Whole30 Recap: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

So, in case you missed it, Chuck and I did the Whole30 thang last month. I wanted to get healthier in general, but I was largely motivated by some things that have happened in my family lately.

My Dad has been Type 2 diabetic for most of his adult life. When I was 10, he suffered a massive stroke and has been disabled for the last 19 years. Obviously, there's no way to pinpoint exactly what caused his stroke but it's not difficult to theorize that it was some combination of his diabetes, smoking, and stress.

Then, a couple years ago, my Mom was diagnosed as diabetic, and just a few months ago, my baby sister was diagnosed as pre-diabetic (which is the medical way of saying, get your shit together, or you're going to wind up with diabetes). I haven't been to the doctor in a year or two, but I distinctly remember getting my employer-sponsored health assessment done when I was still working full-time and my cholesterol and triglycerides were weirdly high for someone young, healthy and not obese.

Basically, the odds are not in my favor. Of course, since I'm lazy and have a smaller frame, I've never really worried about what I was eating. I did the vegetarian thing for five years, and as a Farmers' Market manager, obviously I fully believe in eating fresh, locally grown foods, so I'm not a complete pig. But guys, I have had a love affair with carbs and sugar my entire life. Bread, bagels, pasta, chocolate, wine- these have been my vices of choice.

I knew I needed to kick the habit- but I lacked the serious motivation, until a few weeks ago. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen that I was in Upstate New York with my family last week while my Dad underwent surgery. I've really wrestled with whether to go into more detail. Because I'm an oversharer and I process my feelings through writing, every ounce of me wants to spill what my Dad and our family has been going through. At the end of the day, it's not my story to tell and I know I have to respect my Dad's privacy. So the short version is- Dad's health? Not great. His surgery? Rough, but necessary. Quality of life? Abysmal.

My Dad's medical issues have been heartbreaking, painful, and mildly traumatizing. Enough that I know, I will not take my good health for granted. I will kick my bad habits while I'm still young and healthy. I will treat my body like the temple that it is.

I realize that was a really long preface to my actual Whole30 experience, but clearly, I've been digesting a lot lately (pun intended). I also feel the need to be 100% honest. I didn't technically do a Whole30. I did a Whole25. After being on the road non-stop, dealing with the stress of my Dad's surgery, and being in an environment where Whole30-compliant foods were not always accessible, I finally caved on Day 25 at an Italian restaurant over dinner with my Mom. That may have been the best dang spicy marinara sauce I've ever had, so no regrets.

Since then, I have incorporated some non-compliant foods back into my diet, namely my beloved Italian Sweet Cream coffee creamer and pizza. However, over the course of my "Whole25," I did not once miss bread, rice or pasta (shocking!), and so I've continued not eating carbs and focusing primarily on meat, fruit, and vegetables. Which leads me to the good...



  • I learned that I have power over food. While I was in New York, my sister celebrated her 26th birthday. My Mom picked up a beautiful chocolate cake with raspberry filling and chocolate frosting. I somehow refrained from eating it, but I could not stop thinking about that cake. It was a wake-up call to me on how often I had let my cravings control me, rather than the other way around.
  • I kicked my sweet tooth to the curb. Halloween candy? Eh, no thanks. Seriously. I had zero desire to indulge in the handful of individually-wrapped chocolates Charlie brought home from trick-or-treating. Which sounds silly, but is a big deal for me. Then yesterday, I stopped by Kroger after picking up the boys. As we walked through the bakery section, not only did I not have the desire to shove gratuitous amounts of freshly baked cookies and donuts into my mouth-hole, but I actually felt a little bit repulsed by the thought of all that refined and artificial sugar. (Praise the Lord!)
  • Wine is stupid. I've never been a huge drinker (except that one summer after freshman year. Yikes.) But over the course of the last year, I found myself reaching for my trusty $5 Aldi sweet red wine after particularly exhausting or trying days with two under two. With all of the stress I was dealing with last month, I lost count of the number of times I would have loved to pour myself a glass. But I didn't. Because you know what? Here's something else I learned. Wine = sugar. Sugar = bad. Therefore, wine = bad. I'm not judging those who love their vino, and I am certainly not swearing it off completely. But acknowledging that there is nothing remotely good for me in wine has led me to commit to only drinking on special occasions.


  • I don't like meat. So here's the thing about Whole30, you will eat a lot of meat. I was a vegetarian for five years. More so for ethical reasons, but truthfully, I could live without meat. I just don't like it. And I got sick of eating meat and boiled eggs nonstop really quickly. My husband is a full-fledged carnivore and loves the Whole30 diet, but I just don't think it's for me. I much prefer plant-based protein!
  • No tiger's blood for me. Everyone I talked to who had done Whole30 raved about the "tiger's blood" energy I would experience during Week 3. Perhaps it was because Week 3 was the week when shit was hitting the fan with my Dad, but I literally never felt a change in my energy levels. Disappointing.
  • My skin still sucks. Every winter, I deal with horrible breakouts. I never had acne in high school or college, but the last seven years, it has been relentless. Last year was the first year it wasn't horrific (maybe due to breastfeeding or postpartum hormones or something), so I thought I was out of the woods. But no, my skin still sucks and my face is littered with pimples. I hoped Whole30 would change that, but no. I'm still an acne-ridden monster. 


  • HOLY SHIT IT'S EXPENSIVE. I was warned that my grocery bill would go up. Buying organic, grass-fed meats, seafood, and natural, Whole30 approved snacks and condiments is not cheap. However, I figured since we would eliminate takeout and fast food, that our spending might balance out. NOPE. I don't even want to divulge how much we spent on groceries in October because it's mortifying. But trust me, it was wayyy too much for our shoestring budget!

So, did I enjoy my experience? Yes and no. As I said, there were definitely good things about Whole30. It did help me make a drastic change to the way I eat and realize that what I considered "healthy" eating, wasn't healthy at all. There are many tenets that I'll take with me and as I move forward, there are many non-compliant foods that I've said "good-bye" to for good. 

I also feel like I should mention that I lost 5 or 6 lbs. I hesitate to bring weight loss up at all, because that was never my intention. However, clearly, the diet had a measurable impact on my body. I haven't been my current weight since Chuck and I first started dating.

I wish I could have stuck it out and done the full 30 days, just on principle. However, I feel like I get a pass because I didn't exactly plan to be away from my home and my family for 1/4 of the time. 

Knowing what I know now, I am absolutely glad that I did it. But knowing what I know now, I don't know whether I would do it again. I just can't justify spending that much money on food. That being said, if anyone has any resources for how to do a Whole30 on a budget, I am all ears!

Have you ever done the Whole30 program? What was your experience like?

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