I'm on my last day of the 30-day cleanse known as the Whole30.
Embarking on the Whole30® diet meal plan was poorly timed, poorly thought out, and I can't believe I'm actually going to finish this thing.
Here are the things that were harder than expected, things that were easier than expected, and things that REALLY helped me make it through.
Harder Than Expected
Early in December, I accidentally went a full day (plus a breakfast) eating Whole30® diet meal plan-approved foods. I thought to myself, "Hmmm. If I start the Whole30 now, I'm already a day and half into this thing!"
I shrugged my shoulders, and off I went on my quest. Later that day I realized I was going to be on the Whole30® diet mean plan through Christmas and the New Year.
Never one to shrink from a challenge, I redoubled my resolve, and leaned into my Whole30, knowing the onslaught of holiday goodies I would face.
Honestly, it was pretty easy to resist all the treats. Until it wasn't.
I made it past the temptation of Donettes on my birthday (my favorite junk food), a Toblerone bar in my stocking (my favorite candy bar), and pumpkin pie on Christmas Day (my favorite pie).
When did the 30-day cleanse diet start to suck? Like, REALLY suck? When my friend at the gym gave my family 2 growlers of home-brewed beer right before my brothers came into town for the holidays.
I love beer.
I could smell the malted barley across the room. Watching my brothers pour out pints of dark creamy ale was about all I could handle. Everything in me wanted to join them.
To make matters worse, my brothers didn't polish it off. It just stayed around for a couple of days...Staring me down from the refrigerator door...Mocking me as I reached for another serving of leftover turkey...and another serving of leftover turkey...and another...
Did I prevail? Yes. Was it easy? NO! Am I glad I stayed the course? YES!!!
Having a pint with my brothers would have been the slippery slope that led me into taking a day or two off, or giving up on my goal entirely.
I don't know how much cheating would have affected my results, but I DO know that I would have missed out on the mental reward of staying on track and finishing what I started.
Coming out of the Whole30 diet meal plan with the knowledge that you DO have power over what you eat, and drink may be more valuable than the nutritional aspects of the program.
Something will be sucky for you too. Hang on at all costs.
Easier Than Expected
I expected it to be really hard to refuse things like holiday cookies, egg nog, and chocolate-covered pretzels.
However, something crazy happened. Eating healthier made me want to hit more workouts at the gym. Eating healthier made me perform better in those workouts, and performing better made me want to eat healthier food!
It was like I was able to catch an upward spiral before all the holiday treats became too much to resist.
I felt as though I had been doing workouts with ankle weights on, and when they came off, I could feel the positive effect of their absence. It was a lot easier to stay on the straight and narrow path when I saw my results creeping up the whiteboard at the gym.
This will happen to you too. Get through the first 10-15 days of the Whole30 diet mean plan before throwing in the towel, and you'll start to wonder why you didn't clean up your diet sooner!
Things That REALLY Helped
The Whole30 diet meal plan recently amended their plan to include good ol' potatoes. As someone who struggles to get enough calories and feel full on the Whole30, potatoes were SUCH a gift on days when I felt like stuffing my face.
I know, I know. Many of you just threw up in your mouth a little bit, but if you can stomach them, these are an incredible asset. Sardines are small, which means they have lower levels of mercury than larger fish (like tuna). They're also a VERY portable protein.
You can't carry unrefrigerated chicken breasts around all day, and then eat it as an afternoon snack, but a handy can of sardines can go anywhere with you, and they'll keep you from pulling into a fast food joint when you run out of food.
3. Eating less sugar.
In previous Whole30s I know I ate too much sugar from fruit. I understand that blueberries are a lot better than donuts, but sugar is the enemy, and I found myself constantly turning to things like oranges, and apples to feed my craving for sweets.
This time around, I concentrated on low-calorie fruits and veggies. Every time I went to the grocery store, I would buy tons of snacks that required little to no prep time: carrots, radishes, tomatoes, cucumbers, etc.
Being able to eat TONS of low-calorie food when I needed it was so helpful, and I feel a lot better having cut out so much more sugar this go-around. I also noticed that my body composition changed a lot more with this type of eating, which wasn't really my goal, but hey, who's complaining?
Drinking LaCroix felt like a little bit of a cheat, but it still landed in the parameters of the Whole30. Plus, drinking carbonated beverages helped me feel more satiated on days when I felt like I just couldn't eat enough. I didn't over-do it, but leaving room for a little fizzy indulgence was pretty awesome.
5. Raspberry Zinger Tea.
This is another one that satisfied cravings for sweets, and made me feel full. There are literally no calories in this tea, but the tart/sweet flavor helped me chill out during peak snacking hours before bed.
So, There You Have It
The good, the bad, and the helpful from my Whole30 experience. Be warned, be encouraged, and take what you will from my journey.
Wish me luck on my last day, and if you're giving a clean-eating plan some thought in the New Year, make the leap! You'll be glad you did.
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P.S. If you're eating clean, but still wanting to treat yourself, these jump ropes will fit the bill without spoiling your diet :)
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P.S. We're in no way affiliated with the folks at Whole30. We just think they're really awesome.