I came home one day and said I was going to do a Whole 30. You know what sold me on it? Not some book. Not some commercial. Not some ad. Nope. The reason I decided to do a Whole 30 was because the two hosts of the Girls Gone WOD podcast did it.
Joy and Claire micro-podcasted their way through their own Whole 30, and I’ve been seriously considering it ever since. In addition to their regularly scheduled programming, they popped in (just about) every day of their Whole30 for about 20 minutes to update on how they were doing, how they were feeling, and how the whole thing was going.
And, frankly, those were exactly the experiences I wanted to hear. You see, I’ve been struggling just a little bit with my food- not with my size, not with my weight, but with my food. If I have a Quest bar, about an hour later I’ll get a headache- not just any ol’ headache either. These headaches are some of the worst I’ve ever had in my life. I wouldn’t wish them on anyone.
My Food Mindset
To be honest, being not that crunchy and certainly not that woo-hoo hippie about the things I put in my body, I often gave my friends a lot of flack when they said I stopped eating X because it just made me feel better. Yea, okay.
The first life experience that made me question my way of thinking came right around my 19th birthday (how was that five years ago?!). It was as if overnight my body went from Hey Milk, Sure we can be friends. to This is World War 3 and Emilie’s body is the war zone. I went from not being able to drink skim milk, my personal preference, to drinking only non-dairy milk. (In case you’re curious, for the longest, I drank only rice milk. Its thinner texture is the closest thing I can find to skim milk. Unfortunately, it’s been incredibly hard to find since moving to North Carolina over a year ago. Lately, I’ve also started trying Silk’s new nut milk. I’ve tried both the Vanilla and the regular and find the regular to be just fine. It’s supposed be a cross between almond milk and cashew milk and promises TEN grams of protein in an 8 oz cup. I’m still not sold, though, as I like my milk thin and watery.)
My experience with Quest bars of late has me thinking about my gut and how my body is reacting to the food I’m eating all over again. Yesterday afternoon, I was a little Whiner McWhinerson whiiiiiining all afternoon for eating a Quest bar- the same trusty Quest bar that has gotten that me through many, many tough afternoons at work. How was my reliable Chocolate Chip Quest bar turning on my body?
More importantly, why?
Because, in short, I have no idea.
You see, I don’t know what it is about Quest bars that suddenly has my body very clearly telling me to avoid them at all costs. Interestingly enough (warning here?), my body hasn’t been sending the message in the same way it did with milk. While consuming lactose leads to.. well… gut issues, this has manifested itself as someone drilling a knife into both my temples at the same time.
While I’m grateful for being able to pick up on this clear and obvious sign, I’m curious about what other signals my body has been sending me that I’ve been missing out on. What are the more subtle things that I’m not noticing? For the past two weeks, my sleep quality has been absolute poop. This is especially rough because I have always been a sleep evangelist, swearing by my 8-10 hours of nightly sleep. Three times in the last two weeks, though, I’ve tossed and turned to the point of giving up on sleep. Do you know what this does to a sleep-dependent gal? Do you know what this does to the poor people who have to put up with said-sleep-dependent gal?! (I’m sorry!!) Is my sleep correlated with something? Is my body trying to tell me something that I’m not listening to, something I haven’t picked up on yet?
Which brings me back to the Whole30.
You can read the full Whole30 Rules on their website, but here is the gist of it:
The Whole30 is a variation of an elimination diet. By removing what the program founders have deemed problematic foods, you give your body 30 days to reset your gut. Then you follow a reintroduction protocol to see how your body does with some or all of the foods, allowing you to make conscious, educated decisions on what foods you want to eat.
Here are the rules:
- Yes to “Real Food.” To quote:
Eat moderate portions of meat, seafood, and eggs; lots of vegetables; some fruit; plenty of natural fats; and herbs, spices, and seasonings. Eat foods with very few ingredients, all pronounceable ingredients, or better yet, no ingredients listed at all because they’re whole and unprocessed.
- No added sugar.
- No alcohol. (I have been alcohol free since February 2016, so I’m not worries about this.)
- No grains.
- No legumes, including chickpeas.
- No dairy.
- No “Whole30 approved” treats.
While there are some exceptions in “The Fine Print” of the official rules, which I seriously encourage you to read yourself, this covers 99% of what you need to know.
So here’s my deal:
I’m going to start the Whole30 on Wednesday, July 19. This is for a couple of reasons, but primarily that the timing kinda works. For starters, Casey will be gone for 14 of the first 15 days, so there’s no coaxing involved. I’m not expecting to travel until August 8 or 9ish (flights not booked yet) which would have me safely in my home until Day 21/22. Two-thirds of the way there, I’d hope that the sense of accomplishment would be enough to help keep me on track. [Hey Laura, I know you’re reading this. Please keep in mind as we make plans that I’m trying to stay on track!!]
I’m bummed to be giving up my morning Spark. Because I don’t drink coffee, I’ll just be going totally caffeine-less. I’m okay with that. I was drinking Spark first thing in the morning as a means of that kick that most people get from coffee. Instead, I’m going to try to start the day by drinking 8 oz of water first thing.
I’ve created a Whole30 meal plan that I’m going to be trying to follow.
It looks roughly like this:
[table header= “Meal Template”]
Breakfast 1, Egg Muffin or Fruit
Breakfast 2, Fruit or Egg Muffin
Lunch, Meat (Chicken/Ground Beef/Ground Turkey) and Leftover Vegetable or Cauliflower Rice
Mid-Afternoon Snack, 2 Hardboiled Eggs or Rx Bar
Dinner, Meat (Chicken/Ground Beef/Ground Turkey) and Vegetable or Cauliflower Rice
Desert, Shake or Chia Pudding
I am using this template to get me through the first week. Because I’m not working this week, I’ll spend today finishing the prep that I need to do so that I can dive in head-first on tomorrow. For other weeks, I will work to prep on Sundays. This overlap (extra prepped meals between Sunday and Wednesday) will give me a buffer zone so that if anything comes up on a Sunday that keeps me from prepping, I’ll be able to still have prepped ingredients, making it easier to stick to the Whole30.
My goals for the Whole30 are not weight-based. We haven’t had a working scale in the house in months- seriously! And it has been great. While I struggle with loads of physical insecurities, I am mostly happy with my body size right now. In the last year, I’ve really leaned out and I have a shape that I never had before. On one side, my arms and shoulders have definition and I can do pull ups. On the other side, none of my clothes really makes me feel great (which is why I’ve started up my Stitch Fix boxes again- but, alas, a blog post for another time).
Being that I’m not trying to change my size or my shape, my goals are really about tuning into my body a little more. How am I feeling? What effects are certain foods having on my body? If I avoid or include something, do I feel better? To me productivity has always been about optimization. Your body is part of that. It is your most important tool. A teammate in college swore by the phrase
Look good. Feel good. Do good.
This was her mantra before every match, and it’s one I’ve latched on to. When you look good and you feel good, you’re not distracted by those things, so you can focus on doing good.
My goal with the Whole30 is find ways to help my body feel better so that I can do better.
I plan to do weekly check-ins, probably on Wednesdays, that will keep you in the loop of how I’m doing along the way.
Have you ever done a Whole30 before? Any tips?
Emilie is an Army Wife, Data Engineer, and CrossFitter with a love for working through her thoughts in this space on the internet. She lives with her husband Casey and their pup Bo in Savannah, GA.