Post Whole 30 (v1.0 and v2.0) + Why I Will Do Another

Lather Rinse Repeat I really enjoyed this post on Whole 9 about multiple Whole 30s and it got my thoughts churning about my own experience doing multiple Whole 30s and how drastically different my behavior was after each.

I finished my first Whole 30 on August 30, 2012. Sometimes it was so tough I didn’t want to continue. Other times it just felt like business as usual — don’t mind me I’m just over here eating delicious meat and vegetables. When I finished I wanted to do it FOREVVVVVVVVVVVVVER, but I knew that wasn’t sustainable. It is not a Whole 365, it is never meant to be, and I was not going to continue being so restrictive even though, physically, it felt AMAZING!

I did the reintroduction protocol and I found it so, so useful. I loosened up the reigns and allowed myself a Paleo treat here and there in September because I had spent August really being aware of every morsel I put in my mouth. Then in October I decided to give up caffeine because it became glaringly obvious that it was crutch in my life. Doing that was INCREDIBLY difficult, and honestly I felt far more deprived without coffee than I ever did with out sugar, grains, dairy and legumes. It made me feel really sad actually, and two out of three months filled with very disciplined consumption had me feeling like I deserved a bit of recklessness.

This worked out well because do you know what October was? My Birthday month! Woo hoo! Also? HALLOWEEN MONTH. Do you know what happens when you work in an office during Halloween month? You don’t even feel a little bit guilty about having a “bite sized Snickers” here and there. Especially after you have spent so much time being vigilant about your food and drink. Also especially when you are training to finish a half marathon and running all the damn time. You understand this, yes? I know you do.

But then you start to feel a little bit like shit. So. Much. Sugar rarely makes anyone feel good, so you get back into the swing of things in the beginning of November. But November starts the Holidays, and that’s a whole other story. Since Thanksgiving is right around the corner and you have spent the last 3 years being VERY disciplined about your Holiday Meals as well, so you decide to eat ALL OF THE STUFFING, because why not? It’s only one day, and one day is not going to get the best of you.

But then you get to thinking about the Holidays in general. And WHY MUST WE ALL BE SO REGIMENTED? Can’t we just spend the season enjoying each other and the traditional foods we make and have a Christmas cooking now and then, I mean, COME ON. Don’t be such an uppity asshole with your “Healthy Eating During The Holidays” magazine articles.

Hmmm…maybe you are feeling a little cranky but it’s probably from all of that holiday stress. So much to do! Just grab a quick bite out. Oh look, the office catered lunch, just have the god damn sandwich already. IS IT VACATION YET? Why do we have to travel all over the place during the holidays, GAWD. Why is the gym not open during the weeks when you want to workout the most. UGH. Guess I’ll just sit here and finish the rest of this jar of Trader Joe’s cookie butter on the couch since everything is closed.

And all of a sudden your clothes don’t fit, you have vampire bite acne, you are waging a war on back fat but you are fighting it while puffy, sluggish and constantly dehydrated. And that is what happened after my first Whole 30. It seemed sort of “out of nowhere” when I got to the end of December and was eating cookie butter on my couch, but really there was a very logical progression. And it was one that made me want to go running back to the Whole 30 again.

Another Whole 30? But Wasn’t That The Problem In The First Place?

The black and white nature of the Whole 30 really rubs some people the wrong way. I get this, as I very much subscribe to the philosophy of “You’re Not The Boss of Me.” I understand that taking orders from strangers about what to eat (and more dramatically, what NOT to eat) can seem like the gateway to very disordered eating. But my thoughts lean towards this: The Whole 30 is a tool. It is a temporary exercise. It’s easy to want to give up while you are doing it. It’s easy to look at it and say it will cause disordered eating. But I actually think disordered eating is a bit more complex. And also probably not for this blog post.

But I definitely get the stress around the Whole 30 and all of it’s rules. It *is* a bit stressful. It’s designed to be that way. Not necessarily to cause stress but to offer you a time in your life where you are forced to find solutions. During stressful times you are forced to acquire good survival habits. During the Whole 30, you do the same. When you get back into the real world of having ALL THE FOOD at your disposal, the stressors are STILL THERE. They are just different. But if you’ve completed a Whole 30 you bring all of those survival skills with you. (And bonus, you probably know your body pretty well when you finish.)

Each time we have completed a Whole 30 I’ve added some positive, healthy habits to my life. During our initial attempt I learned to make one breakfast on the weekend that I can eat all week. I had never done that before, but it was NECESSARY for me to succeed at the Whole 30 that first time around. It is a habit that I am still using (and finding immensely helpful) six months later. Win. It was the ONLY anchor I had throughout my Holiday Downward Spiral. ha!

