In Part I of our Whole30 adventure, I talked about what the program is, why we were excited to give it a try, and what our game plan was. Now, I’m going to talk about how we actually did for those 30 days, and what we learned along the way.
IT’S GO TIME
The day before we started the Whole30, we made our weekly meal plan and hit the grocery store. We stocked up on food for the week, as well as some new pantry items (fish sauce, coconut aminos, macadamia nut oil, etc.). We also put food that wasn’t Whole30 approved in our pantry in the garage so that we wouldn’t be tempted by it, or accidentally eat it. Same with the food in our refrigerator — we put the condiments and other items down on the bottom shelf.
Once we were stocked up, Mr. Deer grilled some chicken breasts so we could make mason jar salads to have for our lunches. I wanted at least one meal each day that I didn’t have to worry about, and having mason jar salads made lunchtime super easy. You could always have leftovers from dinner the night before for lunch, but that meant cooking something new every single night. With lunches covered, we also opted to make dinners that were large enough so that we would have leftovers for the following night. Since we were trying so many new recipes, we definitely weren’t bored with having leftovers. Add to that a fresh breakfast that usually consisted of eggs, a meat, and some fruit or veggies, and that’s what our week looked like!
The first morning of the Whole30 we got up and had scrambled eggs and apples with some cashew butter. Though not as easy as pouring a bowl of cereal, it was definitely a delicious breakfast. Technically there should be some veggies on the plate, even for breakfast, but that took a few days to figure out and get used to. For lunch we poured out our jarred salad, and for dinner we had some chicken with asparagus, zucchini, and summer squash. I was surprised by how yummy everything was. That night I expected to crave some sweets, but I actually felt pretty satisfied, and the cravings never came.
Our first day was a lot like the next 29 days to come. I think we kept expecting it to be this huge challenge, where we’d be fighting off temptation left and right, yet it really wasn’t like that. Sometimes days would go by without us even thinking about what day we were on in the program. Yes, there were definitely times I wanted something sweet (or salty!) but it was manageable. And we were both feeling great, so that definitely helped us stay motivated. I had also been off dairy and soy for almost five months by that point, so I was pretty used to not being able to eat certain things that I craved.
Going into it, I was a little concerned that it might affect my supply since I was still breastfeeding Little Deer about six times a day. That might be the case if I wasn’t consuming enough calories, but I made sure that I did. Although we hoped to lose some weight, it was because in the past we had been chronically overeating, not because we were now eating less. We were finally listening to our bodies, eating when we were hungry, and consuming whole nutritious foods. Though many days I was fine with just three meals, if I was ever hungry in between meals, I made sure to have a snack. I knew that my body was burning a lot more calories with nursing than the average person, so I made sure my intake matched that.
In the end, I saw no issues with my milk supply at all. And Little Deer did great too! At this point she still wasn’t eating a lot of solids, so what little she did eat we fed her from our meals. Yes, she still had some puffs occasionally (hopefully we’ll wean her off those in the future!) but she also ate sweet potato, chicken, banana, cauliflower mash, steamed carrots, scrambled eggs… the works. And she was a happy baby!
When day 30 arrived I think we were both shocked that it was over so quickly. It was definitely a fun adventure, and one I think we both took away a lot from. I think we probably ate more vegetables in those 30 days than we had in a full year. And we were both feeling great!
Though we were happy with our Whole30 experience, there were a few tough moments along the way. I don’t think they were too bad though, and definitely nothing that we couldn’t overcome, but here’s a few of the challenges we faced:
- Dishes: Cooking and preparing food so frequently means that there are a ton of dishes. I don’t think this is too big of a deal for the average person, but the house we had just moved into didn’t have a dishwasher. That in itself was an adjustment, but adding in all the extra dishes to boot was hard. We discovered that quickly washing things after each meal was best, because if you let everything pile up for the next morning it wa a big bummer. Even so, it was doable, and if you have dishwasher then you have nothing to worry about!
- Carb -flu: I had read that sometimes in the first week you can experience flu-like symptoms while your body adjusts to not having refined carbohydrtaes. Sure enough, by the second or third day, every morning I woke up feeling very nauseous, shakey, and just really out-of-sorts. It was pretty yucky! I found that upon waking if I had a glass of water and a few pieces of fruit that helped. After the first week though, the “carb-flu” totally went away and I felt great. Even though that was hard, it just goes to show how our bodies can almost have an addiction to sugary processed foods. Yuck!
- Cost: Buying good quality meat is by no means cheap. Our grocery budget definitely took a hit during the Whole30. Granted we also weren’t eating out and buying lots of snacks and such. Though more expensive, doing the Whole30 has also forced us to get creative and come up with ways to cut costs while still buying the healthy meat we desire. We definitely have room for improvement and hope to come up with budget ideas for the future.
