Move It Monday: Life after Whole30

When I started Whole30 I knew part of the reason I was doing it was to be able to give you an honest review once I finished.  I promised no bikini pics and that I’d be good and obey the rules.  I wanted to be able to guide you in this process should you choose to try it.

I like cookies.  And pizza.  And an occasional coke.  I also love to be healthy and energetic and fast and strong.  So, how does Whole30 fit into this crazy mixed up life of mine?  I’ll give you my opinions and let you come to a conclusion that works for you.

*please note..the opinions in this post are just that, my opinions.  I have not been paid to promote this eating plan and the conclusions I have made are based on my experience.  I am NOT a licensed dietitian, nor am I a genius, or a physician..but this you probably know.

The plan

The plan itself is fairly restrictive in my opinion.  There is a version of Whole30 that is for auto-immune disease and it is even more restrictive.  I did the original version since I didn’t go into it with any kind of health issues.  Well, a sugar addiction.  I guess that’s an issue.  Anyway, the plan is designed to rid your body of toxins or any foods that are triggers for various issues you could be having(some they list on their website are seasonal allergies, skin issues or digestive problems).  I personally didn’t have anything that stuck out to me, I just knew I’d eaten like crap since Thanksgiving and I needed a re-set.  A friend asked me to do it with her as she was doing the auto-immune version and I thought it would be a great “test.”  I do have asthma and severe seasonal allergies and I was curious if it would help.  I was also curious to see how it would make me feel as a runner and an athlete.

On Whole30, you can not consume legumes, dairy, grains, sugar,  processed foods, alcohol, or any baked goods even if they include “approved” ingredients.  This leaves you with real food which includes proteins(lean meats, fish and eggs), good fats, vegetables, fruits, nuts and dried unsweetened fruits(in moderation).  When I first looked at this I thought to myself, well this can’t be bad, it basically tells you to eat real food all the time.  That’s a good thing.  I think it goes without saying that anytime we cut out processed foods and sugar(at least for me) we feel better and eat more “real” food because that’s what’s available to us.  When the not so good for you stuff isn’t an option, you eat something better.  All good things.

How I felt while doing it

My goal here, as always, is to be as honest as I can with you.  The first week on Whole30 was pretty bad for me.  It didn’t help that we were coming off of the holiday season where I had been eating unusually bad food.  I’m not an eliminator of food groups.  I’m a moderation girl.  I want to have a nice healthy relationship with food where I put good things in, but am not afraid to splurge now and then without feeling guilt.  Life is just too short.  With that said, we had a kid with the flu over Christmas, traveling and craziness and I just began to allow more sugar and processed quick fixes into my diet.  So, starting Whole30 on Jan 1 was hard.

I had a severe headache(from the sugar withdrawal and lack of carbs) and I was weak and felt terrible.  My workouts were awful and I honestly knew exactly what was happening.  It wasn’t a surprise.  I was shocking my system and doing something I wasn’t used to.  I had lived on Cliff Bars and honey stingers pre-run/workout for at least the last 6 months.  Now, I was consuming proteins and no sugar.  Yikes.  My body was adjusting to burning a different type of fuel.  So, I felt like poop.  Then,  mid way through the second week I began to feel better.  I felt much more like myself but a better version than how I had felt during my “letting it all go down the crapper” holiday season.  So, I knew I had to stick this thing out to see how I would honestly and truly feel eating 100% clean.

I had to work through the hunger.  I have a fast metabolism, always have.  I was finding that throughout the day I needed snacks so I kept nuts with me almost always.  I had some dried unsweetened fruit from Trader Joe’s that saved me.  I also decided that Lara bars are Whole30 Kelly approved.  I have no idea if they are technically legal but I decided I didn’t really care.  A Larabar and a banana were like heaven to me.  Those things kept me going when I couldn’t sit down with a plate of grilled chicken and roasted veggies.  Once I figured out my system for fighting off huger, I was good to go.

