See Mom Try: Whole30 Edition
Michael is kind of this super-handsome annoyingly-fit sort of guy. Like, he can just decide to go run a half-marathon without training and do it in good time. If he puts on holiday pounds, he can get rid of them in a couple of work outs. He has a hearty appetite and gets his pizza on at least weekly without the fluffy mid-section repercussions most of us struggle with.
I'm just telling you this so you know that it was re-heally nice of him to say, "sure" with no hesitation when I asked him if he wanted to do Whole30 with me. He didn't really need to, but he just wanted to support me.
So, on March 1st we stocked our fridge with all things healthy and whole and made a pact to stick to the Whole30 diet throughout the month. The whole basis of Whole30 is to simply eat whole, unprocessed foods for 30 days. No dairy, no added sugar. Here's a shakedown:
With a thousand fad diets to choose from, I picked Whole30 for a few reasons.
One: No counting calories. Does anything suck the fun out of eating more than counting calories? I've used calorie tracking apps and have done Weight Watchers, which is counting points instead of calories but to me, feels just as exhausting. I hate the mind games I have when I am hungry but only have X amount of cals I can eat. I LOVED that I could eat my fill with this diet. I truly wasn't left hungry.
Two: It's only 30 days. Generally, I don't love the idea of cutting out any food groups, but as this is a 30 day challenge, I could make an exception. It was easy to stay motivated because I had that 30 day goal. I think it is much more challenging starting a diet without an end date. I lived by the Whole30 mantra, "When it doubt, leave it out...it's only 30 days!" By day five, saying, "It's only 30 days" felt like a long, sugar-free eternity, but in the grand scheme of things 30 days ain't no thang.
Three: The focus of Whole30 is not primarily on weight loss. In fact, it recommends that you go the entire 30 days without weighing yourself. Michael suffers from seasonal allergies and I suffer from PCOS. Cleaning up your diet is supposed to help with that. (Especially cutting out carbs and sugar for me.) Michael doesn't feel like it helped with his allergies at all, but (TMI) I did get a cycle TWO months in a row which never happens for me. I am not sure if that was coincidence or not but I can't help but credit Whole30 a bit for that.
It is also is set up to help you kick bad habits. This was my main appeal. I am a total snack monster. I just graze all day on animal crackers, fruit snacks, and chocolate covered anything. I wanted to kick my bad habits to the side and figured this would be a great way to cold-turkey cut it out.
We gave ourselves plenty of time to mentally prepare for our month of healthy eating. I reached out on social media and got plenty of tips and most importantly, recipes from some friends of mine. I made a meal plan and went shopping at Trader Joe's and Costco for things like Primal Kitchen Mayo (made with avocado oil and no added sugar) and cocnonut aminos. (A soy sauce substitute and very tasty in Asian dishes.)
I typically do not enjoy cooking. I make dinner maybe four nights out of the week and then what I call "easy dinner" (eggs, mac n cheese, cereal, sandwiches) the other nights. My go to meals are always fast and simple with minimal clean up. As it turns out, quick and easy meals (pasta...rice) are not always the healthiest. I was dreading a whole month of recipes that maybe weren't complicated per say, but had a bunch more steps and used a lot more pots and pans that what I was used to. Plus, dinner-cooking time is always just the most chaotic time of day for me (and probably every other stay-at-home parent in the world) because the girls are just waking up from their afternoon naps and usually grumpy and Michael isn't home yet and unable to help with the thousands of things they need. Pair that with me chopping five different kinds of veggies while mixing something on the stove and it is just enough to do me in. But! I did it! I did it all month long. Here are some things I learned:
Hack #1 Chop veggies during nap time (or during a less chaotic time of day). If I knew my recipe called for half a red onion and some diced bell peppers I would do that ahead of time when the girls were down so all I had to do was throw some food on a pan during crazy hour.
Hack #2 Double up the recipe so there is plenty of left overs for lunches. When we were first married, I always underestimated how much a grown man eats! I have learned that more is more.
Hack #3 Always have a plan! Don't let yourself wonder what you are going to eat for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Know ahead of time which groceries you need and what you are going to eat. The times that were the hardest for me is when lunch time rolled around and I didn't have any left overs and didn't leave myself enough time to make something before I had to be somewhere.
Like I said before, the primary reason for doing Whole30 is not to lose weight, but I'll be darned if that isn't a huge reason why I did it! Here is a list of some benefits we received during our month of clean eating:
- Michael lost 10lbs and I lost 11lbs.
-We get full easier on leaner meals. In the beginning we just kept saying how much we missed eating bread or other processed carbs because it made us feel full so much more quickly! But now we get full on very reasonable sized portions of leaner foods.
-I had more energy. I noticed that when I tried crash diets with low calorie intake in the past I would feel super sluggish during my workouts. This was not the case during Whole30. I felt more energy and didn't get sleepy in the afternoons like I did before Whole30.
-We kicked our sweet tooth to the curb. I used to NEED sweets every single day. After I got the girls down for nap I would raid the pantry for some chocolate. Now we both feel like we can have sweets on special occasions or weekends without dying.
Don't get me wrong, sweets are still a part of my life...and honestly, they kind of make life worth living, right?! I downed an entire Butterfinger milkshake at Braum's for our date night earlier this week. I told Michael at the time, being healthy is great but if being chubby means I get one of those bad boys every once in a while then sign me up. Ha! It was fun branching out of my cooking comfort zone and adding a few new healthy meals into my recipe box. Overall, it was a good experience that I don't want to do again for a while...because...bread!