Prior to my Whole30, I’d been trying to live a predominantly Paleo lifestyle. I just believe in it; it makes sense to me. So, even with all the knowledge I’d already internalized about Paleo (while not sticking to it 100%), my Whole30 results are surprisingly different and more than I expected. Some of the things I’ve noticed include:
The granuloma annulare has not cleared up and I can’t tell any difference in it. It’s possible that my body is reacting to something other than what I’m eating or it’s possible that I might just need stay the course longer and let my body continue to heal. It went away when I was pregnant with with my youngest (your immune system lowers during pregnancy) and it took a couple of months for it to resolve then. It’s not too bothersome, so I’m not going to stress out about it; I’ll just keep avoiding pedicures. Sigh.
I saw more and different benefits than I expected. I’m not entirely sure why. I suspect that my body is probably more sensitive to sugar and other “things” in the food I’ve been eating than I had recognized. The next step is to try to reintroduce foods that I feel like I cannot live without and see how my body reacts to them; I should have eliminated foods for long enough that I’ll be able to recognize how my body feels after I eat any that are potentially inflammatory. There’s not a ton I’m dying to have back, other than wine, chocolate, and maybe some cheese. But because I now fully recognize that my stress foods are alcohol and sweet stuff, I’m going to really have to monitor those two.
And there you have it. I’m not going to just jump back into the way I was eating. I’ll probably still seem like I’m being a PITA when I don’t eat something that seems incredibly normal to someone else. But I don’t want to go back to feeling like I did (I just can’t), and I still have some things I want to accomplish. I want to see if I can get back into running now that I’m not hurting so much. I want to keep being able to roll around on the floor with Emma and Aurora. I want to be able to run away from the zombies during the Apocalypse without peeing myself because I’m obese and inflamed (did anyone read this far?).
Thanks to everyone who followed along and cheered me on. I really do appreciate it. Facebook* lends to a lot of negativity in the world, I think, but I feel like I was able to use it to my advantage with this project. So, to my friends near and far, I appreciate you all.
One last thing, if you are looking to do a Whole30 of your own, I’d be happy to cheer you on!
*I initially documented my journey on my personal Facebook page.
After my Whole30, I didn’t start reintroducing food according to their suggested reintroduction plan. Instead, I decided to keep Whole30 for as long as I could because I was feeling really good and I was hoping to keep losing weight. I was, for the most part, successful until this past weekend. We threw a party for my daughter’s first birthday, and even though I planned paleo treats and mostly Whole30 meals, I allowed myself to try other foods.
Today I’ve been having joint pain in my knees, my tummy hurt for several hours, and judging by the rings on my hand, I’ve got some bloating going on.
The cast of non-Whole30 compliant potential irritants:
- Paleo chocolate cake—It was delicious and I was fine the first day I tried a tiny piece, but I had some today, and I think I had a bit too much. My tummy was upset for several hours. Still, make that cake. And have a tiny piece. When you re-introduce properly.
- Wine—I don’t think this caused it because I’ve had a glass or two of wine since I stopped Whole30. But anything is possible.
- Potato chips—Organic, fried in sunflower oil, with sea salt. Not the best choice, also not the worst.
- Hot dogs—I’m pretty sure most of the ones I ate were the Apple Gate Farms Grassfed Beef dogs with none of the bad additives. But, a lesser hotdog might have snuck in when I had leftovers yesterday. Sigh.
- Cheese—I ordered a salad at a restaurant on Sunday and asked for no cheese. They didn’t get it right and instead of sending it back, I picked off most of it off because I was starving.
I really can’t tell you what I’m reacting to because I didn’t reintroduce foods one at a time. And if you are going to put the effort in to do the Whole30, then reintroduce properly! At the very least, if you have a special event coming up, plan for it. Give yourself enough time after your Whole30 to reintroduce, one at a time, some of the foods or drinks you know you might have at your special event.
I plan on getting back on track with Whole30 eating this week, and I’ll get a couple of strict weeks under my belt. Then when I know I’ll be able to gauge any reaction, I’ll start reintroducing foods the right way. I’ll probably start with wine. Then I guess I should try chocolate.
I imagine there are some people who can decide, “Today, I’m just going to do x”, and they go out there and do it. But the other 99% of us need to psych ourselves up for something; we need to spend time removing barriers to our goals.
Here is the prep work I found helpful to do in the week or so leading up to my Whole30.
- Prepare Mentally—Making a change as fundamental as the Whole30 can be shocking on your entire system. In addition to reading through the forums at whole30.com to see what people are experiencing, check out the Whole30 timeline to see what you can expect to feel at points throughout your Whole30. You might also give the people you live with a heads up that the first 11-ish days are going to be a roller coaster (and they are). If you know there are things that are going to be really hard for you to give up, consider prefacing your Whole30 by giving those up a week or two in advance. That can help you feel less stressed in the beginning as you fight the thoughts of, “I can’t eat ANYTHING” (which, you can, you can eat a LOT of things).
- Conduct a Social Media Blitz—This is probably a continuation of preparing mentally. We live in a very social media-centric time, so why not use that to your advantage? Surround yourself with motivation by filling your feeds with images and posts specifically related to your goal. For a Whole30, consider:
I also follow to a TON of general Paleo bloggers on those sites, so I saw a lot of pretty plates of food to keep me on track. Annnnnd, I already had a several Paleo cookbooks, so I scoured those for Whole30-approved or easily convertible recipes.
