have you #whole30’ed?

Diets are a weird subject because they’re so person-specific – I’ve mentioned before, my theory is that in order to be successful on a diet, you need to find one that works for both your body and your brain. What works for one person may not work for another, and what one person finds easy may be completely unmanageable for someone else. We’re all special snowflakes, right?

The Whole 30 plan is one of those that’s been on my radar for a couple of years as various friends of mine have tried it, and I kind of shrugged it off as another low-carb fad diet. Then I learned more about it, as far as it helping with other health issues than just weight loss, and I thought it might worth trying.

Since the half-marathon, I’ve had to ease way back on the amount of exercise I’m doing, because of various injuries (not just the plantar fascitis in my foot, but it seems I’ve also done something to my right ankle, and I pulled a quadricep muscle that just won’t heal). And I was exercising for at least an hour (sometimes longer), 5-6 days a week, which is probably a little on the excessive/unsustainable side.

I’ve also had issues with my sinuses ever since the balloon sinuplasty last summer, and for the last several weeks, I’ve had headaches nearly every day. Not migraines (I’ve had those before and they’re horrible), but at some point every day, I get a dull aching pain my head. It’s not a sinus headache – those usually hit me right behind the eyes, and this is more toward the back of my head. It’s not debilitating, it doesn’t keep me from functioning, it’s just really annoying.

Essentially, between the exercise-related injuries and the sinus/headache issues, I’m taking ibuprofen at least once a day, sometimes two or three times a day, which is probably not ideal for optimal health.

I ordered the Whole30 book, It Starts with Food, and read it on the trip to and from Atlanta over the weekend. (Um, I read it when Chris was driving, in case that wasn’t obvious.) And I’m not sure that I completely believe 100% of their science, but I think it’s worth a shot. I’m curious about how dietary changes can help with other things like allergies and chronic inflammation/pain issues. I mean, it’s entirely possible that it’s a load of crap and it won’t help at all, but it’d be awfully cool if I could fix these issues myself.

The diet itself sounds a lot like the low-carb/detox diets I’ve done before where I cut out all processed foods & just eat meat, vegetables, and fruit. So I’m pretty sure that I can manage that. Whole30 is a little different in allowing some things I didn’t have on other low-carb diets, like regular potatoes. Those types of carbs are pretty essential if you’re exercising a lot, so that should help.

The main difference for me is that Whole30 cuts out all sweeteners, including artificial ones, so no more Sweet ‘n’ Low in my coffee and iced tea. I’ll probably just stop drinking iced tea altogether (because completely unsweetened = BLECCH), and I’ll drink black coffee to wake up in the morning. It also means I have to say goodbye to the little sugar-free mints that I suck on all the time. That’ll be challenging, for sure.

As for the weight loss side… well, I don’t know. I’m smaller than I’ve ever been in my life, and part of me thinks I should just be ok where I am. But I still see cellulite on my thighs and flab on my upper arms, and hey, maybe a healthy eating plan and a more moderate exercise plan (to allow my injuries to heal) would help with that. My plan the last few months has been more on the side of exercising like a maniac while also shoving all kinds of junk food into my mouth as fast as humanly possible, which is probably not the greatest way to keep a healthy balance in check.

I’ve also heard that it becomes so much harder to lose weight when you’re in your 40s, and I’m going to be 40 in less than a year. So maybe that’s part of it, this feeling like I have to hurry up and get in THE BEST SHAPE OF MY LIFE because, I don’t know, my metabolism is just going to shut the hell down on January 16th, 2016?

That’s dumb, I know. I’ve been joking that the half-marathon was my mid-life crisis. I didn’t buy a sports car or have an affair, I just ran 13.1 miles. But in a lot of ways, I think it’s kind of true that all of this diet/exercise obsession probably is a little bit of a mid-life “thing” (not a crisis, because it’s not that dire, just a… weird mental speed bump).

So, I’ve decided to try Whole30, but now the issue is that I don’t know when to start it. Initially I was thinking the day after Easter, because I mean, these Cadbury creme eggs aren’t going to eat themselves, right?

Here’s the issue: mid-April, while Catie is on her track-out break from school, the girls and I are going to fly to Austin for a few days to visit with my sister and brother-in-law. (First time taking two kids on an airplane by myself! I’m both excited and scared.) There’s pretty much no feasible way to stick to this restrictive diet while we’re traveling: we’ll be spending many, many hours in airports, and I’m sure we’ll be eating out some while we’re in Texas. And this is not a “on the go” eating plan at all, you basically have to prepare your meals yourself ahead of time.

The rule with Whole30 is that if you “cheat” at all, you start back over on day 1. Which is fine, I can see how that would give you the incentive to stick to it for the entire 30 days. But do I go ahead & start it, knowing that I’ll only be able to do it for about a week and a half, take a few days off, then start over when we get back home?

