You may be thinking, “really? life changing?” If you know me, you know I wasn’t significantly out of shape or overweight a few years ago when I completed my first Whole30. I had run a few half marathons, and I looked like I was in good shape. And generally, I would agree. But I would argue this whole journey isn’t about how much you weigh or what you look like – it’s about your daily habits and how you feel.
On March 1, 2015, I started my first Whole30! It was the first day as a full time stay at home mom. Why start then? For one, I knew I could no longer afford my daily mocha from Starbucks (nor did I need the sugar), I wanted to set out a personal goal for myself as life was changing quickly and most importantly, I wanted to start making changes that would keep me healthy for the long haul. I know I will need to take care of my daughter for the rest of her life and while I was living a relatively healthy lifestyle, I decided I didn’t need anyone worrying about my health later in life. I needed to make those changes immediately for my family and me.
Since those first 30 days, to my surprise I’ve kept up my habits.
- Morning coffee. Like I said not only could I not afford to buy an expensive coffee every day, I also shouldn’t. If you like sugar in your coffee or a flavored latte, etc. I’d encourage you to look at how many grams of sugar are in your cup. It’s seriously frightening. It’s not that I didn’t know my drink had sugar, but I really never took the time to understand how much. The transition was hard, but now on any given day my coffee is either straight coffee with some non-dairy milk (almond, cashew or full-fat coconut milk) or a latte I make at home with one of those milks, a ½ teaspoon of coconut oil and cinnamon frothed.What happened to my mochas? I actually don’t even enjoy them that much anymore. If I go to a coffee shop, I’ll either get a latte similar to what I make at home or my new favorite is a miel with honey and cinnamon. During the holidays though, a peppermint mocha is for sure still top of the charts! Here’s the thing. Even though I still enjoy these coffees every once in a while, they’re not part of my daily habit. And I try to treat them like what they are – a treat vs my morning coffee.
- Meal planning. I’ve talked about this on my Facebook page a few times, but I really got in the habit of meal planning during Whole30. I would do it sporadically before, but if I didn’t plan out my meals it was so much easier to fall suit to grabbing a frozen pizza or grabbing some type of fast food. Again, I’ll reiterate it’s not that this never happens. Especially in our lives of unknown with my daughter, plans can change on a dime, so we still eat frozen pizza and fast food sometimes but it’s pretty rare and, you guessed it, not part of our habits anymore.The meals I plan for are basically compliant. We found a lot of great recipes during our program and eat those regularly. I still do tacos, although, I typically just eat mine as a salad and have some tortilla chips unless we go to a great Mexican restaurant. Same thing with burgers, I just load mine up with toppings and eat it without the bun. So many of our condiments and sauces have changed, too. What I normally buy isn’t always 100% W30 compliant, but everything is so much closer as I read every nutrition label now and make choices that way.
- What calories? There were a few times in my life that I focused on a calorie number to determine what I should be putting in my mouth. Goodness, what a wrong way to do it, in my humble opinion. It’s probably the way I executed the plan, but I can guarantee I wasn’t getting the proper nutrition when I limited myself to a certain amount of calories and especially when a good amount of those calories were probably full of sugar.Today, I couldn’t tell you how many calories I eat but I bet it’s a ton! I know if I’m putting good food in my body that it doesn’t matter. I’m eating what I’m intended to eat and my health has never been better. I bet there are days I eat a great, whole breakfast that has more calories in it then what I allowed myself for a full day years ago.
- Shop talk. One of the biggest changes I’ve seen since eating whole is how I feel and in return, how I talk about food. I talk about it in regards to how it makes me feel. The energy it brings or the headaches I may get from eating something. For me, as a mom, especially a mom of girls, I’m hoping this way I talk about food helps them in their lives.How we talk about food and why we are eating the way we do can affect our kids so much. Yes, we talk about healthy and unhealthy choices, but I really try to explain to my oldest that why I am taking a “sugar break” – how we refer to our current round of Whole30 – is to help me feel better. And generally, I think it’s working. A couple of weeks ago, my daughter went to the grocery store with my mother-in-law and yes, she convinced Grandma to buy her a few things that I typically don’t buy, but later my MIL told me what happened at the store. The person at the bakery, bless their heart, saw my daughter and asked if she wanted a cupcake. She looked at my MIL and then back at the lady and simply said, “no, thank you.” This isn’t because she doesn’t love cupcakes, because trust me she does. She said no, because she didn’t want it right then. And that’s what we should all be doing. Indulging sometimes when we want it and considering how that food will make us feel.
We’re currently on our third round of Whole30 in our house. The first was March 2015 and the second was October 2015. I attest so much of my habits to doing two-thirty day sessions in a year. Last year during my pregnancy, I couldn’t stomach any vegetables or much meat during my first several months which changed my habits and allowed the sugar dragon back in. In some ways, I let it happen but I was very ready to get back to my old ways. This round has been surprisingly — gulp — easy. (Let’s hope not to jinx it!) I have not had many cravings at all, even though I have had the chocolate cake dream! And it’s probably been my most successful W30 round yet.
I have encouraged and supported numerous people to take the Whole30 journey since I completed my first thirty days, and I hope they have had similar life changing events. Life changing, you may still ask? Yes, because isn’t life really about what we do every day? And I expect these changes to change what my health may have looked like down the road. Whether or not W30 is for you, I would encourage you to consider how you do something similar for at least 30 days to change your habits with some strict guidelines. You can check out more about the Whole30 through their variety of books now available or if you’re more interested in creating a different program that works for you, I’d suggest reading It Starts With Food or Food Freedom Forever.
For ongoing food inspiration, be sure to find some of your favorite Instagram or Facebook accounts, including Here’s to momma!