I also discovered that first time around that there are so many other awesome burger/chili toppers than cheese. Prior to August I didn’t think I would EVER be able to give up dairy. Turns out the regularity with which I ate dairy was directly proportional to the regularity with which I ate burgers and chili. Now that I found ALL SORTS of good things to eat with those two meals besides cheese, I’m completely dairy free and not feeling deprived. Win.

So despite completing my first Whole 30 and then letting the pendulum swing all the way to cookie butter, I thought it would be a useful exercise to do again. This time I wanted to build on the good habits that had stuck around and hopefully introduce some new ones. Exciting Beverages to Drink That Are Not Booze is something that I really embraced this second time around. And guess what? It’s sticking and I have *bounced back* with a lot less drinking now that ALL THE BOOZE is available to me.

This second time around I am determined to not swing back so far to the other side. I’m also determined to keep building on my healthy habits. And probably? That will include another Whole 30 at some point. I like it. It works for me. And it feels good. Plus, the goal of a Whole 30 is not to become perfect, it is to become better and more informed. I keep learning about myself which helps with the whole “better” element. Did you find yourself doing a major pendulum swing after your Whole 30? Are you doing anything strategic to help balance that out?

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35 Responses to Post Whole 30 (v1.0 and v2.0) + Why I Will Do Another

  1. Kristabella says:

    I did like a week of the reintro. And that was really re-introducing dairy (which made me feel like shit) and booze. And then after the first weekend came, I decided to go whole hog. I ate like complete crap all last weekend. And I felt it come Sunday evening when I had horrible stomach pains that kept me up.

    In a way, I’m glad I got that binge out of the way so fast because I realize how crappy it makes me feel and that eating Paleo makes me feel better, but I can still have treats every now and then (and wine) and coffee with sugar.

    I would and will definitely do one again!

    • Holly says:

      I’m so glad you had a good experience! I feel the same way — I’d never go back to eating how I did, but also I will never be someone who sticks so fiercely to something. It’s nice to have knowledge about how I feel both ways so I can make better decisions about when to off-road and with what kinds of foods.

  2. My pendulum has been swinging! But I definitely feel horrible when I eat certain things so I’m trying to really soak in those tummy aches and learn from them.

    I’m already considering doing another Whole30 right before the summer. I know it’s not the point… but I slimmed down quite a bit during mine and I can’t think of a better time to make sure my body is at it’s best. And besides there’s a ton of awesome produce in the summer 😉

    • Holly says:

      That was my experience doing it in August too — great produce made it so easy for the most part. Except, uh…I really enjoy a summer cocktail at a BBQ and had lots of vacations and stuff so that was the most challenging for me…haha

      I say let the pendulum swing a little bit, and then reel it back in! 🙂

  3. Jennifer says:

    This is quite frankly the best blog post ever. I can relate to every little bit of it! The black and white rules of the Whole30 which I love, the little bites here and there because I have spent so long being good, even eating allll the stuffing because hey, it’s Christmas!! I finished my first W30 at the end of January and things have been very hit and miss since. Some days I eat 100% compliant, others have the odd non-W30 but still paleo additions, and others see me curled up on the sofa scoffing a box of milk duds! I’m not sure how to get all of this sorted out to be honest. I didn’t lose weight on the W30 which was what I wanted so am going to have to face that somehow. Good luck for your next Whole30! And you are a saint for giving up caffeine. I couldn’t.

    • Holly says:

      Well the good news is you don’t have to have it all figured out just yet. It’s a continuous journey and not a straight line so there is bound to be some meandering, you know? I always feel like “Oh drat, I’m falling off the wagon again…blah blah blah” but ya know what — it’s just gathering more data. Like the last few months of the year — I will NEVER allow myself to go that long feeling that bad again. Seriously. So as much as I can look back and say “Oh, I really screwed up,” I totally DIDN’T screw up because I found a new boundary, which helps me in the long run in my quest to get healthy. Anyway…that was a long winded response, but — I think you know where I”m going with it, right? Keep up trying to sort it out. You’ll get there!

  4. Mariah B says:

    I love that thought that the Whole 30 is only a tool. I used it as such. It was sooo easy to stress over food! I found myself thinking more about food than I ever had in the past. My dreams would be about me making something for my husband with organic ketchup and then accidentally licking my finger. I would wake up in a sweat, all worried that I would have to start over!

