Whole30 Thoughts and Takeaways

I MADE IT!  I can’t tell you how proud I am at this moment! I actually accomplished a thing!

After a whole month without carbs, booze, cheese, or any processed food, I’m feeling spectacular. I’m sleeping better, my skin is better than it has been since my early twenties, I’m not chemically dependent on anything other than black coffee (sorry, not sorry), and I have energy to spare! If you had told me at the beginning of this whole mishigas that I would be feeling all these things, I would have laughed in your face. It sounds too good to be true. Just writing these words now, I feel a little bit like I’m shilling some snake oil on a late night infomercial.

But it’s all true.

After this month, I’ve come to some reluctant conclusions:

  • I’m #blessed to have a moderate to severe reaction to dairy. So, after a month without digestive or skin issues, I’ve decided to cut out all dairy and cheese. This doesn’t mean I won’t go for a slice after a gig or slam some happy hour queso, but it means that I  will know the consequences if I decide to embrace the cheese. This is by far, the biggest and most depressing take away from the Whole30.
  • Fiber is important! When you cut out carbs, your digestive system goes haywire. I’ll spare you the details, but fiber is important to consume on the regular.  See what I did there?!
  • Drinking beer means feeling sluggish and puffy. These are facts I’m willing to deal with because I live in Denver and love all of the breweries that are a stone’s throw from my house. I’m thinking I’ll give up all other booze if it means I can have an IPA or two on the regular.
  • Chicken is easy, but it is boring. I prepped a week of lunches at a time (I actually cooked!) and I got sooo bored with the monotony, I almost thought I would cave. The lesson is keep the focus on variety and avoid having the exact same thing every day.
  • The “detox” phase is real. Your system will regulate, but it won’t be happy about it. The worse off you are before you start the Whole30, the worse your first few days will be.
  • Regulating your mood with sugar is a losing strategy. Think that 2pm slump is normal? It isn’t… I’m getting more done now that I’m not surfing the energy wave, waiting for the eventual crash. Cutting out sugar and processed crap has made me easier to be around.
  • Read the labels! Sugar is in everything!
  • Planning is paramount. There is nothing worse than being out and about, with a full day of plans ahead of you and then feeling hunger pangs. Bring snacks and scout nearby eateries.
  • Snacks are great! Before this month, I never really snacked. But now, I know it is a mandatory activity. By eating little bits throughout the day, you avoid the food coma after a big meal and your energy jumps to never-before-seen levels. Right now, I have three snacks in my bag… Just in case.
  • Lara bars are good. Luna bars are garbage. Most Lara bars are 100% Whole30 compliant.  They can be a breakfast replacement when you’re on the go, a great snack, and a life-saver when those pesky sugar cravings just won’t stop. I’m particular to the cashew cookie and apple pie ones.
  • Your workouts will become easier and more productive. I found myself pushing for more miles on my bike and holding harder poses for longer in my hot yoga classes.

I intentionally didn’t weigh or measure myself before, during, or after this experiment because I find tracking those things to be less than helpful. I instead tracked my progress with my favorite pair of jeans. This particular pair are unforgiving, high-waisted, and skin tight. After this month, they are still high-waisted, but they don’t threaten to cut me in half when I sit down and they are much much  easier to pull on. I would consider that a huge victory! I have another optimistic pair of shiny black disco pants from American Apparel (RIP) that I have been staring at for a few years now. My next round of Whole30 will hopefully (fingers crossed!) get me into these silly pants again, without any reservations or embarrassment. I think these tangible goals  are much healthier for me because they aren’t an abstract number on the scale.