Ohhhhh my goodness, IT’S FINALLY OVER. That month was a strug, fam – definitely harder than I thought it would be. If I’m being super honest, I really don’t think I would have finished it if I hadn’t made it so public on the blog and The Garlic Diaries’ Insta. BUT – we finished it! Finished it legit and 100% with zero cheats. And now that it’s over, I’m so glad we did it, and it was a good experience overall – definitely with its up and downs!
WHAT WE LOVED
There were a lot of things I loved about Whole 30. I love that I now have a greater knowledge of the junk (and usually extra sugar) that is in most stuff you buy at the grocery store, and now it’s a habit for us to look at labels while we’re grocery shopping. For example, the other day, Seth grabbed a container of yogurt and guess how much sugar it had? 18 grams! Dang gurl. We used to buy that yogurt thinking it was a relatively healthy choice!
I love that I got used to eating healthy “sweet” things. My favorites: 1. bananas sliced up and sprinkled with cinnamon with a scoop of almond butter on the side to eat it with. 2. LARABARS <<< OMG obsession. I know those are technically not recommended to eat all the time on Whole 30, so I tried not to eat them constantly, but I definitely had some. And I’m totes fine with that.
I love that my brain almost was “re-trained” on how to eat. Now if I’m eating a meal that has quinoa as a side, for example, I make sure that I’m still getting a bunch of veggies, protein, and healthy fats with it rather than making the grain half of my plate.
I LOVE how I felt. Energized, healthy, and motivated. This hit home WAY harder after we ate lotttssss of non-Whole 30 food the days after we finished. We went out to eat several times, we had pancakes for breakfast, we ordered pizza – we did it all…and we felt AWFUL. Lazy, tired, weighed down, gross – more than anything I noticed the lack of energy I had and the lack of motivation to be even remotely productive. Feeling that way is not even kind of worth the junk food. I think that’s the biggest thing I got out of Whole 30 – how HUGE of a difference it makes in your life when you eat super healthy and work out consistently. The quality of life is so much higher, and that is worth making some sacrifices – i.e. not being lazy and ordering pizza when you don’t want to cook (hi – I do this weekly 👋). What you put into your body matters, and that is something I learned more than ever this month, and it was made an extreme reality when I was exhausted, lazy, and groggy for the handful of NOT healthy eating days post Whole 30.
I love the subtle healthy changes that I have gotten used to and stuck with post Whole 30. Things like barely sweetening my coffee with honey or not sweetening it at all. And not adding cheese and other dairy to recipes when it’s really not necessary. I learned during Whole 30 that those things aren’t needed to make food delicious. So now that I’m used to it and know that, I don’t add cheese to my eggs just because I can. Or I blend olive oil into soup instead of adding cream because I know it’s just as tasty. Or I add almond milk to my coffee instead of half and half. See what I mean? Food doesn’t need that stuff to taste good, but before Whole 30, I was in the habit of adding it just because I could.
I love that it was not at all focused on weight, but rather how you feel. Usually when I go on a “diet,” the scale makes a regular appearance several times a week. That can be discouraging, defeating, and make the entire experience just about your weight. But on Whole 30, you don’t weigh yourself at all throughout. And that forces you to stop being paranoid about the number on the scale, but instead focus on how you feel. And you feel great.
The food! Man we ate some amazing food. Some really, really amazing food. I assembled my faves in this collage below (most of these pictures are stolen from my Instagram stories, hence the writing and overall low quality of pictures 😬):
Starting from the top left:
- Spicy marinara stuffed spaghetti squash – STRAIGHT UP comfort food, peeps. So freakin’ good. I could eat it on a weekly basis.
- Coconut Spaghetti Squash Noodle Bowls. This one made it to the blog! So, SO yummy!
- Grilled pork chops. Seth has now made these at least 3 times since this picture was taken – they are super simple pork chops seasoned with Montreal Steak Seasoning and thrown on the grill. They are one of our favorite things to eat!
- Red Curry over Cauliflower Rice. I ❤ curry, so obvi this is on my list of faves. I used this recipe but omitted the brown sugar – still SO good!
- Chicken Tikka Masala (aka Butter Chicken)…I had dreams about this one. I was dying of food happiness while eating it. I used this recipe (recommended by my sister in law) and substituted coconut milk for all the dairy!
- Steak and Grilled Romaine Salad with Tahini Drizzle << that salad recipe is from the Whole 30 cookbook and OH MY LANTA it’s one of my new fave salads for real. It is seriously unreal delicious.
- Sweet potato fries! I lost count of how many times I made these, but they are bae. Here’s the recipe – they made it to the blog, too!
WHAT WE STRUGGLED WITH
The general heavy restrictiveness. The restrictions were hard, people…there’s no other way to put it. If you did Whole 30 and didn’t think the restrictions were hard, then props to you – you are a stronger person than me! I struggled from day one to day thirty with how restrictive Whole 30 is. Sometimes I REALLY wanted a scoop of brown rice to soak up a yummy sauce with. Or a drizzle of honey over some fruit. Or a slice whole wheat toast for breakfast <<< thissss. However…the hardest restriction for me was the lack of being allowed to “fake it.” For example, on Paleo, which is super similar to Whole 30, if you want to switch it up for breakfast and make pancakes, you can make Paleo approved pancakes. Same with Paleo approved brownies, cookies, and other desserts and “treats.” But on Whole 30? No ma’am. None of that business. I totally get why – it is supposed to break you of your unhealthy eating habits physically and psychologically…but still. I HATED that part!
DATE NIGHTS! I cannot even tell you how excited I am to have freedom with dates! My husband and I love going out to dinner for dates. Yes, we can think of other stuff to do, and we did, but going out to eat is something we really enjoy for dates, and I am VERY happy to be able to do that again.
No cheat nights. This plays into the restrictiveness thing, but the lack of ability to go to over to our friends’ house when they’re having a BBQ and have a cheat night was hard. Not being able to have a rice krispie when people bring a tray of them to meeting was annoying. I just like to live with balance – eating healthy most of the time and including some cheats and fun here and there. And our lack of ability to do that for an entire month was A STRUG FEST.
OUR OVERALL REVIEW AND CONSENSUS
Overall, in a nutshell, it was a good experience, I’m glad we did it, we have a huge sense of accomplishment for doing it 100% all in with no cheating, BUT – I’ll most likely never do it again. It’s a little too restrictive for me to repeat in the future, but I fully believe that it had long lasting benefits and made changes in our eating habits that will stick. And maybe as more time passes I will decide to repeat another round – who knows! Would I recommend it to the general public? Absolutely! But only if you can legit, full-out commit to doing it right. Don’t decide on a whim. Look at your calendar and pick a time that you really think you can do it WITHOUT cheating – not a month when a big holiday is coming or you have two family weddings that you are traveling to. Research Whole 30 extensively, and go into it ready to kick that month’s butt without giving in. If you complete it and have a similar experience to ours, you will be SUPER FREAKING GLAD to be finished, but you will end the month with a changed attitude towards food and new, healthier habits built.
I will tell you one thing for sure, after doing Whole 30 for a month and then eating whatever we wanted for several days, I 100% believe that a healthy lifestyle is absolutely mandatory for feeling good and having energy and motivation throughout your day. At least for me it is. The change was drastic over those days where we were eating unhealthy food. And that realization alone was worth the 30 day challenge.