    The problem with the Whole 30 for me, was my husband supported me in it even though he thinks he could never give up all his favorites like pizza and mike & ike’s. However, he was frustrated that I never wanted to eat out or do anything with his friends at restaurants. I just find it so silly now to spend $10-15 on a meal that I know is crap food and likely contains msg, nasty vegetable oils, etc. I would rather eat at home for 1/4 the cost, plus much better food!

    Anyway, I reintroduced dairy, which was as far as I got before giving up on the schedule. I had a hard time buying dairy even.. heh. I noticed some acne, but nothing else out of the ordinary. I’m back to eating mostly Whole 30, but now I don’t stress out about eating a bit of meatloaf (with breadcrumbs!!) at my mother-in-law’s house. I don’t really miss dairy that much, and I’m actually thinking I’ll create ghee out of my butter that I have stored.

    And try living in the state of Wisconsin and not wanting to eat dairy.. you haven’t lived until you’ve eaten fresh, squeaky cheese curds. 😉

    Love your recaps… Next time you’re up for a Whole 30, I’ll do it with you again! 🙂

  5. Chloe says:

    I love your Whole 30 posts and have been going over them since the fiance and I will be starting once next week. I am not going to lie im scaaaaaared. We eat pretty clean paleo most of the time, but it’s the little indulgences, like a glass of wine (or 3) with dinner, or a couple pieces of dark chocolate here and there that I think will be the hardest to give up. Any beginners advice? Did you find yourself eating a lot of nuts and fruit at the beginning? Thanks again for all your awesome posts!

    • Holly says:

      You can do it Chloe!

      I do actually eat a lot of nuts and fruits in the beginning, so I would say do what feels right and know that as you move along through the process it gets easier. Find lots of blogs to read, cook yourself DELICIOUS food, and find your indulgences (because we all need some.) Mine are: buying myself the expensive, fancy sparking water that I never let myself have and the expensive dried/unsweetened mango that I also never buy. It will be a challenge, so maybe write down a few things that you are trying to accomplish to set your mind right. It will give you something to anchor yourself to when the going gets tough!

  6. Isla says:

    My husband and I are in week 6 of the Whole 30(Whole 42). We drink Pelegrino with lemon a few times a week since we miss bubbly diet soda. No coffee wich was hard, but drink lots of tea. I miss donuts and will have one on Monday when our 6 weeks is up. Then we’re doing another 6 weeks. We’re new to paleo and the longer length of time is really helping establish new habits for us. Habits like eating out and eating convenience food have been the hardest changes. I’m down 17lbs., my husband is down 18lbs. and we’re feeling great which is making this new lifestyle easier to accept.

  7. Linda says:

    I’m finishing Day 6 of my first Whole 30 inspired by you and your blog! I’m not having any cravings yet, I’m not a soda or wine drinker, I never really ate convenience food and I’m gluten intolerant so my eating was relatively “good” prior to staring. I am however feeling 100% better after giving up dairy and processed carbs!! What a difference waking up in the morning and being alert and not feeling like I’m surfacing in jello! No foggy head at work, reduced congestion and headaches. I can’t thank you enough for telling your story and introducing me to this amazing program!!

  8. Mal says:

    All this talk about feeling crappy has me wishing that more people realized the effect that their diet has on them! I am very aware of how I feel compared to what I eat, but my family fails to see the connection, and it frustrates me.

    What do you put on your burgers/chili? Besides avocado. I missed this somehow.

    • Holly says:

      Ha! I should probably do a post on just this topic since I think it is a challenge for a lot of people, but here are the cliffs notes off the top of my head.

      On burgers, I love:
      *Spicy Jalapeno Kraut
      *Garlic Dill Kraut and thick sliced tomatoes
      *Basil Aioli
      *The Clothes Make the Girl’s Sunshine Sauce
      *A fried egg (YUM!)

      Chili, for me, has become all about chopped green onions and olives and (obviously) avocado. Sometimes I will add some pico de gallo or chopped tomatoes, but mostly I load it up with olives and onions and then mix in the avo. BOMB!

  9. Denise says:

    I struggle to remember how good the first Whole30 made me feel. I finished it a year ago and were it not for old posts I’d archived I would plum not remember how awesome it was, all things considered. Today is Day One of my second Whole30, and the Whole39 synapses are sloooowly refiring. I need to remember to eat more because eggs and veggies don’t make me all bloated and full-feeling like bread does.

    I had a major pendulum swing after my first go round. I had no limits and ate whatever and promptly felt like shit. I kept doing it, though, because it was easier to keep eating terribly than put strict guidelines in place. I’m hoping that this time the habits will be more firmly engrained and that I can find some balance when I’m finished.

