My First Whole30

As I mentioned in my previous post, I decided to start the Whole30 after only one day of being “free” from the Daniel Fast. I think that one day was enough to motivate me through the 30 days, as I felt pretty awful. You can read more about the principles of the Whole30 here: Whole30

I did not have many of the negative effects during the first few days of the Whole30, as I did with the Daniel Fast. I think this is because my body had already dealt with its withdrawals from sugar, chemicals, and caffeine. The most interesting principle of the Whole30, based on my background, was the one that says to not “recreate baked goods, junk foods, or treats with “approved” ingredients”. It’s almost like they read my mind on this one, as doing that is right up my alley!

The hardest part of the Whole30 was flying solo at home. Luckily, one of my friends started her Whole30 over when she went off-plan for her birthday, so I did know someone going through it for the first couple of weeks. But, I loved the togetherness that I had with my husband during the Daniel Fast; it was a shared adventure. Mike was supportive of my Whole30, and willing to eat mostly what I ate when we were together, but he wasn’t ready to commit to the program. I definitely understand where he is coming from, and maybe I wasn’t ready to make the commitment either, but I didn’t feel like I had a choice, as I desperately wanted to start feeling better. I will admit, however, it was hard for me to watch my family enjoy foods I couldn’t. I didn’t even want them most of the time, it was just the fact that I couldn’t have them. This is something I will have to conquer if I want to be successful going forward.

By Day 6 of my Whole30, I felt and looked better. My trigger points were still causing me issues, but those issues were minimized by being able to wear pants that hadn’t fit in a while. I also felt I looked better in my dresses. It was a great feeling! However, I was still plagued by the comparison trap – “I didn’t eat that badly; why do I have to change?” I recognized that I need to just be satisfied that I was losing weight and getting healthier and that I was acting childish and entitled; it just didn’t change the feeling. There’s that head knowledge versus heart knowledge again…

On Day 9, I felt like my trigger point pain was starting to improve, although I was still not sleeping through the night. My back hurt less, but the pain was still present, especially when at my desk. Overall, I felt more emotionally stable and was impressed by the physical changes that had already taken place. When I went to yoga, I was amazed at how flexible I was and how easy it was for me to relax. It was night and day from my first class two weeks prior. The yoga instructor was so complimentary, especially of how great my skin looked. I hadn’t noticed, but obviously she did!

Day 12-13 was hard for me, as it was Super Bowl weekend. On Saturday, we went to the NFL experience and I am so thankful that I brought food with me and told the bag checkers that I had special dietary needs. Otherwise, I would have failed miserably. We also went to a great Mexican restaurant for dinner and they were very accommodating to my needs. The hardest part was not being able to have a margarita or chips, when others could, but I got through it. On Sunday, we didn’t have plans, partially because of the Whole30, and the whole idea of watching the game without snacks and a beer seemed quite silly to me. I spent the majority of the game reading and I went to bed before it was over. It was just really hard for me to be social, as I was not into any of it.

By Day 16, I felt like my cravings had subsided, but I was still struggling with Mike having food and drink items that I couldn’t. He made a compliant Valentine’s Day (Day 23) dinner of shrimp and vegetables, and that was satisfying. I missed the wine and dessert, but the dinner was good. This was another situation where the Whole30 allowed me to be anti-social, as it is definitely easier to eat at home than it is to eat out.

The next day, I had the best night’s sleep in a long time! I started reading a sleep book and I made some of the changes it recommended, like not looking at electronic devices 90-minutes prior to bed. I did not have my Jawbone UP4 on, so my sleep pattern wasn’t tracked, but I did not wake up when Mike came in the bedroom to put the dogs to bed, nor did I wake up when he came to bed. I cannot remember a time when I slept so soundly. I did wake up other times during the night, but it was nice to sleep through those disruptions, which rarely happens.

I made it to Day 30 with only one non-compliant change of plans. We went out of town to pick up wine from two different wineries on Day 25 and Day 26. I spent some time considering my options prior to that trip and I decided that I would reintroduce red wine during that weekend (a little early), but maintain the food requirements during that time. I am sure the legalistic Whole30 contingency would tell me that I needed to start the entire Whole30 over, but personally, I find that entire mentality to be silly.

That level of rigidity is why people struggle with nutritional problems in the first place. There is an atmosphere of guilt and shame over your mistakes and those feelings turn into even worse nutritional choices. I believe people need to make the best decisions they can with the information they have, drop the air of perfectionism, and have grace with themselves when things go less than perfectly. “Starting over” because you didn’t follow the plan perfectly (to me) implies punishment for your decision or mistake. If we view the Whole30 in a negative light (of punishment), we miss the opportunity to grow from our choices, good or bad. The purpose of the Whole30 is to learn how to make lifelong changes in your personal nutrition; it is not a prison sentence. It’s a chance to learn the affect that food has on your body. All data is meaningful and can be used to help people make lifelong positive choices.

The wine experiment did not go as well as I hoped it would. I felt the effects of the alcohol much more quickly (it had been almost two months since I’ve really drank) and I got dehydrated despite drinking a ton of water. I also noticed that my cravings for sweets increased, but I was still able to say no. My sleep also suffered after having wine. 

Once I officially finished the Whole30, I took some baseline weights and measurements. I then introduced items back into my diet to look at the effects. Even though I started off being systematic about it, things got confusing easily. I also wasn’t able to separate the nutritional symptoms from what could have been caused from other life issues. I also quickly realized that I did not want to start eliminating items from my diet, some were easy to say “nah, this isn’t worth it” and “I don’t need to have this anymore”, but others weren’t as clear. It’s like I wanted to keep trying until I got the answer I wanted.

I found myself going back and forth from one extreme to the other. On a reintroduction day, I wouldn’t want to add anything back and then all of a sudden, I wanted to add several things. It was pretty strange. I finally decided that I should give in to everything I felt I was missing out on.  Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, I did just that. I ate and drank what I wanted when I wanted. I wanted to remind myself of where I have come from and see if that would help me make peace with the decisions I needed to make.

I will write more about that tomorrow, as a lot of the data is on my work computer. But, I will say without hesitation that I felt like crap by eating “crap food” for three days. I am thrilled to go back to the Whole30 to enjoy fully-complaint “real food” and get back on the wagon.  I am excited to reestablish the feelings I had prior to this “Journey into Debauchery”. I haven’t decided how long I should stay strict on the Whole30, but I will figure that out based on how I feel. It will be long enough for me to have a better plan in place for how to successfully reintroduce items without all of the insanity I experienced on my first attempt.

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3 thoughts on “My First Whole30

  1. I have to agree with you that the legalistic approach to while30 almost turned me off. The Facebook support groups helped with recipe ideas etc but it was so frustrating to see people’s mistakes turned into shaming. I get it if I was trying to find a food trigger for a serous ailment, that if you introduce that trigger back in it undoes everything you have purged and your results won’t be the same. But like in my case it was mostly a need to have a better relationship with food and realize I can survive without soda or fancy coffees or treats. We have moved to more paleo now just to get away from the legalistic nature of the plan. Now I can have honey and recreate baked goods. That helps me stay on track. Thanks for your real assessment!

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    1. I’m glad to hear that you’ve stuck with what works for you. I think that’s the whole point, and I get that going off-plan may cause your results to suffer, but ultimately that’s an individual consequence. It’s hard enough to make these kind of changes without added negativity. I look at it like calling out sin in someone’s life: I want to have the correct relationship with the person, have then desire my input, and speak the truth in love, considering their feelings.

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