This January, like so many others around the world, I decided to do another round of Whole30. I *think* it's my fourth (although if memory serves, round three ended after about 2 weeks!) but this is my first one as a vegetarian. And let me tell you, this was a tough mother to get through! I did it with my sister and co-creator of our podcast, Life As We Try It, and we recently aired our episode on the Whole30 earlier this week. (Check it out on iTunes, Google Play and Spotify if you want our full deep dive as we paired it with a Whole30 approved mocktail!)
So for those who are curious about doing your own Whole30, I thought I would share, in no particular order, a few of my tips and feedback on what you may also expect to experience during your 30 days:
1. Meal planning is key - Whole30 came out with a very helpful timeline here and while there may be a certain point in the program where you can expect serious food boredom, I find this can happen at any time if you don't take a little time to plan ahead. Around week 3 of my program (right on track according to the timeline!) I forced myself to dig out a few recipes, make a grocery list and actually write out a menu for the week. For me this was a complete life saviour as this is also a time when the desire to quit is high. I'm talking about testing all of your limits related to food and habit!
2. Use the community - Whole30 has quickly become one of the biggest communities for those trying to do elimination diets or detoxes. The first one I did was way back in 2014 before Instagram had really hit its stride and you didn't have the sense of community within the Whole30 followers. All you have to do now is search #whole30 on any social platform and you can expect a deluge of recipes, support, and thank god, memes! I even went down a complete reddit hole one night when I was particularly desperate and it helped reading about others in the same boat!
3. Weight loss is not the #1 goal - While this will vary significantly from person to person, I have found that with each Whole30 I've completed, I've lost less weight. The main goal of the 30 days is to eat real food. So cut out all the crap and allergens that our body gets overloaded with and see how we react. I first came to it as a way to figure out some food sensitivities. I now know how my body reacts to them so I can make informed decisions. Yes, I may normally be gluten free (not only do I get the fun bloat and tummy issues, but I get weird spots of rashes on elbows, knee caps and one lone finger...bizarre!), but if I decide I'm gonna eat the damn pizza or snack on some ooey gooey gluten filled treat when out with girlfriends or travelling, then I will. We're all adults here. But thanks to my first two rounds of Whole30 and reintroducing the foods afterward, I was able to get some real answers on how certain foods affect me.
4. There's no hiding from your habits - Since I have done a few of these, my main goal with this edition was to see what habits I've settled into and how they affect my overall mood and outlook. How many of us pour a glass of wine after a long day, because we're bored, or because XYZ? I found this was a habit I was slipping into, especially in the lead up to the holidays. Which in our family starts sometime around October thanks to a steady stream of birthdays, holidays and the move toward hibernation in cold dark winters! So even though I may have almost wept by my third weekend of no booze watching my boyfriend pop a beer or pour himself a G&T, I knew I would feel better at the end after giving my liver and body a full 30 days off. Surprisingly this time, I did not miss the sweet stuff as much. My first one? I was having vivd dreams of salted caramel shortbread (and you can bet your ass that was my first treat on day 31). This time? I don't even know what "treat" I would want. I got groceries yesterday - which would include any food I wanted since Whole30 ends today - but I walked up and down the aisles not "craving" anything. But that glass of wine tomorrow? I'm going to savour every slow sip!
5. Maybe not for the veggies - As this was my first Whole30 as a vegetarian, I'm not sure I would advise it to other veggies. OR, better yet, perhaps get guidance from a proper nutritionist who can help meal plan and ensure you are getting enough nutrients. I bent the rules with one minor caveat. Along with no wheat, gluten, grains, soy, dairy, sugar and alcohol, a traditional Whole30 will not allow legumes or beans either. I added these in for more protein sources. Again, we're all adults so you do you boo. If you want to eat eggs 3 meals a day for protein, go for it. But for me, I wanted to focus on whole foods for this month so allowed beans and chickpeas. Others may opt to add in soy or other vegan friendly protein sources but this is what worked for me. Having said that, I'm not sure I noticed the surge in energy most report during the 30 days (and that I have experienced in the past) because I perhaps wasn't taking in enough protein or complex proteins that I'd normally get from quinoa or other balanced meals. (My family also has a history of low iron that causes energy slumps so this could be a result of me being a veggie and possibly needing iron supplements again so always check in with your doc or nutritionist).
