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Whole30 Results and Final Thoughts

Thursday, February 16, 2023

I did it! I finished my very first round of Whole30. It really should be called Whole40, because after the first 30 days, you reintroduce foods back into your diet over the next few days to finish out the experiment. 

If you aren't familiar - Whole30 is an elimination diet. You forgo the most common allergen and inflammation causing foods from your diet for 30 days, and then add them back in slowly to see how you feel and if you should or shouldn't keep them in your diet. I decided to do a round of Whole 30 for a few reasons. Mainly, I got some blood work that showed some unspecific inflammation and I thought it couldn't hurt to try an anti-inflammatory diet and get some more veggies in. 

I have SO many thoughts about this experience. I think this is going to be a long post, but I'm going to do my best to keep this organized and as succinct as possible. 

Honest Whole30 Final Thoughts and Results

Do I recommend trying Whole 30?

YES. I think it's something everyone should try. Here's the thing, I don't think anyone should do this long term, but for 30 days? Yeah, you can do it. I think it was 100% worth trying. 

Is it hard? 

YES. So hard. Especially at first. The first week, week and a half, I felt like all I did was think about what I was going to eat. Meal planning, grocery shopping, all of it was so much more work than normal. Typically, we all have favorite go-to recipes that we can make with our eyes closed. Some of us eat the exact same breakfast every single day - but on Whole30 now you have to think about brand new breakfast, lunch, and dinner ideas every single day. I felt like I couldn't get my grocery shopping right. We'd run out of these new foods much faster than I thought- and I felt like I was running to the store every day. 

Then there is socializing. I highly recommend doing this in a month were you don't have a ton of events. Fortunately, January was perfect for this for me. We only had 2 events were I wasn't controlling the food. Trying to navigate a restaurant is also very hard. Be prepared to be 'that person' who has to have the waiter make a bunch of adjustments to your meal. 

Six other people I personally know also tried Whole 30 in January when I was doing it, and literally every single person quit early or 'cheated' along the way. I say this so that you know this isn't easy and I don't think most people will be able to follow the program to a T. 

What did you like about it?

I LOVED eating more whole foods and fueling my body. That's been a goal of mine, but I never imagined I'd be able to do it. 

I also absolutely loved I didn't have to track a single thing. No calories, no macros, no points. Just eat until you are full and energized. 

You aren't supposed to weigh yourself. I love that. It's not all about weight loss, and I think not weighing in helps you focus on your body and what's happening to it - rather than a number. 

I never felt bad after a meal. Even when I had a huge portion! 

I loved trying out some new recipes. I feel like I can never buy Mayo again, now that I know how easy it is to make. 

I love that I haven't been afraid of things like nuts and oils. Those things have always been no-nos on diets I've done in the past. Fats are important and they keep you full! I've been eating a ton of that stuff with no ill effects. Plus, fat makes food taste good!

Did your opinion change throughout the month?

Yes. Absolutely. I found it really difficult in the beginning and was very aware of what day I was on. But it's crazy, at about the 20 day mark everything changed for me. This was when everything just clicked and it almost felt like I wasn't doing a diet. It was just how I wanted to eat. 

Also, at first, breakfast was a struggle. I have always been an oatmeal kind of girl, so making a huge breakfast was so unexciting to me. It changed our morning routine and I just wasn't into it. However, this totally changed. I now LOVE breakfast and look forward to it. 

What tips do you have?

A million. 

First, dial into the Facebook group. I love that Whole30 is free to try. The FB group and YouTube Lives were amazing. The official W30 group does a round in January and then another later in the year. I think it's great if you can join with the official group. Everyone is on the same day, and I found that really helpful. If you can't - there is a W30 journal you can buy called Whole 30 Day by Day and it's awesome. It tells you what you can expect each day as your body goes through the process. 

Don't reinvent the wheel. Meals don't have to be overly complicated, and you don't need to buy the entire grocery store. I thrive on routine, so for me eating a similar breakfast everyday was very helpful. (Eggs, compliant sausage or bacon, fresh berries, and air fried potatoes!)

Eat a bunch of potatoes! They are cheap, filling, and yummy!

The Defined Dish cookbook was critical to my success. I already loved her recipes and she spells out exactly what you need to do to adapt the recipes in her cookbook that aren't already W30. Plus, she even tells you were in the grocery store to look for things like arrowroot starch. 

Don't expect miracles right away. Many people claim several side effects for the first few days, which I didn't really experience. Granted, I had covid when I started, so I think I already felt pretty bad. But, even after those first few days, I really didn't experience all the hype until almost the end. In fact most people quit on day 10 or 11, which was well before I felt any real changes. 

When you tell people what you are doing, you need to phrase it right. Don't say, "Oh, I can't have alcohol, dairy, gluten, soy, honey, sugar...." and go on and on about all the negatives. You need to present it with what you can have. For example, when out to eat with family, I ordered a steak topped with shrimp, sweet potato, side salad, and green beans. No one would look down on that kind of meal. It's all how you phrase it.  

What were your favorite meals/snacks/products?

I have so, so many recommendations. 

