This was my first experience with Whole30 and I have to say that overall it was a great experience! My husband and I did it together, which I am very thankful for. I am considering doing it once a season, just as a reset for my body. This post is an overview of our thoughts and take aways, and it is pretty lengthy! I didn’t include everything, so I am thinking about doing some additional posts on specific aspects, so if there is something you’d like to see please let me know in the comments or find me on social media!
BUT, before we get into this Whole 30 recap, let me share a little bit about why I believe Whole 30 “worked” for me this time around. (And give you a sneak peek an even more powerful resource that will be available soon! – UPDATE – IT’S AVAILABLE HERE!)
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Attitude is everything
I was going to end this post with this lil section, but God reminded me that the whole purpose of me even putting these words here is to share my story. Not my perfectly put together story of “how whole30 changed my life” but the imperfect, messy, grace-filled story of how my Heavenly Father is constantly weaving things together for my good.
When we are in the midst of a season (especially a hard season), it’s difficult to see the big picture. It’s easy to get lost in the why-me’s and the it’s-never-going-to-get-better’s. But when He gives us a glimpse of the big picture, we are left shaking our heads in wonder at how He made all that mess work together for glory.
I feel like my entire life so far has been a “hard season” when it comes to my body image. I’ve always been ashamed of some part or other, wanted something to be different, and dressed to cover up – and not for modesty’s sake. I’ve always battled body shaming thoughts, that I know can see are all cheap shots from the enemy. I’ve always “just wanted to lose weight” for weight loss’ sake.
The last half of my pregnancy was extremely hard on my body, and overall with Logan I gained 70+ pounds. Not great for someone already struggling. Those first few months with my sweet newborn were a mixture of amazement at what my body could do and disgust over what it was now.
When I first heard about Whole30 during that time, all I heard was “restrictive”, “hard”, and “one more thing.” But then I came across (thank you, Jesus!) another resource that changed my entire perspective. Honestly, it’s changed my life.
Revelation Wellness “is a non-profit ministry dedicated to educating and inspiring people to live healthy and whole lives in Christ so we can love others well.” I joined their workout from home “program” (called RevWell TV) and was immediately blown away. Not only are the workouts amazing, they are also completely focused on bringing people closer to God. Love God. Get Healthy. Be Whole. Love Others. That motto really shook things up for me, because I had never put worship and health in the same category before. I started listening to the Revelation Wellness podcast and was absolutely brought to my knees by Alisa Keeton‘s love for our Savior and passion for bringing people into a healthy and whole relationship with Him.
Why am I telling you all of this in a blog post about my Whole30 experience?
Because it was the key to why it worked for me in this season of my life. The last year has been one of intense trial and also intense growth, and know looking back at this journey to freedom where my body is concerned, I’m starting to see the pieces fall into place.
I really believe that Whole3o was successful for me because it wasn’t just about weight loss or eating certain foods for me. The program in and of itself is great and can lead to great results, but as with anything is going to loose it’s power without a clear purpose.
Going into my month of Whole30 I had the goal of getting close to God and using the cravings and the difficulties of cutting things out of my diet to lean on Him. My word for the Spring season was “healthy” and the first area I focused on was my heart, not my body. I put my focus on getting in my time with God over getting in my workout or whining about how hard Whole30 was (even though I did my fair share of whining – ha!).
My desire is to be healthy and whole, and that starts in my heart and soul and radiates outward into my diet, my exercise, my relationships, everything!
I think Whole30 was great because of the mindset I tried to take into it. BUT THERE IS A BETTER RESOURCE!
Alisa Keeton wrote a book called The Wellness Revelation (<— click the link to pre-order!!) and it will be coming out August 8th. It’s an 8 week journey that leads you toward being healthy and WHOLE through teachings, fitness, Bible study, video workouts, small group, and a suggested food list.
The Wellness Revelation will challenge you to get fit by seeking God first and foremost. God wants to free you from what weighs you down and keeps you from your marvelous purpose. In these pages, you will learn how to live well both physically and spiritually so that you are best equipped to love and serve others from a whole heart. The Wellness Revelation will change the way you love God, yourself and others.
I honestly cannot wait for you to get your hands on this resource. It’s going to be a heart changer.
Ok! Let’s get into the details of this Whole30! First of all, for anyone who doesn’t know what Whole30 is, let me explain. The book and website describe Whole30 as “a short-term nutrition reset, designed to help you put an end to unhealthy cravings and habits, restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, and balance your immune system.”
For 30 days, you completely cut sugar, grains, dairy, legumes and alcohol out of your diet. The idea is that the only way to find out what food groups may be causing you problems is to… “Strip them from your diet completely. Cut out all the psychologically unhealthy, hormone-unbalancing, gut-disrupting, inflammatory food groups for a full 30 days. Let your body heal and recover from whatever effects those foods may be causing. Push the “reset” button with your metabolism, systemic inflammation, and the downstream effects of the food choices you’ve been making. Learn once and for all how the foods you’ve been eating are actually affecting your day to day life, and your long term health.”
When I first heard about this program, I was skeptical of the whole idea as well as the amount of effort it would take! And it certainly is an undertaking. But it is so, so worth it in my opinion to reset your body, to find out what foods are causing your body issues, and to (potentially) shed some pounds.
There is an entire section in the book and online that talks about what people experience day to day as they get into the Whole30. Depending on how you were eating beforehand, your experience can be similar or different.