I finally started getting some energy back and found I wasn’t dipping mid afternoon.  I had more patience and wasn’t as tired.  I had energy while running and felt much “lighter” and less bloated.  I lost 3 lb the first week.  I had to get creative with food which I enjoyed because I love to cook.  I found myself experimenting with different tastes and textures that I never would have put together otherwise.  I liked it.  I liked what I ate.  I still had some donut cravings here and there but it wasn’t overwhelming.  By the end of the second week I hardly even thought about it.  It became normal.  I became skilled at packing good food to take on the go that was approved and snacked when I needed to.  I had a protein drink for lunch a lot of days and that kept me satisfied and helped with my sweet tooth a bit.  Bye the end I was feeling awesome, having amazing runs(for the most part, you always have a bad run once in a while) and noticed my paces dropping and my waist shrinking.  I felt lighter on my feet and noticed I didn’t have that “heavy” feeling you have when you eat junk.  It had actually convinced me by week 3 to try to stick with it after my 30 days was over.  Then this week happened.  And I have to tell you, by the end of the 4th week, I was over it.  Over.  IT.

I felt(feel) great, yes.  But having something in place that says I CAN NOT eat stuff that I don’t find to be bad for me to begin with(whole grains for example, in moderation, like quinoa and stone ground oats) or half and half in my coffee.  I just wanted to be able to make my own decisions about food without guilt hanging over my head that I was cheating the system.  I don’t like to have a guilt laden relationship with food.  I enjoy good food.  I love to cook.  I love nice restaurants where I can eat an incredible meal.  So for me, it was time to get back to my own food choices instead of ones a program was making for me.  I knew I had completed the task and had the ability to make wise choices on my own when it comes to food.  Does that make sense?  Gosh I hope so.

Life after Whole30

So, what now?  Good question.  I’ve been trying to decide.  Here’s the deal.  I didn’t take before and after pics or take my measurements.  I wish I had.  I can tell you however that I have lost about 6 pounds and several inches based on my clothes and how they fit.  My favorite skinny jeans had some bulges 5 weeks ago and yesterday I put them on, they were lose.  I really didn’t do this with the intention of losing weight.  I’m kinda happy with how I look and where I am, but I wanted to see how I would FEEL more than anything.  If that translated to a trimmer waist line and more defined muscles, awesome.  And it did.  Pants are lose, tummy feels tight and I feel energetic and clean.  As weird as that sounds.  I don’t feel nasty because of the food I’m putting in my body.  On the flip side, I don’t want to become addicted to the control that comes with being so restrictive.  I think it’s so easy, especially as a woman, to hold such tight control over food that you can’t consume anything that isn’t “legal” without feeling guilty.  Again, my goal is to have a healthy relationship with food.  For ME, this means not being so restrictive.  It means allowing a donut or a burger or a great milk shake on occasion and in the mean time, making really great choices that include whole foods, less processed stuff, and less sugar.  Lots of water.  And lots of coffee.  With half and half.  This is what it looks like to me.  All bodies are different.  All personalities are different.  We all have different tendencies.  What works for me may not work for you.  What I may fear happening to me(losing too much weight, becoming a slave to my food choices or finding myself addicted to the control) may be total non issues for you.  Whole30 may be perfect for who YOU are.  That’s totally ok.

I learned a ton from this process.  I felt great while doing it.  I found a love of good whole food’s again that I had lost in the world of processed food.  However, it doesn’t mean I’ll never again put a Dorito in my mouth.   It means it won’t be my habit.  It means Whole30 was a great re-set for my system and a great experiment for me.  I survived.  I didn’t shrivel up,  I got stronger.  So, moving forward, I’ll take what I learned from this process, I’ll continue to eat more lean protein, fruits, veggies, less sugar and less processed foods.  No brainer.  But, I’ll eat a burger when I want one too.  Sound good?

