It is February 3rd and that means I’ve been officially done with my Whole 30 challenge for 3 days! I’ve had a few questions about what it was like, was it worth it, would I do it again, what was the food like, etc. so I thought I’d break down my thoughts on the Whole 30 deal here on the blog today! Make sure to give it a like, add a comment etc. I love feedback!
First off, let’s start with why I decided to do the dang thing! It started with Orangetheory Fitness. If you aren’t familiar with OTF, ya should be because it’s basically amazing. I had all of these preconceived notions of women in full makeup and their Lululemon pants barely breaking a sweat and calling it a day. I could NOT have been more wrong and for that I am so glad, but I’ll do a whole other post on my love for OTF, because it definitely deserves that. Here’s what is important though, I had signed up in August and been going for a few months when they had this Thanksgiving-Christmas bootcamp designed to help us not gain extra weight. What intrigued me was that you get an In-body composition scan which tells you everything from your weight to your Body Mass Index (BMI) to your bone density. I was excited to see after a few months of starting my new fitness routine what this scan had to say. It wasn’t pretty. It said I was obese.
I know, at this point you might want to click out of this post, or roll your eyes or think to yourself “this is everything that’s wrong with society and weight issues today…” hang with me. I wasn’t obese in my weight, nor do I personally think or feel like I am obese. In fact, for the first time in years, I feel good about what I look like. My BMI or amount of body fat I have stored is an obese amount. I had 38% body fat. The normal range is below 27%. Why does this even matter? Well, high BMI can be linked to some serious health issues: high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, fatty liver disease to name a few. I have 3 daughters and I want to be strong and healthy for them and also for myself. That first scan was in November. I tightened up my workouts going 4-5 days a week, but honestly not much changed in the kitchen and I was “anti-anything that had to do with diet or restriction.” Basically, I wanted to indulge all the time and fix it in the gym. Newsflash: it doesn’t work that way. I found that out at the end of December at my second Inbody Scan where I learned nothing had changed. I lost .3lbs and my body fat stayed the same.
I also felt sluggish, my skin was suffering, I napped everyday, I wasn’t sleeping well at night, I felt bloated all the time. Something had to change. Enter Whole 30. My goal for the 30 days was not to lose a ton of weight, although I did expect some weight loss as a result. My goal was to begin lowering my body fat and eating foods that were nutritious and good for me that I could feel good about eating. I’ve never thought of tightening up my nutrition by eating more carbs & more fat but that’s what happened and the results were pretty incredible.
I entered Whole 30 the same way I do many other things. On a whim! I had thought about it enough, but I’m not a big researcher and thought I could sort of wing it. Newsflash again: You can’t really do that.
The most important thing in Whole 30 is to make sure you are checking your ingredients labels for added sugars. It’s okay, for example if you use a can of tomato sauce and it can have sugar in it because tomatoes naturally contain sugar, but the “added sugar” must be at zero! The ruthless elimination of added sugars was difficult because it is in EVERYTHING! Learning to eat whole, nutrient rich food, was so good for me! Alan joined me in the challenge and the girls begrudgingly did it too. For them, we just eliminated added sugars but for Alan and I, we ate Whole 30 compliant, meaning- no gluten, no added sugars, no dairy and no making paleo substitutions of foods we loved (cauliflower crust pizza to replace regular pizza and so on).
The first couple of days were REAL rough. Less than 24 hours into it I had gotten the sugar detox headache and it lasted 2 days. The first couple of weeks were trial and error and expensive as we had to purchase so much more fresh food and didn’t really know how much we would eat. Once we got the hang of meal prepping (errrrrrrything) and how to cook Whole 30, the third week was a breeze. One slight hiccup was that we would be on vacation with our extended family for a wedding in Oregon for almost a whole week of Whole 30. I was nervous and excited to try out my new found will-power. It was surprisingly easier than I expected! Thankfully, Portland is such a hipster city it wasn’t hard to find oat milk substitutions and so much more that helped with eating every single meal at a restaurant. When in doubt, almost every place had grilled chicken and steamed vegetables for me to nosh on. The only meal that was suspect was the meal at the wedding. I know I likely had dairy and added sugars in what was served and could feel it the next day. I even said no to the wedding cake, although Alan and I shared an Eaton Mess- layers of slightly sweetened vanilla pudding, fresh berries, whipped cream and vanilla nougat pieces- and that was the only exception I made. I turned down donuts from Blue Star, cake from the best rated cake joint in Salem and so much more… AND I don’t regret it one bit! I felt strong saying no to things I would have normally caved in and eaten and then felt terrible about afterwards.
We returned home and finished out the final 3 days of Whole 30 strong!
All in all, I learned to really love the food and a much simpler way of cooking. While it does require more thoughtful meal prep, it opened our eyes to so much more food we hadn’t been eating (MORE PLANTAINS- YAY!!). I’ve started a new challenge at Orangetheory and had my first body scan just 12 days into Whole 30. I had already lost 2% body fat and 6lbs and at the end of the Whole 30 I was down 8lbs. (a win, considering I ate a whole week at restaurants!) and I’m not sure of the body fat yet, but I have another scan in 2 weeks and will report!
As far as where we go from here, we are adopting a more paleo approach to cooking. I haven’t added sugars, dairy or gluten back in yet and not sure we will. I’m enjoying this new healthier lifestyle to cooking and am so glad I gave it a shot. My baby girl turns 2 this weekend and ya better believe I’m having some birthday cake though!
Here’s a few photos of some of the food we ate along the way! From left to right:
- Baked chicken, tostones (2x fried plantains in avocado oil), steamed brocolli
- Salad with roasted sweet potatoes, grilled chicken, and homemade lemon dijon dressing
- Spicy arriabata with sautéed zucchini over spaghetti squash noodles
- Pastelon (casserole with mashed plantains, stewed meat/veggies) and avocado topped with pickled red onions
- Chia pudding bar for my Bible study
- Best protein shake! Orgain vanilla protein, cup of blueberries, 1 cup water, 1/4 cup full fat coconut milk, 1 tsp of almond butter
- Taco meat, mashed plantains, green beans, pickled red onions
- Whole 30 compliant chili with full fat coconut milk and avocado
- Oat milk latte