Reflections on my Second Whole30


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:

Buddying Up

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.

Lessons Learned

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?

4 thoughts on “Reflections on my Second Whole30

  1. Sounds very Whole-some! I see the point of using the most effective diet as you train, but I respectfully question the abstaining from dairy. Wouldn’t that create a Vitamin D deficiency, or did you find other ways of getting your Vitamin D?

    • That’s a great question about dairy! It’s definitely on the more extreme ends as programs go, but it’s short term (designed to only be 30 days) so it’s doable for me. The idea behind restricting dairy (and everything else that is “forbidden”) is to eliminate any food item that might cause any person any gastrointestinal or digestive trouble. A lot of people use the Whole30 as a jumping-off point to figure out if food issues are behind their stomach problems, headaches, fatigue, infertility, you name it. So the program eliminates every possible source of these common issues, even though nobody has problems with ALL of the things that the Whole30 instructs you to avoid. (I don’t do the Whole30 as a means to “diagnose” any food issues – for me it’s just a reset button when I start feeling sluggish or think I’ve been eating too much sugar.)

      Personally, I have no problems with dairy. I think dairy has a very important role to play in overall healthy eating, and I will never be someone who thinks that dairy is the devil (although I did cut back on it after reading The China Study). As I mentioned above, I’m not a big milk drinker. (Exception, funnily, is that I am a total milk nut while pregnant. The first indication I had that something was going on with me was a sudden overwhelming craving for skim milk… I drank a half gallon, all by myself, in less than 24 hours! And I continued to pound glass after glass of skim milk and bowl after bowl of Greek yogurt for my entire pregnancy! Obviously, there was something in there that I REALLY needed while preggers.) But I LOVE Greek yogurt and cheese and I have gleefully added dairy back after the Whole30 ended. Some people have a lot of difficulty digesting dairy, which is why it’s included on the “no-no” list, but I’m very happy that I’m not one of them. (I have noticed that I’ve had a lot of bloating and tummy troubles after eating bread and toast, so I’m wondering if I might be a tiny bit sensitive to gluten. That’s something I’m going to explore – I don’t want to jump to conclusions, especially since gluten-free is so trendy nowadays and I hate to follow the crowd, but I’m going to look into it because any sick tummy I’ve had since finishing the Whole30 has come right after I’ve eaten bread.)

      As for Vitamin D, I get it through a couple of means: one, you can get 1,000 IUs of Vitamin D just by being outside for a brief period of time (even 10 minutes gives you far more than your daily value) every day and I usually am. This is a nice time for me, staying home with Peanut, and we are out for a walk or a run – usually mid-day, when the sun is highest – almost every day. I get most of my Vitamin D from sunlight. However, I also take a Vitamin D supplement to ward off the winter blues. So I don’t think I have any trouble with Vitamin D, but certainly someone who eliminates dairy and doesn’t get Vitamin D through other channels like sunlight or supplements could become deficient. But I don’t think 30 days is enough time for someone to become seriously deficient in any particular nutrient, unless they were already going that route, and after the 30 days ends it’s fully expected that you’re going to add back most, if not all, of the foods that you took some time away from as part of this “nutritional reset.”

      Hope that answered your questions! I’m really happy with the way the Whole30 works for me, but it certainly isn’t for everyone. (For instance, my BFF is a very strict vegetarian and could never do a Whole30 – without soy or legumes or dairy, she wouldn’t stand a chance of getting enough protein.) 🙂

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