It’s funny how without realizing it, we can slip into bad habits. I thought I was being nice to my body, but one morning in March, I woke 10 pounds heavier than twelve months before. I didn’t eat my first meal until 2pm and most of my meals were carb and sugar loaded. I didn’t exercise, went out for happy hour, and had trouble sleeping that night. As I lay in bed, poking at my soft bits, I thought about the small incremental changes that brought me to this point. Deciding to skip the gym here and there. Being lazy and ordering-in instead of cooking for myself. You know the drill. There had to be a simple way to reverse the weight gain and overall “ugh” feeling right?
So I hit the gym, HARD. And I ate only 1200 calories a day. After three weeks I stepped on the scale and… nothing. No change. No change in the way I felt and no change in the way I looked. I felt exhausted. And disheartened. As I stretched for my next gym class, I overheard a fellow gym goer talk about how she just finished Whole30, a paleo sugar free cleanse. She couldn’t shut up about how amazing she was feeling. She said the magic words: “I lost 10 pounds.” So I was like, sign me up!
I bought the book The Whole30 by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig, along with cookbooks Nom Nom Paleo and Well Fed. As I read through Whole30, I realized it was much more than a diet to lose weight. In fact, weight loss was hardly mentioned in the book. The message was about giving yourself time to reset your body from bad habits by eating whole foods. There’s an extensive list of things you couldn’t touch for 30 days: diary, soy, legumes, grains, added sugars of any kind including honey and maple syrup, and alcohol. But you can eat meat, seafood, veggies, and fruit (though in moderation). Sounds like how my mom was trying to get me to eat as a child. Here are some tips to keep in mind.
- Buy the book and a couple of cookbooks. I think the book is so helpful in guiding you through the process. They keep things light, but offer hard and fast rules so that if you ever have a question like “are dates ok?” you know the answer (yes they are but don’t get crazy). The recipes in the second half of the book were ok. I would recommend grabbing a couple other recipes from books or go online (nom nom paleo and well fed were top notch) to help round out your meal plan. Which brings me to…
- Meal plan. Get an excel spread sheet. Get a white board. Get a piece of paper. Write down what you will eat from breakfast, lunch, and dinner and then from that make a list and go to the grocery store. I hardly wasted any food because everything I bought was consumed. I’ve never had that happen before. I always feel like crap when I have to toss away old food/$$$ because I didn’t use it.
- You will be cooking a lot. Now is the time to buy a frying pan. And a ridiculous amount of tupperware. On average I needed two hours to shop and three hours to prep on Sunday. I then needed about 30 minutes every other day. Not bad, but man those Sundays felt like I was cooking for a full family instead of little ol’ me.
- Pick 30 days with nothing crazy happening. April was a slow month for me travel-wise, with only one trip to San Francisco, so I knew I could cook most of my meals at home. I was working like crazy during those weeks, but no major holidays and no major events were scheduled to make me feel left out.
- Ease into it three days before. I prepped for my Whole30 three days early by eliminating dairy three days before, grains two days before, and soy a day before my start date. I had one ceremonious margarita the the day before.
- Dining out? Steak salad. I ate out a bunch of times while doing Whole30. Lucky for me I live in LA, the most diet conscious city in the world. Most places were patient with my questions and catered to my needs. You could get a burger with no toppings on it like most people suggest, but I think that sounds yucky.
- Drinking out? Soda water with muddled cucumbers. I even went to a margarita tasting during my Whole30 like a fool! I was totally tempted, but I made due with soda water and muddled cucumber. Muddled fruit tastes nice too.
- Have compliant snacks on hand. There were no jerky snacks near me that were compliant (I’m so sorry, but Epic bars are not tasty to me), so I ordered some online through Steve’s PaleoGoods. Their Key Lime Jerky flavor is pretty tasty. Most Larabars and Navitas snack bites were compliant and crucial when I really needed some fuel. For the first two weeks of my Whole30, I was on set for 12 hours a day so I needed help to tide me over until dinner. Of Larabars, I loved the apple and blueberry flavors and of the Navitas I only purchased the blueberry hemp power snack. *** These snacks are primarily made of dates, so definitely recommend you watch your consumption***
- You will spend more at the grocery store, but you’ll save money in the long run if you dined out a lot. I averaged $100 dollars a week on groceries for myself, which totals $400 for the month, but I would have easily spent more than that eating and drinking out on the weekends. I can’t tell the last time I only spent $10 at a bar before this. I know it’s not the case for everyone, but if you were like me and ate out 3x a week and drank out 2x a week you will save money.
- If you think you need a snack, drink a glass of water first then access. I found out that I’m an afternoon snack grazer, but that was often because I hadn’t had any water since lunch. After a glass or two of lemon water I was usually cool until dinner time.
Here’s some things that happened to me:
- I had dry mouth during week two. It was mentioned as a possibility in the book, so I wasn’t worried, but it was super annoying.
- Amazing amounts of energy/”tiger blood” during weeks three and four.
- I slept much more deeply. I was typically in bed by midnight and up by 8am without hitting the snooze.
- I performed better at the gym and went more often.
- I lost 4 lbs and 1.5 inches off my waist and booty.
So what now?!
Was it all in vain? No, it wasn’t. The funny thing is, as soon as the 30 days were over, I wasn’t ready to jump back into bed with sugar. The only non-compliant thing I had on day 31 was a margarita… and it was glorious.