitely recommend reading their book “It Starts With Food” by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig. They give you all the information you need to get started on the website, but for me it was really helpful to read the book and understand how different foods interact with your body and subsequently why you’re cutting them out.

I personally found it really helpful to write out all the reasons why I was doing the Whole30 in a notepad file on my phone. Then when I was really questioning why I was making myself crazy with all the restrictions, I realized that I had some pretty good reasons for doing it, and yes, figuring out what was causing my horrible headaches was indeed better than eating that cookie. It could also be really helpful to post your list of reasons in areas where you’re normally tempted-fridge, cupboards, in your car (obviously don’t read it when you’re driving)… wherever you normally feel your major cravings.

#2) Plan Ahead

Before you even get started, come up with a list or create a Pinterest board of at least 20 recipes that you’re really excited to try. (Here’s mine!) I recommend having at least 10 go-to recipes that are really easy to make for those nights when you’re just really not feeling it. I suggest 10 because if you’re like me, you will want options!

The first time I successfully completed a Whole30, my planning ahead was just creating a detailed meal plan for the week making sure to have a couple of no fuss recipes just in case something came up or I was in a mood where I just really didn’t want to cook. I had a lot more time back then, so this worked for me.

This last time I was successful, my boyfriend and I actually made all of our main dishes for the week on Sunday, and then just added whatever sides we wanted with vegetables during the week. It worked out really well because I never had to think about cooking at night or worry about what I was bringing for lunch. All I did was grab one of my containers out of the fridge and heat it up. Obviously this limited us a little bit in that anything that needed to be crispy or just didn’t reheat well was out of rotation.

#3) Find an Accountability Buddy, or Better Yet, Someone to Do It With You

The first time I was successful, I knew of several people who were doing it and convinced a few more to join. It was so helpful to know that others were in the same boat, and it was great to get encouragement when needed. I will admit that I’m also a little competitive, so there was that challenge in it for me too that I wasn’t going to be the one to fail.

As I mentioned several times, my boyfriend joined me on this last one, and that was so, so helpful. We made all of our meals together, so we were always eating the same things. The several times that I was unsuccessful, I was going it alone.

#4) Keep It Interesting

As I said earlier, it’s a good idea to have some easy go-to recipes; however, if you keep eating the same foods over and over, you’re going to get bored. Pinterest is a great resource for finding new recipes, but there are also plenty of awesome sites out there that have some unique and tasty foods if you want to go right to the source. Some of my favorites are nomnompaleo.com, againstallgrain.com, meljoulwan.com, and obviously whole30.com. I have found plenty of delicious recipes that I never would have thought to make just by browsing around on their sites.

#5) Keep Track of Your Progress

As a rule of the Whole30, you’re not supposed to weigh yourself until the 30 days are up. This is because so many people are obsessed with the scale, and also because your weight will fluctuate quite a bit during the 30 days as you are adjusting to the changes. I think it’s great to take a break from the scale because it is just one measure of your success and so many people rely way too heavily on it. Personally, I used to weigh myself multiple times a day while I was actively trying to lose weight. Some days would feel amazing, but other days, my weight would be up, and I’d get really down on myself. I often used it as an excuse to just let loose, get really emotional, and binge on junk food. I’d get way too focused on the number on the scale and forget about all the other good I was doing for myself.

There are so many other (and, in my opinion, better) ways to measure progress. It may be hard to notice the changes as you’re going through them, so for me, it was really helpful to keep a journal of how I was feeling day to day. I would write down how my clothes were fitting, what my energy levels were like, and how I was feeling physically.  That way on days where I was second guessing whether or not going through all the trouble of a Whole30 was really worth it, I could look back on my progress and see that my headaches were becoming fewer and far between, my clothes really were fitting more loosely overall, and my energy levels were through the roof and much more sustained. I definitely had my bad days where I felt like I regressed, but it was so helpful to be able to look back on where I came from and know that throwing in the towel would really be a big mistake.


 

Anyway, these are the things that I learned over the last couple years on my many, many attempts at the Whole30. I am by no means an expert, but I figured I’d share my experiences with you so that if you’re planning a Whole30 or are in the midst of one, you might be able to use some of what I’ve learned to help set yourself up for success as well.

Additionally, if you’ve done a Whole30 or attempted and didn’t quite make it all the way through, I’d love to hear your thoughts and tips in the comments below. Maybe we can learn from each other!

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New Year’s Goals

I always say that I hate New Year’s Resolutions, but yet every year I find myself setting goals for the new year. Sometimes I feel like I’m being hypocritical because what’s the difference really? But to me, I think New Year’s resolutions are the lofty goals people set for themselves without a real action plan to back it up. Oftentimes they come as a whole list of things someone wants to change about themselves, but they just aren’t realistic.