    • Holly says:

      Keep it up Denise and just try not to beat yourself up along the way. You’ll get better each time…”getting it” isn’t being perfect, it’s being better. Each time you’ll get a little better.

  10. Maureen says:

    It’s funny-the Whole 30 eating for me and my husband is actually more stress free than our regular diet! Are we weird or something? I like how clear cut it is, and I actually think less about food when I eat Whole 30 compliant. I think the difference with us is we cook at home, we rarely go out to eat. Don’t get me wrong, I miss wine and having a latte, but the food seems to taste so much better on Whole 30. Like you have an apple, and it is the best apple you ever tasted.

    Do you find your taste buds seem to come alive? Like they aren’t being bombarded with processed crap, and you begin to really taste and appreciate food?

  11. Beth says:

    My husband and I started eating Paleo on December 26 of this year – it was a decision we had made at the start of December, but used the remaining month to eat up all of the foods that we weren’t going to be able to have in the new year. We brought whatever was left to my Mom’s when we went over for Christmas dinner.

    So far, so good. I have been very strict with it (although do allow some heavy cream for my once-a-week coffee, and a bit of honey in my decaf tea when I really need it), and I feel awesome! My husband cheats at least twice a week, and has managed to lose almost twice as much weight as I have – but he feels great too.

    We hadn’t heard about the Whole30 until I started to read your blog a few weeks ago for inspiration (because I really love your writing style, and the fact that you are a “real” woman in a similar lifestyle as I am), but I’ve talked it over with the hubby, and we feel like this is what we should have done from the beginning to “give Paleo a try”. We’re already in it for the long-haul because of how great we feel, but reading about how strick others are with the Whole30 makes me feel like we’ve been cheating somehow.

    In any case, thanks for all your awesome posts – your positivity has helped keep me on track! And I’m sure the hubby and I will be joining you on your next Whole30.

    • Holly says:

      Beth! You’re awesome! Don’t for a second think that you’ve been cheating. I am a huge proponent of easing into things if you want to make it a lifestyle. Whole 30 is awesome! I highly recommend it! But it took me two years of Paleo eating to dive into that challenge. Not that you have to wait as long as I did, heck, not that you have to wait at all, but please don’t feel like you are slacking or cheating somehow. You guys are doing great and it sounds like you are experiencing awesome results. Keep it up!

  12. Loved this post. I am brand new on my Whole30 journey (Day 4). Gave you a little shout out on my blog today: Thanks for the inspiration and words of wisdom!

    • Holly says:

      Thanks Becky! Best of luck with your Whole 30. Mindfulness and really being aware of the ingredients in your food are THE BEST PART, I think. 🙂

  13. Holly, have you reintroduced coffee? I too am realizing it’s my crutch and probably need to ditch it. Did you end up feeling “better” withouth it or did you just feel deprived without it. I feel like coffee is my “treat” and am concerned that if I deprive myself of it I’ll be more liklely to lean towards unhealthy choices.

    New blog follower here! Great thoughts on this. I’ve done a Whole30 and today is the last day of a Whol45 and I really need to do a write up on my blog about what I did differently this time.

    • Holly says:

      Hey Julie! I did reintroduce coffee after 30 days and honestly I am so much happier with it in my life. Granted, it’s still a crutch — I will make no bones about that. But right now it’s MY ONLY FREAKING VICE I WANT TO KEEP IT.

      I will say this, quitting *did* bring about noticeable positive results. And it was really only *hard* for the first 4 days, but then I immediately started sleeping better, being hungry upon waking, and just feeling great overall. But also: I FELT REALLY REALLY REALLY DEPRIVED and mentally that did get me totally down. And I did let myself have more “treats” because man, we all need a vice every once in a while. I think right now I’m just not ready to give it up. Not trying to rationalize, but just keeping it real. You have to want to do something, and frankly I DON’T WANNA! (pouty face)

      But it was a good exercise. And I recommend it. But honestly, if you are the type of person who can “cut back” maybe just try that. I’m terrible at moderation so I’m an all or nothing girl. 🙂 Coffee for me? gotta have it! (At least for now.)

  14. Erin says:

    LOVE this post & am now about to go back & devour your other Whole 30 (& probably more than that) posts too. I just finished my first whole 30 2 days ago & am wading back out into the “regular” eating world following the reintroduction guidelines… thank goodness chocolate falls under dairy. i’m honestly a bit nervous about how i’ll do, but your perspective about it getting better is SO helpful. i already know i plan to do another one or more & if i can keep building on healthy habits after each then i will try to consider them successes too! thank you!!!

