For the duration of May, Jonathan and I completed the Whole30 diet! To be honest I didn’t want to say anything before or during the month because I wasn’t sure if we were going to make it, but we did and now we can share our thoughts on our Whole30 experience!
Why we did Whole30
Our friends Dave & Taylor did Whole30 and spoke really highly of it, and some people from my fitness group mentioned doing Whole30 for the month of May, so Jonathan and I decided to do it together. I’ve never done any kind of restrictive diet – or even a daniel fast – so I was interested in the “reset” aspect of Whole30. I’d worked off most of my honeymoon weight, but with summer around the corner, I thought it would be a good time to get my body whipped into shape! Plus, I’ve struggled with adult acne for a while, and hoped that eliminating certain foods would help me pinpoint a food or food group that was contributing to my breakouts.
What is Whole30
Depending on who you ask, Whole30 is a 30 day nutrition program or a fad demphasizes whole, non processed foods.
What you can’t eat: bread, dairy, grains (including brown rice, oatmeal, & quinoa), corn, alcohol, legumes, soy, peanuts & peanut butter.
What you can eat: potatoes, yams, plantains (which were our LIFE saver), any unprocessed meats (no sausage or bacon unless sugar and nitrite free), vegetables, etc.
For a full guideline on what’s allowed and what isn’t on Whole30, make sure you visit the official Whole30 website. And as with any medical decisions, consult your doctor first before embarking on a diet!
The Best Part of Whole30
Doing Whole30 made me realize two things. First, that sugar IS IN EVERYTHING. Sausages. Even hot sauce! Contrary to popular belief, sugar is what is killing us and making us more diseased. Not fat. Not even really salt, but sugar.
Secondly, Whole30 made me realize that I didn’t have to eat grains with every meal. As Africans, both Jonathan and I are used to having rice, pasta, or some kind of swallow (fufu, ugali, etc) with every meal. Whole30 forced us to give most of that up, which lead to a bunch of meals that were simply meats and veggies, but were still completely satisfying.
The Worst Part of Whole30
The hardest aspect of Whole30 was having to cook almost every single meal by yourself. Now I LOVE to cook, but once Saturday’s came I wanted to do nothing more than order a box of pizza! We struggled a bit with finding Whole30 compliant places to eat in NYC, which I found surprising. Funny enough, our go to “eating out” meal was a steak and eggs dish from a fairly new eatery in Jersey City.
Hanging out with friends is almost always synonymous with food and/or drink so we had to get creative with socializing! Even meeting up for coffee is difficult unless you can drink coffee black but no thanks for me. Most of our friends were understanding and patient with us, and we tried to pick locations ourselves so we could scout the menu in advance and make sure there was a Whole30 compliant meal option.
Post Whole30 Reflections
I’m going to split these into two sections, body and mind, because Whole30 is supposed to positively impact both.
Let’s start with the body. Jonathan legit lost 10 pounds in the first 2 weeks of Whole30, without any additional exercise. I didn’t lose as much weight (2 pounds), but my body fat percent dropped from 29.7% to 26.6% and my percent muscle increased from 31.4% to 33.1%. Although I didn’t physically feel like I lost weight, clothes that used to be a bit tight, like these white pants in these pictures, fit perfectly again. We didn’t have any health problems that we were hoping Whole30 would address, so no commentary there.
My skin was absolutely stunning for the first few weeks of Whole30 – I was glowing so much! On day 24, I got my first pimple in weeks, which I found strange because it didn’t seem hormonal. My face continued to worsen, and about a week after wrapping up, I had the worst acne breakout I’ve had all year. It was really discouraging because I JUST felt like I’d gotten my skin under control, and because I couldn’t pinpoint a particular food that was causing the breakouts since they started before the program ended. It doesn’t help that I changed my birth control method right before starting Whole30, which could have also screwed with my hormones.
Mentally, I didn’t feel any “tiger blood” effects from Whole30. As a matter of fact, I was extremely tired the first week because I was consuming much fewer calories while doing more exercise. Once I chilled with the workouts, I stopped being so fatigued, but never did I feel like omg I now have super strength because I’m eating so clean. I say all this to say that the “effects” of Whole30 on me weren’t drastic or readily obvious.
Would I do Whole30 again?
Hopefully I won’t need to! I didn’t purchase processed foods that much before, but now I read ingredient labels for everything. I’m eating less grains and limiting my sugar intake to special desserts. Dairy is a controversial topic in our house: I can live without milk & cheese but Jonathan loves him some milk in his tea and butter on his teatime muffins. I can definitely see myself doing Whole30 again in January, after a liberal holiday season, but again, hopefully I’ll make better choices and won’t need it!