When I was younger (probably teen years), I used to make these long lists of everything that I wanted to achieve in the new year, and it often looked something like this:

  1. Lose weight
  2. Be more outgoing
  3. Do more nice things for people
  4. Save money

And while these are all good goals, they’re all very lofty, and they’re not SMART. (SMART goals, if you are unfamiliar, are goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely-or have a set time constraint.) When I would try and do all the things on my list, I’d follow the path that most people tend to follow, and I’d only make it a few weeks before I became burned out! I was always trying to do too much, and my heart just really wasn’t in it. Making a real change in habit takes a lot of work and a game plan. That’s where goals come in…

I started to realize that I just couldn’t do all the things I wanted to do all at once and be successful, so at the end of every year, I start to look back on the year that’s coming to a close and think about all the things I did that I was proud of, and what things I could really work on. I come up with a big list, and then I think about what I would have to do to make each one happen. Oftentimes, the work I’d have to do just doesn’t seem worth it for what I’d be gaining-at least not at this moment. In this way, I whittle away all the wishful goals and get down into the things I really want to and am able to make happen.

This year I had several ideas float around like getting back into running, getting back into photography, learning a new language, etc. but I decided to focus on eating better and moving more. Obviously those aren’t very SMART goals, so what does each one look like written as a SMART goal?

Eating Better-I am going to follow the Whole30 eating plan for 60 days followed by a slow reintroduction of the foods eliminated to determine how certain foods affect my body. After the 60 days are up, I am going to follow a mostly Paleo diet consisting of whole, unprocessed foods. I will allow myself to indulge in “worth it” foods on occasion as long as they are completely worth it and/or for a special occasion and don’t happen too often (probably more than once a week).

Moving More-I am going to make sure to get at least 10 minutes of activity every day. It doesn’t matter what the activity is as long as it gets me moving for at least 10 minutes a day. My activity focus is going to be on more of the things I already know I enjoy like dancing, Pilates, and yoga instead of trying to make myself do things I know I don’t like such as running and lifting. I am starting by completing the Blogilates beginners’ workout calendar and then moving on to her more challenging workouts.

So far I have been doing pretty well with my goals… sort of… I am on day 5 of my Whole60, and my energy is starting to go up. My cravings are starting to fade away too. Every once in a while I’ll get a huge craving for something very specific (like the Diet Pepsi I was dying to have on my ride home from work tonight!), but I just distract myself or drink some water, and it usually goes away within a couple minutes. I have been pretty sick since December 30, so I had some medicine that wasn’t technically compliant, and I had been sucking on cough drops for the past 3 days. I really tried to hold out as long as I could, but the remedies I’ve seen out there that are compliant didn’t really do much. I was feeling so crappy that I just decided it was worth it to me to have a few cough drops. Technically compliant? No, but I honestly don’t care when I’m that sick.

As far as the workouts are going? Well, that’s another story… Again because I was so sick, I had zero energy. I took a shower on Saturday morning, and I was so exhausted by the end of my 15 minute shower that I had to lay on the floor for a few minutes before I could towel off. Then when I finally managed to get enough energy to get my towel and get out of the bathroom, I had to lay down on my bed for about 20 minutes to fully recover. Needless to say, a workout wasn’t going to happen! I did manage to get one in today, and I’m already feeling it!

The biggest thing that is going to help me achieve my goals is planning ahead. I am most successful with sticking to my goals when I think them through ahead of time. I have been scheduling my workouts and sitting down every week to create a meal plan. For the meal plans, I make sure to incorporate dishes I can make more easily as well as backup dinners in case something comes up and I can’t stick to my plan.

So anyway, those are my goals for the new year, and I plan to make them happen. What are some of yours? How are you making sure you are successful?

Jumping Off the Wagon

As you may have gleaned from the title, I have been in a bit of a rut lately. Ever since my allowed “worth it meal” on day 31 of my first Whole30, I’ve been completely derailed. I had my worth it meal, but I told myself it was not going to mean I was done eating clean. The next day, I had every intention of starting back up, and then there were cookies… (or something… I’m not really sure what the exact trigger food was anymore.) And my brain said, what’s the harm in having one little treat? You’ve been so good for the last 30 days! You deserve a little something, and besides, it’s not like having the one treat is going to completely do you in.

I had the treat and swore I was going back to clean eating. I did… until another treat came along. Then at that point my reasoning was well… the new month starts in a couple days, might as well just start then. November has 30 days, so it’s pretty much a sign! The problem was on November 1 I was in Milwaukee with my boyfriend for a “special day,” and on “special days” we should allow ourselves to enjoy! And enjoy I did!

