Friday, August 29, 2014

Whole30: Yes, You Can Do It.

Last month I decided to challenge myself to the Whole30. It was something I had seen being thrown around The Internets and after a long week of feeling particularly sorry about myself three months postpartum, I decided to give it a try. I was so impressed with the stories of other Whole30'ers that I was determined to challenge myself and see what the "program" could do for me.

I chronicled my thirty or so days on Instagram under the hashtag #CarrotsDoesThe30. It's going to sound ridiculous but social media played such an integral role in keeping me motivated, accountable and providing me with ample resources for meal ideas and inspiration.  I will admit, I was leery from the get-go which is why I never took "Before" pictures. I read stories of people dropping anywhere from 10-20 pounds that first thirty days and I thought to myself, "that's insane. There's no way that's going to happen." So? I didn't take pictures. See what I did there? I was already setting myself up to fail. 

Something to keep in mind about Whole30, you're not supposed to weigh yourself during your 30 days. It isn't about that. Yes, you're encouraged to weigh yourself at the beginning and end of your journey, but all the days in the middle? You should be paying attention to more important indicators of success: your energy level, how your clothes fit, your skin and how you feel overall.

I made the mistake of weighing myself after the first week and when I saw a loss of just one, measly pound, I almost threw in the towel right then and there. I'm so glad I stuck it out. Why? Because after thirty days I lost a little over 13 pounds and dropped two pants sizes. 

Holy smokes. 

During my thirty days, I received tons of questions about my decision. "Why Whole30?" "Is it hard?" "Has it affected your milk supply?" and "What happens when it's over?" just to name a few. I hadn't planned on writing about my thirty days but in order to answer some of the questions surrounding them, I figured a post is the easiest way to tackle them. So, here goes: 

What is Whole30? 
Whole30 is not a "diet." It's a lifestyle change designed to work as a nutritional reset for your body. Through the consumption of whole foods, your body naturally cleanses and detoxifies itself in order to restore a healthy metabolism, digestive track and immune system. The program lasts only thirty days but that's because at the end of the program, you're encouraged to continue living a similarly whole lifestyle. If you fall off track, you're encouraged to start another Whole30 or a modified Whole7 or Whole10.  

How much does it cost?
The program is free- You don't need to buy any fancy shakes or meal replacement bars in order to take advantage of it. The expense of the program is the money you spend on groceries, as you would for any ol' regular day to feed you and your family. That said, yes, buying whole foods and a whole lot of them isn't cheap. Our grocery bill increased roughly 5-10% during my 30 days. I also bought a mandolin and a spiralizer before starting. Yes, you need these. 

Where did you find your meal ideas?
The internet. Seriously. Between Pinterest, Instagram and blogs, there were more recipe ideas than I could handle. It made putting together my meal plan each week super simple and ridiculously delicious. Whole30 also supplies you with a shopping list to get you started, although I didn't use it. Favorite Instagram users for quick and easy recipe ideas include: 
@PaleOMG | @Whole30Recipes | @jennaskitchen | @inspiralized | @nomnompaleo |
@healthfest | @planksloveandguacamole
Did it affect your milk supply?
No. I would never encourage doing something that could disrupt feeding your baby. That said, I have heard very mixed reviews on this aspect of the Whole30. Other women have said they had to quit almost immediately after noticing a dip in their supply. For me personally, I was consuming way more calories than I did on a normal basis and much more of those calories were coming from healthy fats and protein. Collins is exclusively breastfed and I didn't notice any dip in my supply. I also made a few adjustments to the program for myself because I'm nursing (like snacking throughout the day when I wasn't eating full meals). 

Will you do it again?
Yes. After taking a week off to recoup before school starts back up again and our Fall calendar fills up, I'll be starting a second Whole30 September 1st. You can follow along on Instagram under the hashtag #Whole30WholeSeptember. This month you'll notice a few additional faces there- as I'm encouraging anyone who has been thinking of starting to join our little group. As I mentioned earlier, social media was such a great source of motivation, accountability and inspiration for meal ideas, etc. It truly made a world of difference! 

But how did you drink your coffee?
This was tough but then it wasn't. Prior to Whole30, I drank my creamer with a little coffee in it so I worried high and low about the adjustment. It was recommended to me that I drink "Bulletproof" coffee and although I had my doubts, I tried it and it was amazing. 1/4 cup Whole30 approved coconut milk, a dash of cinnamon and a little Ghee (clarified butter) whipped in the Magic Bullet. I promise, don't knock it until you've tried it. 

What did your family eat?
For the most part, they ate what I did. Lunches for the boys were probably the most difficult as they typically would eat chicken nuggets or peanut butter sandwiches. They continued to eat the foods they were accustomed to that were off limits to me but we all always ate the same dinner. My husband wasn't on board during my first Whole30 but plans to join me in September! 

What happens after you finish? What are your plans?
I plan to continue a primarily clean eating/paleo lifestyle. Of course it won't always be perfect and I've never been a huge fan of depravity so I will indulge when I feel like it. That being said, once I finished my first Whole30, I celebrated with a giant slice of Supreme Pizza topped with a fried egg. Let's just say I didn't feel so hot after binging on cheese and bread after steering clear of it for thirty days. Everything in moderation will be key.

If you have any additional questions, feel free to email me!    
If you're looking for additional support, check out Jen's blog, Life in the Green House, who completed her first Whole30 the same time I did. Heather is gearing up for her first and has written about some great tips!

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  1. I will follow on IG as I need good meal ideas! My husband did the Whole30 and lost 17lbs. He took about two weeks off and now he's back on it. He said he loves the way he feels while on it!

  2. We (as in I believe I have my husband convinced) are going to attempt this as well. I have a couple concerns since I am a strict vegetarian that I will not be getting enough protein (I currently consume most of my protein through soy products that are not allowed). So we will start it and see what happens. Obviouosly my milk supply and feeding the baby that will never take a bottle is most important to me so that will be my marker. If my supply drops I'll throw in the towel. So now - I am on the hunt for snacking options. This girl needs FOOD:)

    1. There is vegetarian modifications and on the whole 30 website. You can eat full fat yogurts for protein

  3. How easy was it to do with kids? I want to try something like this sooo bad...I eat nothing but frozen foods or take out, and I feel like crap 90% of the time...but I'm a single working mom with an 8 month old. Is all of the stuff hard to prepare, or was it eating a lot of raw foods?

  4. I'm planning to try this once I have this baby in November- you sold me on the 13lbs and 2 pants sizes!!

  5. This is so inspiring! Laurie has been on a health journey over the last year and change, and is considering the Whole 30 as well. Thanks for sharing this insight -- we love following along via Instagram! xo

  6. I'm so excited to watch you for your second 30 days! I can't start until October but I'm already stockpiling meal ideas and helpful hints!!


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