6. Do expect clearer skin and clothes fitting better - Without overloading your body with sugar, dairy and gluten, you can expect less bloating overall for the month and the lack of sugar and booze will certainly do wonders for your skin! I'm not one to struggle with much acne but I did notice again a bit of a glow to my skin, which is always welcome, but especially in January when the summer tan has long since faded.
7. Hang in there - As I mentioned, this round seemed to affect my mood much more than in the past. I'm not sure if it's because I work from home now, it's effing cold in Canada in January or this particular season in my life just made things trickier. BUT, I am very glad I can stand here on my last day and say I did it! There will be moments (perhaps lots and lots of moments) when you'll just feel like giving in, quitting or saying F this. I have been there. A LOT this round. But like I said, rely on your community, get inspired with new meal ideas and focus on the positive. Maybe you don't get that glass of wine with friends, but you get to smugly wake up with zero hangover! Sure you missed that birthday cake at your friends party, but you know what? You can have cake on day 31. If you really really want to, you can have whatever you want on day 31. It's not forever (thank f**k) and that's what really pulled me through.
YOU GOT THIS. ✨
Have you ever done a Whole30? I'd love to hear your experiences! And if you're thinking about it and have any questions, please ask away! Now I'm off to put my champagne in the fridge so it's ice cold for my mimosa tomorrow 😅
Celebrating the end of another successful round of Whole30!
I wanted to wish a very happy 2019 to you all and let you know that yes, I am still here! This blog part of my website has always been close to my heart, but sadly it is often the first thing to fall to the wayside when the days and weeks start to get busy!
But I wanted to sign on today to let you know, that moving forward, one of my goals is a weekly blog post for 2019! I don't love public vows for new year's resolutions (for the obvious fact that majority of them end up being a bust which leads me to not updating on them, which leads to less blog posts, which leads to where we are right now!).
I'm going to be honest - 2018 was a bit of a tough one as well. I moved back to Canada at the end of 2017 after almost a decade in London UK. The adjustment to a slower life out in the country has been a little trying at times. It's temporary and we're looking to move this spring (yay adulting!) but throw in a relationship (with a foreigner I uprooted to come with me!), friendships old and new, family commitments, career growth and a puppy (freaking adorable puppy but still) made this year one of the most trying in a long time. I found I let things pile up on me more than I have in the past - my motivation and drive to work on myself took a nosedive in the latter half of the year.
2018 was also the first year I worked full time start to finish for myself as a freelancer. The freedom it provides is obviously the top attraction for many people - no sole boss, no stuffy office, no annoying team building days. But it can also be very isolating and taxing. There is no "off" time when you work for yourself. I find I constantly blur the lines between "working day" and "off the clock". These are constantly shifting. Work is also usually a constant on vacation which makes it hard to switch my brain off. Setting boundaries is something I'm working on to make sure I'm giving 100% of myself (and still have 100% to give).
Now I'm going into 2019 a little more organized and aware of what this process entails. It's scary but it's also exciting! Along with continuing to work in the luxury yachting world as a marketer and freelance writer, I'm proud to include two new clients in my portfolio for the future - both are part of the local community in different fields, and that was a wee goal of mine for 2018 - grow that sense of community that I found lacking in a big city like London.
And I'm not writing today to say that the clock changed to 12:01 on January 1 and suddenly my perspective shifted. I'm saying it's ok to not have all the plans work out; it's ok to not have 10 resolutions to become the best you; it's ok to have them and not reach them too. Because of this overload, I didn't even have a bright idea of what I wanted to accomplish or create in my 2019 until halfway through the Christmas break when I locked myself in my office and wrote a few things down. I always have plenty of little goals flitting around my head - I have become that person that normally has three or four different books on the go - but I wanted them to be tangible and smart about how I wanted my year to unfold.
So with a new year beginning with new promises for the year ahead, I thought I'd share just a few of the items I jotted down (perhaps these are the ones I'm most sure about but who can say!)
How about you? Have you set any goals for 2019?
*Not forgetting to show gratitude for all the amazing things that also happened in 2018, a small highlight reel: