When you survive a Whole30

The past week or so I’ve had severe writer’s block for one reason or another. When you blog, you not only owe consistency to your readers but you also owe it to yourself to continue to work on something you’ve tried so hard to upkeep.

So, in the meantime, I’ve been scouring for inspiration in the form of food, fuckboys, feminism, and some other f words I can’t really think of at the moment.

Then, I thought, Omg Beth! You completed your first Whole30. You should totes blog about it! 

So, here I am. Blogging about myself and all my ~super kewl~ accomplishments.

As many of you know (since I’m assuming you all care so much about me and read my blog 24/7), I decided to give up alcohol well over a month ago. Then proceeded to give up fuckboys. Then I was like, “Hey. If I can give up alcohol AND fuckboys, I can totally give up pizza and cookies too!!!!”

So I did.

Alcohol, fuckboys, AND pizza for 30 days?! You can’t be serious. Well, folks, it’s possible! Even as a single, 24 year old bartender with an undying love for carbs and cheese.

I ordered Melissa Hartwig’s book, It Starts With Food, and finished it the same day it arrived. It’s no secret that processed foods, alcohol, and fuckboys basically everything that makes life ~flirty and fun~ are not the best things to put into your body on the reg.

I’ve always had healthy-ish diet. I mean, the past year I’ve basically had to. However, I’v had an absolutely terrible relationship with food and my body in general. As a young female, pressures about achieving a “perfect” body was basically integral in my every day thoughts and actions…and still is. Calorie counting, compulsively weighing myself, etc. etc. lead to unhealthy habits and stress. But, I wrote all about self-deprecation and low-self esteem here – uplifting stuff!

When I decided to cut out alcohol, I didn’t think I’d drop 3 pant sizes and I didn’t want to. I wanted to find a way to take control of my anxiety, and moreso take control of my relationship with my body. After a couple weeks booze-free, I made the conscious decision to try out Whole30. If I can deny a Tito’s soda, I can certainly deny a slice of pizza, right?

Most people go paleo to lose weigh and to be the best physical version of themselves. I read countless articles on successes and failures. Celebratory responses and harsh realities. “This changed my life” responses and “I freaking gained 10 pounds this is bullish*t” complaints.

In my experience, when you set out to complete any sort of goal, you need a legitimate purpose. You can’t go into it with a superficial attitude. Like, “I want to lose 30 pounds, so I’m going to go paleo.” For someone like me, that mindset wouldn’t work. I had to search for more meaning behind the decision, more reasons to turn down that side of fries or shot of Fireball.

What did completing the “Whole30” mean to me? This was a super important question I had to ask myself. Defining my end goal as something more abstract than just a number on the scale or the calorie count in 6 oz of chicken. I had to first figure out what spiked my interest in Whole30 then analyze if it was something I was prepared to take on. I didn’t make this decision on a day that I was super hungover with regrets about eating 4 slices of Jumbo Slice the night before, it was a day that I had a clear head and a clear understanding of what I wanted and how I was going to achieve it.

I’m here to give you my unbiased opinion on what the Whole30 meant for me. I don’t know if you clicked on this with the hopes that this is a miraculous diet that will make Jen Selter envy you rather than the other way around. I won’t tell you I lost 30 pounds and dropped 2 pant sizes. I won’t tell you my self-esteem has skyrocketed and I’m completely at peace with everything in my life.

To me, the Whole30 wasn’t about perfecting my life. It was about choosing what parts I wanted to improve and going from there.

My main goal going into this was to change my attitude towards food. To no longer view it as the enemy. To experiment what real, whole, foods would do for my anxiety, sleep, and overall wellbeing. To begin to take control of what was I was putting into my body rather than letting stress hold rein to it.

Stress is an inevitable beast that will never go away. Ever. We can meditate, get 8 hours of sleep and drink a gallon of water a day, fall in love, achieve career goals, and/or do everything under the sun to reach some form of nirvana in our lives.

They say happiness is a journey, not a destination. Which I do believe, but what they really should say is, “Happiness is a journey, not a destination….and stress is a freaking bitch.”

I wanted to find a tangible way to ameliorate that. I identified the main sources of my stress and analyzed what that stress led to (overeating, lack of sleep, self-doubt). I’m not saying bread is the source of all of my problems, but processed foods was certainly a superficial and short-lived fix I’d often turn to which then, you know, led to more stress.

