When Stefani told me she was doing the Whole 30, I thought she was nuts.
"Wait...so you can't have coffee creamer?"
"And no rice? No quinoa?"
Usually, when your bestie tries something new, your first instinct is to join in. I was thinking more like, have fun with that! At the time, she was living in Florida and I was in Colorado, so I cheered her on over the phone while enjoying my coconut coffee creamer, Cliff bars, and wine.
Thirty days later, I had heard how amazing she felt. How she was sleeping better, felt less bloated and had more energy.
Okay, okay. So what is this Whole 30 thing again?
What is the Whole 30
The Whole 30 is a program meant to change the way you look at food and the way you eat. You can find all the details here. But basically, you eliminate certain foods for thirty days in order to then (if you want) reintroduce those foods and find out if you have any allergies or sensitivities to them. Here's everything you need to eliminate:
- Added sugar
- Carrageenan, MSG or sulfites
Yea, I know. At first, it seems like...what is left to eat? Turns out, a lot! Check out the more extensive list here.
- All vegetables except for peas, corn or lima beans
- Nuts & seeds
- Herbs & spices
The first two weeks were rough, I'm not going to lie. I hated drinking my coffee black. I had headaches, nausea, and dreams about diving face first into a pile of doughnuts.
But I did it.
& yep. It was worth it. I was psyched to be done because I didn't have to plan my life around meal prep (unless I felt like it). I was more psyched about how clear-headed I felt. I had lost weight. I felt more comfortable in my clothes.
My runs were easier, I was having no problem waking up at 4 am four days a week to swim before work. At the time, I was training for my first triathlon by myself. For all my previous races, I had someone to train with. There weren't many runs, swims or bikes where I didn't have a buddy alongside me or nearby cheering me on.
The feeling of accomplishment upon completing my first round of Whole 30 was pretty great. Similar to how I felt the first time I ran a half marathon, or when I was first left alone to run a department. This feeling, combined with how AMAZING I felt eliminating all the junk from my diet, had me feeling UNSTOPPABLE. This confidence gave me a serious boost in my training. My sprint tri in Boulder during 2015 remains one of my favorite race experiences!
Tips & Tricks
Everyone's experience with the Whole 30 is different, but here are some tips and tricks that helped me along the way.
- Don't try to cut out caffeine on top of everything else. This didn't cross my mind AT ALL when planning my first round. But in the last five years since I first heard about Whole 30, others have told me they tried. I guess they figured, since they're cutting so much else, might as well cut caffeine out too? Anyway, if cutting caffeine is a goal that's great but I don't suggest trying to do it at the same time as your Whole 30.
- Plan, plan, plan.
- Then have a backup plan. No matter how many lists you make or recipes you save, there will be times you need emergency food. Here are some of my picks:
- Rotisserie chicken
- Apples, bananas or other easy-to-grab fruits
- Celery with almond butter
- Ready to eat bars (brands listed below, I tried not to rely on these too much but totally necessary sometimes, especially on a long run or on my bike)
- Find brands that are Whole 30 compliant. Research these BEFORE you start! If not, your first trip to the grocery store will probably take twice as long as usual because you'll be closely examining the back of every label. Here are some of my favorites:
- RX bars
- Epic bars
- Lara bars
- Nutpods coffee creamer
- Primal Kitchen mayonnaise, dressings, and sauces
- If you're training for a race while on Whole 30, I recommend discussing your food plan with your coach or nutrition professional.
One of my favorite things about the Whole 30 is all the information about the program is FREE online. All the specifics about what you can and can't eat, recipes, etc. There is a LOT of information and I encourage anyone considering the program to check out the Whole 30 website.
One book in particular that has been a great resource for me is, It Starts With Food. It breaks down the science and reasoning behind the Whole 30 concept, which honestly made it easier for me to stick to the program! I recommend the following resources to anyone thinking about doing the Whole 30:
- The Whole 30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom, by Melissa Hartwig & Dallas Hartwig
- It Starts with Food, by Melissa Hartwig & Dallas Hartwig
- Well Fed: Paleo Recipes for People Who Love to Eat, by Melissa Joulwan
The Whole 30 can definitely be life-changing! I'm not saying it's for everyone, but my friends and family who have tried it have nothing but positive things to say. Hopefully, this post gave you a better idea of what the Whole 30 is all about.
Have you tried the Whole 30 or another elimination plan that worked for you? I would love to hear your thoughts down in the comments!
Written by Ashley Pettigrew
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