- Alert the Loved Ones—This is a tough one. Chances are that there are plenty of people you interact with on a daily basis who aren’t going to understand, really, what you are doing and why. But I found it was important to my success that the people I live with actively support me even if they didn’t participate. I’ve tried to make changes in the past, and was always a little timid in explaining why I needed to enact the change. Because of that, I didn’t give people the information they needed to support me. Off-handed remarks by loved ones to others about “that thing” I was doing or impatience with me saying “No, we can’t eat there; I won’t be able to” was always enough to slam the breaks on any initiative. I don’t like inconveniencing others. This time though, I sat down with my husband (the kids are too young) and explained that I wasn’t happy with how I felt, giving concrete examples, and described how this change would help me. I also addressed specific needs like asking that no one make fun of what I might be eating. I suspect that it was a combination of directness on my part and the already-existing a slow movement toward Paleo that was the foundation for my family’s support. If you are contemplating your conversation being a difficult one, consider writing down and practicing your points.
- Describe the change you want to make. Offer to provide more information if they want to understand it better.
- Let them know how you hope your life will be impacted by this change. Give concrete examples.
- Let them know how they might be affected by the change you are making. In most cases they will be affected in some way, acknowledging that is good. But you can find ways to minimize how they are affected if they aren’t comfortable making the change too.
- Let them know what concerns you have about things that might derail you and tell them the specific needs you have for how they can support you.
- Ask them what questions and concerns they have and answer as honestly as you can. “I don’t know” is always an okay answer, just strive to give a full answer as soon as you can.
- Prepare Your House—I didn’t trash all the non-Whole30 compliant food and drinks in the house, mainly because not everyone in my house was Whole30ing with me. But I did significantly pare down those items. For my kids, I offered them less choice in their non-Whole30 snacks (one option for each of them in the pantry) and upped the variety of Whole30 snacks (a rainbow of fruits and veggies to choose from at snack time). That helped me to not be tempted by things (I really don’t have a desire to eat Goldfish or baby puffs) and it helped them make better choices. I also made sure that the things that I’m most tempted by were not in the house. So, I ate all the chocolate and chips and drank all the wine before I began. Haha!
Before you embark on your Whole30, make a plan to remove barriers and psych yourself up! Let me know if you find other prep work that is useful!
When I started my Whole30 journey, I thought I’d just capture the best part and the biggest struggle of my experience each day. Then I realized that taking pictures of the food that I was eating could be a useful accountability tool. By day 3, I made the switch to trying to capture all that I was eating. I wasn’t always successful with recording every item in photos, and that’s okay. Documentation perfection was not my goal, instead I wanted to use the act of taking pictures as a prompt for mindfulness.
My pictures can serve the dual purpose of giving you an idea of how my Whole30 progressed. For example, I ate a lot more snacks in the beginning as I struggled with getting the right amount of fats with each meal, and I think that’s clearly evident in what you see.
Tip: Document your Whole30 in a way that works for you. It’s hard to remember what happened each day, but if you find yourself needing to troubleshoot your Whole30, having notes or visuals can be helpful! You don’t have to post it or make it public; this can be just for you.
Highlight: Eat the rainbow!
Lowlight: Realizing I have 29 more days before I can crack open this wonderful birthday present (wherein “meh” is really all I can do to keep from crying).
Highlight: Still eating the rainbow.
Lowlight: What the rest of the family had for dinner. Chick-Fil-A is my kryptonite!
Highlight: Purple cauliflower (or, as my daughter called it, princess flower).
Lowlight: None. It was a pretty great day!
Highlight: Savory sweet potatoes are the bomb.
Lowlight: Poor planning led to ugly plates. And too few veggies. And really I had two apples. And 4 sausage patties. And I could go for a Blizzard.
Highlight: Veggies are back and I really did miss them! Not pictured: pecans for a snack.
Lowlight: I love leftovers, but I need some new leftovers. I still have one more day to go on these leftovers though. Sigh.
In all likelihood, sticking to the Whole30 rules means you’ll be eating at home A LOT. The only way to know what you are eating is to prepare your own food. Sorry y’all. While meal planning goes a long way and will keep you from getting bored, make sure you have some staples around so you never find yourself in a jam!
Here are some strategies that set me up to make good food choices on a day-to-day basis.
- Batch cook protein—I have some nifty Pyrex dishes with lids. These made it really easy to bake batches of protein, cool them off, and then stick them directly in the fridge for meals throughout the week. Breakfast casseroles and chicken thighs were some of my favorite items to do this with.
- Prep a large salad—Having the makings of a salad readily available saved me on more Whole30 days than I can count. I have a very old 26-cup Tupperware bowl that I filled with good lettuce and chopped up, hardy veggies. I didn’t pre-chop and add tomatoes (too much moisture) or onions (too much odor) to the bowl; those I did on-demand. I found I had to re-fill this bowl about twice a week.
- Hard boil eggs—When you’re running short on time, grabbing an egg or two on your way out the door, or chopping them and throwing them on your salad can keep you fueled until you can get a better serving of fats and protein. Peel them and keep them in the fridge until you need them.
- Ready-to-go snacks—Even though a Whole30 goal is to keep snacking to a minimum, keeping compliant, healthy snacks within easy reach is a must. In addition to easily-portable things like apples and bananas, I always had various nuts, single-serve black olives, and my favorite Epic Uncured Bacon Bites nearby. Higher fat and protein levels helped to keep me satiated until I could get a decent meal.