Oh well, I thought. I will start tomorrow. And then tomorrow happened, and I hadn’t gone to the grocery store, so I didn’t have any food to cook. Again, I thought it’s not a big deal; tomorrow is a good day to start. I did pretty well sticking to Whole30 for Nov 3-7, but then on Nov 8, I was with the boyfriend again, and I didn’t plan ahead. I didn’t eat anything until about 2, by which point I was hangry! We went to a steakhouse, and begrudgingly I remained compliant, the whole time judging my bf jealously while he enjoyed his fresh baked crusty bread, bowl of hearty chowder, slathered BBQ ribs, and French fries. All the things I was dying to have on the cold and blustery day!

A few hours later, I was hungry again, and I was at the point where I just didn’t care what I ate as long as some food entered my belly as quickly as possible. The bf had some chips, and we ordered a pizza. I decided to not let myself feel guilty over it because stuff happens. I had planned poorly, and this was the consequence. That just meant that I was back at it the next day. Except the next day I woke up around 8 when the bf came back from his short morning shift. He was tired, so I let him sleep for a couple hours. I was ridiculously hungry, and being that I wasn’t in my house, I didn’t really have any compliant foods available, so I went for the leftover pizza. Well of course the day was just ruined after that (*sarcasm*), so when the bf woke up, we went for pancakes. Then for dinner we had subs…

Then every day this week, I’ve told myself that I’m starting my Whole30, and today is the day! Absolutely no excuses, here we go! Every day I’ve packed healthy, Whole30 compliant meals for breakfast and lunch, and I felt great! Then I’d get done with work, and all my resolve was completely gone. There was always something that justified me buying a candy bar or chips or pizza…

I’m guessing my lack of motivation for the second go around has to do with the fact that my focus has changed since my first one. On my first Whole30, I was all about the health aspect. I read “It Starts With Food,” by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig, the creators of Whole30 and Whole9 Life, and it made so much sense! I had been eating junk for years, completely messing up my body to the point where I became significantly overweight, have bad acne, asthma, sinus problems, digestive issues, and aches throughout my whole body, and most of the problem is likely due to what I was eating.

During my first Whole30, most of my headaches, body aches, acne, stomach issues, etc. went away, and I felt amazing! I was focusing on my health by eating the right foods, and as a bonus, I lost 12 lbs and a couple inches. The weight loss was awesome, but it wasn’t, and shouldn’t have been, the focus. When I started, my intent was to correct the years of damage I’ve done to myself and to finally feel well. After I was done, however, I saw the weight loss results and I got greedy. I wanted more! I saw how much I had dropped in a short period of time and felt confident I could do it again.

Right around the end of my first Whole30, I came across Diet Bet, which, if you haven’t heard of it, is a site that is supposed to help encourage you to lose weight by putting down money into a pot that is split by anyone from the group that meets the goal. Riding the high and confidence boost I felt after completing my first Whole30, I decided that I could easily make a couple bucks off of something I was doing anyway, and I joined a couple of them-a 1 month and a 6 month bet.

Well, wouldn’t you know that as soon as my focus became all about losing weight instead of my health, it didn’t seem as important. Of course I’d like to lose weight, who wouldn’t? But personally, it’s just not that big of a motivator to me. For me, the weight loss is all about looks, and you may disagree, but I think I look pretty good the way I am. I could look better, I’m sure, but I’m happy enough with the way I look right now that it’s just not enough for me to want to give up all the good tasting junk that I’m used to eating. Even the money hasn’t been enough of a motivator to get myself back to eating right!

I’ve tried losing weight more times than I can count, but it has never really worked. I’ve had some success on a few plans, but I’ve always regained the weight, usually also carrying a few more lbs along for the ride. I’ve lost significant amounts of weight 3 times in my life, and every time it was when I focused on eating healthy foods and exercising because I knew it was good for my body.

So anyway, I guess to sum it all up, I’m shifting my focus back onto my health-moving more and eating good, whole foods because it’s what my body needs. To jump start myself back onto the right path, today is really and truly day 1 of my second Whole30, and I’m bound and determined to see it through all 30 days. I’m putting it out there in hopes that it will help me get through the first few days and not go back on it! I’m sure I’ll lose a few more lbs, but I really would like my health back.


UPDATE: I wrote this post on Friday and completely forgot to hit publish! But I am proud to say I made it through my weekend fully committed and am now on day 4 of my second Whole30! I feel so much renewed vigor with this one that I feel very confident I’ll make it the full 30 days. 🙂 I even resisted a heaping plate of fries smothered in cheese, bacon and ranch when we went out for dinner on Saturday night. It was sitting right in front of me the whole time, and it smelled absolutely sinfully good, but I didn’t cave! 🙂

 

Whole30-Days 19-22

I’m not sure what happened. I was going along just fine, better than fine actually. I was feeling great! My digestive issues were going away, my skin was clearing up, my little aches and pains were going away, and I could tell my inflammation was way down. Then on Friday, something changed. I had my breakfast, and within an hour I had severe stomach pains. They were so bad I was hunched over at my desk in tears.

