My husband Chris has a pretty sensitive stomach. Gluten, dairy, spicy food, sweets – you name one and it probably doesn't sit well with him. On the other hand, my body is somewhat like a tank. Spending most of my growing years eating chicken nuggets means that I don't notice many of the unfortunate side-effects of "bad" food.
When we got married, I quickly learned that my cooking style was going to need to change for the sake of Chris's well-being. Overall, we tend to be pretty good at avoiding gluten, and eat spicy food in moderation. Sweets and dairy, however, are our weak spot. After a long winter of bad habits, Chris and I knew we needed to "hit refresh." We decided to try whole30.
At first, I didn't think it would be much of a stretch. I figured we would adjust to going without dairy like we had already adjusted to going without gluten – taking out gluten makes me sleep better and feel lighter, so I had hoped dairy would cause similar feelings. I was somewhat prepared to fight back the tears over missing a glass of wine at night or a scoop of ice cream. I was pretty wrong... it was hard!
Week one felt for us the way most people record it – that it's no big deal. Weeks two and three were killers. Thankfully, I didn't feel too irritable, but I did feel pretty pathetic. I tried to make it a goal not to talk about it at work, so I wouldn't be able to sit and potentially complain for hours of my day while I sit at a desk missing chocolate. That failed pretty quickly when my co-workers realized I had been refusing their offers for treats consistently and started asking questions. By week four, I was starting to feel wonderful, and if anyone asked, I told them, "this must be what healthy really feels like." But I was majorly missing the ease of not cooking all of the time. I didn't mind eating the food so much... but I really didn't want to have to cook it. Week four boiled down to a lot of laziness in my heart.
So, how did it end? We honestly did not make it to 30 and ended up stopping at 25. I know there are a lot of reasons why you should stick it out to 30, and I won't say our excuses made our decision reasonable! But it was Easter weekend, with a Friday off of work and school and so many social events that we didn't want to navigate how to feed ourselves and be able to spend time with our loved ones. But here's the good part...
We felt the best we've ever felt in our lives.
Lots of energy, great sleep, and exercise came easy. I haven't been running the way I was back in the fall, and a run during whole30 felt like I could go on forever. We didn't quite break any sugar additions we have, but we did realize a spoonful of ice cream is just as satisfying for us as a whole bowl. The craziest result for me was losing fat in my arms and hips. I'm petite (5' tall), but my body structure is more curvy than waif-like. I stay in decent shape wish running and generally watching what I eat. I've taken better care of myself in the past year, and have felt my body change because of that. I didn't think I could lose anything in my arms and hips and thought it was just a natural part of my build. I ended up going down a whole pant size and had a noticeable change in the way my arms looked.
Since whole30, we've done our best to continue cooking this way and making good decisions when we eat out. This ends up meaning that during the week, we eat clean, and over the weekend add in dairy and tortilla chips (we do live in Texas, after all). I still struggle with the concept of spending so much time in the kitchen, and have had to humbly ask for help in that area from Chris. He's been a great teammate! We have added back in alcohol, and enjoy a glass of wine or two during the week. A spoonful of ice cream before an episode of GoT is pretty much the greatest, and that happens once every other week or so. I'm seeing us actually eat everything healthy I bought at the store each week, and I'm seeing our sweet treats last longer (stretching that dollar!). We don't feel like we're missing out, and our bodies are thankful for it.
So, what do you think? Have you ever tried whole30 (or anything like it)? Would you?
Photo via healthfest's instagram - my main recipe inspiration source!