Here’s what I learned on the Whole30:

1. You don’t need to meal prep like they do on Pinterest.

I’m not organized. Like, my room is spotless clean for the first time in weeks, I don’t have an compulsive desire to clean all of the dishes as soon as they are dirty, and I have roughly 8 planners that only lasted me one week. My life is all over the place as it is, and I simply don’t want to spend 3+ hours in the kitchen every Sunday. I did do that a couple of times, but it was only when I truly had the time. The fact is, you’re not going to know how hungry your body will be in 6 days. Depending on the duration of your workout, the timing of your meals, etc., it’s going to change. I found it helpful to just have a shit ton of meat cooked for the week since that’s usually what takes the longest. The rest you can throw together the day of if you have veggies, sweet potatos, and nuts on deck.

Summary: Just have Whole30 shit in your fridge.

2. You will spend more money at the grocery store.

And that sucks. It was a harsh reality the first week watching the cashier ring the number up higher than it had ever been, but I tried to see it as an investment in my health. Like, you could buy “10 for 10” processed food deals and save, but I bet that $1 meal probably won’t be as filling as 6oz of lean protein with roasted garlic brussels sprouts. Easier said than done, but it’s the mindset you have to have to be successful.

That being said, don’t feel pressured to go HAM on the grass-fed, organic stuff. I did the best I could, but it’s simply not in my budget to buy organic everything. I ❤ Whole Foods, but my bank account does not. Most of my money went towards meat and oils.

Summary: Meat is expensive. Frozen veggies are cheap AF. Go to Trader Joe’s for nuts and avocados.

3. Going out to eat is hard.

“Can I have a burger, no bun, on a salad with no cheese, no croutons, no dressing, and olive oil on the side?” I’m sure many restaurants would do that for you, but like, c’mon. You’ll feel a bit awkward (learned from experience), and it will probably make you want to avoid going out to eat very often. (Saving $$ you blew at the grocery store! Yay!)


4. You won’t eat a bag of grilled chicken the same way you’d eat a bag of chips (if a bag of grilled chicken is even a thing).

Whole30 encourages you to eat a lot of protein, fat, and veggies, aka things that are hard to “overeat.” Have you ever heard someone say, “Ugh, I just ate that ENTIRE bag of broiled chicken right after eating 6 avocados. Fuck.” Probs not. The point is to train your brain and body to work as one.

It’s easy to mindlessly eat a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Half Baked, for one because it’s Ben and Jerry’s Half Baked, but two, because it’s not actually satisfying you in the ways that you think it is. In the moment, the sugar literally gets you on a high which is why you keep eating, but the crash/withdrawal is inevitable. Sugar addiction is real ppl!  However, when you eat 4 eggs and 2 cups of vegetables drizzled with olive oil, your stomach will legitimately be full, triggering your brain to say “Ok, I’m finished and satisfied.” ~Cool~

Summary: I never would want to binge eat chicken. Neither should you.

5. If you are a mindless snack-eater, I would steer clear of nuts.

I cut out nuts completely in week 3, because I found myself overeating them, treating them as a bag of Fritos that I so desperately missed. They’re a good snack to have on hand, but you also don’t want to fill the void of snacking something crunchy with them. Same goes with dried fruit. You will probably still miss Fritos by the time you are finished snacking on a shit-ton of cashews.

Summary: Nuts and dried apricots are not as good as Fritos. So don’t try and pretend they are.

6. We’re less concerned of the absence of alcohol and more concerned with how others view the absence of alcohol.

Being drunk is cool in the same way I thought that liking coffee was cool when I was growing up. I never liked coffee. I hated the bitter taste, almost in the same way I cringed when I sipped on my first Mike’s Hard Lemonade (lol). In high school, I didn’t want coffee, I just wanted to hold a Dunkin’s cup in my hand to fit in (lol’ing to myself). When at a bar and everyone has a drink in their hand, it’s a natural reaction to want one in your hands too even if you don’t actually want the actual alcohol.

“Have a shot Beth!!!!” “No thanks, I’m good!” “Awwww c’mon!!!” “Haha, nah I’m good! Thanks though!”

If anyone pushes you beyond your second “No,” you should prob find new friends. Kidding. But in the time they were pressuring you about taking a shot, they could have taken the damn shot themselves. People didn’t really pressure me all too much, they actually respected the fact that I was doing the Whole30. You could also use the generic excuses (I followed up with probable responses in italics and how you can retort):

  1. I gotta drive. But you don’t have a car???!! Oh, I mean I have to be prepared to drive the Uber incase my actual Uber driver is drunk. Just tryna be safe over here!
  2. I’m on antibiotics. One shot won’t hurt! I will literally projectile vomit on your expensive Barbour jacket if I take this shot. *walks away slowly*
  3. I’m pregnant. You don’t have a boyfriend tho and you’re a male??! It’s 2017, get with the times. Anything is possible.
  4. Fireball is literal trash in a shot glass. Accurate.
  5. I have to be up super early for an interview. But I’m your boss? Are you leaving the company without telling me? Haha, oops. Sry.
  6. I don’t take shots. You’re a pussy! Aw thanks, you should be too! #feminism
  7. Why don’t you take the shot? You look like you need it. But you’re sober… Not if I’m high on lyfe~~~!!!!!!!