Here are my favorite prepackaged items:

Here are my favorite recipes:
Anything and everything from The Defined Dish cookbook

I also bought an immersion blender for some of those homemade condiment recipes and I don't know how I ever lived without it! 

What were your Non-Scale Victories? 

Whole30 really emphasizes NSVs. Because, it's not really meant to be a weight loss diet. So here's what I experienced:
- ZERO bloating. I'm almost always bloated, and have trouble squeezing into jeans most days. Almost immediately I was waking up with a flat stomach. The kind of flat stomach that my husband noticed and commented on repeatedly. 

- Better sleep. I feel like I have been sleeping deeper, better, and longer while on W30.

- Cravings are gone. Normally, I crave burgers or something sweet after dinner, but not with W30. I felt like all my nutritional needs were met. Honestly, I didn't even want to cheat. I just wasn't craving those foods anymore.

- Everything tastes SO sweet. The other night I was RAVING about a sweet potato being so stinking delicious, and it was completely plain. 

- Whole30 has caused me to reevaluate my relationship with alcohol. I'm still processing through this. Drinking had just become a habit, and I feel that W30 has made me more in control of this. 

- That bloodwork I was worried about? I had a doctor's appointment while doing W30, and my doctor was so supportive. While he wasn't all that worried about my original numbers, we agreed to retest to see if changing up my diet did anything to my labs. Last year I also had a slightly elevated cholesterol we wanted to check too. Well, I got my results! My LDL cholesterol is down 25 points, and on that inflammation test: I went from a 12 to a 4! In 30 days! These are totally tangible results that show how great I am feeling isn't in my head. 

-My clothes fit! I have such a great closet, and I felt like I had limited options because most of them had become snug. I have a bin with a few pieces that I was just not ready to get rid of, but that were too tight. I pulled it down and several things fit or almost fit - and the things that didn't I felt good about getting rid of them for good. 

- I'm wearing my wedding ring again! My ring had become too tight. Like, I could fit it on my finger but it was really wedged on there. Now it fits perfectly again. 

- Can pride be a non scale victory? If so, then I am so proud of myself! I feel a lot of satisfaction that I set my mind to something and did it. 

Ok, but what about Scale Victories?

I know, I'd be curious too! After all, if you are totally changing up your diet you should lose some weight. I have to admit, I didn't stay off the scale entirely through the process like you are supposed to. But, I do agree you shouldn't weigh in. It can be discouraging. Afterall, it's so much work and you might get disappointed before you really get into the groove. 

The first week, I definitely went down a pound or two. But, that's pretty normal for me - I fluctuate within a few pounds weekly. But, between that first week and then week 3, the scale didn't really budge. But, I felt so good I didn't really care. It was in that last 10 days that the pounds just started ticking down. I knew it because my clothes were fitting so much better. I was able to start wearing a pair of jeans that had been too tight up until now. 

So, in total, in 30 days I am down 10 pounds! So encouraging, and I feel like I am well on my way to lose just a couple more to be at my most comfortable weight. (I should I say additionally I exercised moderately, maybe 3-4 days each week during this month.)

Here's were I have to admit something. I took before and after pictures in a bathing suit, that I thought I would be sharing in this post. To be honest, I felt so amazing on Day 30 that I just knew that my photo was going to be SO dramatic. But, it's not. In fact, unhealthily, I zoomed in all over that photo and can only tell a slight difference. I decided I shouldn't be focusing on that, so I'm not going to share the pictures. I FEEL a huge difference and that should be the biggest factor here. 

The photo above is me in that pair of jeans that definitely did not fit in December. 

Where are you going from here?

Great question. Haha! I'm still processing. Which is the whole point of the program. You get to know your body again. I've been very nervous to reintroduce the foods I had cut out. I think that I will continue experimenting actually. 30 days is a long time, but also strangely feels like not long enough! 

Here's what I know:

- I will never not read a label again. I had NO clue how much crap has been hidden in foods all this time. Almost everything has sugar in it and it's just so wild. I fully intend to keep checking what's in the products I buy and do my best to keep those lists short. 

- I know I'm more in control with late night snacking. But if I'm hungry, I have no problem grabbing something to eat. However, now I know the difference in being hungry and wanting food to comfort me. 

- I know I wont be drinking alcohol the same way. Perhaps I will just drink on special occasions. Mocktails, maybe? Like I said, still processing here, but I know I'm forever changed. 

- Eating whole, nutritious foods is my priority. I think this is my biggest mind set shift. What's the point of eating something that your body doesn't recognize or get any benefit out of? That doesn't mean I won't ever eat a processed food again, but I do know it won't be part of my main diet. 

- I know I'm sad about the state of what's available to the majority of grocery shoppers and restaurant diners. It's now a huge priority to make my own food, or order wisely if I am out. 

- At this point I've reintroduced a teeny bit of artificial sweetener, dairy, and corn with no issues. I'll be making my way through the other food groups I had eliminated, but hopefully I don't have any intolerances at all. Hopefully, I've just learned how to be more balanced with all of the food groups. 

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Hi friends! I'm Kristen, and this is the Life and Style of an early 30's Floridian living the Best Life Ever, with her husband and three pugs. Runner | Avid Reader | Small Shop Owner

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