Last Friday I wrapped up my second Whole30. For those who haven’t heard of the program, it’s basically 30 days of super-charged Paleo-style eating. No grains, no sugar, no dairy, no legumes, no preservatives, no soy, no alcohol, no corn or white potatoes, no cheating. As I said when explaining the program to my mom, it’s a little nutty, but you can be nutty for 30 days. Here are some thoughts from the past 30 days:
Both times I’ve completed the Whole30, I’ve done it with a buddy – my sister-in-law, Emma. The first time we did the program, she was living with us and taking care of Peanut during the day. This time, we kept in touch via motivating texts, emails and Instagram photos and exchanged recipes over the phone. I’d definitely recommend doing the Whole30 with someone else. Having a buddy to motivate me when it got hard – and it does get hard, but Emma and I cheered one another through those tough parts – was invaluable. Hubby is supportive, but I don’t know that I could have gotten through it either time without knowing that Emma was in it with me. When I was tempted to say, “Whatever, it’s just a little bit of preservative, what does it matter?” I remembered that she was sticking to the program and I needed to do the same. Cheating on the Whole30 would have felt like cheating on Emma, and that pushed me to adhere to the program strictly.
Missing Halloween… Sort Of
Emma and I planned the timing of our Whole30 very carefully. We started after my birthday (and weekend in Niagara-on-the-Lake) and wrapped up well in advance of Thanksgiving. It was important to me that I was free to really enjoy the heck out of my birthday, and neither of us wanted to miss out on Thanksgiving festivities. But unfortunately, that meant that we kind of missed Halloween. It wasn’t too awful. I got to enjoy my favorite treat, roasted pumpkin seeds (see above) – I’m more of a salty girl than a sweet tooth. But it was tough to miss out on the delicious-smelling cider donuts at the pumpkin patch, and I’ll admit to eating more of the Halloween candy that was still laying around after my Whole30 ended than I really meant to. I’m packing the remainder of the candy up and sending it to work with hubby posthaste.
What I Really Missed
Everyone, it seems, has one thing that’s tougher than anything else to give up. I’m okay abstaining from sugar (it’s actually easier for me to completely avoid sugar than it is to eat it in moderation), and I’m not a big drinker anyway so it’s not hard to stay away from alcohol. (I do enjoy wine, but it’s not something that I’ve ever had trouble avoiding if I needed to, especially if there was a good reason – like pregnancy.) Avoiding all grains is a little harder, but I typically stay away from “junk grains” like white rice and sandwich bread anyway, and save my carbs for really good stuff, like fresh kalamata olive bread from an artisan bakery, which is worth every carb and don’t ever let anyone tell you different. But for me, the absolute toughest thing to avoid during the Whole30 was dairy. I’m not a big milk drinker, but I love my plain Greek yogurt and my sharp cheddar cheese. I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited to eat cheese, of all things, than at the end of this Whole30. (I’m eating cheese as I type this. Mmmmmmm, cheese.)
Working Out on the Whole30
On Day 2 (which is typically my toughest day, when I get what I call the “lettuce hangover” where I want to destroy everything green) Peanut and I went for a three mile run in her jogging stroller. It wasn’t the easiest run, between a bulky jogging stroller, a disgruntled baby, and a queasy tummy, but we got ‘er done. And from there, it got easier. Slacking on workouts isn’t an option at the moment, because I’m getting ready for a five mile turkey trot and ideally, I’d like to finish it without embarrassing myself. Eating clean made my workouts feel easier and I felt my speed increasing run by run, much more so than it does when I’m not as strict about eating whole foods. (I’m still not fast, but I’m faster than I was.) They do say that you should really take it easy in the first week, and I did, but then I cranked it up and I feel like I’m in a pretty good position to achieve my goals for the turkey trot and a 5K that I have scheduled for a few weeks after, thanks in large part to eating so well during training.
I’ve done the Whole30 before so I didn’t expect that this one would have anything new to teach me, but it did. The main thing I learned is this: I need to stick with something long-term and not slack as soon as I see results. It’s harder for me to moderate than it is to just avoid problematic foods. I’m not saying that I need to abstain entirely and forever from sugar or grains, but I’m going to commit to making those foods count when I eat them. Going forward, I’m going to make a real effort to only eat sugar or white flour if it’s really worth it to me. (Kalamata olive bread? Worth it. Sandwich bread from the grocery store? Not worth it. Fabulous dark chocolate from my co-op, or my mother-in-law’s homemade pies? Worth it. Leftover Halloween candy? Ugh, not worth it.) I also had a good reminder that, as I said above, eating clean really helps me feel better when I’m running. Since I have some big running goals for 2014 and 2015, that’s something to keep in mind.
Would I Do It Again?
You betcha! Emma and I have talked about making the Whole30 a regular thing. I think that 2-3 times per year would be about my sweet spot. We both felt sorely in need of this “nutritional reset” (as the program dubs itself) this time, and I’m sure that we will want it again in another six months or so. It’s well worth the headaches in the grocery store and the additional planning to feel as wonderful as we feel after a few weeks of strict Whole30 eating.
Have you ever done a Whole30? Would you, or do you think it’s insane?