Thinking of Doing a Whole 30?

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I wanted to put together this post for people that are thinking about doing a Whole 30, but haven’t actually experienced it yet.  We get asked a TON of questions about this, and even get messages from people we’ve never met that are thinking about doing it.    As I’ve mentioned, Tristan and I completed our 2nd official Whole 30 just a few days ago (whoo-hoo!) and we’ve both had great success with the experience both times.  We initially did our first Whole 30 from June 4th-July 3rd 2013, then continued eating “regular paleo”  until we did our second Whole 30 from January 8th-February 6th, 2014.  Even though it isn’t a weight-loss program, the most obvious physical change that we’ve had has been our weight loss – I’ve lost 59 lbs in 8 months, and Tristan has lost 34 lbs in 8 months.

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We have both loved losing weight and getting back to being proud of the way we look, but, more importantly, the Whole 30 has changed how our bodies feel and how our minds respond to food.  We look at the things that we eat now and we understand how they are going to make us feel, and that is a total game-changer for us since we have made that connection.  I mean, sure, we always knew how “bad” sugar and processed were for us, but we never actually took them completely out of our diets long enough to feel just how horrible they were making us feel everyday.  Even being as young as in our early 30s, we just got used to living with regular and semi-regular headaches, stomach aches, seasonal allergies, energy crashes, joint pain, brain fog, ect… ect… ect…  We actually used to think that being tired all the time was “normal”  – we have 3 kids, so it’s to be expected right?  The thought never crossed our minds that our exhaustion and all of these other ailments were actually caused by the foods that we were consuming on a regular basis.

So here we are, a little over 8 months into our Whole 30/Paleo journey, and we completely attribute our success to starting out with The Whole 30.  You can definitely just go straight into a regular Paleo diet, and a lot of people can have amazing success with that, but for us, the strictness of the W30 is what stripped our eating down to the bare basics and taught us some major will power.  And when I say that we “did” the Whole 30, I mean we DID THE WHOLE 30.  100% of the rules, 100% of the time -we didn’t cheat, slip, make excuses, variations, or exceptions – for 30 days straight.

So, with all of this being said, you are obviously reading this post because you are interested in trying it for yourself – right?  If you’re thinking that you would like to do a Whole 30, here is our top advice to you:

-FIND OUT WHAT IT IS.  Before you do anything else, read what the Whole 30 IS, and the rules of the program.  If, after reading these two things, you’re not totally scared of what they are asking you to do on a Whole 30, then continue to the next step:

-READ THE BOOK.   This is by-far the most important thing that you can do to prepare yourself for a Whole 30.  Read It Starts With Food“ IN IT’S ENTIRETY – BEFORE BEGINNING.  This book is written by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig – the creators of The Whole 30 – and it explains everything that you need to know about doing a Whole 30.  It’s really really important to understand the how’s and why’s BEFORE you start because the more prepared you are, the better success you will have and it will also keep you from cheating and making exceptions later on (sometimes even unknowingly).  Buy the book, Kindle it, borrow it, or check it out from the library.  Take as long as you need to read it, take notes, and make sure that you have a complete and total understanding of the program before you start.

-CHOOSE YOUR STARTING Day (and write it on the calendar in BIG letters).  After you’ve finished reading the book, you need to decide when to start.  This is such an important step!  You will probably feel ultra inspired and excited, and you may want to start immediately, but try to hold off – at least for a couple days.  Take out your calendar and look at the next couple weeks, and months.  Do you have vacations planned?  Birthday parties?  A wedding?  An anniversary?  A job change?  A big move?  Holiday plans?  You need to keep in mind that you’ll want your schedule to be as simple and “normal” as possible during the 30 days – especially the first 7-10 days.  Your body will be going through major detox, and you will feel tired, irritable, foggy, and just plain dead in the beginning, so plan accordingly.  Writing the starting day on the calendar will also get you mentally prepared for what’s coming.  With all of this being said, there will never be a “good time” to completely change your diet.  But you can make it easier on yourself by not doing your Whole 30 during an already stressful month.

-FIND A PARTNER TO DO IT WITH.  Do The Whole 30 with someone if at all possible.  Having Tristan do this with me has been SO needed and completely wonderful!  It’s so important to have an accountability partner – someone who can help you through the tough days and weak spots.  A spouse, sibling, friend, parent, co-worker, or neighbor could all be great options.  If you can’t find anyone that will do it with you, there are tons of online forums and support systems with experienced people to answer your questions and encourage you – or consider starting your own!  You’ll definitely need it!

-SHOP AND MEAL PLAN.  Several days before your starting day, start gathering recipes from Whole 30 websites and cookbooks, and have copies of the Meal Planning Template and Shopping List hanging on your fridge.  Make sure that you have good pans, knives, cutting boards, and any other kitchen tools that you don’t already have, cause you are going be cooking in the kitchen A LOT.  Clean out your fridge and pantry and get rid of all non-compliant foods – especially the tempting ones.  Go grocery shopping 1-3 days before your starting day –  plan ahead the meals that you will cook for the first week.  We didn’t do this on our first Whole 30, and we learned the hard way – that first week was so tiring and we had to cook every meal individually because we didn’t plan ahead.  Trust us, it will make it SO much easier on you if you plan ahead and pre-cook some of your meals!  I’m currently working on a blog post with our favorite recipes and sites, but two of our favorites are, The Clothes Make the Girl, and Nom Nom Paleo.  *Keep in mind that not every recipe on these sites will be 100% Whole 30 compliant, but that is part of knowing the program before starting – you’ll have to double check and know which ones are okay.

Obviously, we think that The Whole 30 is totally worth doing.  It has been so life-changing and wonderful for both of us, and we naturally want other people to experience that same life-change.  BUT, I will say, that I do not believe that The Whole 30 is a one-size-fits-all program, and you have to figure out what works for you.  It’s extremely challenging and it’s a BIG change for most people.  If you decide to do it, just know that if WE can do it, YOU can do it.  And I really hope that it will be a fantastic experience for you, and that you will get everything out of it that you want!