After the pain went away and dulled to a minor discomfort, I did a little research into what could be the cause. At first I thought it might be a sensitivity to something I hadn’t cut out with Whole30. All I had was celery, carrots, and eggs. I found some information on the Autoimmune Protocol Diet, which is like a stricter version of Whole30 to really help figure out what things are trigger foods. I thought it might be the eggs, but I’ve been eating eggs this whole time without any problems. I wasn’t entirely convinced that was the culprit, so I kept digging.

I found some more information on sensitivity to raw vegetables which said that for someone with GI issues, sometimes eating raw veggies with high amounts of insoluble fiber is like rubbing a wire brush on an open wound. When I thought back on all the times I had these severe stomach pains, it was almost always after eating some form of raw veggies. I confirmed my suspicions the next night when I was out at dinner. I had a salad that had some raw veggies on it (I’ve never had a problem with lettuce, so I don’t think that is a trigger), and again, within an hour I had severe stomach pains.

So the new plan is that I’m going to keep up my Whole58 hoping that if I stay away from raw veggies, things will eventually sort themselves out, and I’ll get back to normal. Because of the extra irritation and inflammation from Friday, I feel like I’m back to where I was pre Whole30, so it’ll probably be a few days before everything gets back to great. If at the end of my Whole58, I am still having issues, I am going to switch over to the AIP diet to see if that regulates things. If that doesn’t do it… well, then I don’t know… Back to the doctor for more testing, I guess.

So aside from the stomach issues, this weekend was actually a pretty fun one. Friday night I just did my grocery shopping and watched a little TV. Saturday, the boy and I went apple picking, which I had never done before! It was fun, and I absolutely love apples fresh off the tree! They are fresher (duh!), juicier, and just all around tastier than the ones you get in the store. And as an added bonus, they were only $0.65/lb! I got a huge bag of them for only $4. 🙂

Apple picking

This is definitely my new favorite picture. 🙂

Sunday, I went to my uncle’s birthday party which I knew was going to be a challenge, but I went in prepared. I made a big lunch and asked my aunt what was all in a lot of the things she made. She made shredded turkey sandwiches that was just turkey brined in apple cider vinegar, seasoned with spices and cooked with some oranges in its belly. It was something I could eat, and it was delicious! I also made some applesauce with the apples I had picked the day before. It was really easy to make. I just cut up a bunch of apples and threw them in a crock pot with a little fresh apple cider from the orchard and some cinnamon. Once the apples were soft, I used my immersion blender to blend it into a chunky sauce. It tasted amazing, and I got a lot of compliments on it at the party. I also brought some flavored sparkling water along to drink. I got to eat a bunch of delicious food and have a good time while remaining compliant!

 

So what did I eat?

Friday, October 17-Day 19

Breakfast-3 eggs, celery, carrots, and 8 oz Gingerade kombucha

Eggs, Celery, Carrots

The culprit!

Lunch-Mustard Chicken and Roast Beets

Dinner-Spaghetti Squash with Meat Sauce

Saturday, October 18-Day 20

Breakfast-Banana, 3 eggs, and 8 oz Gingerade kombucha

Lunch-An apple from the orchard

Dinner-Cajun Smoked Salmon and Carribbean salad

Sunday, October 19-Day 21

Breakfast-An apple and 8 oz Original kombucha

Lunch-Ham, Apple, & Sweet Potato Scramble from Paleo Newbie

Second Lunch-Apple Cider Turkey, some olives, pickles, and applesauce (PS I was actually hungry when I was eating. I wasn’t just eating because there was food out which is a no-no)

Dinner-Paleo Pumpkin Soup from fastPaleo

Paleo Pumpkin Soup

This is like heaven on a spoon! (Ignore my attempt to be fancy with the coconut milk on top 😉 )

Monday, October 20-Day 22

Breakfast-Ham, Apple, & Sweet Potato Scramble, an apple, and 8 oz Original kombucha

Lunch-Pumpkin Soup, baked chicken, and green beans

Dinner-Baked Potato and Pumpkin Soup

Tuesday, October 21-Day 23

Breakfast-Ham, Apple, & Sweet Potato Scramble, a banana, an apple, and 8 oz Gingerberry kombucha

Lunch-Pumpkin Soup and 2 eggs

DinnerLazy Pot Roast with potatoes and carrots