Our weekly highs and lows included:
Week 1 – cravings, specialty coffee withdrawal, upset stomach, so.much.cooking.
Week 2 – most cravings gone, still upset stomach, getting used to cooking
Week 3 – sleep quality drastically improved, most stomach issues resolved (for me, not so much J), starting to really enjoy cooking (surprising benefit for me!)
Week 4 – all good, mostly habit now, mixture of “what do I eat when this is over” and “I can’t wait to eat ____”
For me, this was a little nerve wracking! We did not add foods back in the way that the book lined out, so if you followed that specifically I’d love to hear how it went. We had both decided to eat completely differently going forward so there were some foods we chose not to reintroduce. For example, I still haven’t had dairy on a consistent basis. (Meaning, I’ve had ice cream on the weekends and I add whole milk to my eggs, but haven’t had cows milk, yogurt or cheese at all.) I don’t really eat grains during the week, and still haven’t added legumes back in either. Josh went through about two weeks of trying different things and we both learned a lot about listening to how our bodies react to different foods.
Tips & Tricks
- PREP, PREP, PREP. Every Sunday we grilled chicken for salads and protein packs for the week as well as prepped our veggies for the week. We also made an egg casserole for the week as well. Easy, fast, protein filled breakfast. The habit of prepping on the weekends has stuck with us and has made eating healthy a lot simpler!
- Freezer meals/simple meals. If you find a meal you like, make two and freeze one. Look online for compliant freezer meals and make a batch ahead of time. Make a list of simple meals to have on hand for those nights when you get home with no plan and just want to break into your neighbors house for some carbs. 😉
- Spices. I didn’t realize how lacking my spice cabinet was until we did Whole30. I also didn’t realize how many spice blends have sugar hiding in them! Read your labels and buy all the spices. They can make all the difference between “eh, chicken again” and “this chicken is delicious!”
- Use Pinterest but double check ingredients! Pinterest is of course a wheelhouse of recipe information and with Whole30 being as popular as it is, there are many recipes available. However, several that I found claimed to be compliant but included ingredients that were not. So, make sure you read your labels!
- Budget and be willing to spend more or go without a certain item (i.e. bacon) We ended up going without bacon for our 30 days because we just couldn’t afford the crazy prices of bacon cured without sugar. We also ate mostly grain fed, not grassfed, meat – which wasn’t an issue for us but could be a deal breaker for you. Know that you will spend a significant amount more than you typically would on groceries, and if your budget is tight take a month or so to do your research, price check and figure out what you can afford.
Favorite On the Go Snacks
- Compliant Larabars (I love Cashew Cookie and Chocolate Coconut Chew)
- Cashews and raisins (Read your labels on cashews as many are processed with noncompliant oils. We finally found some in the health section at our HyVee.)
- Apples and almond butter
- Hard boiled eggs
- Fresh fruits and raw veggies
Away From Home Tips
My husband works away from home a lot and it is not uncommon for him to have to stay overnight at a job site several days a week. We knew that it was going to be a lot more difficult for him to stick to our Whole30 diet when he was gone, especially since you can only pack so much into a cooler. We made sure to keep his work vehicle stocked with Larabars and RX BARs as well as cashews.
Some of his other tips:
- Do some investigating in the area you’re staying. Some restaurants offer compliant foods, and many offer Paleo options which are generally easier to adjust to fit Whole30 guidelines.
- Keep cashews and bars handy for times when you arrive really late, everywhere is closed and you’re STARVING.
- Naked Juice can be a great way to get your fruits and veggies in on the go.
- DO prep a casserole for the week so that you start your day off well, even if you are running late.
- Look for hotel chains that are health conscious, as they may have more snack, beverage and breakfast options. (Josh said Even Hotels in Omaha was awesome!)
Basically, doing Whole30 reinforced that eating well takes effort and is generally a lot more expensive. Convenience food is much cheaper and therefore much easier. It’s easy to see why we get sucked into the fast food trap!
Once you get into the habit of eating clean, it feels odd to go away from it for very long. The “work” of prepping it also becomes normal after about a month. One thing that surprised me about this little “experiment” was that it taught be a lot about how to cook. I have never been a great cook and the dishes I did know were mostly pasta or loaded with yummy but not-so-healthy things. I loved getting a sense for how to cook more healthfully and feel like I have some dishes in my back pocket now that don’t involve a can or boiling noodles.
That being said, we have decided to continue to eat mostly Paleo during the week from here on out. This does not mean we don’t love our pasta, bread, or ice cream. We are just really going to strive for 80/20 – the 20 mostly taking place on the weekends and special occasions (lovingly dubbed “faturday” :D). Josh eats grains still because it’s a lot easier for him to have a sandwich on the road, but I’ve cut them out almost completely. I’m a huge fan of cutting and pasting methods until you find something that works for you as an individual and as a family!
I am so grateful for this experience because we really have completely overhauled how we eat and how we look at food. It’s amazing to both of us that we now notice our body’s responses to different foods – and that we didn’t before!
As for weight loss, Josh lost around 10 pounds and I lost around 4. However, I’ve continued to lose about a pound a week since we completed our Whole30 and continued to eat by our 80/20ish rule. So that’s fun. 😀
Have you ever done Whole30? What was your experience? If you haven’t done it, what’s holding you back?
Remember, if you have more questions let me know and I’d love to do a follow up post on specific areas!
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