Week One In the Books
Whew! Yesterday was the end of week 1 of our Whole 30. In case you missed it, I shared about Whole 30 and why we’re doing it in my last blog post. If you haven’t read that yet, you might want to pop over there first so the rest of this makes sense.
I thought about waiting until the end to give you a run down of how things went for us, how we got ready for it etc, but that seems like it would either be an overwhelming amount of information, or that I would end up trying to cram a lot into one post and not really get into anything of depth, which is what I’m trying to avoid these days. So, real time updates is what you’re getting!
I will be completely honest here – yesterday and today have been the hardest days so far for me. But, after reading up on other people’s experiences with this I know this is normal. This is the point in the cycle where the newness rubs off, you get sick of eating eggs (oh, the eggs!), and you just feel more cranky. That said, I do also see that I’m feeling better in some ways, so that’s helping to push through. And you know what? While it might make me want to whine and cry because I can’t have what I really want right now, it’s not hard.
If you read any amount of Whole 30 anything, at some point you’re going to come across the statement “Whole 30 isn’t hard. Drinking your coffee black isn’t hard. Fighting cancer is hard.” When I read that it made me stop in my tracks and think of all the excuses I’d given myself in the past for why I packed it in when I was trying to take care of my health, and I decided right then and there that I was going to do this. It’s 30 days. You can do anything for 30 days. Except not drink water. That you can’t not do for 30 days.
So, here we are with week 1 under our belts, and I’m feeling somewhat cranky, especially later in the day, like I want to take a nap, and like I want to rub my face in bread or cupcakes. And you know what I had to do today? Bake cupcakes. And then put frosting on them.
Before you go telling me that I didn’t have to, let me assure you that I did. You see, for many years we’ve done staff birthdays, because it’s a way to let our staff know that we love them and appreciate them and because birthday cakes are a big deal here. So, whenever we have a staff birthday, on the next payday when we’ll all be together for a few minutes while the guys get paid, we do cake. Today was that day, and I couldn’t say to the one worker who just happens to be Mr. January in the birthday rotation, that he wasn’t getting cake because it would mean I wanted to rub my face in it and cry. Nope.
So I put on my big girl britches and made those darn cupcakes. And then I made the frosting. And I iced them all, put on some sprinkles and then let them sit on our table for a good two hours before they were given out.
And, just in case that wasn’t enough torture, you know what’s next week? Olivia’s birthday. You know what that means? Yes. More cake. Because I don’t think it’s fair to tell my sweet daughter that she can’t have a treat on her birthday because her parents aren’t eating sugar or grains or dairy or any of the things that make a cake taste so dang good.
Here’s the thing about Whole 30 – planning makes all the difference. Before we started I spent several days getting things ready so we had good food on hand and in easy access. But, it’s not just food prep that requires planning. You also have to have a plan for what you’ll do in difficult situations when you know the food in front of you isn’t what you’re supposed to be eating.
For the record, because I’m really proud of myself, I made 29 cupcakes today. Then I made cream cheese icing. I counted out 15 cupcakes and two for our kids, then the rest went in a freezer bag and were put in the freezer. I iced the 17 cupcakes and put the rest of the icing in the freezer. In this whole process I didn’t lick a single drop of cake batter or icing. I didn’t lick a finger. I tasted none of it.
You want to talk about hard things? Yeesh.
Next week for Olivia’s birthday I’ll pull out the extra cupcakes and icing, frost them, sprinkle them, and then let her and her friends have a little party in the yard. Where I don’t have to watch them eat them. Because, torture.
I was able to do it because I had spent a lot of time thinking about it and how to do everything so that it was as easy as possible. There were times where it was really tempting to lick my finger rather than wipe it on the cloth, but in the big picture I really want to give this a chance without compromising the results by giving in just once to sugar, because it can affect cravings an all that. It’s only 30 days.
So, in case you were wondering if this Whole 30 thing is actually doable, it is. Even when it’s hard.
On the upside, after just one week aside from my lower back pain being almost completely gone, I’ve also noticed:
~I have fewer energy slumps
~My joints are all moving better in general
~I’m sleeping better
What’s Hard, What’s Easy(er)
If you’ve decided to look into Whole 30 and are thinking you might be interested in trying it, here are some things that I did to get ready that might be helpful, and things that have definitely made it easier for us to do.
Know why you want to do it. Seriously. Take the time to read up on it. Buy one of the books (I recommend It Starts With Food). Write some things down. I took the time after deciding that were were going to do it, but before we started, to write a personal inventory of where my health was at. I went through everything from physical outside appearance (weight, skin, hair condition etc.), physical inside (digestion, joints, aches & pains…), sleep, emotional, etc and just made bullet notes of how I was really feeling in all areas. The Whole 30 website has a downloadable sheet you can print off to use after you’re done to measure what they call “non scale victories”, because this isn’t about losing weight. It’s about getting healthy.
