3 Things I Learned from the Whole 30 Challenge!

Hey guys guess what?! I finished 30 days of not consuming any grains, legumes, dairy, added sugar, processed food and alcohol.  And guess what else?  I SURVIVED!! I know crazy right?  Back when I was first thinking about doing this I thought MAN that would be hard.  30 days of absolutely no sugar (not even natural sugars like honey or maple syrup) and no weekend wine nights?  Could I get through a day without a little dark chocolate?  I guess so.  But the biggest point of the Whole 30 is to change your relationship with food.  Change your cravings, your tastebuds and your mindset around all things food. They encourage you to not snack unless you are truly hungry. They ask you to not make things like pancakes or cookies with “approved” ingredients.  Even if a “pancake” is made out of banana and egg, your brain still thinks you are giving into your pancake craving.  That is a NO NO!

Eat. Real. Food.

Simple right?

So now you are thinking what the heck did you eat???  Well I documented Week 1 and Week 2 day by day for you to see what most days looked like for us.  I decided not to write a play by play of the last 2 weeks as they were business as usual! You can check out my instagram for lots of pictures of what I ate everyday.  Now I have to tell you what I learned.

  1. I rarely need a snack. I had gotten into a habit of having a smaller breakfast, then a snack, a regular sized lunch, an afternoon snack, a pre-workout snack, an after workout snack, dinner, and a little snack dessert.  No matter how healthy the food I was eating was, that is still A LOT of snacking.  And the worst part about snacking?  It made it so I was constantly thinking about food.  I would eat and then an hour later start to think I was hungry because I knew I was supposed to eat again soon.  Do you know the feeling? Of grabbing your snack because “it’s time” to eat a snack.  I realized how little I really listened to my body when it came to hunger.  The first few days of this were rough, but quickly I realized that eating the nutrient dense food I was, meant I actually wasn’t hungry for snacks.  I can’t tell you how good it feels to eat lunch and then not even think about food until I get home to start making dinner.  Talk about saving some brain space in your day!
  2. I have an amazing support system.  If you are thinking about doing the Whole30 I highly encourage you to do it with someone.  Whether they are your spouse, your best friend, or your 2nd cousin 2 states away, you need support.  You need someone to remind you why you started, to check in to see what you are eating and to bounce how you are feeling off of.  When I told my fam I wanted to do this back at the beginning of December, they all thought I was a little crazy.  But once I got my Mom on board and she read It Starts With Food, slowly but surely my sisters got on board and their hubbies too!  We started an 8 person group text, named it Whole30 and we were on our way to support city!   My biggest support was my hubby though.  He got just as excited as I was about it and helped in anyway he could, making meals with me and staying strong in the midst of lots of free croissants and pizza at work.  It was incredibly nice to have someone to text when you are proud of yourself for saying no to temptation, or when you have a headache for a week straight that just won’t go away (hello sugar dragon). Bottom line – the buddy system is key.
  3. I have tons of energy now.  I didn’t necessarily start Whole 30 as a way to change any big problem with my health.  I’m 26, eat pretty healthy, work out regularly. But I felt like challenging myself to see what it would be like to have everything in my body working properly.  It’s not something you normally question if you aren’t sick or have chronic pain or something, but I thought, why not try it now? So cut to 30 days later and realize I had no idea that I was low energy before.  It’s normal to take a couple hours to fully wake up your body and then get sleepy again around 2:30, right? GUESS WHAT?! It’s not.  Now I wake up earlier than I used to, and have energy immediately.  My eyes are wide open and I get excited about the day.  Crazy right?  My mind is clear and the energy is stable all day.  Afternoon dip? Not over here.  I have even gotten up to run a few times before work, something I could never manage to do before.  My favorite part about this is the energy I still have after eating dinner.  We had gotten in a bad habit before of eating dinner and rinsing some dishes then watching TV and going to bed.  Now after dinner we jump up and totally clean the kitchen, pack up leftovers for lunch, make a quick frittata or scramble for the next morning and clean up again.  We both do this both because Whole30 is all about prep and cleaning dishes, and because we have the energy to do so.  This is something I hadn’t realized was a problem but am so grateful for this energy now!  Without it I wouldn’t be able to work on this blog for hours a day after work and bring you guys tons of Whole30 recipes!

If you have done Whole30 what have you learned?  And if you are thinking about it what is stopping you?  It may seem hard to give up your favorite things but trust me, it’s only 30 days, and if you can do that, you can do anything!