Haley finished her Whole 30 yesterday! Below, she shares her experience.
As some of you may have seen on my Facebook the last few weeks, I’ve been doing the Whole30 program for the month of January. Last summer, my mom gave me the book, It Starts With Food. As with most of my health related books, I laid it on my nightstand and told myself that I’d get to it eventually. Fast forward to December, I was browsing some health related Instagram pages when I came across something about Whole30. I vaguely remembered my mom mentioning it to me when talking about another way to lose weight. I went to the Whole30 website and started reading. Quickly I discovered that It Starts With Food was the book about the Whole30 program. I hadn’t put two and two together until then. The more I read, the most interested I became in the program. I contemplated doing this plan for a couple weeks, quietly weighing the decision of whether I could do it and if I was willing to see it through. In complete honestly, I was scared of starting something that I wouldn’t finish. I was scared to tell anyone because I didn’t want to be held accountable in case I failed. During the week between Christmas and New Year, I hung out with a friend and told her about Whole30. It may not seem like a huge deal but it was the first time I told someone that I was thinking about it and just hearing her excitement and support was enough to make me commit. A few days later, after little more research and a lot more prayer, I decided to start on New Year’s Day. I wasn’t eating very well (It was the holidays!) and generally just feeling pretty bad internally. I was lethargic, irritable, not sleeping well, and feeling physically bloated and uncomfortable most of the time. So I started.
I was nervous. The creators of Whole30, Dallas and Melissa Hartwig practice tough love… in a good way. These two quotes had a profound impact on how I viewed my Whole30.
“It is not hard. Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Birthing a baby is hard. Losing a parent is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not Hard. You have done harder things than this and you have no excuse not to complete the program as written.”
“Don’t even consider the possibility of a “slip.” Unless you physically tripped and your face landed in a box of doughnuts, there is no “slip.” You make a choice to eat something unhealthy. It’s always a choice, so do not phrase it as if you had an accident.”
The first few days were hard. I wont sugar coat it. After the initial first day excitement, the detox began. I suffered major carb flu on day 2. I worked half a day then went home and climbed into bed. I slept on and off all afternoon and into the next morning. The next few days were spent going through the common symptoms on the Whole30 timeline (although I skipped over “Kill all the things”). The first week is the worst, but it does get easier.
As much as I tried to prepare, I still felt like I had no idea what I was doing. We think we know how many products have added sugar but until you actually start looking at labels, you have no idea. There was a bit of a learning curve, but I found some recipes and started meal prepping. It takes a week or so but you will find your groove. I know I did. It took a couple trips to Publix and googling everything in each isle but soon it was second nature to know what was compliant and what was not.
My first real accomplishment came on Day 10. If you have read the timeline, you know that Days 10-11 are the days when most people who quit the program, quit. I was determined not to be one of them. I have been training for Team Freedom since last fall. I was behind in my training going into January and knew I had to pick it up. Day 10 was a Saturday for me and I was planning to do a training run after work. I got to Flatwoods and planned to run 6 miles. I ended up running 8. And it wasn’t hard. Of course I got fatigued but for the first time in my life, running wasn’t hard. I actually understood why people love running.
Fast forward a week and I was in Atlanta for the 2015 Passion Conference. I went into my Whole30 knowing this was going to be right in the middle of program. I told myself, I would just do the best I could for the weekend and not worry. As I continued to immerse myself into Whole30, I decided to not go off plan AT ALL during my trip. Let me tell you how hard it is to be out of town, out of your element and in the birthplace of Chick-fil-a and not go off plan. But I didn’t. And I’m still shocked at (and proud of) myself for that.
And now I’m done. Just like that. January 2015 is over and I still can’t believe that I completed it. I was skeptical about it and doubted that I would experience the “magic” that Whole30’ers claimed to feel. I was wrong, so so wrong. Being on the other side, I can 100% attest that Whole30 works and I feel the tiger blood. Whole30 resets our bodies to function at its optimal level and heals them of all the damage we do by eating unhealthy food. The program is not easy. It takes commitment and preparation but it is so worth it.
For me, some of the benefits that Whole30 has brought:
• clear skin
• restful and sound sleep
• ease of waking up
• mental alertness and clarity
• no mid-afternoon slumps
• continuous and boundless energy
• healthy digestion and no gastrointestinal bloating
• a general feeling of wellness internally
• 13 pounds of weight loss
I firmly believe that anyone and everyone can do a Whole30. If you are considering it, these are my tips. I’m by no means an expert but this is what worked for me.
1. Tell someone you are doing this. Try to recruit someone if you can. If you don’t have community, it will be much harder, but not impossible. I did my first 3 weeks by myself. However, you are more likely to quit because you’ll tell yourself that no one will know you quit. If you are seeking a community, join “TMCcarmenWhole30” on Facebook. We have a community right there to provide encouragement, support and recipes!
2. Read the book. Read the website. Print out the printables. Educate yourself.
3. Sign up for the Whole30 Daily. They are emails that will give you even more knowledge as well as prepare you for what is to come that day. It’s a $15 one time fee. Save the emails to a folder and pull them out for each subsequent Whole30 you do.
4. Find recipes. They don’t have to be complicated. I did the first 3 weeks on hard boiled eggs, grilled chicken, salads and sweet potatoes. I’m being a little dramatic but I didn’t cook as much as I could have. Whole30 doesn’t have to be boring. Use your resources and experiment!
5. Read the timeline. Don’t be a slave to it because you might not experience everything on it, but know that what you are feeling is normal. Trust the process. Whole30 is not all about weight loss but I promise you will lose weight. You can’t not.
6. Use Google!! I can’t preach this enough. Every time you are unsure about something, google “whole30 ____” and you will find your answer. The forum pages on whole30.com have thousands of posts and there are countless blogs about Whole30 compliant food. I can guarantee that someone has asked your question already. But when in doubt and you can’t find an answer, just pass. Whatever it is, it’ll still be there in 30 days.
7. Pray. Use this time to change your mind and your heart as well. As much as Whole30 is about physical health, it’s also about changing yourself psychologically and the way you interact with food. Let God change and grow you. Allow Him to share this journey with you. Often people who battle with their weight, do so because of reasons that have nothing to do with eating too much and not exercising enough. Use this time to make healthy physical changes and even healthier spiritual changes. Celebrate the wins with Jesus and lean into Him on your hard days. He wants to do this with you.
“…for God gave us not a spirit of fear, but of power and love and self-control” -2 Timothy 1:7