Quick Answers to questions you may have…

1. Did my family do Whole30?
No.  I didn’t put my kids on the program.  I for one am careful with my kids about this kind of stuff.  I want them to know what good food is.  I want them to be healthy.  I also don’t want to restrict them in such a way(dairy and grains for example) that their bodies lack some nutrients that they need to grow.  They have fast little metabolisms and I didn’t feel this was appropriate for them.  I want them to have healthy relationships with food.  I don’t want to instill a fear of food in them at a young age, but a respect for healthy things and an allowance for some treats now and then too.  One day they will be on their own and won’t have me to make their food choices for them.  I want to teach them about the good stuff but also teach them how to have moderation with the not so good stuff.  Because every kid needs ice cream and sprinkles sometimes.  Now, cutting back on the processed stuff? Absolutely.  It’s a no brainer that this is good for them.  And they ate what I made for dinner’s.  If I made spaghetti I would have roasted veggies under my sauce and give them the pasta. For the most part, they eat what I make for dinner anyway so this didn’t really change, I just made a few adjustments for myself.  

2.  Did I cheat?
Um.  Yes.  Yes I did.  I made it two weeks before having one spec of food that was not approved.  I treated myself ha!  My hubbie’s birthday was half way through and I had already decided I’d have one slice of cake.  It was delish but honestly, so so sweet.  It didn’t derail my progress or put me back on the sugar train.  I survived ya’ll.  Cake is good.

3.  Did I eat out?
Yes.  Not much, but I did eat out some.  Chipotle, Mooya(bunless burger and no fries….but a few sweet potato fries…maybe), Pei Wei(lettuce wraps) and Panera are the only places I ate out.  No wait.  I lie.  My hubby and I went on a date to an SMU basketball game.  I may have eaten a normal burger and fries at Twisted Root.  But that was my only cheat meal the entire month.  I promise.  And it was SO worth it.  That bun.

Have you done Whole30?

What are your thoughts?

For the Whole30 official site, click here

If you have any questions PLEASE don’t hesitate to leave a comment or shoot me an email.  I know there is probably so much I left out so if you have something VALUABLE to add, please feel free.

Please remember, this is my experience based on my personality and how I view food.  It does not have to be yours.  I appreciate Whole30 and found so many great things in the process, it just doesn’t make sense for me long term.  It’s not maintainable for me FOREVER so I kept it to what it was meant to be, a 30 day process.  Thanks for reading and have a happy Monday ya’ll!!!

6 comments on “Move It Monday: Life after Whole30

  1. Thank you Dawn!! We redhead’s have to stick together=) I totally agree and I love that you are a registered dietitian. It’s so nice to hear I’m not alone in the moderation camp=) Could not agree with your response more. Thanks for reading!!!

  2. I appreciate the perspective you have on eating and food in general. I have always had issues with all the different “diet” plans out there and while I understand the intention behind most of them I believe the best way to eat is to enjoy all types of real food, in moderation, and listening to your own body. I am a registered dietitian, but I don’t really subscribe to a lot of tradition in that area either (i.e. I don’t ever recommend fat free products, etc). Eat good food, move your body, rest, pray. These are the things that will make a difference! (p.s. I’m also a running redhead, and have enjoyed reading your blog since I stumbled upon it a few months ago!)

  3. Alicia,
    Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. I’m so sorry you had that experience in your life. BUT it seems it has allowed you to gain such a healthy perspective on food and life. I tend to agree with you. I think although the intention of many eating “plans” is to help get people started on a healthy way of life, it can often derail or give reason to allow it to take over. Not a healthy way to live. I’ve seen it happen. Again, thanks for reading and for commenting. Have a great day!!!

  4. I had similar results but eating that way 100% of the time is just not practical for me. I tried sticking with a paleo diet and cutting out “bad” carbs completely and honestly what I have found is that when I cut them out completely if I do “go back” to eating tortilla chips or something then the weight comes back with a vengeance. Definitely keeping the carbs, sugar and processed food down is a great way to live but never allowing myself anything just didn’t work.

  5. I have IBS and a sugar addiction. I’m doing something similar only not nearly as restrictive. I’m feeling much better as gluten is apparently one of my triggers. I was curious how your friend did on the auto-immune part? Is she feeling better?

  6. I did Whole30 several years ago, and it was right in the middle of my horrible experience with ED. I let the rules control my life and it was not a good situation. I think you have such a healthy outlook on the entire experience. I am now a believer that no food should be off limits and my honest opinion (though VERY unpopular) is that Whole30 gives many (not all) people a socially accepted title for their eating disorder, and for that I feel great empathy for the ones that are suffering.

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