If you’ve done Whole30 before, what do you think? I could basically think of the pre-Texas trip as a Whole30 sneak preview, then re-commit to it for the full month after our trip? Or is it better to not even bother until I can do the whole thing with no cheats?

* This is not at all sponsored by anyone, in case that wasn’t completely obvious. Just something I’ve been thinking about trying for a while now and I’m finally doing it.

11 thoughts on “have you #whole30’ed?

  1. My advice from years of low carb adventures is to go on your trip as you are, and come back to Whole 30. I feel SO GREAT when I successfully cut the carbs out, and then I feel awful if fall off the wagon hard on a trip or something. Then it’s super hard to get back on.

    FWIW everyone I know IRL who has done Whole 30 has raved about how good they felt on it, and yet they do not continue it as a way of life when their challenge is over. Maybe it’s just the mindfulness that’s hard, and they don’t want to give diet that much energy? I think they all have some version of being happy off of very heavily processed (salted/sugared) items, but there are some things they just really missed that they do alright on. If this makes any sense.

    • In the book, they mention that the diet isn’t called Whole365 – it isn’t meant to be something you stick to rigorously forever. I think it’s not sustainable in the long-term, because it involves having to prep all of your meals yourself ahead of time, which isn’t practical.

      But I’m interested to see about this “feeling great while on a diet” thing, because I’ve never experienced that. Maybe because I’ve never given up the artificial sweeteners, or because I didn’t have enough healthy carbs to have any energy, or a combination of both.

  2. I’ve done it and live the results. More energy, better sleep and feeling amazing. And better recovery/response to a cold that usually turn into bronchitis with me. I want to do another but races and training for races keep getting in the way. (I did the whole30 when potatoes weren’t included. They were the first food I added back and felt sluggish so I am torn on including them.)

  3. BTW. They don’t talk about Whole30 as a diet or way of life. They talk about it as a way to reset your body and understand how food effects you. It’s basically an experiment so you see how different foods effect how you feel.

    • Right, I noticed that. The whole “hey, we don’t call it Whole365” thing. Which is why I think it’s worth a shot.

  4. So I haven’t don the official Whole 30 but I’ve gone processed food, sugar, grain and (mostly) dairy-free before. The first 5-10 days are ROUGH. It might be a good idea to kind of phase out the stuff you are going to get rid off and then start for real after your trip. That said, once I got into the groove, eating out wasn’t all that hard… a salad and protein is pretty easy to get almost anywhere. However, Austin = chips and queso so think hard on this 🙂 When I did it I was super tired for about 20 days then I finally normalized. I ended up going 45 days on a strict diet, then moving to a 6 days on 1 cheat day for a bit before I completely fell off the wagon.

    • That might be a good idea, to do a modified version before the trip and start it for real afterward. Because yeah, I’m totally gonna have chips & queso. 🙂

  5. So – I have not Whole30ed. But I currently do not eat gluten, dairy, eggs, or legumes – even in baked goods or processed in the same facility as – and it is likely going to be for a long time.

    For me, the hardest part of giving all of these up were finding recipes I liked, so you could spend this time trying new recipes to help build your arsenal for when you are back. In the last 6+ months, we’ve had many dinners we had to pitch and/or took longer to cook than they said and/or couldn’t find ingredients without spending a fortune. It also just takes extra time to find products without added sugar (or hidden dairy or hidden gluten).

    Two of my favorite resources: Against All Grain and Nom Nom Paleo. We make these in regular rotation at our house:



    • Thank you for the links! Anything with the word “chipotle” in it is going to be an automatic no for me, I don’t eat anything remotely spicy (something is wrong in how my brain processes spicy food, I don’t taste anything, I just feel pain). But I’ll check those sites for sure. The Whole30 book even references Nom Nom Paleo for a couple of their recipes.

      I guess one difference in your diet and Whole30 is that they’re big fans of eggs, and you’re allowed to use butter as long as it’s clarified (so, basically, ghee) to remove the milk proteins. But there’s a lot of overlap, since there’s no gluten/grains, dairy, or legumes on their diet as well. I’m interested to see how it affects my overall health.

  6. I’ve talked to some friends who have done Whole30 because I’ve seriously considered it and they’ve suggested doing a Whole7 or Whole14 to try it out first. I am going to do that to see if we can make it work. Meals with Jack aren’t a war but they can be challenging and we do most of it on the fly which doesn’t really jive with the Whole30 philosophy.

    • Yeah, this is going to involve a lot of cooking separate meals for the kids, because no way will they eat what I’m eating. Lucy might try it (she’s a big fan of checking out my plate and saying, “that’s your food? We share?”), but no way am I going to get Catie to eat 99% of it.

      But, I mean, I kind of do that already, so I can’t see how it’s going to be all that different. If I know I’m cooking something she won’t eat, I just go ahead & make a Catie-safe meal and skip the battle altogether. It’s not that hard to toss some fish sticks in the oven, you know?

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