Welp, I made it to Day 30 of Whole30, you guys, and I didn’t die, although it seemed touch-and-go for a little while there around the end of Week 3.
Okay, maybe I’m being a little dramatic. But it was hard going there for a while, and it was around Days 20 – 22 that I was most tempted to quit. Here’s how my experience broke down.
Days 1-7 – I felt pretty good, overall. I had some issues with moodiness and irritability, and low energy around Day 4, but that could’ve been chalked up to hormones.
Days 8 – 14 – This week was pretty uneventful. My mood seemed to even out. My energy was okay — not through the roof or anything, but I didn’t feel draggy and my thinking seemed to be getting clearer.
Days 15 – 21 – The week started well, but by mid-week I was irritable again, and I started having issues with lightheadedness and fatigue. I had a really difficult time waking up and dragging myself out of bed in the mornings. I was frustrated because, according to the Timeline, those issues should’ve happened during the first or second week and by this stage I should’ve been feeling “tiger blood” — a general overall feeling of awesomocity — and I most decidedly was not. This is also the point where chocolate cravings and food fatigue really started to get to me and I was most tempted to quit.
Days 21 – 28 – I pressed on, and after Day 22 or so the dizziness and fatigue passed, and so did the chocolate cravings. I was still pretty tired of the lack of variety in my diet, but by that point I had come too far to actually quit. On our next grocery run I added some new veggies into the rotation and that helped some with the food fatigue. Toward the end of the week I was feeling better overall. My energy levels were up, I had more stamina and I started feeling a lot more clear-headed and focused, but still felt like “tiger blood” was eluding me.
Days 29 & 30 – Yesterday and today I’ve felt pretty energetic and didn’t have any trouble waking up in the morning (well, today I did thanks to a bout of insomnia last night, but I woke up more easily than I expected to and I feel pretty good otherwise), so I think maybe I finally achieved “tiger blood” here at the tail end.
Overall, I’m pleased with the results. I weighed myself this morning for the first time since Day 1, and I actually lost five pounds, which I didn’t really expect or hope for, so that’s a nice bonus. But I achieved a number of non-scale victories, which include:
- The discipline that came with having to follow the rules for 30 days. This spilled over into other areas of my life, too. I also found myself exercising more consistently, and also doing a better job of sticking to a writing schedule.
- I broke some bad food habits I’d developed, and I stopped feeling like I’m missing out if my husband eats junk food without me (and he stopped feeling like he’s obligated to share it with me).
- The aforementioned increased energy, stamina and mental clarity. I no longer feel perpetually like I need a nap.
- Reduction of chronic pain . . . somewhat. My knees and back feel better, and my wrist tendonitis hasn’t flared up in well over a week, even though I’ve been doing a ton of typing and Photoshop, both of which tend to aggravate it. However, the pain I’ve been feeling in my clavicle for the last year or so hasn’t gotten any better, which leads me to suspect maybe it has more to do with my mattress than with chronic inflammation.
- Just generally feeling more confident, capable and good about life.
Life After Whole30
So will I be doing this again? Maybe, at some point, if my habits get so derailed again that I need a total nutrition reboot to get everything back on track. But I don’t plan to adopt it as a lifestyle. Going forward, my diet will be a mish-mash of Whole30-inspired meals, the Zone diet, and the PCOS diet. I’ll still avoid gluten, dairy and soy, and keep processed foods to a minimum, but don’t plan to concern myself too much with added sugar, legumes (I really miss peanut butter, y’all) or gluten-free grains in moderation.
One big change that I can attribute to my Whole30 experience is that I won’t be reinstituting cheat days, which just set me up for failure. I plan to follow Melissa Hartwig’s Food Freedom philosophy of consciously deciding whether it’s worth it to eat something that’s “off-plan.” I’ve already made up my mind that things like frozen pizza — even the really good kind from Sprout’s — and Little Debbies aren’t worth it. Actual delivery pizza and home baked chocolatey treats, on the other hand — totally worth it, and also don’t occur often enough to worry about, so I will enjoy them when the opportunity presents itself and then move on without guilt.
So would I recommend it? If you struggle with things like low energy, brain fog, high blood sugar, or chronic pain, definitely. And if you feel like you should be eating healthier but just can’t exercise the self-control to make healthier choices, or if you struggle with food issue like emotional eating, boredom eating, guilt over your choices, etc., I believe this would help break those unhealthy psychological patterns and get you on a road to wellness.
If you do it, just keep in mind that you need to commit to the entire 30 days, because it may take that long to see real results (for some people it takes 40, 50 or 60 days. I’m really glad I didn’t turn out to be one of those people), and there WILL be days when it is HARD and you want nothing more than to quit. It’s an excellent exercise in perseverance and patience, on top of everything else.
Have you done Whole30? Do you have any plans to? Share your experience and feel free to ask questions in the comments!