- Prep time: Yeah, you can’t just throw a hot pocket in the microwave anymore. It takes time out of your day to plan and prepare yummy and healthy foods. When you really stop and think about it though, fueling your body with good food is pretty darn important. I think making weekly meal plans and staying organized really helped us cut down on prep time. We knew what we were eating and when we should prepare it. Also, finding easy meals that you can prepare ahead of time for the week (like our mason jar salads for lunches) and stocking your freezer with some frozen veggies can help too.
So after all of that, how did we feel at the end of the Whole30? Pretty darn good! Here’s the breakdown of our results:
- Weight loss: I lost 14 pounds and Mr. Deer lost 5 pounds. Obviously my extra weight loss was probably due to burning some extra calories with breastfeeding, but still, holy cow! I am now 20 pounds less than I was when I got pregnant (which were the same 20 pounds I gained in nursing school, go figure). We were both not working out very much during this time too, so this was basically all due to our dietary changes. Pretty awesome.
- Skin: I’ve always had the occasional breakout, especially before my period. Seriously though, after the first week on the Whole30 my skin looked awesome. I’m talking glowing… not a zit in sight. I think this alone is enough to make me want to eat this way forever. I had always thought it was a myth that what you ate could make you breakout, but after this I am convinced that it definitely can.
- Allergies: I mentioned it in Part I, but once I gave up dairy and soy my seasonal allergies totally disappeared. Though that happened prior to the Whole30, had Little Deer not had MPSI it’s something I wouldn’t have discovered until doing this program. Alleriges can be the pits, and to not have had to deal with them anymore has been super awesome.
- Energy: I think we both felt more energetic while doing the Whole30. It was a little tough to tell though, because Little Deer was going through a rough sleep patch and waking up several times at night. I was pretty tired in general during this time, but I frequently felt better than I expected with the little sleep that I was getting.
- Aches and pains: Throughout the pregnancy, and even after giving birth, I had been having terrible lower back pain. I also injured my knee two years ago, and it had recently flared up before we started the Whole30. I didn’t even realize it until I was compiling this list, but I haven’t felt any knee or back pain in weeks, wow!
We did the Whole30 and had a great time, but now what? I think we’ve decided that we’re staying on the paleo path. Eating good, fresh, healthy foods that our bodies are meant to process is a no-brainer for me. Yes it takes extra work and planning, but I think it is totally worth the benefits. One thing they say in the book is that it’s not called the Whole365. No one expects you to be perfect and never eat a cookie ever again. The point is to break the addiction to processed foods, and to stop mindlessly eating them. If you’re really craving a yummy dessert sometime, then get it, sit down, and really focus and enjoy it. But don’t buy a container of Oreos and snack out on them all day without thinking about it. In the past few weeks since coming off the Whole30 I’ve had a couple of glasses of wine, some ketchup, barbecue potato chips, and some chocolate cookies. Do I feel guilty about it? Not at all. Am I eating food like that every day? Nope.
Now that we’re done and want to continue eating a paleo diet, there’s a few new things we want to work on. To start, we want to figure out how to cut costs. We’re looking at buying a deep freezer, possibly purchasing part of a whole cow, and analyzing the cost per serving of our favorite recipes to find out how we can get the most bang for our buck. Now that Little Deer is eating more, I’m really trying to figure out how to help her eat this way too. I really enjoyed reading the Paleo Baby post on Hellobee and it’s definitely given me some ideas for the future.
I can’t wait to share more about how we’re doing on the paleo path, how we’re feeding Little Deer, as well as budgeting and recipe ideas. We’re pretty committed to this new lifestyle, and can’t wait to learn more as we go!
I’ve mentioned different links and resources throughout the post, but thought I would compile them all here at the end in one spot.
- The Whole30 site: All the information you need to know to get started!
- It Starts with Food book: The book that accompanies the Whole30 program, highly recommend it if you want to really understand the principles behind eating this way. It’s a fast and easy read.
- Nom Nom Paleo site: Lots of great resources and recipes.
- Make Ahead Paleo cookbook: Another great resource for tons of yummy recipes.
- Paleo Baby! : Post on Hellobee with information about the paleo diet and tips and ideas for feeding your toddler the paleo way.
- Paleo posts on Hellobee: Here’s even more Hellobee resources
- Mason jar salads: A post I wrote last month about making mason jar salads, a great meal while on the Whole30.
- US Wellness Meats: This is the site that we purchased natural and additive-free meats.
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Ready to give the Whole30 a try? What questions do you all have?