Summary: The more bizarre the excuse, the better. Sort of like the easiest way to get to the bathroom in middle school during class was to tell your male teacher you’re having “female problems” rather than simply asking to go to the bathroom.

7. You will feel better about yourself.

Duh. This is obvious, but like, actually, you’re self-confidence will most likely be better than ever. I don’t know how else to explain it, really. I’m not at my smallest, my hair isn’t the length I want to to be, and I have a pimple on my chin. But, that stuff doesn’t bother me like it used to. I found peace in the fact that I’m taking care of myself, and the confidence comes hand in hand with that.

Summary: Pimples still suck, but they’re not that bad.

8. But you will still have your bad days.

Like I said, stress is a bitch. One that will never go away. There were many mornings I was frustrated with my progress, itching to step on the scale, wondering why my old jeans weren’t as loose as I wanted them to be. However, I was able to identify these toxic thoughts and approach them in a different way than before. It’s easier to do that when you’re actively being proactive (if that makes sense).

Summary: Again, stress is a bitch.

9. There is no such thing as the “perfect” Whole30.

There are a lot of rules and guidelines that come with the Whole30, including but not limited to: eating only Whole30-approved foods, prepping all meals, eating 3 meals a day without snacking on anything in between, avoiding calorie counting and weighing yourself, refusing to a take single bite or taste of anything not Whole30 approved, sitting down and enjoying each meal free of electronic distractions, not eating anything a certain amount of hours before sleeping, etc. etc. The list goes on and it’s extensive and often overwhelming when people being to research what the Whole30 allows.

Here’s what I did:

1.  Eat only Whole30 approved foods.

Here’s what I didn’t do:

  1. Everything else.

Does that mean I failed the Whole30? No. Well, maybe according to Melissa Hartwig I did, but idgaf. I remembered what my goals were going in and adjusted them as I saw fit. I knew mindless snacking was a problem, so I eliminated nuts halfway through. I knew I needed to eat a larger dinner to avoid being hungry late night, so I adjusted upped my protein intake at dinnertime about a week in. It’s not about eliminating Instagram completely from your mealtimes or beating yourself up over having an apple at 1am.  Define your own Whole30, however, that doesn’t mean making it into Whole30DaysofPizza…although I think I should start working on a book about that.

Summary: If you want to Insta all of your Whole30 food, that’s cool. If you want to have a giant sweet potato at 2am, that’s cool too. Just eat the right food (and make sure you have the right lighting for the Insta).

10. You can (and you will) stop craving pizza and ice cream!

No way. WAY!

I’ve said this before, but we are a creatures of societal and personal habits. We train our brains to believe certain things which create positive or negative habits as a result.

You can train yourself how not to want certain foods in the same way you can train your brain not to text fuckboys when you’re feeling lonely. Easier said than done, I know. I’m not saying I dream about sautéed veggies (lol), but my desire to reach for a handful of fries has diminished and my self-doubt about my own self-discipline has completely changed.

Summary: Pizza is addictive and the government doesn’t fund pizza rehab. So you gotta create your own form of rehab – and it’s possible!

~Healthy living is a lifestyle~

Be more cliche, Beth!!! I know, I know. I was hoping the “~” surrounding it made it sound less cliche, but not totally sure if it accomplished that. I know that a “WholeRestOfYourLife” is probably not possible for me, but I have no desire to slip back into old habits that I worked so hard to get rid of.

Thanks for reading this far! Happy that I was somewhat entertaining and some of you might be thinking, “Hmmm I want to try the Whole30!” But, most of you are probably like, “Did she get skinny?!?!!?”

I don’t know how much weight I lost. I did lose weight, but the eliminating the scale from my life was another goal I had, so I have yet to step on it. The Madewell jeans I ordered online that were once too small now fit and I crushed my 7 mile PR…so yay?

I did take a before and after picture which I will share but if you decided to try out the Whole30, I encourage you to set goals that extend beyond weight loss and progress pictures.

After on the left, before on the right…because I f*cked up when creating my first “collage” since birthday collages on Insta were a thing.
No six pack like Kayla Itsines…*sigh*. No butt like Jen Selter…*sigh*.  Was it a miraculous physical transformation? No. But achieving a miraculous physical or mental transformation in 30 days isn’t possible for most people. Celebrate small victories which will turn into larger ones down the road.

I’ve said this once and I’ll say it again: pizza does not rule da world, u rule da world!

Questions about Whole30? Email me! writerlustblog@gmail.com

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