I’ve got some big plans for this year, which include a big and scary fitness goal. So, I decided to jumpstart my year and my fitness with Whole30.
What is Whole30?
For those who don’t know, Whole30 is a program created by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig. It is basically an elimination diet. You eliminate dairy, added sugars, grains, legumes, and alcohol for 30 days. These are the foods, the authors claim, that cause cravings, inflammation, and blood-sugar spikes. So, the idea is that if you eliminate them, you will feel better and reset your body to crave healthier foods.
You also are not allowed to weigh or measure yourself during the Whole30 because you should be paying more attention to how you feel and not what you weigh. It is not touted as a weight loss diet.
Finally, you are not allowed to recreate your favorite foods with Whole30 approved foods. So, making a pizza without cheese and on cauliflower crust is a no-no. They call it “sex with your pants on” because like the former, it will never be as good as the real thing.
I love the idea of only eating whole foods and getting rid of the processed junk in my diet. There is so much information out there about the “right” way to eat and everyone says something else. But what seems to make the most sense to me is eating food as close to its natural state as possible. Everything else…I’m not sure.
Also, I thought that maybe some joint aches that I’ve had may be the result of inflammation due to some of the foods I regularly eat, so an elimination diet would help me pinpoint which foods were affecting me.
So, I jumped in. I looked up a ton of Whole30 recipes, bought my fresh veggies and fruit from the market, and went for it.
The First Week
I knew the first week would be hell. I was eating more sugar than I’d like to admit (hey, it WAS the holidays after all) and I knew it would be tough to quit.
I was cranky and went to bed early for the first several days. By day five, I was lifting out of my sugar fog and feeling more focused at work.
The Second Week
I didn’t expect the second week to be harder than the first. When I cut just sugar out of my diet for a month, after three days I felt much better and just kept feeling better.
But with Whole30 I was hungry most of the time and anxious. It wasn’t a comfortable feeling. What made me feel better was a chart a friend showed me that said the second week is the hardest. So I pushed along
The Third Week
Week three was a bit better. I didn’t have as many food cravings and I was getting used to the diet. I didn’t feel the “tiger blood” that people talk about (a surge of energy), but I was feeling okay. I also started to feel my clothes fitting just a bit better, which was motivating.
The Fourth Week
The last week was not good! I ate eggs with sweet potatoes for probably 15 meals and was getting negative about the diet. I wanted more variety and hated that I could never eat something on the go.
I did feel better after eliminating sugar (and probably flour) from my diet. I didn’t necessarily feel more energy but I did feel more clarity at work and was able to focus better.
I also lost 11 pounds and 7 inches in 30 days, which isn’t bad. In fact, I am proud of the weight loss and I do see my clothes starting to fit differently.
I had really high hopes for the diet. I wanted to feel better, lose weight, re-program my brain to crave healthier foods, etc. But that didn’t happen. I didn’t feel any improvement in my joint pain while on the diet. I was also hungry a lot. And since I relied a lot on potatoes and sweet potatoes, I didn’t feel like I trained myself to crave healthier foods.
I got downright bitter about the diet toward the end and just wanted it to end. I didn’t see any point to continuing and I got snippy and negative with my poor husband.
What I Could Have Done Better
MEAL PLANNING! I don’t know what mental block I have with meal planning, but it’s so there. I tried to plan out all of my meals and use the slow cooker in the beginning. But I quickly fell off the wagon on that one and meal planning is so essential to this diet.
I also didn’t feel a lot of support from my family. They kept eating their normal foods, which includes a lot of snacking and eating out. I wish I would have created a plan with them before starting so that I would have at least felt more support from them during my journey.
What I Learned
You win some and you lose some. Not all diets are meant for everyone. I had some successes on the Whole30 diet, but I won’t be doing it again. It wasn’t for me.
I think it being SO restrictive with the foods I could eat was hard for me, especially because I didn’t feel as great as others have said they have felt.
It helped me learn some of my triggers that make me want to dig into all the sweet things! I used potatoes and sweet potatoes as a crutch instead of enjoying all the delicious, healthy foods I was allowed to eat.
So, I will pick myself up and move on to the next thing on my plan. I’ll be happy with my 11 pound weight loss and lessons learned and use MyFitnessPal to track calories in February.
I plan to stay off of sugar and flour as well and see what next month’s results are like. What about you? Have you had a different experience with Whole30? I’d love to hear it in the comments below!
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