my tips for completing a whole 30

Screen Shot 2016-02-21 at 3.19.12 PMme on day 21 of my Whole 30. 

I can’t say enough good things about the Whole 30, which is probably why along the way I convinced at least three other people to try it out as well. Now that I have two under my belt, I feel seasoned enough to pass along some wisdom to anyone else out there considering a Whole 30.

But first, why Whole 30? There are many reasons people might take on the challenge, but here’s where I’ve gotten the most out of it:

  • Weight loss – This isn’t the end goal in Whole 30, but I certainly don’t hate it. I lost 11 pounds during my most recent Whole 30 (just to clarify, I also exercise at least 3 days a week during a typical week).
  • Self control – Some people will say they have no willpower. For me, it’s easier to remove any gray areas of what I can and can’t have, which is one thing I really like about Whole 30. For instance, it’s easier for me to say “no” to birthday cake than to try to justify a reason why I can have it (“oh I had a small breakfast/am going to work out later/deserve this/etc.”). In addition, you’ll probably find that you get full faster during and post Whole 30.
  • Mental clarity – I’ve been getting a lot of great feedback in the past few weeks at work and I have to attribute at least a part of it to the mental clarity I feel when I’m eating better and not drinking as much. On a similar note, when you can’t turn to food or alcohol to cope with what you’re going through during any given time period, you have to actually FEEL your feelings and cope with them in healthy ways (talking to people, exercise, meditation, etc.).
  • Clear skin – I basically never wore foundation during my Whole 30 because I didn’t break out at all. As a side note, I take Biotin pills at least once a day which also aids in hair, skin, and nail health.
  • Boosted metabolism – Whole 30 is supposed to reset your metabolism and both times I’ve found that I’ve continued to lose weight once my Whole 30 ended. If you’re careful, it’s definitely possible to maintain Whole 30 weight loss.

So now that you know why I’m obsessed with the Whole 30, here are my tips for surviving it:

  • Track your calories – “Aren’t you hungry all the time on Whole 30?” No, I wasn’t. I track my calories in the MyFitnessPal app to make sure that I get at least 1200 calories a day. It can be difficult because there are so many high calorie foods that you can’t have on Whole 30 which is why keeping track of my calories daily was so important to me.
  • Tea aggressive – To keep myself from grazing (which is a bad non-Whole 30 habit I have), I would drink somewhere around 4 cups of tea a day. My favorite tea is actually a combination of two teas:  green tea with a lemon ginger zinger added in it. Obviously drink it plain without sugar or honey.
  • WTF can you eat – For breakfast, I’d have roasted diced sweet potatoes with an egg and a chicken sausage link with a 100 calorie pack of guacamole. For lunch, I typically packed myself a salad with baked chicken breast (although on previous Whole 30 I was more into homemade chicken and veggie soups. To save myself time, I stuck mostly to salads this time around). Dinner was where I tried to make things interesting. One of my favorites was roasted spaghetti squash with a homemade ground turkey and mushroom marinara sauce. SO filling. If you’re willing to make your own mayo (I did and it was surprisingly a lot easier than I thought it would be), you can have egg salad, tuna salad, or chicken salad with raw veggies. When I didn’t feel like cooking/packing a lunch or whatever, I would get a Five Guys burger in a lettuce wrap instead of a bun or get a Chipotle bowl without rice or beans.
  • Keep a Lara bar and/or beef jerky in your purse – If I was going over to someone else’s house or heading out for errands, I never knew for sure if there’d be Whole 30 friendly food. Keeping these things in my purse gave me a great buffer and kept me accountable.
  • JUST say “no” (you don’t have to explain yourself to EVERYONE) – When someone offers you something you can’t have (or to go to happy hour or whatever), you can say “no.” You don’t have to explain your Whole 30 to them if you don’t want to, and it might make it easier for yourself if you don’t. Because anyone who has ever been on a diet knows that there is always going to be someone who thinks it’s silly and try to get you to break it.
  • Do it in January or in the winter. – The first time I did Whole 30, I did it in August. This was basically asking for failure because there are always way more parties, vacations, etc. that make sticking to any sort of diet (especially one as strict as Whole 30), harder.
  • If you’re a girl, start it AFTER your period. – This way, you only have to worry about being on your period once during the Whole 30. I dealt with it twice because I didn’t plan for this.
  • Do it with a friend – When I first did the Whole 30, I did it with my roommate Monica. This made it so much easier because we had no junk food or alcohol in our apartment. Plus, since we couldn’t do dinners/happy hours with friends, we had a lot more free time to work out together or do other non-eating/drinking activities.

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The day after my Whole 30 ended and I reunited with my true love–vodka 😉

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