A friend texted last night that she’d started her first Whole30. She was drinking mineral water with lime and salt and pretending it was a margarita. I could so relate.
Even though I’m only 16 days into my first Whole30 experience, I realized I have learned some valuable things so I wrote them down to share with her. I know my situation isn’t like everyone’s, but these are my small gems of wisdom I thought I’d pass along.
Here are 9 things I have noticed and learned these past 16 days.
1. The Whole30 book by Melissa Hartwig and Dallas Hartwig is indispensable for me. I have referenced it quite a bit. When I don’t have it, I have used the plethora of Whole30 authentic and endorsed information on the internet. I also read It Starts With Food and it was good, but just as they say, a bit heavy on the science of why this program is important. While good, I USE the Whole30 book more. It sits on my kitchen counter permanently these days.
2. Also, with regards to the book, I have found their timeline to be pretty damn accurate. I had the carb hangover and day 2 was a total NOPE day. Not only could I not ‘adult’, I could barely ‘human’ that day. I had fatigue that was borderline debilitating (I ate like crap before I started and truly felt the effects of my splurges). Days 8 and 9 brought the bloat and tummy issues and everything the book outlines. As a matter of fact, I’ve been almost textbook other than the Day 4 and 5 Kill All the Things. That’s sort of been laced in and out several of my days. But I have felt good as often as I’ve felt bad and definitely better than I did before starting, so it’s been worth it. I’m currently on Day 16, in waiting mode for Tiger blood. I began the program with severe adrenal fatigue, but I’m hopeful some Tiger Blood will surge soon!
3. Label reading is tedious, but important. There are SO MANY things with sugar in it that you have to be super careful if you are trying to do an absolutely clean Whole30. For instance, some chicken broth has sugar. Yes. I’m not even joking. There are brands that don’t, but you have to read the labels. Also, lunch meat is practically impossible to find without carrageenan or sugar in it. I still haven’t been successful. Some of the coconut milks are not acceptable. Label reading can be quite tiring until you get your brands figured out.
4. Bacon. Nearly impossible to find without some form of sugar in it. We finally found some Pederson’s Natural Farms No Sugar Bacon at Whole Foods. True story: My husband balked about it’s $7.99 price per package, UNTIL he cooked it and we tasted it. O.M.G. It’s the best bacon we’ve ever put into our mouths and we plan to continue buying it after our Whole30 ends. Yes, it’s THAT good. You’re welcome.
5. Our grocery store (shout out to H.E.B.) will have their baby spinach or field greens on sale for 50% off quite often. Yes, it is probably on the brink of “Can I eat this safely?” or “Is this gonna make me gag if I find a soggy leaf?”, but honestly, we have found them to be just fine and you get your greens for half price. Given the amount that you eat in one week, this is one of my best money saving tips for this program and way of eating.
6. If you’re like me and enjoy a glass of wine at night, La Croix and Kombucha (GT’s Enlightened) will become your best friends. The fizziness of the La Croix makes your glass seem more ‘fun’ and although the kombucha is an acquired taste, I’ve grown to really look forward to my pro-biotic splurge. Costco carries both. The kombucha there are about $0.50 cheaper per bottle and the La Croix was on sale last weekend, so it was much cheaper too (although you don’t get quite the selection you do at the grocery store). Teas that are Whole30 compliant are also a great alternative to plain water everyone once in a while.
7. On Day 6, my husband and I went to a nursery to look for plants to buy for a backyard garden. Less than one week into the program, we had already decided we wanted to continue eating more this way than we were before. We also went to two farmer’s markets, specifically looking for cauliflower. We’d bought three heads at our neighborhood store for $3.50 apiece. We like to roast them and then make rice with them in our food processor. In a moment of pure shock, we found a head of cauliflower at Whole Foods that was almost TWICE the size of the heads we found before and it was only $0.50 more. Also, it was grown in central Texas, so we felt better about buying it anyway. Point being, don’t discount Whole Foods just because it typically is more expensive. We found what we were looking for there after a day of searching.
8. Speaking of food processor, we love ours. Or rather, my husband loves ours. I don’t really cook so I wouldn’t know.
9. Ultimately, for me it has become a challenge of will, but a challenge I CAN WIN. I don’t want to cheat or give in because I made a commitment to do this and I want to succeed. I can tell I’ve lost weight because my clothes fit better. I’m happier, can stand to look at myself in the mirror again, and oh…my libido is back. All good things. I’d like to think my skin looks healthier, I’m sleeping better, I’m mostly in a better mood, but I can’t say for sure.
I know that it’s making me examine my relationship with food/drink/emotions/stress in depth. I totally relate eating and drinking to ‘fun’ and I’ve had to really work hard to come up with things to do in the evening without dinner being the center of attention, wine as an accompaniment, or a splurgy dessert as closure. I’d like to say I’m a deeper, better, healthier person, but I do still have cravings and get pissed that my husband and I can’t go out on a date and have a few drinks or some indulgent food. It’s all about reframing your thinking.
I’ve done some super hard things in my life (natural childbirth, loss of my mother, divorce, bankruptcy, job lay off, remarriage, step-parenting, etc.) and this is NOT hard. Despite that, I still whine about the changes sometimes and get grumpy, but in the end, I am happier.
I have 14 days to go and I’m excited to see where this journey takes me.