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!