  15. Reesie says:

    I really appreciate your thoughts on the Whole30 and was interested on the discussion of whether or not a Whole30 can cause disordered eating. I’m currently on my second Whole30 (did my first in September of last year) and I’m also a recovering bulimic. I starting acting on bulimia at 17, did it off and on for almost 15 years and managed to stop completely about 2 years ago (thanks to regular therapy). I managed to stop purging my food but it has been slow work to get to a place where I’m not longer bingeing. The result was alot of weight gain. I think there are many different reasons people develop eating disorders and just as many reasons they sustain them. So, there are many types of people that would NOT benefit from a Whole30 because of their current relationship with food. However, I discovered the Whole30 at the right time in my personal journey. Being on the Whole30 is the first time I can EVER remember feeling truly free and safe to eat with out succumbing to emotional ties with food. I do my Whole30 while still going to my weekly therapy sessions so my doctor helps to monitor my emotional progress, and make sure it doesn’t turn into disordered eating. I think each person is unique, but for me, being on the Whole30 has been so incredibly helpful. Since I’m still working on my relationship with food, all I can say at this time is that for me, it’s the right step to take today.

  16. Maxmill says:

    Thank you for the wrap-up post. It has kept me thinking about how I make my food choices. I recently bought coffee that was too acid and instead of throwing out the coffee I changed my creamer to a sugar based one ” just till the coffee is gone”. Having finished the whole 30 ,I couldn’t believe how sweet it was. Now I can throw out the coffee and the creamer! It is a slippery slope. Whole30 a great tool, glad to have done it.

  17. Haha yup. This post explains perfectly what I’ve also been experiencing. I posted a cartoon on my blog last Monday that I thought accurately depicts it. We’re so good during the Whole30 because we just don’t have to think “should I eat this?” But once it’s over, we say “OK just one…” which suddenly turns into 100.

    I’ve had a ton of trouble controlling my cravings when it comes to sugar. So far I’ve been OK for other non-paleo foods (minus the few times when I’m like “F it, I’m eating the pizza.”) But when it comes to things like valentines day candy, or the cookies in my office that are currently staring at me, I just can’t regulate it.

    Thinking about doing another “challenge” soon. My boyfriend thinks I’m nuts. He can’t understand why I can’t just eat paleo. Why I need to have rules. And maybe I am just using it as a crutch. But it’s just so much easier for me to say “I’m not eating that” rather than “I will just have a piece.”

    • Romanesque says:

      Rachel, I’m in the same boat here. In a way, being on the Whole 30 allowed me to feel really *safe* around food. It was oddly reassuring to have that structure around food. (And I didn’t even find it all that difficult to stick with it for the full 30 days.)

      Being off the Whole 30 has been a mixed bag, with some decent meals and some totally self-destructive eating thrown in, just for a reminder of my past life.

      Holly, just have to say how much I appreciate your attitude of total permission-giving. It’s very helpful to me, and reminds me that nobody has this food stuff 100% figured out. We’re all just doing the best we can, and that is a great place to start from.

      • Holly says:

        It is a meandering path, my friend. That is for sure! And the thing is, WE DO IT FOREVER so it’s not like it ends although we all seem to think someday everything will just click and we’ll just “get it” and never deviate. But that is boring! And you can’t live life like that…and who wants to? It’s definitely worth putting effort into just learning to love ourselves where we are at, and honor that. OHMYGOD who let the raging hippie in???? 🙂 But it’s true, kinda!

  18. Sara says:

    dude. been there, done that. currently regaining control after a few months of gradually worsening eating habits.

  19. Jane says:

    I’m on day 9 of my second attempt of doing a whole30. My first attempt in October ended at a halloween party with the temptations of alcohol(and a lot of peer pressure). This time I feel way more motivated to stick it out. But I am curious, what are your favorite go-to non alcoholic beverages that are whole30 compliant? I am drinking a lot of tea (which sometimes gets really boring), the occasional komboucha, sparkling water with citrus, but what else is out there??

    • Holly says:

      I drink a metric ton of La Croix sparkling water (Peach Pear is my favorite flavor!) Mint sparkling water from Whole Foods, some kombucha like you said, iced tea, cucumber water…etc You pretty much nailed it. Altogether it keeps it pretty interesting since I’m basically JUST DRINKING WATER. 🙂

  20. Julia says:

    I just finished my Whole30 and am trying to be careful not to let myself slide back into my old habits. It’s so easy to do that. I did love the 1 month experience but don’t really want to do it but once a year.