What a ride that was. 30 (well, 28.5) days of eating clean. Like, the cleanest of clean. And I know I’ll get feedback that goes a little something like, “Oh my gosh. 28.5 days? Really, Maria? You couldn’t stick it out for 1.5 more days.”
I was over it. Beyond over it.
But don’t let my current dismay confuse you. I actually loved being on the Whole30. It was a challenge that I was finally ready for. And I made it to the 28.5 day mark and said, “Okay. I’m now at the place I was hoping to be at. I’m proud of myself for sticking it out this long. I want nachos.”
The Whole30 was a spiritual journey for me. It went far beyond food and gave me the opportunity to step back and reprioritize my life. I spent a lot of time creating, contemplating, and cozied up on the couch. And it was beautiful.
But there were parts that weren’t beautiful. Whatsoever.
Here’s What I Hated About the Whole30
The first week was miserable. Talk about a true detox. I felt all the crap from my past 26 years leaving my body and it made me so cranky. I had headaches and sugar cravings (which I did not cave into, thank you very much) and I wanted nothing more than to hibernate and sleep. I didn’t. I went to work. Put on a smile. And powered through, because I’d read over and over that the first week was the hardest.
I found that my anxiety was a bit worse throughout this experience. Here’s my hypothesis. Having had an eating disorder for years, this restrictive diet (and my perfectionist tendencies) made me paranoid. I worried that I would fall into old eating behaviors and I worried about what life would be like after the Whole30. “Would I get FAT?” Was a question that crept up time and time again. I continued to push it away, but it still provoked anxiety.
I also realized (or rediscovered) that I have a difficult time relaxing. I’ve found that being around people helps soothe my anxiety. Not having the option to go out and do much with friends meant a lot of built up anxiety that needed a release.
And, if you think about it, the Whole30 is quite a stressful thing to do to your body, right? I mean, you’re depriving your body of what it used to live off of… even if it was junk. And it’s emotionally stressful, too. It’s a lot of “No, I can’t eat that” and “No, sorry, I can’t go” and “No, I can’t live a normal life for 30 days.”
Probably way TMI, but y’all asked for a Whole30 recap, so I’m going to be honest. I have IBS (there, I Googled it for you). It’s not unmanageable, but I was hoping the Whole30 would help. It didn’t. It made it worse. And I’m still not sure why. In fact, I’d like to go through another round just so that I can better figure out what affects my body. There are things I believe I missed out on throughout the journey that I’d like to go back and retry.
Here’s What I Loved About the Whole30
An Excuse to Say No
I can get easily swept up in social activities. Like I mentioned before, being around people gives me energy and helps me feel less anxious. But rest is important, and it’s certainly something I don’t do often enough. The Whole30 gave me an excuse to say no to activity and yes to relaxation and taking care of myself.
I read books. I wrote. I listened to new music. I spent more time outdoors and hung out with new friends. I did all of the things that make my soul happy and it was extremely refreshing.
How I Felt
I didn’t do the Whole30 to lose weight, but I did lose some weight. I also felt less bloated, and all around happier, cleaner, and had a much, much clearer mind. I also had tons of energy (after week 1). I felt amazing and I don’t want that feeling to go away. Oh, and my skin was clearer. I’ve already started breaking out again since stopping the Whole30…
It’s taken me years to latch onto the idea that cooking is cool. I’m hooked now and the Whole30 helped me learn how to eat full, balanced meals and how beneficial meal planning is.
My method? I put together a spread sheet for each week, fill in what I would eat for each meal, and have my grocery list below it.
I learned that I eat more than I plan for, typically. I still haven’t mastered meal planning, but I’m hoping to keep the practice, because it helps save money, food, and makes the week a lot easier.
I saved so much money in May. Not going out to eat or to drinks really helped my bank account. I’m working hard to save as much as I can for my trip to Spain and Portugal (plus I need to get a new car), and taking the month off from expensive social activities helped a ton.
I do not have the perfect body. I do not have the perfect life. But because of this journey, I feel so much more at peace with who I am and how I look. I don’t look at myself with sad eyes like I have in my past, and I feel excited and empowered to continue to live a healthy and balanced lifestyle.
Yes, the Whole30 is pretty restrictive, but deprived is NOT something I felt whatsoever. There are a plethora of recipes out there that are Whole30 approved. And I even fell in love with a couple of products I’ll continue to use when I cook.
Instead of my vegan protein, I now use Paleo Protein Powder Vanilla (Egg Whites) from Julian Bakery. The taste was a bit potent at first, but now I’m loving it. And it keeps me full all morning until lunch.
I also fell in love with Primal Kitchen Avocado Oil Mayonnaise. It tastes just like real mayo (to me, at least) and I use it in a greek chicken salad that I actually came up with myself, believe it or not (will post recipe at a later time. It’s super simple).
I don’t typically promote products on my blog… so that’s how you know this stuff is good. They made my Whole30 life so much easier.
You can also find a slew of recipes on Pinterest and in the Whole30 book (The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom), which I found super helpful.
All in all, the Whole30 was a great experience. I learned so much about myself, my will power, and that living a healthy lifestyle is doable, it’s fun, and it doesn’t have to be excessive like it was in my eating disorder days.
If you have any questions about my journey, feel free to comment below or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org