This was really helpful for me, and I think it’s helped me stay focused in the past week when I’ve gotten overwhelmed or frustrated. I can stop and remember ALL the reasons why I want to do this. I figure that if going through this process shows me that something I’m eating is causing inflammation that is leading to chronic joint pain, and that’s something I can eliminate, then why wouldn’t I want to spend 30 days figuring that out so the rest of my life can be better? It’s really a small investment.
Read the scienc-ey stuff. If you read It Starts With Food (or the other Whole 30 stuff) they mention that you can skip the “scienc-ey stuff” and just go right to the eating plan of Whole 30. I recommend that you don’t skip it. I’m not a big science type, but it was definitely worth it to read through this section because they’re really good at explaining, in layman’s terms, how your body processes sugar and what happens when things are off kilter from stress (which includes a lot of things) and poor eating habits. It was eye opening to me, and there were times where I was literally saying “Yes! This is me!”. It made sense for the first time ever. Chris felt the same way. We both got so much out of it, and have spent a lot of time talking about it. The thing I really appreciate about this is that it isn’t just a theory or an idea of eliminating one food group or anything like that. It’s based on a lot of medical research about how the body uses sugar and nutrients, what happens when the body is taxed, and how that can lead to unhealthy eating patterns. Honestly, it’s fascinating to me, and it’s a lot of stuff that I had already heard before, just solidly presented in a way that makes sense, like “if you do A, then B will happen”.
Food prep, food prep, food prep. I can’t say this enough. Take the time to really prepare your kitchen like they recommend in everything you’ll read. It makes a big difference. If you keep non-essential food in your fridge that is going to be a temptation, it will be a temptation. Take the time to stock up on good food, and then do a bit of work to have it ready to go. I cut up veggies and had them all separated in containers. I cooked some taco meat and some chicken and had those in containers for throwing in eggs or salads. I boiled up a bunch of eggs so they could be grabbed as easy snacks. I clarified butter. I bought olive oil. I made homemade salad dressing and put a jar in the fridge. I made homemade mayo. For those of you in the first world with access to stores that sell stuff like this (mayo, ghee/clarified butter) you’re lucky, but you don’t have to buy it. Honestly, making homemade mayo takes maybe 10 minutes. Look up recipes on Pinterest and experiment. You might actually have fun.
The biggest thing is to do a bit of work to have good food available, especially for the first couple of weeks. When you’re feeling cranky and hating the world as your body regulates, you are not going to want to take the time to peel a carrot or boil eggs, then you’ll make excuses about why you should give up. Make it hard for yourself to give up.
Make sure you eat enough at meals. This is one that both Chris and I have had to learn. One of the mentalities that we’ve all been taught when trying to lose weight or eat better is that less is more. But, this changes when you’re eating good food. When you’re only putting food in that is full of nutrients, and not preservatives, sugar or processed carbs, your body will use it. Eat until you’re pleasantly full, and make sure that you’re eating enough protein, because that will help fight cravings. Chris has especially struggled with this, but in the process realized that he was essentially grazing all day, and not always because he was hungry.
Have someone to talk to about it. It’s definitely been a huge thing to be talking about this with Chris and for us to be doing it together. We’re both noticing different things. We both have hard days and moments. We’re both learning things about our bodies and things like cravings and eating habits. It’s helping us make some decisions about how we want to nourish our family in the future, and we’re only a week in. Definitely try to find someone you can talk about it with, especially for days that are hard. Even better, find a buddy to do it with, so you can help each other out.
Read up on what to expect. As your body adjusts to not having certain things, you’re going to feel a lot of things. It’s really helpful to read up on the Whole 30 Timeline – a run down of what stages many people have reported going through. For myself, much is true, while other things haven’t been an issue, or are slightly off. But, they tell you that not everyone is the same and that some people take much longer because of their previous relationship with food. Take time to read about others experiences with Whole 30, even the bad ones. One thing I quickly realized when I was reading criticism of Whole 30 is that most people fell into one of the following categories:
- Already had a specific food situation that they were trying to make work, such as being a vegetarian.
- Didn’t do enough research to really know what they were committing to.
- Didn’t do enough planning, so they really struggled then gave up.
- Didn’t go all the way. A lot of people who quit do so before the two week mark, or right around it, when their bodies were still trying to regulate (read point 2).
The more you know about what to anticipate, the better you can prepare. Chris and I were able to remind each other that we were going to have cranky days so we needed to give each other an extra measure of grace.
I’m going to stop there for now. There will be more to share. At the very least, I wanted to put this out there for anyone who might be interested. It was really helpful for me to read about other people’s experiences. :)